In The Foxhole


christian_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

Scene Title In The Foxhole
Synopsis One may discuss LMGs, old battles, and what one's going to do afterward, but not politics.
Date December 21, 2008

Cliffside Apartments: Christian's Apartment

Blizzards, are sort've like super happy fun time for ham radio nerds if we're to use the technical terminology. Most bad weather and all natural disasters typically are, because they become important again. Little white guys in the basement of their vintage ranch home get to serve their country by relaying radio messages, all whilst sipping cheap instant coffee and watching vintage red green episodes.

Chris isnt watching red green, but he is drinking terrible coffee and working the radio wall. Reclined back in his folding chair, as he rests his heels on a big expensive pelican case. Right now, he's lent his powerful array as a repeater, letting local low power stations bounce off his set and then up to the orbiting radio network in space. This wasnt the typical inane yammering, no this was talking about loss of electricity and moving the old and very young to safer places. Important shit.

There is a Sicilian on Chris's floor. He had come in only a few moments ago, looking despicable and dejected for reasons that are completely irrelevant to the fact that he's walked into the Den of Fed. Call it incaution, or a terrible confusion of priorities. He had been happy to get out of the snow. Would have been even if it meant seeking shelter in a dumpster behind a building owned by Homeland Security, probably.

By now, the snowflakes have melted out of his hair and swatted out of his eyelashes, and his body temperature has reached a reasonably comfortable equilibrium with the room. He's a lump blanketed underneath his shedded jacket, his shoulders flat on the wall, shoes kicked off, legs triangled into a sprawl. Tea dregs are cooling at the bottom of the mug on the wooden floorboards beside him. Having little of Christian's knowledge and a blunter learning curve by far than his brother, he merely watches his friend's back without comment.

Christian rises slowly, rubbing at the back of his head as if to knead the cobwebs from their anchors. "So anyway, you want some more coffee?"Glancing back towards Teo as he slowly lumbers into ther kitchen, his simple titanium mug dangling from his hardened fingertips."Oh and shit, christ I almost fuckin forgot. You got a present I still need to give you, teach you how to put it together."

"I think you gave me tea," Teo observes, glancing down over the edge of his shoulder. Yep. Tea. "Coffee would be great. Grazie." His hair drags a rasping noise out of the wall as he lolls it back upright then turns it to track his friend's figure shrinking — barely — into the kitchen. Finally, he sets about moving. It was inevitable of course: Teo isn't a complacent animal by nature, neither existentially nor physically. Rustle of canvas, zipper clicking against the varnished floor and he scrambles upright. "I do? Is it a boat?"

Christian frowns a touch as he gets the coffee machine a bubbling and hissing, immediately generating a slight hint of that particular aroma. It was a somewhat exotic mix, something black and mean perhaps a turkish blend or something. "No, the boat is your christmas present. You see, Felix is lacking in the rifle area."he begins, rinsing out his mug before reaching out for Teo's. "So, I conspired to purchase him something with company funds. Oddly enough, its easier for me to have bought you a machine gun on the black market than it is for me to get Felix a carbine. Anyway, what with him going a little nuts I'm not really sure I want him owning a proper carbine right now."

Between cleaning up vomit and the President-elect's blood and almost peeing himself from astonishment that Eileen hadn't summarily fucked them all over, Teo hasn't honestly gotten in much time with making shit 'splode. So he confronts this idea of a rifle of his very own with a mixture of pleasure and perplexity while he's stumbling up onto his feet, snagging mug on his way up.

"He probably needs it more than I do," he notes, blankly. Sans shoes, his feet don't make a lot of noise as he approaches the kitchen, then stoops over the sink to rinse out the borrowed ware. Teo's a reasonably good houseguest because he tries to be. "But I think learning new skills is always good," a sidelong flash of tooth, cheerful. "So if you're serious, that would be fucking awesome."

Chris is a quiet fellow in contemplation of precisely how he wants to word what follows. "What felix needs, is to act like a fucking fed and not the lone ranger. Until he straightens his shit out, he gets no more material support from me."Nevermind the whole yaknow showdown on the roof and shit. Still Chris is pleasantly preoccupied with providing Teo with a titanium mug full of Christian's favored blend. "Sugar and cream is behind you there if you want it, but let it cool either way. Its a little bland when its so hot."

