Learning To Fly...


hiro_icon.gif maria_icon.gif

Scene Title Learning To Fly…
Synopsis … But he ain't got wings.
Date May 2, 2009

Tokyo and Mount Fuji, Japan

A city and a mountain.

It's May. The air is warm in lots of places, at least warmer than it had been over the winter months, and she has vacation time coming from her job at Biomere. The question had been what to do with it. For Maria Delgado travel is very cheap. She's taken enough time to be off for ten days from Friday the 1st through the next two Mondays. Packing was also easy. A few sets of clothing were neatly placed into an average sized backpack along with an amount of basic cosmetic and other products, a generous assortment of power bars, her passport, ID, and Linderman Act card.

That morning she stepped out of Dorchester Towers and took off, literally. Three hours later there was a stop in Seattle to eat, then she was aloft again. The trans-Pacific crossing was the worst of it. All that boring ocean below to pass over.

Eight hours or so later, moving at Mach 2, she reached the coast of Japan. A seaport was chosen, she alit on a pier near an entry control point and went through customs like any other traveler, then found a place for a badly needed eight hours of sleep.

The next day she's out and about again, rested and refreshed. Tokyo is her destination. Finding a fairly quiet part of the Ginza Strip, she drifts gently to earth and stands letting her eyes wander to take it all in.

Hiro likes being back in his homeland, but he hasn't really allowed himself to go out and enjoy himself in it so much. The Nakamura home is as segregated as wealth and privilege can allow it to be in such a populous city. Still, staying homebound has not been conducive to his mental health. He's grown very much accustomed to being able to go literally anywhere (and anywhen) he chooses. Now he's confined to this particular dimension.

Flight has been a wonder though.

Too high for the casual observer to notice it, a lone human figure named Hiro Nakamura is practicing best he can the loops and turns and maneuvers possible for someone flying under their own Evolved power. He's left the Kensei sword safely at his home and instead has adopted a mode of dress which seems well-suited for flight. Full-body jumpsuit with zippered pockets and reflective-glazed goggles to keep the wind (but more importantly the bugs) out of his eyes.

She, having passed by him on her way into Tokyo but likely not having noticed the flying man above her, was probably not so hard to track. A thing made easier by her steadily decreasing speed as the city was approached, which reached a point where she was basically floating to a stop on terra firma to land on her feet at no more than five miles per hour and start walking on contact. This woman, her features something of a mix between Persian and Hispanic, is in jeans, sturdy woman's boots, and a light jacket. There's room in her backpack for whatever she might choose to buy here on the Ginza.

In spite of the goggles and the fact that he's not always looking that direction, Hiro does catch a glimpse of flying (he thinks falling) woman below him. It causes him to pause enough that he loses his mid-air power and starts to fall headfirst toward the ground. His altitude is such that aside from the floating guts feeling he can't even tell at first he's falling. It takes him a little by surprise and quite by accident he 'fires up' and streaks toward the ground at the speed of sound briefly.

It causes the distinctive thunderclap of a sonic boom.

It also causes MORE panic because it's going TOWARD the ground and Hiro pulls up and back toward the sky only after dipping below the altitude of building tops. That's WAY too close for comfort.

The sonic boom gets her attention where she's standing on the ground. Maria looks up just in time to see a man approaching earth rapidly, then reversing course and ascending again. Another flier? This has to be investigated. Regardless of whether or not anyone is watching her she rises from the pavement into the air, speed increasing once she's past the nearest roof and course set to meet up with him.

The closer one gets to the Flying Hiro, the more one gets the impression he's just a little bit out of control. In fact he is actually flapping his arms in a manner meant to slow him down, as futile as such gestures are. At first he was headed straight up, but his course levels out and he fixates on the distant Mount Fuji and flies in that direction. Teeth gritted, he's still going faster than he meant to and ends up 'cutting out' and dropping like a fired bullet: Very fast but inexorably down.

She follows, deciding to go there also and have a conversation with a fellow wingless aviator, but changes course when he does. He's likely too heavy for her to carry aloft, but he has his own ability and maybe can clutch on and add his ability to hers, with control she provides and maybe pick up pointers from what she does. Speed increases to get her to an interception point at which she can reach out and get a grip on his clothing if he'll permit that, the other hand pointing straight ahead toward Mount Fuji. It's impossible to have a conversation up here, and even if she could there's no way she can know he speaks English.

But Maria intends to find out.

