Pistolcraft and Personal Ethics

June 14, 2017:

Rusalka Stojespal, freshly hired SHIELD agent, is ordered to report for pistol training - and gets some instruction by the Star Spangled Man himself, in both safety and philosophy.

SHIELD Shooting Range, Staten Island

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Phil Coulson

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

SHIELD has a lot of various building with purpose across NYC. Considering how large the organization is, it would be foolish to think that everything could take place in their main HQ. That being said, Rogers currently finds himself in a small warehouse on the Northside, located next to a SHIELD outer building for those with lower security clearances and the bigger thing, which is those that are working to qualify within SHIELD for various things.

Within the warehouse, there is a small shooting range. There are only two lane as opposed to the vast number for the SHIELD usual shooting range, but this smaller qualifying shooting area is a place where people go when they don't want to compare gun sizes or necessarily have twenty people remark on your shooting style.

BANG BANG BANG

The gun is soon holstered as the target makes its way back toward Captain America, who is dressed in his 'stealth' suit without his face mask and having what appears to be a Glock of some sort strapped toward his side, which is just now being reholstered. "Perfect score," the instructor states as he looks to the tight grouping. "Just one more time and we'll be able to get that paperwork for you to test out of the SHIELD refresher."

"Thank you," Rogers replies, merely waiting for the target to be moved back to it's location by a clothesline like device that the instructor uses. It's rather low tech, but it's perhaps yet another reason why the Man Out of Time is here and not elsewhere.

Ordered to report for firearms training, one of SHIELD's newest and brightest finds herself at a place she hadn't known about. One of the agency's many little facilities scattered across New York, and one she'd driven past several times without a second thought. It's a fact that would please her boss, at least. Camouflage is always important.

Rusalka Stojespal watches for a moment as the shooting lane is occupied with instructor and student. She's waiting, a training pistol - Glock, like Captain America's - in her hands along with a supply of ammunition, hearing protection, and a target of her own. She doesn't recognize the stealth suit, though.

Wearing a SHIELD tank top and jeans, she's dressed down for the occasion - and comfortably; summer in the city can be brutal at times. When the blonde man finishes up his session, she'll step into the range and wait her turn for the instructor - marveling at the man's ability with a pistol. Certainly far better than her own score, probably, but that's why Sally is here.

And then she gets a look at his face, and her heart skips a beat. It's not surprising, Captain Steve Rogers is a handsome man, and he's also a legend. Even Tony Stark admitted Captain America was a 'good' man, which says a lot…but she's also not allowed to repeat that.

"Sir?" The Sokovian accent in her voice is audible, but not very strong. She's worked hard on getting rid of it in the last year, but it'll never completely go away. "I'm here to report for training, basic handgun qualification?" She's speaking to the instructor, but can't help but include Cap in the discussion.

It doesn't take long for Cap to wait, draw, fire three rapid shots before calmly holstering the weapon once more. The paperwork is soon signed and Steve is on his way. His eyes look slightly clouded, as if his attention is not fully on his surroundings. So when the Solovian girl announces her presence, Steve blinks as he believes at first that she is talking to him. He soon realizes that is not the case and just moves slightly toward the side with the clipboard that is handed to him to fill out the paperwork. In triplicate. Because SHIELD loves their bureaucracy.

As Rogers is forced to fill out the location of his last three residences with most recent first in reverse chronological order, the instructor merely waves Stojespal up. The man running this range is clearly older, perhaps an older agent, who unlike Fury, wanted to slow things down with age and came here. "You should know the drill for the Qualifying Shooting Test 980-A. Step up to the line. At the beep, you'll draw, fire your weapon, and then re-holster your sidearm. Since this is the basic, you'll have as much time as you need to line up your shots. You'll need a score above 260 to consider qualifying if you are in a Support position, a 340 if you are in a Tactical position, and a 490 if you are going for a Special Operations recert." While they seem like just numbers for the scoring, 250 is what the average law enforcement tests, 325 is the average military man, and most professional marksmen get around 480 to 500. "Any questions before you begin?"

There's a bit of a jump from the Sokovian at each of those three shots; the loud sharp bangs a surprise even when she knows it's coming. And it's amazing how fast he can get those shots off; it's as if the gun isn't even moving in his hands. Well…maybe that's a good thing, and the recoil isn't as bad as she fears?