Its a moment of more coffee fiddling for Chris to fill his own mug, before he slips out've the kitchen. "Yeah, its actually a whole kit."he offers just as he heads out of sight, returning with a heavy pelican case covered in soccer stickers from just about every major and minor team in the whole of South America which he sets delicately down infront of where Teo was seated. "go ahead and open up and see whats there, I'm gonna go get another carbine so I can walk you through it a little easier."

'Where Teo is seated' is on the counter, by now. He has some kind of pathological problem with seating himself where he should. He takes his coffee with a big smile, obediently refrains from melting his mouth off by sipping right away. One-handed, he reaches over to open up the case, his gaze skimming the stickers that cover the exterior in vibrant color and bold letters. It reminds him, with a pang.

Of the days before. Football made things simple: loyalties, stakes, death and pride equally and acceptably meaningless. "He's just scared, that's all," comes the murmur, low in Teo's throat even as the steam from the coffee curls up around his ear. Some days, he seems like he could forgive anybody for anything. "Everybody gets scared, and then they get crazy. Well—" his eyes go crescent-shaped with laughter as he looks up. "Maybe not you. You're crazy all the time, no?" He sounds fond.

"And you're calling a guy with a machinegun names," Chris retorts, producing a slender and far simpler little sleeve which held his Leonidas. His own carbine is a short, thick ugly thing devoid of any pleasing lines. "Now, you ready to get down to business?"Chris pauses a moment before simply slumping to the ground, taking a moment to set his coffee in a place where it wont be knocked over most likely.

When Chris does slump down onto the floor, his Leonidas all but dissolves in a series of well practiced motions which reduce the ugly thing to its basic halves and then further so that every tiny little part has been plainly laid bare to eager eyes. "This is an AR-10, Armalite model made by a company called Noveske. You have an AR-15, which is the civilian variant of the M-16. Mine is in a bigger caliber, so my parts are going to look a little different."

Following his friend's cue, Teo moves his coffee out of immediately obvious accident range and then pulls his feet up onto the edge of the counter. Peers down into the case, the mixture of gunmetal parts, a bare forefinger falling to prod and poke at the little ones before he curls it and runs a callused knuckle across one of the larger.

He's handled enough explosives to not be entirely and instantly stunned by the presence of lethal power, but this is a little different, refinement and intent implicit in the design of the thing in its case, even disassembled. "Business," he agrees belatedly, looking up to track Christian's movements with a bright eye. Adds, glibely, "I call everybody names. Most of the time, they're accurate."

Now Chris, is in soldier mode or more accurately in Sargeant mode."Alright, I'm going to skip the basic safety rules and alla that jazz because I assume you know them. You now own a rifle, which is a kind of weapon. Call it a gun and I will break your nose, guns go on ships and tanks. This is not a gun, its a rifle."ok, formalities indeed.

The 'rifle' before Teo is split into its basic parts. Theres the lower, with all the buttstock, handgrip and trigger bits and the upper which holds the barrel and such. There are two uppers here, a long one and a short one. The shorter has a similar flashlight, handgrip and red dot arrangement as Chris's Leonidas whilst the longer of the two features a powerful telescopic sight and a bipod down at the far end of its 24" barrel. In the box theres also of course 10 loaded magazines, an array of spare parts, rifle slings, tools, cleaning kit and of course a user's manual.

Out of deference to this terrifying threat and acknowledgment for this important less on terminology, Teo briefly places his hand on his nose. After that, he doesn't do much except for nod and follow along, which is good because he doesn't have a lot of faculties to divide between this monstrosity and anything that is at all intellectually or emotionally taxing right now. It's good to stop multi-tasking for a fwe minutes, anyway.

Healthy, probably. Means he doesn't screw up, at least not this first time around, noting what this is and that, abandoning the paper manual in favor of watching Christian with a breathlessly grim look worked into the lines of his face: a young man's way of paying attention.

As part of his particular career choice, Chris had actually attended a number of classes on teaching. Beyond that he'd taught soldiers in Arabic, German, Russian, Spanish and oddly enough for the first time English. He's actually not a bad teacher at all. Using simple terms to explain the interactions of the modern carbine's intestinal tract, and more importantly how to clean and care for it all. "Now we will assemble the lower receiver."which he then proceeds to do, giving careful and well used instruction along the way.

