2237-09-29 - A 12 Parsec Kestrel Run

Frustrated with her own performance in the air and the unwelcome sensation of once again being the rookie on her wing, Ines interrupts her bunkmate's nap, and Tomak does the smart thing: he gets her to run until she has no breath left to complain with. (It works.)

Date: 2237-09-29

Location: C Berth And Various Corridors

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1433

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Charisma Bunk -- that's what some of the ladies of C Berth have decided the 'C' stands for -- is quiet. The dominating sound is the sub-aural thrumming of the Dauntless, so constant and steady a fact of life as to barely be audible at all.
And then...

Rapid bootfalls in the corridor turn into a heavy staccato bang as Ines storms into the bunkroom and attempts to keep moving toward her locker whilst simultaneously removing her boots, turning the whole process into a series of bunny hops. When she gets one of them off she hucks it in the general direction of her locker, where it connects with a BANG. One muffled Leonese curse later, and the second one follows it, and then she's standing on the bunk below hers to lean up into hers, rifling for -- things. Things that she needs and can't. FIND. "Augh!"

Gage is sound asleep. There are all sorts of reasons for that -- maybe it was a long day, or he was on patrol, or he's unwell. But more than likely, it's just because he's a marine, and it's habit to sleep whenever you can get it, especially in lieu of anything else. They are experts at killing time, after all. Not even he can quite sleep through the stomping, hopping entrance, though. And then she's standing on his bunk to reach hers and well... he yawns, then reaches out a hand to clamp firmly onto her ankle, just like in all those horror films.

<FS3> Ines rolls Reflexes: Good Success (8 8 7 6 )

Soldiers: they're human beings groomed into living weapons. Instincts bestowed upon them by the animal kingdom, so reptilian and unpredictable, drawn out and honed by military institutions until each and every one of them becomes dangerous. And the Wolves? An elite unit. The cream skimmed off of the top. Popular culture is full of demonstrations of what happens (in movies, in books, in games) when someone sneaks up on and surprises such a refined instrument of violence.
What happens in those instances is not what happens now, which is that Ines utters a tiny, high-pitched shriek and very nearly falls off of the bunk altogether, managing to catch herself at the last moment. Not that it matters, because immediately after that she knee-drops onto his bunk anyway, fixing him with a sharp-eyed look. There's color in her cheeks and her hair is tousling out of its pins, of which there are multitudes, the better to keep from forming a huge knot underneath her piloting helmet.
"Tomak. Where are my running shoes."

Gage, meanwhile, just has a satisfied looking grin for her. The anti-charisma of C-bunk. "The frak you doing? Don't you know it's," he spares a glance for the clock. It's a normal, awake-time-hour, and so the complaint fades into another expressive yawn. He tugs off his blanket, and swings his legs off the bunk -- presuming she moves in time, anyway. "Frak should I know? Try the laundry basket," he waves vaguely. That's where he tosses pretty much everything of his, anyway.

The grin does nothing for her composure. Her eyes narrow in the usual way, and then she does move, though when she does she pairs that spin away with a yank at the curtains of his bunk, slinging them closed behind her. All of the coiled energy she stormed in with follows her to the laundry basket -- thunderstorms in a bottle -- but the prospect of digging through dirty bunkroom laundry is enough to give even her ongoing tempest a moment of pause. "Oh. Gross," she says, and then gets to work anyway. The contents of the basket wind up all over the floor, tossed without care.
"What does it sound like! I'm going to -- " Insert horrified Leonese words here. That laundry. " -- run! Possibly to death. I haven't decided."

The pilot's behavior earns a frankly baffled look from Gage -- at least after he's reopened those curtains and stifled another yawn. Pushing to his feet, he tugs a hand over short-shaven hair. "What's got your panties in a knot, Correa?" There's a definite smirk as she tips out the laundry basket. "Gotta clean all that up," he adds, sounding far too satisfied as he rests an arm along her bunk, leaning to watch.

