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August 5, 2018. 5pm.

 

Riding with Gavin for the first time was a shock to many people, and for good reason. It was awfully hard to feel safe while in a car with someone who seemed to barely ever looked at the damn road. He was in an armored up Toyota Tundra pickup truck, originally made to appeal to construction workers with some features like bigger head restraints to fit hardhats and big old door handles that translated really well into the kind of work and punishment that it was being put through now in a military capacity. He could drive with full gear on with no issue, and the damn thing could take an impact with few other vehicles especially with all the armor plating added to it. The issue, truly, was that Gavin knew damn well just how tough the vehicle was and treated it with exactly the irreverence only someone with absolutely no regard for his own safety can give.

 

One hand lackadaisically on the steering wheel while the other is either playing on the phone or even worse leaned over to keep stuff from falling down in the back seat because of the swerving and constant speed changes. It wasn’t that he didn’t know what he was doing, but this was pretty standard practice that he did at least once and to some people a bunch of times if he thought their reactions were funny. Gavin’s reasoning initially was anybody poking around in ARMA would encounter stressful situations, and he wanted to see how they reacted under a safe amount of stress. Of course, 'safe' was a relative term when it came to Shield members in particular.

 

It also showed how people reacted to senseless fuckery from coworkers that puts people in danger. Some people stayed silent because Gavin’s presence was intimidating or they were afraid to speak up for some reason. Some visibly grabbed the sides of the vehicle and were visibly scared but did nothing. Some yelled at him halfheartedly, and a few times he had been cussed out pretty hard for doing this. In short, it amused the hell out of Gavin himself and he was confident he was good enough to put nobody in any real danger especially outside of the city so he did it to try and learn more about the people he interacted with. He originally got the idea from a mandatory training about non-verbal communication, which was not the point of the presentation at all but it gave him some neat ideas because one of the examples used was someone in the passenger seat of a terrible driver. One more reason why giving real world examples to young men stupid enough to think it was a great idea was a horrid idea.

 

The entire inside of the vehicle was stuffed with duffel bags of various weapons and equipment Gavin decided to bring along, and the back of the truck was filled to the limit with duffel bags and backpacks full of ammo and targets as well. Currently in between his legs while driving was his Pattern 1796 style sabre, and Gavin absolutely looked the part of ex-military who had never adjusted to civilian life. A white beater shirt, jeans, and leather boots with weapons strewn about his person like some people hoarded food. Two karambit knives in shoulder harnesses along with the 9mm SIG slipped in the front part of the jeans was just what he had on him, and the crew cut and tinted shooting glasses only made it worse. The only thing that was missing from the Disgruntled Army Veteran set was an Affliction shirt and some mud and dirt stains, but that could wait until later.

 

He was driving out to a field he knew outside the city where he could set up targets and shoot a bit without getting the police called in. Currently in his passenger seat was a magus that ARMA had picked up and tossed with him a week or so ago, a former PhD in Religion before the Resonance hit. Gavin had not gotten to talk to the guy too much since then, mostly because he was put on vehicle repair duty for a bit because of a recent string of battles that had fucked up some of ARMA’s heavier equipment. A lot of the nastier monsters that ARMA squared off against could fuck up an armored car like Gavin could a cardboard box sometimes, and some of that stuff was such a pain in the ass to repair.

 

Anyways, Gavin ended up having the day off and since Rebekah needed to go to some officer training he was volunteered to give the new guy, Endika, combat 101 basically. Gavin couldn’t help with magic, neither of them could, but he could help with the physical stuff and the how-to stuff. Knowing where to hit different things, different tricks and shit. Another reason why the soldier hadn’t had a lot of time to talk to the new guy yet was because of his sleeping schedule, because if there was a night shift to be had Gavin was on it due to his power set. He had woken up, by his standards, pretty early to make this drive and get everything set up. Gavin had been pretty quiet during the ride, partially to gauge Endika’s reactions and partially because he legitimately forgot where the field was and actually was following the GPS on his phone. He wasn’t particularly talkative when driving to begin with, preferring to drive in silence with the music blaring to concentrate on what he was doing. He toned down the music during the ride so it was just low and in the background on a country music station and not as obnoxious as he would normally due to new people in the vehicle and respect for their ability to hear. Now that they were within a half mile or so of the place the soldier figured he’d speak up.