In truth, she doesn't know who she's reporting to - Captain Rogers, or the SHIELD instructor. But it seems to be the agent, as she steps up - remembering all her safety rules beforehand, she'll toe the line and set her pistol down. Pointed downrange, at least. Her attention is given to his words, though her brow furrows - that must be the points scored on the bullseye?

"Um…yes sir." Nervous, but she's not meek so much as unsure of everything. A strong personality, just one that is faced with something entirely new. "I've never fired a gun before, a pistol or anything. It's my first time; I was…routed around the Academy, sir." She is a SHIELD agent, not honorary or anything. Just a sort of field-addition and given a basic level three clearance for the project she'd found herself attached to.

Sally will continue, looking between Captain Rogers and the instructor. "Agent Coulson was the one who, er…activated me?" She can't think of an more accurate word in English, so she sticks with it. At least she can see the range rules posted on the wall, all the basic safety instruction - which she's read. "Where…uh, should I start?"

Admittedly, not knowing how to deal with Rogers within the SHIELD hierarchy is common. After all, while he's an important founding member and definitely one of the most powerful, experienced, and driven assists to SHIELD? He is really not true SHIELD material. He puts his morality first, claims his ties to America and defending the innocent come before the mission, and often lacks the subtlety that most SHIELD missions require. So people tend to give the respect they feel he deserves, until it is no longer needed or convenient, which is a rare thing indeed. At least for now.

As the instructor hears her tale, there is a small frown. "Figures Coulson would pull this off. Trying to push people through before they done what they needed. Unless you were trying to." Of course, the more likely think is perhaps Sally being confused by all the rules and regulations of SHIELD, which are all nice and put into place only for people important or wild enough to ignore them at their leisure. "You can't qualify until you take and pass the gun safety class, the fundamentals of firearms training class, and depending on the level of your clearance, the advanced firearm training for rifles and special SHIELD weaponry. I'm just doing the Qualifiers today, so you'll have to sign up for the classes unless you test out," the instructor offers calmly before he concludes with a long sigh. "Good luck to you, I'm closing out early before someone tries to get in right before my break." A glance is given toward Rogers. "Just put the stuff under my door." And with that, the instructor moves toward the outside of the range, taking off his ear protection and eye protection once he gets to the other side of the soundproof clear door which muffles most of the sound.

Now with the shooting range with just Sally and Steve, a brow is arched. "Seems like Coulson's been real busy finding people, it seems," he admits with a faint smirk.

In Sally's case, she's got her own ideas of SHIELD. What it could be, what it should be. As she'd told Senator Wilson, 'like Captain America himself, I choose to believe that SHIELD can be a great thing. A good thing. And people like me - we will make it that good thing.' Perhaps it is the naievete of youth, but her hope for the future is unshakable. That it is, in some way, built around the legend of Captain America is also unshakable, and the Sokovian girl absolutely respects him.

When, admittedly, she's not celebrity-smitten. But that will pass with time.

"There's…ah, extenuating circumstances, I guess." Things she can't talk about; learning about the technical side of this new Hydra-backed fighter plane that she'd gotten wrapped up with for her engineering ability. When he explains the classes and training, she nods, a little crestfallen - but not too surprised. She'd only been ordered to report for training and qualifications; the exact words more vague than they needed to be. "I understand, sir. Um…" She does have clearance to be on the range, though, and she has no intent of wasting the trip. Should she just practice shooting, at least? It can't be that hard.

Then again, for a moment her fingers resting lightly against the grip of the pistol make her wonder. Maybe she should come back, put everything away and return another time. The feel of the pistol, the hard plastic…it scares her. Like holding a snake, perhaps. And then her rumination is interrupted by Steve, and she turns back to face him.

"Yes…he's been doing a lot. I volunteered, though, because of…er…things." Classified things. "Agent Coulson, he is a good man though. I like him. I trust him," she decides, "and I don't want to disappoint him." And yet, the weapon remains, resting where she'd laid it. "I've just never fired a gun before, I never thought…I ever would." The instructor's departure, however, has left whether she's going to in question…unless?

She can't help blushing; it isn't Steve Roger's fault that he's a good looking man. Older, certainly, even using the Man Out Of Time's physical age. But between that and his legend, Sally might just be finding it a bit difficult to ask her question. So she takes a deep breath, and finally looks up at him, cobalt-blue eyes hopeful. "Would you show me, if…ah, sir, if you're not busy, I mean? Just to start learning?"

