"Ladies first" Harry said as he took a step back. Lynette and Hermione both gave him spooked looks, like he'd just volunteered them both to be the first to the gallows, before both of them stepped up to one of the cradles. Lynette crawled into the Fire Moth that her sister was in while Hermione cautiously approached Ms. Galland.
"I won't bite Hermione" Adolfine said kindly, figuring that now wasn't a time to tease the girl. Adolfine had read the report on the two dimensional travelers that Minnie Bishop had wrote up, and according to that report Hermione had no love of flying by magical means. The girl was just fine with regular airplanes in she didn't look out the windows but so far broomsticks had really caught on with her. So Adolfine considered it her job to get the girl comfortable with flying a strike and show Hermione that she didn't need to fear the sky.
Hermione just nodded mutely to Adolfine's reassurance and continued to give the strike a searching look. The Fire Moth's front position was lower by a couple of inches then the back where Adolfine was. Hermione figured that this was to line up the points where the two bodies hinged in a way that allowed better movement for all. After a few moments of contemplation Hermione kicked of her shoes like she'd observed everyone else do so far and slipped her legs into the striker.
It was an odd feeling, Hermione thought, having ones legs in a dimensional pocket. She could still feel her legs, toes all that but she couldn't move them. The dimensional pocket also anchored the strikers to her, almost making them a part of her. Hermione would have continued to explore this new experience but a tap to the back of her head brought her back to reality. She turned to look at Adolfine as much as her new position allowed her to.
"We need to do something about your hair" Adolfine said sternly "it's getting in the way".
"Sorry" Hermione said as she slumped slightly. Adolfine smiled slightly, this always happened at least once.
"That okay it happens a lot and the fix is really simple" Adolfine turned to Harry who was standing nearby "Harry could you go back into the classroom and get me a pair of scissors from the desk and a bag".
"Yes ma'am" Harry said as he turned and started jogging back to the classroom.
"NO RUNNING IN THE HANGER!" Adolfine, Wilma and Mrs. Bishop snapped at the same time. Harry slowed to a quick walk.
"Alright then, while we're waiting for Harry to get back lets go over some of the basics of striker operation" Adolfine had to raise her voice slightly to be heard over the soft thumping sound of Wilma and Lynette's striker as Wilma showed her sister how to start engines.
"Now the first thing you need to remember about a striker Hermione is that it is an extension of your body, and no, that is not just a saying. The strikers are literally controlled by how you move your body and your intent" Hermione nodded to show she understood "good now I'm going to start the magic engine, I want you to be meditating on the magic flow, feel where it's going and what its doing, then when you feel that you have a handle on what the magic is doing it will by your turn" again Hermione nodded as she shut her eyes and began feeling out the magic.
From her place behind Hermione Adolfine was surprised to see the faint outline of a glowing array of magic spikes originating from Hermione's temples and spreading out then forward. But Adolfine only got to see a flash of what ever it was and went back to her lesson plan.
Hermione felt more then heard the engines on the Fire Moth start. She traced the lines of magic as best she could with her mind but it was hard trying to follow somebody else's magic.
After letting the motor run for a few moments Adolfine shut it down.
"Well Hermione did you get a feeling for magic flow?" Adolfine asked.
"Kind ah ma'am, but its hard to follow someone else's magic" Hermione replied honestly.
"It probably doesn't help that my magic is so much weaker now then when I was younger but lets see how much you picked up on" Adolfine reached down a flipped a small switch on the side of the strikers "okay now I want you to try to copy what I did earlier and start the motor yourself" Hermione gave to older woman a slight deer in headlights look but set about trying to copy Adolfine's feat any way. Hermione felt her magic answer her mental call and started pushing some of it into her legs. The striker's engines coughed and sputtered but didn't start at until Hermione forced more magic into the engines and then it took Hermione more then a minute of constant tweaking for the strikers to sound and feel the same as her teacher's run. Hermione let the engines run for about a minute before she reduced and then cut the magic flow to shut them down.
"That was very good frau, we'll take a short break then do it again. Who knows we may even get to doing taxi drills today" Adolfine said with a smile before she pulled herself out of the Fire Moth and led Hermione off to one of the benches along one wall were they sat down. Hermione's legs were very sore and as soon as she sat down she began to rub her legs.