As luck would have it, her shoes appear underneath someone else's shirt, and she picks them up and stares, momentarily baffled herself. "How-?"
But questions like that one have no answers. She tosses the shoes down on a patch of clear floor and yanks her locker open. It's neat as a pin in there, everything folded, sorted. She wrecks it in less than thirty seconds finding her gym clothes: cropped black running tights, a long-sleeved wicking shirt -- regulation, of course. She throws them down and begins stripping her uniform shirt impatiently enough that she nearly loses a button. "Everything! Just. Everything." She simmers in silence a moment as she shrugs out of the sleeves, balls up the uniform and chucks it into the locker. "Two flights, Tomak, and I had to RTB with more damage to my bird than any of my targets. I am, so far, a net loss for the CF."

Gage's brows go upwards at the 'everything' response, but he's definitely not taking that bait and saying anything, clearly knowing better. He's already in off-duty tanks and reaches back into his bunk to pull on long pants, before settling down on the edge and tugging on his own running shoes after pulling them, one by one, from under his bunk. "Didn't they just take out one Captain, shoot another down? Seems like you're up, on balance, Correa." After a moment, rubbing a hand over his stubbled beard, "Figure it comes down to it, the brass takes the birds coming back at all as a win."

His reminder tangibly has an impact, briefly slowing almost to a halt the otherwise too-brisk movements of her hands while she sheds some clothes in exchange for others. She glances at him sidelong in that moment, lips parted, for a kind of coasting silence before she picks up where she left off, back to once more taking out her frustration on inanimate objects. "You know how it is. Sometimes it's just down to luck. Bad luck, and no amount of training or skill will help."
She pointedly doesn't look at him after that, changing into her other things. Not really for modesty's sake, though there's some of that, but because of the scarring. It's worst around the top of her left thigh, front and back. Obsessive moisturizing mitigates it, but shrapnel tends to make ugly injuries. And Ines, underneath a uniform that does an excellent job of rendering her shapeless, is basically all leg anyway. "Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to come back. I'm not out there looking to -- but I'm not used to it anymore. Being back at the bottom of the ladder."

"You're absolutely right. Sometimes it's plain, flat, dumb luck, not skill." Gage's far-too-smug in agreeing with her sentiment. Either he doesn't look while she changes, or he's so used to such things -- he's got plenty of scars, bullet ones and otherwise -- to his body to tell a story or two that he doesn't react. And now, he chuckles, kind of knowingly. "Come from riding high, everyone telling you you're a frakking badass and how amazing it is you got into the CF... and then you're the shit-kicker again," he says, with some amount of sympathy. "Life as a shit-kicker aint all bad. No one calling on you to lead nothing." Which in the engineer's books is apparently a plus. He stretches easily, focusing on his calf-muscles while half-watching his bunkmate.

It's the smug tone that gets another look from her, under slightly knitted brows, as though she can't quite piece together why those words sound that way. Still caught up in her own wounded pride, now with a light icing of uneasy vanity to go with it, she doesn't ask. She reaches for a ball of below-ankle socks in her locker and leans down to sweep up her shoes by the heels, then drops to sit on the bench and put them on. "I don't care about leading things. I just want to..." Pause. "I just want to destroy every last godsbedamned sentient machine in the colonies."
It's not until she's tying her shoes that she notices -- with those soldier's honed senses and instincts of hers! -- that he has his on. She pauses, blinks down at them, and then turns her head to look back at him around her shoulder.

Gage goes still for a moment, expression hovering somewhere between reluctance and reminiscence. "I remember that feeling. Dreamt about it every night for a year when the war first started." He exhales a sharp breath, and doesn't linger on that, instead adding, "After a while, you realize there's no way to do it. They just keep making more. So you focus on other things. The little victories, you know? Blowing their shit up. Taking out a basestar," not that he has, but he got a damn fine view of it from the base on Caprica. Her quizzical look earns another of those fleeting grins, and a flicker of fingers towards the hallway like, 'after you'. How very gentlemanly like, and how very un-like a gesture for the terse marine.

