2011-04-22: When Rats Fly


Tabitha_icon.jpg Rashmi_icon.jpg

Summary: Tabitha gets some help from Rashmi, with a little flight training.

Log Title: When Rats Fly

Rating: PG

Barnes Academy - Practice Room

//This is a very large module, about the size of a football field. In default mode, it has stadium lighting and the floors and walls are of the same white-gray alloy as the rest of the base. However, practically every element in the room is modular, from floors to walls to ceilings to lighting and even the air flow is adjustable. While it isn't a Star Trek style holodeck, just about any credible threat can be simulated, if not replicated. A control booth overlooks the room in a way that might be oddly familiar to some people. //


Early evening, and the Training Room is filled with the muffled sounds of activity; most of it violent, by the sound of it. Multiple impacts and pained grunts, many feet stomping on concrete, and the occasional smack of someone or something on concrete. The warning light is on outside, in case the sound wasn't enough to tell someone was running a combat scenario.

Along the hallway leading up to the Training Room comes Tabitha, making her way with awkward caution, given the large pair of wings stuck on her back. She keeps them tucked against her back as best she can; and for now she's dressed in her Barne's uniform… below the waist. She's gotten her hands on a halter-top that says 'Barnes' across the top, and has the more proper upper-body wear tied around her waist. She draws to a halt outside the door, looking up at the warning light, and resting one hand on her hip as she waits.

The sounds of fighting die down before long, the light outside the door switching to green, a short click sounding as the automatic locks on the door disengage.

Tabitha waits for just a moment, to make sure she isn't going to be walking smack into anyone; and then she opens the door, and makes her way on inside. The Rat Girl manages to look graceful at first; until she catches her wings on the door jamb. Being forced to stop, she blushes heatedly and backs off to arrange her wings before trying again.

On the far side from the door, there's a scattering of unconscious thugs scattered about a small area set up for urban combat; one-story walls to simulate buildings, occasional obstacles, and in the center of it all? A short young woman in an armored black bodysuit, a scarlet-trimmed brown swatch of cloth wrapped around her head, its ends draping in back to end in red bracelets clasped around her wrists, breathing heavily as a half-dozen softly glowing blue spheres orbit rapidly around her, all at varying speeds and paths.

The winged rat, now even easier to pick out of a crowd than she was before, picks her way across obstacles and unconscious thugs. Her ears train on everything she looks at, until she focuses on the armored figure and her entourage of glowing spheres. "Err… hi," she blurts out, and clasps her hands behind her back. "Please don't smack me around with those. I don't think I can Kung Fu them." She pauses, and her lips quirk upwards mischievously. "Well… not yet, anyway."

Rashmi pushes back the hood, revealing a face deeply flushed with exertion and a sheepish smile on her lips. "Oh… don't worry," she says after a moment, bending over and resting her hands on her knees. "I don't do this to real people unless I don't have a choice… um, which reminds me. End Simulation!" she calls to nothing in general, and the thugs flicker and vanish, the walls sliding down until the floor is perfectly level. "Sorry, I try to do this every evening I'm not in combat training. Gets me used to what I'm learning."

Tabitha nods her head quickly. "Right," she replies. "Well, I'll…" She trails off, and taps her lips lightly. "I was about to say I'll never have to worry about being able to beat the stuffing out of someone with glowing… whatever it is you've got. But then I realized that I actually *might*." She meanders forwards as the simulation dissipates, and stretches out her wings. "I put in a request to have them let me start firearms training early… since I'm already, like… trained. Sorta anyway. They haven't decided yet, but at least I can start doing Kung Fu classes again."

Rashmi snorts, shaking her head and raking her fingers through her short hair. "Not exactly Kung Fu, really… Though I'm sure they could probably find a good instructor if you really wanted. And I wasn't exactly doing that with *all* the simulations, just…" The girl lifts a shoulder, then pauses face scrunching up as a cramp hits her ribs. "…Ow," she murmurs stretching it out. "I'm not taking *serious* combat training, not like you probably think. I don't even *like* fighting, and I *hate* my firearms training. But I need to know how to put someone down if I have to, and make sure they *stay* there."