"Sore?" Adolfine asked.
"That happens all the time. After a few weeks your body will get used to using so much magic and the pain will go away" Adolfine said as she leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes. Hermione was about to join the older woman when Harry walked up with the scissors that Adolfine had asked for. Hermione had an idea about were this was going and cringed slightly when Adolfine told her to turn around. A few loud snips later and Hermione's bushy mane now only reached to mid shoulder in stead of all the way to her lower back like it used to.
"You can let it grow back out again after your flight training is over" Adolfine said as she handed the scissors back to Harry and stood up again "Breaks over so lets get back to work" Hermione nodded and followed the older woman back to the striker.
They worked until noon then stopped for lunch. By then poor Lynette was completely spent and had to be helped from the Fire Moth by her sister and Harry. Hermione was also looking a little worn but she still had some energy left.
After they finished eating Mrs. Bishop made Lynette take a break and Harry crawled into the striker with Wilma; led to Harry finding out four things of very importance fairly quickly.
One: feeling someone else's magic was a lot harder then it sounded, and trying to copy what someone else was doing was even harder still.
Two: because of their positioning in the striker Harry's head was at the same level as Wilma's breasts and whenever he went to look around his head would rub against them which led to.
Three: Wilma's love of teasing which she was giving Harry a full dose of at every opportunity.
That resulted in number four: Harry beating every Weasley in the red faced department.
Finally Adolfine declared the days lesson over and the three very tried kids trudged painfully back to Mrs. Bishop's car.
"I'll see you all tomorrow" Adolfine yelled as Wilma kicked her motorcycle to life.
"So how'd it go?" Mrs. Bishop asked as they drove off the base and turned towards home.
"I managed to get to doing short hop flights along the runway" Hermione said. She seemed slightly spooked but Mrs. Bishop thought it best not to ask.
"I barely got the engine to turn over" Lynette seemed slightly depressed but before Mrs. Bishop could say anything Harry spoke up.
"Your doing better then I am Lynn" Harry said before a scowl appeared on his face and he gave his shoes a glare "I barely even got the bloody props to appear."
"Harry!" Mrs. Bishop and Hermione scolded and Harry mumbled an apology.
"Well I think you all did very well for a first day and the first days are always the worst. Why I'd bet that by the end of the month your all flight qualified and have to be drag back to the ground in the evenings" Mrs. Bishop said cheerfully, trying to make her charges feel better about their first day of training. All the kids were about to responded to the older woman when a flash of red filled the car and three red laser beams slashed acrossed the road. Mrs. Bishop slammed on the brakes and managed to bring the car to a screeching halt before it could nose into the first of three trenches that had just been curved into the road.
"Out, out, out!" shouted Mrs. Bishop as she and the three kid bailed out of the car; well Mrs. Bishop, Hermione and Harry bailed out on their own and Harry drag Lynette out with him before she could even react to her mother's warning.
"Into the ditch all of you!" Wilma shouted as she jumped from her motorcycle with a Sten gun in hand. Poor Lynette was in complete shock right now and didn't even register her sister's order, so Harry and Hermione each grabbed her under an arm and pulled her into the ditch with them. The bottom of the ditch was filled with water and even though it was late July the water was still cold enough to snap Lynette out of her daze with a loud yelp, which Harry quickly muffled by clamping a hand over Lynette's mouth as he and Hermione pined the girl to the side of the ditch with their bodies.
High over head a loud screech ripped through the air. Looking up Harry, Hermione and Lynette were shocked to see a large black crescent cruising through the air with what looked like two shark tails sticking out the back end.
"Ah? Mrs. Bishop?" Hermione started to ask.
"That's a Neuroi Hermione" Minnie said as she glared up at the passing menace, then she took a quick peek at the kids.
"Harry, Lynette's turning blue" Harry looked down to see that the girl did indeed have a slightly blue ting and quickly removed his hand so she could breathe properly.
"Sorry Lynn" he said.
"It's okay" Lynette said softly as she took a couple of deep breaths. A second screech from high above snapped everyone's attention back to the sky. The Neuroi was in a hard right turn and firing off lots of beams, around it were maybe half a dozen white trails that were circling and diving at the beast.
