((Shooting Range -- Starbase 118))
::Trellis held his hand steady as instructed. Aim. Breathe. Exhale. Fire. He was, yet again, wide of the mark. He howled in frustration and threw his hands in the air.
::It didn’t help his annoyance level that Kaitlyn promptly fired a quick succession of shots that all hit true. He stared at her, barely concealed anger in his eyes. His nostrils flared as he breathed heavily. Why had he let him talk her into this? He was never going to get better, no matter how long he practiced.
::Yes, phasers were important in modern society. Being able to hit something on a mission was vital. He had seen that for himself during the rescue. Yet he had proven himself to be next to useless in that department.
::He watched again as she calmly fired another few rounds. So deadly. So precise. So cold and calculating. He stared at her hands. Though he had touched those hands when she was lying in sickbay he was suddenly filled with fear of them. Those same hands that had killed the Orion woman, Khante. Those same hands that now held a phaser that could, with a flick of the wrist, be pointed at him.
::He trusted her enough not to act on him with those hands, but it was a close thing.::
Vondaryan: I don’t see how you can ever get good at this!
::Kaitlyn set her phaser down on the table, taking a breath to steady herself.::
::It was true that she was out-and-about now, no longer under observation. Her family was still close, still ready to help at any moment. She had worked through most of the remaining emotions weighing her down.::
::When Trellis had asked her for help, however, she could not help but wonder if it was too soon. Too soon for her, to soon for him, too soon for them both. Still, he was a friend in need, and over the last couple days she had not been the best person to her friends. He needed help, she wanted to give it.::
::Kaitlyn looked over to Trellis, her features remaining calm. While she had managed a smile or two, a lot of the old fire was still dampened.::
Falcon: All it takes is practice. Learning the phaser and how it fires. Are you--
Vondaryan: ::shouting:: Yes I’m following your instructions! Do you see me getting any better?
::Kaitlyn involuntarily flinched back, though this time she managed to keep her mind in the there-and-then. Her memories were still riding very close to the surface, and getting cut off sent her dangerously close to Thomas territory.::
::He let out a sigh and with it some of the exasperation he had been feeling. It wasn’t her fault he was a terrible shot. It wasn’t her fault that he never felt comfortable around phasers. It wasn’t even her fault that he was frustrated with the ease with which she fired. He was entirely to blame for all of it. Him and that blasted nerve damage he’d suffered as a child. Ever since he had damaged it he had been just a fraction too slow, suffering a mere second delay in his actions.
::Normally that short timespan didn’t hinder him at all. But in situations where seconds counted, he fell flat. Even in practice a second was the difference between hitting a target and it moving on. In battle it would be even worse, with people moving, dodging, falling, running, throwing obstacles in the way or finding cover. In battle, seconds were the difference between life and death.::
Vondaryan: ::downcast:: Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. I’m just rubbish at this. I’ve never been good, and I doubt I’ll ever get better.
::Kaitlyn took another deep breath, trying to release some of the tension she felt. Trellis had not been Trellis since they got back. He was more angry, especially at himself, and even more wary than usual.::
::Then again, Kaitlyn knew she was hardly herself, either… They had both been run through the wringer…::
Falcon: Let’s… ::Another deep breath.:: Let’s step back, for a minute. Back to step one.
::Kaitlyn grabbed the small PADD which controlled their lanes. The moving targets vanished, replaced by a single static target.::
Falcon: We already know you can hit a still target, but I want us to start there again. After a few, we’ll start in moving again. This time, though, I’ll watch what’s happening. Maybe I’ll be able to see something you can’t?
Vondaryan: ::he sighed:: Okay, fine.
::Kaitlyn took a step back, leaning over to watch his stance, his form. It looked spot on with regulations, and was just as she had recommended. (Just because her form worked for her did not mean it worked for everyone.)::
::Clenching his jaw he nodded at Kaitlyn. As he had before Trellis aimed, took a breath and fired. The small beam of light shot out from his phaser, striking its intended target. He let out a small grunt of satisfaction though he didn’t feel particularly proud. Anyone could hit a stationary target, he was proof enough of that. Enemy combatants weren’t often stationary.::
Vondaryan: ::despondent:: Well, I can do that, at least.
