Guns And Bubbles


elisabeth_icon.gif conrad_icon.gif

Scene Title Guns and Bubbles
Synopsis Liz goes to learn how to muffle gunfire.
Date January 26, 2009

Old Dispensary

The dispensary is starting to feel like a second home this week — she's been in and out several times in the past three days. Heading through the compound she's got not a clue where to locate Conrad, so she calls him when she hits the front door. "Hey… please tell me you're in the dispensary," she says with no preamble when he answers. "I just hit the front door, and I forgot to call ahead. Gotta talk to you."

"Just a sec." says Conrad when he answers the phone. And he hangs up. Apparently he's there. And shortly he's letting her in. "Wassup, babe?" he says, grinning. Clearly happy to see Liz. Which is pretty much his normal reaction to her. "Business or pleasure?"

Elisabeth finds herself talking to a dead line. She stops in the middle of talking and stares at it. What The Fu…… oh! She's shoving the thing in her pocket when he opens the door, and in truth? The grin alone makes some of the tension ease off…. cuz damn, who can be all tense when a guy looks at you like that? "Business," she says regretfully. "Though maybe pleasure after if we have time?" she asks hopefully.

"Awww." says Conrad without feeling, waving Liz in. "So talk to me." he bids, making sure the door's all properly closed and locked. Sometime soon they oughta be manning stuff here with actual other Phoenix members and Con won't have to be Main Caretaker anymore.

Stepping in, Elisabeth runs a hand through her hair distractedly. She clearly came from work again, though it appears she was playing it casual today — jeans, high-heeled boots, button-down blouse and tan blazer that hides her shoulder holster, which she hasn't removed yet. She talks as they walk, "So this thing Wednesday," she tells him. "I've got a team going in and one of them suggested that I might be able to muffle gunshots. Since my silence bubbles, as well as they're coming along, aren't up to snuff, you're the guy to ask. Can they be created away from us? Like around other targets? That might be the hard way to do it, maintaining more than one, though."

"Oh yeah." says Conrad casually walking and kind of leading Liz somewhere. "You can do it. Helps if you've got your sensing down though. How's your hearing?"

She doesn't seem to worry about where he's leading her, she just walks with him, shoving her hands in her jeans pockets. "Better," she admits. "I'm getting better at filtering out surrounding sounds and picking out one or two to keep listening to. It's harder to hear through walls, but I'm getting better at picking out sounds there too. They still come in muffled, but I think that's a medium issue, not a power issue as much. Like listening through concrete always sounds…. echoey and garbled."

"Okay, but that's just control. How sensitive is it? Because what you need to make that distance stuff work is to be able to hear things that aren't really…audible. To most people." Conrad's usually very good at explaining things. It's part of why he's the trainer type. But sometimes the explaining breaks down a little. "If you can actually hear a lack of sound where there should be just ambient background noise, like hearing my silence bubbles when I make them, then you can hear your own when you make them and you know they're there and working. Make sense? And you kind of need that feedback to do it right. Otherwise it's like trying to pick up something you can't feel. You can't tell you've got it because you can't feel."

Liz looks up at him, raising a brow. "Like…. you listening to the sound of people's joints creaking?" She considers, and then smiles faintly. "I can hear your heartbeat. Right now. But I'm not sure if that's what you're talking about. I can't hear when you make the silence bubbles… but I've never tried LISTENING to that."

"Yeah well it's kind of the same." offers Conrad. "Just instead of listening for a sound you're listening for a lack of sound where something ought to be. It's kind of like a silence shadow. That's a pretty good term for it. The noise of silence is like a shadow." Very poetic. He's proud of that. Opening a door, Conrad comes into a room full of boxes and crates, some of them mismatched, most of them having been opened before. He goes for one and pulls out some straw to uncover some guns. He just starts hauling them out. "Here." he says, handing a couple over to Liz.

Pulling her hands out of her pockets as they enter the room, Liz looks at him. "Okay… so how does that translate to muffling gunshots?" she asks. And then he starts HANDING HER AUTOMATIC WEAPONS. "What. The. Fuck?" She takes two of them automatically. "Seriously?" She looks at him and says, "Shit, Con, I've never fired one of these fucking things!"

"Relax, they're just guns. I need to get ammo too so just hold onto em for a sec." Conrad starts poking through crates. "Well obviously if you can silence any sound you can silence gunshots. It's not like they're worse sounds. Actually they're kind of easy to muffle because they're so much louder and sharper than normal noise, it's possible to muffle shots and not speech. Or you can muffle everything just to be safe. Where the fuck is the ammo for those things." He looks at one of the weapons in Liz' hands. "MAC 10. Nine mil. Hrrr…" He finds a box finally with assorted ammo in it. "God dammit it's just seven six-two by thirty nine. Where's the fucking nine mil?"

