Editing the rules of the universe


jaiden_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title Editing the rules of the Universe
Synopsis Two Ferrymen who've offered their services as sensei get together for some training of their own. The fundamental laws of the universe are duly imperilled.
Date October 14 2010

Coco's Boxing Gym

The gym's been around so long that no one knows who Coco was. Legend has it that he was an ex-mobster or some grizzled former POW. Either story would fit with the general atmosphere of the place. This is not a trendy location that offers yoga, pilates and spin classes. The gym is grimy, run-down, perpetually smells of sweat and full of well-worn, mostly manual equipment. It offers a wide selection of weights, a wall full of bikes, an area for martial arts training and a boxing ring towards the rear of the space.
Despite its lack of modern equipment, the space is almost always busy. It has a reputation for hiring serious trainers for both weight and boxing training. A world welterweight champion once trained here, and his picture hangs over the desk. Anyone who is serious about their training would feel comfortable here. Weekend warriors need not apply.

Outside, the temperature is falling and the clouds have moved in… but within Coco's, the atmosphere is heavy with the usual mix of sweat and heat, tasting thick on the tongue with the flavours of many years of hard service.

"Not exactly the most stylish of places", Ygraine murmurs to her taller companion as she holds the door open for him. "But it's the only one I've found thus far where it's possible to do just about anything - from beginner's classes for unfit young women, to… experimenting with abilities. Just don't trash any of the kit."

"That's not going to be too much of a problem." Jaiden has a battered gym bag slung over his shoulder as he steps into the place, scanning faces and exits with methodical efficiency, noting where things are, where things should be but aren't, and where the biggest concentrations of activity are. Always have a way out - and in Today's world, as an Evo, that's a damn good idea in case the flag goes up and stormtroopers start making their way through. "A place bein' stylish isn't always a good measure of how good a workout you can get from a place. Free weights, sparring….this place has just what it needs without any of those fancy trappings that you get for $150 a month plus application fee."

He steps into the gym proper, taking a breath of the sweat-laden air, nodding with approval. "Oh, this place'll do just perfectly." His head turns to look at the faux-redhead before he hooks a thumb in the back of his pullover and quickly yanks it over his head and off, leaving him clad in a pair of workout pants, sneakers, and a white t-shirt with a faded logo that's seen better days. "Shall we?"

Laughing, Ygraine glances down at herself. "I'll need a little longer to change out of my biking leathers. Feel free to make yourself at home. I'll be out in a minute", she assures the Australian as she heads for the changing rooms.

"Sure. Gives me a chance to warm up and the like while you get ready." What's left unsaid is that it gives him something else to think about other than the curvaceous redhead getting into her workout gear in the locker room just over there. Jaiden turns on his heel and heads toward the sparring pit, dropping his bag in a corner furthest from a door, a place that he can keep an eye on it while having fun with Ygraine.

The redhead in question does return quite quickly, a minor benefit of years of competition being a well-practiced routine for such matters. Now clad in the loose-fitting lower half of a tracksuit, with the straps of a supportive lycra top showing through the broad neck of a long-sleeved sweatshirt, she is carrying a small bag in one hand.

Flashing a grin at Jaiden, she nods to him. "Figured I'd bring a few small objects, in case you wanted to do anything with those… and… I wasn't sure if you'd prefer loose sleeves, bare feet, or what. I can slip out of the shirt or trainers if you like…"
When Ygraine emerges, she'll find Jaiden sitting in the middle of the mat, right in between two duct-taped lines about three feet apart, watching the door for her arrival. He gets to his feet quickly, almost springing up bruce-lee style, rocking his head to and fro as he shrugs. "Depends on what you want to start with, really. Bare hands at first would probably be best since, y'know, it's what everyone's armed with. We'll work with weapons a little later."

"We might want to start slow, with basic fighting stuff if you don't already have a good handle on that, before bringing the powers into it."

Ygraine chuckles, then shrugs. "We can spar for a bit to get a feel of each other's styles and capabilities, if you like?", she suggests, part-turning to toss her bag over into the corner alongside Jaiden's. "My major weakness'll be against grappling."

"Okay that'll work. We'll work on grappling and getting out of them too, since being grabbed means you're in range for knees, elbows, heads and fists. Not a good proposition." Jaiden steps back, shoe-covered feet on the mat making little shuffling noises against the canvas, his arms hanging at his sides before coming up into loose fists - almost like a boxer, but a bit higher and further out. "Go half speed to start with. We don't want any broken noses or anything."

