Make my way back home when I learn to-

Started by Rian Carpenter, January 27, 2021, 02:37:41 PM

Rian Carpenter

January 27, 2021, 02:37:41 PM Last Edit: January 28, 2021, 08:24:39 PM by Rian Carpenter
The Darling Cockpit -- Shortly before the events of Episodes 4&5

"Gorram it! Son of a hún dàn!"

He held himself back from smashing his fist down on to the control panel. The HUD on the darling's cockpit was showing a slightly primitive Augmented Reality scene of fire and explosions, as if the ship had just crashed into a mountain. If Rian had been at the controls for real, they would be red smears on the rocks and dirt. Thankfully it was just yet another run on the ships training sim.

He fumed for a moment, staring at the screen declaring his failure. Why can't he do this? Flying, like so many other things, should just be a matter of practice, concentration, and precision. His skill as a cook, and a killer came from the same process. He'd made some progress initially when he finally made himself sit down at the simulator and to log some hours. But once he started to get close to finishing his introductory courses, he hit a wall, literally and metaphorically.

Landing. Staying up in the sky wasn't so hard. Guiding hundreds of tons of steel through atmosphere and whatever weather lie beyond was proving to be the Rubicon Carpenter couldn't cross. This was his 10th failed landing in a row. The security chief groaned and let his hand hover over the "retry" button.

"C'mon you stupid son of a bitch... just put the skids in the dirt..."

And yet his hand hovered still.

"Tā mā de..."

Tabitha Haemish

The Darling Cockpit

"Treat her like she's alive," came Tabitha's voice from the door to the cockpit. She'd been drawn here by the long string of cursing that followed each of Rian's failed attempts. "That's what the Captain does," she clarified. She had a tray in her hands, atop of which rested two mismatched mugs filled with tea and honey, some cookies on a smaller plate beside them.

Her attention moved to the simulated fiery death and her warm smile broadened. "Have you spent much time on horseback?" she asked him curiously, standing now to his left and offering him the tray, and thus, a cup of tea. "I think, piloting must be like riding a horse. You aim most of the time, probably, and you guide them in one direction or another, but aren't they alive? Inside, they know what to do and how to do it, and if you trust them to make the right decisions, you both get where you're wanting to go, most likely," she wagered, her eyes alight with the full power of her smile. "Maybe it's like that," she concluded.

The doctor set down the tray on a less button heavy portion of the console, a now free hand reaching out to gently pat Rian on the head. "I believe in you." With that, she moved around the center console and sat in the second seat, her feet lifting to settle on the edge of the chair and her arms wrapping around her shins, her thighs pressed tightly against her chest. She smiled at him again, "Let's try again," Tabby encouraged.
Dialogue Color: Pink

Mattie Rooney

January 28, 2021, 10:35:53 AM #2 Last Edit: January 28, 2021, 10:39:29 AM by Mattie Rooney
Downstairs

"Gorram it! Son of a hún dàn!"

Rian's muffled curses reached Mattie's ears as she stepped out of the shower room, still toweling her hair. She lay the towel on her shoulders and stood in the hallway, listening closely to the sounds reverberating from above her. Of late, she had finally fallen into something of a routine on the Darling, and that routine included plenty of pushups and jumping jacks to keep her body and mind in working order. As much as she enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle, getting to visit other planets was the part she actually liked. Being cooped up in a tin can in the middle of a vacuum for weeks on end was just a necessary evil.

The routine also included limiting most of her socializing with the crew to mealtime, when there was enough chatter around the table that she could avoid prolonged one-on-one conversation. Of course she'd had those too, but so far she felt her place with the crew was still in the periphery, orbiting the tightly-knit family unit with Arlo. The two newcomers could perhaps have bonded over being outsiders... had Mattie had even an ounce of tolerance for the upper-class twit.

Mattie lingered in the hallway, torn over whether she should go and check on Rian or not. Although he had healed perfectly well from the bullet wound he'd sustained during their storming of the Darling, there was a part of her--one which she was very careful not to show the other crew members--that got a little fussy over him. Maybe because she'd been there to witness him get shot, as well as the level of care (none) he'd taken in the immediate aftermath.

Looks like you're your mother's daughter after all. The thought, sudden and invasive, made Mattie want to throw up. She was being stupid. Rian was a grown man who could take care of himself. Besides, she was going to head into the galley for a post work-out snack anyway.

Mattie took one step into the mess hall, saw Mr. Dried Grasshopper Husk sitting at the table, staring into nothing, and turned on her heels.

Right. Rian it was.