 

Gavin’s accent was a weird mishmash of southern drawl and Irish brogue, which produced a unique blend of unintelligible nonsense. ”Alrigh’, friend. We’re jus’ about tere. I’m jus’ gon’ go over standard basic stuff. If any questions come up or things you wan’ do or try, jus’ lemme know. With any luck, you gonna find something you like out of this big ass pile of equipment behind me. I’ll go over Monsters 101 too, if yah already know the stuff feel free to lemme know and ah’ll skip. No sense in repeatin' shit you al'eady know. The goal is tah make sure if yer out an' about an' one o' those fucks tries to nab yah, you 'ave what it takes to survive. Especially pas' the city, shit gets real dicey sometimes.”

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Dika remained silent, maintaining his death grip on the support system to hold himself upright and somewhat stable. He was muttering strings of curse words about the idiot driver. He assumed it was some kind of test; some stupid hazing ritual that these ARMA idiots thought was funny. He straightened himself up and steeled his jaw, though. He knew whether it was a test or not, today was the day to test his mettle; where he'd really come under scrutiny and hopefully pass to the other side of it all not altogether unscathed but hopefully for the better.

 

Dika thought for a moment and decided to pipe up, steadying his voice so as not to sound as terrified as he felt.  [dika]"Creatures, not monsters; Mon. Sergent. It's rude to call them that; in fact it's almost racist."[/dika]   Dika's voice caught as they whipped around another turn.  [dika]"I would however, like to learn about your knowledge about them, most of what I know is limited to outdated texts and Veil-Crossers."[/dika]

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”Racist, huh?” Gavin repeated, his tone a little surprised but coming back with an edge. ”Let’s scroll down the list, ten, shall we? Lycantropes. Animal intelligence at best. Kills anyting tat moves. Monster. Dragons. Animal intelligence at best. Kills anyting that moves. Monster. Zombies. Animal intelligence at best. Kills anyting that moves. Monster. If you want to negotiate the fuckin’ Dayton Accords with them, by all means. You won’t get to try more tan once with those tings. Any goddamn ting tat came over ‘ere after the Resonance wit’ animal intelligence is a monster.” he paused for a few seconds, and continued: ”Anyting with the ability to speak and understand speech can be reasoned with if you’re so inclined. Goblins. Orcs. Selkies. Other shapeshifters.” there was another slight pause as the soldier jerked his head slightly in Dika’s general direction. ”Mages. You want to fuck around and negotiate with tose, be my guest, but tat’s not what I teach at ARMA to people if you couldn’t guess by the large piles of weaponry I have access to.”

 

”I teach people ‘ow to survive when shit hits the fan and you need to use tools like the contents of those duffel bags behind me. Tools created for the sole purpose of killing other human beings, quickly and easily. We’ve repurposed a lot o’ it so it can hurt and kill damn near anything, because tat’s what we need to do. When tere’s a lycantrope rampaging around a borough, you need to kill the damn thing before it kills or infects everyone in the town. Now, whatever place you end up at does not mean that you need to be a ground pounder. You do not need to be the warheads on foreheads guy like my dumb ass, but the fact of the matter is tat shit happens. And, unfortunately enough, we’re far enough out of the city that you appear to be stuck with me for the foreseeable future.”

 

At that point, Gavin brought the vehicle to an abrupt and total stop at a seemingly random point. ”Chance o’ gettin’ stuck with tis heavy ass truck is pretty high if we go off-road. So we’re just gonna haul the shit over there.” he said nonchalantly as he pulled out the keys and unlocked the doors. He opened the door and left his sabre leaning against the driver’s seat as he went to the back and seemingly picked out completely random bags to pick up. Two backpacks, one slung over each shoulder and two duffel bags in each hand meant he was carrying a good amount of gear. It was also pretty obvious that one trip was not going to suffice for dragging all the stuff out.

 

”Grab what you can. Which bags shouldn’t matter. Unless someone fuckin’ stole my targets, tey shoul’ still be out tere.”

 

Some would question the wisdom of leaving an armored vehicle filled with unprotected deadly weapons sitting around completely unprotected in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere, but Gavin was not one of them. There would be nothing obstructing his view of the truck on the field at the top of the small hill, so that was good enough for him.

 

Once past the incline and up on the hill, it was pretty clear that the area had been used before. Shot up targets were set up, along with crude mechanisms to allow the targets to move side to side and up and down the field. Shell casings littered the part of the field away from the targets, and around the targets there were bits of clay and of course bullets in the ground every which way. There were stacks of metal targets in various shapes and sizes. All the ones currently attached were human shaped, but there were certainly some monster shaped ones lying around.

 

”Alrigh’, we’ll start wit’ ‘andguns.” Gavin said as he appeared to pick a completely random spot to drop all of the bags and start rifling through them. He was roughly twenty meters away from the nearest target. ”’ow much yah know ‘bout firearms? Do I need to give the overview or yah got the basics?”

