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Server time (UTC): 2021-10-18 10:44

Training in the night


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Yet another day of work, good hard work. The kind of honest labor that Mace had missed out on in his life in a small town. With no paper route or anything of the like it was an existence of video games and internet that he missed at times, but the state of the world left little time to worry about things that were no more.

This was the only time he could really allow himself to train, at least the way he would want to. In full gear, a heavy backpack full of canned goods that he kept should the animals he hunted ever run low for the people who visited the trading post, and a simple stab-proof vest that protected his torso, he strode out into the middle of the trading post, slowly circling around the fuel tanks and the broken down vehicles that formed the centerpiece of the only real "safe haven" in Chernarus he was aware of.

Guns were heavy, and the ammunition they required took up valuable space that could otherwise be used for preparing animals and transporting the cuts back to the trading post or carrying medical supplies. He wasn't a horrible shot anymore, a few potshots now and then with the guns that he had found and squirreled away, including the Winchester which he had focused on hunting with, allowed him to take out the odd zombie that dared get close to the outpost or a simple animal from the watchtowers that loomed overhead.

Tonight, tonight was the night that Mace got to train with his weapon of choice: The axe. It was silent, for the most part, and allowed him to, in some way, escape and think back to a simpler time when he played role-playing games where a Dwarf warrior could wield his trusty battleaxe against a horde of foes. It didn't require ammunition, and even if he couldn't take care of the upkeep requirements they were common enough to find in sporting stores or any number of places where those less fortunate than himself had fallen either to banditry or the undead.

A simple swing, to start, the feel of the weight shifting on his back, calling the bespectacled man to adjust the straps that held the heavy pack to him. He had to train with weight, it would help when he wasn't burdened and wouldn't leave him a simpering mess when he was. As soon as everything was in the right position another blow was taken at the air, some invisible target that he often sparred with in the dead of night when the moonlight and whatever fires burned down in the camp cast crooked shadows that shifted like a cheering crowd at the walls of the outpost.

From one hand, Mace gripped his weapon with the other and moved forward, swinging again then turning before thrusting the butt of the sturdy hardwood haft out into the air. It was something he had always scolded people for in his games, never to simply think of a weapon as an edge or a point. Opposite the edge, the heavy metal head was swung around like a hammer, a good way to disable those who might try to take what wasn't theirs.

It was almost like a kata, practicing the way his body moved, trying to build the muscle memory he would need when adrenaline was pumping and his life was on the line. Different blows, from different angles, standing and crouching, were rained down upon his invisible foe, and all the while, through the focus he tried to keep, was the information zooming through his mind. Zombies didn't need to claw you, but taking their arms off could lead to them stumbling and falling over with no way to get back up. Taking out the legs left them much slower and easier to deal with. A shot to the head was almost instantly lethal no matter what, but with a sturdy shot of the axe most of them were too heavily damaged to continue on.

It all flashed back to him, changing the weapon from one hand to the other, adjusting his grip and his stance in order to get the proper momentum for the next swing. A quick jab with the head of the axe to disorient, followed by a quick chop to the throat or the face. A machete might do if he could find one, but the axe was a symbol to him of the ideal self he always imagined in those games. He could make it work, and his weapon had already been caked with gore, the zombies innumerable by now even if he had tried to make an estimate.

Another step, cleaving at the air before the rest of his body joined in the volleys of attacks. It wasn't exactly the safest thing but a well-placed knee or elbow would allow for someone to properly knock the flesh eater off guard enough to finish them. Reinforced boots could kick and stomp to pin the crawlers to the ground for a finishing blow or knock the more ambulatory biters on their back.

It was a savage and precise science. It required thought and concentration, attention to detail and awareness of one's surroundings. Even as the clouds moved in to obscure the light of the moon, Mace continued with the repetition of actions, pushing himself even as a thick sheen of sweat, marring his face with streaks of grime and perspiration.

Fatigue came less and less often as he practiced. He could run longer, fight longer without having to worry about gasping for breath and aspirating that rotten mix of flesh and blood that flew through the air in the wake of his attacks with his choking gasps. If he was going to fulfill that which he sought out, it was necessary to continue.