The Darling Cockpit

"...Let's try again."

Mattie heard Tabitha's soft, melodic voice even before she entered the cockpit. She didn't dislike Tabitha, but the medic was the warmest, most touchy-feely person on board, which Mattie struggled with. Had she been obnoxious about it, she would've shut it down in her usual aggressive way, but Tabitha was just... pleasant. Like a brief, temperate April shower that got your hair a little wet but didn't exactly ruin the picnic.

Against her better judgment, Mattie stuck her head through the doorway, just to make sure Rian wasn't actually in the middle of crashing them into an asteroid. It didn't seem like anything was the matter. In fact, she seemed to have third-wheeled right into the middle of a bonding moment.

"Sorry." She tried very hard not to sound sheepish. "I thought... nevermind. Didn't mean to interrupt nothin'. I'll leave." This was exactly the kind of interaction mealtime was supposed to save her from.
Dialogue color: darkkhaki

Rian Carpenter

January 28, 2021, 10:01:24 PM #3 Last Edit: January 28, 2021, 10:27:16 PM by Rian Carpenter
Rian felt his anger recede slightly like heartburn subsiding after you took an antacid. He was amused by Tabby's unrelenting nurturing and that was enough to at least pull him out of the red he was seeing momentarily. Nothing can pull you out of a meltdown like having somebody else witness it. Specifically, swearing in front of Tabby felt like kicking a kitten. He bit his lip and apologized.

"Oh hey... sorry about the hollerin'."

Carpenter was embarrassed at his outbursts still.

"Treat her like she's alive...Have you spent much time on horseback?"

The former criminal and corporate enforcer nodded. His primary mode of transportation 'round the mountains his father owned was on hooves. His father had deemed it one of the appropriately manly pursuits for him to explore and master in his youth. Piloting, for whatever reason, that was always something you hired a specialist for. There was always a handful of qualified pilots on the crew at any time. Maybe it was genetic. Like father like son, he never saw Jimmy behind the flight controls. Maybe he couldn't fly too?

"I think, piloting must be like riding a horse. You aim most of the time, probably, and you guide them in one direction or another, but aren't they alive? Inside, they know what to do and how to do it, and if you trust them to make the right decisions, you both get where you're wanting to go, most likely...Maybe it's like that."

He exhaled sharply from his nose. It did make sense. He tried to think of a way to express how the landing process had been vexing him so far. He couldn't think of it. He was a killer cook and Michelin Star gun-slinger but he couldn't even put his difficulties into words. Tabbie was certainly the balm to help calm his nerves but he still needed to get his focus back up. He scooped up one of the mugs of tea and took a few pensive sips as the bubbly medic settled into the co-pilot's seat and encouraged him with a head-pat.

"I believe in you."

He laughed slightly. She was sincere but it was hard to feel like he deserved such understanding and positivity right now. Different ship somebody would have sworn back at him through the intercom to shut up by now. Not stop by to cheer him up.

"Let's try again."

As if the universe demanded equilibrium, Mattie slid through the doorway to join team "Let's get Rian to stop shouting."

"Sorry...I thought... nevermind. Didn't mean to interrupt nothin'. I'll leave."

His expression warmed further. At his point it was kind of funny, even if he felt like a jagweed for calling so much attention to himself with his frustration.

"One sec..."

Carpenter said in reply to the doc before shifting slightly to beckon the other blond with a jerk of his neck.

"Might as well come watch me blow up the ship rather than just hear it, Matt', c'mon in."

He stretched his shoulders up, then down. Deep breath in, then out. He could tell she felt a little awkward still. Rian had taken a while to adjust too. Despite their semi-relation, living on a ship with Barn and the crew was a whole different animal to other ships he'd been on before. Things were more intimate. Something he was having to get used to feeling and participating in again. Being close to someone.

Maybe that's what he saw in that sun-bleached girl's face when he managed to recruit her mid-car-chase. A stray of a similar breed. Outdoor cats used to using their claws and their wits. It was definitely something. Rian put his mind back to the task at hand and tapped the restart button.

"Figure you two are the perfect people to train me to fly. Tabby can pump the room full of all that lovey-dovey positivity and be the carrot, Mattie can be the stick. And by stick I mean she can just literally hit me with a stick if I crash one more ruttin' time."

The landing sequence began again and the head's up display showed them flying through a rain-storm while trying to land on Higgin's Moon. Fake lighting crackled across the windscreen along with digitized thunder rattling old speakers. Carpenter gripped the controls tight and hoped Mattie didn't already have a stick handy.