Ygraine cracks a grin, then bows… before also adopting a stance close to a loose version of a boxer's guard posture, her positioning orthodox for a right-hander.

What she demonstrates initially is merely sufficient competence to make her seem safe to spar with: she knows how to pull blows as well as aim them, and her technique is good enough that a simple block of one of her half-speed strikes won't risk causing her any problems. As things pick up a little and stop being quite so easy, however, it becomes clear that she's got an excellent grasp of distance and timing, complemented by control of her motions that remains tight even at higher speed. Her balance is unusually good, and she has remarkable power in her legs - her reduced level of effort is still pretty rapid and hard-hitting whenever she delivers a kick, while there's enough musculature across her shoulders to put some real snap into punches.

A bow? Jaiden returns that grin with a wink and a bow of his own before getting stuck in. The half-speed sparring seems to work well, each fighter feeling the other out, Jaiden taking mental notes in order to see what needs to be worked on (if anything) and where he needs to practice a little more. It is like riding a bicycle - you never really forget how to throw or to take a punch, but getting your balance back? That's the trick.

Her kicks and punches are deflected since they're coming at half-speed, arms going up to deflect, legs going up to absorb shocks from appropriately-speedy kicks. "I did mean to ask…" Jaiden throws a punch toward Ygraine's midsection, his fingers reaching out to poke rather than to hit if he does make contact. "Do you have any problem with fighting unfairly? Because when you bring your ability into it…" Jaiden ducks back to avoid a kick that *whooshes* right in front of his face. "It's going to be pretty unfair when you get things going."

A laugh, and Ygraine shrugs - albeit without dropping her guard. "Well, I want to figure out how to use that without killing people. And for that, I was thinking of using some of the practice dummies here initially… though some simple things could be done to you directly. Right now, I'm not going to use my ability on you, since I'm not at all sure I could do so without… problems. Just like I'm not going to find out if some of the cane-use methods are lethal by testing them on you."

Another shrug, then she tries her fastest-pace attack yet. She's learned a style that favours kicks over punches, but allows use of hands as well as feet, and regards the whole body as a target area. It's not a 'full' combat style, but it's certainly more than enough to be significantly useful against the vast majority of potential opponents.

The speed is moving up a little more to Jaiden's preferred pace, and as she attacks with those kicks and punches, Jaiden finds himself stumbling back almost to avoid incoming blows, rocking back on his heels before, unexpectedly, he moves into the punches, toward Ygraine, trying to take away the range that she has on him while getting close enough to grab her around the waist. She said she was bad at grappling….let's see how bad.

That might serve as a rather unpleasant introduction to Ygraine's awareness of how to use her knees, the Briton seemingly welcoming the chance to pivot over one hip, her torso acting as a weight to help to propel her free leg up and forward, knee-first, aimed at the on-coming Australian's midriff. Of course, should he manage to deal with that she'll have precious little defence against a grab - but at least she doesn't panic upon encountering something outside her own style.

It's difficult to stop an advance when the knee is coming, so he doesn't. Tensing his stomach, he winces just as it hits him. "OOOOF!" The knee to Jaiden's midsection connects resoundingly, bouncing off just above his hip, the point of her knee sinking in a little to the softer…relatively, compared to the rest of his body, part of his stomach. It's not a direct hit, though, and this leaves her with her knee up in his midsection. The man pushes it away, trying to put Ygraine off balance and sending her off with a push toward the middle of the ring, leaving him there, grinning, and her in the middle of the ring. "Good! You've got the basics down pretty well!"

Panting a little, Ygraine chuckles and offers another bow. "I've been doing a couple of hours of practice and training virtually every week for the past couple of years. I'd hope I had some idea of what I was doing", she says with a grin, before looking somewhat more serious.

"But that sort of situation… that's one where my ability could come into play, really quite nastily. Imagine that kick with my whole weight behind it - every ounce, accelerating towards you. Or, worse, you accelerating with your full weight onto my knee, so that you've nothing to push against and no way to brace or move to roll with it."

"I think I can imagine. I was in a car accident when I was younger - laid me up for a while with lots of broken bits in me. Your punches would be like that on a good day." He straightens and moves over to one of the heavy punching bags hanging from a chain, starting it swinging. "Let's see what you can do by putting your whole weight behind a kick into this."

Padding over, Ygraine sets herself… then delivers a couple of warm-up ranging efforts, before setting about putting full (mundane) force into some kicks. She can generate a remarkable amount of power for her size… and that gets more impressive still when she moves closer, and reaches out one hand close to the bag, doing something invisble to it that has it sway abruptly towards her, to be met with a full-force knee-strike.

