Obsidian Command
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Practice Makes Perfect

Posted on 29 Sep 2018 @ 12:05am by Lieutenant Commander Kerry Malone

Mission: Character Development
Location: Promenade Holosuite


Wearing his work-out clothes of a loose fitting t-shirt and short, with trainers, Malone stood in the middle of the weapons practice range, phaser in hand. He was dripping sweat from the exhaustive regime that he'd been forced to endure at the hands of his teacher. This would be the nineteeth go around on the higher setting for the target practice program she was making him do. It was the same basic program that was used at the Academy, with flying discs that randomly appeared, but they'd get faster, more reactive and more of them, the harder the level.

Still, he knew full well he needed this practice, as he had clearly become dull and complacent in his years in a fighter cockpit. He could thread the eye of a needle with a fighter, hitting a photon torpedo straight on doing a five-g turn whilst under fire. But that was in a fighter. On the ground, he was as uncoordinated and tactless with a phaser as a first year cadet. He'd improved considerably since they'd started their training together, but he never quite lived up to his own exacting standards - and he suspected that Ira knew that, which was why she kept pushing him harder and harder.

Ira nodded approvingly as the corner of her lip slid up a bit. “Meget god, kommandør,” she stated firmly but with a slight flair of playfulness. She had been, both literally and figuratively, kicking his ass in the simulations. She had been having maybe a bit too much fun as she felt relieved to be able to find an excuse to keep her well-deserved skills firm and polished. After devoting over half of her life to obtaining these skills she feared losing a bit of herself if she ever became laxed much like Kerry had since he took his spot as a pilot. But she could not blame him for his shaky skills. Combat training was very much ‘use it or lose it.’ She also took pride in her continuing ability to make him sweat.

“Now,” Ira stepped over and grabbed the phaser that hung by his hip, “I think we might need to start focusing on targets other than a simple plate. Much different feeling when you’re being shot at in return.”

"Holographic bad-guys?" Kerry asked. He'd played on holodecks before, shooting at holographic bad-guys in simulated games and things. The odd World War Two holo-novel or saga. He'd had lots of fun shooting in those scenarios, albeit not being a very good shot. He did prefer holographic adventures where he was flying a fighter, either in 20th century combat or similar. He never really thought of himself as a 'ground-pounder', hence his need for training.

It had taken a good deal of self-control in the beginning to not mess around with Ira. She was wearing skin tight shorts and top, which really accentuated her lovely figure. However, he was a disciplined guy, and had managed to train himself to think of her as nothing more than his instructor whilst in these sessions, which really did help him reign in his base instincts. He'd learn absolutely nothing by flirting with her instead of focusing on his training, so he treated this as work, rather than off-duty, despite it being during his off-duty hours.

“Yes, holographic bad-guys,” Ira stated with a hint of sarcasm. “Shooting while on the move takes a bit more of a steady focus and attention.” She moved out towards the middle of the holographic outdoor shooting range they had been practicing in. “Computer, please set up four male targets, average build, lined up parallel about 25 meters away from where I’m at. Unarmed.” As the figures materialized in front of her she nodded in their direction. “We’ll start with a basic approach.”

Turning her attention back to the targets, Ira raised her phaser up and set a steady aim on the first man on the left. Letting out a steady breath, Ira took her first firm step forward and began firing, knocking out the first target which rematerialized in front of her. She repeated her pattern as she made it to about five meters in front of the line. Ira moved swiftly to her right and continued her firing, knocking out each target that rematerialized after each successful blast. About halfway through, in between the second and third target, her phaser unexpectedly clicked empty. Without missing a beat or keeping her eyes off of the targets, the woman reloaded her phaser and continued until she reached the last target, where she took her final firing steps back next to Malone. She had hit every target in the torso without any missteps.

A soft sigh of accomplishment slipped out of her lips as she turned to Malone and handed him the phaser. “Remember to always aim for the torso.” Even with basic exercises, the woman took pride in her shooting abilities.

Kerry accepted the phaser, and stepped up to the mark, listening to Ira's instructions. He remembered his basic training, but he decided it was easier to use Ira's technique - since she was the teacher, and she was more proficient at this in the real-world.

Raising the phaser, he took careful aim at the first guy and fired. He hit the guy centre mast in the middle of his torso, causing him to dematerialise. Taking pride, he moved on to the next, then the next, taking down his targets one at a time until the phaser was discharged. He removed the power pack and inserted a new one, going back to shooting.

Ira shook her head quickly at his rather flimsy replacement of the power pack. "Keep your eyes on the targets! You lose sight you're dead," she called out sternly over the phaser fire. He overall was doing fairly well for someone who had been out of practice for a long time. At least all he really needed work on was a bit of cleanup.

"It's hard to see what I'm doing if I'm looking at the guys instead of the phaser." Kerry muttered, trying to do it, dropping the powerpack, and fumbling around.

