Minneapolis woke up on the rough hotel bed when her alarm went off, sitting up and getting out of the covers before she shushed it. Elytra moaned on the couch and shook hir wingfeathers. Sie slept here three or four times a week, slept heavy as a teenager should, and waking hir up in the morning bothered Minneapolis in an affectionate way.
Minneapolis got herself ready, checked to see if any new students were coming or any others had cancelled. She got dressed, got clean, took her hormones, grabbed Elytra’s ankle, and started towards the door.
They stopped at a small farmstand on the way to class. Elytra needed a vegetable to wake up in the morning. A scraggled flyer on the wall caught Minneapolis’ eye. It was a sketch of the solar system, but the trashmoon was at the center. There was a pattern of horizontal and vertical lines underneath the drawing, and Minneapolis slipped into memories of research back on earth, of greasing palms in spaceports for any information about the pirates, and about those who supported them. Elytra pulled on Minneapolis’s suit, mouth full of tomoonto. Hir eyes were concerned but Minneapolis smiled, glad to be back in the present. She pocketed the flyer as they both walked towards the square.
Even from blocks away, Minneapolis could see the group assembling. She had realized her class was one of the larger gatherings for flykids around, and probably the only one folks with night jobs could make. Tamal’s dog Goodboyyo was there, a weird pup with a botanical ear, bounding around and sniffing everyone’s wings.
image Goodboyyo loved these mornings, getting pet by all these different people then getting to bound and bark as they all took off before sitting and watching the sky attentively, howling at first sight, trying to leap twenty or thirty feet into Tamal’s arms.
When Minneapolis and Elytra reached the square, Elytra fell to rolling around with Goodboyyo and Minneapolis waved and smiled before taking off. This was a special class - Bartender Willy had connected her with a flygirl botanist whose observations suggested a great wave of plant flatulence would create intense and unpredictable turbulence. It would be a test for her advanced students. But Minneapolis didn’t feel anything strange in the wind currents, besides some warm breezes. She flew back down to the ground, much more herself now her wings were stretched. She let Goodboyyo sniff them as she looked for Malinalxochitl, the botanist.
Ten minutes passed and all the regular stragglers had shown up. There were more of the warm drafts blowing by, and Minneapolis could see the excitement and anxiety in her student’s quivering feathers and necks craning to the sky. Finally, Malinalxochitl appeared a few blocks down, rushing towards the square with two bags around her arm and something shiny in her hand.
“I brought! Buns!” Malinalxochitl gasped out, having reached the square at last.
“Oh waow! What kind?!” Elytra said, her wingtips twitching.
Tamal was rescuing the bags from the inquisitive Goodboyyo. “Looks like Sweet Veggie and Spiced Jam from the good place!” There was a collective hum of approval.
Minneapolis commanded, “All right, flykids, let’s get into launch order. We’ll have the buns for a reward. Malinalxochitl, the air was clear about 15 minutes ago but the warm blasts have sped up since.”
“Yes! That’s right! That’s what it should be. There’s probably a strong current twenty feet up? And another really rough one like forty feet above that?,” she replied.
“Elytra!” Minneapolis called. “I want you to take first flight, see how you do up there.”
“Ha-hey!” sie cried, leaping into the sky with a powerful burst of hir’s beetle-like wings. A gust struck hir, but sie flipped around and beat hard, angling hirself with the wind and up, until sie cleared the first batch of turbulence. Sie let out a triumphant “Hi-yo!” and clapped hir hands.
“Next up!” Minneapolis watched as her class took off one by one, smiling to herself as she watched them deal with the unpredictable current. Minneapolis kept a close on eye on what each struggled with.
Soon, everyone was flying. One dozen flykids over Rockpile early in the morning, with the earth behind them. Malinalxochitl and Elytra were laughing, flying circles around each other and rolling in the strong current underneath them. Two of the older flykids, Reggie and Jamelle, were spotting each other as they practiced hovering in the turbulence. Reggie was an incredible painter, and their wings looked like massive camoflaouged moths, false eyes and all.
Minneapolis was shocked from her quiet admiration when Tamal let out a shout and flew up, towards the roughest part of the air. Those who noticed clapped and cheered, and he let out a reckless laugh. It was easy to see when he hit the current, half his body straining against the wind. Minneapolis grimaced. Tamal was a strong flyer, but it took him a while to correct technique - and then he was out of control.
He was tumbling wildly, as each panicked beat of his wings made his descent more erratic. Minneapolis ran in his direction, her wings glowing blue as she leapt into the air and twirled through the turbulence. She couldn’t catch him directly, but maybe she could slow his fall and help him get back some control, if she could just reach him before he hit the rough lower current. But he was falling too fast.
Reggie and Jamelle had had their eyes open though, and were already in position. There was no way to safely catch him, but they hovered just above the turbulence and then, at the last possible moment, flapped their wings at him as hard as they could.
They fell into the current below but were prepared and controlled themselves, and they had slowed Tamal enough that Minneapolis could reach him. She flew above him and then dove down, spearing him with her shoulder through the turbulence then curving up to land softly in the square. Tamal was shaking and gasping, tears streaming down his face. Minneapolis bit her lip as her students landed and gathered round.
Goodboyyo came right over and started licking Tamal’s face, and he burst out in a roar of laughter. He and Goodboyyo rolled around on the ground for a good minute before he sat up.
“I know what I did wrong!” he said and everyone laughed, relieved. He was still chuckling. “That was such a blast I’m so sorry I’m so so sorry thank you so much oh my god you have to try it” he said before burying himself in his dog.
Minneapolis stood up straight, and looked at her students. They were all happy now that Tamal was okay, and they sat or lay on the ground breathing heavy and feeling their wing muscles burn.
“Hey Minneapolis!” Elytra called from where sie was stretching. “Can we watch you try?”
“Yeah!” Malinalxochitl said. “There’s not gonna be one like this for another month at least!”
There were general murmurings of approval, and Minneapolis smiled. Her wings turned a piercing electric blue as she leapt into the sky, blasting through the first current and soaring to the second. She tensed her body as she reached the second layer of turbulence. She knew she could handle the wind - but she wanted to show her students what it was like to dance with it.