Inspired by "Rise above the Earth
" by ysabetwordsmith
Character: Joan Wheeler
Mentioned: Joan's Moms Jean & Kate Wheeler [nee O'Hara]. Mr Rodriquez, Joan's mentor.
Summery: Joan is inspired to 'science' a way to do something new.
Joan Wheeler was rock climbing in Cloverleaf park when her life changed forever.
She was at the top of the artificial rock climbing wall in the wilderness part of the park, resting, laying on her belly and watching the people on the loop path way below. There was a couple ambling along, a red-haired man and a younger-looking woman with her hair in long brown/gold braids. As Joan watched the man tripped and... didn’t... fall!
He hung in the air for three or four heart beats, and then tumbled to the ground.
Joan’s breath caught in her throat, and as she watched him, he got up and walked off in the direction of the Aid Station with the help of the woman. She felt tears burning at the edge of her hazel eyes, and brushed at them before swiping her hands through her auburn pony-tail. Rolling over onto her back she gulped, half sobbing, fighting back her tears, pushing down the welter of emotions inside her.
It was just so unfair.
Staring up into the deep blue vault of the sky, Joan couldn’t help feeling like the world was playing a spitefully mean trick on her. All through her childhood, Joan had only ever wanted to be like her Moms. She so desperately wanted to fly!
Kate O’Hara and Jean Wheeler had met twenty years previously, when Jean had been recovering after being shot down. She’d been serving as a combat rescue pilot and upon being discharged had come home to Chicago. She’d been using the track facilities at Illinois Tech as part of her physical therapy, when Kate had ‘slightly’ crash landed her prototype jetpack more-or-less at Jean’s feet.
They’d married later that year, Kate taking Jean’s last name, and founded O’K Aerospace at the same time. Operating out of a hanger at the edge of Midway airport, designing, building and selling sport planes and private sub-orbital rocket planes. Kate built the planes, and Jean as lead (and only) test pilot tried to break them.
Joan had been born a couple of years after that, fifteen years ago... and had grown up around planes, rockets and pilots. Ironically, it had been the booster seat that her Mom Kate had designed and built for Joan so she could go with them on business trips, that had made the fledgling company’s fortune.
Joan’s entire life had been centred around becoming a pilot, until a year ago when a tool box the size of a mini-van had been blown across the workshop floor by a jet engine, rolling towards Joan’s Mom Kate. Joan had shoved it, deflecting it to one side, from all the way across the workshop.
Joan was a soup, manifesting telekinesis. Since then she’d been training with her soup mentor Mr Rodriguez. But she really didn’t want to be a soup, and being a Tk was lame! She kept hoping she’d flicker, and develop Flight... but her power stubbornly stayed the same without even so much as a wobble.
Today was the last straw.
She’d seen the man fly briefly! It wasn’t fair, he tripped over his stupid feet and developed flight abilities... and she’d tried and tried to fly and got nowhere! What was the point of being a stupid soup if she couldn’t fly? She wished she’d never developed powers, then her planned path through school to become a pilot would still be on track! Instead, some freak accident happened, and now everyone expected her to use her lame super-power in some way! She wished it had never happened, that the tool box had been properly locked down instead.
Joan got up and scrambled down the beginner's route, she hit the ground running, and pelted along the loop, her feet leading her to the kiddies section of the park. She eventually wound down crying as she hid in the topmost part of the scramble frame. Scrubbing at her eyes, she felt slightly embarrassed and angry at herself for crying.
Ok, she thought, I don’t have Flight, so how do I get it? Or something like it anyway.
Working the problem as Mom Jean called it. Joan decided she would have to science the crap out of it, as Mom Kate would say.
She made her way down to the sand pit, and sat on the bench edge to think. Flight was all about motion. She picked up a rake, and turning it around used the handle end to write in the sand.
1. An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless a force acts upon it.
2. Force = mass times acceleration.
3. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Those were Newton’s laws of motion, and as her Moms had told her, they governed everything that flew. But.. how to use them?
Well, Joan thought, she wanted to be in motion, and she could apply quite a bit of force using her power. So, the first law was covered.
She just wasn’t sure how hard she could push. Mr Rodriguez had her doing exercises, stretching her power. But she cheated, she didn’t work as hard as she could and pretended to get more tired than she really felt so he’d leave her alone. On the other hand, that tool box had weighed a ton, literally, and had been moving very fast. She’d deflected it quite a bit, so had obviously hit it pretty hard. The second law told her that she could generate quite a lot of force.
The only problem was, how to apply it?
Well, Mom Kate was always going on about pulling herself up by her bootstraps. So maybe she could use her power to lift herself, literally pulling herself up by her bootstraps?
Joan sprang to her feet, quickly dusting sand off her leggings. Thinking ahead, she checked the strap on her helmet and made sure her knee and elbow pads were on securely. She had no idea if would work, but an ounce of safety prevented a world of pain, as both her Moms would say.
Joan closed her eyes, reached down inside herself, and pulled...and pulled... and felt the ground tremble under her feet. Opening her eyes, she saw small stones drifting upwards past her, even the sand and dirt rising up around her... as she herself stayed still.
With a sigh, Joan let go, and there was a rustling patter as everything fell down again.