Tabitha Haemish

"Sorry...I thought... nevermind. Didn't mean to interrupt nothin'. I'll leave."

Tabby turned her head toward the door, eyes wide with surprise, but smile bright with genuine joy. She was happy to have so many of her crew in one place at one time, and even more happy that Mattie had come seeking them out. Well, she knew she wasn't seeking Tabby out, but making connections was a good thing! She hoped Rian made the newcomer feel more at home than she seemed to be able to do.

"Figure you two are the perfect people to train me to fly. Tabby can pump the room full of all that lovey-dovey positivity and be the carrot, Mattie can be the stick. And by stick I mean she can just literally hit me with a stick if I crash one more ruttin' time."

The medic's smile broadened and she picked up the second cup of hot tea from the tray before extending it out toward Mattie with a welcoming smile. "There's cookies too," she whispered conspiratorially, pointing with her free hand down at the tray as though pretending someone might see them who wasn't supposed to. Placing the cup into Mattie's hands and cupping them around the mugs surface, she scooted aside to give Mattie room to sit beside her on the co-pilot's chair if she so desired.

"Oooo, a storm," Tabby whispered, giggling to herself and once more putting her feet on the edge of the seat so she could wrap her arms around her legs, thighs against her stomach. She tried not to say too much, allowing Rian to concentrate without her babbling on in the background. Her chin settled on her knees and she smiled out at the windscreen, having full faith in their chef.
Dialogue Color: Pink

Mattie Rooney

"Figure you two are the perfect people to train me to fly. Tabby can pump the room full of all that lovey-dovey positivity and be the carrot, Mattie can be the stick. And by stick I mean she can just literally hit me with a stick if I crash one more ruttin' time."

Mattie felt a small pang at Rian's analogue. She had no idea why; she should've been pleased at him openly acknowledging she could kick his pi gu. She was pleased. She was used to always having to prove herself to new employers, but their action-packed first outing together had been one hell of an ice-breaker.

"I left my whackin' stick in my other pants, but I've got a mean right hook," she deadpanned back at him and accepted the cup of tea from Tabby, wincing a little when the woman cupped her hands around it. Touchy-feely. Truth be told Mattie wasn't a huge fan of tea, but there was no point in turning down free hydration after the workout she'd just had.

The cookies, now those were much more interesting. She helped herself to one but remained standing next to Rian instead of taking a seat, hovering over him and studying the interface before him. It brought back memories of when she'd first left home aboard the Crane Maiden and taken flying lessons from the pilot in an endeavor that was doomed from the start. That had been seven years ago, a good indication of just how up-to-date the Darling's flight simulator program was.

"I tried one of these things once. Wasn't for me." That was an understatement. There had been humiliating failure after failure, ultimately ending in tears of frustration. Back then she'd still allowed herself to cry.

"Tell you the truth, I ain't really one to judge how you're doing, seein' as I don't recall ever not ruttin' up the landing. Don't make much sense to me that hittin' the ground with a ship-sized hunk of metal should be that much harder than hittin' a movin' target with a bullet, but..." she shrugged and trailed off, taking a big bite of the cookie in her hand. Her eyes followed the action on the screen with interest as she chewed.
Dialogue color: darkkhaki

Rian Carpenter

Rian's eyebrow cocked a bit, and he couldn't help but smirk at her remark about her stick, and her right hook. The Darling lurched (onscreen) and his near-smile vanished. Replaced with a face of a man trying to focus. He tried to slowly correct, making a series of small adjustments. In a fight, you need to be like a whip, cracking over from here to there. Target to target, cover to cover. Sudden, dramatic, but sharp and precise movements. Maybe the doc was right. Fly casual.

"Okay... Okay..."

He let himself smirk again for a second. The simulated turbulence was still bucking the ship, but the cook trying to turn pilot kept making smaller adjustments, letting the ship react before he pushed her further. He tried to say focused and didn't realize he was repeating himself like an idiot.

"...Okay...Okay..."

One of the lighting strikes hit the ship.

"Aghhh... o-kay....it's okay..."

A blinking red light on the starboard engine indicated the lightning had a fairly deleterious effect.

The ship wobbled harder, lurching downward in the direction of its dead engine. He had to make more and more dramatic and harder adjustments. The urge to resume cursing was strong. But he was slowly getting the ship back on the illuminated flight path to the landing pad. The head's up display chirped marking the small victory of correctly aligning his course.

He said again more confidently this time.

"Okay!"

The red indicator on the damaged starboard engine went all black, and the ship started to nearly barrel-roll. He couldn't help but grunt as he tried to keep from spinning all the way upside down. They were still heading in the right direction at least. Just sorta upside down.