He could feel the burn in his chest, the weight tugging at him as if it had increased as the minutes passed. The sting of sweat in his eyes wiped away with a grimy shirt sleeve so that he could continue the salvo. It was most definitely not the most effective training, but he had to do it. If he was going to live the life of someone who preferred to use such a simple weapon he had to make sure that he understood it better than they understood their guns. He had to know the heft and weight, to swing it and know where it would go.

The clouds passed, and the silvery light of the moon returned to wash over the open area between the tents that he had moved his way across, turning and twisting, testing his own flexibility and range of motion while he attacked.

He could feel his limits being pushed, and even though he tried to work past them, he only managed a few more swings, a bit more wild and "berserk" than the rest of his session before he stumbled and felt his knees buckle. Was it successful? Had he truly improved himself, broken through some barrier to reach a higher plane of understanding? Had he done anything at all other than work himself into a sweaty mess?

His body slumped back against the ground, his axe thudding dully against the ground at his side. With his aching fingers slowly unfastening the straps of his backpack, he finally let out a gasp and succumbed to the deep mouth breathing he had wanted to give in to before, forcing himself to breathe "properly" through his nose so he wouldn't become tired as quickly.

Sliding down until just his head was resting on the lumpy backpack full of goods, the man rubbed the stubble that had formed throughout the day on his face and of everything. Of all the possible topics that crossed his mind, from the state of the world, to the affairs of the various factions that vied for attention, for control of the areas of Chernarus. Of the people he had met and everything he had gone through, he could only thing of one thing.

"Maybe I should just grow a beard."

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  • Legend

Pitch perfect. Didn't want to read this at the moment, but it drew me in.

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A priest. Of all the outfits he could have stumbled upon in a time of desperation he found the "holy" cerements in a church in Cherno. Better than the simple rags that had been tattered by jagged nails and rotting teeth, Mace took up the robe and the hat (It's a complete ensemble after all) and found himself being looked to by others for spiritual advice.

Many times he had to perform rites of burial and even though he himself had long since abandoned Christianity for Nordisk Sed, the worship of the Norse gods before the fall of the Old World, he did not simply cast aside the robes. They helped people.

Yes, there were those who mocked him, or who would make snide remarks about a priest with a hatchet or a sub-machine gun walking about the Trading Post, but for the most part it was all in good fun. The people who, however, came to him with a more sincere supplication were what made him hang onto the ebony vestments.

A spiritual adviser, religious counsel, something that could offer a bit of the comfort of religion to those who had to question whether any kind of higher power, singular or multiple, existed given the damnation that seemed to spread across the land. It offered a bit of respite, of solace to the people who saw him and spoke to him, even if he only donned the appropriate attitude when needed.

Pushing his way up onto his feet in the middle of the night, he slipped out of the simple tent with his axe in hand. It hadn't been his main means of combat for quite some time, and there was a part of him, that geeky, role-playing boy who loved Dwarves and vikings, that loathed the fact that he had to adopt some kind of ranged combat alternative. The Bizon was effective, had plenty of ammunition (Which was good given his poor accuracy), and silent. It was no comparison, no replacement, but he practiced with it while running to the nearby towns and hunting the animals by Cap Golova, or whatever the people around called it.

Tonight, however, was time to spend with his friend, the hatchet that may be different physically, but was the same spiritually to him, as the very first one he had picked up for his defense in Chernarus. The movements were similar, slashing, chopping at the invisible enemy in the back of the Trading Post, turning and sweeping across the matted grass with another powerful blow.

The robes actually seemed to help his mobility, not restrained with a pair of jeans, the usual protective vest or whatever thick jacket he could find to help cover himself and defend him. It wasn't his usual means of training, but it was a needed escape, to allow himself to fall into something almost like meditation. This was a time solely for him, to enjoy the silence and solitude, broken only by the occasional snarl of an adamant zombie attempting in vain to make its way through the shipping containers.