 

Compared to Rebekah, who took great effort in making sure she still knew how to interact well with civilians and ordinary people, Gavin looked like a gorilla trying to speak to a human in comparison. He was much more chaotic, both in actions and mannerisms. He was exactly the sort of person that exemplified the gap between military/police and civilians. Whereas Rebekah's first thought was ensuring the transition of someone to the next stage of their life, Gavin's was always just rattling the cage to figure out what sort of person he was dealing with. Other combat types tended to enjoy it, but the civilians rarely did unless they had a few screws loose to begin with. Instead of changing and adapting, Gavin was content to just do the same things and was more than happy to stay on his end of the gap all the while thinking himself even at a subconscious level 'better' than those who had never entered combat in service to a cause they believed in. Rebekah's resume and list of accomplishments dwarfed his, but between the two of them Gavin easily had the bigger head and ego about it. Neither were the types to go around bragging about it, but Rebekah shifted her mannerisms and demeanor to suit the situation and Gavin just refused to even try. He was a soldier, he figured, so why even pretend to be anything else? That wasn't what he was paid to do. Simple as that.

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Dika seethed a bit at Gavin's ignorant understanding of creatures and their realities. Dika wasn't an idiot, he knew they could be dangerous; that's why he was here, to learn to protect himself. That didn't mean he had to share the same 'shoot first ask questions later' mentality that Gavin had, and frankly he was beginning to think that having him as his trainer may have been a bad decision. Dika knew he was the best, but he feared he would have too difficult a time learning anything useful because he'd be too busy filtering out Gavin's attitude and prejudice.

 

Dika set the bags down as they got to the top of the hill; and drew his firearm at Gavin's question. He kept his trigger discipline, aimed away and down, hit the release button, and flipped the chamber out.  [dika]"Now I know if I hit this thing here, all of the shells eject, spent or unspent. Then, I pull this out and hit this button to re-load."[/dika]   Dika pulled out the prepared speed-loader out of his other pocket and showed it to Gavin.  [dika]"That, my good man, is absolutely everything I know about guns. I've never touched one a day in my life until I picked this up at Pharos, and even then I had to read the instruction manual several times and practice for hours with blanks before I actually felt comfortable with just doing that. So, I'm here to learn; whatever useful things you have to teach me."[/dika]   Dika emphasized the word in hopes of discouraging any more of Gavin's opinionated thoughts as he put away his speed-loader, flipped the chamber back into position, and holstered his firearm.

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When Dika pulled out his revolver, Gavin’s expression turned expressionless within an instant. He let Dika talk without interruption, and opened his mouth to speak after the man finished but then immediately closed it and turned back to rifling through the duffel bag and pulling out various semi-automatic handguns. He didn’t recognize the model of the revolver, so he was going to withhold comment until he got a good look and probably disassembled the thing to see what condition it was in. The stuff he had and brought with him he knew damn well what shape they were in and that they were decently made, so he was going to just go with his original plan.

 

”Alrigh’, part of this is just going to be tryin’ out some shit and seein’ what feels comfortable. No matter what you get, tere’s goin’ to be tradeoffs an’ downsides. No round is perfect, and you just need to pick someting dat fits what yer usin’ it fer. Firs’ off, though, put these in.”

 

Gavin reached in the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a small, unopened plastic container filled with these ugly colored orange earplugs. He took two of them and stuffed them in his ears before placing the now opened container on the bag nearest to Dika, maintaining his squatting position and gathering ammunition and more firearms.

 

”The firs’ one you’re gonna try out is a Beretta M9. Nine millimeter caliber bullets. Dis is what the United States Army and Air Force used before the Resonance. Not te most popular firearm, partially ‘cuz it’s big and didn’t really fit in the hands of the smaller guys and women. Shouldn’t be an issue for you, tough. Accurate, wit’ te lowest stopping power out of all the calibers I’m gonna have you fire today. The main thing with these are the caliber is super common and will always be available. Recoil is very little, an’ te caliber is what I personally carry in urban areas mostly because of the fact that the power behin’ the round isn’t enough to blow through one person and kill the guy behin’ dem too. Smaller rounds, so more magazine capacity. This one shoots 15 before a reload.”

 

Gavin pulled a magazine from one of the nearby backpacks and slapped it in the pistol before standing up and turning to Dika, keeping the barrel of the pistol at all times going downrange. ”Tere’s a safety lever right ‘ere at the back lef’ of the firearm, which you need to flip up so the red is showin’, like this. Then you cock the hammer down and you’re ready to fire. I’m not going to do that part, partially because I need to figure out whar te fuck de rest of my nine ammo is. Te first shot is double action, but I tink dat’s fuckin’ pointless to teach new people… or even most people, so I’m going to pull the slide back to chamber in the first round to avoid that, like this. Hold it close, pointing away, and get all your fingers on the damn ting and pull back. You only have’tah do tis with the first shot, so you dun ‘ave tah do it again. Tis gun fires slightly down from whar the sight is, which is another quirk yah need t’ learn with whatever you carry every day. Every gun fires slightly differently, but I’m gonna go into stance real quick t’ show yah.”