"Ahhh..... Okay..."

He said with some resignation. Maybe Mattie ought to have brought the stick.

Tabitha Haemish

April 07, 2021, 10:54:31 AM #7 Last Edit: April 07, 2021, 10:55:00 AM by Lomari
"Tell you the truth, I ain't really one to judge how you're doing, seein' as I don't recall ever not ruttin' up the landing..."

Tabitha stared up at Mattie with wide eyes and a bright smile, happy to see her interacting with the crew and eating the offered cookies. They were all becoming the best of friends, she was sure. Her attention was pulled back to the simulation at the sound of thunder and charged metal. Her hands clasped together and she wiggled excitedly in her seat, her smile hidden behind her hands as they pressed against her lips.

Then the ship was upside down! Sort of. 

"Ahhh..... Okay..."

"This will be a fun way to land!" she assured Rian, lowering her hands and offering him a reassuring nod of her head. Tabby lifted her hand to trace little circles in the air with her index finger. "What happens when the saddle on a horse slips around and goes all upside down? You can tighten it, of course, but if it's slipped because one side weighs too much or too little, you can readjust the weight or add weight to the other side so it evens back out!" she suggested, having absolutely no idea how this related to engines, but absolutely certain that somehow it did.

She made another circle with her index finger, "So let's flip the saddle back into place!" she encouraged!
Dialogue Color: Pink

Mattie Rooney

April 07, 2021, 12:32:21 PM #8 Last Edit: April 08, 2021, 12:23:31 AM by Mattie Rooney
Mattie stayed silent as she watched Rian's flight, aside from her somewhat unladylike chewing, and even that was quieter than usual given the atmosphere of concentration and bated breaths in the cockpit. She found her mind wandering back to her days on the Crane Maiden, days that were far behind her in terms of years but apparently still closer to her than she'd like in some ways.

"I'm just a stupid ruttin' farm girl. I ain't no good for nothin' but pickin' corn." Her cheeks burning with frustration. Georgie trying to comfort her after her outburst, doing his best to assure her that she'd get the hang of things eventually, when she herself knew it was pointless and she'd never be useful in the engine room, let alone the cockpit...

...Although, watching Rian fumble around with the controls until the ship started turning upside down, even she didn't remember being quite this bad. Could it be that she'd gotten discouraged too easily back then?

"Ahhh..... Okay..." At Rian's dejection, Tabby jumped in, all smiles and motherly words of encouragement. If she was a carrot, it was a carrot dipped in honey and sprinkled with fairy dust. Things that were far out of Mattie's ballpark.

Well, if Rian wanted her to play the stick to Tabby's sugared carrot, so be it. Mattie tucked the half-eaten cookie between her teeth, leaving one of her hands free while the other one still gripped the mug of tea. With an almost professional level of control and precision, she delivered one nice, firm smack to the back of Rian's head; not hard enough to leave a mark or even really hurt him, but still hard enough to be felt.
Dialogue color: darkkhaki

Rian Carpenter

Carpenter nodded at Tabby's advice, though he wasn't sure either how it applied. He stayed on course, they were closing in on a minute to the landing zone. He wasn't having trouble applying the air-brakes and getting his speed to that butter-zone for this stage of approach. Just gotta straighten out. If the horse metaphor still applied, she wasn't about to buck him off. He just had to climb back on.

But Rian and the ship (virtually) were upside down still. He gritted his teeth. Just flip her back around and you've got this in the bag, Rian. He told himself. This complex about flying had to be defeated. Inclement landings were the last test in the sim's pilot evaluation course. He hesitated for second longer. Just do something, damn it! He screamed at himself in his mind.

Thwack!

"Ahh!!"

Mostly out of surprise he blurted out a nonverbal response to the cranial attack, and instinctively he got back to flying. The ship righted, and the (simulated) world was once again right-side-up. He then let out an exasperated sound close to blowing a raspberry in surprised amusement he was about to line up for a successful landing. He flipped a couple switches to transition to the VTOL engines. Things slowed down and the ship came to a slow and non-dramatic rest on the virtual ground.

The virtual world was replaced by a simple HUD and a course summary.

Course Complete!
Score:71/100

The newly certified pilot laughed. Rian always thought of himself as having too many rocks in the head to pursue things like flying. Maybe it was just the old man talking still. Turning his attention back to the ladies that had helped him he smiled, still visibly surprised that they'd actually managed to shake some of those rocks loose from his cabeza.

"Gāisǐ de! You guys should start charging."

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