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Piloting Gone Wrong

Discussion in 'Pandora, Year 1 - 7' started by Jefferson McDonough, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. January 19, Year 7
    @Bobbie Draper

    Jefferson 'Seaplane' McDonough.

    Skills. Piloting.

    Okay, so ... maybe the piloting part wasn't actually going fantastically, which was total creep seeing as it was supposed to be one of his skills. But then again, the weird plane he'd hopped into once he'd reached that hangar definitely wasn't like the ones he'd been trying to pilot in Jumanji. It shouldn't have mattered, though. He was in still in a videogame, just another part of Jumanji or something.

    That was why he'd gone to the hangar in the first place after finally asking around enough to find out that there was a hangar full of planes at all. They just hadn't been the planes he'd expected to find. In fact, he couldn't decide if they looked more advanced or more old school, but they definitely looked a little like they belonged up in space or something. Whatever. It didn't matter, because the game said he could pilot and the level he'd been stuck on for weeks was literally a piloting level.

    The key was not dying. He only had one life left, he'd reminded himself as he looked at the little tattoo over and over again as though an extra lifeline might reappear. Still one. Always just one.

    The actual piloting part didn't go well. He thought it would all come to him when he'd gotten into it, and in some ways, it had. He'd turned it on, gotten the thing going, opened up the hangar doors without busting through them since he didn't want to make that much of a bang as to attract attention. And then he'd gone, speeding the thing through the air. Up, up, up. He had to go up, but he wasn't going up fast enough no matter how hard he tried. Maybe there was something wrong with the plane, or maybe it just didn't feel like any of the other planes he'd piloted before in Jumanji.

    Maybe it was literally him. It was probably literally him.

    For awhile, he'd been okay. All clear, all good, but then he stopped going up. He even stopped going straight, and in fact felt the bottom of the plane skim rock and sand. As it was, though, it was more than a skim. Something had been busted down there and he felt the plane lose control until it grounded, bouncing ahead and sending huge sprays of sand in every which direction until the thing finally screeched to a noisy, scary halt.

    Alex was wide-eyed, panting, staring through the window out into the desert ahead. He'd failed. He'd failed, but he hadn't died and as far as he was concerned, that was the only thing that mattered. He could feel himself shaking as he slowly freed himself from the seat and pulled open the top so that he could stumble out into the sand again, dropping to his knees a short distance from the plane, which was definitely doing its fair share of smoking behind him.

    #1 Jefferson McDonough, Jan 9, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2018
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  2. 50.1: write a post without using 'the'

    In a lot of ways, Horizon reminded Bobbie of Mars. That fact had played a big part in her decision to settle here. She'd never see her Red Planet again, but this was close. Even Horizon's people were familiar; it was a small but proud settlement, its people tight-knit and hard-working. They had to be, to keep a place like this running. She liked to think that Horizon's lush, green oasis was close to what Mars would look like after years of terraforming that Bobbie wouldn't be around to see. It was bittersweet, living in this rugged little town and being so starkly reminded of home, and also that she would never see home again.

    Her decision to take command of Horizon's Starfighter Corps had been an easy one. There was an entire hangar of weaponized planes sitting out on a desert airfield, full of potential but wasting away. With sandworms and bandits a common reality around such a thriving oasis settlement, it seemed wasteful to let those ships sit idle. It would be a long road, making these X-Wings functional and getting together a proper fleet, but it could be done. That particular afternoon, Bobbie was out on a test flight, as much to test her plane's abilities as to get herself accustomed to its controls. As an ex-Marine with Spec Ops training, Bobbie could operate just about any weapons system in her universe - but piloting? That wasn't exactly her forte.

    At least she wasn't having as much trouble as that guy.