 

”There are a couple you can use, but this is the general one we’re gonna work with because it works best with the body armor you hopefully have if you’re in any kind of firefight and transitions the best into hand to hand if you’re attacked. Knees slightly bent to absorb recoil and allow easy movement. Recoil isn’t an issue for a nine millimeter, but will be an issue as we move to others. Stay square to the target, with your feet basically shoulder width apart or slightly wider – whatever feels like gives you balance. Your shooting foot, in my case my right foot is going to be very slightly behind my left for further balance. Then you lean slightly forward while extending your arms out like this. Your dominant arm, in this case my right is slightly flexed and pushes the gun out. Your non-dominant hand, in this case my left is my supporting hand and pulls the gun back in. Your aim is to make the firearm move as little as possible with pushing back out and in. There’s some shit with breathing cycles and stuff too, but that’s for shaving off inches from your target groups. This is more than enough to start out with.”

 

At that point, Gavin flipped on the safety to the handgun and held it out for Dika to take. ”T’ bullets inside o’ tat are ‘ollow points. It expands on impact, and mushrooms to create a huge exit wound in comparison to the entry one, if tere even is an exit wound. Nasty fuckin’ things, bu’ illegal in most militaries before the Resonance. Completely legal before and after for police and civvies, though. For nines like tis, t’ ammo adds sorely needed stopping power. It’s wha’ I personally carry ‘round in urban areas. Ah’ll go over maintenance and cleanin’ an’ shit when we get back to the house if yah want, but ‘fer now it’s best to start shootin’ to see what we’re workin’ with. When yah pull, don’t use yer entire finger and squeeze – don’t jerk the trigger.”

 

Gavin procured four more clips of ammunition fairly quickly and just tossed them on the nearest duffel bag to Dika as soon as he found them. There were two other pistols from the top of the duffel bag that the soldier pulled the Beretta from. A Smith and Wesson M&P Shield .40 caliber handgun, and a Springfield Armory 1911 .45 caliber.

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Dika nodded as he listened closely, not catching one hundred percent of what Gavin was saying, but the important parts about the basics he was understanding well. He began to mime Gavin's stance, adjusting it in minor ways to make himself more comfortable. He did shift his feet completely differently; with his leading foot forward and straight, but the other behind and turned perpendicular. It felt better for him, much more balanced and grounded. Dika accepted the firearm with his right hand and held it up to eye-level to aim. He lowered it, switched hands and foot positions, and raised it again. He switched back and forth a few times before deciding which was more comfortable to stand, hold, and aim with. He flipped the the safety back off and centered his aim. Dika remembered what Gavin had said and raised his aim a bit higher before gently squeezing the trigger with just the pad of his finger. 

 

The bullet fired with a loud bang that Dika heard even through the earplugs, as he wondered how differently it sounded compared to his own firearm. The empty casing spun through the air as it was ejected from the chamber, flying away almost too quickly for Dika to notice in his periphery, which he only thought of because the bullet was exponentially faster. The gun jerked back to his grip almost gently compared to the recoil he was used to. He frowned and began to straighten up, remembering to flip the safety back on as he lowered the firearm and turned his head to Gavin.  [dika]"You saw the weapon I have, didn't you? This seems like something, like you said, I'd use with concern for others around me. In that case, I'd prefer to defend myself without a firearm; since I really only have one for protection in case I'm unable to do so. This is not something that would suit my needs, I don't think."[/dika]   Dika thought for a moment as he handed the firearm back to Gavin.  [dika]"I know the end goal is to help me better defend myself and be more prepared for dangerous situations, but do you think practicing with these is going to help, even if I have no intention of ever using them?"[/dika]

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Gray eyes were trained on the other man with an expression that teetered between neutral and unreadable. He didn’t say anything, though, regardless of some of the awkward stances that were tried out. Trash talking was reserved for a certain level of skill, because early on it didn’t do anything except hinder or stop entirely progress. When his question about his revolver came out, the soldier just nodded when Dika mentioned it was a weapon that could endanger people around him even if he did hit his intended target. Just the quick look at the speed loader had Gavin guess either .44 or .45, which would both go through an unarmored target with little issue. When the other man asked whether carrying a firearm was even worth it, though, Gavin decided to speak up.