"I see," comes the simple reply, but the quirked brow suggests that he doesn't really get this whole explanation at all. But that's common as SHIELD is an organization of rather skilled men and women which are usually plucked out of one bad situation or another. "Well, Coulson is a good guy," Steve explains, glancing up only to see the blushing which forces Rogers' gaze downward due to the slight awkwardness of this. At least it isn't like that one woman from accounts billable that suggests that they would have the best looking babies together.

The request is given and there is a slow sigh. "I suppose we could go over the general pointers here and there," Rogers begins as he moves toward the girl's side. "First rule is always assuming that the gun is loaded. That means that you never point it anywhere you don't want a bullet going. Second rule is how you hold the gun. With that, he moves to hold his own firearm. While he has the appropriate grip the pointer finger is off the trigger. "Unless you want to shoot something, never have the finger on the trigger until you're lining things up. You want to do everything you can to avoid accident firing of your weapon."

She can't say more. She wishes she could; Captain America - Steve Rogers - is regarded by more than a few as the moral bedrock of SHIELD. A source of wisdom and assurance, definitely, but she knows there are rules she can't break. Secrecy is one of them; Rusalka's the daughter of a military officer and is in a family that has served for uncountable generations. It might rankle her…but she knows better.

Sally nods, grinning a little as they agree on her patron Agent. "He is. So is Mr. Stark, I think, despite…" She's not sure what to call it. The man's dismissive and rapid-fire, almost mocking persona makes it difficult to really see who he is, but she's had a look closer than most people lately. She's also gotten an admission that Rogers himself is a 'good man' from the other Avenger…but he did swear her to secrecy on her family oath to him.

The blushing passes, though she's still nervous - this less the recognition of his handsome looks as it is the original legend of SHIELD and the hero of the War of Retribution, as her family knows it. There's also the fact that he's her best friend's personal favorite hero as well, so she's a bit tense. She draws a breath, clearing her head. Steve isn't a superhero anymore; she has to start thinking of him as a professional colleague. It helps her focus.

So does the ugly black lump of plastic and steel in front of her, the Glock waiting for its turn on the range.

The sigh gives her a pause, and she looks back up at him - not smitten, not awestruck, just a little worried that she'd asked too much. "If you're busy, I mean…it's alright, I could come back for classes instead." But he continues on, and she mimics him - picking up her own weapon, keeping it downrange, and seeing how he kept his finger alongside the gun.

The finger is pointed forward, as if it were a second barrel. He moves to her side, being rather close. Considering the situation, he doesn't seem to have much qualm with it. After all, she needs to see the detail of the work he's doing. The talk of 'coming back for classes' is merely given a dismissive wave, clearly figuring he can give her the basics so at least if she goes to class she appears to be a quick study. He doesn't really talk on Stark, more because of the rabbit trail discussions of Tony tend to lead to. And right now, Steve wants the young woman's focus on her sidearm.

"Now see when I aim-" The gun is lifted up and the trigger finger closes in. When he moves it to point toward the ground, the finger is instantly removed. "It's important to practice that so it becomes second nature. In doing that, you avoid the accident discharge of your weapon. If the fight gets up close and personal, last thing you want to do is shoot yourself or one of your teammates."

"Now, some people use the cup and saucer," Steve begins, putting his free hand under the handle as if it were a teacup saucer. "But it doesn't offer balance or too much support. I tend to prefer to the hand to be lightly over the other hand, with the thumb on the same side." He mirrors the motion. "Might want to research the various gun positions and see what's most comfortable for you. For a lot of the more technical points, it can sometimes just come down to mere preference."

It's little surprise that for a 'by the book' guy like Rogers, that training and working toward perfection would be important things for success, but as he waits for Sally to try what he recommended, he seems more than understanding in helping people if they make mistakes.

He seems willing to teach, so she nods and settles in - and focuses where she's supposed to. The pistol in her hand is steady, though held lightly, as he gives her instruction. Steve's weapon is drawn up, and she watches the shift of his fingers back and forth with the trigger.

Sally nods slowly, doing the same for a moment - keeping the pistol downrange, but shifting her finger on and off the trigger. Safety…and not shooting yourself, definitely something to keep in mind. And then something settles in, as she tries again. "It feels a little like a rapier grip," she says. The words are slow, thoughtful, but assured. "It's…kind of comfortable, like that." Her finger over the trigger, or pointed out alongside, matches a similar position in the hilt of the long, thin blades.

