Interlude: Danger Room Session Redux

March 14, 2017:

This is technically before the mission in the Mojave Desert :) Doug comes upon Laura in the Danger Room, rehashing the same scenario over and over again to get it 'just right'.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Morning at the Xavier Institute finds everything as it should.

Students studying, teachers teaching and X-Men training.

Or, at least, one X-Type training.

The Danger Room is currently marked as 'in use'. That 'in use' shouldn't stop anyone from entering the room itself, or just the control booth, if they so wished.

Wherever they arrive they'll see that X-23 is currently running a program. The program has two goals, kill the bad guy, but also save the fallen hero. If either of those goals are missed the program considers it a loss. Which each iteration of the program (because it's been looping for quite some time now, it's on the sixth run) the scenario gets progressively harder for X-23.

The score so far is three wins for Laura, but also, three losses for Laura. She's in a dead heat with herself it seems.

This particular run looks to be pretty straightforward. The main guy is monologuing to his group of treacherous henchman within a warehouse and housed within a cage is the 'hero'. The cage itself is hanging from one of the metal rafters that support the ceiling.

For X-23, she's currently scouting the warehouse from above, as her light footsteps take her across said rooftop and towards the skylight that's there.


The desire to update Cerebus' software in order to stay abreast of the various floating worms and viruses out there on the internet meant occasionally wandering into the Danger Room, just to check into whether the changes made would affect the rest of the system. Sometimes, Doug swore, the Danger Room seemed to absorb up knowledge out of the rest of the mainframe, and he could never quite tell what -was- going on with that room.

Entering the room, Doug noticed the Room had been running a program for a while. A bit of pondering, and…

No, no, better to not even -consider- the possibilities of an Indiana Kinney and the Temple of Doom here.

Sitting down, Doug opens up a comm. "Hoi, Laura. You mind my watching?"


Her purposeful footsteps take her to that skylight and with a carefulness, the dark-haired assassin will lean over just enough to get a look at the room below.

Twelve henchmen surround the 'bad guy' and all of them have a variety of weaponry upon their persons. Her head will cant slightly to the side as her bright-eyed gaze flicks from the men to the cage where the hero lies inert. The vaguest of frowns begins to dip the young woman's lips downward, as she considers her plan of attack.

Because attack it will certainly be.

Before her shadow can darken the skylight, Doug's voice pipes up from the comm and Laura will turn her gaze away from the scene below and towards the control booth. "I do not mind." She states in those flat tones of hers and while she considers whether to invite him down, for now, she decides against it.

With that decision made her attention swings back towards the skylight and the men below. Gently, X-23 will reach for the edge of the skylight and pop it open. It's a quiet noise and lost within the chatter below. Slowly and with care the slim assassin will ease her way into the warehouse via the skylight and drop soundlessly to one of the metal rafters that crisscross the ceiling. Once upon the rafter she'll stay there a moment, allowing her gaze to roam across the warehouse completely.

For now, this rescue seems to be quite straightforward -

- The only problem is the Danger Room will soon be throwing in some curve balls, as it reacts to X-23's approach.


The Indiana thought that had popped into his mind reminded Doug that he needed to show Laura the Indiana Jones trilogy, at least. Give her a whip, a fedora hat, and she might look…

Bad Doug, no biscuit!

Watching the current scenario, Doug takes a peek at the previous training sessions, if only to examine what she was doing and what she hoped to pick up from the training. So far as he could tell, apparently, she wanted to pull off the rescue -with- the hostage -intact-. A little bit of error here, a bit of error there, and… he was pretty sure that -that- face, as slight as the facial expression was, betrayed frustration when she failed.

Was she -that- much of a perfectionist, or was she working through some issues?

Probably something to ask when she wasn't so distracted…

And Doug -had- to wonder, since he hadn't programmed the main Danger Room programming, only the scenarios, but what -was- the Danger Room's curveballs coming from? Some sort of randomizer that he hadn't seen yet?


A randomizer, yes. Laura requested the Danger Room randomize the scenarios that come into play for each program.

And as to his observation about her expressions for when she lost, there was that frustration and perhaps some anger too. While she typically is a perfectionist is ability to read X-23's underlying emotions might show that there's something more to this than just getting it right.

Slowly, like a mutant ninja crab, the slim assassin will scitter silently across the rafters. It's clear her goal; she's going towards the caged hero first before making her way towards the bad guys. If she can get the cage out of play right away, then hopefully winning this scenario will be easy. Occasionally X-23 will pause here and there, when the chatter falls to softer levels, but as soon as the men become loud once again, Laura is on the move. It only takes her five minutes, at the most, to finally get to the cage. Carefully she'll lean over slightly to peer between the metal bars; the hero within is still slumped over, but she can hear the raps of his breathing, as well as the beating of his heart. So alive. Good.

Turning her attention back to the group of men below, X-23, will deploy her claws with that familiar SNIKT and quickly slash through the chains that hold the cage suspended.

