WARNING: This poem contains some intense content that may make some readers uncomfortable. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It contains underage sexualized behavior, hints of past sexual abuse, a seduction attempt on individuals in a committed relationship and across their orientational boundaries, nonconsensual kidnapping and bondage, nonconsensual touching over clothes, some seriously fucked-up headspace, shapeshifting into non-mammalian form, goo, vulgar language, Stan not knowing his own social strength again, and other challenges. On the bright side, there's terrific use of logic under stress, relationship loyalty, modeling appropriate boundaries, and trying to solve problems without getting anyone hurt. If these are sensitive topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before deciding whether to click through.
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When the pretty girl in the purple velvet dress
stopped Lawrence in the Mall, he was happy
to talk with her for a few minutes.
When she sidled closer and started
running her hands over him,
he was less happy.
First Lawrence tried edging away,
but Veronica just moved with him.
She was getting her perfume all over him,
something complex and potent that
smelled of flowers on the surface
but held earthier undertones
of patchouli and musk.
"I'm flattered, but I'm not interested,"
Lawrence said as he pulled
himself out of her grasp.
Veronica pouted at him, but
her eyebrows pinched together
in a way that made Lawrence
wonder what was really going on.
Then she leaned close and
whispered into his ear, "You can
put it anywhere you want it."
"Hey, no." Lawrence captured
her wrists and pushed her away.
"I am with someone else, I am
not comfortable with this, and
I don't think you really are either.
You need to stop it right now."
Then she turned into a giant purple worm,
threw up on him, and used the stretchy net
it formed to drag him into the underbrush.
Well, that was embarrassing.
Getting kidnapped was nowhere near
as much fun as doing it to someone else.
It was safe to assume that he'd been captured
by a supervillain, which was a hazard of being
a superhero. Lawrence just hadn't thought
it would ever happen to him.
There weren't enough people in the park
to raise an immediate alarm, but Lawrence
suspected that somebody must have seen
something, which meant that he had
a limited amount of time to escape
with what remained of his dignity
before Stan staged a rescue.
Lawrence struggled against the net,
which had soon dried to a rubbery texture
that clung to his skin everywhere it touched
but no longer felt sticky on the surface.
He had no idea what it actually was,
so he didn't know how to dissolve it.
He couldn't reach his pocketknife,
and even if he had, he was afraid
of cutting himself as well as the net.
He thought about hardening the air
around his captor, but he wasn't sure
if it was more durable on account of
being a soup or less durable because
it was a big squashy purple worm
and invertebrates tended to be fragile.
Lawrence wanted to escape,
but he didn't want to hurt anyone.
He'd heard some pretty awful stories from
Shithouse about shapeshifters whose shift-form
had different strengths and weaknesses
than their human form did.
Besides, so far Lawrence
had only been groped and bound
and dragged across the park,
which was more embarrassing
than a credible threat.
The worm-girl-whatever wadded him
into a ball, carefully adding more goo
to hold Lawrence in place, and then
stuffed him into a cargo trailer
attached to a little motorbike.
This was getting ridiculous.
Lawrence tried fiddling with the engine,
which stalled it for a few minutes, but it was
too hard to hold his concentration when
he couldn't see what he was doing,
and eventually she got it started.
Picking the latch on the trailer
while the motorbike was in motion
seemed like a spectacularly bad idea,
so he had to wait for it to stop.
When it finally did, Lawrence
was hauled out by the girl,
not the giant purple worm,
which was an improvement.
Once again, he thought about
trapping her with the air, but that
wouldn't get the fucking goo off of him,
so then they would both be stuck.
Lawrence was running a bit thin
on ideas as she lugged him into
an empty garage and leaned him
against a support post there.
Then she turned into a worm again.
This time Lawrence got a better look --
it was a deep violet with melon-colored dots,
and the skin had a soft velveteen texture.
There were lots of little footy stubs and
two long ones on the head like horns.
It looked kind of like a caterpillar.
"You're pretty when you're
not puking on me," he said.
The worm puked on him
and glued him to the post.
As it fastened him in place,
Lawrence could see that the goo
actually squirted out of two short tubes
on either side of the puffy vertical slit that
he was politely going to call a mouth
instead of what it actually resembled
but probably was not.
After turning back into a girl,
she glared at Lawrence
and said, "Don't lie to me."
