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Not quite Legendary, but IST
Paragon is affiliated with the East Coast Legendary on Infinity.

For those who haven't read
the Thibor stories, Lieutenant Simon Bitterbuck is an Aide to Lieutenant Colonel Hoyle. He is a computer expert with a
mutation that allows him to analyze disparate data in a manner that computers cannot. Currently he has accompanied
Major Sawchyk to Paragon City, and against his wishes, and better judgment, taken part in field operations.

When it came time to choose his
travel power, I opted for flight (I built Simon as an Archer/Device blaster); I wanted an excuse for it, and the idea for this story has being floating in my
mind since I saw the Learning To Fly video by Pink Floyd. (Simon's grandfather has been mentioned before in the
Thibor stories, specifically in regards to the old man owning every issue of Playboy since its inception.) I don't
know if that story (incomplete as it is) has ever made it onto the board.

Learning to

Simon Bitterbuck hated

That wasn't exactly
true. Nature had its place, was fun to visit, occasionally provided some excellent food if one was willing to jump
through several manner of indignities to get it from kicking and screaming to on a plate with a variety of side dishes.
Nature was just better when viewed from behind a pane of weatherproof glass, in a warm room with good ventilation and high speed internet

The last week had not been the
sort of nature that Simon normally enjoyed. It was the sort of nature he abhorred.
A week of precious leave spent living in what could, if one was feeling generous, be called a cabin. Simon was
not currently inclined to generosity. It was not a cabin, not even a shack, could probably pass in bad light for a
hovel, and was about as far from a Northern Canadian Club Med as Simon was from a good coffee shop; several hundred kilometers, minimum.

A week of living in his
grandfather's 'fishing cabin'. A week of living off the land. A
week that would have been far better spent on a beach, in the city, or anywhere else with the possible exceptions of unprotected in the vacuum of space, the
Antarctic circle, and Detroit.

Perhaps I am just wingeing,
Simon mused to himself, and then corrected the thought. He was wingeing. With
several good reasons. It was not the coldest he had ever been; he had spent far more time in far less comfortable
places. It was not the hungriest. He was eating regularly, perhaps not with the
variety he was used to; and he hadn't had to feed Naoko at any time. A small victory, but he clung to it
anyway. Someone was trying to kill him; again nothing unique, except that it was his grandfather instead of a
malicious, criminal, lunatic. Grandfather wasn't criminal; but two out of three wasn't bad; or
unusual. That also was unfair. Grandfather was normally sane, rational, and
effortlessly cool; this just wasn't one of those times. He was playing the shaman, and that required him to be
nuttier than squirrel droppings.

Grandfather Bitterbuck was at
the stone fireplace, crouched next to the embers of the fire, singing in a low, monotonous voice. Perhaps he was
communicating with the spirits of the land. Simon hoped that the spirits of the land were partial to an off-key,
half-remembered, version of Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl; or at least more partial to it than he was. Simon was
supposed to be communing with the spirits to. On the table in front of him, a long black feather and a bare, white,
bird skull were laid out. The rest of the bird, or at least a small portion of it, was currently roiling through
Simon's digestive track. It was deeply upset at the indignity of the journey and was letting Simon know with each
inch of intestine it traversed.

It was the first, and if he had
his say, the last turkey vulture he had ever eaten. The bird had been taken with a single arrow that had passed through
the tiny, bald, red, head. Unfortunately the bird had, as it crashed towards earth, been caught in the limbs of a tall
tree. Simon had been forced to climb up to retrieve it. He had just gotten the
filthy thing by the legs when he heard the chainsaw.

Grandfather had cut the tree out
from under him. Two days previous grandfather had pushed him off a cliff to fall into the lake some 80 feet
below. In the bird incident he had made it to the ground, ungracefully, by jumping off the falling tree into an
evergreen. The cliff had required nothing more than gravity and a brief, uncomfortable, swim back to

Grandfather was trying to teach
him how to fly.