Falcon: Good. Now, let’s start it moving again.
Vondaryan: ::he sighed again:: Well, I suppose the enemy won’t be staying still, will they? Fine, let’s get this over with.
::With a few taps on her PADD, Kaitlyn ordered the target to begin its random series of movements. It started slow, speeding up moderately over time. The longer it went, the faster it moved, and…::
::He missed. He missed again. Just as he was pulling the trigger, the target dodged out of the way. He was a fraction of a second late each time. Trying to compensate he fired faster and faster, losing his aim as he went. He missed the targets by a wider and wider margin.::
::Kaitlyn could see it. Trellis was shooting at where the target had been a second before, not where it was. His shots were consistent; had they been a bit faster he would likely have been hitting it.::
::Finally reaching his limit on frustration, Trellis threw his phaser against the wall in disgust. It didn’t even have the decency to break apart, making him feel even more useless.::
Vondaryan: AAAAGGGHHH!! ::There was no point in containing his rage.::
::The flashes of rage… So much like her own, only his were uncontrolled, uncontained. Kaitlyn could not help but shrink back, if only for a moment. Her own mental defenses were far from their usual strength. She pushed through it, forcing herself to stay put.::
Falcon: It’s okay, Trellis. That’s why we’re here, to see what’s happening and what we can do about it. Okay?
Vondaryan: Really, it’s going to be okay? As soon as a target starts moving I completely miss. HOW is that okay? ::He moved over to his thrown phaser to pick up up and bang it against the wall again. A piece of paneling fell off of it, which Trellis supposed was about all he was going to get out of it. He hung his head to turn back to where Kaitlyn stood.::
::All the raw emotion in the room, from the both of them, was starting to get to her… When had she become such a wimp? Once again, she pushed ahead. Her friend was hurting as much as she was. If there was some way to alleviate that, she wanted to try.::
Falcon: I could see it, actually. And it gives me an idea.
Vondaryan: ::he snorted:: At least one of us has one. And that’s usually my department...
::Kaitlyn tapped the PADD, stopping the target again. She leaned against one of the lane separators, feeling a bit more calm as her mind worked the problem.::
Falcon: Have you ever heard of the EM-33?
Vondaryan: ::he tilted his head to look at her:: No, should I have?
Falcon: ::Shakes her head.:: Not necessarily. It was the last plasma pistol Starfleet used before phase weapons were introduced. You can still find a few of them out there, though I haven’t had the chance to try one out. Sill, I heard some stories from when they were phased out. Folks who had only covered basic weapons training kept overshooting when they switched to phase pistols. The EM-33 had taught them to lead their targets, whereas phase pistols were as immediate as a phaser.
::If Trellis were in a normal state of mind he would piece together the information Kaitlyn was giving him. Today he was not in a normal state of mind. Rage and frustration mixed with a smattering of fear was keeping him from thinking clearly.::
Vondaryan: So I need to go find an EM-33 and use that? ::Well, the Tower probably did have something in inventory if he really wanted to get his hands on one…:::
::Kaitlyn managed a small smile.::
Falcon: Not QUITE where I’m going. I could see that your shots were on-target… just slow. You were consistently shooting a little behind your target. ::Looks to the target for a moment, then back to Trellis.:: I think you need to treat a phaser like old Starfleet officers treated the EM-33. Lead your target, try to shoot just ahead of it. Make it so that when you shoot, your target will be there when your shot gets there.
::Besides, actually using an EM-33 would probably exacerbate the problem. He would have to lead by an even larger margin.::
Vondaryan: So I just need to know where my target will be before it gets there? Sounds simple. ::Had he just used sarcasm? In his state of mind he couldn’t tell.::
::It was, and she could hear it plainly. However, she could also understand where it came from. That, and she was not in the state of mind to counter it.::
::Probably a good thing, too. This was a situation where more sarcasm would do no good.::
::Kaitlyn took another breath. Dad. She needed to be Dad. Dad was always calm, no matter what situation he might face. She tried to mimic Dad’s tone, keeping her voice smooth and calm.::
Falcon: I never said it was simple, I just said it might be a solution.
