Crash Course pt. 1: Shoot Me

November 25, 2015:

Shift gives Junior Agent Lewis a crash course in firearms. It isn't exactly up to snuff with S.H.I.E.L.D. standards.

Minge's Storehouse, Hoboken, New Jersey


NPCs: Minge



Mood Music: All Your Light (Times Like These) by Portugal, The Man

Fade In…

From Chinatown to Jersey on the Hudson. It's a short journey on the back of Kwabena's motorcycle; not entirely dissimilar from Steve's. Both Harley Davidsons, only Kwabena's is the 2013 Iron 883 model, blacked out across the board, and an engine that purrs more than it growls. Kwabena hasn't given Darcy time to prepare for this crash course in field warfare, in part because when you're in the field, you rarely have a chance to prepare for the shit when it hits the fan.

Through the Lincoln Tunnel, Shift banks and weaves the motorcycle in a dangerous display of hair-raising maneuverability, bringing Darcy's helmet mere inches from rear view mirrors on more than a few occasions. Once on the Jersey side of the river, he peels off onto the side roads; those dirty, dark streets littered with waste and hoodlums. It's not the bright side of town, that's for sure.

Their destination is an old warehouse. Once outside the loading dock, Kwabena peers over his shoulder, eyeing Darcy through her helmet. He, it's notable, wasn't wearing one. "You still alive back dere?" he asks over the rumbling of the engine between his legs.


Darcy is a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Have to be when you roller derby. But the bike ride was more than she's bargained for. At the first close call, Darcy ducks her helmet against Kwabena's back and tightens her grip around his mid-section. Don't kill us. Don't kill us. Don't kill us. When they roll to a stop, Darcy remains clinging.

"No, man. I died before we left the Tunnel," she retorts, voice muffled in the helmet.


"Take a moment," Kwabena answers. "Breathe." His voice is the definition of calm, as if he's done this a hundred times or more. "If we end up in some hot zone, it will be like dat all ovah again. I want you to remembah de adrenaline, dat feeling of being out of control. Think about it a lot. In a heavy situation? You eidah control de adrenaline, or you let it control you and you're dead."

He waits for a few moments before reaching down with gloved hands to peel her fingers from his midsection. "Come on. We can't sit out here all night. Hop down and get your feet back undah you, alright?"


"yeah. Like a bout. No big deal. Got this," Darcy rambles, head nodding against his back. She gulps down some air before forcing her grip to relax enough that Shift can get off the bike and steady her as she gets off. She's shakey, but like the derby girl she is, she inhales once, sharply, then pulsl herself and sweeps her gaze about.

"I'm good. Let's do this. What's next?"


The girl gets a confident smirk, before Kwabena turns away and approaches the door, buzzing someone on the intercom.

SQUAWWWWK *What the fuck is it?*

"It's Shift," answers Kwabena. "Got a hot date, need to use yah facilities. Open up!"

The intercom buzzes, and the loading bay door commences with an arduous reveal of what's inside. Kwabena hops up onto the platform, offering his hand to help Darcy along the way. Inside, the warehouse is expansive, but it seems a bit too short in depth compared to the outside of the building. "Fair warning," he tells her. "Mince is a filthy, disgusting excuse for a human being, but his heart's in the right place, and he knows how to keep secrets."

As if on cue, a short, wiry man with messed up hair, an unkempt beard, and cheeto stains on his Pink Floyd shirt comes waddling out, a half-eaten box of Chinese carry-out in hand. "Shift! What the hell, man, this ain't some kind of shag pad!" he hollars, but upon sight of Darcy, he quiets down. "Uh, unless, um, you know, you guys wanna make it a three way."


Pulling herself up by his hand, Darcy gives him a nod and a smile before she takes in the wonderful view… and their lovely host. She lets her eyes noticably trail over him before her brows lift.

