2010-07-20: Shun the Frumious Baendersnatch


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Summary: At Pietro's request, Keld programs the training room for something a little different as an exercise for himself, Quicksilver, and Corrin.

Date: July 20, 2010

Log Title: Shun the Frumious Baendersnatch

Rating: G

NYC - The Avenger Mansion (Training Room)

The training room is just that. There is a large, springboard floor, weights, punching bags, yoga mats, a shelf of practice weapons, and the ever important sound system. Anything you could possibly wish to train for, physically speaking, can be done in this room.

The training room has been reconfigured slightly — and by slightly, well. The generic gym equipment has been removed, the simulators have been engaged, and it's a sort of obstacle course. A sort of jungle- world, purples and greens and blues and neon colors, dark, awfully similar to something from a recent movie.

Keld finishes tweaking a setting, and then says, "OK, Pietro, this is Abrox Five. Moon of a gas giant, no fully sentient life-forms, but some moderately dangerous animals and plants. This is a rain forest section, which means, the ground can be trusted but you have to pay attention. I was stationed here for a quarter-year twenty years ago. Any questions?"

"I suppose you gave all the animals pet names then." The speedster notes from where he stands frowning at the greenery. Sure is a neat looking place, but Pietro isn't about to admit that. "Is there a goal to this?" That's the only real question that he has for this. Jungle. Got it. Dangerous animals. Right. Avengers style danger room scene? There's got to be a goal to this. Wouldn't be training otherwise.

Corrin stands by the door in a borrowed set of Official Avengers Sweat Pants (tm) and an Avengers long- sleeved t-shirt of his own (he's a little too shy about his burn scars to go with short sleeves.) He looks up and around at the room and blinks several times, and rubs a temple, then clears his throat. "Um. Guys? I should tell you that I think I have an advantage you don't know about. This place doesn't look… um… right. I mean, there's all this jungle and stuff, but you're the only ones alive in here, and I can tell." He ducks his head. "I figured you should know."

Keld smiles. It's not entirely an evil smile, but it is a bit grim.
"Yeah, that's actually a disadvantage, since you can't sense the animals coming at you, Corrin. So, to answer the question, five meteorites hit two months ago, and they happen to be pieces of an enemy ship. Your job is to find them. No special powers should be required, but they're not forbidden. Since I don't know where the machine placed them, I will also be competing. The one who finds the most items wins. The only prize for winning is the admiration of your peers, of course. In the actual hunt, we had two squadrons competing, and fifty of the things."

Pietro looks around as Corrin speaks and he snorts. Doesn't actually chide the man however. "This is a hologram, Corrin. It appears very nearly real, but of course isn't." Explaining why Corrin can't feel anything.
"Shall we start walking, Corrin? Since it wouldn't be fair for me to search at superspeed." A smirk and he rolls his shoulders. Of course the man is wearing his costume. As comfortable in it after all these years as he would be wearing casual attire. You know, for a guy who's suppose to be incredibly impatient, he doesn't seem so right now. There's an amused look at Keld before he wanders off into the brush. Oh yes, he's watching where he wants, and for things that bite. For some reason he keeps thinking about Jurassic Park movies.

Corrin thinks about the advantages and disadvantages of being able to see 'living' vs. 'unliving' things and shuts his mouth. Hrrmm… He looks off into the 'jungle' and rubs his temple again. It just looks so *wrong*. He doesn't say so, however, because it's supposed to look wrong, it's an alien planet. And there's a job here to do: find broken ship bits. "Do we have to pick them up and carry them somewhere, or is flagging them good enough?" Speaking as the only guy present without some form of super-strength…
He does perk up a bit at Pietro. "Um. I think this is a race among the three of us, so thank you, but let's see what I can do on my own." He'll smile, and look to Keld for his answer.

Keld is also in his uniform, or, a version of it. This one is much darker colors, not the startling pure saturated blue and red and green, but the rest of the design is similar enough to his original.
Stylistic changes notwithstanding, the Alien Avenger's smile looks a bit more grim. Or amused.
"It's a hologram but it's solid enough, as far as that goes. You can be hurt, but only minor scratches. It will feel real though. And watch out for the bandaersnatch mice, Pietro. All you have to do is flag them, and just calling out you found one will work for that. Oh, and, you can go now."

