Kids Old And Young


avi_icon.gif berlin_icon.gif

Scene Title Kids Old And Young
Synopsis Training is Serious Business around here.
Date March 10, 2018

The Bunker

All Berlin knows is that she is supposed to report to the firing range in about ten minutes. So, of course, she's been here for about fifteen. She's sitting outside the actual range, in a chair with her feet propped up on the next one over. Crossed at the ankle, one foot taps to the rhythm of the music in her headphones. Proper headphones. They go over the ear. She has a bag of gear next to her on the ground, like she wasn't sure what to expect, so she brought everything she could think of. There's a book in her lap, some kind of medical text. Who knows how well she understands the jargon, but she's trying. The better she understands the body, the more useful her ability becomes. Or, that's the theory.

Avi’s choice of location for this live-fire exercise is past the overgrown asphalt landing pad for the Tlanuwa, past the garage Harkness and his son maintain, and closer to the north end of the workyard. Here, a sand hill rises up twelve feet and is enclosed on three sides by steel-reinforced concrete walls. The grass area Berlin is sitting in, complete with folding lawn chair, doubles as an outdoor recreation area during warmer months. Though it’s crisp and cold today, a few flurries falling down from the sky, but the cold has a resonance with Berlin, memories of the past and winters gone by. Distracting, and in a way comforting like a familiar blanket.

But then, Epstein is walking out of the bunker in full camo with some sort of heavy belt-fed assault rifle steadied over his shoulder. A plastic case is held at his side, long enough to hold another gun. As he approaches, sunglasses on in spite of the fact that it’s cloudy, Epstein barks out a, “Beckett!” Followed by a sharply called, “On your feet!” There’s an all-too-charmed smile spread across Avi’s lips, teeth clenched together in a grin that says he knows what’s planned for today and wants to lord that over Berlin.

It only takes that bark for Berlin to go from quietly bopping to her music to jumping up off the chair like she's just been caught at something. A scramble is what it is. But she's on her feet and pushing the headphones off to hang around her neck. "Yes sir," she says, even though she's already there. Her gaze moves to that assault rifle, down to the case, then back up to his face. The question is pretty clear, even though she doesn't voice it, but when she sees the look on his face, she does her best to make her own more neutral. Because he looks smug. Which is sometimes a good sign, sometimes a bad one. And sometimes a super fun one that you can't tell civilians about. So to speak.

“Been wondering when you’d take the initiative to learn a little bit more about heavy ordinance,” Avi notes, though she wouldn’t call a rifle heavy ordinance. “Lots of folks assume that you need to be a big dumb jacked meathead like Autumn in order to use heavy firepower. It helps, sure, if you’re firing it from the fucking hip like you’re John Goddamn Rambo,” Avi strides over, looking down at Berlin, then over to the targets out on the range. “I’m gonna give you a choice on what you learn on today.”

Setting down the plastic case, Avi swings the other far heavier gun off of his shoulder and slaps the barrel down against his free hand. “This is my personal favorite baby, the M249 SAW, a belt fed light machine gun, bipod fired for stability, but you can mount it to a vehicle like our boss-ass truck.” Boss ass, he says. “Now, you fire thing from the hip and you’ll probably break it, but you’re a quick learner, and I think you’d enjoy some time laying in the dirt firing this here weapon from its bipod.”

Then, Avi nudges the plastic case with his boot. “In this case, I’ve got a P90 submachine gun. We offloaded a shitload of these from the Ross Dam, kept a couple for ourselves. These were the favorites of the Institute, back in the day, and are low-recoil LMGs with a nasty rate of fire, good for short little things like yourself.” Head tilted to the side, Avi leaves the final choice up to Berlin.

"Maybe I should before we hit the next mission. Could give it a few more choices on how we approach it." Although, probably assault rifles are not the first choice for Wendigo. Flexibility is important. The comparison of Curtis to Rambo gets a quizzical tilt of her head. Like someone failed to show a Rambo movie to this poor child at any point in the last twenty years. But she gets the idea. So she doesn't ask.