"Fuck no. Cheetoh-fingers on Flyod is a fucking crime," Darcy volleys back before looking up at Shift. "He should be taken out back and shot." Darcy is unafraid of disgusting excuses for human beings. But if he's heart's in the right place, and he reveals that, she'll have all the love for him.


With a snort, Kwabena joins in the return fire. "Mince, get yah head out of yah ass.Dat's not why we're here."

"Oh." Mince smirks. "Let me guess. Target practice?"

"You got it."

"Well, why didn't you say so?" Mince wipes his hand on his nose, leaving a little touch of orange cheese powder on his left nostril, and turns to walk toward the perceived back wall of the loading bay. "Follow me into my parlor, folks! Single file, please, otherwise you'll set off the security measures, and I can't be held responsible for turning you into swiss cheese."

Kwabena follows along behind the man, but he hangs back a bit closer to Darcy. "He's serious," he warns her. "Single file. He's got cybernetically guided munitions built into the walls, walk side by side and we both get pumped full of lead."

Mince leads them down a corridor, which reveals the true purpose of the rear room; it's a veritable arsenal filled with every kind of military grade weapon imaginable, lined up on a wall in rows of industrial shelving opposite a series of four shooting ranges.


Okay. Mince is gross but funny. Darcy grins at the exchange and starts forward after him. Kwa's warning has her brows lifting up.

"You do realize I don't get paid enough to deal with this bullshit, right?" she quips even as she nods to show she understand. Single file, like fucking kindergarden. Darcy is careful to keep exactly behind whomever she is following to the gun range, and a low whistle escapes her.


"Sorry, Darce," answers Kwabena. "I don't sign your paychecks. But dis isn't something S.H.I.E.L.D. would give you access to. Not without field ops education, I bet. Mince?"

Mince smirks at Kwabena. "Sure, buddy. I'll leave you guys alone. But seriously, no making out in the shooting range, okay? You guys can use the hot tub, or the sex atti—"

"Mince!" Kwabena snaps. "You got a limit on how much ammo I can burn through?"

"You paying your usual price?"

"Plus ten percent."

"No limit!" Mince answers, then raises his hands and turns away. "I surrender. You guys… do what you need, I've got at least thirty more hours of Fallout 4 to work through."

Shift shakes his head, smirking as the nerd wanders off. "What'd I say? He's a character. You wanna start with a light sidearm, or go straight to the big guns?"


Darcy is chuckling at the exchange, knowing that Shift doesn't sign her paychecks. it was just a grumble. It's always a grumble. Student loans hurt so much. Given the choice, Darcy purses her lips, head tilting.

"I want to be a big girl and ask for the big guns, but realistically? Small shit's prolly gonna be better."


With a toothy grin, Kwabena chuckles. "Yeah, dat's smart. I mean, there's nothing like holding an assault rifle in your hands, but really, I don't want you to blow off a toe or anything. Here, follow me." He leads her toward the racks and racks of weapons, choosing the sidearms first.

"Oh, dat's perfect," he says, and retrieves one. "Smith & Wesson M&P. Dis is S.H.I.E.L.D.'s standahd issue sidearm. I'm not in S.H.I.E.L.D., but I now it's dere standahd issue sidearm because every agent I've evah seen in uniform is packing one of dese. It's a semi-automatic pistol, which means you don't have to do anything to reload de next round. It just loads de next round for you, until you're out of rounds and makes this sound." He turns aside, checks the chamber to make sure there's no stray bullet inside, releases the safety and pulls the trigger, with the barrel aimed down the nearest shooting range. The weapon merely clicks. "You hear dat? It's time to re-load. All you do is grab a magazine, line it up, and " He demonstrates. " smack it in place. Load de first round -" He demonstrates, cocking the weapon back. "Now you're ready to roll."

He then shows her the safety. "Dis is de safety. When it's on — like dis — it won't fire. See?" He squeezes the trigger, and nothing happens. "Gun safety is important. You're newto dis, I'm guessing, right? So, you nevah want to hand a weapon to someone with de safety off, and if someone hands you a weapon, first thing you do is check de safety. It's up to you wheddah you turn it on or off, but, you gotta know first, or else, trust me, you will end up shooting off a toe, or worse. Got it?"