 

”That depends.” Gavin started, his tone a lot more neutral than might be expected. He ejected the clip and racked the firearm to eject the live bullet in the chamber and sat the magazine and the pistol back down on the duffel bags. ”If yah choose not to carry at all, tat’s your choice. Ah dinnah read yer file too close when it came to magic, but it didn’t look particularly offensive to me. You may ‘ave ‘eld somethin’ back from them, which I respect, but I would recommend somethin’. Gun, spell, knife, sword, em, yer fuckin’ silver tongue if you have one – just get somethin’. T’ere are some damn good mages who get on withou’ any of tis rank-and-file equipment, but tey also have enough in ter kit to manage withou’ it.”

 

Gavin paused for a moment to look back at the truck to visually ensure that nobody had taken any of the bags of weapons before continuing, his tone still as neutral as he could make it. It was clear that this guy did not respond particularly well to confrontation, and doing so was pretty pointless at this juncture.

 

”Yah might not care when it’s just you. Yah might not care when it’s nameless others. Read ten tousand dead due tah radiation poisonin’ or two thousand dead due to a barricade fallin’ apart and zombies coming in. Unless you’re a fuckin’ sociopath, though, friends and family are different. Now, maybe you don’t have anybody to protect. Maybe you aren’t willing to kill under any circumstance, even if you did, and tat’s your choice. Just understan’, tere will likely come a time where tere are consequences for tat choice. How long until the next great disaster? Whar tat line o’ thought never made sense to me, was inaction causes as many deaths as action when shit ‘its the fan. Walk by on the street a guy an’ ‘is family gettin’ robbed, ignore them. Robber tries somethin’ a bit too far, doesn’t really matter what. Man fights back. Robber kills man, wife, child an’ takes their shit and leaves. Sure, yah didn’ kill anybody, but sometimes there isn’t anybody else to change a situation but you. An’ learnin’ dis,” Gavin jerked his head to the duffel bag of handguns, ”Helps you change situations. Much easier than tis.” he continued, drawing both of his karambit knives from their shoulder holsters momentarily in reverse grip before sheathing them again and crouching back down to start putting away the firearms and magazines laid out on the duffel bag. He had said what he wanted to say, and figured that the other man’s stance wasn’t changing. It was hard to do a rah rah bleeding heart sort of talk when you didn’t actually believe it yourself.

 

Fighting for truth, justice, and the American way was great and everything… but Gavin never really did that. He joined the college for free college, never got it, and once he got to Ireland he attached himself to the biggest and brightest personality there and just never left. Part of that deal was watching her back regardless of all the dangerous, stupid shit that she decided to do and Gavin embraced that. Somebody had to be driving the car and making sure they didn’t all crash and die, and somebody had to be watching the situation with full intent to alter it if things hit the fan. To be frank, there was no way in hell that Gavin would be risking life and limb for people who were too ignorant or unwilling to make good life choices on the frontier such as leaving as quickly as possible and not staying put until surrounded when a zombie horde comes if he had never left the States. From a personal safety standpoint, it was beyond stupid. Especially for someone with a power set that was not conducive to self-preservation. If he had it his way, even now, that sort of stupid shit would be left to the lucky jackasses who hit the genetic lottery and could create earthquakes and tsunamis and move at the speed of light and shit. He had grown to enjoy it a lot more than he thought he ever would, but in the back of his mind it never quite left his notice how absolutely fucking dangerous it was.

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Dika wasn't sure what to make of Gavin's speech, so he remained silent to mull it over. He watched Gavin rummage through everything as he waited for further instructions. He kept feeling new mixes of fear and confidence, though. Gavin would haul out large pieces of what would go together to make a huge machine of some sort, but thankfully set them aside. He'd pull out small knives and pads and things Dika didn't even recognize; though he could assume they were for closer-up, hand-to-hand style combat and defense. Those he thought he might be able to use, with some magic modifications of course.

 

Dika shook his head clear as Gavin stood up with something new in his hand, and Dika simply looked at him questioningly.

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”Hwhat?” was the immediate response Gavin made when he stood back up with one of the duffel bags in his hand at the stare he was receiving.

 

”It’s kinda pointless t’ ‘ave te firearms out if yer never gon’ carry. Te bags over tere,” the soldier said, pointing to some on the left of Dika, ”’ave some ‘and to ‘and stuff in there. It’s less gen’rolly useful in a scrape, but can be used as tools more an’ definitely have their niche. If yer main concern is not hurting bystanders, that’s the best yer gonna get in terms of weapons.”