Assuming Corrin and Pietro head in different directions, they'll see different things. Pietro will come soon enough to a gully, filled with foliage, but obvious for its being slumped down. The underbrush is not quite thick enough to completely impede vision and there are trails and passages worn through by animals.
Corrin has a path ahead of him, with places to left and right that he can go. There is nothing, yet, that looks like it might be an alien ship part.

If Corrin wants to go alone, Pietro won't argue. "Very well." Knows Corrin won't come to any true harm, so he's totally not going to worry about it. Not using his super speed, the man pushes through the underbrush until he comes to that gully. With things being so low he finds himself in the sunlight, and lifts a hand to shield his eyes briefly and look around. He orients to which direction the foliage is slumped and heads that way. His own costume stands out here, but sooo not worried about that. And he's boggling at the idea of being warned of the mice. Mice.

Corrin nods to the information, and heads out. He goes twenty meters down the path (how can he go that far? He's moving but the wall isn't getting any closer… very strange) then cuts off it. Keld mentioned animals; animals like paths as much as people do. And… bandersnatch mice? He has this image of a horde of carnivorous shrews. Not something he wants to encounter.
So, he goes… up. A bit slower, horizontally, but better visibility, once he gets above the ground cover. Also, hopefully, fewer big predators. Will have to watch out for small ones, though…

The bandersnatch mouse is about the size of a chinchilla. The one following Pietro is typical of its breed, and blends perfectly with the foliage, unless one happens to think to look for the claws, which are a vivid purple (but not an unusual color here.)

The gully goes perhaps twenty feet and ends at a lump of foliage that trails off a fallen tree.
Going UP? Climbing takes Corrin up away from the ground. The bark is damp, a bit frangible, but with a firm grip it's easy enough to go up. Of course this means he draws the attention of a different kind of animal, but the six or seven hand-sized monkeys that peer from the branches are not immediately hostile, though their eyes (and mouths, with the teeth therein) are wide open.
From the elevated view, Corrin can see Pietro, and can see another furrow in the ground a hundred feet ahead on the path (the trees aren't as dense in that direction) … and the movement of six or seven small objects moving behind the speedster. Keld is back in the other direction, and he's moving up into a tree. The tree he's climbing appears to have lost several large branches. Nothing seems to be stalking him yet.

He's been a super hero/villain for half his life, so Pietro is aware that he's being followed. It's just that feeling one gets when one has been doing this for years. Doesn't stop however. Instead he forges across the gully to about halfway. Mindful of the broken tree, the speedster reaches that halfway stop and shifts to superspeed without dampening the physical effects. The goal is to make a brief shock wave. Of course as he does so there's a loud sound. Sch-BOOM! Sure to draw the bigger predators, but he's going to have some fun while here. There, rodents, let's have some fun.

A furrow? That could have been made by something falling from the sky. Corrin takes note of the direction, and all others, too — which does have him noticing Pietro and his stalkers. A moment of indecision — this is a race, after all. But seriously! "PIETRO! BEHIND YOU!"
Then… Sch-BOOM! …Oh. Pietro doesn't need help. Abashed, Corrin takes another look around. Is there a series of branches he can use to get closer to that furrow? If not, he can always hit the ground again and use the path…

Bandersnatch mice aren't rodents, of course. Alien life form. Their teeth, inside their circular mouth, are serrated and spiral. The explosion of sound excites their fight-or-flight instinct. Unfortunately, as they were stalking something the size of their usual prey, they leap… towards Pietro. Those mouths open up alarmingly, and the bright purple claws gleam. Three of them stick into the fallen tree — thwap thwap thwap — stuck like throwing knives by their claws. Three of them miss completely. Two of them, may well land on Pietro if he doesn't do something to prevent it. Of course, the burble in the muck at the bottom of the gully has a sort of 'animal' sound to it. BBBrrrrummmmgrrrrrl.