The closest Darcy's come to a firearm aside from the tiny bit of training with May is her tazer. But it's the same principle, right? Point and pull? She watches, nodding as she understand what needs to be done, even if she' not she about doing it just yet. So focused, she's going quiet again, her lips pressing together slightly as she takes it all in.


"Good." Kwabena is relentless. This is a crash course, after all, and Darcy appears to be keeping pace, so he presses on. "Always know where de barrel of your gun is pointing. Point it down? Don't aim it at your foot, and don't aim it at mine. Point it up? Same thing, watch out for faces. If you don't want to worry about it? Turn on the safety and holster de damn thing. Oddahwise? Constant vigilance. Now, go over dere and fetch us both some ear protection." He gestures toward a rack not far from here, from which a handful of headphones are hung.


Safety. Slap in place. Yank the thing. HOlster. Vigilance. Darcy nods again and turns to collect the ear protection. She pulls off her jacket to leave o nthe counter with her purse and returns.


Once they're both wearing ear protection, Shift gestures for Darce to join him in one of the shooting ranges. He stands behind a black line on the cement, then raises the pistol and releases the safety. "Hold it like this," he tells her. "Strong grip, not a death grip. It's gonna kick, but nothing too severe. It's not a Desaht Eagle, or a Magnum. Three… two…"


"Safety's on." He spins the gun around and offers it to Darcy, holding the barrel so that the grip is facing her.


Darcy takes a breath, steadying herself as she reaches out to take the gun from Shift. She takes a moment to find her grip and the safety, then aims it down range before clicking the safety off. She sights, exhales and squeezes.



The kick isn't too bad, just as Kwabena mentioned. "Okay, not bad. Now, keep firing until you're out of ammo. Aim for the chest, the neck, the leg, the head," he calls over the muddling of their ear protection.


Darcy, keeping the gun pointed at the range, glances over to look at Kwa. She nods a few times before turning her attention back to the taget. Another inhale and on her exhale she fires one after another. There is nothing that could be called grouping to her shots. But at least she didn't hit anyone.


"Clear yah weapon," he instructs. "See how de chambah is open? Check to make sure dere's no ammo stuck in dere." Meanwhile, he's reaching for another clip. "We good? Reload. How do you feel, Dahce?"


Darcy looks at the weapon, her lips still pressed into a line. She gets the magazine out and hands it over in exchange for a fresh on. She slaps it in without grace.

"Fine," she replies. Her tone is clipped, her lips are thin, but her eyes are hard and steady. She is clearly NOT having fun, but doing this anyway.


"Sure," Kwabena answers. "You don't like it. Listen… odds are you won't even need to use one. But if you do? You need to be ready, for everything dat comes along with it.

A sound comes from Kwabena; a sort of whooshing sound, which happens when he transforms from flesh to a cloud of black smoke. His clothing falls to the floor, no longer occupied, and the black cloud swirls about itself until it reforms to the sound of air being displaced.

He's not naked; the body is framed neck to toe in a gunmetal gray woven of unstable molecules, showing off every muscle and sinew. He walks forward until he's standing in the line of fire, and folds his arms over his chest.

"Now, you have a live tahget. Don't worry; I'm a mutant. De bullets will pass right through me. I'll transform, like I did just now. But, you need to undahstand what it feels like to fire your weapon at someone. You need to experience dat here, for de first time, not in de field."


Darcy is nodding, the motion falling still as Shift shifts. She watches, the weapon still unchambered, as he materializes in her line of fire. Her cheeks pale, her lips thin further, and her eyes harden. With dilerbrate motions, Darcy clicks on the safety, sets the gun down on the counter, and yanks off the ear protection. Silent, fuming, she turns to grab her coat with very harsh jerky motions. And her sweather and her hat. and her purse.


