The Last Bastion: Bunker Chicago (Collab) One Day at a Time

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Emperor's Faithful
((A collab between @Axl and @Nilum))
The firing range was rather empty and quiet, save for one person, when Russell arrived. He was here for target practice with his new HMG, yes, but he also had some things to ask of the other person there. He slowly made his way over to that person, deciding that pretending to just be there for wasting ammunition would be rude. "Jenive." He called out the woman's name as he approached, his expression hardening a bit as his eyes wandered to her prosthetic.
Jenive lowers her laser rifle, turning to see who was approaching her out of the corner of her eye. She wasn't wearing hearing protection, after all--lasers don't make noise. "Oh, hey. Russell, what do you--" She notices where he's looking, and quietly, she shuffles her metallic limb behind her other, still made of flesh and blood leg. "Oh. Well... I see. It works, well enough, I guess."
Russell sighs and shakes his head. "I wasn't worrying about that, though I do apologize for staring." He sets his weapon down on the lane next to Jenive's, offering a bit of a sigh. "I was actually worrying about you. I've heard some rather worrying things about you ever since the mission." His expression softens as he examines hers.
"What? Oh, I... I'm fine." Jenive mutters as she awkwardly scratches the back of her head. "Yeah, uh. Fine... Yeah." She stands there in awkward silence for a few moments, seemingly uncertain as to how to respond. About a minute passes where she stands there, looking at the floor. She taps her metal foot on the ground, and finally clears her throat and continues--though there is a hint of embarrassed appreciation in her eyes. "What have... You, heard? Exactly?"
Russell patiently waits for the woman to say something other than a half-assed lie, setting his weapon down in the adjacent lane. Though the motion was simple, he made sure that it wouldn't make much noise as he set it down. He raies an eyebrow towards Jenive after she asks her question. "I've heard that you've lost your old chipper attitude. That you've been hitting the bottle harder than an old soldier. And those are some of the more pleasant things I've heard." He leans against the divider, crossing his arms as he looks at the woman who lost a leg because of him. "I understand if you do not wish to talk about it, whatever it is that's gotten into your head, but I want you to know that I am here for you. Even if you only want to complain about having a prosthetic." The normally weary-eyed man softens his expression, the closest thing he can offer to a smile with the lower half of his face covered in the rebreather.
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"It's not that." She looks down at her leg, a hint faint of a smile managing to cross her face. "I knew it would happen, sooner or later. No soldier leaves a battlefield without battle scars, one way or another." Her eyes harden as she kneels down and raises her laser rifle toward a target down range. She aims down the sights, and rests her finger on the trigger. "I don't know how Adrik does it... Or most people." The target down range was that of a regular looking target, though with the word 'civilian' spray painted on the bottom. The steel target seemed two dimensional in every important way. Jenive hesitates, continuing to speak. "I don't know how they can just pull a trigger, and..." She pulls the trigger, a silent but bright laser hurdling through the air at speeds beyond their comprehension as it rips the target clean in two. As steam and heat emanate from the end of the weapon, she starts running a diagnostic on it. "... Feel nothing but the recoil." Her eyes falter from her task, as she glances over to Russel.

"Because of my feelings for Carolyn, I handed over the prisoner. Because of my hesitations in the face of the enemy, I lost my leg. Tell me... How do you choose not to feel?" The steeled look in her eyes seems to quietly melt away as she goes back to diagnosing her rifle. "... Because alcohol doesn't seem to do a good job at dulling those feelings..."
The man nods as Jenive speaks; he understands the sentiment, as the cruel reality of a soldier is that one will always come back with scars. While he listens, he retrieves one of the boxes of ammunition, loading it into his rifle, though he doesn't chamber the first round just yet. Though as she asks her last question, his expression hardens somewhat as he stares down at the machine of death settled on the counter of the range. "For me it is not a choice. When I step onto the battlefield, everything becomes dulled. My senses remain sharp, but emotion drains from me on the field. Sometimes this extends to off the field as well. A switch flips, my breathing becomes more controlled, my thoughts become focused, but I stop feeling." His expression remained grim until he turned to face Jenive. "Sometimes my actions haunt me, sometimes I regret. But I bottle those feelings up, and lose them in gunfire. I am a broken man in more ways than one, and while many people may see me as lucky for having this..." He looks down at his own hands, his gaze seeming to pierce right through the armoured gauntlets covering them. "There is also much that I lose because of this."
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Jenive considers his words carefully, running through them in her mind. "An off switch, huh?" She glances over at him, then puts her rifle down and takes a step closer to pat him on the shoulder. "The only thing you are losing out on is weakness, Russell." She lowers her hand and looks down at the ground. "I... Will, work at improving on it. As best as I can. After all, Adrik says that he does bad things so good people can sleep well at night. Makes sense to me."
Russell looks up at Jenive when she pats his shoulder, expression once again softening. "Once again you prove yourself as the poster girl of the Coalition." He then steps into his lane as he offers Jenive a nod. "And Jenive? Thanks for saving my life on that field." He then chambers the round, and aims downrange, heavy weapon at his hip.
"Anytime." Jenive replies with a soft smile. She grabs her laser rifle, and continues diagnostics on it. She glances over at him, and giggles. "Nudge the end up a little. Compensate for the range, or you won't hit the middle of the target. Upper torso hits are better than lower torso hits."
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