"Take the rope, Zero..." sighed Hawk. I shook my head stubbornly.
"No way. You can fly yourself well enough, but I'm not exactly your average backpack."
Hawk was trying not to laugh, but he didn't move the hand that was holding the rope out to me. We were standing in the flight area, which was basically a huge backyard to the Base's main building that had been cleared of all trees. This was the first day of F.A.S.T., flight and speed training. The advanced Daemons (which is what we apparently are called) were supposed to put on a harness and a rope, and pull a beginner around like a kite through the air. This was not very appealing to me.
"Zero, come on, please? I can carry you, trust me. I won't even really be carrying you, just pulling you so you don't fall when you're trying to fly." He raised his eyebrows and clicked the little metal thing at the end of the rope, looking pointedly at the harness I was wearing.
I growled at him and bared my teeth, but took the rope. After yesterday with the arsenal incident (as Rave calls it) I was scared as heck of going outside the borders of the Base. I clipped the rope to the harness, deciding that it was going to be Hawk's fault if anything happened to me.
"Spread your wings and run behind me. Once I'm in the air, jump when the rope tightens and pretend you're a glider plane or something."
Hawk started running. I felt like such an idiot, running with a rope attaching me to another kid in front of me. I spread my wings as he lifted off, and when the rope pulled I jumped up.
"When you can do this yourself, a running takeoff isn't always necessary," he shouted behind him, but I was freaking out too much to hear. He was flying fast enough and I was light enough that I didn't feel like I was hanging from a balloon or something, but the wind seemed to be pulling my wings painfully from my shoulder blades. I tried pulling them in, and succeeded a little; and dropped like a rock.
"Hey!" shouted Hawk above me. He was struggling to keep us from losing altitude. "Spread your wings, Zero, or we'll crash!"
I squeaked and tried to spread my wings. It helped a little, but not much. Hawk shouted back to 'cup the air and angle upward' or something like that. I felt like a molester, but I curved my wings and tried to imitate his choice of example.
I shot upward. The rope loosened and I fell back down a little, until the rope tightened again and I started to drift upward again. I could see that the strain on Hawk to keep us both moving lessened considerably once I was able to keep myself up alone.
"This is actually really cool..." I shouted. I heard Hawk laugh. Then something occurred to me. "Umm. How do are we going to land?"
"It's like water skiing," he shouted. "I've done this before, don't worry. I'll fly down close to the ground, you'll drop and land running. You won't fall, the pressure will still be on the rope to hold you up."
Oh God. That sounded terrifying.
"Hey, don't worry." Hawk looked over at me, peering over his wing. "We don't land just yet, and it's not that freaky. We still have work to do."
Crap. And I was already tired. Which was saying something, considering all of the stamina training they'd put me through while my wings were still growing...
He tried to get me to flap. I wouldn't do it at first, and when I did, it was hard as heck to get my wings to move through the rushing air. I managed a few little flaps, then discovered that I could actually move my feathers. Like, they were individual little fingers or something. Almost. I couldn't use them like fingers, as in curling them or anything, but I could twist them to let the air through when I brought them up. It was a little bit similar to window blinds. Also, I could flatten them against each other to create more drag when I brought them down.
The flapping thing got easier and easier, until my wings started getting heavier and heavier, and then it was no longer easy. I had gotten around to flying by myself for short periods, and Hawk would drift down below me to both rest a little and catch me if I fell. I almost did, a few times; my wings didn't give out or anything, but if I pushed them back too far in a stroke and didn't get them back fast enough then they would get caught up in the already-stirred up air and yank me out of control. It was pretty scary, actually.
"Are you ready to land?" called Hawk, just as I was about to say I was done.
I nodded. "Yeah. I'll survive it, as long as I can sleep after this."
He laughed. "Alright. Here, do you want to dive? It's pretty fun."
I shrugged, as well as I could shrug in the air, and called, "Sure, but only if it gets us closer to the ground faster."
"It does, actually," he called. "Follow me like we're on a roller coaster track. Angle when I angle, tuck your wings when I tuck mine. You'll need to spread them fast when we get close to the ground, but I'll keep us higher in case you miss your chance."
"Oh, thanks..." I mumbled, not really all that up for arguing. It was only when Hawk angled up when I realized what I was in for. "This might not be such a good - "
Too late. Time seemed to slow down as Hawk bent over, like he was standing on a diving board, and pulled his wings in and shot down. I almost forgot to do what he did, and when I remembered it wasn't very organized. I think I screamed before I even started the descent.
Gee, thanks for telling me to imagine it like a roller coaster.