Instead she listens as he describes the two choices. Aside from a smirk for boss ass, she has very little reaction to give away which one might interest her more. She glances to the case, but then back up to him. There's something about the idea of digging in the dirt and mud and watching muzzle fire that appeals to her. And that's the sort of feeling that drives her to snap decisions. "Let's try your SAW," she ends up saying. "And the P90 later." That part comes with a smile, because it isn't like she was going to let it pass by either, even if it was from the Institute.

“I knew I liked you,” Avi cracks a smile, pushing the plastic case for the P90 aside with his foot. “C’mon.” Walking across the lawn past the folding lawn chair, Avi cuts a greenish brown silhouette in his camp against the blotchy brown grass. “I first used one of these in Panama in the 80s, I was almost as young as you.”

Getting to about 300 yards from the targets, Avi takes a knee and sets down the SAW, kicking out the bipod and setting it down in the cold, snow-dusted grass. “C’mere,” he motions for Berlin to come sit on the opposite side of the gun from where he kneels. “Gonna show you how to reload and feed the ammo by yourself. You won't always have a spotter, so it's good to understand the feel of the ammo and anticipate a jam. Cause they’ll happen.”

As he loops the belted ammo off from his shoulder, Avi lays that down in the grass too. “Actually,” he looks over the frames of his glasses. “One question, before we get in all this. I wasn't the one who brought you in. Never really dug too deep, and I've been meaning to ask. Why?” Avi brings up his hands to his mouth, exhaling a warm breath into his palms. “You weren't even eighteen. Why this?”

Berlin can't help but mirror his smile at those words, and there might be a bit of a spring in her step that hardly seems to fit with their current task, but there it is. "Operation Just Cause?" Go figure that she knows that, but not Rambo. "It's funny when you only read about that one because is it a cause that is just or are you doing it, you know, just 'cause."

She has weird thoughts.

Sorry, Avi.

She also doesn't seem to mind dropping to her knees in the snow, however much colder that makes things feel. "If something can go wrong, it will. I got you." Learning the ins and outs of the weapon seems to interest her, the way her brows lift as she peers over at it and the ammo when it hits the ground. But his question gets her to look up at him instead. "Why." It's repeated, then she settles back on her heels with a heavy exhale. "I was a Ferry kid," she says glancing out at the targets, "down south. I don't even remember my parents just… coyotes and safehouses and people trying to do what they thought was right. These people? The Institute? They raided the safehouse I grew up in. Only a few of us got away." She pauses there, then looks back over at Avi. "I don't know. I feel like I gotta do something for them." Not necessarily the right thing. But something.

Another kid without a family. Avi swallows awkwardly and nods, breathing out a shirt sigh. “Good guess on Panama,” he slides away from the topic of Berlin’s past. “I always see you reading, I dunno why I'm surprised that you actually retain any of it. Guess that's part of the why I like you part of things too.”

Tapping two fingers on the top of the SAW near the back of the stock, Avi begins his instructions. “So this arm flips up,” he lifts the top of the SAW open with a simple levering motion. “And this part here by the hinge,” he flips up a small clasp, “covers the belted ammo. Now you can slide it out or put a new belt in.” Then he returns the pieces to their original alignment.

“Now, most of these guns have a clip down here for a drum magazine,” Avi motions to an area ahead of the trigger below where the belt feeds in. “But I fucking hate them. They're hard to clip on, especially when you're under fire. You wind up fuckimy with the drum as much as you do reloading. So I prefer to hand fed my ammo. It's a lot like being at a petting zoo…” Avi eyes Berlin for a moment, then sighs again. “Just, pretend a skittish animal wants to eat from your hand. Palm relaxed, gentle motions. Don't try and force it.”

Demonstrating, Avi lays down on his stomach in the snow-dusted grass and braces the stock against his shoulder. “Eye down the sights here, hand out and palm up. Brace your elbow in the dirt so your arm doesn't get tired, and,” three startlingly loud gunshots crack off in rapid succession. “See?”