"Now, thats how the lower functions. Now I'd like you to take your lower and strip it down, and then put it back together. Take however much time you need, I'm not going to blindfold you and get out the stopwatch." or so he promises anyway.

In what some might define as a bad move, Teo believes Christian! He doesn't look up to make sure there are no blindfolds and stopwatches approaching. Instead, he keeps his terrier-like, life-or-death earnesty focused with coruscating intensity upon the project at hand.

Despite that he's been in undergrad for something like seven fucking years, he isn't a bad student either, once he's figured out what it is he wants to be doing. The weapon comes apart with little hesitation, is reconstituted with only periodic pauses and subtle counting off a twitch of long fingers. Until this is filed into rote and muscle memory, the intellectual part of his brain employs memorization devices and a lot of concentration.

Christian is eager to make headway then, moving onto first the lower upper. What follows is a similarly in depth explanation, before he breaks it down to every last pin and barrel. Then more explanation, one built atop years of questioning. Why and how everything is the way it is and what needs to be cleaned, what doesnt. Theres even a summary of the different surface finishes used on the different parts. "and see, this is gold stuff all over the bolt, firing pin and chamber is the same as your lower. Thats all titanium nitrite, very corrosion resistant. "

Then of course how does the flashlight break down, how is it moves around the weapon and how do the different optics come apart and go back together. The M16 is a little more complicated than your average service rifle, but when explained by somone so intimately familar with both it and mechanical things it seems quite simple. "Now, Teo do you think we're ready to put the upper back together and assemble the rifle for the first time? After that we'll do a function check, and then break it back down for cleaning. When that's done, I'll show you how to operate the rifle."
AFK flag removed.

"Impressionante," Teo says, saluting affirmitive with his middle and ring fingers because he'd accidentally clipped his forefinger between the edges of one piece and the other, his eyes having been on his friend instead of what he was doing himself. Which is kind of poetic until, you know, you jam a gun together on your own hand and are left making tacit lies about how ready you are to do something when the truth is that you've become completely distracted by another notion of considerable personal import but little practical urgency.

Something he'd been successfully avoiding thinking about for the past couple days. Seems like this is the afternoon for distractions, however. His hands stop moving and his gaze retreats uncomfortably from the blizzard white in the window. Visibly, he gives himself a shake. "Gleh," he says. "Sorry. I'm here."

The injury doesnt produce much reaction from Christian, no words would really have the same education as a good bit of self imposed pain. "Good, now. Relax for a moment, and then put the damned thing back together. We're gonna take care of all of this education, so when the weather breaks we can head to the range and just start shooting. Theres a very neat training facility mainly for the FBI not too far far from the city, they've got a whole town they built just for shooting drills. If you want to bring along another friend, with a carbine and a pistol I'd be able to rent it and you guys can get some real training for once." Christian has meanwhile, assembled his own upper without ever looking away from Teo. His Leonidas is back together by the time his bit is over.

Teo's fingers curl warily on the barrel of the rifle sitting heavily in his arms. He squinches up the side of his face, squints out of the corresponding eye on that side of his head. "God, it makes me so nervous when you talk about Federal training facilities and shit. Which might be me being a jelly-spine, paranoid pussy, but I guess that's the way I frame my worldview these days. Go figure." Distinctly embarrassed, he glances down as Christian's weapon comes together without the erstwhile Sargent having to even look.

Which, even in Teo's current brainspace, distractions and all, is kind of awesome. His right eyebrow pops upward practically out of joint; he whistles, low. Runs blunt fingers down the line of his jaw, a little more pain to focus his thoughts, before he summarily pushes both out of his mind and sets about doing precisely as asked. This time, he manages not to make a mess, either of himself or the AR-15.

Christian watches silently, unwilling to break his pupil's focus. "Do you know who Pablo Escobar is?"which is a question he's been meaning to ask Teo for quite awhile now. His own hands rubbing gently at a bit of dirt thats formed over the years in the aggressive stipling of his handgrip.

"You need to remember, to my bosses you guys are classified as freedom fighters. I get in trouble, if I dont lend reasonable aid to freedom fighters who share my mission objective. Its as much apart of my job, as the radios are. So giving you this rifle, isnt like some sneaky shit on the side its state sanctioned. So is my offer to train you, the flashbangs would have been too actually but I really hate loose books."