Those are not words that Ines wants to hear, and they're worse because, at least to gauge from her expression, she has an inkling that they're true. Why it should bother her -- the idea that her expectations may have to be scaled down or at least shifted sideways, or changed in shape -- she doesn't say, but it does. Her jaw sets, and she glances down at the final rough tug she gives the knot in her laces. Doesn't argue, but has obviously decided not to take that on board immediately.
The little gesture -- not really a flourish, but for Gage, probably as close as it gets -- is so out of character that it's almost surprising enough to get a smile. Almost.

She pops up off of the bench, finishes stripping the pins out of her hair (she thinks; there are two left) and then pulls the flood of it back into a tail behind her head, winding it up into a bun as she starts for the door. Long strides. "What's your route?"

For him, strides are shorter, to match hers, Gage settling in easily at her side. "One circuit of this deck, down two flights, two circuits on deck six, up two flights, rinse-repeat. I skip decks one-through-three. Too many people walking slow, getting in the way. Used to hit deck seven, but antsy pilots are best to avoid when things are heated." Such as now, presumably, since he doesn't include it. "You game?" that, challenging tone is probably more familiar Gage territory, accompanied by a wry twitch of lips.

Such as now. Granted, one of the more currently heated pilots on the Dauntless is going on this little jaunt with him.
She's nodding along until the challenge, at which point she slings a look up and aside at him that has a lot in common with her earlier knit-browed temper, save that there's a thin margin of humor there, too. It's sharp humor, but still -- something, anyway, briefly visible through the thunderclouds. "Psh. It's always a contest with you!" She sounds critical, but the corner of her mouth quirks, and as she winds up her pace she drops into Tauran. <<What would you do if a pilot outran you, Tomak?>>

<FS3> Gage rolls Reflexes: Good Success (8 8 7 6 5 3)

"Aint much fun unless there's a contest," comes Gage's bland retort, as he picks up the pace. The shift change is over, so it's mostly only off-duty folks in the halls. Half the challenge, as it turns out, of running in the halls is avoid all the other occupants, sometimes last minute, something Gage seems to have a good handle on. <<Go frak myself, probably,>> is the Tauron's bland, and probably not-all-joking response.

<FS3> Ines rolls Reflexes: Success (8 7 4 1)

<FS3> Ines rolls Athletics: Good Success (8 8 7 7 1)

The halls of the Dauntless are not especially wide. No working vessel is going to needlessly increase weight by having wide hallways. Space is at a premium in...well. Space. And that would be fine, if it were only Gage and Ines; he's big, but she's not. Not really. Since it isn't, it rapidly becomes about agility, and Ines has decent reflexes, given how little time she's really spent living a life with rigorous physical demands.
Only, faced with the choice of stepping out of the way of Gage or Ines, the pedestrian traffic in the hall invariably and very wisely decides that getting out of the way of the marine built like a brick shithouse is the better choice, leaving Ines on more than one occasion doing awkward back-and-forth dances with people to the sound of a symphony of 'Sorry!'s.
She wasn't sure what answer she was going to get, but the one she does get finally puts a crack in the shell of her ire. She tilts her head back and laughs, sparing the breath to do it with. <<That is great motivation. You should coach.>>

<FS3> Gage rolls Athletics: Great Success (8 8 8 7 7 6 2 2)

Gage is all about pressing his claim, now he's got the slight edge of being in front by dint of people veering out of his way. Certainly, it seems he doesn't intend to take it easy on her -- maybe he figures it'll stop her talking? Who knows. Either way, he puts on a burst of speed once the corridor thins out a bit, hitting the stairs with only a slight drop of speed, taking them two, sometimes three at a time in great leaps.