"I'm not lying," Lawrence said.
"Oh please, you didn't even want
to touch me earlier," she said.
"Doesn't mean I think you're ugly,
though," said Lawrence. "So tell me,
what's this all about, anyway?"
She shrugged. "It's nothing personal.
You're just in the way. I'm getting paid
to get you and Stan out of the way
so a deal can go down today.
I'm Velvet; this is what I do."
"Good luck," Lawrence said
with a laugh. "It took me a year."
"What?" she said.
"It took me a year of kidnapping
his girlfriend to get good enough at it
that I could get out of range before
Stan grabbed me and started a fight,
let alone pull off shenanigans without
him stopping me," Lawrence clarified.
"You've got a head start but Stan is
still going to notice that I'm missing,
track you down, and clean your clock."
"We'll see about that," Velvet said.
Then she turned her back on him
and fired up the dainty yellow motorbike,
the garage door closing itself behind her
to leave Lawrence in muffling darkness.
The net was amazing stuff,
tough and springy as elastic, and
even stuck in it he wished that he could
study it under better circumstances.
Lawrence hadn't given up
on the idea of saving himself,
but he appreciated having backup
just in case he needed it. If he
couldn't get loose, Stan would
come and rescue him.
Sadly that idea went out the window
when Velvet returned to the dim garage
dragging a bound, mightily struggling Stan.
Not even his super-strength could break free,
because the ropy strands that cocooned him would
stretch and snap back as he strained against them,
and they stuck to his skin wherever they touched.
He was red-faced and panting as he was tied
to another support post near Lawrence.
Of course, Stan still had his fetish,
so he could use the communicator function
to summon help if necessary, which meant that
they only had to hold out until said help arrived.
At least Stan wasn't freaking out over
the giant purple worm crawling around him.
That would have sucked even more than
this day from heck already did.
Eventually the worm flowed off of Stan and
reared up to change back into a pretty girl again,
all pale skin and almond eyes the color of amethysts.
She quickly hid her face behind curtains of dark straight hair.
Her crushed velvet dress clung along the soft, shallow curves
of her body. One hand toyed with her necklace.
When Velvet plunked herself in Stan's lap
and Stan flinched away, wrinkling his nose at her,
Lawrence felt a cold chill go through him.
He reconsidered his options, because
he wasn't willing to hurt someone for no reason
but neither was he going to stand by while
a supervillain molested his boyfriend.
Lawrence had forgotten something
about Stan, though: even immobilized,
he was far from unarmed.
"Hi there, I'm Stan," he said.
"What's your name?"
"Velvet," said the girl,
her fingers tracing between
the white strands across his chest.
"Do you want to play with me?"
"Sure," Stan said.
"Do you have a chess set?"
Velvet leaned back,
her face crumpling into
lines of hurt and confusion.
She seemed painfully young, too,
and Lawrence realized that she was
probably no more than a year or two
older than him and Stan.
"Why doesn't anyone like me
today?" she whispered. "Boys
usually love it when I do this."
Just that quick, Lawrence went from
worrying about Stan to worrying about Velvet,
because as careful as Stan was with his strength,
he still had no idea of his social weight, and so
Stan could probably crush Velvet as easily as
mashing that big purple worm underfoot.
"It doesn't have anything to do with liking
or not liking," Lawrence tried. "Let's just keep this
a cape conflict and not make it personal,
the way that you told me earlier."
"Are you gay or what?"
"Yes, actually, I am,"
Lawrence said. That didn't
stop him from realizing just how
attractive she was by het standards.
Her jaw dropped.
"I tried to seduce a pair
of faggots," she groaned.
"No wonder I had to resort
to kidnapping both of you."
"I'm bi, but I'm also spoken for,
and anyhow I like to be asked first,"
Stan said, truthful as always.
"I did ask," Veronica said.
"And I turned you down,"
Stan reminded her.
Veronica flounced off his lap
and turned into a giant purple worm.
It loomed over them, screeching
and waving its long horns and
its stubby little goo tubes.
"Hey Lawrence, do you
recognize what kind of worm
this is?" Stan asked. "I've never
seen anything like it myself."
"I'm not sure," Lawrence said,
trying to identify field marks
now on convenient display.
The coloration was gorgeous
but might or might not be useful.
The morphological features
seemed vaguely familiar, though.