"Practice, yes. Reptition and muscle memory." Terms she knows, and understands a little. And then the lesson continues, going over various grips, and she tries them out - settling on agreeing with Steve. "It's…different from what I am used to, but." It's like holding a power tool, a heavy duty hand drill. And understanding dawns, as her grip shifts subtly, trying to feel things better.

But it's still very much a beginner's grip, and something she'll need to practice a lot to get used to. Still…she has a few mental ideas of how to do it, and gives a few practice attempts. The weapon down, the weapon up and in both hands. It's not confident at all, and the pistol still feels like something that will bite her, but she's bearing down mentally and trying, at least.

"Good. That's the basics." But she hasn't even fired a bullet. "Before you use a weapon, you always have to be ready to use it. That means you need to get into a stance. You look like you did some sort of fighting with melee and that means you know the proper stance for most combat: Slightly bent knees, feet at shoulder's width apart. The gun will have some recoil, but with this type, it won't be too bad. Just fire a lot, you'll get use to it, get over the flinch reflex. You have to be comfortable with the weapon before you can use it. And that means practice and getting over the fear. Best to confront that fear and forge it a healthy respect for the weapon rather than putting off the fear until you are forced to confront it in the field."

Rogers steps away, allowing the new SHIELD agent to step into prepare herself to fire. "Now, just come in, finger off the trigger until you have it pointed up. Then put the finger on the trigger and just fire once." There are other parts to be an even better shot such as certain breathing while firing and the like, but Steve is trying to make this not too overwhelm. Someone has to be an beginner before they can be an expert, after all.

The basics. Easy enough to practice, and Sally commits it to memory easily enough. Sally has the ICER Phil had given her, and practicing with that will be the simplest thing. Though…if this keeps up, she realizes, she's going to need to find a proper apartment of her own. No more dorm life.

But isn't that what growing up is all about?

"Some, yes," she answers, in reply to his comment about fighting. "Rapier fencing practice, ah…after a foolish moment. My mother decided I needed 'a proper output' for such feelings," she adds. The blush returns, but it's nothing to do with Steve this time - pure shame.

Her feet shift, and she lets her knees unlock, nodding as he brings up recoil. There's a small relieved sigh as Steve mentions it's not significant with this pistol. "Fire a lot. Heh…like driving. Nothing teaches you better like miles, yes?"

Fear. Flinch. Respect. All things to consider, right alongside safety, and she pays close attention to his words. "Alright." He gives final instruction, and Rusalka takes a half-step forward, arms out in front of her and the pistol held in both hands. Her fingers squirm slightly as she tries to find the right grip, before she's ready.

Sally's finger curves down, wrapping around the trigger and pulling slowly. She keeps her eyes on the pistol, trying her best not to blink or fl

*BANG*

Both eyes snap open in shock, the noise not entirely unexpected - but still much louder than she'd though, and the pistol bucking in her hands for an instant was also a surprise. It's not a huge amount of recoil, no, but the Glock she has is still a potent enough pistol. There's a long, slow breath as she holds the gun out in front of her - a second or two later, belatedly remembering Steve's instruction to get her finger off the trigger.

The target? Untouched, of course. Quite safe, downrange from one Sally Stojespal…for now.

"Good." Some would be confused, because well, she missed. But Rogers gives a small smile. "There you go. Now when you're comfortable shooting it and you can practice having the finger on and off the trigger, you'll be ready to aim. You take it one step at time. A firearm allows you to kill or maim with very little effort. That means you need to be ready to use it appropriately at any time. We have the right to bear arms, but that means we need to bear appropriate responsibility to go with that."

Cap's arms fold behind his back as he slides into armed service stance by habit, a thing that tends to happen when talking about military minded matters. Still, his face is warm and kind as before. "So, any questions about any of this?"

Good? There's a moment of confusion on her face before the explanation comes, and Sally sets the pistol down to listen. "It is something I will do," she adds, nodding affirmatavely. And then sighs, deflating a little. "I suppose…it is a new way of thinking of things. To carry such a thing, and…"

A momentary smile quirks the corner of her mouth. "Responsibility, yes. That I understand…I just never thought that it would be like this. Joining SHIELD, I mean…" Yes, she knew they had guns, but she'd never considered she would be carrying one. Nor had she considered being in the position to actually need it, but Captain America points it out.

The pose her teacher drops into is familiar, and Sally gives a little smile. She's seen that pose before, and it's comforting - it's almost always family. Then Rogers offers to field her questions, and she thinks a moment.

