Titanic training

April 18, 2019:

Nadia Van Dyne runs into Katsumi training with her magical pet cat. All in all it could go a lot better.

Training Level - Titans Tower - New York Citying Level - Titans Tower - New York City

Above the operations level of the Tower is the training level, where the Titans can hone their physical abilities and teamwork. The gymnasium has a full variety of modern exercise equipment, with options for normal human as well as superhuman levels of strength; quite deliberately, the gym has been designed to accommodate the likes of Superboy or Wonder Girl without getting demolished. Naturally, it has shower and changing facilities attached.

Also on this level is the experimental 'Mud Room,' a project of Red Robin's. Using material with a similar composition to the villain Clayface, the Mud Room is able to create a variety of extremely realistic training scenarios using information already present in the Tower computer, including the profiles and abilities of various villains and heroes. The Mud Room has variable difficulty levels, and is designed to adapt to its users through simple learning programs in order to provide a better challenge. However, it has safeguards in place to prevent it from inflicting more than minor harm to its users. Probably.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Let's get one thing straight. Katsumi Oshiro is a professional wrestler. So to her, a 'mud room' has some very odd connotations; and none she's particularly fond of. She considers herself a real competitor - the genuine article. And though she may joke and crack wise about being a walking fetish, she has her limitations. Mud wrestling is one of them.

In short: gross.

But it took some explanation from personnel to convince her that the room is actually used for advanced, 'sci-fi' (by her reckoning) training. Boy was she relieved. She wasn't gonna judge the Titans on their entertainment. Not out loud, at least. But she's still relieved.

Standing in the room with a 'simulation' running, Katsumi's wardrobe may seem a little out of place. It's meant to look like a back alley. There are trash cans, a dumpster, a narrow, dark passage. And at one end, two rough-looking thugs; unarmed. Katsumi, however, is dressed for the gym, in yoga shorts, crosstrainers, and hot pink sportsbra. Rather than actually go out tonight, her feline insisted she make use of the facilities to get acquainted with it.

That's not to say he's happy about things.

<I do not understand,> states Herukage in Japanese as he perches atop the dumpster. <You claimed to be a warrior when we met. Yet you've been nothing but fearful in the face of danger.>

<It's different.> Katsumi exhales a sigh as she adjusts her footing, drawing the right leg back. Her fingers splay low, as if at the ready to catch or grapple. <I'm a fighter. Fought all my life. But this is… just… it's different.>

*

Of all the new members of the Titans Nadia has perhaps the least heroic reasons for having joined. In part she's here for the social side. Meeting other super-types outside of life and death situations. But she's also here because there is cool technology she can poke around in.

The 'Mud room' used for training is one of the weirder and more interesting things. Which makes it pretty high up the list of places Nadia Van Dyne wants to take a look. It's just an unfortunate coincidence that it's already in use as she pokes her head into the room housing the controls. On the plus side the intercom system isn't enabled at first. And there's a short crackle of speakers as she pushes the push to talk button. "Oh! Sorry Katsumi I didn't know you were in there… Don't worry I won't touch any of the controls." She frowns as she looks through the glass. "Is it safe to have brought your pet magic cat in with you?"

*

Katsumi Oshiro startles comically when the sound of static seems to come from everywhere at once; her frame going rigid with tensed muscles, eyes bulging, and teeth grit. Composure regained, her eyes squeeze shut and she shouts, "Nadia!," in hapless frustration.

"I am not her pet," coolly refutes Herukage. His chin uptilts, indignant at the very notion.

"Oh hush. You totally are." Katsumi snaps a quick look over her shoulder towards the control area. "It's fine!," she calls back. "He's safe! Why don't you come down here? Join us!" Nadia doesn't have to get involved, per se. But just the knowledge of another human being present might make her a little more comfortable.