Shock wave sound also startles the monk-eyes and they disappear up the tree in a powerful, pungent wash of stink, sulphur and ambergris.

Keld grins again as he climbs, then runs out along the main upper branch of his tree. He leaps, and lands on the ground beside the fallen branch, sliding down. "ONE!" he shouts.
Pietro will also notice (if he happens to duck down below the shroud of vines while avoiding projectile mice) that there is a metallic gleam underneath next to the tree-stump. Corrin, however, sees another furrow, past the second one he saw in the direction of Pietro's gully, and there is a reasonable pathway there along the trees if he can jump across a 3-meter gap.

Flying rodents, alien ones or not, are too much for him to want to deal with. Pietro doesn't get out unscathed, but he does get out of that spot. Mainly because of the sound the ground is making. Ooooh, that can't be good. Zoom! That's when he discovers the bit of gleam, but he doesn't call it out. Just sticks a flag there and rounds back to see what the alien critters are. No, he's not taking this serious at all. Oooh.. funky critters! What kind? Hell, he'll even snag a mouse from the air and drop it on that strange bit of ground just to experiment.

"Ew!" Oh, gawd. Someone do something about the monk-eye diet. Corrin didn't even really see the little critters, past a few fast-moving shapes fleeing upwards, but… ugh!
Waving a hand before his face to clear the stink (his eyes are watering!) Corrin judges the gap. Three meters? Easy… if he can get a few steps running start. He stands up and paces out onto his branch, testing it for spring (and breaking…) and, once satisfied, he'll take a deep breath of the clearest air he can find, go back to the start, and do the run 'n jump. ANYTHING to get away from the stink!

First, Corrin does indeed make the leap. The tree he leaps to, unfortunately, is full of big-eyed monk- eyes with powerful sphincters and pungent glands; their protest is entirely non-audible. Sadly, the same can not be said for its effect on the sense of taste and smell.

Pietro grabs a mouse. Unfortunately that means the mouse in question has grabbed him as well — the claws that catch are FAST. Wrapped around his wrist, but not breaking skin, they itch something fierce.
On the ground below in the muck that runs the center of the channel, something with three red-orange eyes glares out at Pietro, hiss-growling its displeasure at being taunted by having its favorite snack waved in front of it. Then the other two (the ones that missed) scurry out in Pietro's direction … and are quickly impaled by tentacles, or tongues, or perhaps whiskers; the important thing is that they come from the red-eyed beast, they impale at three times the speed of sound, and they hold the fighting, growling bandaersnatch-mice in midair for a moment while the venom takes effect, then they suck back into the darkness. Crunching ensues.

Keld has run up another tree and is heading towards the same place Corrin found. He's gotten a cloth from somewhere and has wrapped it around his face.

The stench reaches Pietro just in time for the bandaersnatch-mouse to take hold. He reels a moment and then ignores the mouse as he moves. Oh god, must get away from the smell. Who cares about the monsters! Puts himself well away from both reek and three-eyes before stopping to deal with the mouse. With gets slapped good and hard by someone who can rip street signs out of pavement. He'll peel it off and slam it down but good before heading back in. This time to help Corrin. More or less. He moves through at superspeed, trailing a strong wind. Hopefully he can remove some of the smell. Hopefully he won't knock Corrin out of the tree while doing it.

Y'know, maybe if he goes Real Fast, Corrin can get through the worst of the stink before having to take another breath? Please?
In an odd way, though, the smell is good. Smell is grounding. His head didn't like the 'no life here' he was seeing, but smell? Now it's real, and nothing is sliding for him. (That's a relief!)
Hit his landing, look for the next, go… and there's Keld, with a bandana? AH! He's been here! He knows about the monk-eyes! (Sneaky frickle frackle alien bargazzle…) Corrin plots his course to the fragment and goes for it. He's much lighter than Keld; hopefully, that will translate to an easier passage through the trees… and a straighter one.

