The Kids Are All Wrong: Unease
Mission: Chapter 8: Pirates and Cowboys
Eating a snack, Melisande grumbled at the long white hair she pulled out from it. She saw Ashrieda sitting across from her, which made her remember something from yesterday during the combat drill. Ashrieda seemed to have an unusual pistol that piqued Melisande's curiosity.
Melisande leaned over closer to the other woman, "Ashrieda, can I examine your pistol? I noticed it yesterday and wanted to check something."
Ashrieda stopped poking the mysterious substance on her plate and looked up at Melisande, concerned. Some people had children; she had guns. They were precious to her and she couldn't take anyone mistreating them.
“Like what?” she asked. Her hand went to her holster protectively.
Melisande couldn't help but sigh slightly. The attitude was to be expected even though it made her job harder, but then mentally chastised herself with the realization of how protective she was over her own swords and revolver. She grabbed her own revolver from its holster on her calf and put it on the table for Ashrieda to see.
"I just noticed that you seem to tinker with your guns if your pistol is any indication. Normally, this would be a liability because of how badly many people do this, yet yours seems to be unusually well done and manage to do its purpose in enhancing it. I just wanted to see what you did. Feel free to look at mine."
“Oh,” Ashrieda said, relaxing a bit. “Well in that case.” She picked up Melisande’s gun and held it up as if to fire -- a few others in the mess hall quickly ducked and swore loudly; Ashrieda pretended not to notice -- and then turned it over and over in her hands. Compared to her own gun, Melisande’s pepperbox was a good bit larger, but much lighter weight. Already Ashrieda could see how she would have taken it apart and modified it for her own use. She’d shorten the barrel a bit, for starters, and maybe add an extra slot in the hammer to make it easier to aim...
“Pretty,” she declared. “I have a pepperbox sort of like this, ‘cept my handle is plain. Don’t carry it around much since I have to use it right-handed and it doesn't feel natural, but it comes in handy sometimes. No pun intended,” she added quickly.
“Oh yeah, have at.” She lay her own gun on the table for Melisande to see. “This one's the one you're talking about though. Much prefer it. It’s not much but it does what it’s supposed to.”
Melisande took the pistol from the table and quickly unloaded it, allowing the two bullets to drop on the table. She looked inside the area that held them, pulled the hammer back before snapping it back into place, and finally pulled the trigger a few times to hear the click. The small gun certainly wasn't much to look at, but that was the point. It was a pistol make typical for close range assassinations and could only hold two bullets at a time, but Ashrieda added power to it. She was confident that it would shoot accurately at double the yards that it was originally intended. For that extra power, it was heavier, the barrel lengthened, the gun sight on top redone to be more accurate, and the handle had grooves to accommodate the two stubs left of her ring and pinky finger on her left hand.
"It's better than I originally thought," She reloaded the pistol, and put it back on the table, "Not my personal style as I have a strong preference for revolvers and usually use my swords, but it is needed for someone who specializes in guns. How is the recoil on it?"
“Of course it is, I don’t go about half-assing things,” Ashrieda said matter-of-factly, picking up her pistol and putting it back in her holster, where it was safe. Considering the recoil, she frowned a bit. It was one technicality that she hadn't yet been able to solve.
“Well -- it could be better, to be honest,” she admitted. “It’s not as bad if I’m shooting from the hip, which it would have been great for if I hadn't tweaked it -- I've got some un-tweaked ones too -- but I needed something this size that would aim better. Lengthening the barrels makes it easier to aim, but it also means more kickback. If I had to sacrifice something, I’d rather hit my target and whack myself in the face in the process than miss my target then have them turn around and shoot me in the chest, you know what I mean?”
"Hmm...that is problematic. The extra weight should have reduced most of that recoil. You could use lighter bullets, but that would leave an increased likelihood of the enemy surviving. Perhaps a lighter spring or a recoil pad? While the recoil pad is normally for rifles, I have created some for handhelds. There might be an alchemical solution. I won't be able to tell unless I can fire it for myself. I noticed some targets in the hold and I really should practice my shooting with this injury. Could we do a little target practice in the field near the ship?"
“Sounds good,” Ashrieda said, pushing the mysterious substance -- she’d decided they were grits -- aside and getting up, Melisande following suit.
Two minutes later, they had retrieved the targets and were setting them up, when it became apparent they were going to have quite the audience. The Steamhawke had been attracting more and more attention from the locals the longer it remained docked, and there was a group of about a dozen teenagers now, who had become excited about seeing real pirates in action. Ashrieda considered rearranging the targets so that the teenagers were in the line of fire, simply to see if they had the good sense to move.
“Okay,” she said, indicating that she was ready. She removed the pistol from her holster, cocked it, and fired from her hip at the target. Some of the teenagers squealed. Ashrieda rolled her eyes. It had been a really good shot, though, if she said so herself. Which she did.
“See that? Now that was a thing of beauty. But when I do this --” She tried again, this time holding the gun at chest level and trying to aim specifically at the center of the target. When she fired, her arm jerked upward; if she hadn't known what to expect and thus compensated, she would have socked herself in the eye. If the target had been a person, she suspected she would have gotten him in the neck. Uncomfortable, but not quite good enough for a kill.
“That….not quite. Do you see what I mean?” She reloaded the gun and handed it back to Melisande, scanning the crowd of teenagers anxiously.
"I do," Melisande silently motioned for the kids to get out of the way, put the gun down to her left hip, and shot, feeling the power go up into her arm causing a small jerk. Not used to such recoil or shooting at the hip, the bullet missed the bullseye. When she fired the pistol in the proper position, she stumbled backwards and saw that the bullet just barely hit the target, "A lighter spring and a recoil pad should fix it."
She turned to Ashrieda, handing her back her gun, and whispered, "Do pirates always cause such a commotion? Would you like me to start working on it once we get back? We can leave whenever you wish."
Her hour to work had already past, but the look on Ashrieda's face worried her and Melisande certainly didn't like being on display like this. She quickly got out her revolver and shot the target, hitting the bullseye, simply as a show to any potential enemy. Colton told her people would be after them, but she simply wasn't sure if this was it.
"There shouldn't be so many of them." Something was off. Not the fact that the kids were infatuated with pirates, but...well, Ashrieda couldn't bring herself to believe that all of these kids were dreaming about being pirates when they grew up, no matter how innocent they looked. Her mind went back to the familiar stranger in the dry goods shop and she felt a jolt of alarm.
"Let's get outta here, matey," she said, wrapping an arm around Melisande's shoulders like they were best pals. "You remember seeing a flower shop around here? We may have to get our new fans a gift."
Melisande tried not to look surprised by Ashrieda's sudden touch, as she felt her body stiffen from the sudden contact. She looked at her confused, "I have a decent idea where it is. We are fortunate to have had dinner early as I think it closes soon. Let's go."
She felt like her intestine was being turned into knots. It would be the first time she entered the town since dropping 'Pauline.' The two women forced smiles as they walked into town, still clutching their guns in their left hands, the sun beginning to set behind them.