"So talk it out," Stan said as
the creature chittered at them
in a vain attempt to seem
like a credible threat.
"The structure is all wrong
for a polychaete worm,"
Lawrence reasoned aloud.
"It's not a segmented worm,
because it has appendages.
It's not a centipede, because
it lacks the protective armor."
"Then that leaves ... sort of
a worm-shaped critter with a lot
of squishy little legs," Stan said.
"I'm going say onychophoran,
also known as a velvet worm,"
Lawrence finished triumphantly.
The three digits at the ends
of the visible legs spread apart,
and wickedly sharp hooks
appeared from the palms.
"... which, um, have claws
on all their lobopods,"
Lawrence said, eyeing
them with some trepidation.
"Wow, that must make it
a terrific climber," Stan said.
Apparently being Invulnerable
meant he could look at a critter
whose feet were knives and not
imagine being ripped to ribbons.
"Yeah, and they're also ...
predators," Lawrence said.
The worm turned back into a girl.
"Why aren't you scared of me?"
she sulked. "I'm a supervillain.
You're supposed to be scared of me."
"You must be kind of new at this,"
Lawrence said. "It is definitely not
our first rodeo, and didn't your employer
mention that I used to be a supervillain too?"
"No," said Velvet, then tossed her head
at Stan. "What's his excuse?"
"Well, I like caterpillars, and
my little sister once spent a year
dropping frogs down the back of my shirt,
and I've seen a lot grosser things in science class,"
Stan said. "After all that, especially the Year of Frogs,
I've gotten pretty tolerant of stuff that other people
might think of as ooky and off-putting."
"You're insane," Velvet said.
Lawrence could sympathize.
He remembered the complete chaos
that came from Stan knocking him
clean off his mental script.
"You get used to it,"
Lawrence said helpfully.
"Why don't you come sit down with --
I mean, beside -- us and talk about this,"
Stan coaxed. "I'm sure we can work it out."
Velvet started to sniffle, and then
her tilted violet eyes welled up and
spilled the tears down her cheeks.
"Why would you even want to?"
"Because I don't like anyone getting hurt, or
upset, or shut out in the cold," Stan said gently.
"Some of what I'm seeing in you kind of
worries me, Velvet. Are you okay?
I know some EFA if you need it."
Velvet wrapped her arms around herself
and ran crying out of the garage.
"That did not go as planned,"
Stan muttered, straining again
at the tensile bonds that held him.
"Yeah, so, did you get a message out?"
Lawrence asked. "Because I got nothing."
"I told Hefty that I had a problem and
if he didn't hear from me in an hour, then
he should come looking," Stan admitted.
"I also warned them about probable
supervillain activity today."
"How long does that leave us?"
Lawrence asked, looking around to see
if he could spot any usable items that
he might have missed earlier.
"Less than half an hour, but I could
always just call off from here," Stan said.
"No, if we haven't gotten loose by then,
it's time to give up and admit we're stuck,"
Lawrence said. "I was down to letting you
rescue me, when Velvet caught you too."
"I'm sure I can break free if I just try
hard enough," Stan insisted,
his muscles rippling.
Lawrence clicked his tongue at Stan.
"You've been trying, and it is not working,"
he said. "If you can't solve a problem with
brute force, then you need to step back and
solve it with your brain and your resourcefulness."
"I'm thinking, I'm thinking," Stan said.
"I can't reach my pocketknife.
Can you get yours?"
"No, and I'm afraid of cutting myself --
or worse, you -- if I did," said Lawrence.
"Maybe if I slide out of the strands --"
Stan said, squirming in a different way.
"You can't, because they adhere to you,"
Lawrence said. "If you weren't Invulnerable,
then you could simply sacrifice a layer of skin.
Hmm, maybe you could peel me loose like that.
I'm not strong enough to do it myself, but
if you help me, then that might work."
"I am not ripping your skin off,"
Stan said firmly. "You haven't
been injured in this kidnapping,
so let's keep it that way."
That reminded Lawrence of something.
"I owe Angelica an apology," he said.
"Actually, a whole stack of apologies."
"For what?" Stan asked.
"All those times I kidnapped her,"
Lawrence said. "It's really not fun
from this side of the fence."
"Yeah, the first time sure shook her up,"
Stan said. "After a few rounds, though,
it wound down to annoying. I don't think she's
still mad at you. It's just pulling pigtails, you know,
dumb stuff that kids do before they know any better.