It was the perfect night, except for the pain that had been bothering the makeshift priest. Mace found himself stopping and rubbing at his back, over one side and then the other. It was a fact of life for him, a condition that he suffered from before the Old World came tumbling down, and it seemed like, no matter how hard he wished, it was going to continue now.

Rushing his way to one of the port-a-johns, the pain intensified as he relieved himself, the stone that his kidney had decided to make on its own tearing its way through him slowly, causing him to groan and put one hand against the plastic wall even after he had finished, waiting for that fiery stab to lessen so that he could go back to his tent. The training, no matter how necessary it was, would have to wait.

His legs nearly buckled out from beneath him as he staggered his way back to the tent, a thick sheen of sweat already visible on his forehead. What was he going to do? He had to have many of the plethora surgically removed and even if he knew a skilled surgeon he didn't trust any kind of surgery in the wasteland that Chernarus had turned into. He would have to pass it himself, but the thought nearly made him queasy with another sharp pang.

Injected. He had recently met one of the men and spoken of the cursed stone, maybe he jinxed himself. Crawling the last few inches into the tent, he collapsed and opened up his robe as best he could to try to let the cool night air relax him, the areas drenched with sweat quickly growing cold. He could talk to them to help get the pain medicine that he usually received at a hospital or from a doctor.

Writhing and groaning with a hand pressing on his stomach right above the area where the stone currently resided within him, Mace closed his eyes and breathed deeply. It was times like this back then that he would hold her, cling to her and nuzzle his face into the crook of her neck when nothing was available to try to soothe his pain. All he could do now was remember, to think of the night as a test of some kind, one he knew he had to pass.

Sleep was elusive, but as he writhed and the pain lessened as the stone found a new place to lodge itself and grow immobile, the inside of the tent grew darker until his eyes finally closed, heavy from the weariness and pain, but never able to stay shut for long until just now.

Steps would have to be taken. A secret supply maybe, enough medication to keep him active, able to do his job for TOR and the Trading Post, not to mention the people who used the various goods he brought in for them. He could make it work, and it was that last, somewhat shaky, affirmation that led him to his dreams.

It would be difficult. It would be painful. Still, he could make it work.

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  • Legend

The anticipation ....

Stellar work mate. Can't wait for the next installment.

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I lost control today.

I was with a couple of people, one of them was a member of 7th squad. Special Forces or so they say. They actually seem to have their act together enough that I'd believe there was military training of some type going on with them. A shitty little car, driving around and checking out areas for more "high grade" things like heavier firearms and perhaps even a better backpack after an unfortunate car accident and rescue left me without a pack and what I think might be a slight concussion.

Northwest Air Field. It's a death trap. Not the zombies, no, they're the least of your problems. I've heard the stories of people who sit there, just waiting to rob whomever comes across them looking for heavier weapons, some kind of armored security clothing, a better backpack meant for carrying larger loads, anything. You never go there. I never go there. I stay with the Trading Post. I take care of the people who need it. I don't need a machine gun when I have my axe.

There was something, however, that welled up within me when we got there. We had already checked out another military barracks at a place called Guglovo...Gulglove. [A few scratch marks are visible marking out various spellings of the location]. Whatever it was called. I got a few scratches there, and the people I was with were able to find some interesting gear that they either needed or they could pile into the trunk for trading later. I'd been sitting in the back on the way up there, and simply watching the creatures stumble about, standing with no point in existing unless they caught a glimpse, a whiff, a sound.

We rode onto the airstrip with our shitty little car, and I saw something I didn't expect: A smoke grenade. Green clouds billowed out of one of the large hangars, seemingly larger than the ones I saw at Balota but never really inspected unless I was desperate. Someone was there, and I knew that throwing smoke was a good way to get away from the zombies. The sudden movement, the strange shapes it took, it was enough to draw their attention and have them running for something they thought might be food.

I don't know why I did it. Maybe I'm just too sentimental, too soft. I saw a glimpse of someone running, and I threw myself out of the car. I barely had time to get my seatbelt off before the rest of my body was halfway out the door and my axe was in hand.