The two thugs begin their attack, one coming in slowly and cautiously, the other charging full-on. It gets Katsumi's attention, and her stance sharpens. The lead comes in with a wild haymaker, which the punkette smoothly ducks. The offending wrist is grabbed in the process, and she yanks it as she steps out behind him, forcing him into a half-spin. Though the moment he's facing her, the girl is lunging in again. Her left arm thrusts out to nail him beneath the chin in a shockingly stiff, short-armed clothesline. The impact causes her attacker to flip over twice before landing in a crumpled heap, upside-down, against his shoulders.

The second seizes the opportunity of her back being turned to him, and rushes in. He manages to get a hand on her right arm before her left elbow fires back, striking against his cheek to force him back a step. She pops into the air in a short hop, her frame curled into a ball before her legs thrust out, both feet slamming into his chest in a standing dropkick. She lands in a poised crouch, one hand against the 'asphalt' of the alley, while he smashes into a streetlamp past the opposite exit, denting and bowing the metal post inwards from the impact.

*

"It seems like you are doing some full contact training?" Nadia asks, skimming the various dials and controls to see just how everything is configured. "Is it scaled for your strength level?"

She watches the combat unfold from the safety of the booth. "Because I think you might have just killed both those pretend people. The first with a broken neck or maybe a crushed windpipe and you probably put some ribs through the lungs of the second. Which is fine for not-real people but against a regular Human…."

She hrms. "But I can always join you for a bit. If that's what you want? I don't want to intrude on anything you had planned.." Unless there are any objections she'll head down from the control room and pause the simulation to let herself in. Although not specifically dressed for training she's still wearing the armoured undersuit of her costume. Which is sleek, black, clingy and made from a mystery fabric that makes very little sound as she moves.

*

Katsumi Oshiro was looking kind of pleased with herself. This was the first real venture in cutting loose with her strength. And yet, even now, she was trying to hold back a bit. It's an odd waltz, bringing together her hard-trained body mechanics with the sudden wellspring of speed, force, and agility she now has to bear. And yet, Nadia's news gets a startled gasp from the girl as she stands upright. "Ohmygod! Really? I did?" Her brain is telling her they're people. They look and act like people. So the idea that she 'killed' them is like a kick to the gut.

"This is fine," says Herukage passively. "Mercy is a gift, not a right."

"No, that's not okay!," Katsumi fusses from behind a window of still-present fingers over her mouth. "I'm not a killer!"

Her hands push up through her wispy bangs, threatening to undo the sporty ponytail binding her hair. But before that happens, she drops her arms again. "Okay. I can hold back more."

*

"You can always aim for less vital locations on the body," Nadia points out earnestly. "People can live with broken limbs, dislocated shoulders and a broken clavicle is extremely painful but very rarely fatal. Strikes to the throat or chest area here.." She motions at herself, indicating the areas with more vital organs. "Can be extremely dangerous even for a regular person in full combat situations."

She rolls her shoulders and begins doing some stretches to warm up over by the doorway. Her warm up routine seems to mix elements of ballet and preparing for an MMA bout. "I rarely find I need to enhance my strength againt a normal person, unless I'm using it for intimidation or to break a weapon."

*

"You can do that? Just get stronger?," Katsumi asks.

Three goons emerge from the far end of the alley, sneering. One is carrying a loop of chain between his hands, another a knife, and the last? Well, he's the odd man out. He just brought his two fists. Seems the difficulty level has increased a step. Unarmed is now at unarmed + weapons.

"Okay..," Katsumi says, turning to the trio. "Limbs. No problem. I can.. do.. that.." She slows down as her eyes find the knife.

"If you lock up, I will claw your eyes out," asserts the nearby feline. "You MUST act."

Katsumi shrinks back a step, then forces herself to steady her stance. "Any, uh.. advice.. on that?," she asks in a smaller voice. "On knives..?"

*

"It's complicated," Nadia offers, looking up to see how high the chamber is, before growing in size until she's about fifty percent larger than before. Clocking in at about eight foot tall. Even her voice seems louder. "But yes." Demonstration given she reverts to normal size in almost the blink of an eye. "It's easier to demonstrate with a plastic training knife." Not that the Red Room trained her with anything so safe. "But you /are/ durable enough that a regular person with a knife will hurt about as much as a paper cut so… Really the only danger is to your outfit."