Now there's a woman (the falling one) grabbing him quite by surprise. Hiro wasn't even aware she was there until he found himself grabbed, but he does say something that's lost in the roar of wind as she points toward Fuji. And he nods, which conveys the gist of it anyway. Perhaps comically, his cheeks are blasted back against his face at this speed. Certain other people would never let him live down how it makes him look.

Quite suddenly Hiro's own flight-power kicks in again and he threatens to pull away from the woman without really meaning to.

He's studied for some long moments as she tries to determine the best course to follow with him. The grip is kept, but not so tightly he can't easily break it if he desires to. Maria's path is still toward the mountain as she tries to convey without words for him to relax and follow her lead, to just focus on being immune to gravity.

One way or another she's determined to get him safely to the famous location.

In stutters and starts, Hiro manages to pretty much follow Maria's lead. It's certainly clear that he's trying. Mostly out of experimentally matching Maria's speed, he slows down and settles into something approaching smooth flight. And once levelled out Hiro seems to be more or less under control again. He might even land easily.

Closer and closer looms the mountain, and accordingly she slows. Her posture changes also, from horizontal to vertical, so she can float down and land on her feet. Once conversation is possible again, she hopes the man understands English. Maria has absolutely no Japanese knowledge. "Over there," she suggests, gesturing toward what looks like a clearing on the mountainside below her.

Proving that he does indeed understand her, Hiro responds in good-sounding English, "Okay, thanks." It isn't a lot but the comfort level with which he says the words implies he doesn't have problems with the language. Rather than orient vertical, Hiro seems to have an easier time just kind of shifting to flying feet-first. He does slow though, and when he lands does so slowly on bending knees. Still he crumples to the ground on hands and knees, but gets up and dusts himself off without injury. With a snort and a sigh he admits, "How embarassing.."

"It's tricky at first," she agrees, "but it passes quickly enough." Maria settles in gently nearby, her face breaking into a smile as she surveys the location and the view of Japan from it. Her eyes close and she breathes in slowly to just smell and enjoy the mountain air. That Hiro hasn't been flying long seems a foregone conclusion, one she doesn't speak of.

"I discovered it on a mountain in Virginia. I was hiking and got too close to the edge of a cliff, the gravel there was loose and I was swept over the side." She laughs lightly, a thing she can do now with so much hindsight.

"I got my powers switched with another man who could fly, and now I'm trying to learn how to use it." Hiro admits easily, not bothering to poison the story by telling the woman that the man in question was the President of the United States, except from the future. And a prison. Sometimes the truth is just not the best policy, at least not the whole truth. Hiro takes that moment to remove the goggles he's been wearing, revealing his face as windblasted except for the part the goggles covered. "I can land. I'm good at that. I'm not good at controlling my speed. It goes up and down too fast, and when I try to slow I end up stopping, and when I go a little faster I end up breaking the sound barrier…"

"Try this," Maria suggests after a moment's thought, slowly rising from the ground to a height of two feet and just standing there with no solid support. "I found it worked best to get good at the basics first. And, damn. There are people who can just do that, make a person have a different ability? Oh God, I hope I never meet one." She might possibly prefer being shot out of the sky to having her wings clipped. While speaking she draws her legs in so she's seated on air in a lotus position.

"I wish I never had." mutters Hiro darkly, glad that the topic of what his original powers were does not come up. Imagine the reaction this woman would have if she found out what he WAS capable of? He rubs his chin while watching her thoughtfully and hesitates. "I don't know…When I try to take off I really take off."

"I can feel the air pushing me down, and gravity pulling on me," Maria comments, "and I think about being light enough to rise up, letting the air hold me in place but ignoring gravity's pull. Think of it like that. Instead of wanting to take off, just think of floating. A child first learns to sit up, then to stand, later crawling. But for them the progress is natural, the muscles develop one stage to another where you've got the full range from the start and have to work yourself into the small steps, I think."

Still looking skeptical, Hiro nods once in that characteristically curt Japanese way before concentrating. His feet lift off of the ground immediately, but he doesn't rocket off into the sky. Unfortunately he does continue to float up and up. Quite aside from panicking, he looks disappointed and begins a stream of Japanese words that sound like they're dismayed and annoyed all at once. Like why can't he get this right?

She begins to rise with him, saying simply "Now relax. Breathe in, breathe out, think of standing still." Maria will match pace with the man, speaking with calm confidence it can be pulled off. "Frustration is your enemy."

A sarcastic remark is on the tip of Hiro's tongue, but he holds it back. He isn't given to being rude at all, much less to strangers. Instead he tries to relax. The result is that he goes into a brief fall that is arrested after only a few feet and accompanied with a grunt at the jolt. "My old ability needed different skills. I needed to be certain of what I was doing and do it with all my willpower. This is all about degrees of control. It's different."