"Yeah, I'm aware they're JUST guns. But I've never fired anything automatic. I'll be lucky if I can hit the broad side of a fucking barn, carrying this. And my team, one of them's never even handled a gun. I'm pretty sure Minea can handle it. She's ex-Army. But me and Brian?" She looks skeptical about their ability to handle automatic weapons. "It's not like I can…. well, I *can*… get range time on the auto weapons," she says thoughtfully. "All right, never mind. I'll deal with that later. Whatever. So talk to me about how to muffle something like gunshots without muffling speech — cuz that's what I'm gonna need Wednesday night. And I've only got two days to practice."

"It doesn't matter. We're just trying to make some noise. Ah! Here we go." Con finds a box of nines and gets three of those boxes. "Okay, c'mon. Let's go to the basement. Got a little shooting range rigged up down there."

There's a look of surprise. "Oh!" Liz actually looks relieved that he's not handing her weapons and just expecting her to take 'em off and go do the job with them. "Okay." She carries the guns with her, letting him lead the way. "Doing a lot of shooting here, are you?" she asks archly.

"Not me. I hate these little popguns. They're not good for much." Con says simply. He makes no secret of his opinion of small arms. "I'm a rifle kinda guy. But any idiot can pull a trigger." He leads Liz to the basement door and down, and flips on the lightswitch down there. There's a simple wooden table that he sets the boxes of ammo on, and some wooden target frames. A wall has three layers of perforated sandbags covering it, obviously serving as a backstop. The walls are concrete. It probably is extremely loud to shoot down here unless you're someone like Con or Liz. "Here." he says, shoving a box of ammo toward Liz. "You load one. Gimme the other and I'll load it."

Liz hands over the gun in her right hand and then inspects the one in her left hand, checking for all the pieces and how it goes together and such. Once she feels familiar enough, she loads it. "And here I complained we never went anywhere together," she comments with a smirk.

"Yeah, well you had to bitch. Now you get a crash-course in power-silencing." Con retorts with a grin, loading up the Mac 10. "It's like this, start off just silencing yourself, then fire the gun in that bubble. Make sure you know what it takes to silence the gun. When you get a feel for that, try making the bubble smaller until it's just around the gun itself. That's one way to do it."

With a nod, Elisabeth is clearly giving him all her attention. "And the other way? You sound like that's not the best option… which I'm inclined to agree about, since I'm not sure that on such short practice I can reliably silence at least three, possibly up to five, firearms at once like that."

"It's the best option if it's just silencing one gun. But another way is to just make one big bubble around everything and just filter out the loudest sounds. And for that you need to get a feel for what it takes to block gunshots." Con pauses and looks at Liz. "You got earplugs, just in case you slip?"

There's a shake of her head — it's not like Liz runs around expecting to be on a firing range. "Shit. No, I don't. Not like I knew I was going to be in here!" She scowls a bit.

There's a grin then. "Guess you better do it right the first time." Con says knowingly. He doesn't worry about that kind of thing, his ears being like they are. "I don't have any on me, but I'll go ahead and show you what I'm talking about first so you know it can be done and maybe you'll get an idea of how I'm doing it."

Her stomach cramps up, and Elisabeth nods slowly. She has a bit a leery look on her face — as if the REST of the stress of all this is not enough. "All right," she tells him. "So I'm listening for… what the bubble sounds like? Feeling for how it handles sounds that loud?" The small bubble around her own muzzle? That she's not as worried about. It's the muffling just that and still being able to talk part that she's worried about learning.

"Yup. And make sure the bubble's around the whole weapon. Because even a silencer still leaves a pop noise that comes off the rest of the gun." He's got his own gun loaded and steps forward toward the sandbags. Con racks a round and easily puts a silence bubble around himself, gun and all. That heartbeat Liz could hear before vanishes behind the bubble. Since he can't be heard he doesn't bother trying to speak but just looks over his shoulder at her to see if she's able to hear, or not hear it.

Well, she's paying DAMN close attention to when his bubble goes up, nodding slightly to him when he looks at her, and then closing her eyes a little to just listen… to feel the soundwaves she needs to use. Liz tilts her head, no longer feeling odd about using her abilities anywhere in his vicinity — he's always about 'whatever works to let you sense it', so she just … listens. Follows the sound waves as they skim around him, feeling for how he's moving his field and how the waves within work. It's obviously similar enough to what he's had her practicing before that she's comfortable with the first parts.

Just to do it, Con pulls the trigger on the gun. The only sound is the whipcrack of the bullet as it zips through the air and piffs into the sandbags. He shrugs. Drops the bubble and puts it just around the gun. "Or…" He shoots again. Same thing. Piff. "See?"

With a nod when he speaks, Liz asks, "Okay…. So let me feel what it sounds like when you just muffle the gunshot and talk to me at the same time?" He may have done it at the first, but even if he did, she wants to feel it again. She doesn't even open her eyes, her focus entirely on figuring out how to make the sound waves do what he's doing with them.

"Okay. So I'm talking now, see. But I pull the trigger." Piff. "It's because it's so much louder than normal sounds that you can do it." Piff. "If we were talking something that was about the same level as talking you probably couldn't manage it." Conrad fires a couple more shots. It's all fired on semi.