Tabitha's ears flatten, and she coughs softly. "Yeah, well… it's not that I want to have to kill anyone or anything, I don't. My Dad taught me to handle firearms from a young age… and I started learning Kung Fu after Mom died. Kung Fu isn't just about fighting anyway, it's… it's like, how to move, how to live, stuff like that. I really want to get back into it." She shrugs lightly, and her wings flap in the process. "Actually, I'd like someone to teach me how to sleep with these things. I dunno how Aiden does it… sleeping on my stomach is weird, sleeping on my back is horrendous, sleeping on my side is wonky."

"Probably he got used to it after living with it for so long," Rashmi points out, chuckling. "I don't know about you, though… I mean I'm pretty sure the beds are against the wall, so… Maybe sleep with your face to the wall, so they hang over the side?"

The winged rat nods quickly. "Yeah, I'll try that tonight," she replies, and shifts her hands to rest on her hips. "So uhm… you said this room might have a flight training program?" She shifts her weight to rest on one leg, and stretches out her wings to their full span. "I'm only going to have them for another… four days, unless I see Aiden again and refresh the…" She trails off, and her brow furroughs. "What do you call it, anyway? Imprint? Mimicry? Five finger mutant power discount?"

Rashmi shrugs. "Power copying works, since there're a few different varieties. And um, right, flight training." Holding up a finger, she trots across the rather considerable distance to the door, poking through the list of available programs. "…O-kay," she says after a moment. "You'll want to get inside the red circle. Lemme know when you're ready, and I'll start it up."

Tabitha looks around herself, until she spots the red circle; she trots herself, right up to the circle in question, and positions herself in the middle of it. She takes off the Barnes top from around her waist, and drops it on the floor beside her, before arching her back and stretching legs and arms and wings. "Okay," she says, at last. "I think I'm ready."

Rashmi taps in a few more keys, and nods to herself. "Okay," she yells, "I'll cover you from here. If you're in trouble, just, um…. yell." She taps a key, and the floor inside the red circle starts to rise…. and rise… and rise. By the time it stops, the platform is halfway to the ceiling. And that's when the fans kick in; ten-mile-per-hour winds roaring around the platform, tugging insistently at Tabitha's wings. At the far tne of the room, a bullseye lights up in red, yellow, and green at the center. The purpose of the exercise becomes clear; jump off the platform, glide down the field, and land as accurately as you can.

Tabitha walks carefully to the edge of the platform, and stands with her toes just over the edge, looking down at the floor of the training room so very, very far away. "…This is like Neo, with Morpheus telling him to free his mind and all that," she mutters. "Except it's going to hurt more if I screw up." She backs off from the edge, and stands at the center once more. She takes a deep breath, and holds her hands in front of her in a classic martial-arts meditation pose. …And then she's in motion, running full tilt to the edge of the raised circle; she pushes off hard at the last moment, and launches herself into space. Her wings spread out, and for a moment she seems to just hang there, as her momentum carries her forwards.

The moment Tabitha jumps, Rashmi stabs another key. Between the column and the target, the floor opens up, the muffled bang of airbags filling to capacity in seconds heard beneath the airborne mutant. Only then does Rashmi allow herself mental space to watch, biting firmly on her lower lip and hoping she didn't miss anything setting this up.

Tabitha is flying! And she's got a big grin plastered to her face while she's doing it. It all looks very graceful, and beautiful; wings stretched out, and tail and legs trailing behind. Right up until the moment when her downwards momentum outweighs her forwards motion. "…Oh SHIT!" she abruptly screams, and her arms and legs flail wildly as she plummets straight downwards, and right into an airbag.

"Tabitha!" The fans abruptly shut off, and Rashmi hurries toward the 'crash site.' Happily, the airbags do their job quite well, with nary a bruise… though the rat will want to be careful how she gets out, thanks to the peculiar body structure the wings create. Hurriedly, the redhead kneels next to the edge of the floor, concern writ large in her dark eyes. "Are you all right?!"