You haven't done that for a while now."
"If I wanted to apologize, though, how should
I approach it?" Lawrence wondered. Since he
couldn't figure out an effective escape plan,
he might as well work on something else
with a better chance of success.
"She likes presents," Stan said.
"I usually went with the classic flowers
and chocolates, or sometimes jewelry,
but I wouldn't recommend that for you.
Maybe a giftcard with a nice note."
Lawrence had talked over some of this
with Hefty before, and now ran aground on
the same problem. "The catch is, where
would I get that kind of money? This isn't
really a five-dollar apology, Stan."
"I could share my oddjob contacts with you,
if you're willing to work for it," Stan offered.
"I've always wondered why you don't
just have a regular job after school,"
Lawrence said. "You seem like
the responsible type who does that."
Stan looked away.
"I can't keep a job,"
he said in a small voice.
"I've tried. I just ... really can't."
"What? Why not?" Lawrence said.
He couldn't imagine it.
"It's the whole superhero thing,"
Stan explained. "Something's gotta give.
I don't want to sacrifice school, and I won't
shortchange my family. So I take it out of work
instead, and that keeps getting me fired."
"Oh," Lawrence said. He hadn't realized
how much it could cost someone to be a hero.
With a sinking sensation, he wondered how much
of that had been his fault. Probably a lot.
"Whoo! I just got my pinkie free!" Stan crowed.
Lawrence knocked his head lightly against the post.
"We are so doomed," he said. "Just call it in."
"Not when I'm making progress," Stan said.
"I can feel something behind me! Some kind
of tool, I think, maybe a screwdriver. If I can
angle it just the right way, then I can use it
for leverage against this darned net ..."
Just then Velvet came back into the garage.
Without saying a word, she crouched down and
did something to Lawrence's ankles that let
him uncurl his legs with a sigh of relief.
Then she moved over to Stan and
did the same thing for him.
Finally Velvet set down
a small, stoppered bottle
and said, "That's the solvent."
Then she walked out of the garage.
"Lie still. I know how to handle this,"
Lawrence said to Stan. He kicked off
his shoes and socks, then carefully
gripped the bottle with his feet.
"How come you can do all that?"
Stan asked as he watched Lawrence
maneuver the bottle up toward his hands.
"I had a few lessons in escape tactics,"
Lawrence said, opening the bottle with
his thumb so that he could trickle the fluid
over the net that held him fast. He hoped that
the solvent wasn't corrosive to human skin.
Moments later the tough strands melted away
like silicone dissolving in oil. The residue
even felt more slippery than sticky.
As soon as Lawrence broke loose,
he turned to free Stan as well.
"Thanks," Stan said. "I guess
we didn't do a great job today."
"At least we're loose, and I don't think
Velvet is coming back this time,"
Lawrence said, closing the bottle.
He spied a glass jar, dumped out
the bolts it held, and used it to scoop up
a sample of the net that had not dissolved.
"What are you planning to do with that?"
Stan asked, watching him work.
"Analyze it when I get home," Lawrence said.
"Who knows, it might come in useful later.
So what do we do from here?"
Stan sighed. "It's getting late,
the bad guys probably finished
their strike already, and I'm starved,"
he said. "I say we call it a day, unless
we walk outside and see smoke or something."
When they left the garage, there was no sign
of Velvet and her motorbike, or any other trouble.
Instead they saw a sign for Burger Bash
at the end of the block, its colorful logo
glowing softly in the gathering twilight.
"My treat, since I started this whole mess
by getting kidnapped," Lawrence said.
"Deal," Stan agreed, and off they went.
* * *
Velvet (Veronica Nelson) -- She has fair skin, violet eyes with a distinct almond shape, and straight dark brown hair that falls just past her shoulders. Her body is slender, with small breasts and just a little flare of hips below her waist. She is pretty enough to play into both the manipulation and the pheromone-enhanced seduction. Her heritage includes British, Maori, and Indonesian. Veronica is touch-dominant, so she handles things to identify them and likes to fondle people too. She is 17. She has recently moved to Omaha, Nebraska.
Childhood sexual abuse has left her conflicted about sexuality. Veronica often uses it to distract or manipulate people, but she still feels that sex is bad and dirty and that she's a bad girl for letting people do it to her. She just can't seem to stop. Shy and reserved at heart, Veronica tries to cover that with sex because it's the most effective way of getting what she wants out of people.