 

”Ah like blades meself, great fer seatbelt an’ glass cuttin’ and door smashin’. Much more general use sort of ting, and good at rescue sort’a stuff. Tere’s also shit I dun ‘ave ‘ere but is still nice to get the fuck out, like pepper spray an’ flashbangs an’ shit.”

 

Gavin paused for a moment and adjusted his jeans slightly, and rested his right hand on his belt buckle and pistol grip on the front of his pants before adding: ”If yah want to give any o’ those a whirl, feel free. Got a bit o’ everyting in dere. If’n ye wan’ specific hand to hand unarmed trainin’, ah kin only give yah te bare bones basics, but can definitely refer yah t’ some real good people fer tat. Fer physically normal people like me and as far as I know, you, I’d recommend not getting into hand to hand without some sort of advantage. If’n ah ever git inter melee range with an unharmed human, let alone altered er infected, ehm, let’s jus’ say tere was some fuck ups along the way.”

 

Gavin was a muscular man, but even before the Resonance was less than confident in his hand to hand abilities and lost bar fights as much as he won them. He lacked the killer instinct, then, and lacked the ability to tap into his more primal aggression. After the Resonance, where nobody could tell at a glance whether someone was altered or not he was even more hesitant to come in close in any combat situation. He was big and strong for a normal human, sure, but even then he was not top shelf and was acutely aware of that fact. When you added into altered humans, lycanthropes, orcs, and god knows what else into the mix that were orders of magnitude stronger and could snap his arms like twigs there were compelling reasons to stay as far away from threats as possible.

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Dika listened intently as the man spoke, hearing plenty of options and honestly not knowing where he wanted to start first. Dika perked up after hearing 'hand-to-hand' and nodded, smiling.  [dika]"I think that's going to be my best option for a starting point. From there, you can tell me what I'm weak at, what I'm good at, and I'd like to learn about the things that would help me make up the difference."[/dika]

 

Dika stepped away from the duffel bags and found a mostly flat open space for them to try and tousle at; before he planted his feet and playfully raised two fists at Gavin, grinning.  [dika]"Come on, ¡avíspate!" [/dika]   Dika knew he'd probably get his ass kicked, considering the gargantuan differences in skill they had; but Dika worked out, and he had been in scuffles before. He hoped he could get one good blow in, just one solid hit; and he would be satisfied.

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Hand to hand was something Gavin probably should not have mentioned at all, partially because the other man was probably a good six inches taller and certainly a good chunk heavier and partially because the soldier was always fucking terrible at it. Still, it was worth seeing at what level the new guy was at to see who to send him to for further training if that was where he wanted to go with it. Wordlessly, the southerner pulled out his sidearm from his jeans and set it down on some of the closest duffel bags. He also withdrew both of his karambit blades and tossed them beside his sidearm, leaving the shoulder harnesses for the knives still on. His instinct in any fight was to grab and abuse weapons, so he sure didn’t want one on his person for this. He also tossed off his shooting glasses to the same location, and as he walked slowly to where the other man was waiting he considered his options.

 

Dika’s arms and thus his reach was also significantly more than Gavin’s, which meant that unless the other man was an idiot and rushed in to negate that reach advantage the soldier would have to close the gap and eat some hits in the process. If he tried to turn this into a grappling contest, there was a very real chance he’d be put to the ground before he got in the clinch. If he got that far and discovered the very real chance that he was not the stronger of the two due to being both shorter and lighter by a decent margin he was just fucked. That meant his only real option was striking, and avoiding that danger zone where Dika could swing at him but Gavin could not swing back because of his shorter reach as much as possible.

 

The mostly flat open space was an area where he had served as a training dummy before, and the ground was sloppily patched back together after every time two pairs of boots absolutely ruined it. Well, mostly his boots being slammed into the ground with enough force to make holes, but y’know. The little things. The soldier but his hands up as his steel gray gaze met the other man’s and silently counted down from three using his right hand to indicate when the bout was going to start.

 

When he hit zero, both men just stood in their stances and stared at each other for about five seconds. So, Dika wasn’t going to rush forward and blow literally every advantage he had. It was worth a shot waiting, at least. To use a boxing analogy, Gavin was a slugger style fighter. He was very strong for his size, but lacked finesse and mobility but making up for it in sheer one hit power. The Irish in particular were known for this type of style, taking a slow beating and missing telegraphed single punches until they could land that one punch that would end the fight instantly.

