It was funny. Aster worked with a lot of his creatures on a lot of things, but he didn't do much work with Summer, whom he'd had the longest. This wasn't to say she was thoroughly unseasoned; he had taught her a little of fighting, mostly attacks, and that mostly for a specific underground escapade they had undertaken at one point. At the time, she had seemed far and away the best choice, being immune to physical strikes and being small and light enough that she could safely be taken into the unstable underground caverns that comprised the mines.
Against a regular wild drake, with none of that injection stuff that tended to go on in city tournaments, she was the perfect counter. But that didn't mean he wanted to be sending her into actual combat. Moreover, she had an intelligence on par with people, or the Hara that Aster lived with.
And so it had never felt quite right to teach her the kind of cheap parlor tricks another creature of her size might be made to learn.
But having worked with Rhys, Aster was beginning to think that maybe not investing at least the rudimentary survival basics of skirmishing into Summer too was complacence on his part. After all, how often did she travel around with him, going here and there? If something untoward happened, she was closer to hand, on average, than Avander was. There were items to fix this, which he supposed he ought to look into buying... But in the meantime, it wouldn't take more than some time and effort to invest in sharpening Summer's reaction times some, at least.
Of course, he would have to convince her to do it first.
"Say," Aster said on a lazy spring evening. The idea had been on his mind for some time now, but this seemed like the right moment.
They had some time, and he had nothing better to do, having come home from a gym session with Azalea earlier in the day, and wrapped up all his chores and household errands. "You want to learn how to dodge?"
It was just the two of them, Summer and Aster, so he couldn't possibly have been addressing anyone else. But that was the only thing that tipped Summer off that she was being spoken to, and after having parsed what he said, she looked at him as though he had grown a second head.
Aster shrugged. "Well, everyone else knows how to do it, except the Hara." And he didn't really fancy teaching them those sorts of skills, even though in theory there was a non-zero chance they might find it handy one day. That was complacence too, but of a different, milder sort--- the trust that they wouldn't get into any trouble.
None of the Hara, not even Dami, followed Aster around very much.
At once, Summer's feathers hackled, and Aster laughed. "Look, I'm not saying that you're not pulling your weight. And I guess it's kind of my fault for not teaching you before this either. But... well, you worry about me, right? I worry about you too." The admission, just the act of saying it out loud, made his fingers curl. It was so indescribably cheesy. He really wasn't a very 'verbal affection' type of guy.
But he said it because he knew it would be an effective argument. And it was true, even though Summer's relative size and lack of physicality meant he worried about her rather less than she worried about him.
If Summer were privy to his thoughts, and for that matter if Summer had a way to put her thoughts into words, she might have said that it had more to do with the fact that she didn't make harebrained decisions.
But then, if Aster hadn't made some of those harebrained decisions, they wouldn't be where they were now either. They might never even have met.
Summer flicked her wings in a dismissive gesture, tossing her head as a human might roll their eyes. But he could feel her giving in, the surprise giving way to a reluctant assent, through their mental link. Very well, so be it--- in not so many words, but the same sentiment nevertheless.
"Great," Aster said. "Hold on. I've got just the thing."
He returned not long after with a bunch of tennis balls. "Here, I'm going to be throwing these at you. On my signal, try and avoid them, alright?"
She gave him another one of her looks, but Aster said, "What, you want me to find something that can actually hit you? I can have Avander freeze these things, but it's not going to be comfortable for you if he does."
That, and Aster didn't know, strictly speaking, if it would work like that. In theory Aster could have Avander launch honest to god elemental attacks at her, but that would have been dangerous. "Just pretend like these are a real threat, alright? It's not like you're learning to take damage. They're good enough for just learning how to dodge."
Summer gave another reluctant assent, though she was little pleased by it. She probably thought it was stupid. And maybe it was, a little bit, but in terms of a cheap solution and training aid, Aster was pretty satisfied with it.
"Ready?" he said. Since she was just starting, he was still giving her time to prepare. "Alright, dodge!"
He chucked a ball at her. She fluttered away like a real startled bird might. He didn't fail to notice that she hadn't flown away in time though, and that the ball had clipped her slightly.
It still passed through her, of course, but if that had been a real attack... "Strike one for you," he said, not even bothering to hide the mirth in his voice. She leveled a glare at him. "What? It's your fault for being slow." This didn't help his case with her, and her wings mantled further. "Alright, alright. That really was easy mode, but... Next time, try taking your cue from my voice rather than watching the ball yourself. That'll be easier at first, until you get used to moving around in a hurry. There's no point in watching the ball, since you know where I am, and you know I'll be throwing at you, right? So you should know where you could dodge to based on all that."
Summer calmed down now that he was explaining it to her properly, and eventually acquiesced to trying again. Aster couldn't quite help suppressing a little smile, but she was very pointedly ignoring that.
She took his advice to heart, even if she didn't appreciate his attitude. This time, she started moving as soon as he gave the signal, and sure enough, she managed to evade this ball with room to spare. "Hey, not bad!" he said. "You got it this time."