Her attention shifts to the talking cat and Nadia can't help but frown. "That is not really a very helpful attitude. If people only do things you want out of fear you are creating psychological weaknesses which can be exploited later on."

*

"The God of Monsters will not tolerate such weakness in his wrath." Herukage's head cants to the frowning Katsumi. "No matter the vessel."

"God, shut up!," the girl snaps. "I got this! Okay? I- I got this." She doesn't sound particularly confident, though. She eases back another step to the miraculous size-shifting Nadia, sparing her a look. "That's so crazy..," she murmurs. Size would, indeed, make her proportionally stronger. That follows logic, right? That's what she's banking on. Nevermind that it doesn't follow suit with her own absurd level of strength. "Are you sure about the knife thing? We broke some needles on me, sure, but.."

The thugs are done waiting. The knife-wielding thug flanks left towards Katsumi, the unarmed thug flanks right, towards Nadia. The chain-thug creeps closer, opportunistic and waiting. Starting with the unarmed thug, he comes in with an attempt to snatch the teenaged girl with a fistful of hair! And his intended follow-up? A no-frills punch towards her captured face.

As for the other thug, he closes in quickly on Katsumi. The girl begins backing up rapidly, her nerves starting to overwhelm her training. "Ohgodohgodohgod-" Her back hits the dumpster. Jab! The thug lunges in, knife held out, and ramming it into her exposed midsection. Katsumi doubles over against the blade, her hands gripping the attacking arm, eyes wide, frozen, horrified, speechless. She can feel the blade completely. Trembling, her hands begin to tighten on the arm, not particularly cognizant of the pressure she's exerting, until the rather brutal sound of bones breaking. The thug cries out and struggles to withdraw.

When he's finally released, he falls back to the ground. Katsumi slowly uncurls, hand over her midsection, eyes watering, and breath held. Her hand lifts, dreading to look at the result - and clean. Nothing. No mark on her. No wound. No blood. She finally lets her breath go in a shakey, "Hah.. ah.."

*

Nadia Van Dyne wasn't actually expecting the simulation to target her, but instinct and training kick in the moment it does. Her hair isn't exactly long, a shoulder length bob at most without her helment to cover it, and as the imitation thug reaches in to grab for her it puts him well within her striking distance.

While she doesn't enjoy violence there is a certain catharsis to physical activity, especially against non-sentient automata. So there's no holding back when she finally reacts. She grabs the wrist, twists the thugs arm and in the same fluid motion kicks him in the side of the knee. Then slams her open palm into it's elbow. A short, sharp and controlled strike. Forcing the arm to bend the wrong way with a sound like wet sticks snapping.

"Also I read the technical manual and the simulation is programmed to try avoid leaving lasting harm. So try not to think of this as a direct mirror of how a real life fight would go." She applies a little pressure to the pretend thugs broken arm, using the pain to guide him to the ground. Once he's finally down she steps forward and bounces his head off the alley to leave him unconscious and 'out' for the round.

*

That's one unconscious thug with a broken arm, and one thug with a severely mangled arm. He's not trying anything more at this point.

"W-wait, so then.. that.. him trying to stab me..?," asks Katsumi, perplexed, as she looks back to Nadia. "I'm not that tough?"

"No. You are," interjects the cat, still residing upon the dumpster. "Simple weapons are not enough to kill you. You are far beyond the realm of man. Now stop acting like a human and act." After a beat, his head turns to Nadia. "No offense. You, clearly, are not a simple human."

Katsumi pats over her would-be knifed midsection, then turns a questioning look to Nadia. She starts to speak, only for the chain to suddenly loop her bust from behind! "Gack!" Her hands immediately lift to the steel links, and with no apparent effort, rips it apart. Pivoting on heel, she faces her attacker - who is momentarily dumbfounded at his broken tool. Katsumi snatches his near arm and hops into the air, pressing her knee behind his shoulder to drive him down face-first against the asphalt, and landing in a kneeling armbar. She gives it a wrench, and there's an roar of 'pain' from her victim as the limb is wrenched horribly out of socket.