 

The soldier moved in quickly, and rolled with the punches both figuratively and literally. The initial move inside was met with a strong right to the chin that thankfully did not hit fully due to a good head movement to take the edge off. Still, it was a solid shot and would have probably dropped someone who couldn’t take any pain. Dika had longer legs, and seemed to realize he needed to keep his distance. Gavin had some difficulty hitting anywhere up high, so he just kind of absorbed hits to the face to counter with body and arm punches. None of them were the type of knockout blow Gavin was trying to throw, mostly because he was constantly too close to the other man for him to get the proper kind of arm extension for a bomb. There were some perks with being smaller, chief of which being that once the smaller one absorbed the hits to come inside he was at an advantage because he needed less space for a full extension of the arm and had less area to protect. There was no way that up close and inside Dika could protect his entire torso, it was impossible.

 

One thing Gavin noticed, though, is that the other man seemed for some reason very wary of when Gavin got in close enough for a takedown and moved noticeably faster to avoid the possible grapple. It meant that the civilian thought that the soldier was better than he was, and as soon as he realized this about forty-five seconds into the fight he decided he would take advantage of it. Overestimating your opponent was just as dangerous as underestimating them, especially when the time for a reaction was a split second at best. So far Gavin had taken probably more than a dozen punches to the face with about five solid hits, and given roughly two bomb shots to Dika’s torso and one on his leading arm near the bicep. While the shots he gave Dika wouldn’t take most reasonably determined people out of a fight, they would hurt like hell and make it harder to move around and breathe. Neither of them connected fully, so there was no knockdown yet. The shots the other man had given Gavin, however, especially all of them combined would have dropped the average person pretty easily. The soldier’s advantage here was simply that he was pretty experienced in getting the shit beat out of him and was much more used to absorbing punishment than the average guy off the street, so while he did stagger with some of the more solid hits he always kept his guard up and recovered by moving aggressively inward as fast as possible to prevent another punch with force.

 

His plan would require taking a pretty solid hit because he was not precise enough to execute it cleanly enough to prevent it, but Gavin was completely fine with that. He lunged forward with a left jab and ate a return punch to the cheek as he crouched down to trick the other man into either reaching down or punching downward at him. While the soldier crouched, he looked at the feet of his opponent and threw his head down to throw every ounce of momentum he had for an overhead right. Against taller guys this sort of thing was particularly effective, because the punch started from under their immediate line of sight and ended above it swinging downward. A semicircular, vertical bomb to the chin that was damn near unavoidable if the enemy’s lead hand was extended in some way like Dika’s was, and if you could keep your shit together long enough to set the damn thing up. It was one of those moves that unless the user was a real professional, the fight was ending one way or the other very quickly because it was hard to recover with grace after putting your entire body weight behind it for any sort of timely defense.

 

It also left the user so open to a counterattack that if it missed the aggressor was just fucked. If it connected, the opponent would either be knocked out instantly or dazed enough that the football style tackle to the ground that Gavin attempted immediately after throwing the punch was almost certain to be successful in ending the fight.

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Dika was in pain and exhausted, and was more than ready for the fight to be over. Dika knew he wasn't going to last much longer up against the barrage he had taken. Thankfully, he had gotten a few hits in and was satisfied that he had been able to put up some sort of fight against a trained expert. He grinned a little at the thought as he reset himself, readying himself for what he hoped would be the last round. He had slowly been realizing his advantages over Gavin, which mostly just the size difference, especially in the amount of reach Dika had over Gavin. He was getting beaten, that much he knew, but at least he was learning while it happened.

 

Dika knew he was done when Gavin came in with a powerhouse blow to his chin. Dika was dazed to say the least, immediately dropping his arms down in an exhausted defeat. Still, that didn't stop Gavin from tackling him to the ground and pinning Dika down in order to finish him off. The point was to really show him how a fight was supposed to go, not just pretend at everything; and Dika appreciated that. He was uncomfortably pinned, yes; but he was glad to be able to stop throwing punches and getting wailed on in return. Dika's pain started to flare up again as Gavin pinned him down more securely so he started to joke it off.  [dika]"¡Bien, bien, me rindo, me rindo!"[/dika]   Dika started laughing through the pain, trying to get Gavin to loosen and laugh it off. It was clear that the fight was over, now Dika just needed a minute to breathe. 

 

Gavin did loosen his pin on Dika, not completely, but enough to give him some much-needed reprieve. Dika cocked his head to face Gavin as much as he could before joking again.  [dika]"Bien entonces, it's been a while since someone wanted to be on top, cariño you could have just asked."[/dika]   Dika laughed again as he rolled Gavin off of him and sat up, chuckling as he nursed the side of his ribs, feeling extra twinges there and wondering if he had cracked a rib. He was still smiling as he watched the mana flow through him and inspected his side closely as the changes in the streams confirmed something was wrong, although what he wasn't sure; hopefully it was just bruised and not cracked, but it definitely wasn't too bad, he'd feel worse if it was terrible. Dika looked back up at Gavin, grinning from ear to ear, overjoyed with how their tussle went down, and waited for his reaction.