She finally answers. "How long does it take, to…become proficient? I mean, not as good as you, but that is, to pass the basics? I believe the instructor said a score of 290?" She's looking for a gauge of how well she's learning, and where she should see skill begin to show. But there's another question lurking behind that one, one that she knows is difficult to answer and is often best left unasked.

But her family's experiences aren't always his - and he is an instructor, to teach her these things. She's a SHIELD agent. It's something she is going to have to consider, even with an ICER's general lack of lethality.

"Is it…when it is the appropriate time, what happens? In your mind…if I had to do that, to-" It's hard to say for a moment. "If I had to shoot someone…" Her discomfort with the question is obvious, but so is the heart of the question. What is it like to be in combat and take a life?

As the questions comes in, there is a causal shrug. All the questions are placed into one reasonable answer. "I think a few days and you'll be fine. Just take it easy and do your best. Remember that it's better to take your time and do well than rush, pass, and then not be ready when the time comes. It's one of the reasons why you need to be so comfortable with the gun. You don't want that to weigh in on if you need to use lethal or non-lethal means or have the uncertainity of firing a gun cause you to lose valuable time figuring out what you need to do. Hopefully, you'll never be in a situation where you have to take a life, but if you do, well, that's what training is for. They'll talk about that stuff in length, trust me on that. The important thing, though, is to remember who you are in that. SHIELD is an organization with a lot of knowledge and expertise, but sometimes it needs a healthy dose of personal ethics to ensure it remains the safeguard that it is."

A causal glance is given back and forth just in case someone is listening and wants to add in their opinions. "But that's just me, so take it for what you will."

A few days. That's good to know, and gives her a target to reach for. Practice, of course, is going to determine that - but at least she has something to work towards. It's always nice to know where the finish line is, whether it's a long way off or around the next corner. "Thank you. That at least gives me a thing to work towards, yes?" The Sokovian girl smiles, a little more assured about everything.

Sally finally nods, listening to his reasoning. "Hopefully so…I do not want to. But…I am here. Part of SHIELD, and well…" Protecting everything. Her ancestral homeland, her new adoptive homeland, and everyone she knows.

"Personal ethics. This…I understand is something much more complex. Right and wrong." A long sigh. "So much to think about. I suppose it is good to have examples, though, yes?" She grins a little, cheering up. There's a slightly aristocratic tone that slips into her voice; it's hard to tell if it's serious or playful. Probably both. "I suppose that is why we have you, Captain Rogers. I am glad you are here."

She almost wants to ask if he'd ever fought in eastern Europe, hunting down Hydra there. She knows her family had battled the Nazis for years, and wonders if their paths might have crossed. Something to ask her great grandmother about. For now? Professional colleagues, she reminds herself. Not a fangirl and hero. "Would you stay a little longer, then? If you are free, I…would not mind the instruction."

The grin turns somewhat sheepish at the talk of being a living example, even though Steve knows full well he was created to be just that. "Glad I could help," he offers in simple response.

A split second after Sally asks her question, Rogers hrms. Before he offers his answer a glance is given toward belt. A buzzing phone is retrieved, scanned and then puts it back even as she continues training herself. "I wish I could stay longer, but sadly, have a few other things I need to do today. Perhaps later on, I could come back and see how you're doing. But it was good meeting you, Miss?"

That awkward moment where you're teaching young women how to kill without getting their name first.

The pistol is set back down when he gets his message. Sally nods - he IS who he is, and is a very busy man. Avenger, soldier, SHIELDer, teacher. Among having his own personal life, if there's any room for such a thing left with all the hats Captain America wears. The blue-eyed girl nods and smiles anyway.

"I would appreciate that. Ah - I am nekulturny, not doing so. Stojespal. Rusalka Stojespal, of House Stojespal of Sokovia. But…" Her smile turns a little cynical at the titles, even if she's only an heiress. "Please…I prefer just 'Sally.'" It's certainly a better name than 'mermaid' at least.

Her hand reaches out - empty, the pistol on the firing line's shelf - to shake his hand. "The honor is mine alone, Captain. Sir. I got to see you once before, at the Triskelion. You were looking in on Ms. Reichert, after her crash. Thank you for that."

She'll certainly continue, at least working through her box of ammunition. The Glock slowly gets a workout, though the paper target lives a mostly carefree life. Some rounds hit, of course, but that's just chance. Sally is easily able to keep it safe and follow his rules. It's just that flinching from the blast and the recoil, and general discomfort with the gun, are still overpowering her.

Well…she has time.

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