If that's what he figures, he'll have the satisfaction of being right. Ines knows better than to full-sprint to try to make up the distance, but the lead he has puts enough pressure on her that she has to buckle in and focus on breathing through the slowly accumulating burn in her thighs and calves. Eventually the 'sorry!'s stop too, even though there's an occasional shuffle of shoe soles on corridor floor: she's just too focused on catching up. Down the stairs, barely even touching any of them on the way, and gradually closing the gap, eyes pinned to his back, right between his shoulderblades. A target, a moving goalpost.

Somewhere in there, all of that coiling, unfocused wrath catalyzes, becomes fuel for the run, and she forgets to be angry.

Gage continues, leading the way. They come out on deck six, the booms from the firing range muffled but not inaudible as they pass, laughter and loud voices from the marine office. The CQB arena seems quiet though, and one of the occupants of the security office comes out to glance at them as they run by. He doesn't stop them though, maybe used to Gage's usual circuit. Less people to get in the way here, certainly an opportunity to overtake as they do a second circuit. The marine's breathing evenly, glancing back over his shoulder at Ines to see how close she is as he goes.

She isn't going to catch him. He'd be able to tell at a glance; he must be used to assessing that kind of thing quickly. She's close but not close enough, and her stride is already as long as it can get without becoming unsustainable -- particularly since there are up stairs somewhere ahead in this equation.
...But to look at her, even at a glance, she doesn't seem to know that, or maybe just can't accept it. Pale eyes rendered paler still by fluorescent light are hard with determination, like the rest of her body was just an afterthought in the pursuit and not actually the vehicle that has to get her there.
She did say she was never any good at calculating odds.
The glance wins a dip of her brows and something that could've been a smirk if not for her breathing -- and just a little bit more speed. Just a little. Provoked.

There's a grin from the marine, a fleeting one but there all the same at whatever he sees -- maybe the distance between them -- maybe the determine look about her. Gage has to slow at the door to the stairs, and he climbs up, pushing hard but slowing by measures. Up is definitely worse than down, especially with lungs already burning for oxygen. By the time he makes two flights, he's breathing heavily, a good sheen of sweat visible. His pause at the top of the stairs may well be a genuine need for a breath rather than a moment to let Ines catch up.

The hiss from behind him seems to suggest she's taken his grin the way most people would take it, coming from Tomak. By the time she hits the second set of stairs her legs are cauldrons of lactic acid. Treadmills are a poor substitute for real running. She would love to pause, but then he stops at the top of the stairs, actually really stops, and in spite of the way her calves howl objections at the very idea, she pours on the gas. Becomes a humid presence just behind him, and if he doesn't vault off of the threshold into the hallway, maybe ahead of him, too. Not because she can keep up that pace -- just to get out ahead, at least once, even if she has to wedge herself through that doorway with an elbow to do it.

Gage gives another of those irritating grins as she approaches the top of the stairs, opens his mouth -- and then she's pushing past him -- that elbow landing somewhere in his mid-section and earning an expel of breath that is more surprise than pain. It's enough to earn her that moment of victory, out in front, several free-and-clear steps of winning. And then Gage is pacing her again, straining to pace past her because there's plenty on the line, besides his manhood -- his marine-hood and his Tauron-hood. It's not that far a distance from the stairs to their bunks. They crossed it easily not that long ago but, now the distance undoubtedly feels like much further, with muscles already straining and lungs burning.

<FS3> Ines rolls Athletics: Success (8 6 4 3 1)

<FS3> Gage rolls Athletics: Great Success (8 8 8 6 6 3 1 1)

Ines would've felt a little bit bad about the elbow in hindsight if not for the grin that precedes it. She was totally going to elbow him anyway, but the grin absolves her of any pending guilt, and she can't really afford to spare the air that leaves her as a breathless laugh as she coasts past for two, three, four, five beautiful, full-sprint paces. Five in total, before he's there next to her, and then he blows past her again with the kind of athletic authority that she finds difficult to even be annoyed with. He makes it look easy.
She slows because she has to...but also in concession. Does not stop, but as they wind toward the berthings she lets herself take a more forgiving pace, letting her heart and lungs recoup.