A moment later, there is an impossibly loud gun blast. There's a reason they were wearing ear protection. There is now a fresh bullet hole in the ceiling, and Kwabena is standing there, the Smith & Wesson firmly pressed against his chin. His skin, his head, it remains unmarked.

In his eyes, however, there is a mixture of compassion and determination. He doesn't say a word, not yet, but he understands. This isn't pretty business. He only wants her to know what she's elected to get herself into, before she makes the final choice to go along on the operation.

"Don't walk out of here without telling me what's going on," he quietly demands.


The bang and Darcy flinches, body reflexively curling into a ball, knees bending. She likely has been near some gunfire to move to cover her head like that.She turns to glare at Kwabena, smoking gun against his chin. To his compassion, her lower lip threatens to tremble, until she straightens her back and inclines her chin.

"Fuck you," she replies as she yanks on her coat. "And the horse you rode in on. Fuck you all. I'm out of here. This is bullshit."


The safety is secured, the gun set on the same counter. "Rough neighbahood out dere," Kwabena drily answers. "You sure you don't want a lift home?"

After a moment, Kwabena crosses the way. The firmness is replaced by the compassion once more. "Listen… I know I'm coming on hahd. I've been around dis most of my life. I know what can happen out dere. You can go on, or you can stay. Nobody is going to think any less of you, and I mean dat. Thing is, S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't have you in dere ranks if you weren't valuable. Sometimes, guys like me, we see things with too narrow a view. Dat can be a detriment on an op like de one we're facing."

There is a pause, wherein Kwabena seems to be considering his thoughts. "Chance is, we might need someone like you, someone who hasn't seen war. Someone to keep our heads on straight. So let it out, kid. Mince ain't down here, and I'm undah no obligation to report on your development."


Darcy yanks on her coat, pulling at it roughly with hands that shake. She flips her hair out of it a moment later. Still trying to mask the shaking, she crams the beanie onto her head.

"No. I don't want a fucking ride home. I'm a big fucking girl," she retorts. Her voice is rough on the edge of tears.

"I said I was going, so I'm fucking going. But I'm not pullin the trigger while aimed at a friendly, go that? Not happening. Ever. No way. You want me to do that, for any fucking reason, and I'm walking. I'm not doing it. I don't hurt my friends. I don't have enough as it is, so I don't make a habit ofdoing anything that runs off or hurts those few I have. So, fuck this shit. I'm going home," Darcy rants. And the more she rants the closer to tears she comes until by the end they've overflowed her lashes and are spilling down her cheeks. At her last statement, she yanks her purse to her and turns on her foot to walk away, whole body shaking from it all.


"Okay." Kwabena relents. "Doesn't need to happen." He draws in a deep breath, then releases it slowly. He could have told her that friendly people can turn in the field; that your best friend could be revealed as an enemy spy, but he doesn't. She's faced emotions that she may never have faced, and he's satisfied that she did so here, in the safety of Mince's little militia warehouse, rather than out there in the field.

Walking forward, he gently takes the woman by the shoulders. "You hear dat? It's okay."


Darcytries to shake off the hands, tryind to turn away and hide the tears on her face. It's full flight mode and Darcy isn't thinking past trying not to cry and not to shake… and how miserably she's failing at both.


Fine. Kwabena moves in for a full fledged hug. Its not his style, but the poor woman is so shaken up, he just can't help it. He's taller than her, and his shoulders are broader than hers, so she gets wrapped up in a big old hug.


Three shoves and Darcy cracks. She sobs heavily while yanking off her glasses. She leans into the hug as she cries, letting the emotions crash over and exhaust themselves. She gives a sigh, signalling she's doen, then ducks her head to wipe her face on her sleeve.

"…I'm okay…" she says with a tiny voice.