Tabitha is sprawled out on and in an airbag. She scrabbles about, and manages to extend one hand out and give the thumbs up. "The eagle has landed," she observes, with a wry tone of voice. "Not… quite how I planned it." She starts to move again, and manages to flip over onto her belly, to make her way to solid floor, eventually pulling herself back up and resting in a crouch. "But I think I figured it out. I'm *sure* I was starting to glide towards the end, I just didn't start quick enough."

Rashmi lowers a hand, offering to help pull the girl up out of the airbag's pit. "If you want to stop, I understand… You scared me out of my *wits* when you fell. Want to try again…. I'm sure I can reset it without a problem."

Tabitha takes hte offered hand, and after a momentary rest pulls herself up to her feet. "Nah… I should try again. Who knows, maybe someday my life will depend on being able to fly with a pair of wings, and it's gonna be pretty embarassing if I just end up planting my teeth in the concrete or something." She stretches lightly, and nods her head. "If you can reset it, that'd be really cool. Thank you for helpin' me out with this, Rashmi… I'll try not to scare you again."

Rashmi smiles, patting Tabitha's shoulder. "Not a problem… I'll go right back over, then. I, um… don't… actually know anything about flying, so… I wish i could help more, y'know?" With that, she trots back to the panel, resetting the podium and reinflating the airbag.

Tabitha shrugs her shoulders, as she moves back towards the bit of the platform that will raise her back up again. "Well, no worries," she replies, as she stretches and waits for the platform to carry her abck up once more. "But I'm sure sometime you can teach me all about thinking about several different things at once, and how to smack things silly with glowing balls of awesome."

Once the platform has her raised back up into the air, Tabitha repeats her previous actions; she takes a run at the edge, and flings herself out into the open air; once more, momentum carries her forwards, and it all looks very graceful. This time, however, instead of plumetting like a rock she stretches her winds out properly; downwards momentum still tugs at her, but at least she isn't dropping like a rock.

The fans create a steady stream of wind beneath Tabitha's outstretched wings, pushing her gently forward, lifting up underneath the strange new appendages in a way that only those why fly on real wings will ever understand. Rashmi follows Tabitha's progress down the airbag-paved miniature runway, head tilted slightly as she watches, a small smile on her face.

Tabitha eventually nears the ground, and manages to land right on the edge of the target circle. By 'land', what is really meant is that she runs forwards a couple of steps, her legs trying to keep up with her momentum before she sprawls out across teh floor with a quiet 'oomph!' She's up just as quickly though, stretching her arms up above her head and laughing. "Oh, that was awesome!" she declares. "That was really awesome. I flew! That was amazing!"

"You *did!* That's incredible, Tabitha, what was it like?" Rashmi's grin is broad, as she shuts down the simulation and hurries over while the podium retracts.

Tabitha stretches her wings out, and beats the air with them a couple of times before she spins on her heel, turning a full three-sixty before facing Rashmi once more. "It was like being… free," she blurts out. "I dunno, I mean like… I felt like I could go anywhere I wanted because nobody could reach me, I guess. Does that make sense?" She pauses, and brushes her fingers through her hair. "I'm really glad I copied Aiden. Even if it hurts like hell again when I lose them, it's been worth it."

Rashmi bobs her head, her grin widening. "Not in the slightest, but I'll never have any idea. So it balances out, right?" Clapping a hand on Tabitha's shoulder, she tilts her head. "Y'know… if I was jealous of anyone? I think it'd probably be you. It's an *amazing* gift you have; just by looking at a mutant, you can understand what it's like to *be* them. That's… incredible, really."

The insides of Tabitha's ears color as she blushes, and she clasps her hands behind her back as she bows her head. "Thank you," she murmurs; her voice is quiet, but she's smiling when she looks up again. "Jut have to be careful not to copy someone and then, like, blow everything around me up by accident. …I was lucky I made a mistake with someone safe."

"Well that's why you *practice,* of course," Rashmi says with a chuckle. "Plenty of safe mutants around to learn how to get a handle on it. After you know how to handle it, move on to the bigger steps. Just like martial arts, right?"

