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A Good Day to Fly, Parts I & II

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Date: April 9th, 2009.

Hellbound stood naked to the waste as a chill breeze assaulted him. This high up, the air was crisp and clean. Sounds of the city were long forgotten below as Sunday morning sluggishness kept life from truly erupting on its streets. The sun was only now starting to come up.

It was a good day to fly.

The skeletal framework roof extended around him as the young man examined his prize. Doc Ark had done a good job designing the wings, or so it looked to his untrained eyes. Hellbound had no understanding of the technology involved. All he knew was that it looked cooler than hell.

Two long, lean wings were folded up against a vest of glittering scales. Blue-black feathers covered the artificial appendages like they belonged to some dark angel. Black as midnight on a raven's wing, the limbs connected to the hellish-red vest through joints that were both strong and agile. The whole rig worked by subtle means that he could never comprehend. That didn't really matter, though. All that was important was getting himself off the ground.

He wondered how he was supposed to put it on. There was no opening in the vest, so apparently he was to just slip it over his head. The young man did so now and, surprisingly enough, it was easier to manage than he'd expected. The Doc knew what he was doing, clearly. His rig was well balanced and it almost seemed to open to accommodate his head and shoulders. Hellbound's arms slipped up and the solid weight of the wings settled onto his torso.

"Not bad..." He muttered. The vest drew itself tightly around him until it fit his form like a perfect, custom fit. Light from a rising sun glinted off the dark red scales and there was just a moment of subliminal itching as micro-connections were made directly to his nervous system.

That passed quickly enough, however, that he barely had time to register the sensation before he could feel the coiled wings on his back. They were like a part of him now, two more limbs that felt as natural as if he'd been born with them. Just a twitch of his mind would stretch them out to catch the chilling breeze on top of the high construction site.

In a moment, though. He wanted to finish getting dressed first. There was a jacket that went over the vest and he wasn't entirely sure how it worked. The back was opened into three parts, clearly in order to construct vents for the wings to reach through. His arms went into their proper locations, but the back of the collar was still open so the whole garment hung loosely around his shoulders, and there was a flap of material dangling down from the wings.

It was a bit of a struggle to figure out, but eventually Hellbound drew up the flap between the wings using some uncomfortable contortions. The top of that snapped onto the two-piece collar itself as he brought another strap around the back of his neck to set everything securely.

The result of all this awkward manipulation was, indeed, to allow the wings themselves to extend between two vents in the back of the jacket and move freely. Snaps and straps connected to the collar kept everything together and, once adjustments were made, it all felt pretty secure. It was a comfortable fit.

Hellbound finished closing the front of the garment and it now looked like any classic, v-necked motorcycle jacket. It wrapped around his frame snugly with zippered, black leather. Dark red reflections from the vest could be seen between his neck and the jacket lapels, a color that was mirrored in the red detailing along its sleeves. Matching red-on-black leather pants completed the ensemble and, for the first time in his life, Hellbound felt like he was wearing a properly superheroic outfit.

No Spandex body-condoms for him. Black riding leathers, red metallic scales were his perfect look. A single command from his mind sent the midnight wings on his back into a wide stretch as he put his arms out. The new limbs reached several feet longer than his natural ones and were an artful collection of feathers and flight controls. All systems seemed to be go, he was ready to step out into the world.

He looked down from his high perch at the streets below. The world fell away for several hundred feet worth of soon-to-be skyscraper and Hellbound grinned at the frightening depths. It was a new day for him blessed with new freedoms. For the first time in his life, Hellbound took wing and stepped from the roof.

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Part II

Hellbound fell. The half constructed building he'd stepped from blurred past along with a rushing wind. Far below, the ground sped upwards as if to meet him while he plumeted headfirst. The new wings were sperad out on either side of his body as fresh formed neural connections figured out how to talk to each other.

He could sense air currents shifting over the surfaces of his wings, pulling them back and forth with high-speed turbulance. A few commands from his mind managed to make them twitch a bit, but not much more. The fall continued and the ground was starting to get closer.

"Okay... any minute now..." Hellbound considered to himself calmly. More prodding from his mind resulted in greater movements from the wings. The left one pitched forward while the right curved gently behind the falling hero. This put a slight spin into his plumet that rapidly turned into a sickening corkscrew motion.

"Yeah. That's cool. But... enough... let's turn this around..."

No good. He kept jabbing at the wings with his mind but they weren't exactly responding properly just yet. He could feel, almost within his spine, the jumble of communications being worked out. It was like new reflexes were being written into his spine as he was granted pre-programmed flight instincts from the high-tech vest.

"Hurry..." Hellbound practically shouted at the Doctor's complex toy, starting to get dizzy with the spinning dive. "Any time now..."

Suddenly the wings responded. There was a tingling as if a sleeping limb was being granted new circulation. Fresh sensations and feedback information flooded his mind. Hellbound flexed artificial muscles and the wings snapped into life. Both stood out rigidly and caught the air to halt his spin and he practically crowed in triumph!

"CRAP!" Was the next thing out of Hellbound's mouth as he crashed into a debris-filled roll-off container. Dust from cut drywall, unused insulation and concrete shot up upon impact, momentarily obscuring the scene. The construction site echoed with the noise of the crash.

Things were still for a few minutes before the sound of Hellbound scrabbling through the trash could then be heard. Embaressed and confused, the would-be flyer pushed against the debris now burying him fully until one hand could reach the edge of the roll-off. With a heaving effort, he drug himself out of the pile and back up into the morning sunlight.

Hellbound coughed a couple of times and shook dust out of his hair. The move was echoed by his new wings and a new cloud was tossed up. He levered himself up over the edge and dropped to the hard ground, taking a seat with his back to the container.