It's easier said than done to peel off a bandersnaetch-mouse, but it can be done by stunning them, and Pietro manages it. The adhesive skin venom in the real thing can paralyze most creatures (including Dakkamite warrior class, prior to upgrade #13141243.413/antitoxin, which of course came after this place was discovered) … but in the simulation it only provides itchy distraction, so Pietro only gets a painful burning and numbness, and a feeling like skin has been pulled off. The wind of Pietro's passing moves the stink around, but more importantly, the stink does what it does normally when violently disrupted by predators - it erupts in tiny explosions, like firecrackers. No actual flame, just concussive SNAPPOW that stings like soft plastic bb-shot against the skin. It can be outrun, but it's definitely a surprise, and Corrin will probably feel some as well for his disruption in leaping.

The lighter and reasonably fast Corrin is able to reach his own target before Keld gets near, and is faced with how to get to it to mark it. No upright trees near it, and it's in a "field" of low ferns just high enough to conceal a veritable army of small biting things.

He'll deal with the wound later. Which means he won't because it won't be more than some scratches when this is done. Pietro is moving faster than the normal eye can see, and he drops the affecting environment effects so that the winds stop. Corrin will have to deal with the aftermath on his own. For this is when his earpiece beeps. The man has to stop a moment to confirm he heard it, for sound is a trifle strange at speed, but with it brings a sigh. "I must be going." Said with some apology and regret. Even with the bites he was still enjoying himself. "Enjoy the rest of the session." Look, he was even polite, for all that he is gone immediately afterwards.

Corrin pauses on the last branch, eyes narrowed, breathing shallowly. Target: there. And what else is there…? Easy way to find out (maybe…) He lights up the fragment with his force field. Anything react to that?
He takes a good look around, too. Where's Keld? Where's Pietro…? Say, where *is* Pietro? He straightens up, and that's when Pietro's wake hits him. Wind blast! Looks like he's heading groundward whether he wants to or not! He makes one try to stay on the branch, and then focuses on the fall — twist in mid-air to get a look at the ground, throw his field around himself, and tuck himself to hit the ground rolling.

The force-field causes a panic-explosion of leaping things, small and furry and toothed and clawed, slipping and sliding. They swarm off towards the shelter of the trees (those selfsame trees that Keld and Corrin are moving along) and the result is that they leave a sort of opening, if one can leap safely down, to reach the crash sites.

Keld takes advantage, leaping across, barely covering the distance to the fallen tree, but he doesn't claim the fallen device, instead going towards a furrow that's visible from here that was hidden from the other tree.

Corrin's landing, well, there are two branches in the path he can reach, and the gas being drawn along Pietro's wake (until he completely vacated) explodes in a stattaco roar of firecracker booms, further panicking the flight-crazed bandersnatch mice. Some are stunned by the explosions, others simply flee. Corrin might lose a bit of breath landing, but the roll should save him from damage, and he can, fairly casually, reach his first machine. The second as well, if he hurries.

Corrin rolls up to his feet, half blind from stink and … well, stink-bombs, and aims himself toward the fallen machine more by memory than anything else. He sprints for the object and slaps it — There! Tagged!
Look, see… there! Keld! Where is he… oh! Another! Corrin grins and takes off toward the second object. It's a race! And he lays a skid-field down ahead of him… not for him to skate on (the ground is too rough) but to scare critters out of the way. It's worked so far…

Animals … yes. They don't seem to like the skidfield. It makes the ground unreliable. Many of them erupt in panicky flight, many of them make their equivalent of a howl, perfuming the air with a miasma of olfactory shouting. Others just hide and wait for whatever it is to pass. And of course, some of them take advantage. There is a brief swirl of small leaping things, a moment later a smaller burst of larger leaping things catching the small leaping things out of the air and fanging them. Nothing Corrin's size, although something growl-burbles from a nearby trench. And then when Corrin hits his machine, the simulation stops.

"Tie, Corrin and Keld." — the Machine has spoken.

The smell fades from the air, the forest freezes, then disappears, then the ordinary gymnasium reasserts itself, although absent the hardware which is currently slid against the walls.