"I don't know who Pablo Escobar is," Teo answers. He doesn't lift his gaze. Clack, click. Though he's speaking, his concentration seems to be intact enough to make the assault rifle's upper so, too. "And I don't know who your bosses are, but…" Pause, as he squints down at the project on his lap. Oh, right. Firing pin, chamber. "I'm pretty sure there are other people on laterally equivalent ranking who classify us differently.

"And I hate to wreck a really fucking adorable aesthetic dichotomy of friends and all, you and me, but I'm not sure how long I'm going to fit under the category of 'freedom fighter' either. Whatever the fuck we've been fighting for, lately, 'freedom' isn't it. And I'm not sure I should be doing it." He might have been less vague if he wasn't crapping a rifle together. Or not.

"Pablo Escobar was like the Osama Bin Laden of the drug world, and we and the Columbians wanted him really bad. He put bounties on cops, all cops and even higher bounties on their families. He bombed a bookstore, on book day. Killed tons of kids, anyone he couldnt buy he'd kill and if he couldnt kill you he'd just torture everyone around you to death."Chris's gave watching Teo observantly all the while, or rather his hands. "So we wanted him bad, it was one of the first times my organization ever really got to do anything."

He pauses momentarily, sipping at his coffee. "So we tracked and tracked, but we couldn't find him and he was just killing hundreds. So some ISA guys, some Delta guys and a shit ton of Columbian cops went into the jungle and decided they'd do their own thing. They called themselves, Peoples persecuted by Pablo Escobar. They started bombing him back. Every cop, they'd kill a relative. It was terrible and bloody, but in the end we stopped Pablo Escobar. The FBI was terrified, they didnt know Americans much less us were involved. The majority of the US government, just didnt know how to handle these people who terrorized the terrorists. Now I dont do car bombs, but the rest of that sounds alright to me."

Though Teo didn't particularly want to know that, or hear that, or believe his friend could do that, by now he's adapted pretty well to knowing, hearing, and believing things that he would rather not. If he wasn't, he'd be in the Bahamas. Married, maybe. Catholics tend to do that young.

A mechanic of some sort, or interpreter, sailing a boat; he likes to travel, one of the more harmless facets of his tendency to run from shit. The other two options being fight or self-destruct. A pale shade of blue, his irises reflect the image of his work on his eyewater. When he finishes, he doesn't know how to conduct the function check in question, so he doesn't. Instead, he says without looking up: "My people aren't like that."

Christian shakes his head "No, and neither are you. Neither am I, to be honest though I wish I was cold enough to not care. I wasnt part of any of that, I came in after all of that was over. "as if suddenly worried Teo might think him a car bomber. "I dont have a problem with killing a carbomber in cold blood, or something roughly equivilent though. Once you take up arms, until you put them down and walk away I dont see how you're not a legitimate target. People want a trial, due process. I'm all for that too, thats the American way right? Underpinnings of what seperates us from them. The problem with that, is that its a blanket statement right? How would you give like, Sylar a fair trial? How would you even catch him?"

"It isn't that hard." Something about the way Teo says it implies it isn't a joke, a lack of irony despite the presence of a very small grin. Which fades after a moment, when he ducks his head, flexes his fingers when he realizes with a touch of discomfort that the AR-15 is warming to his grip, and his own fingers cooling against the dark metal. "Blackstone's ratio. It's one of the romantic vanities I enjoy about your legal system.

"The American legal system," he clarifies. "'Better let ten guilty men escape than one innocent suffer.' Still, I'm pretty sure anyone with a half a fucking brain has an inkling of the debt that every nation owes to bad men. Sacrifices to be made, and shit. I made car bombs, once." He lifts an arm and peers down under it, bracing rifle butt against hip. Reaches over to grab his coffee, a potabl temperatuer by now. "Didn't set them. But I wasn't exactly confused about what I was helping to build."

Christian has to think about that one "But is it better to let ten men die, so one guilty man can walk free?" Maybe he wasn't the most well versed in philosophy, but he certainly knew what he believed in. "You sound like you're fighting a criminal organization, but you need to remember. Firing upon the president, is an act of war. You're fighting a small war, this isnt about politics. Its about whomever kills the other guy first. You need to get your head in this fight Teo." He clears his throat, pausing to sip at his coffee.