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The pain of getting the shit kicked out of you when the fight was actually going on wasn’t too bad because of all the adrenalin that went through the body that served as a pretty efficient distraction. The immediate aftermath, though, was when the pain really started to kick in. Civilians tended to not know when to stop the fighting, so after the tackle Gavin made sure to keep holding the other man down so as to prevent him physically from getting up and to catch his own bearings.

 

No blood was dripping from him at least that Gavin could notice, which was great. Most of the hits to the body that Gavin sustained didn’t really hurt, which was also great. His jaw, however, was pulsating with pain from the repeated and solid impacts to the area. A quick check inside saw that no teeth were missing or noticeably cracked, which was another upside. Probably a sprain, and there was the potential for some hard to explain bruises in that area but other than that it seemed to be fine. His right hand was hurting, too, but that was likely because he got a little excited and messed up executing that last punch more than anything and likely got more wrist impact than was strictly necessary.

 

Energy wise, though, Gavin was more than fine. His conditioning was top shelf, and it was all too often that his body gave up more quickly than his actual will to continue. Sharp movement came from Dika and Gavin’s first instinct and what he ended up doing was shoving down with force in response. When the other man started speaking in what Gavin could only assume to be Spanish, Gavin had a noticeable pause before getting up due to not understanding what was being said and just keying off the tone. The pause was enough for the other man to push to help soldier get off, probably thinking he was disoriented and not simply misunderstanding.

 

Gavin’s didn’t fight the push, and instead scooted away to give the other man space before getting back up and rubbing his jaw with his left hand. Steel gray eyes trained on the other, older man as he got up with a moderate amount of amusement. The other man was happy as hell for some reason and kept speaking that other language, but at least slipped back into majority English for the moment.

 

”It’s goddamn unnatural t’ be tat ‘appy after getting punched so much.” the soldier stated, but with amusement instead of edge in his voice. ”Yah got pretty decent instincts, an’ tere are a lot of fightin’ gyms around te area wit’ pretty frequent class. A few months wit’ a decent teacher and you’d fuckin’ crush me and most other guys ya’ll meet since yer fuckin’ seven feet tall an’ ‘ave the reach of a fuckin’ football field.”

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Dika couldn't help but laugh at Gavin, who clearly wasn't picking up what Dika was laying down. It was fine, Dika didn't expect much anyway to be honest; he was only being playful.

 

In fact, he was rather satisfied with the fight; he was glad to have gotten a few punches in and to have actually held his own for a while. He knew that he was going to be in quite a lot of pain for the next few days, or rather the next few weeks; but it was all worth it. Dika was grinning wide, a bigger smile on his face than he had ever remembered having; at least for a very long time.

 

Dika straightened himself up and only cringed twice at the pain, which he saw as a good sign. Now, the only question was what to do next. Dika pointed towards all of the yet-unopened bags and began to ask.   [dika]"So, we've done some hand-to-hand and we did skip firearms a bit; but I want to ask if there's anything else you'd like to show me? If not, that's okay, I'd like to get some more work in with mine if you don't mind?"[/dika]  Dika patted the bulge that was his sidearm and waited for direction from Gavin as to what was next.

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“Nothin’ tat either wouldn’t be limited use or ah ‘ave no experience doin’. Could do fightin’ certain species or melee weapons, but I’m only good at the former. Te Resonance spoiled some guys, myself included, pretty hard so ah never had to learn a lot o’ stuff. Tank God ah dinnae turn out to be a mage, ahm too stupid to figure out tat shit. Fire away wit’ yer sidearm.”

 

Seeing some kind of movement out of the corner of his eye, Gavin turned his gaze down toward the road. He had noticed the movement before the sound became audible, at least to him, of the car cruising down the road. As it became closer, the white and gunmetal gray colors became pretty distinctive – Vanguard colors, a patrol coming back to the city more than likely.

 

His outward appearance didn’t change, and he just stood there lazily like he previously was. His gray gaze was following the car as it passed and did not waver from it an inch once he caught sight of it, but otherwise there was no other indication outwardly that there was anything amiss. To be honest, the soldier wasn’t sure that the other man would even know what the Vanguard was so there was no point in bringing it up.

 

There was a reckoning that would happen with the Vanguard at some point, but hopefully that reckoning would occur long after Gavin was dead and gone because fuck fighting the Vanguard. His phone vibrated, then, with a text message so he opened up his phone while he kept tabs on the patrol cars passing by and started typing up a storm.

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