by Greg Williams
© Greg Williams -- all rights reserved
Friday night, and the Blind Pig was an absolute madhouse. So no one really paid any attention to the kangaroo morph that walked in and took a seat at the far end of the bar. He orders a whiskey and nurses the glass like a lifeline. After several drinks he takes out of his vest pocket a picture of a human standing in full flight gear, next to an F-14 fighter.
The kangaroo starts at the voice and turns to see a peregrine falcon morph standing behind him.
"Sorry. Is that you in the picture?"
"Yes, it was."
"Looks like you were a navy pilot."
The kangaroo nods.
"For six years."
"That's IT?" replies the falcon "I was a commercial airline pilot for 20 years."
The falcon indicates his body.
"Ah yes." replies the kangaroo.
"Name's Avery DeFalco." he says, holding out a feathered-hand.
"Hopper Reagan." he replies, shaking it. "So why didn't they let you go back to your old job?"
Avery gives a dismissive gesture.
"Ahh, some new regulation the FAA pinned on us SCABS."
"Sounds familiar. You might say I'm a 'victim' of the SCABS Military Inclusion act of '23. They allow SCABS as soldiers and sailors, not pilots."
"I've heard of it. The navy's unwilling to modify fighter jets. Too expensive I hear."
"That's the excuse I've heard."
An idea hit's Hopper and he turns back to Avery.
"Can you morph into full and fly?"
"Absolutely!" he replies with a grin "Who needs an engine when you've got built in wings."
"Hmm. Lucky you. I wish I could fly again."
"Maybe you can."
Hopper looks at him in confusion.
"You see I'm an instructor at a pilot school down by Riverside Municipal. We take potential pilots into simulators after a couple weeks of class times."
Hopper's face brightens.
"Fantastic! Any chance I can become an instructor? My six years in the navy could be of help."
"Hmm, perhaps. Drop by the airport tomorrow morning and I'll introduce you to the owner. If your not too drunk that is." he ends with a smirk.
Hopper looks down at the glass he's holding and puts it down.
"Bartender, I'll have a coke instead."
"See you tomorrow my friend." says Avery.
"Count on it."
Riverside Municipal Airport. Various single and dual engine aircraft sit parked on various areas of the tarmac. As Hopper comes into the airport at full kangaroo hopping speed, he looks up at a single engine Cessna taking off. He looks at the card DeFalco gave him and spots the building near the runway and hops over to it. "Riverside Piloting School" the front door proclaims. He opens the door and walks into a reception area.
"Can I help you?" says the secretary, a ferret morph
"It's all right Jane" comes a voice "I asked him here."
Hopper looks down a hallway and see's Avery coming in.
"Glad you made it, I told Mr. Tallek you were coming and he's eager to see you."
"Mr. Tallek?" says Hopper
"Eeah Tallek, owner of the school and a former pilot like you. Now he just teaches pilot's from a classroom. Come on."
Avery leads him down the hallway and he knocks on a door.
An elk morph stands up from his desk as they enter. He comes across from his desk and shakes Hopper's paw.
"Ah, Mr. Reagan. Good to meet you. Mr. DeFalco has told me about you."
"Forgive me for asking sir, but what kind of name is Eeah Tallek?"
"I got the name from an elk character in an old 90's computer game."
"I think I remember that game. Had great graphics for the time."
"Sure did. Now Mr. Reagan, you were once a navy fighter pilot, correct?"
"Good. I have an opening for a pilot's instructor and have been running an ad in the paper for weeks now."
"What kind of students do you take? Norms only?"
"Usually. The occasional gender and chrono morph, very low grade animorphs, that sort of thing. I've never had a student balk at having a SCABs teacher yet. Avery, I suggest you show Hopper around the place and I'll get the paperwork ready so he can start teaching here."
"Sure thing boss." says Avery.
"I can't tell you how much this means to me Mr. Tallek."
"No problem. And call me Eeah."
Avery takes him on a tour of the building and they reach the hangar facing the runway. Inside the hangar are two enormous flight simulators.
"These simulators have been modified to allow us SCABS to go in. They use the latest in holographic technology to mimic flight. I'd like to see the anti-tech fanatics declare this evil."
"Can we go in?"
They clinb the stairs to one and enter it. Inside are computer banks and monitors just inside the door and to the front is the cockpit simulators. A man is here underneath a computer bank working.
"Ah, Frank." says Avery "How's it coming?"
"Almost finished with this one. Had a minor glitch in the program but this should do it. There."
"Frank, I'd like you to meet a future instructor. Hopper Reagan, meet Frank Bristow."
Franks gets up and shakes Hopper's paw.
"You the fix-it man here?" says Hopper
"On occasion. I mainly instruct students in the actual planes. You know, take them up on their first flight."
"Oh wow!" exclaims Hopper, looking at the simulator windows. "That is amazingly realistic."
"That's the idea." says Avery. "Come on, Eeah should have the papers ready."
"And then we can celebrate your new job down at the Blind Pig." says Frank.
"You go down there too?" says Hopper
"You kidding?" says Avery "We all do."
"Amazing." replies Hopper
"You wanna come with us later?"
A month later, Hopper and a student are inside one of the simulators.
"That's it, Danny, ease it down."
The sim-plane does a three point landing and taxi's to the tarmac.
"Very good Danny. I think your ready for the real thing. Your a natural."
"Thanks to you Mr. Reagan."
"How about we celebrate after were done here. I know a little place just past West street."
"I think I've heard of it. I'd be glad to go."
"Good. Meet me later after classes."
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