“Just...” Ira began with a bit of frustration, then reminded herself that he had been on a far different career path than hers. “Kerry,” she came over to where he was at and picked up the charge pack that had been clumsily dropped and reached her hand out to him and he handed her the phaser. “Being able to change out your packs should be second nature. You should be able to do it with your eyes closed. That way your focus is on your enemy and their movements.” She paused, seeing the slight frustration in his eyes. “You should’ve seen me in my first firearms training course. I didn’t even know which way the charge packs were inserted.” Her lips tilted up as she handed him the reloaded phaser.

"So, how do I get to that point? I assume practice practice practice?" Kerry sighed, then pointed the phaser at the targets and resumed firing practice at them. "Can't we just pull into cover when we need to reload, like we were trained in basic?"

Ira gave him a shrug as she looked at the targets. “You could. But you’d be much faster that way. Every second counts, Kerry. You must always have the upper hand in combat.” She then some-eyed him as he finished hitting his last target. “By the way, you deserve better than the bare minimum. I can’t have some 18-year-old cadet outshoot my boyfriend in basic.”

"Well, I did ask you to teach me, so at the very least, I should listen to your teaching." He smiled at her. It always gave him a slight electric thrill when she referred to him as her boyfriend. He didn't know why, but it felt... right. If anything, that spurred him on to do even better. "Let me try practising reloading whilst not looking for a bit." He said.

“Okay, Kerry,” Ira nodded as she took a few steps back. “Just take your time. Nothing fancy. Get the basic movement down and then work on speeding up.”

He took up the phaser and fired repeatedly at the targets, then the phaser ran dry. Without looking at the weapon, he clicked the energy cell release with his thumb, which discharged it onto the floor, and with his other hand, he slid a cell in without looking. It jammed, and he cursed. Well, he wasn't going to get it bang on right first time, was he?

He repeated this shoot, empty, reload manoeuvre several times, it getting better a little bit each time. Finally, he got it right on the sixth attempt, and he smiled as he kept firing. He discharged it, and got it right again. This time, he would work on slowly speeding up.

Ira’s smile widened across her face. “You are a fast learner, kommandør.” She handed the water canteen to him so he could take a break. “Øvelse gør mester!” She paused with a slight chuckle. “Practice makes perfect!”

"Indeed it does, but boy is it slow and methodical." Kerry sighed, taking a deep drink of the water before passing it back over to Ira. "It's just so out of my comfort zone, and I bet you're so fed up of trying to teach a block-head like me." He chuckled. "How did you learn how to do it?"

“What my instructor had me do was stand blindfolded and just practice discharging the packs and reloading them without firing,” Ira took back the canteen and took her own drink. “I find if you break techniques down and build on your skills you have a higher success rate of learning and maintaining. You don’t give yourself enough credit. You can look at an entire battlefield like a canvas and plot your best path all while maneuvering a shuttle and firing upon your enemy.”

"Well, that took time and experience, like everything else." Kerry replied, moving to lean against a wall for a break. "One of my favourite quotes of all time was from my flight instructor; 'Being a fighter pilot is like playing chess in the dark, with needles jammed into your body, whilst someone is screaming in either ear, at the same time as you're being spun around in a blender. The key is to not focus on the difficulties, and focus on playing three moves ahead."

Ira chuckled. “The pretty much sums up any type of combat scenario.” She leaned her back up against the wall and looked at Kerry. “It’s also different when you’re in the situation and fighting for your life or the life of someone else. Your mind and your body can do things you never thought they were capable of.”

"I've seen that up close. Fighter pilots doing things that theoretically shouldn't be possible, but they still manage it somehow. I can't say I ever managed any super-herculean feats, but that's probably why I'm not a highly decorated hero. I tend to find that heroes get other people killed." Kerry said, then looked over to Ira. "I image that was true in your world too."

Ira remained silent for a moment before she looked down at her feet. “In Intelligence we often fly under the radar. We are ghosts, a myth that lurks behind closed doors. We aren’t heroes. We go in, get the job done without so much as a look towards our direction and get out. The anonymity is what’s so thrilling about it.” She looked back up to Kerry. “I would go in unnoticed, take out the enemy, then slip back out as if nothing happened. Of course, it didn’t always go that smoothly,” she gave him a smirk, “but most of the time no one noticed. The guys who only go out for the recognition don’t make it very far in Starfleet. Those are the ones who only do it to get the rank and get laid.”

"There are plenty of guys who get the pilots wings to get laid." Kerry chuckled. "There is certainly a fly-boy mentality in the Starfighter Corps. "The old addage of back home for tea and medals is still very much alive. I never subscribed to it, at least, only very briefly. I saw good men and women die for being overly cocky, puts your life in perspective."

“And that’s why you’re alive today. And I would like to keep it that way.” Ira laughed as she pushed herself off of the wall. “A few more rounds of target practice and then how about we grab some food?”

"I'm game for that." Kerry said, picking up the phaser. "Let's see if I can get this reloading technique down, whilst actually firing." He had a look of pure determination on his face. He was going to earn his dinner with his girlfriend. Did he crave her approval? How weird was that. He'd never needed anyone's approval before, why would he so badly require Ira's validation all of a sudden? Oh well, answer that once he could shoot properly!


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