    She'd just finished a loop around Horizon when she noticed one of her planes skimming low - so low that she knew even before it happened that it was going to drag its bottom along sand and rock when it got over that gorge. "Motherfucker," she swore under her breath, already furious about what damage she imagined her ship had taken in that poor excuse of a landing. Gritting her teeth, Bobbie coasted her fighter in for a (much more graceful) landing not far from a fine plume of smoke that couldn't mean anything good for her poor, abused X-Wing.

    After clamoring out of her plane, Bobbie pulled off her helmet and tucked it under one arm. She stalked across hot sand toward a man she'd never seen in her life but whose face might be about to get very familiar with her fist, depending on this conversation's outcome. She stopped a few feet away, expression hard and angry, her muscles tense with carefully controlled anger. "Why?" It was a single word, but it came out sharp and furious, one finger pointing emphatically at what used to be a perfectly functional fighter and was now a broken hunk of metal that would cost time and money to repair. This stranger's fate entirely depended on him giving her an answer that didn't piss her off more than she already was. Bobbie suspected that pretty face of his wouldn't make it through this conversation unscathed.

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  3. It wasn't long at all before someone came along, Alex realizing he'd been so understandably distracted trying to get out of the plane before it maybe did or didn't blow up that he hadn't even seen the other one landing not too far away. Instead, the first he realized he wasn't alone was when he spotted movement from the corner of his eye that wasn't smoke but instead an actual person stomping through the stand toward him.

    Crap. Don't draw attention to yourself, he remembered telling himself, and that had honestly kept him alive for a very long time. So had hiding in a treehouse when he'd been too scared to lose his last life, but still.

    His hands went up immediately as he wobbled his way to his feet again. "Testing! I was ... testing it. I don't think it passed," he told her, but the wide-eyed look on his face said that he didn't even believe his own words. Alex wasn't always a completely terrible liar, but there honestly just wasn't any way to lie his way out of this one even if he tried.

    "Don't kill me," Alex suddenly said.

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  4. She looked decidedly unamused by his answer, a muscle in her jaw twitching as she ground her teeth together. She surged forward suddenly to grab the collar of his jacket in both fists and hoist him right up off the ground until only his toes touched the sand. She didn't look remotely fazed by the effort it took, as if she was lifting something much smaller and lighter than a fully grown human man.

    "Last chance, asshole," she hissed, eyes dark with fury. "What the hell were you doing with my ship?" She didn't make it a habit of pounding on civilians, but Bobbie suspected she might make an exception to that rule for this guy. It wasn't like she could go and commission a new X-Wing. If the ship couldn't be fixed it was gone. And the way she saw it, one less ship meant her fleet was that much less effective in a fight. That left Horizon vulnerable. This man - whoever the fuck he was - had just made Bobbie's job of protecting the little oasis town that much harder, and it didn't sit well with her.

    Didn't sit well with her at all.

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  5. Whatever he'd expected, it definitely wasn't for her to be as strong as she was. Then again, he still vividly remembered that girl, Alison, from gym class. Probably the smallest girl in her grade, but she'd packed one hell of a punch. The bruise had been there was felt like forever. Only he was quickly realizing that this girl was no Alison. She was bigger, taller than he was, and he'd seriously underestimated the crap out of her.

    "Oh my god!" he cried, his eyes wide as his hands wrapped tight around her wrists where she was holding on him so tightly. His feet were swimming around in the air, trying to desperately find the ground. "The statue! I have to get to the-- the statue with the jewel, I have to save Jumanji, I'm trying to save you people!"

    I'm trying to get home, he wanted to say.

    #5 Jefferson McDonough, Jan 31, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2018
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  6. She hardly noticed the way he grasped at her wrists and flailed around trying to find purchase on the ground. Her dark eyes bore into his, narrowed with anger. He might as well have been batting at stone for all the good his struggles did. Bobbie was a strong woman under any normal circumstance but right now - with the adrenaline of anger surging through her blood - there wasn't much that would faze her.

    'I'm trying to save you people!'