"Anyway, lets get started on the individual componentry. I think us talking politics is probably a bad thing, yeah?" Smirking he hefts his own rifle. "Ok, Magazine release, bolt release, safety, foreward assist and charging handle."Chris of course uses a finger to indicate exactly what he's talking about. "When you empty a magazine, the bolt locks to the rear."On cue, Chris produces a empty mag for his AR. First he strokes the bolt a few times, making sure the movement of the bolt is evident in the ejection port. Then in goes the mag, and when he strokes the charging handle back predictably the bolt gets hung up. Out goes the magazine via the mag latch, before he presses it back in.."Pretend I just put a loaded magazine into the weapon."before he hits the bolt release with the butt of his palm and the bolt slams home with an audible clack. "Now we're ready to shoot again."

Nor is Teo. Well-versed in philosophy, that is. He's merely smarter than he thinks he is, and in up to his eyeballs entirely by accident. He doesn't answer for a period of time, responds merely with a low laugh and a shrug of one shoulder: maybe politics is a bad thing. Maybe it isn't. Problematically, he hasn't made a statement about what he believes in, whether bad men are necessary or if Blackstone's self-imposed naivete was righteous. He watches Christian.

Nods here and there to indicate he understands, tilts his head to follow the actions of parts against parts that the older man has determined important. "That's what I meant earlier. Actually. You know: maybe I should get out of the fight because my head's too far in it. I mean— I won't. Can't. It's too late for that. But after this, maybe I'll leave them. Phoenix. You probably think I'm a coward," he says, and he smiles again: rueful.

Christian inhales deeply at that last little admission. "Not everyone has to be a trigger puller Teo, and no I don't think you a coward. Every man has to figure out what his limit is, and then you fight from there. We're all very different people Teo, You of all people should know how individual we all are. If you feel concerned, because you're hanging out with soldiers and you're trying to measure yourself against that yardstick then of course you wont measure up. I wouldn't measure to you either though Teo, you're smart enough to fight this war however you want. I only have one path to me."

Still there is work at hand here, and Chris watches with sharp eyes. "Now I want you to insert a fresh empty magazine into your weapon, charge it and release the bolt release. Then turn the safety off, and pull the trigger. Pull it slow and steady, and then remove the magazine and set the weapon back in the case."

"I don't see any fresh empty magazines," Teo notes, peering down into the case that had been given to him. Empty of all but the manual, spare parts, and ammunition, he readily identifies that those are live rounds twinkling away in there. Thing must have weighed a ton with the disassembled rifle actually in it. By now, he knows Christian's strength well enough not to marvel too loudly that he'd managed to heft it around as if it were a box of football cleats. Absently, he adds: "I don't really want to know what my limits are. It kind of bugs my shit I haven't found them yet, after what I've done."

Christian reaches over to dig under the foam, where he produces a dull green polymer magazine complete with a small little window to give you an idea if it was full or not. It is indeed empty however."I didnt know where my limits were for a long time either, yaknow killing the enemy never tweaked me at all. No regret or nothin anyway, but when I got shipped down to Columbia things are sorta complicated." He pauses, reconsidering if he really wanted to tell more tales from Columbia.

"This guy drove a truck, a drug truck. The Columbian narcs had a hard on for this dude, they thought he knew some choice shit and he wouldnt talk. I knew they were gonna torture him, you know it happens but I mean I'd never seen it. I got this stupid curiosity, you know I wanted to see what it was like. I never really like, thought about what I was really going to see. First thing they did, I walked out and puked. I tried to quit, told my LT that I didnt want anything to do with any of it. It was wrong and evil, I felt like being apart of that would like stain me. Like it'd mark me, it'd make me evil. Was the first time I went to church since I'd left home was morning mass next day."

Obligingly, Teo stoops his head to peek underneath the foam where Chris is fussing around. Straightens up again once the magazine is taken out, and accepts it with a deft hand. While the story's being told, he's loading the empty magazine into the LMG, pausing when the thing seems to get stuck, resisting the urge to smack it around with the heel of his hand. With a jiggle and a squint, he manages to get it to slide home and, gratifyingly, the bolt pops up.

He rewards himself with a hyena's grin, albeit one that doesn't last for very long: Christian's story isn't exactly a giggling matter. "I'm sorry that happened to you, amico," he says quietly.


December 21st: In Denial
December 21st: Associates
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