"And here you are," Maria tells him, "standing still on air. It takes concentration at first, and practice, but soon enough just like walking you'll be able to do it with just wanting to." Of course, it's easy for her to say. She's had ten years of practice. But she won't be telling him that part. Her eyes watch him as they float.

So they float. Hiro floats anyway. There is a degree of concentration required to maintain it without going up or down. "So sorry." Hiro says suddenly, noticing that she's just watching. "I am Hiro Nakamura. Thank you for helping me. You are very kind."

"Maria Delgado," she answers. "Good to meet you, Hiro. And there's nothing to be sorry for." She grins. "You don't know if my real goal isn't to help you get it all under control so we can race. Flying people are too rare."

There is a prideful grin as Hiro reveals, "I know the man who had these powers was a very fast flyer. It is possible that if I master them I'd be very much faster than you." But if he had his own powers back he would be categorically impossible to beat in any race. "But if that is your goal, I welcome it. You are from America." Not a question. It tells in her English.

"I live in New York," she tells him. "But I fly as much as I can. It lets me do so many things. Once I went on vacation in the Rockies and camped out in an impossible place. A ledge of rock on a cliffside next to an eagle's nest." Some beats of silence follow, before she asks "How does this feel? Standing still on air." The grin is constant. "You may well be faster. And I plan to find out." Her top speed isn't revealed.

One hand slips into a pocket and comes out with a power bar. "You may want to keep some of these on you. You've probably noticed flying a lot makes you hungry and dizzy, like your blood sugar is low."

There's a big shrug at that. "I…have not noticed. Really. I don't seem to need to eat any more than normal." The New York bit catches Hiro's attention. "You are from New York." he echoes, staring just a little harder at the woman. Like she might be up to something. Briefly he looks around. The rest of her comment about how floating or flying feels, or the advantages of it, he lets go.

"Yes," she confirms. "Moved there after college. I'm originally from Virginia." Maria doesn't elaborate on his not seeming to need more food. He'll perhaps learn what she means after an extended bout of supersonic flight soon enough. "Is something wrong?" His stare begins to make her wonder. "I know a lot of New Yorkers are arrogant and insufferable. It seems the reputation is biting me here."

Briefly Hiro shakes his head. "There are people in New York who want me for very bad reasons, and now I wonder if you are one of them." There's no point hiding that. If she's one of the Company, she'd already know what his suspicions meant and will deny it. If she's not, she'd wonder if he didn't tell her and then of course will deny it. Either way he can expect a denial. "Listen, Maria Delgado, I have had friends from America and New York. I do not care about that. But at a time when I need teaching in how to fly, that someone who knows how to fly should come to assist me and be from New York? That is either suspicious, or it is Destiny."

"Want you? I've never heard your name before. I don't know what you've been into, and don't want to know. I fly. I love to fly, do it all I can. I had vacation time, so I flew here to see Japan. Maybe Australia is next before I go back. Travel's cheap with what we can do." There's no appearance of guile about her at all.

"I'm just happy to run across someone else who flies. It's too rare, being able to share how it feels, talk about it with someone who understands. The excitement, the freedom. Suspicious, destiny, label it whatever you will. I'm around for a few days, you can find me here camping most likely. If I'm not here I'm probably exploring the Ginza Strip in Tokyo."

She seems about to go on the move and explore the sights of Mount Fuji up close while airborne. Maybe there's a large bird's nest to get close to.

Right. So…whether she's one of the Company or not, Hiro finds himself floating after her. This happens so much easier because he's not thinking about it, just doing. "Please forgive my suspicious nature. It is not your fault." Unless it is, but he's trying not to be confusing here. "If you are visiting Japan I would very much like to learn what you are willing to teach for as long as you will teach it. I must learn how to fly before I kill myself doing it, and in case I can never regain my old abilities."

She moves while aloft now, no faster than a normal walking pace. "It's all good," Maria answers easily. An opening is seen in him doing what she does with no seeming difficulty, and she gradually speeds up her pace across the face of the mountain. Obstacles in their path are approached and gone around just as easily as doing so on foot. It could be, she thinks, like the wax on, wax off method in the Karate Kid movies. Don't think, don't ask, just do and master the motions so they come automatically when needed.