The bag buckles from that knee strike, almost like it was hit with a bat at the point of impact, folding inwards with a *pop* that actually gets the attention of a few of the people working out nearby for a moment before they go back to their free weights. Jaiden lets out a low whistle at that. "Remind me to never be on the receiving end of one of those." He pads over and studies the bag, fully expecting a divot to be knocked out of it from that mighty blow. "Silly question time…can you control various parts of people? Have their head coming toward you while their hips go somewhere toward the floor? Because your ability screams grappling." He tilts his head, getting an idea. "Can you use your ability with your feet, or just with your hands?"

"Discrete objects are easiest to work with. And I tend to use hands because of the ease of the… well, the interface, I suppose", Ygraine explains. "But I can use any part of me. I often use feet, when going up a wall or across a ceiling."

A wink, then she shrugs and steps away from the practice bag, holding out one hand towards Jaiden. "Reach out to take my hand", she instructs. "And be ready for oddness."

"Well, you're reaching out to cause it to move. If we could get you to where you, in a fight, were just thinking and making it work with each punch, it might be good." Jaiden grins, then his face kind of falls when she says that. Bloody hell.

Jaiden reaches out and takes her hand, readying himself for the aforementioned 'oddness.' "Let's go."

Several inches before Jaiden's fingers touch her own, things go wrong for the Australion. There's no sensation of him having moved, but abruptly everything else has. Ahead is now down - and not just in some vague impression, but in the way that everything moves. His brain, his clothes, and his whole body are falling at full speed forwards, the ground no longer holding him in the slightest.

As he falls, Ygraine rapidly draws back her hand and sidesteps, rapping him comparatively lightly on the upper chest to flip his body horizontal at the same time as normal gravity reasserts itself.

Again, the brain and soft organs are pulled a different way, but forward momentum is retained even as the Australian crashes down to land on his back on the matting.

Gravity is a constant, but with Ygraine around, it's not. Suddenly he finds himself falling toward her, then flying over her shoulder like he weighed almost nothing. He tries to use his sense of direction - what he can see rather than what he can feel - to try and cushion his landing, his backside hitting first, his hands popping down to lessen the impact on the padded mats. The people in the Gym just saw Jaiden get thrown really, really hard. Jaiden got thrown really, really hard and now has his equilibrium borked up just a little. "Ow." is his only response as he sits up, rubbing the back of his head. "You need to learn Judo and Akido."

"The nastier versions of that are to meet you with a knee, so you've accelerated for six feet or so onto it, as it's coming the other way - or to hit you while you're in mid-air once I've flipped you and let normal gravity take hold again", Ygraine says rather sheepishly, as she moves around to offer a hand up. "See why I say I could kill people, all too easily? I can put several times my attacker's weight onto one of my strikes, if I can get them to travel a few yards before I connect."

Jaiden takes the offered hand and gets to his feet. "Watch for falling everything with you around." he quips, giving her a pat on the shoulder before stepping back.

Ygraine offers another sheepish smile. "My range is still very short, so… not really. Six inches is about my reliable limit for range, but… being able to get control of people before they can get ahold of me seems useful. I could do with practice at it. And I definitely need practice at what to do once they have got hold of me."

"That I can help you with for certain. That's one of the things I'm best at - getting out of tight situations." Jaiden grins. "I guess the best thing would be to practice getting control of people first. Half speed this time, I'm going to throw punches, one after the other. Your job is to deflect them and the attack by changing the direction, either by making my body the source, or the ceiling." He lifts his hand, then pauses. "Don't flip me into the roof, please."

"I can't", Ygraine says, shaking her head. "I need to be within six inches or so of the target, and it needs to be within six inches or so of its new target. Or else I could throw people away at the speed of nearby traffic. "I can try fine control of a particular body-part, but it's hard - your hand's really just part of you. Larger surfaces or objects are easier - when I flipped you just now, I took you and all your clothes. The whole ensemble. Hrmmmm. That's a point… I could try something a bit weird. Okay. Take it slow, and I'll see how this goes…."

"Trying something weird. Hooboy." Jaiden grins and lifts his hands and throws a slow right hand toward Ygraine's head.

For the first few such punches, nothing of note happens, beyond Ygraine doing some odd slow-motion blocks while looking as if she's either concentrating fiercely or desperately trying to figure something out.