Laying the ammo belt in the snow, Avi flips open the back of the SAW and unloads the belt entirely, then closes the gun up. “Now,” he's slower to get up off of his stomach, struggling with his bad knee. “You lie down, same way I did. This position is for keeping a low profile and sweeping a flat area. Great for taking out a patrol, firing into a convoy, all from comfort of some tall grass.”

Finally all the way up, Avi makes a noise and holds firmly onto his knee, then gets all the way up to standing again. “Bonus advice, don't let a robot eat your leg.”

"Probably because half of what I read is trash," Berlin says with a crooked smile. It's a joke. Because she's happy to move off her past, too, which might be obvious given that she's been dodging talking about it for years. But then, not too many Hounds ask point blank.

When he demonstrates, she hovers over the gun to watch. Mental notes are made and probably committed to memory much like the rest of the things she studies. The note about the petting zoo gets a lost expression, but seeing as he seems to see it coming, she huffs out a chuckle. "Right. The belts need a gentle touch," she says, possibly to reassure him that she got it, even without having ever seen a petting zoo. She leans back from the gun when he moves into position, both to better see what he's doing and because it's going to be loud. A few inches doesn't really help, but it makes her feel better.

"Holy shit," she says with a laugh after he fires, "it's like a damn thunderstorm." She makes a show of nursing her ear, but it's really just to entertain him while he makes his way up to his feet. "I like the idea of not going toe to toe with a whole convoy," she adds as she moves to get into position.

And really, she slides into it like she's been secretly practicing while no one was looking. But she shifts enough to look up at him, even though she ends up sort of on her side. "I'll try my best," she says to his last bit of advice. And then she's back in place. She goes through the steps he just showed her, even down to very gently feeding the ammo into the gun. She's a little slow, like she's trying to be careful about it, but she knows that getting it right has to come before trying to be fast.

And then she turns her gaze toward the target, braces the stock on her shoulder, and leans to get the targets in the sights. And then she fires. And there's a whoa whoa from her, a surprised sound even though she just got a sneak peek at what was coming.

Avi’s broad smile is an instant sign of approval. After he's let Berlin fire off a few bursts he pats her on the shoulder and furrows his brows. “Right, so, the ringing in your ears? We really should be using protective gear.” Which he has stowed away in a bag on his hip. First comes off the headphones to muffle sound, then protective eyewear, all laid out on the ground.

“Last thing you wanna do is wind up like me, half deaf in one ear and blind in one eye.” The bum legs gets left out of his Frankenstein injuries. “So I'm gonna have you just chew through the whole belt. Won't take but a couple minutes. Focus on those low square targets out there.” He directs Berlin’s state with one hand.

“And I mean, yeah. Nobody wants to have to hold off a line of vehicles, but shit happens all the time. Squeeze out those rounds, get comfortable feeling the kick from the ground, and then we’ll try a hip fire from one knee just so you know what to expect.” Avi pulls his eyewear on over his sunglasses, then his headset headset.

At the pat to her shoulder, Berlin looks up at Avi and then smirks when he mentions the protective gear. "Safety innovation always comes after weapon innovation," she says. The ringing is there, but it doesn't cause her to raise her own volume. "There are some soldiers," she says a moment later, "who take scars like that as a badge of pride." Her eyebrow lifts as she considers him. "I'm glad you're not like that." Perhaps it makes her feel safer. Or perhaps she thinks bragging about scars is a little ridiculous.

She picks up the headphones first, sliding them over her hair much like her own were a few minutes ago. Eyewear comes next, and then she looks back out at the targets. Her eyes follow Avi's hand and she tilts her head to consider them. The distance. The gun. The notion of working her way through all that ammo gets a crooked smile, but it's easy to miss, given her position. She hums a little bit and a leg bends at the knee, her foot tapping as she gets herself back into position and aims for the low targets.

"Just so long as I can still use my hip after," she remarks to his plans, but it isn't longer than a breath later that she fires, letting the gun eat through the belt while she grins under her safety goggles. It's over much too quick for her liking, but since she manages to it the targets, that seems to make up for it.

