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Fight Club

Posted on Sat Dec 14th, 2019 @ 10:12pm by Comm Tech Wulf Edevane & Executive Officer Kenneth McTigue

Mission: The Forgotten Arm
Location: Albatross
Timeline: 20 months before the Eros Incident

He’d done the decent thing and asked nicely. He’d approached the big dude on the new crew and just straight out raised the issue that had been on his mind. It had been bloody awful so far, but Wulf figured it would be worth it. If nothing else it had gained him a bit more time in the previously sacred workshop space, and that was important.

So here they were, a couple days out from their last stop-off, caught up in the half-G of the outward acceleration and facing a long stint down the well to their delivery point. Days dragged out here, but there was good company to share time with. Well, okay company. Well, company.

That first session had mostly been pain, discomfort, red faced humiliation and bruises, but Wulf knew he had to put in the time to earn the respect and to stand a hope in hell of learning anything. As he walked into the mess hall, footsteps sounding loudly on the deck, he held a casual arm about his ribcage and grimaced. It fucking hurt. He had bruises where he’d never encountered them before, and he ached in places he didn’t know existed.

Ken followed Wulf into the cramped messhall. His hair stuck to his skull from the sweat that slowly trickled down his head. He was rubbing his wrists where the velcro had scratched him.

“Beer?” He asked the ship’s engineer as he handed him one regardless. Maybe this would dull the pain some. “Y’know, I think I nearly landed a hit that last time…”

"Yes." Ken nodded before chuckling. "Kid, you'll need to learn how to throw a punch. I'd say you fight like a girl, but that would insult Allegra."

Wulf did the decent thing and blushed crimson, an involuntary gesture that didn't exactly add to his kudos or bolster his ego as he felt that burn. He sank a mouthful of amber liquid and considered Ken's feedback. "Never really needed to punch anyone," he said with a shrug, and he wiped a sleeve across his face to mop up the perspiration. "And, hey! No fair. You guys all have combat training..."

Ken popped the cap off his own beer and took a swig, considering the words. "You should be grateful you never had to punch someone." The Irishman put the bottle on the table and rolled his left shoulder. "It means you grew up more peaceful than I did." He gave Wulf an encouraging smile. "Besides, you think I didn't get my ass kicked when I rolled up at Parris Island?"

"Yeah, I guess," Wulf answered, taking a seat on the table and regarding the engineer. He didn't want to get into a discussion about his childhood right here and now, and he wasn't sure Ken did either. "Kinda peaceful maybe. I have an older sister, so, y'know..." He let that thought trail and grinned lopsidedly. "You did? Seriously? Dude, I can't ever imagine this happening. I'm gonna need details."

"Psychological warfare, that sister of yours?" Ken joked before taking another sip. "When I arrived I was a scrawny kid, spent a life running from trouble. Got my ass kicked in PT, got my ass kicked in weapons handling, got my ass kicked in combatics. But the thing the Marines do well is drag your ass along. I had a DI who gave me more exercises, improved my form at every PT exercise, and I was designated the platoon armourer so I would be more knowledgable with the equipment. Ut Simul Stare*." Ken said and rolled up his sleeve to show his UNMC tattoo with the motto incorporated.

“Psychological? Yep,” said Wulf. That wasn’t even the half of it, but Karma had a definite way with words. He just hadn’t really ever understood exactly what he’d been doing for her until it was almost too late. “Queen of the guilt trip, mistress of the mind-fuck,” he added, with a comedic eye-roll.

Then the tech tried to imagine Ken as a weedy teenager and utterly failed at that venture. Wulf frowned deeply as the engineer kept talking, then admired the UNMC tatt with a secondhand pride. Those things took time, courage and a lot of hard work.

“That’s a real big deal, Ken,” Wulf acknowledged, no sign of humour in his tone or expression as he spoke. He meant every word of that. “They taught you to run towards stuff, right?” He asked, intrigued but not wanting to invade the other man’s privacy. “So you were in charge of all the weapons?”

"It meant I was in charge of securing and handing out the weapons for training exercises. That means you check that they secured and emptied their weapon, then you check it too. It's about getting comfortable with the equipment." Ken swigged some more beer. "But they do train you to go where you're told, do what needs doing. My time in the Marines was formative."

Wulf nodded. He had zero experience of military stuff, but he got the gist. He'd fired a gun before, only on a range and never in anger, but he knew which end was which. He cradled his beer and sat upright and cross-legged on the mess hall table, contemplative look on his face as he regarded this virtual stranger. The crew of the Tross seemed to have an understanding - first rule Mickey had given him when he joined - people have secrets, don't ask. So he hadn't asked. He'd sat on all those questions and avoided hacking into anything personal, despite that burning curiosity. Out of respect for this new team that was taking him on. "I think I kinda had the opposite training," Wulf said. "Too much schooling." He paused, told himself not to ask the question, then asked it anyway. "They taught you how to kill people, right?" It wasn't a judgement, not from the tech's point of view, though he had no way of knowing how Ken would take it.

"I used to have a whole explanation about being a rifleman. But that is all justification. We're trained to kill, unfortunately. And the UN Marine is the most effective killer there is." Ken's smile had transformed in a frown. "I was a Force Recon Marine, Wulf. Do you know what that means?"

As he watched the older man's face and listened to his voice, Wulf slowly finished his beer. His gaze never left Ken's own and his expression was passively intrigued. He'd never even knowingly been this close to a Marine before joining the crew. "No sir," he said, and he rubbed his ribs gently. "But I do know it's important. To have people who know how to protect those who can't defend themselves."

"Force Recon Marines are considered the best. We were the Marines wearing powered armour, being sent into the most dangerous operations." Ken explained before emptying his bottle. He was silent for a long moment, "I'm going to take a shower and change."

"Dude. Powered armour? That's awesome," Wulf said on an exhale. He was thinking about the fight training he'd just had and the true power behind the man who had offered it. Then he felt the guilt trip hit. "Uh, sorry. I shouldn't have asked about it. I didn't mean any disrespect." He lowered his head, shamefully. "Thanks man, for the time and the bruises. I'm gonna go practise some more. Can we maybe do this again?" He didn't want to feel useless, and there was a definite sense of power on this crew. Wulf knew full well that he was at the very bottom of that pile.

"Don't worry about it kid." Ken stopped, chuckled and looked over his shoulder. "If you meant disrespect you'd have more than just bruises. I don't like talking about my past, but I'm not ashamed of my service. We'll run through the exercises again in a few days. We're good Wulf." Ken stepped forward again. "Now I got to shower, I stink."


*Translated from Latin: "Together we stand".


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