With a creak and a slam, the cage falls the couple of feet below and lands upon the ground. The noise is enough to startle the men which causes them to whirl about, guns being pulled. They're not quick enough, however, as seconds after X slashed through the binding chains, she leapt from the rafter and towards the group. Her claws were out and extended and as she dropped at the edge of those twelve henchmen she brought her claws sharply upward impaling the two closet to her. The men offer a gurgle of surprise and pain, but, it's clear those were death blows.

Then, just like that, X-23 steps further into the group, claws hacking and slashing.


The difficulty involved in trying to get the hostage to safety -before- taking out the men was something Doug wasn't quite sure about. Time to look again at the previous sessions and see if this was an new strategy, or if she'd been pulling the stubborn mule route in trying to hone her skills to make -that- plan viable.

The cage suspension, followed by the death blows… Hngh. Were they avoidable, or was she just not pulling her blows, so to speak?

More questions.

… yeah, he -probably- should get her to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, at least.

If only so she could consider the 'Indiana shot first' scene.

Of course, that might also bring up a whole other -set- of questions about why it was critically important that Han shot first.


It's the stubborn mule route. Every time the sessions have played out Laura made certain to save the hostage first.

Every time.

As for the deathblows? At this point, she's not pulling her blows. She's taking the men down as quick and efficiently as possible. For X-23 that means death for the henchmen and likely the bad guy.

It takes the henchmen and the bad guy a few seconds to figure out what's going on and when they do, it's almost too late. Her claws have already eviscerated six of the henchmen and the rest raise their guns and start blinding firing, as fear begins to set in. A flare of nostrils will show that she's trying to scent the area - an automatic gesture, since this is a program and not a real life situation.

The Danger Room session counts the times bullets 'graze' Laura, or even hit her, but its taking into consideration her healing factor, so for now, the game is not lost.

At least, not for Laura. The henchmen however? They're toast. And with a feral growl, X, all but leaps towards the bad guy. Her claws are first to strike the man, right in his throat, and while he offers a struggle it's a dying one.

When all the men are down, including their leader, Laura will rise from the ground. Her gaze will immediately swing towards the holographic display that's keeping track of her wins and losses -

- And while she expected this to be ticked as a win, the display ticks the loss category up by one. While her expression only shifts minutely, it should be clear to Doug that for Laura, she just 'shouted' how?!

Swiftly the young woman's gaze turns towards the cage where the hero lies within; dead, thanks to several stray bullets hitting him.

Her claws rise upward and the young woman's lip curls away from her teeth, as she vents her frustration.


After giving Laura time to vent her frustration in whatever manner she choose, Doug hits the comm once more. "Hey, Laura, want to get some ice cream? Either the kitchen, or over at Coldstone's. Your pick."

Whichever answer she picked, Doug would leave the room soon enough to meet Laura at the Danger Room's exit, falling in step long enough to ask, "So, have you had anyone go over these training sessions with you yet? I was thinking I noticed a few things that you might want to think about."


While she would have gladly clawed something the Danger Room at this point shuts itself down. The tie has been broken after all and Laura has lost.

Instead of clawing anything within reach, Laura simply goes for another one of those growls. When the growl is finished the slim assassin's expression will settle into that overall blank expression she typically sports; but, someone like Doug would be able to pick out the lines of frustration that still lines her face.

As for that ice cream, she doesn't want to go and while she was just about to say that, she sees Doug's silhouette leave the control booth. Her sensitive ears prick at the faintest of sounds outside the door and with GREAT reluctance the dark-haired woman leaves the Danger Room.

When she spies the blonde young man she'll offer a very flat, "I do not wish to eat ice cream." And while those tightly suppressed words were said, the rest of what she was about to say stalls, when Doug offers that last line of his. A frown begins to leach some of that expressionlessness from her features, as she considers his words. "I have had people review some of my sessions. Psylocke, Nate Grey -"


"Ah, it doesn't really matter what they say," Doug responds, choosing for the moment to avoid the whole 'studying Laura' look and just go with a casual tone. Mostly because with -that- expression, she might well be entirely too used to being treated like a specimen who was put under a magnifying glass. The rhetorical question was meant more as a contrast to shake her out of expectations of being analyzed. "Take a break, try something new. And if you don't want ice cream, at least have, I don't know, a break to do something other than rehash this stuff over and over. There's such a thing as performance anxiety, you know."


An opaque stare is given to Doug when he offers all of that wisdom to her. While others might find it difficult to parse what she's feeling, Doug might see her considering his words, or at the very least, not just ignoring them.

"I do not have anxiety." She finally states in that monotone voice of hers. "I am trying to be prepared for all outcomes. It will help when we are in the field." And while those words are the truth, they are, there's still something behind that looping thought pattern that's stuck within her head.

And while she doesn't necessarily want ice cream, she will start walking away from the Danger Room and down the hallway, most likely towards the Cafeteria.


"Well, frustration, at least?" Doug adds, falling in step side-by-side. "Just saying, trying to do the same thing over and over to find out what's wrong is going to be even more frustrating. Take a break, think about doing something different from what you've been doing. You ever seen Indiana Jones, by the way?"