Her manipulation is aided by her use of Pheromones, although in human form they are only Average strength. Many people find her sexy in human form but appalling in velvet worm form, which is likely exacerbated by the fact that she smells sexier as a worm because the Pheromones get stronger. Regrettably her Sperm Storage power functions at full strength in both forms, and since it is already loaded thanks to her father, Veronica conceives once or twice a year regardless of activity or precautions. So far she has gotten an abortion every time, has no idea why this keeps happening to her, and is freaked out by it.
After the first shock of manifestation wore off, Veronica studied her superpower carefully and has learned a lot about velvet worms and shapeshifting. She uses gizmology to expand what she can do, for example, modifying her goo to create slippery slime or strong acid in addition to the usual stretchy stuff that it makes. She has also invented a solvent to melt it harmlessly.
Origin: Her father sexually abused Veronica for years, and she always wished she could do something to dissuade him. Not even vomiting made him leave her alone. Other people who should have intervened did not, and many people have let her down in other ways as well. When Veronica was twelve, her father molested her one evening. She suddenly turned into a giant purple worm and spewed white goo all over his crotch. Her father ran screaming out of the house, and she hasn't heard from him since.
Uniform: She has a custom uniform, a stretchy dress of dexflan made into purple velvet. Off duty, Veronica wears fashionable girl clothes, again with a lot of velvet in deep rich shades of purple, blue, or crimson.
Qualities: Master (+6) Smart, Expert (+4) Manipulating People, Good (+2) Gizmology, Good (+2) Graceful
Poor (-2) Insecure
Powers: Expert (+4) Shapeshifting: Velvet Worm
This metapower gives her the traits of a velvet worm. They are soft and flexible, so Velvet can squeeze through tiny gaps and crawl around almost any obstacles. Her many handfeet make it easy to climb, even on vertical surfaces unless they're perfectly smooth. Each handfoot has three soft, opposable digits for walking or gentle grasping. The palm conceals a pair of razor-sharp claws, retractable and shaped similar to those of a cat. Crural glands at the shoulders of the legs provide Pheromone Control. Her head contains two long antennae. She has excellent senses of touch, taste, and smell so she can navigate easily even though she has minimal vision and hearing in this form. A vertical mouth holds two sharp, beaklike mandibles that can deliver a nasty bite. Her saliva is paralytic, toxic, and liquefying to organic tissue. A pair of oral papillae bracket the mouth and can spew copious amounts of goo, typically about about 10-15' but occasionally as much as 30' away. It forms a loose, ropy net which dries almost instantly to a rubbery bond. Because it is tough and stretchy, it's almost impossible to break -- even with super-strength. The slime glands are so large that they comprise over 10% of the worm's body mass, providing an extensive supply of material that is rarely exhausted during an encounter. Female velvet worms have the capacity to store sperm, and some species mate only once, which means the mating may happen before the female's reproductive organs are fully developed.
Limitation: In velvet worm form, her speed, vision, and hearing are all Poor. Most of her powers work only in this form. However, Veronica can use Pheromones downshifted to Average (0) strength in human form.
Vulnerability: In velvet worm form, she is sensitive to dehydration and prefers a moist environment. After about six hours, she starts suffering damage in a dry environment. Velvet worms have an open circulatory system; while their soft bodies are nearly immune to crushing damage, they are especially vulnerable to slashing or piercing damage because they can bleed out very fast.
Motivation: To gain control.
* * *
"Remember that you are not a damsel in distress, waiting for some prince to rescue you. Forget that prince. With your brain and your resourcefulness, you can rescue yourself."
-- Brad Meltzer
Gene Leahy Mall is a park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Seduction uses various techniques to incite sexual activity, which may be for personal gratification, distraction, manipulation, or other purposes. It is a popular entertainment trope, based somewhat on real life, but some of those examples involve abuse survivors.
Pheromones are body chemicals which influence the behavior of individuals, usually but not always the same species. As a superpower, Pheromones can produce even more potent effects, and at higher levels can compel rather than merely suggest. However, you still have to send the right message: drowning a gay fellow in "you want pussy" will make him uncomfortable, not aroused, no matter HOW strong your ability is. Actually making someone act outside their orientation requires a different application of manipulative skill that most people just don't think of trying.