Ok, she thought, so pulling yourself by the shoelaces doesn’t work even with super-powers.
Joan kicked a small stone; she’d lifted everything but herself. The pebble landed in the sandpit, and Joan stared at it...and the writing next to it.
For every action...
“Newtons Third Law!” She cried out, laughing “Oh my god. It’s obvious! For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction!”
And drawing on her power again, she lifted her head skyward, and pushed down against the ground.
Up she shot, like a rocket, flying, flinging herself towards the clouds. Her merry, bright laughter fading as she flew, disappearing into the wild blue sky.
It wasn’t until Joan punched through the thin cloud layer, the cold wet fog whipping past her, and burst out into the clear diamond-bright sun-lit sky beyond, that it occurred to her that perhaps she was flying a little too high.
Joan gasped, the thin cold air stinging like she’d breathed in sharp-edged ice dust, and stopped pushing against the ground.
With a shriek she fell.
One Mississippi, two Mississippi... a small part of her mind chanted, counting seconds. Mom Jean had taken her sky diving last month as a birthday present. But she had no chute to pull on now.
The wind brought tears to her eyes, making it hard to see how far away the ground was, but Joan was pretty sure she’d hit terminal velocity, before she hit the ground. She remembered what Mom Jean always told her to do in a crisis: stay calm and think before acting!
So, fumbling, flailing slightly, she got herself into the proper position for sky diving and stopped spinning and tumbling. That done, she reached down inside herself, and felt around with her power as Mr R told her to do in her classes.
Finding the ground below, she carefully pushed against it again, just a little. Mom Jean had explained to her many times that it wasn’t the fall that killed you, it was the sudden stop. Whiplash and a snapped neck would be just as fatal as hitting the ground.
She could feel the wind lessen, or to be more precise, she was falling through the air slower.
Moments later, she found herself hovering a few hundred feet up, about level with the tops of the distant skyscrapers, grinning broadly, her wind-blown cheeks still stinging.
She was flying!
Well it was more like she’d fallen upwards, she admitted ruefully to herself. Flying implied a degree of control. She looked down again, and frowned. Cloverleaf Park was quite a way off to her left, and she seemed to be moving sideways, carried along by the wind like an errant balloon.
Alright, Joan thought to herself, let's analyse this. I can counter gravity by pushing down against the ground. What can I push against to go sideways?
Reaching down with her power she tried to push down and sideways at the same time against the ground.
Once she’d stopped spinning and managed to get herself the right side up, she said out loud to herself.
“Ok, that was wrong.. remember your physics, Joan! Angular moments, you try doing both things at once and you have a vector about a single point. I need something else to push against. Or... just push away... I wonder ?”
Mentally keeping one ‘hand’ against the ground to hold herself up, she carefully reached out, and pushed a small volume of air away from herself... and found herself drifting backwards.
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “I have thrust! Whoohoo! Oh, thank you sweet Isaac Newton! I can fly!”
And, pushing just hard enough against the ground to hold herself up, she gathered her strength and really pushed, throwing the air under her feet away from her, sending herself hurtling skywards again before, with a joyful scream, jack-knifing and flinging herself sideways across the sky.
It wasn’t long before Joan felt the beginnings of headache, that tight hot feeling that she already knew was the first sign of her having over-stretched her power. Now she regretted skipping on her practice so often, in the hope that if she didn’t encourage it, maybe her power would change to something else.
She had yet to figure out landings though.
Well, she figured, at least she was near the park again. Although she’d stopped thrusting the air away from below her as it had threatened to suck the shoes right off her feet, she was still moving pretty fast. In fact, counting seconds as the quarter-mile markers on the bike trail below whizzed by, she was going way, way too fast!
Joan gulped. Hitting the ground at that speed would probably break bones. She had to figure something out, and fast!
Well, she could tuck and roll, and give a quick blip of her ‘engine’ again. A retrograde burn as her Moms would call it. But she wasn’t sure she could really fine tune it, and she didn’t want to spend ages fiddling around trying to get her speed right as she ping-ponged across the sky, probably until she exhausted herself and just dropped!
Just as the first tinges of panic crept into her mind, she spotted the pond below her. Water had mass, and it didn’t stay still when she pushed against it, that she already knew.
Briefly, she stopped pushing herself up against the ground, and shoved hard, sideways, against the surface of pond, pushing it away from her and in the direction of her flight.
As she dropped, a wave formed on the surface and sped away, carrying her momentum. Her flight suddenly dipped, curving downwards as she slowed.
Too suddenly, and too quickly... with a half strangled yip of fear Joan pushed straight down on the water, trying to gain upward momentum.
The water dished out, pushed down and spilled sideways under the press of her power, Joan wobbled, and the circular dish elongated behind her, and her flight curved up and sideways. Panicked she stopped pushing with her power altogether and her trajectory went ballistic, ending in a resounding, slightly squelching splash among the reeds at the edge of the pond.
Joan sat up, muddy water dripping off her, a lily pad sliding down off her head with a plop...and much to the bewilderment of the local wildlife and the people running over in her direction, she started to laugh.
She had flown!
She is fifteen, likes sports, is poor at 'girly' things and loves her moms.
All she wants to do is fly.
Crossposted from: http://siliconshaman.dreamwidth.org/1231
comments so far over there.