    She finally set him back down but didn't immediately release him. "Save us from what?" Her voice was low and carried a dangerous edge, her gaze intently searching his. She was trying to decide whether she thought he was crazy or not, whether he was a threat or just a guy who made some really bad choices. He seemed earnest, at least, speaking with a kind of honest urgency like he really believed what he was saying. None of what he said made any sense to her. That didn't necessarily mean he was lying or crazy, though. Pandora wasn't exactly a logical place. So if this guy knew something she didn't - if there was some kind of threat to Horizon - Bobbie wanted to know.

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  7. A sense of relief nearly washed over him when he felt his boots touch sand. Nearly. She was still holding onto him, her eyes boring into him and Jefferson was trying to lean away from her. For somebody who claimed to want to save people, he didn’t seem like the bravest of people. And yet he’d just flown amd crashed a plane.

    At least he’d never claimed he was smart.

    “Russel Van Pelt,” he said, urgency in his voice as his stared back at her.

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  8. Russel Van Pelt.

    It sounded like a villain in a bad comedy. Bobbie's eyes narrowed and she finally let her fingers relax, even took a minute to smooth the guy's collar back out and give him a 'friendly' pat on the shoulder that had enough force behind it to send most people stumbling a little.

    "Yeah? And what's this 'Russel Van Pelt' got against Horizon?" She asked, stepping back to give him some space and crossing her arms over her chest. She raised her eyebrows as she waited for his response, her expression and tone belying the very intense skepticism she was feeling in that moment. The only reason she hadn't hauled his sorry ass back to Horizon's jail was because she was still trying to decide if he was lying or just crazy.
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  9. He laughed. It was the dry kind, the kind full of disbelief. Nothing about it actually suggested that anything happening right now was funny, because it was all so far from funny. Hell, he was just glad she’d finally decided to release him, even taking a second to smooth down the collar of his shirt. That was nice, he guessed.

    “Everyone knows Russel Van Pelt. He wants to take over everything. Jumanji, and I don’t … I don’t see why that wouldn’t carry over to Horizon and-- and to all of Pandora, too.” It seemed obvious, like it shouldn’t have taken this much explanation. Every other NPC he had ever spoken with just knew how to feel whenever his name came up. But this was different. She, like so many other NPCs he’d spoken to since arriving in Pandora, didn’t seem to have a strict programmed set of lines she had to stick with.

    These NPCs were totally smart.

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  10. Between lying and crazy, Bobbie was definitely starting to lean toward the latter.

    Her brows drew down and one side of her lips tugged sideways in an expression that said do they now? She'd never heard of this Van Pelt but this plane-crashing stranger sure seemed to think the guy was real. New arrival, maybe? "Never heard of him," she replied simply, shrugging her shoulders and letting her arms drop back to her sides. "And you're not going anywhere until you work off the cost of that X-Wing." She nodded toward the totaled warship, her tone and expression making it very clear that she would use bodily force if he tried to run off. "You're going to start by climbing back into that wreckage and pulling the little black box under the navigation controls. Then you're going to hike back to Horizon with me and we're going to come to an agreement about how you make this right."

    She drew herself up as she spoke, lifting her chin and straightening her spine, shoulders back and chest out. It wasn't a conscious gesture, it was the bearing of a Gunnery Sergeant giving orders to her subordinate. He wasn't her subordinate, but she also wasn't going to take "no" for an answer.
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  11. Never heard of him?

    Alex scrunched up his nose at that with disbelief because there wasn't anyone who hadn't heard of him. Though this woman was the first person in all of Pandora he'd mentioned the villain's name to, so he couldn't be sure. But also, he was just really sure. He didn't get the chance to question her further, though, as she went on, her words getting crazier and crazier as they went.

    Okay, so maybe the idea of walking back with her to Horizon to figure out how to make this right or whatever made perfect sense, but this was different. Alex hesitated, looking over his shoulder toward the wreckage behind him and then back again. "Wait, what?! I don't have time for that, I have to ... I have save Jumanji!" He had to go home.