Tabitha nods once more, "Yeah, and not blowing myself up is important, too. Or permanently turning myself into something that I really couldn't stand to be." She looks down at herself pointedly, and her tail lashes back na forth behind her. "It must have been tricky for you, learning to control six spheres with your mind."

Rashmi blows out a breath, running a hand through her hair and scratching the back of her neck. "It was… yeah. I still don't do it totally consciously; you *can't,* really, not without understanding the kind of Pig-Martian space-math you use to control satellites. Mostly for me it's like… I want this guy away from me. I want to not get hit by bullets. I want this one to do this, that one to do that… The best way I've figured out how to explain it is, rub your belly, pat your head, tap your left foot, shake your hips, read the Times, and recite the Declaration of Independence."

Tabitha coughs softly, and perks one eyebrow. "Yeah," she replies. "I can totally do all that! As long as I do them one at a time. Actually, I bet I can rub my belly and pat my head at the same time if I really think about it." She reaches up to scratch the back of her head. "I bet you must be really good at jeopardy, too. Ever think about trying to get on the show?"

Rashmi laughs quietly. "I couldn't; for one, I'm a mutant, and it wouldn't be fair. For two, it's not like that. I can remember a lot of things, but honestly doing really deep thinking is almost impossible unless I've got the spheres out. Most of it's intuition; like, y'know how you're trying to put a puzzle together, and suddenly after turning a whole bunch of pieces all different ways suddenly it all becomes clear?"

Tabitha ahhs, "Okay, I… don't get it." She laughs, and clasps her hands behind her head as she sways from side to side a little. "But eventually I'll try copying you, as long as you're still cool with it, and then I might understand. Though you can manage six, you said? Spheres, I mean? And six things to think about… which means I'll probably get three. But it'll be a good taste-test, if you wanna call it that."

Rashmi lifts a shoulder. "It's just my powers, honestly. It's not like you're *taking* them, or anything, and you're not even taking anything really important." Chuckling, she shakes her head. "I mean, it'd be like asking me to keep back the trimming from my next haircut so you could dye your hair to match. I know most powered people aren't like that, but…" Shaking her head, she starts to unclasp the bracelets, unwinding the cloth from her head. "I've never put much stock in my powers. They're a part of me, but they don't define me, y'know?"

Tabitha nods her head quickly. "Yeah, I know what you mean," she replies. "I mean… I never really thought about it like that, but it totally makes sense, now that you say it. I just wish more people got it… y'know, so they'd see 'Tabitha' when they look at me, and not 'oh god it's a rat that talks'." She shrugs her shoulders dismissively. "Don't worry, I'm not getting all depressed or anything. Just saying." She pauses, and taps her lips lightly. "So uhm… I was talking to Star the other day. She said she had a pretty rought time in Africa a few months ago?"

Rashmi winces, pausing as she rolls up the cloth and taking a moment to close her eyes. "….Yeah. She… did. You remember that time we talked, I told you that there was a story I'd tell you later if you wanted to hear it? Well…. That's the story." Opening her eyes again, she looks up at the rat, outwardly calm but with a great deal of old hurt in her eyes. "My part of it, anyway. … ….If you still wanna hear it."

Tabitha nods her head slowly. "She told me you were there too," she murmurs. "But not much more than that." Her temporary wings stretch, and beat the air briefly before folding up against her back, neatly out of the way. "And… yeah, I do still want to hear it, but only if you want to tell it. I don't want to pry."

Rashmi shakes her head and gestures toward the door. "You're not. If I didn't want to say anything, I wouldn't… simple as that. C'mon… let's get some sodas and go back to the room. I'm gonna want to get out of this before I talk about it, and you'll want to sit down anyway."

Tabitha falls into step, and accompanies Rashmi towards the door. "Sounds good," she agrees. "Actually, I'm gonna grab something to eat, too — I didn't eat before flying in case I… got airsick or something." She coughs softly. "So, I better gobble something up, or my stomach will be growling halfway through your story."

Rashmi nods quietly. "That's fine, then… gives me time to change out. I'll see you back in our common room, okay?" And with that, she walks with Tabitha as far as the Common Area, where she peels off to go to the soda machine.

~ Fin ~

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