After matching Laura's steady purposeful stride for a bit, Doug begins whistling. It might not mean -anything- to people, really, but subliminal messaging -was- a form of language in its own. So what -could- he be whistling that might actually get Laura to thinking about something -else-?


So many words.

Words that she does understand but her level of frustration is high enough that she just wants to shake those words off. Instead of doing that, however, she'll simply tamp that feeling downward, as she turns that blank look upon him.

His whistling automatically causes her ears to perk, as her sensitive hearing picks out each individual note that can be found within the song itself.

Her eyebrows pinch slightly downward as she considers the young man that strides so loudly next to her. Instead of responding to what he's said, she'll simply state-ask in those flat tones of hers, "What are you whistling."

Likely not the best thing to ask, but, at least she's thinking of something else, right?


Right. Words wasn't going to work, so trying to communicate in a whole -other- manner, counting body language -and- music and humming work as well. At least Doug -could- do that.

And whistling might -help-, if only to convey -something- rather than have her dwell on words, at least to think about the concepts instead. So Doug's answer consists of two words:

"Hakuna Matata."

And then he continues whistling. Take a load off, why not, Laura? It might not be your thing to hum, but at least just go with it. It's a worry-free philosophy after all.

Adjusting tunes in response to each facial expression. A curious look? 'Jolly Holiday'. A scowl? 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf'. What the heck is he thinking? 'My Funny Friend and Me'.

It didn't really matter too much if she didn't want the words, at the least, there were ways of communicating without having to -say- anything.

Now whether or not she would adjust to trying to communicate without -saying- these pesky words…


"Hakuna Matata." She states (well questions really), "I have never heard of this."

So clearly, beyond Indiana Jones, Laura's movie education is still quite lacking it would seem.

Her words stall, however, when he begins to switch songs around.

Even as they walk Laura will continue to keep her attention upon Doug. Her expression definitely flickers enough for him to read, no one else and mostly it's confusion. She doesn't quite understand what he's doing and it's a puzzle that she's currently trying to figure out.

Finally, however, she will pause when he whistles something that is familiar -

- Give a Little Whistle from Disney's version of Pinocchio. "I know that song." She states in that emotionless voice of hers. "It is from Pinocchio."


Trying the wordless communication might at least distract from her thinking… the rhythm and tune would hopefully reverb in Laura's head like several earworms until she came back to ask -where- and what they were from instead of obsessing. Plus, the concepts being carried through the tunes? If Doug ever worked in advertising, he would have probably been fired for subliminal messaging.

He does stop, though, arching an eyebrow, and flashing a grin. Yep, so she recognized -that- one at least. Now to let her put the rest together, just being silent. A bit of her own medicine, as it were. Let -her- work it out.


Earworms. While she might not call it that perhaps a few of those tunes will stick in her head. Enough to cause her to try and identify them at a later.

For the tune she recognized, however, that causes her to fall silent as the two make their way towards the cafeteria. It should be clear to Doug that she's thinking about something; likely that song. Her words soon confirm that as she says, "That song is about calling for help and a person answering that call."

Her head will cant slightly to the side as she looks at Doug, her words, for now, finished.

Thankfully, at least, the two are closing in on the cafeteria.


"Yep," Doug notes, as he motions towards the cafeteria in a 'ladies first' gesture. Though courtesy probably means little to Laura, it still needed to be made. Still, he doesn't say anything more, only hums another -song- that falls within that theme. This one, from Aladdin, of course. And then another from the same movie.

Whether or not they meant anything, at least it should get her thinking about, well, not having to act -alone- the whole way.

He -could- emphasize the point by asking 'What do you think?', but that would likely draw associations with any one of a number of psychiatrists she ran across, and in any case, her arriving at her own conclusion would probably be better.

Although he rather hoped the thought she drew from this would be -better- than the one she derived from 'Return of the Jedi'.


While it's true courtesy means very little to her, the gesture is seen for what it is, she is learning -

- As such, her head will dip in a singular nod of awareness; not quite thanks, but definitely awareness.

As for Return of the Jedi, one does hope she doesn't take the lesson of 'go and fight your battles alone to save your friends' from all this whistling. That would be bad and might possibly cause Doug to question his teaching abilities.

Either way, once the two are within the cafeteria, Laura will cant a look his way. "I will not eat ice cream - " She states, "- but I will eat lunch."

Even if it is an early lunch all things considered.

And while she hasn't voiced any new lessons from today's little ploy, it should be clear to Doug that she's still mulling over all he's said and done.


Ah, but he wasn't -trying- to teach anything with the movies, only to have fun with them.

Besides, Luke was the wrong person to learn lessons from anyway. Han Solo, that was the person to learn from. Especially that 'chase stormtroopers down the corridor all by himself' scene.

As to Laura's lunch comment, Doug flashes a grin. "May I join you then?" he asks. "I promise to stop humming."

No more earworms, at least for now. He didn't need Laura skewering him for distracting her from the very important function of -eating-.


"You may." She says in that toneless voice of hers, "Come, this way." She now states, as her gaze flicks towards the tables, seat and food that can be found within the very large room.

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