Perhaps the old man's mind
had finally been thrown out of gear. He truly believed his grandson could be taught to fly. He said that the soil, the rain, and the wind had told him. Simon wondered why he
hadn't received the message, and had even double checked his spam filter to ensure the messages had not been dumped.
Nothing from the rain, the soil, or the wind, but a minister from Uganda had wanted his help in laundering funds from the late Idi

Simon picked up the
feather. He had already steamed it over the kettle, so it was unlikely that it was bearing any vermin. Remembering his grandfather's instructions, he raised it above the table, held it for a moment and then dropped
it. The feather settled back down onto the table. Rinse, lather and then
repeat. Simon would have killed, or at the very least maimed for a hot shower.
The lake was still very cold, and bathing was an exercise to see if you could get the dirt off before it began to clash with the blue of your skin. With his dark complexion, Simon tended more towards a blotchy purplish. The feather
dropped again. A Japanese bath; that would be good. Hot enough to cook you like
a lobster, without the indignities of rubber bands on your hands. Like the one they had visited in Osaka. Naoko shyly holding the towel in front of her body as she dropped into the water, only letting it slip away at the last possible
moment… Simon dropped the feather again, his mind still caught up in the remembered vision.

The feather seemed to hang in
the air for the barest second before settling back down to the table.

Grandfather's song had
changed. The voice rang out in a strange, ululating flow, it was both familiar and strangely alien. It was of the world, but not the world Simon knew. The cabin was melting around him, he
could see stars above his head, feel the wind stirring his long braids. His stomache, thankfully, kept him grounded in
reality, as it churned around the lumps of turkey vulture and…

What had grandfather spiced the
bird with? Simon was familiar with the taste and texture of pretty much everything edible in the woods, but the bird
had been dotted with bits of something he hadn't recognized. A mushroom? A
root sliced to within a pico-meter or transparency. Had he been drugged? He
dropped the feather again and watched it fall. It didn't fall. It was like
it slid, the currents of air in the room danced around it, it was caught by one and then the next, some forcing it up, most pushing it down. The feather hit the table like a roar of thunder.

Definitely drugged. Simon blinked his eyes and pulled off his glasses. He took a half staggering step away
from the table, half turned and crashed towards the floor, thankfully blacking out before his nose made contact with the rough wood.

He was above the
lake. The wind whistling through his hair. Was he falling again? All evidence seemed to be pointing that way. Was the lake getting closer? Yes. Was the lake moving towards him?
No. That meant he was heading towards the lake. Check. Simon tried to turn his body in the air, to get his feet under him in preparation for impact.
His body rebelled with the same uncomfortable obstinacy of the turkey vulture in his GI tract. The water got
closer. The air seemed thick around him. Simon blinked again, wishing his dream
self had kept his glasses, things were blurry. The rapidly diminishing space between him and the lake was full of…
something. The movement of air? Visible?
Not visible, but etched on his awareness. Simon shifted his body imperceptivity. Laying himself onto the upward currents, avoiding the downward ones. He
swooped. The lake falling away beneath him. He chose another current,
shouldered into it and found himself propelled forward, the lake flashing under him, quickly replaced by trees. He
could see the cabin far below him. It would be simple to float down to it.

No. Screw that.

Simon turned in the air and
oriented himself by the stars. The nearest real hotel was only 200 or so kilometers away, as the turkey vulture
flies. If he was going to dream, it would be of clean sheets, a hot shower, a meal he didn't have to kill himself
and a real cup of coffee.

* * *

Simon woke up and instantly
regretted the necessity of it. His head was pounding; his stomach was knotting itself and the turkey vulture was
pounding vigorously on the back door asking to be let out. To stay still would be to invite disaster from multiple
directions. Simon rolled off the bed, nearly tripped over the blankets and staggered to the well lit
bathroom. He emerged half an hour later, feeling almost human as he rubbed the soft towel over his

It was a very nice hotel; not
extravagant, but after the recent week, an oasis of luxury.

Simon let a rarely used
profanity pass his lips. Considered it for a moment, and then gave it some company.
He located his boots and looked them over. He certainly hadn't walked 200 kilometers cross country in

There was a rational explanation
for all of this; Simon was an expert at rational explanations; his mind finely attuned to shifting mountains of raw data into a sane, comprehensible
form. Unfortunately all the explanations it was throwing at him included the small, but ever important detail that he
had flown here. Simon threw open the door to the room.

"You forgot
these." Grandfather was standing in the hall, extending Simon's glasses to him. Simon considered the options, take the glasses or punch the old man. He took the glasses,
grandfather was a dirty fighter, and while Simon could probably beat him down, it would not be easy, and he would end up almost as badly

"Thanks." Simon settled the glasses comfortably. "Do they serve breakfast

"No, and the stuff in the
vending machines is suspect." The old man shrugged. "There's a
place across the street that's pretty good though."