Katsumi springs back, hands over her mouth. "Aaah! Too much!? Crap, people are f#&*ing fragile!" Her pupils shrink and she quickly looks to Nadia. "I- I mean- sorry!"

*

Nadia Van Dyne looks at the talking cat and laughs. "I suspect simple humans are a lot more dangerous than you think," she promises. "An assault rifle with armour piercing rounds will probably leave a lot of very painful holes. And an anti-material rifle will make a hole you can see through."

She shrugs to Katsumi's question. "I was fairly confident a knife wouldn't hurt you. But in a real fight you could be against a poison weapon, something magical or an advanced technological weapon that simply /looks/ like a knife. Never take it for granted that you'll win just because of how someone looks. Deception is a perfectly valid tool in combat." The distressed howling as the shoulder joint gets ruined makes her wince a little. "Yes that.. was the point I was making earlier. But at least you can train safe in the knowledge no-one will die." Her lip curls into a pout, presumably at a bad memory "Not everyone has that luxury…"

*

"What is an assault rifle?," asks the cat bluntly. No AK-47's back in pre-Edo Japan. And in that one statement, it may explain so much about Herukage and his worldview. Well, add a dash of religious zealotry.

"You really know how to make a girl feel better," Katsumi murmurs to Nadia, her voice tight again. She's still reeling at the idea of having been knifed and bearing no noticeable damage from it. The idea of poisoned weapons, or 'advanced technology' - she isn't even sure where to begin there. What is 'advanced technology'? Lightsabers? Her mind is already abuzz, and letting it run wild might not be the best thing.

The thugs go quiet, and Katsumi gives her head a quick shake. "I might not've KILLED anyone, but all my training has been about self-control and not crippling people! Just disabling'em, beating'em, or making'em tap! I've gotta get better than that!" There's a certain desperation in her voice, and it shouldn't take a psychologist to figure out why. She doesn't want death, dismemberment, or crippling to be on her conscience.

Two more thugs round the corner. With a *kla-KLICK*, someone with Nadia's training instantly know what they're carrying before even looking. But just in case she doesn't? A pair of pistols are aimed down the alleyway.

*

"It's a weapon which uses chemical energy to fire metal at high speed. Guns are what ended the era of the samurai," Nadia helpfully explains. Even if now is perhaps not the time for an involved history lesson. "Perhaps you should take advantage of the facilities in the tower to catch up on world history?"

"For the record though I wasn't really trying to make you feel better… Actually I'd be very concerned if the idea of hurting people or being hurt didn't worry you." She points out solemnly, taking a few steps around the simulated alleyway to get a better sense of the space. "I'm fortunate in that I have never killed anyone either. Although it could have gone very differently. The place I grew up was… intense… unpleasant and well much as I hate to admit it was also effective."

She gives Katsumi a re-assuring pat on the shoulder. "We probably shouldn't take too long this time. Or else you'll get some serious bruises." The implication being that Nadia herself will be fine. A notion that might upset Katsumi until she notices that Nadia has, apparently, disappeared.

Of course she hasn't actually vanished or fled. She's simply so small now that most people will struggle to notice her. In her diminutive form she retains her normal strength, letting her leap and bound forward at a remarkably quick speed. The speed and small size make her a nightmare to target even for an expert marksman.

*

Katsumi Oshiro is far removed from pride being a factor here in this moment. She's used to fighting people with their well-being in mind. But she's has twenty-three years to get used to her strength and body mechanics. This is so different, so jarring, the very notion that Nadia might be tossing shade in this situation is completely lost on her. In fact, she doesn't even have time to think about it; Nadia seems to suddenly vanish!

Katsumi replies with a startled squeak!

"What the- Nadia!"

In her search for the girl, her eyes land on the two men with guns held out. She doesn't have long enough to process. She instinctively throws herself behind the dumpster, right in time for the thugs to open fire. Bullets burst pockmarks against the metal hide of her cover, the simulated trash inside providing enough additional support that there's no risk of anything hitting her.