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  12. She raised her eyebrows at his protests, though she didn't get angry again. Bobbie was about 80% certain this guy didn't understand where he was. She wasn't about to let him off the hook for wrecking her plane, though, new or not.

    "The only thing you need to worry about saving is your ass from my boot," she snapped back, and stepped forward in an attempt to force him to retreat back toward the wreckage. "This isn't Jumanji, it's Pandora, and while we don't have to worry about Russell Van Pelt around here, there are other things - things my planes can't protect Horizon from if they're lying in smoldering ruins in the desert. Get what I'm saying?" She jerked her chin toward the downed X-Wing, taking another commanding step forward as she did so.

    She didn't actually plan to drag him back and put him straight to work, despite what she said. But she did want to get him back to Horizon - back to the relative safety of town. She wasn't lying about the dangers of the desert - sandwyrms, nomads turned bandit, fucking dragons swooping out of the sky. It wasn't a place Bobbie cared to be without her armor, and while she could have flown herself back she wasn't about to leave some confused civilian wandering the sands by himself.
    #12 Bobbie Draper, Mar 7, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 14, 2018
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  13. "I know-- I know it's Pandora, but--" Alex cut himself off, feeling himself growing frustrated. It wouldn't have mattered, he would have kept going, but he saw the look on her face, noticed the way she took that commanding step toward him. Well crap, this was totally uncool. And sort of his fault, but still totally uncool.

    Eventually, he let out a heavy sigh and nodded his head, lifting his empty hands in surrender before slowly turning back toward the plane. "One black box, coming right up." It didn't take much rummaging before he managed to pull it out, returning with what was in fact a classically orange box despite what was commonly considered a misnomer.

    "Did I mention I'm sorry?"

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  14. She stood with her arms crossed while he returned with the little box, and took it from him once he'd reached her. She turned it over a couple of times between her hands, checking to make sure it wasn't totally fried. They were constructed in a way that increased the likelihood that they'd survive even if the plane itself totally broke apart or burned up. Once she was satisfied she jerked her head in the direction of Horizon and turned to start back. They weren't far - maybe a few clicks - and while she was loathe to leave either X-Wing out here there wasn't exactly much other choice. They only sat one person so he couldn't ride back with her, and as pissed as she was about losing one ship - possibly two - she wasn't going to abandon a human life out here in the desert in favor of a piece of machinery.

    "Yeah, that's great, because your apology is totally going to fix my ship," she replied dryly and with a brief roll of her eyes. "Don't worry, you'll have plenty of opportunity to make up for it." She walked in silence for a beat, and then, "I'm Bobbie." She slanted him a sharp look that said she was clearly waiting for him to give her his name.
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  15. Wow, she was pissed, unwilling to even really accept his apology. A frown tugged at the corners of his lips, because he really did genuinely feel bad for what had happened, though maybe he would have felt a little less bad if he hadn’t been utterly manhandled by her. She was scary, to be honest.

    “Uh-- Jefferson ‘Seaplane’ McDonough,” he said, straightening up a little bit as though that name should have meant something. But then he withered a little bit. “... But maybe just call me Alex. I don’t have any money, I can’t, like … pay for anything. I mean, they gave me the bare minimum when I got to Jumanji and it’s gone now.”

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  16. Jefferson 'Seaplane' McDonough-

    Bobbie's shot a sidelong glance at the guy, one brow lifting in a decidedly skeptical expression. But then her lips twitched upwards slightly at the way he withered and amended the name with something simpler - and something that sounded more honest, in her opinion.