::He blinked at her and took a few breaths, trying to listen to what she was actually saying. She was giving him encouragement, not berating him. She wanted to help. Help him to become as effective a killing machine as she was.::
::Trellis looked down at the broken phaser in his hand. He realized that both he and Kaitlyn were as broken as the phaser.::
::A sudden spring of emotion welled up inside of him. He tried holding back tears but could not. He wasn’t being fair to Kaitlyn, or to himself. Yes, they had seen a lot in the last mission and experienced their fair share of hardship, but they had survived. Somehow, they had come through. Damaged and broken, but not completely. They needed help to rebuild. That’s what Kaitlyn was offering him. Trellis realized, too, that’s what he was giving to her through this exercise. The strongest steel was tempered through the fires darkness.::
::He wiped the tears away from his eyes. He steeled his jaw. There was a renewed look of determination in his eyes when he looked to Kaitlyn again.::
Vondaryan: Right. Lead the target. Anticipate where it will be. Shoot it. ::he took a breath.:: I can do this.
::Kaitlyn could feel her own chest catch for a moment at the confirmation… They really were equally broken, each in their own way.::
::If he was game to continue, then so was she. Kaitlyn held up the PADD.::
Falcon: You can do this.
::As she set the targets in motion again he tried to concentrate on where his targets would be in a fraction of a second, not where they were. Moments later he’d hit the proper space. Not with any finesse or eloquence, but enough to register as a hit. Moments later, he did it again. And again.::
Vondaryan: ::smiling at Kaitlyn:: Well, it’s not pretty, but it counts, right?
::For the first time in a while, Kaitlyn was able to give a real smile. Seeing Trellis smile was a bit of a balm; she had been able to help. Or at least, it seemed that she had.::
::Now, she would probably ask for St. Eliza’s prayers that he would never actually NEED those skills. He was WAY too peaceful a guy to be shooting anyone, even on stun. Still, should he ever find himself with no other options, at least he would have this to fall back on.::
Falcon: ::Keeps her smile up, giving a nod.:: I’d say it counts plenty. As the saying goes, ‘Practice makes perfect’.
Vondaryan: ::chuckling:: I guess it does.
::He sighed, releasing with it all the frustration, anger and fear he had built up over the past hour they had been practicing. He felt lighter, more calm. He could feel his mind clearing from all its negative thoughts.::
::As she saw Trellis visibly calm, Kaitlyn felt a bit more calm as well. Not quite 100%, all weight off chest, or something like that. If her read was right, she had helped. That was something.::
Vondaryan: This was… ::He wouldn’t say fun. Phasers were never fun.:: Something… ::he tilted his head at her, some of the mischievous look he kept hidden back in his eyes:: Now, I could use a good game of chess. You in?
::To that, Kaitlyn actually managed a chuckle.::
Falcon: Well, to be honest, I’ve never been particularly good at chess.
Vondaryan: ::his eyebrows shot up:: Oh, even better. Now I can give you a bit of payback.
::She gave another chuckle. Trellis was absolutely right about that one.::
Falcon: Fair point. I DID just give you a metaphorical butt-kicking in here.
Vondaryan: So...? ::he let it trail off, anticipation in his voice::
::Kaitlyn shrugged, but smiled as she did so.::
Falcon: Why the hell not? ::Chuckles.:: I’m in.
Vondaryan: ::smiling:: I know just the place! Have you been to the 8x8?
::Without even waiting for a response he headed out the door, the perfect chess match on his mind.::
Lieutenant Commander Trellis Vondaryan
Chief of Intelligence
StarBase 118 Ops
Lt Commander Kaitlyn Falcon
Chief Helm Officer
Starbase 118 / U.S.S. Albion