"WHAT IS THIS!?," demands Herukage, who has thrown himself flat against the dumpster's top, limbs splayed and eyes wide. No, the ancient kami cat is unfamiliar with semi-automatic pistols.

Katsumi isn't faring much better. She's curled into a ball, her head in her arms, eyes squeezed shut, and quaking. Logically, she knows it has to be fake. They wouldn't kill each other in training, would they!? What Nadia said about bruising is lost in her mind amidst the very shocking, very new explosions of gunfire.

Fortunately, these are far removed from marksmen. And they've completely lost sight of the tiny Wasp. Aside from a few stray, wild shots taken at a flicker of movement, they have no choice but to focus fire on Katsumi's cover.

*

"I wish I'd put my wings on," Nadia mutters, even if she technically has to shout her muttering for anyone to stand a chance of hearing. Then at normal volume for her she adds "And my comms gear for that matter." Even if she does have the misfortune to take a stray round during her advance she's currently dense enough that all the bullet will do is throw her about a bit. Not that it wouldn't be /extremely/ unpleasant.

Once she reaches the two thugs she lands behind them, reverts to normal size for a fraction of a second, then grows into her more giant size and with a heave of effort bops both of the handgun wielding goons heads together. Not hard enough to kill but for normal durability people it'll be nighty night time. Of course if they don't go down she'll keep repeating the same motion harder and harder until it does work.

"Those were /small/ guns," she informs as she shrinks back to person size. "If you're not ready for ranged weapon scenarios yet we should probably stop it from advancing to the next difficulty level."

*

Katsumi Oshiro remains in a tight, paralyzed ball behind the dumpster, eyes squeezed shut and hoping - praying, really - that the scenario will stop before the fake thugs blast a hole through her head. Hearing the feline freak out isn't doing a thing to bolster her confidence.

Speaking of the feline, he remains solidly pancaked against the dumpster. It's his best effort at taking cover. That is, until the two thugs crumple. As it happens, it takes only the one bonk of their noggins together. At that point, he raises enough to survey the quiet alley. Then he's hopping off the dumpster and rushing away.

Katsumi carefully peeks her head around the edge of the dumpster, magenta eyes wide and fearful. "Y-yeah, let's.. um, stop it..? For now..?"

Two more thugs come into the foray, but not on the ground level. They lean over the edge of a connecting rooftop, angling down on their position with assault rifles. Safeties off, weapons cocked, they-

Vanish!

The scenario comes to an oddly melty end as the room dissolves rapidly back to its natural state. Up in the control deck, Herukage removes his paw from the killswitch. Someone was paying attention when things were set up.

Katsumi is left sitting on the floor, semi-reclined, her hands propped behind her back on the floor. Though relieved, her eyes are affixed to her legs in pensive silence.

*

"That didn't go terribly," Nadia assures, walking across the now empty room. "You took cover when the shooting started. That's a good thing. Some people just stand there blankly and get shot. Or try return fire without taking cover.. and get shot too." She rolls both her shoulders, moving into some cool down stretches. "But don't forget you can do more with strength than just punch people. You can throw things or move objects to act as cover. Tear the side off the dumpster to form a shield or jump through the wall to block line of sight."

She offers Katsumi a hand to help her up. "When my class first went into a live fire exercise one of the girls couldn't stop crying for a week," she adds conspiratorially. Leaving out that the class in question was made up of girls under ten or precisely what happened that stopped her crying. Neither of which are likely to help Katsumi's emotional state. "In time you'll get the hang of it all. It's not rocket science after all and… really rocket science is not so tough as people make out."

*

Katsumi Oshiro exhales a soft breath. "When you say it, it sounds so cool. But I'm me. I do cool stuff, but this is just…" Her head lifts to look up at Nadia with a frown. "I'm used to being like the top dog. And here you are, with your.. being a teenager.. and having this.. all this, just since you were little, sounds like…" She looks at the hand, then back up at Nadia. There's a question she isn't asking; one she's afraid to ask. While the cat's away, it might be the best time to entertain the idea that she's not cut out for this.