In spite of the fact that Hiro does have more control when he isn't thinking of it, that control isn't perfect. Peripherally he is aware of this, because he gets a little too close to a large boulder jutting out from the ground and stretches out a foot to push off from it. The effect is kind of neat because it looks a little like those Wu-Shu flying scenes from Crouching Tiger. "It will not be all good if I do not regain my powers, Maria Delgado. It is very important that I get them back before they are abused. Also," avoid a tree, "I do not want to kill myself by crashing."

"Who took them?" she asks, because it would be very good to know so she can fly away fast if he or she is run across. Hopefully not even indoors, because escapability is zero there. Maria keeps going, steadily quicker, but at times slowing, leading herself and him through any kind of low speed basic manuever she can think of. Up, down, forward, back, diagonal… But at no time does she speak of doing. The woman just does.

That question causes Hiro some pause even as he moves. "I don't know all their names, but I know the one who switched my powers was named Tyler Case. Or I think I know this. They are old white men from the future." That at least covers an important basic. And throughout this he's keeping up, but Hiro starts keeping up by translating his motion into slow forward flight rather than the gentle hovering that Maria's better at.

"Tyler Case," she repeats softly. It's a daunting idea, she doesn't know how she'd deal with not being able to fly anymore. It would probably feel like someone punched a hole into her chest and ripped her still beating heart out. And… there was more than one person? Oh, hell. Is this guy serious, or is he slightly cracked, one of those conspiracy nuts? She won't ask. It's just good to have the company of another airborne human. "I'm sorry this happened, and I hope you find them, get your ability back."

Some moments later her hovering turns into slow flight as she begins to circle the mountain. A plan has formed to at some point reach supersonic speed and show him her acceleration and deceleration methods so he has a feel for how long each takes and the amount of time/space he'll need to allow.

Going into actual flight is actually easier for Hiro. It's staying close enough to be conversationally understandable that's hard. Because Maria is a woman there is of course a degree of personal space he'd like not to violate, but when you put rushing air around them it gets hard to be understood. Plus he'd like to not collide with her. "I do too." he shares, eager for a topic change. "You do not have a place to stay in Japan?" She mentioned camping, after all.

"I could stay in a hotel," Maria replies easily. "I just often don't. The weather's warmer now, and I like the freedom of just picking a spot that most people can't get to. Like near an eagle's nest." It seems perfectly sensible to her, indulging on occasion in the bird life. "I live in cities and buildings all the time, work in them. Sometimes I just like to get away and live like other creatures who fly." She stops short of saying how she tends to acquire her Thanksgiving turkeys.

"That makes sense." replies Hiro thoughtfully. "Have you ever been attacked by eagles then?" For some reason that thought amuses him. Getting too close to birds of prey and having them get territorial. It'd be a wakeup call for sure.

"Once," Maria admits with a laugh. "But I'm faster than they are." Her pace is kept just slow enough to keep up conversation over the rush of wind they create without needing to shout. Much. Just ahead and to one side is a cliff face. She opts to get close and rise upward, her distance maybe ten feet away from it, then land on the small flat space atop the ledge.

Hiro approaches the cliff face a little too fast to pull up clearly, but to his credit corrects by using his feet to 'run' up the cliff a short distance so he's still airborne. By the time they reach the ledge, he overshoots but intentionally lets himself fall and 'catches' himself short of the ledge…and then steps onto it. It's messier than Maria's, but effective. "That went well." he remarks, looking back along the route they flew so far as one can see it.

A grin lights her face as she stands near the edge and looks out over the path taken getting here. Her feet are perilously close to the edge, and there are large sharp boulders a long way down at the bottom of it. Perilous, that is, if she had to actually worry about falling. "Yes," Maria agrees. "It's easier to have a target to match than thinking of the whole thing at once."

"Unfortunate that I cannot have you always there to follow around. I will have to learn to do this without you. But you do make it easier." Facing Maria, Hiro says, "I would rather not camp outside with you, since I have a home. How can I find you again?"

"It won't be hard," Maria offers. "I can find you at your residence, or be found here tomorrow at a time you pick, standing right at the edge of this cliff. Or any other landmark we passed on the way here, if that works."

Well. The Nakamura Home is not exactly a closely kept secret for its location. Anybody could find it if they knew who they were looking for. "Come to my home. I would like to introduce you to my sister." Hiro steps off of the cliff and with the barest of unbalanced moments manages to float there without falling or going up. "Perhaps you will find better hospitality with us than you would with the mountain."

"Thank you, Hiro," Maria replies acceptingly. A few seconds behind him she too steps off the cliff and resumes flight, this time letting him take the lead while she observes, the better for him to practice and fine tune.

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