Liz's eyes pop open and she grins. "I think I have it. Nice!" she says with a grin. She takes a deep breath and nods, "All right. I wanna try it." Please God, don't let her make herself deaf and shit — that would *so* suck. She steps up next to him, making sure he's clear, and then concentrates more on the sound than on where the bullets are going — she doesn't care how good she is at hitting the target, she's working on the other thing first. Practice at the firing range will fix her aim; only Conrad can correct her power usage. Segmenting herself from the sound altogether at first, the first three time she fires are not perfect — they're muffled, but they're not silent. But at least her ears aren't assaulted much. But the fifth shot, she's got a good feel for how loud the shot will be, and the shots are silent. (Still not on target, though.)

And while Con would like to protect Liz' ears for her, it would kind of defeat the purpose. So he just kind of stands back and watches, coaching a little as needed. She's a fast learner though. "You pick this shit up real fast. Now try covering my gun for me." He holds it up, points it downrange, and says, "Say when."

"Moving the center of the bubble off me and onto the gun isn't that hard," Elisabeth comments. That's what she did with this first series of tries. "It's doing it the OTHER way that I'm worried about," she tells him with a wry grin. When he suggests she try to cover his, she nods a bit and then when he's all set and she's all set, she nods again. "Go ahead." Now with his shots, she's a little more inexpert. His weapon is farther from her than she's ever attempted to encase something — she's always been the focal point of the silence before now. It takes her a little longer to master the distance to his weapon. The first shot is full volume. Then she steps next to him and slowly takes a step or two back between shots, learning to handle the distance that way. It'll take longer — half an hour or a bit more of steady concentration and effort before it's done well.

It doesn't hurt Con's ears for the full-on blast to ring out, but he does look at Liz with some concern. That had to ring. But he patiently plays the part of guinea pig so she can practice muffling the gun in his hand. "If you're gonna use this in real life, get familiar with the feel." he counsels. "You can practice it on other things too. Like when you go home, turn your TV way up and try to muffle it but still be able to talk over it."

Oh, her ears are ringing all right. Liz flinched that first time, which was why she stepped closer and started with what she knew. When they finally hit the point where she can muffle his gun from a good twenty feet away, she looks wiped out. "This method's not going to work by Wednesday night," she frets. "I can't focus on more than one bubble, and pulling all of us close enough together for one bubble takes *all* my concentration, so I can't *listen* for bad guys *and* muffle the gunshots *and* keep us able to talk too. I'll be next to useless in terms of a fight." She rubs her forehead, the stress clearly visible.

"So do it the easy way and just cover all the guns in the same bubble. It doesn't have to be round. It can be stretched out as long or whatever as you want it to be." Conrad's answer to a problem is generally to find some different solution.

Liz waves that off, "That's what I mean. It doesn't matter whether it's round — but muffling only sounds above a certain decibel range seems to be taking all my focus, and I can't listen for us about to be ambushed or even watch the surroundings well enough yet to make this as useful as it ought to be. Not sure two days is going to be enough to get my ass in gear with this stunt."

There's a sigh and Con just shrugs. "Best I can do for you. Have you thought of trying to dig up some silencers for the weapons?"

His practicality is probably the thing she likes most about him, honestly. Well… aside from the obvious. "Well, hell, Con," she says sarcastically, "No. I didn't think of silencers. I didn't even know we'd be using these things. But now that I do, I may be able to come up with 'em." She blows out a breath. "Ugh. This sucks." She pauses and grins faintly. "I need to walk away from this a while, think about it some. Wanna catch a drink or something for a while?"

"Sure." he says, grinning. "You really didn't think of them, did you?" Because Con knows sarcasm can be used to cover up a dumb oversight sometimes. "Let's go put these popguns away and get a drink."

Rolling her eyes, Liz admits, "No, I didn't fucking think of them. The suggestion was made, I'm brain-fried from juggling the bomb shit, and out of my mind with terror over leading a squad into this. I was a fucking HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR. Not a SWAT member!" She runs her hand through her hair once more and just shakes her head. "No, I didn't think of it."

That just makes Con grin. "C'mon." And he decides to lead Liz off to get her (slightly) liquored up. Slightly.

She follows him out, just shaking her head and muttering under her breath. If he listens, it's a litany of all the shit that is absolutely going to go wrong Wednesday, starting with stubbing her toe on the way into the bad guys' lair, detonating the thermite while we're all still in range. She's more or less just … well, not really working herself up, just working through 'okay, what's the WORST that could happen?' kind of a mindset. Cuz if you think of all the worst things… sometimes they dont' happen. But yeah…. liquored up? Seriously liquored up, not even slightly liquored up… that'd be good. Getting laid would be better. Getting laid until Wednesday and skipping work altogether tomorrow to keep on doing it all day! That'd be even better! And yes, those things slip out under her breath too. She talks to herself when she's stressed out.

January 24th: A Cautionary Song, Part II
January 24th: Welcome To The Revolution
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License