So too, does Gage slow, not out of any sense of chivalry -- obvious by the way he blew past her -- but to ease himself down into a lower pace out of undoubtedly habit. He's at a fast walk by the time they reach the berthings, leaning one arm against the wall to catch his breath, the other arm passing over his forehead to catch some of the sweat there. "Not bad," he says, quickly, as she approaches. A magnanimous moment, ruined by the, <<For a pilot,>> that follows in Tauran.

Small wisps of dark hair cling to her forehead, temples, cheeks, throat -- whatever didn't stay in the bun. She strips the tie out of it and is scooping it all back into a new and neater bun as she draws back up to where he is. She's still trying to catch her breath, so when he says 'not bad' all she can do is mouth, albeit in standard, 'for a pilot' at approximately the same time he quips in Tauran. She is, apparently, getting used to that.
It doesn't put a damper on her mood, though. She rolls her eyes but the smile comes anyway. The endorphins are doing what they're supposed to. Flattening her palm to the wall, she reaches back with her other hand to hold the top of her foot, stretching her quads, and after a few moments of silent breathing ventures, "You remind me of someone I knew in basic."

"Oh yeah?" Gage eyes her for a moment. "He a charming, talented grunt too?" the marine says with familiar blandness as he straightens from his lean against the wall, though his other hand comes out to rest there, stretching his legs, one at a time, out behind him.

"And modest, as well," Ines says, brows rising just a little. Her deadpan is excellent; the dry tone she uses is delicate enough to make any Virgon proud. Some beats of silence later she switches legs, catches at her other foot. "No. He bet against me, too. But it was the way he did it that was different. Like maybe..." In the pause she stares not at but through the wall, backward through time. "He was hoping I'd prove him wrong, sometime."

The snort and twitch of lips from Gage that follows her attention seems to give her that point. Score 1, Ines. He straightens now, pulling an elbow up behind his head. "You beat me sometime, I'm probably lame, or dead. So, you know, you've still got a fighting chance." He switches to his other elbow, voice deepening with sudden humor, "So did you ever end up kicking his ass, Correa?"

Gallows humor gets a quirk of her lips and a sidelong glance, but there's no humor in her eyes to go with it. "I don't need to win things that badly." And, lest this be construed as interest in his wellbeing, god forbid, she places her toe low on the wall and leans in, stretching the back of her calves, and says airily, "What if the bunkmate I got next was awful? Only ate cheese, or..." She flaps a hand.
This smile is quicker, small and fleet, but it sparks light in her gaze. "Not...exactly. But I did prove him wrong, just once." There's a pang of something very like homesickness that follows that thought, though she'd never call it that.

"...or snored, smelled like week-old meat or something. Yeah, that would be terrible," Gage is in agreement with this. "When I first got onto the Vanguard, I must've switched bunks four, five times. Sometimes you just know after a day or so why someone's bunk is empty. In point of fact, I'm impressed you've lasted this long. Wagner and Calhoun frakking has put off the faint of heart before. Pretty sure there was a Captain briefly there before you came in." Maybe he hears something in her tone that makes him look her way. Either way, he doesn't intrude on it, saying simply, "Once is enough." And then he's tugging off his tanks, moving past her as he balls the clothes up into a wad. "Going to hit the showers."

The sound she makes is amused, but takes a page out of his playbook for its blandness. "I'm too tired when I'm in there to be -- much of anything. Bothered, or uncomfortable, or -- " She looks for the word. "Titillated." Because surely, somewhere on this ship, there is someone who would consider that ongoing scenario a feature rather than a bug.
Once is enough, he says. She nods, and the curl at the corner of her mouth sticks around as she steps out of her sneakers, toe on heel. "It was." Agreement. Warm and content, even, the way she usually sounds.
She glances up when he passes behind her, trails him with her eyes for a few paces. Why she waits until he's out of view to say the words she would not in the moment be able to say -- maybe some floating sense that the marine doesn't go in for that kind of thing. But she does say them, anyway. Eventually.
"Thanks for the run."


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