Avi whoops and obligatory, “Whoo!” at the firing of the gun. “Right on, right on. Now, you see how fast that fucker chewed through the ammo? It's heavy as fuck too, so while this gun is guaranteed to kill literally every motherfucker in front of you, you've gotta choose when to use it wisely.”

Stepping back a bit, Avi moves to be a little behind Berlin and unwinds another belt of ammo from over his shoulder and hands it down to her. “Alright, now, take a knee, reload, and brace the SAW at your shoulder. When you're firing this time aim for the big target in the middle there.” Avi takes another step back after the ammo handoff.

“Now, don't be intimidated by this thing. Hold it tight with your right hand, then lay the barrel across your other hand and keep a firm grip. When you fire, she's going to kick up more than back. You'll feel it hit your shoulder a little, but the gas brakes on the front help displace the kick up and down. So try to lean forward into the shot, pull it down. It takes a bit of practice but — even with your size — you should be able to handle it.”

The whoo is echoed when Berlin lets go of the gun and she pulls herself up to her knees to look out at the damage. Which is very satisfactory indeed. "I see why this is your favorite." Snow melts on her clothes, sticking grass and dirt to her, but she doesn't seem to care beyond dusting a few blades off her face. "Right. Chew through it too soon and that's it. High powered paperweight." She reaches to take the belt, shifting to load it into the gun. She's faster this time, smooth, and it isn't long before she's eyeing the target he calls out.

"I'm not intimidated," she says simply, as if it hadn't occurred to her that she should be. "But if it knocks me on my ass, you're going to have to help me up and that's going to embarrass us both."

That part comes with a smirk.

But when he delivers his advice, she nods, serious again. Pressing the SAW just under her shoulder— to avoid the bones there— she places her hands as he said to. She fires a short burst, like she's testing it out, makes a few adjustments and fixes her aim before she starts again. And she keeps a better hold of it, doing her best not to let her shots lift too far from where she means them to land. She has to reset a time or two, but she doesn't lose control of it, at least. And it does not knock her on her ass.

“Well, that's embarrassing.” Avi admits as he sweeps his protective headphones off. “So, that was supposed to be a lesson about what getting kicked onto your ass feels like, but…” he spreads his hands slowly. “You paid a-fucking-ttention and I gotta say I'm goddamn impressed.” Walking back over to Berlin, Avi offers her a hand to help her up to her feet.

The look on Avi’s face is difficult to read, but Berlin had seen it before. “You're a fast study, makes sense why Hana let you in so early. You're a goddamn fine soldier and— ” he smiles. “And you listen a sight better than half the monkeys I've gotta corral.”

“You wanna try the P90 out?” Avi asks with one brow raised, “or do you wanna just blow another belt of ammo for the fuck of it?” He may be a former soldier, may be Hana’s right hand, but a lot of times Avi is still just a boy at heart.

"Brian always told me I was a natural. Born with a gun in my hand, stuff like that." Berlin sets the gun back down and looks at it, then out at the targets. Not, by chance of course, at Avi. "Don't worry. I'll spar with Lucille later and she'll knock me on my ass." Guns, yes. Punching, less so. "Just so I don't get a big head." She takes his hand and gets to her feet, brushing her clothes off a little before she actually looks at him. That look on his face has her own turning blank, as it often does. She's quiet for a moment, but accepts his words with a quick nod.

"It's not that hard. I mean, we can all do this," she says, a finger moving to mimic the pulling of a trigger. "Look at the thing, shoot the thing."

Her smile comes back out, though, and she tilts her head a little. "Let's do one more," she says, enough excitement on her words to prove that she's not all that grown up herself. As much as she tries to appear so with the other Hounds.

That's the answer Avi was hoping for, too. He pulls the last belt of ammo from off of his shoulder and hands it over to Berlin. “Natural talent is a scary thing, hopefully you use yours responsibly.” Then, looking downrange he adds. “You know, between moments of explosive fun.”

After handing over the ammo, Avi gives a gentle fist-tap to Berlin’s shoulder. “You're a good kid,” he admits with a crooked smile, moving back to stand behind and beside her again with a briefly limping gait.

“Now let's blow up some shit.”

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License