The compliments weren't lost on her, though, for what they were worth. But with her heart in her throat, it's a tough pill to swallow. But finally, she reaches up to take the hand. Fortunately, even at night, she only weights 130, and she's likely to be drawn up to her feet in short order.

*

"And also you did not empty your bladder," Nadia teases, although her head turns towards Herukage. As if perhaps the cat itself is the subject of the joke. "Which often happens to animals like dogs or cats when they are upset."

"I was not always able to change size you know. That is a more recent thing. I genetically engineered the ability into myself to help get me out from a very bad situation." She sighs. "And I don't even really enjoy fighting, even if I'm quite good at it. I much prefer to help people with my intelligence. It's just sometimes you have a choice, act and hurt someone or do nothing and let innocent people get hurt."

*

Katsumi Oshiro is quiet as Nadia speaks, studying the girl's face. The joke gets the tiniest hint of a smile out of her. It's a start. But it soon vanishes when she mentions genetically engineering herself. English isn't her first language, but she absolutely knows what that means. She doesn't know how to take it. The idea of a girl, barely out of highschool (or so she figures), and here she is - in this world. Genetically engineering herself. Having what sounds like a really screwed up upbringing.

"Come'ere."

She reaches out to attempt catching Nadia around the shoulders to tug her in for a hug.

"I hear you. I…" She pauses, not sure how to put it. So she winds up repeating, "..I hear you."

*

"It probably wouldn't hurt to get you some more suitable training clothes though," Nadia points out, letting Katsumi hug her with only a little reluctance. Then, hug over she takes a few steps towards the door "You want something more… discreet and durable. And if you are getting shot at then it needs to spread the impact over a wider area. So it hurts delicate areas less." She gestures down at her own costume. "No bright colours and every inch is bullet resistant. Sneaky and sturdy."

"People who go out expecting to stay unharmed simply because they have a super power are naive. Or worse. They die."

*

Katsumi Oshiro isn't a native hugger. So the reluctance she gets from Nadia already shortens the hug's lifespan. The moment she attempts to draw back is the end of it. But perhaps the hug was more for her own benefit; she seems a little more relaxed now. The adjustment in topic doesn't hurt.

"Hah. Discreet. Me. Right." Katsumi's arms loop her midsection, and her shoulders lift in a shrug. "I go into every fight expecting to get hurt. So I'll probably be fine." She moues her lips at Nadia, letting her take the lead towards the exit.

By now, Herukage is standing by the door. He looks like any patient cat, waiting to be let out.

Katsumi starts forward at a leisurely pace. She's still a little tense from the scenario, but talking helps. "You've got me thinking about costumes now. You know that, right?"

*

"Being sneaky has it's merits," Nadia points out solemnly. "Not one of those bullets came even close to hitting me. But bright pink.. it's easy to notice and attracts attention." She frowns. "I guess you might like people looking in some situations but I'd hope not when guns are involved." She eyes Katsumi suspiciously as she moves towards the door. "Unless you intend on picking up dates while fighting crime?"

"I'm not really a fashion designer but I'll help if I can," she offers. "But only if you want /proper/ armour. No chainmail bikinis. All of this.." She gestures at Katsumi's stomach area. "If someone does injure you there then you'll have a really slow and miserable death. Gut wounds are /horrible/ and if you're superhumanly tough it'll be almost impossible to sew you back up until the next morning."

*

Katsumi Oshiro looks down at her toned abs, then back over to Nadia. "If I'm gonna do this, I've gotta be me." She gives a small, hopeful smile. "Besides. Superheroes are supposed to be symbols, right? That could be something." She can do that. She's a showman. If she can get her strength under control and learn to conquer her nerves under that kind of duress. It's enough to give her something to push for, at least.

She breezes past Nadia and pulls open the door. "Anyway, I need a name before I get a costume, don't I? Otherwise, the costume could be ANYTHING. Could you imagine?" After a beat, she quickly waves her arms. "Don't! Don't imagine."

Herukage, meanwhile, simply pads back out into the training area proper.

*

Nadia Van Dyne shakes her head as she walks through the door. "Too late…."

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