There was a moment of confused thought. He'd tried to fly, sure. He managed to gain control over the wings, but apparently it'd been too late to actually take to the air. Maybe he should have started out a little slower? Jumping off the side of a building before actually learning to fly might not have been the smartest thing he'd ever done.

So it was time for round two, he supposed. A moment of catching his breath led to Hellbound standing again, shaking his arms out and drawing the wings into a taught stretch. He took a moment to steady his mind, taking into account the flapping motions he could feel the vest teaching him about, and started running.

His mind, in ways he was only barely able to grasp, twisted the wings to catch the air. Hellbound could sense once more the currents moving over their aerodynamic surfaces, knew what they had to do and started them pumping in the proper ways. There was good resistance and fine strength in how they moved, but not much lift. The hero kept running, kept flapping and periodically made as if to jump into the air, but there was no actual flight.

"What the frag..." He muttered to himself, wondering what he was doing wrong. Hellbound skidded to a stop before running into the site-manager's makeshift office. Frustration writ across his features while he wondered if Doc Ark had simply been playing a joke on him.

Could these things actually fly? Were they good for anything other than costume parties? Why wan't he getting off the ground? With some mild anger mixing into his emotions, Hellbound went over his instructions once more.

Doc had told him about aerodynamics... flight instincts... neural networking and a good half-dozen other concepts that'd totally gone over his head. Just about all he could really recall clearly was that the vest itself was supposed to handle all the flying by itself. Hellbound only needed to relax and let it do the work.

Wait. No, that wasn't everything. The Doc had said something about artificial gravity? There was mention of weight distribution and mass-versus-surface-areas? That sounded like math to him...

Math was hard.

Okay, so ignoring the actual calculations that had been mentioned and not understood, Hellbound definately remembered that the wings were only there to allow for greater speed and control. That part was being recalled clearly now. Where did the actual lift come from? Some sort of anti-gravity field. That's what the doctor said, and so that's what he had to concentrate on. Forget all this flapping nonsense for now, just try to connect with that weird lifting sensation that was currently running through his entire body...

"Huh?" Hellbound muttered, wondering where the office had gone. Looking around he suddenly noticed that he was hovering a good twenty feet off the ground. Sweet...

Hellbound kicked out with his legs, producing nothing more than a slight rocking motion. He moved his arms to much the same effect and then tried pushing with his mind. There was something there that wasn't exactly a switch and not quite a pedal, but he could feel the sensation of acceleration behind it anyway. Prodding this feeling a bit, he noticed himself slowly moving backwards.

A slight shift in focus and his momentum changed so that he was sliding off to his left and then forward again. Hellbound continued playing until he managed to find the mental comands for up, down and all directions in between. It was like moving his hand around, only weirder since it was his entire being moving. He didn't exactly have a stable reference frame to monitor the movements. It wasn't like he could compare his foot moving in relation to the rest of his body, judge where it was by how far his leg had bent, but rather it was like being under water and drifting with a current.

It was slow, however. The artificial gravity could move him, but not very quickly. That was where the wings were supposed to come in handy. Hellbound once again made his mental connections and caught the air. This time he coupled the flapping motion with the levitational force and found himself moving properly. THAT was how it was supposed to work. Between the wings and the anti-gravity he was supposed to be able to fly.

And he could, too. With just a little practice he found himself drifting back and forth around the construction site. The wings could be turned, angled and pitched to bite into the air and move his body about as it was held relatively weightless by the vest.

"Nice." He smiled to himself and dropped to the ground.

Hellbound stared upwards with renewed determination and leaped. The anti-gravity kicked in, the wings folded back and he shot into the sky like a launching rocket. Buildings and the ground itself fell away, his view opened up as the city exposed itself to him and the air rapidly took on a crisp, clean feeling as he gained altitude.

In a few minutes he found himself reaching the clouds above and passing through these phantom masses. The air became misty and Hellbound found himself high above the city with pale blue sky above and clean white cotton strewn beneath his feet. Sunlight beat down on his face as he slowed to a halt and hovered.

He let the wings spread out behind him, amazed at how he could feel the heat of the sun on their surfaces. His arms stretched out along their length and he tiled his head back in pure joy. One leg cocked up as he hung for a moment simply savoring this new experience.

Then he arched his spine until his entire body began to pitch over backwards. Relaxing the wings, he let them bend out of the way of his new plumet and he fell into a slow-motion backflip. Rolling around until his head was pointed at the ground, he started to dive once more.

Just like coming off of the construction building, only this time a good mile or two higher, Hellbound let his body pick up speed. Faster and faster he went, gaining velocity as gravity worked its iron rule, Hellbound shot down through the cloud cover. He let himself continue to accelerate until his new instincts told him that was all, no more speed. Owing to the laws of wind resistance and terminal velocity, he wasn't going to be moving and faster than this and still have any degree of control.

Hellbound snapped the wings out in time with the strange commands to his levitation field and came out of the dive with sickening speed. The wings twisted and he went into a barrel roll, spinning through the air and wondering how he'd managed to go for his entire life without ever knowing this sensation.

Frag fighting, forget about booze and who needed food? This is what life was about. This was the greatest thing he'd ever encountered. Flying high? Commanding the air with his wings and soaring through the skies?

Man... if he EVER got bored with this it was time to hang it all up, lay down and die. Hellbound flew all morning long after that, getting used to the wings and how to make minute adjustments to his flight. There was still a lot to get used to, he found out, and his newly carved instincts would take a while to perfect, but for right now all he cared about was that he was aloft and free.

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