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The loud cacophony of shots inside the gun range was a familiar comfort for Chris. The metallic smell of spent brass from the rounds being fired in lanes beside his and the ever-present smell of smoke distracted Chris from the things he can’t control. He’d been calling his son every day for three weeks and has only managed to get him on the phone a handful of times. His ex wasn’t much help either ever engaged with her new tech manager boyfriend, the POG piece of shit. His home life has been fractured for years, complaining about it won’t fix anything, but he can’t say it didn’t infuriate the hell out of him.

At the range, everything fell into place for Chris, He had full control of everything in his area. The feel and weight of his Kimber sitting firm in his hand, the way the trigger pull felt as he aimed downrange, and the familiar sway of his paper target when his bullets found their marks 20 meters away. He’d been at the range all day, the closest he could get to his guns since he’s been in Japan. “Temporary relegation to base duty due to your weak grasp of the Japanese language.” Yui had told in the friendliest voice the woman could manage. A load of bullshit Chris thought and the thought was reinforced when he met Kaz. The woman was a bear, never smiling, constantly brooding. He liked her well enough, another person beside Yui who spoke English, but he was pretty damn sure she didn’t have a ‘strong grasp on the Japanese language’ He wasn’t even sure she was the type to *speak* while on an operation, Kaz seemed more like a shoot first ask questions never type. It’s one of the things he found endearing about her.

Chris was born at night, but not last night. Best he figured, the fact he’s a foreigner with a history of mercenary work is what makes the powers that be hesitant to send him out. Yui Kategawa was a member of Blackwatch as well, but she’s Japanese and has a sense of honor and love of country that Chris lacked. Still, they pay him well, and he’s been in Japan three months already. In for a penny in for a pound. Chris had been attending classes to learn the critical Japanese he needed to operate. So far things have gone well, his grasp of the language going from almost Nil to knowing phrases he could shout at people just before shooting them for not complying.

Chris had finished firing his guns for the day, but he didn’t want to quite leave to go about the monotony that would be the rest of his day. He’d pack away his guns, and step away from his slot in the range. People watching would be a good enough way to spend the rest of his day, and he loved watching other people work with their guns. A woman with an interesting series of line tattoos running down her arms caught his attention first as she fired her sidearm downrange. Over the last few months he'd come to know her as Dai, but she was scarce enough that he'd never seen her in the Range before.

“Good form, maybe this little outfit isn’t doomed after all.” Chris mused aloud, in English. A grin on his face as he watched the woman do her gun drills.


Long time coming but here he is.

Me interest.
O yea im here for this
Galan was late. He wasn’t used to oversleeping, and he kicked himself for it. It didn’t matter that training with his father went well past the time it usually did; His family name held a certain standard that needed to be met. So when he rushed down the stairs after getting ready only to find that his family was gone, he understood the message his father was giving him without a word spoken. He’d be walking to the Colosseum. He ran instead. The Colosseum was a ways away from his house, but Galan knew the way well. Training with his father often took him all over the city and more than once he’d found himself passing the massive building at any and all hours of the day.

It was almost muscle memory to Galan as he sprinted, cutting a corner on third avenue. Taking the back alley on twenty fifth street. Cutting through the courtyard of an apartment on Walker Boulevard. Even with all the shortcuts, Galan felt himself being bogged down by the sheer amount of people moving back and forth. The city was livelier than usual today.

“The games have really brought people out of the woodwork..” Galan thought to himself as he continued his sprint toward the Colosseum. It took him almost an hour before he was outside the building, looking up at the imposing walls of the structure. Was he too late? His phone would have his answer. Looking down he’d check. Only the same message Dahlia sent him earlier was in his text messages.

"Hey Galan remember how I told you if I saw you at one of my recitals I'd castrate you? It's the other way round for this one. Show up and I'll buy you lunch, don't and there's gonna be a new gelding in the Sangrey stables." He sighed with relief. He was safe from her ire… for now.

“K, I’m here. Good luck.” He’d reply before putting his phone away.

When he put his phone back in his pocket he became aware of just how sweaty he was: his forehead and upper body were drenched, dripping down over him like a waterfall had been installed atop his head. In hindsight, Flannel probably wasn’t the smartest choice. He was wearing a Red Flannel shirt that was now caked with sweat stains on his chest and lower back, blue jeans and generic low top sneakers with a Sports cap to cover his messy head of hair.. As normal an outfit as he could manage to find on short notice. Taking a moment, he’d wipe the sweat away from his eyes before walking inside to try and find a seat with the Ishtar students.

It took him another five minutes to find a seat with a good enough view of the stage. They were all already up there, but luckily enough for him; they hadn’t started playing yet. He’d be able to say he watched the entire show, and answer any questions of the spectacle the Ishtar band no doubt had planned. With a small smirk on his face, he’d cross his arms and wait for the show to begin.

@smike




Cynthia preened as she stepped out of the armored truck that delivered her to Firebase Ember. She’d been travelling for the better part of two days straight, and she was beginning to come apart at the seams. She took time to look herself over with a small pocket mirror, following a small grooming checklist before continuing with her day. Hair combed? Check. Make up? Needs a touch up. Baggy eyes? Prevalent. With a groan she touched up her lipstick, at the very least she could make herself a little presentable for the sergeant she’s set to meet. In one continuous move she’d roll up the sleeves of her white blouse and don, big spectacle glasses to cover the bags under her eyes. She wasn’t exactly wearing her Sunday best, but she figured for now. Her white blouse and blue jeans would do.

After checking herself over she’d make a b-line for the first soldier she could see. The man tried to look anywhere else, likely trying to avoid an interaction with the woman. “Excuse me. Excuse me!” Cynthia called to the marine as she jogged over to him, the camera worn around her neck bouncing up and down as she approached the man. The marine turned to face Cynthia, a scowl seemingly a permanent fixture on his face as he addressed her.

“Yes ma’am? How can I help you?” The exasperated marine half grunted at Cynthia, not bothering with a smile for pleasantries.

“Hi, yeah.. I’m the journalist from the Times. I’m told I need to meet with a..-” Cynthia paused to look at her notepad, the name of the sergeant Jeremy, her editor, told her to meet escaped her.

“Sergeant Whittaker! That’s right.. Can you be a dear and point me in his direction soldier?” Cynthia asked as sweetly as she could manage despite the rudeness, a bright smile on her face.

The man didn’t respond verbally, he’d just grunt and point toward a large looking tent further into the base. Cynthia smiled at the man and nodded before striding for the tent at a brisk pace. The quicker introductions were through, the quicker she could rest and then get to work. Jeremy expected the first of her interviews on his desk on friday, and she just so happened to have arrived on base an hour and a half later than she had anticipated. She had no time to lose.

She strode into the tent confidently, the sergeant surely wouldn’t be doing anything untoward here, it wasn’t their barracks after all. She’d smile brightly at the man inside, striding in and towards him with a hand extended for shaking.

“Hello! You must be Sergeant Whittaker, truly it's a pleasure. I’m Cynthia Ward with the New York Times. I was told you were expecting me. Sorry for the wait.”





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