"Good work, Corrin," Keld says. "So what did you think?"

Corrin hits the second machine, yells, "Hah!" and… everything goes back to normal. The change is very disorienting for him… he wasn't expecting it, and he freezes where he is when it happens… Tie, Corrin and Keld.
"What?" He looks up, but it's just the Avengers gymnasium. It still gets a dubious look as he turns around to check that the whole simulation is finished. He looks at Keld when he speaks and has to drag his attention together to answer him. "Um. That was… different." Blink, blink… frown. He tips his head down and gives Keld a firm stare. "You had the advantage… you KNEW what those stink monk-eyes would do!"

Innocence comes off of Keld in palplable waves.
"How could I possibly have known what the marmostanks would do? They were computer controlled." He manages not to smirk or grin or laugh for a good thirty seconds before he cracks up.

Corrin's reaction to that comment? Before the thirty seconds are up? He walks forward and tweaks Keld's fabric face mask. Doesn't say a word; the wry look says it all.

Once the laughing is over, Keld looks back at Corrin.
"So what'd you think? You like that place? Except for the weird animals. Almost as bad as back home."
He begins moving the workout equipment back to its normal stations, so Jarvis won't have to get out the forklift.

Corrin thinks about the question for a long moment. He watches Keld moving things and goes to help… and finds that he would need a forklift to shift things. A moment of thought, and he lays down a skidfield under one of the weight machines. A good shove, and now it moves for him. He guides it into place before he answers.
"It was… interesting. It looked strange, though, and the way it appeared and disappeared with disorienting. The plants and animals didn't seem real, at all… until the stink-things stank up the place. THEN it felt real." A shrug and a half-smile… the stunk-monks were awful.

"There's a testing routine they do here for new Avengers, presenting some impossible scenarios. I'm glad they didn't make me do one to qualify, frankly." Keld moves to the next rack of machines.
With Corrin's help, the shifting around is done very quickly, thanks to the fact that most of the units are modular and designed for movement.

Corrin looks interested. "Really? What sorts of impossible scenarios?" He reaches up to bat at a hanging ring once the equipment is back in place, watching it swing. "Things like, do you save this person or those people? Or how to get out of the booby-trapped building before the ridiculously short countdown goes off? Or…?" He looks around at Keld. "And if they usually test people, but didn't test you… what did you do instead, that impressed them enough for them to waive the requirement?"

Keld pulls off the half-face cowl, glares at it. Uncomfy and it gets tweaked. Maybe the no-face-covering look IS better. He looks over, at Corrin's questions.
"Yeah, that kind of thing, the stuff that reveals character. I … can't really say why I wasn't tested. I guess, in part, that I was here at the right time, I was already trained in teamwork and support and I apparently bring a great deal of power that was temporarily missing. Then again… I did go to work for one of your planet's protective groups, so I'm kind of a liason in some ways to them."

Corrin pauses. Protective groups… "SHIELD?" He thinks Keld told him, once upon a time, but he really can't remember at the moment. It feels like 'normal' forgetting, though, not… the other kind. It's good.
Idly, he pulls on one of the weights and… nothing. He looks; 1200 lbs. Yeah. No wonder nothing happened. He resets it to 100 lbs and it moves this time, with effort. That's better.

"S.W.O.R.D. I don't know what it's an acronym for. I'm about to do some of my internal training, please don't worry if I make odd noises," Keld says. He sits in a meditation posture, something resembling the japanese kneeling "seiza" position, and begins to go through a series of exercises, most of which aren't visible from the outside. He's breathing hard and sweating inside a minute.

"Internal…?" Corrin watches Keld sit and… sweat. That's a bit disturbing, but the alien did warn of the change, so he'll leave him to it, going around the machines to investigate them. He's not normally in here, and certainly not when he has the opportunity to check things out, so he does so now… up to and including the rings.
His handstand is shaky and he falls out of it almost at once, but it was there. Corrin drops back to the mat and rubs his burning arms. He did that. He must have done it before. That's something he didn't know… and a bit of knowledge that he treasures now.

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