"Sure you are," Kwabena answers, and not with sarcasm. He caresses the woman's shoulders in a friendly way before stepping back. "Everyone learns what fear is, one way or anodah. What matters is what you do with fear."

He doesn't provide any details, but up until the last year of his life, Kwabena Odame did not know what fear was. His invincibility was shattered, his morality broken, his world torn apart. He's come out different, and probably for the better, but that just might have been a stroke of luck.

"You need more firing time with the Smith & Wesson. Gotta get familiar with the way it feels before we move up to de big guns. Okay?"


LIke a child, Darcy scrubs at her wet cheeks with the sleeve of her jacket, sniffling through an 'okay'. She swallows harshly before pulling her jacket off and setting her things down again to get through the firing practice once more.


Some time later, after going through countless rounds of ammo and some real solid nuggets of firearm wisdom, Kwabena has finished going over the specs and uses of an AK-47. "Now, de general idea of dis rifle is to kill a lot people very quickly. Or, to put more bullets in one pahson den should be allowed. It's very existence is, frankly, questionable. But dey'll be armed with them, so, you need to know your way around one."

He offers the rifle to her with a wry smirk.


Darcy's return smile is wane. This is not enjoyable, but she's muddling through it, showing that she really is an astute pupil. The rifle is taken with care and a tiny grunt. She mimicks the stance and grip he just explains, setting the butt to her shoulder and sighting up. The kick is more than she expected and she fights back the squeak: "fuck!"


Kwabena laughs out loud. "Right?" he answers. "She's a mean muddah fuckah, isn't she? Let's see how well you handle it in rapid fire. Squeeze de triggah, and hold. You control de rifle, it does not control you!"


Heart racing in her chest, Darcy nods. She widens her stance a bit, bending her knees as if the start of a squat, and braces herself with a tight core. She lines up, lips pressed together, then squeezes. A good four rounds and control is wavering and she opens her trigger hand and holds the rifle carefully, panting. She turns to look at Kwa, a girl looking for praise or scolding.


"Alllll ovah de place," Kwabena scolds. "If you want to make de enemy dance, you've nailed it. But if you want to stop dem from shooting at you and yah friends, you need bettah control!" He grins. "Listen, Dahce, you've almost got it. Tighten up your shoulders, your elbows, but loosen up your fingers. You've got a good grip on it. It's not going anywhere. Like loosening up when you have a good, long fall; loosen up your grip and you'll be able to hold it in place." He points at the man-shaped target way down on the other end of the shooting range.



Scolding. Lovely. Darcy inhales through it. pressing her lips into a stubborn pout as she resets herself. All over the fucking place, huh? She makes the adjustments, then with complete stubbord determination she holds the trigger down long past when she'd rathe rlet it go. She fights to keep her grip loose but controlled, works to keep the business end pointed at the target. And when it drifts to the sides where Kwabena is, she grits her teeth and wrassles it back to center. Over and over until there's a sharp click, and the magazine is empty.


There is a long silence, broken eventually when Kwabena walks over to grab a control box. The target comes sweeping up until it's dangling right there in front of them, riddled with holes. Most of them are all over the place, but there are a handful of well placed clusters.

"Jesus Christ," he murmurs, after removing his ear protection. "Look at dat. You see what happens when you decide to show a jackass where he should put his words?"

Turning, the Ghanaian slaps Darcy on the shoulder. "I think you've got de hang of it, Sass. Dere's a good chance we might circle back to dis, but for now? Chinese carryout. It's a long drive to de practice track, and you're gonna need a load of MSG to make it through driving training."

A beat. "You don't get car sick, do you?"


Panting, a little sweaty, Darcy eyes the target with a mix of wonder, pride, and horror.

"yeah. Well. You pissed me off," she retorts weakly, all too happy to let him take the rifle from her so she can put away the rest of hte things.

"Lo Mein is my fucking rocket fuel," she claims as she pulls her outter clothes on before leveling a 'really?' look at Shift. "Car sick? Puh-leeze."

(To be continued)

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