"That's the Eleventh JFS" Wilma said as she pulled a blue bead like thing out of her pocket and put it in her ear. Wilma and Mrs. Bishop had also called up their familiars; which the kids thought was a good idea and copied. With the magic now flowing through them they were able to see the battle above in better detail as the six witches hunted the large Neuroi.
But Hermione wasn't satisfied with just the normal levels of enhancement that her magic brought her and was trying to push more magic into her senses. This gave her a much clearer view of the battle over head, but it was also giving her one hell of a headache. The pounding got so bad that Hermione was forced to shut her eyes and rub her temples to relieve some of the pain.
"Hermione?" Harry asked worriedly as he watched his friend rub her head.
'This sucks' Hermione thought to herself as she began meditating to better control her magic. All she'd wanted was to be better able to see the battle overhead, was that really too much to ask?
Hermione got her magic under better control and was about to return to the world of the living when a loud meow got her attention. There not ten feet behind her was Crockshanks in all his feline glory. Hermione almost started crying as the large fluffy cat trotted up to her and began rubbing on her legs purring, and the purring only got louder when Hermione snatched up the cat and began to hug him fall all he was worth. After a few moments of cuddling; Hermione began to feel her cat get lighter, and a quick look confirmed it as Crockshanks began to glow softly. After a moment the cat became a ball of light and was absorbed into Hermione's body leaving her glowing slightly. To Hermione it felt like her whole body had been enveloped in the same warmth that she felt whenever she'd petted Crockshanks.
But as the warmth began to fade away Hermione found a point that wasn't receding like the rest. Curious as to what it could be Hermione reached out mentally and touched it. A cascade of information began to pour into Hermione's mind faster then she could really follow but she caught two things. This was Crockshanks's gift to her and how to use the basic functions.
Back in the outside world Harry and Lynette had both been trying to wake Hermione up or get Minnie and Wilma's attention, thou so far they had failed on both fronts.
Suddenly Hermione's eyes popped open and she looked around slightly startled.
"Hermione! What happened?" Lynette asked as she looked at her friend with concern.
"Nothing much" Hermione said as she took in the situation around her "Just a little run in with Crockshanks" Harry and Lynette both gave her bland looks which Hermione ignored and put her fingers back to her temples. Before either of her friends could say anything Hermione mumbled something and a green glowing array of spikes appeared, they started at Hermione's temples and went out the split and turned forwards, forming four antenna like structures.
"Um, Hermione?" Harry asked in confusion but was soundly ignored as a screen appeared like a visor in front of Hermione's washed out eye. He was about to ask again when Hermione's new array turned from green to red and began to pulse hard. This finally got Wilma and Mrs. Bishop's attention and both nearly feel over when they saw Hermione's new additions.
"What the-?" Wilma started to ask, but something distracted her.
"What's going on up there?" Mrs. Bishop asked her eldest daughter, deciding to leave Hermione's new magic skill for later; but to her surprise Hermione was the one who answered.
"The Neuroi is very well armed and armored; and it's been able to keep the witches from getting in close" Wilma must have been paying more attention because she turned to Hermione and almost growled.
"Granger, give me everything you've got on this blighter so we can kill it" Hermione didn't even seem to be effected by Wilma's tone of voice and got right to work.
"I'm still trying to sort everything out but I can tell you that it has close to one hundred 'guns' concentrated many into four main 'batteries' on the wings and two secondary 'batteries' on the outer sides of the tails, that it's core is between the tails and closer to the back then the front; and that there's a blind spot between the tails where it can't really shoot at anyone" the look on Wilma's face when she heard that could best be described as feral, and if they could have seen the faces of the witches high above it would have been mirrored there to.
With Hermione's little injection of information the witches tore the Neuroi apart in minutes, with Hermione studying the Neuroi's reactions the whole time; and occasionally suggesting adjustments to attack runs and maneuvers.
"The Eleventh JFS send their regards" Wilma said as the witches flew off and Hermione let her new ability shut down, then the bushy haired girl wobbled dangerously and Harry and Lynette had to grab her and help her back to the car.
"We'll work this out when we get home" Mrs. Bishop said as she started the car and turned around, looking for a new way home.
Thank you for reading, Please review and help me keep the squirrels happy.