Summer preened, as though his praise meant nothing to her. But Aster could sense that she was pleased despite herself.
"Well, you know how it is. Practice makes perfect." She had watched enough of his training sessions with his other creatures, and she had done some little training with him herself a long time ago, so she was familiar with the process. He gave her just enough time to collect herself before he threw another one at her. "Dodge!"
She dodged this one too, taking off sharply as Aster gave the signal. Again, the ball missed her.
"Good. One more time. Dodge. He threw another ball, and she dodged it again, following the same method that she had used the last time.
It wasn't a very fun game that they played that session, but then, most training wasn't necessarily enjoyable. Summer was smart enough to know that the end goal would be worth it, so at least Aster didn't have to try quite so hard to motivate her through it, the way he often had to do with, say, Grunty. But then, he wasn't sure how he would go about doing that with an ethereal creature anyway. It wasn't as if Summer ate.
By the end of the first session, she had the general idea down, and she hadn't gotten clipped by a ball again, despite her sluggish first attempt. At their second session, after a few tries to warm her up, Aster dispensed a little more advice.
"Now try to make your movements more... economical. You don't have to move quite so much to dodge my throw." She looked at him, and he shrugged. "Yeah, you'll have to look at the incoming attack now, but if you move less, you'll have more time to do it. "
He half expected her to be irritated again for one reason or another, but instead she simply seemed to be considering the idea. When it seemed like she had thought it through and was ready to start, Aster obliged. "Dodge," he said, and threw another ball.
He could tell that she was thinking it through this time, not the least of which was because she got hit again, for the first time since they'd started. It was a close thing, but she hadn't started moving in time. This time, however, Aster didn't say anything about it to her after she had made the attempt.
He knew she was just trying to implement what he had told her, and it hadn't quite come together for her yet. It would only take more practice before she became more proficient with it.
To that end, he did it again. "Dodge." This time, she tracked the ball a little better, and managed to dodge out of the way in time. "Dodge," Aster said, and threw a third ball. She didn't get quite so lucky this time around. But slowly, over the course of the session, Aster could see her rate of success improving. At the same time, her movements had grown more precise, so that when she did dodge, it wasn't by very much.
It might have seemed like a finicky thing to work on, but it would help her conserve energy and stay near the foe for a counterattack if need be. It was the way Aster generally taught it to his other creatures, anyway, and so Summer was getting the same treatment.
After their second session came a third, and then a fourth, where they practiced more of the same maneuver. Over and over again, Aster asked her to dodge the things he threw at her, until she was back to where she had been, not getting hit by anything that Aster threw at all. It went on to the point where the word 'dodge' stopped sounding like a real word to Aster, but if that was what it took to drill it in until it became something instinctive for Summer to do, then so be it. He had done more tedious things in the name of combat training before.
Eventually, however, all the work did finally pay off, and Aster felt comfortable enough to leave off the dodge training. "Well, that's good enough for that," Aster pronounced after a session where Summer hadn't gotten hit once. "Seems like you're ready to move on to the next thing."
Having taught Summer how to dodge, the next step was going to be distinctly less pleasant. Well, for her, anyway, mostly. Maybe a little for him too, though only because it was a tedious thing to teach, even if it was necessary; and if she was cross, he would feel it, of course.
"I think you know what's coming next, actually," Aster mused. She had lived with him long enough, watched him raise creature after creature for the Pit, especially when Sarane tournaments had still been in fashion.
He could sense some resignation from Summer, and had to fight the urge to laugh. "Yeah, well, you have to admit, it's a useful skill to have. And better learning it through tennis balls than..." He fell silent. Aster could do it too--- sense a blow before it came in and connected, if someone was trying to ambush him, not that it happened much anymore.
And maybe it was some twisted form of projection that he wanted his creatures to know how to do it too. But he had learned it living as a street rat when he had been a child, and besides the sheer difficulty of recreating such an environment, it also really wasn't the kind of thing he wanted any of his creatures to experience. A dog eat dog world... He'd run away from it, and there was no need to go back to it now.
Aster tossed a tennis ball idly into the air, catching it and then tossing it up again. "The sooner we start, the sooner it'll be over," he said.
He could have sworn he saw Summer sigh--- a habit she'd picked up from him, Aster guessed. Most birds didn't do anything like that; he'd certainly never seen Rook do it. But he took that as his signal to begin.
Silver: Check out the updates thread for character updates! This should be a big bonus for almost everyone so check it out!
Nov 10, 2020 20:03:40 GMT -6
Morgan: You too, Riku!
Nov 9, 2020 16:36:39 GMT -6
Riku: I hope everyone is doing well.
Nov 8, 2020 16:27:01 GMT -6
Silver: Wishing Well has rolled over! For anyone who received late rolls (ie just got their last Oct. roll), please feel free to post in the well for October items if you still need them. :3
Nov 7, 2020 6:25:48 GMT -6
Kadin: Vote for an icon for the discord!
Nov 1, 2020 18:48:32 GMT -6