"Sold. I'll even buy." Simon headed towards the stairs.
"And don't bother pushing me."

bother?" Grandfather fell in beside him. "It wouldn't do any
good, would it?"

"What did you put on that
bird?" Simon asked as they stepped outside. The day was bright, the sun
warm, and across the road there was a source of eggs, bacon and toast. Things could be much worse. The air was fresh, the sort of fresh you never got in the city. Simon frowned and
concentrated. Then he swore again, considering appending several highly unlikely things to his grandfather's
lineage, realized they would also end up in his, and then gave up on the idea completely. The air was rife with
currents of air; visible and invisible. He could reach out and ride any of them, with no more effort than
walking. Perhaps less.

"Nothing, I probably could
have plucked it more carefully." The old man admitted. "I just needed
you thinking about something else to get you ready for your first spirit walk; in my experience, nothing distracts a man like eating a turkey

"The voice of
experience?" Simon said with remarkably good cheer. The mental distraction
had been something, or rather two delightful somethings, considerably more poetic than a turkey vulture.

observation." Grandfather admitted. "Can't say that I'd eat
one of the filthy buggers."

* * *

"It's good to have you
back Chief." Naoko was enthusiastic about his return. Simon considered
this. Simon's return to the IST Paragon offices had been just before lunch and accompanied by two huge Styrofoam
containers carrying Chicken Tikka Masala from Cumin and Goan, an excellent Indian restaurant in the good, or at least passable, part of King's
Row. As good as the food was, Naoko had not been quite so mercenary. She had
greeted him with a hug, as heady a kiss as the office environment allowed for, and had remained pressed against him long enough to remind him in no uncertain
terms, how nice it was to be back. It was only after all of this that she appropriated the bag he was carrying and
rooted through it with the furious intensity of an amphetamine crazed weasel to get to lunch. Now with the contents of
her container reduced to half their original volume, she was giving him a thorough once over.

"I think the woods agree
with you." She finally said after careful consideration. "There
something slightly different about you."

"Maybe." Simon pushed his lunch aside, knowing Naoko would scavenge what he didn't finish. He
fired up his workstation, paused for a moment, savoring the coming sensation, and threw himself into the data that had accumulated in his absence. This was something he understood, cool, rational, and for the most part, safe. Naoko spun
in her chair, pushed off her desk and rolled over next to him, snagging his leftovers as she did so.

"Was it a good trip?"
She asked, staring at him as she forked up another mouthful of chicken and rice.

"No, but Grandfather sends
his love, and a few pounds of venison sausages." Simon noted as Naoko let out a delighted squee. "He promised to bring some more when he returns my jeep."

"He's still got your
jeep?" Naoko looked puzzled. "How did you get

"Oh…" Simon shrugged. "I flew in."
now that's cool. well played, sir, well played.
"No can brain today. Want cheezeburger."
From NGE: Nobody Dies, by Gregg Landsman
Mmm. Venison sausages.

"I flew in." [Image: smile.gif]
Sucrose Octanitrate.
Proof positive that with sufficient motivation, you can make anything explode.
The grin began to creep onto my face 'round about the introduction of the turkey vulture, and the "pounding vigorously on the back door asking to be
let out" line shattered me completely.


(you think turkey vulture tastes anything like squirrel? 'cause I tell ya... those bits about the vulture were dead-on regarding how the squirrel

--"Listening to your kid is the audio equivalent of a Salvador Dali painting, Spud." --OpMegs
Ten points, even if the Native Americans speak with the occasional Britishism.

Or are they Canadian? I don't recall... but if so, that might explain it to my satisfaction.
-- Bob
Then the horns kicked in...
...and my shoes began to squeak.
Simon and his grandfather are Canadian, specifically Mohawk.


PS. And to paraphrase Pulp Fiction, Turkey Vulture may taste like Pumpkin Pie, but I shall never no, for I have no intention of eating the filthy Oedipal
sexual act. They are wonderful birds to watch soar, but up close and personal their charms are limited, and their diet pretty much assures that they are going
to have a strong, unpleasant, taste. They also have a defensive mechanism to be wary of. Vomitting. The Vahz Zombies of the avian world. Half digested
carrion mixed in with a nice dollop of buzzard juice. Yum. Yum.

Usually when you have native stories about flight it is an eagle's feather, or a raven's. I wanted something that was not lame per se, but of a
completely different, albeit epic, nature.