Then, abruptly, Jaiden's world flips, and so does he, spiralling forward and around as Ygraine hurls herself to one side, the man coming to a thudding, tumbling halt atop his lead arm. Things seem to have reverted to normal, just as they did last time he got whirled around by changing gravity - but this time he discovers that things are still very seriously screwy. Gravity is no longer oriented down. Not to the ground. Instead, his whole body seems to be inclined to fall towards his left wrist-band. It, however, is still subject to normal gravity and likes to lie on the ground. Lifting it is possible - push against the ground, move one's arm away from said ground… fall away from ground to wrist, lose contact with ground in process, lose traction, fall back to ground along with wrist-band….

"Now that's a cool trick!" Jaiden is still in a heap on the floor, trying his best to adjust himself into some kind of 'not falling' position that doesn't really work very well. "Lord…um…help?"

So long as the wrist-band's on the floor and his centre of gravity is over it, everything feels fine. Of course, that's not the most dignified or comfortable of positions.

Picking herself up from where she's sitting on the floor, having gone sprawling to avoid the flying Australian, Ygraine trots hurriedly over, lightly touches his shoulder, and everything seems to return to normal once more. "Wow. I'd… well. I need to be able to focus on what I'm using, and there's limited use in things like, well, setting someone's new 'down' to be their shoes, unless they're trying to kick me at the time. They quite possibly wouldn't even notice. And anything that wraps around the torso wouldn't be nearly so disorienting. Your centre of mass would still act as a centre of mass even if directions were a bit screwy. But the wrist band…."

"Or wrist watch, or ring, or gloves, or whatever they're holding in their hand." Jaiden imagines a man falling toward a cup of coffee or a memo pad that suddenly becomes down without them being aware of it as he climbs to his feet, swaying a bit as he re-orients himself with where down is for right now. "Does that wear off or do you have to turn it off?"

"It only lasts a few minutes", Ygraine informs him, watching carefully - one hand near his back, but not quite touching, in case he proves to need support. "Which has obvious drawbacks for more… cooperative uses of it. I can take people up walls and onto ceilings… but I can't leave them there for long. And if they get more than a few inches away - which is no harder than jumping normally is - then they lose the tie, and… normal gravity takes over."

"We should get you some baseballs to practice with." Jaiden grins. "Hell, we should do this more often. My ability just gets water to do interesting and fun things, but your ability has a lot of interesting uses beyond what mine can do."

"In raw power… you far out-do me, I suspect", Ygraine says quietly. "Save for that one potential application I mentioned to you before. But… because I don't use energy itself, but alter how it flows, I've got… precise control in ways that energy-manipulators seem not to find at all easy. Strictly speaking, my ability's only active for an instant at a time - when I generate or annul a link. Links can sustain themselves without me. So I can play around with it a bit more than might otherwise be possible, in some ways - but all I'm ever doing is within the bounds of physics. I… reassign one constant to be a variable. Everything else remains constant. Figuring out what that means can be quite head-warping at times."

Jaiden's voice drops into the lower octaves. "With great power comes great responsibility…" Is he quoting Spider Man? Yes, he is. Voice returning to normal, Jaiden looks around and makes a small 'bottle' of water from the air, passing it over for Ygraine to drink if she's thirsty. Don't worry, it's pure. "If you can figure out the variable and make it work properly, you'll be a heck of a force to be dealt with. And if you can figure out how to do it halfway - to control the force and speed and strength of gravity…it'll be pretty nice to have you on the good-guys side."

Ygraine snorts, then sticks her tongue out in response to the Spiderman quote - though she's already lapsing into laughter as she does so. That stops when she's passed the bottleless bottle of water. "Wow. Thta's… impressive. I saw you at the Ball, by the way. But… I'm not sure I can affect gravity directly. As best I can figure, it's like an electrical circuit - I can alter components so that they're unidirectional. They need to be part of a circuit for anything to flow through them - there has to be the other part of the link there. And there has to be gravity to affect them - I can't generate any. But while my… tweak stays in place, the affected object has all gravity flow through it and into the other part of the link. When the link breaks, normal gravity takes over."

A rueful shrug. "From what I've seen, it's a binary state - either that variable has been altered or it hasn't. I have wondered about trying to sustatin something in a transitional state, or layering fields so that there are multiple compulsions directing gravity in different directions… but I've never yet seen any evidence of my link having partial effects. I can feel when it's wearing off - but the subject is either stuck to the wall or it's not. There's no period when they start slipping."

To be continued…

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