    "You're not in Jumanji, Alex," she said, tossing the little box from hand to hand as she walked. "Everyone here is from a different world. It's a lot to wrap your head around but the sooner you come to terms with it, the sooner you can get on with whatever life you can have here." She looked up toward the horizon, squinting a little to see if the line of the gorge was visible yet. He hadn't crashed very far beyond it, but it'd be easy to miss that hidden path that would take them safely down the side of the cliff. "You won't be paying for anything," she went on, a smug smirk on her lips now. "Not with money, anyway. You're gonna work off that damage. You obviously have some piloting experience, and I just so happen to need a pilot." It was that or she hauled his ass down to the Defense Guild and had him thrown in lock-up and charged with larceny, destruction of private property and... whatever the hell else the Guild could think of.
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  17. He'd wrapped his head around it about a hundred times, honestly, the whole Pandora thing, and it had been just as difficult to manage as Jumanji had been. But slowly, the more he listened, the more he put together how smoothly she spoke and the different emotions that he'd thought were just really well programmed or something, the more Alex started to wonder ...

    Maybe she wasn't an NPC.

    "Wait-- Work it off? I mean, I'm a pilot, I'm supposed to be a pretty good one, but I can't even, like--" He hesitated. "I can't even get past this stupid level, I've-- I've died twice, I'm down to one life," he said, and Alex was starting to sound just a little bit on the hysterical side as his pace slowed and suddenly wrenched up his sleeve to reveal the one lifeline left on his forearm. It didn't look like anything more than a solid black rectangle tattooed onto his skin.

    But then he seemed to sort of wither again as he came to a halt entirely and stared at her. "Are you an NPC? Or are you, like ... are you, like, a real person? No one's giving me generic responses or anything, and I just thought-- I just thought, maybe they programmed Pandora better, but you, like ... you seem like an actual person ... which I would ... would totally dig right about now."

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  18. The guy seemed to lose what composure he'd been clinging to and suddenly he was rambling on in an increasingly panicked tone. Bobbie stopped walking and reached out to catch his arm, attempting to pull him around to face her. "Hey, whoa-" she lifted her hands to his shoulders and leaned down slightly so she could look into his face. "Take a breath, you're starting to go blue in the face." Then she lifted one hand to give one of his cheeks a good natured pat that was hard enough to have a little bit of a sting behind it but not hard enough to really hurt. Then she dropped her hands away and stepped back, bracing them at her hips.

    "Let me get this straight: you think this is a video game, right? NPC's a gamer term isn't it?" She eyed him as if she was considering a particularly stubborn puzzle. "NPCs, they wouldn't have complex stories, right? You know like, whole childhoods and shit like that. Why don't you ask me a question you don't think an NPC would have an answer to." This wasn't so different from dealing with a Marine having a meltdown, really. The guys she'd toured with, they'd seen some bad shit and come out a little worse for wear because of it. Sometimes all they needed was for someone or something to ground them in the present, help them see what was real and what wasn't.
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  19. Suddenly, she was catching his arm and Alex turned toward her, his eyes wide. He took in a deep breath like she'd said to, but then blinked his eyes rapidly at the sharp little pat to the cheek, feeling a little bewildered by it. An NPC wouldn't do that either, would they? An NPC wouldn't be reacting to his own unexpected meltdowns, would they?

    So Alex stood there, breathing and listening all in silence. What she said made a lot of sense, and suddenly, he was racking his mind, trying to think of a question to ask her. "Uh-- Okay, um ... what was the ... happiest moment of your entire life?" he asked, his brow furrowing because for some reason it was the only thing he could think of. Maybe that would be good enough, though.

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  20. He asked a loaded question, and in hindsight she probably should have seen that coming. "When I was accepted into the Recon Expeditionary Force," she replied without missing a beat, because it wasn't even a question in her mind that it had been the happiest moment of her life. Except now when she looked back on it, the memory was clouded with a tense mix of emotions that she couldn't even begin to decipher. Regret, certainly. Anger that the MMRC wasn't what she'd thought. Disgust with herself for being so blinded by her planet's propaganda that she hadn't seen that in the first place.

    "I was a Marine back home," she went on to explain. "A goddamn good one, too. The Expeditionary Force is the elite of the elite. Getting into it was the proudest moment of my life." She tilted her head slightly, raised her eyebrows as if to ask well?
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