I didn't count them. I couldn't have. They were a clawing, biting, ravenous horde that came at me from every side, but I didn't care. For the first time since this all happened I could feel every iota of my body resounding with a simple phrase. Two words to these unnatural creatures, these ghouls who had taken from me, from us, everything we held dear. It screamed inside meat the situation, at the city, the country, the world if so much as a single zombie stood groaning outside the borders of this forsaken hell hole.

Fuck you.

I found myself growling the words as I turned, muscles aching as jagged, yellow nails tore through the jacket and found purchase in my skin. I cleaved through heads, I lopped off limbs. At my best estimate it was forty I cut through before I was picked up again, and most of them were in that initial rush, trying to help someone I didn't know, someone who could have just as easily shot me than suffer through speaking to me, but I didn't care. It was like a hot ball of lead in the pit of my stomach. It anchored me, and it helped me recall everything I tried to remember from those nights I'd stay up when the post was empty.

Part of it was pain. This damn stone is taking its time. I don't have enough pain killers to properly ration them. Nothing that would come close to dulling it the way I need. I have to speak with Injected again about hydrocodone. Hydrocodone and Apap I think. Something like that. They should know. Lorcet 10's, those were the good ones.

All I had to try to dull that searing nettle in my kidney was dime store Motrin, or whatever they call it here, and it doesn't do its job very well. That had to have been part of it. Hurting, frustrated, angry. I always played a barbarian when I could in RPGs. I liked the idea of letting go, just once. I didn't want to be the mild, mostly soft-spoken if vitriolic sidekick that I was in real life.

I wanted this. I wanted, however briefly, to let go. To give in to what many of my RPG characters would call a blissful sensation. There was no bliss, however. There was no elation, no great feeling of joy in this fight. It was me culling a herd, a useless herd that couldn't even be butchered for parts. Forty bodies, at least, littered the ground before the second lieutenant picked me up again. We managed to give the man I had fought to protect a vehicle so he could stay safe. I hope he didn't get killed or robbed.

He called himself Bomberman. Made me think of an old geeky song based on a video game, but that wasn't enough to bring a smile to my face. I'd yell at them, scream obscenities, unsure if their feelings could be hurt or if they were just responding to the volume and direction of my voice. I barred doors and funneled them in to slow them down near the end, after I had taken damage and felt light-headed, but the rest of it, no, the rest of it was in the open.

I fought them on their own ground. I juked and lashed out at their jarring, spasmodic movements. I'm learning how to prepare myself, how they look when they're going to move. There's a sameness to it all, almost like a hive mind controlling them, making them all display the same signs, the same tells.

I want to make it seem like an astounding victory, but it wasn't. I hope I'm immune, or I have some kind of resistance. I don't know what this is or how it's passed. If it's just bites, if you have to die first, I don't know. I'm writing this with toilet paper bandages and spare clothing ripped up to keep things cinched as tightly as possible without risking my circulation while I sleep.

I lost control, and I got beat up. I won, but I don't know if some of these marks are bites or if I was just too frustrated, too angry to feel my skin split open from their clawing grasp. It didn't matter then, they all got a blade through the brain. I'll make sure that's how it ends.

I'll have to try to wave down a Free Medic the next time I see one. I need stitches I think. Can't bring myself to cauterize the wound. I run the risk of messing up my tendons and there's no way to fix that, even if I knew a surgeon. Maybe I'm just afraid. Maybe the rush is wearing off and I'm trying to hedge my bets so I won't just die.

I'll write again soon. I need to find another journal I think. More pens, more ink. Luckily very few office supply stores were ransacked as thoroughly as other places. Even if it's just some printer paper and a few Bics I can keep writing.

I'm not going to turn.

I refuse to.

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  • Legend

Please write a book. A novel. A long one. Please?

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I just realized I put this in the wrong thread. Wrote that before passing out last night. I'm going to have to switch that with another training night later. Glad everyone's enjoying the little glimpses into my madness.

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