Consent requires willing, informed participation. Impaired consent invalidates this. In this case, Velvet has internalized the boundary violation from prior abuse, which means that she is neither capable of setting good boundaries for herself nor recognizing anyone else's -- a different kind of impaired consent that is sadly common with abuse survivors. Know how to create healthy boundaries and respect other people's boundaries. Here is a class exercise on boundaries.
Child molestation causes unfortunate effects both immediately and later in life. They often polarize in sexuality, becoming either hypersexual or hyposexual. Understand how to handle sexual abuse.
Kidnapping appears more often with women in entertainment, but can happen with men too. In Terramagne, supervillains more often kidnap people to get them out of the way or to attract attention than to aquire a victim for violent acts. You can see some differences in the handling. Still it's useful to know how to survive an abduction.
Velvet rides a lightweight yellow motorbike with a small cargo trailer.
(I think these links are cool. People who find invertebrates creepy may wish to skip these.)
Onychophora, or velvet worms, have some unique traits among invertebrates and are just generally fascinating critters. Some of them, like Velvet's type which is inspired by Peripatoides novaezealandiae, come from New Zealand. They may reproduce with eggs or live young, and have some notable internal features which have complicated Velvet's life. Here's a look at internal anatomy and a partial cutaway with attention to the slime glands. Read more about slime emission. This illustration gives a closeup of anterior and posterior anatomy. See a lobopod with claws extended. These video clips show the mouth and slime tubes in action. Watch a longer video about velvet worms. Learn how you can help support velvet worms in the wild. They are also popular as exotic pets.
Here is a comparison of various invertebrates with a graphic of several types.
In a tense situation, especially where someone else has substantial power, it pays to humanize yourself. Stan uses an exchange of names and a suggestion of games, among other tactics. Some tips come from a court situation but generalize elsewhere.
Building rapport is the ability to create a connection with someone. Here are some ways to do that fast. Use them responsibly. Velvet is so used to people treating her as a thing instead of a person that she just has no defenses against this kind of compassionate handling -- and Stan is tremendously influential on a social level. This quickly results in mashed Velvet.
Here you can see an iteration of the trope about a girl trying to seduce a gay boy, and also tripping over Stan's casual bisexuality. Aside from Stan being in a committed relationship, he's also demisexual -- which he hasn't realized is an actual facet of orientation yet -- so nobody's ever going to have a chance of arousing him with a quick pickup.
Anything you can do to startle your opponent and push them off their script can give you an advantage in any kind of conflict. Velvet has a "sexpot script" and a "scary supervillain script" and that's about it. They work against people who fall for them, which is a lot of guys, but so not happening here.
Abuse survivors typically develop trust issues due to past experience. This can make kindness seem threatening to them, which impairs their ability to seek help and heal from the damage.
Escape and evasion includes understanding how to get out of restraints such as rope or duct tape. Many supervillains and some superheroes study escape methods. If you want to learn more than the basics, check out a good book on stage magic that specializes in escape artistry.
Angelica's love language is receiving gifts.
Not even superheroes can have it all. Across canons they have trouble with education, employment, romance, and other parts of life -- frequently as a direct result of their superpowers and/or vigilante work. For all the attention it gets, the profession of superhero tends to suck. That's kind of like how civilians may think of war as a glorious pursuit, but soldiers know better.
The Truth & Justice game, which provides some inspiration for the mechanics of superpowers, uses the PDQ game engine where damage temporarily lowers a character's abilties. In T&J conflict scenes, the first quality that a character chooses to downshift in this manner generates a story hook. Players typically protect the qualities most valuable to the current challenge, sacrificing others. Over time, this builds up a pattern of that character's priorities -- thus creating exactly the dynamic seen throughout comic canons where the superhero must choose between school, job, family, etc. or heroic action. Which of those takes the hit will determine which area of that character's life gets shorted.
Asking for help is a basic skill, but people have plenty of reasons for not doing it. Knowing when to ask for help is a crucial prerequisite for actually requesting and receiving help. The flow chart is great, but is missing a step: if your first idea doesn't work, you need to ask yourself whether you have any more ideas. Ironically, Stan is usually better at asking for help in a social sense, but Lawrence has a better logistical grasp of "we have already tried all the solutions we can think of, and they have not worked."