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Episode 84 - Unexpected Bets 2 ‘Born to be a soldier.’
Duke Rodriguez’s words gave Aernest and Aedelak shivers down their spine. With their hearts beating nervously, they branded Duke Rodriguez’s words into their brains, to never forget his words.
“Due to the dangerous nature of this weapon, guns are not allowed to be recreated or owned by anyone outside of the Military. Soldiers are prohibited from using guns, bringing guns outside the Military base or the Imperial Palace. Only with permission by a general or the commander can you train with a gun, hold a gun, or wield a gun in public. This is to prevent gun violence that may occur. If you are guilty of breaking this law, you will be executed without a trial. This includes sharing knowledge about guns to individuals outside the military.” Duke Rodriguez stressed every word he spoke out with all seriousness.
Seeing Duke Rodriguez stress every word with seriousness made Eugene slightly relieved. Guns are a serious topic. Although she was excited to use a gun, when she was reminded of her current age earlier on, she began to doubt if the Military knows the severity of allowing them to train with guns. But hearing how serious Duke Rodriguez sounded when talking guns, Eugene felt relieved. She was even more relieved knowing that even the Emperor is forbidden to use a gun.
‘With the limitations on guns, it should be difficult for soldiers to abuse the use of guns..’ Eugene glanced at the gun cases in front of her.
“If you didn’t know, information regarding firearms available to the public is severely outdated. I’m pretty sure bamboo guns might still be listed as guns soldiers use?” Duke Rodriguez pouted his lips in uncertainty.
“Yes... Bamboo guns that need to be lit up for it to work.” Eugene nodded in silence.
“Anyways, there are two types of guns the military uses. The old type that needs to manually be lit up at the wick to shoot, and the updated version we got thanks to the treasures found in Serv.” Duke Rodriguez explained as he showed the three two gun types by holding them in front of him.
“By the end of today’s training, you will know how to disassemble, assemble, and shoot a gun.” Duke Rodriguez announced as he set the guns down.
The old version of the firearm Duke Rodriguez showed is an arquebus gun made from hardwood. This is also known as a hook gun where strings needed to be ignited to be able to shoot.
He then began to disassemble the gun and explained as he went on. First, he showed the children where the safety lock was before showing them how to check for dents. He then finished his explanations by dismantling parts that could be removed and needed to be regularly maintained before reassembling the gun back together.
The next gun beside the arquebus type is a rifle using a flintlock mechanism. After repeatedly teaching them how to lock and unlock the safety pin of the gun, he showed them how to use the gun.
First, he poured gunpowder down the barrel before wrapping a lead ball in cloth. This lead ball acts as a bullet that will pierce down the enemy. He then jammed the wrapped lead ball into the barrel on top of the gunpowder he added before.
Placing a small amount of gunpowder in the flintlock’s pan, he then snapped the frizzen over the pan in place, before cocking the hammer and then pulling the trigger to fire at the target.
The sound of deep sharp thunder radiated around the area as soon as Duke Rodriguez pulled the trigger. Smoke and the unique smell of gunpowder soon followed.
The children were given headphones before the shot, which partially canceled out the noise in order not to damage their eardrums. Aernest already had on his headphones since arriving at the Military base so he only needed to tighten the headphones to further isolate his ears from the outside world.
One of the soldiers brought over the doll figure Duke Rodriguez shot at, and sure enough, the shot landed perfectly in the chest area, close to the heart. The figure brought over had numbers that ranged from 1 to 10. 1 being least critical and 10, critical. The neck, head, chest, and heart had the numbers 9-10, whilst the other areas had figures ranging from 1-8.
“One must put in a lot of patience and effort into training with guns. Remember. One-shot may or may not determine that person’s life. In five years, I expect you to be able to shoot the numbers 1-5 with your eyes closed. But for now, let’s focus on the basics and get comfortable with handling this weapon.” Duke Rodriguez lightly smiled, handing the three children guns with the safety pin in place.
‘Will the recoil be bad?’ Eugene wondered.
Looking at her flintlock rifle, Eugene slightly sighed. Although the rifle before her was 100 times better than the bamboo firearm, it was still a cumbersome firearm when compared to the latest gun model of her former world. Nevertheless, this was better than nothing!
Soon, the three began their training under the supervision of Duke Rodriguez, Instructor T.E, and the two soldiers who brought over the firearms.
“Hold the handgrip with your non-firing hand. The gun has to naturally sit underneath your palms as you hold it... Yes, lightly.” The soldier spoke, teaching Aernest how to recreate the hold.
“Hold the end of the firearm against the pocket of your firing shoulders, keep it there firmly so that the recoil is absorbed throughout your whole body and not just your shoulder. Remember this pose well so that you get an accurate shot as well as not hurt your shoulders.” Instructor T.E warned the 3 from behind.
“Grip the firearm grip while holding your trigger finger straight just like what the General did. Do not curl it until you are told to fire.” One soldier went around to check on everyone’s finger before giving the nod to instructor T.E.
“Keep your elbows down and in to support the riddle. With your cheeks supporting, carefully watch where you are aiming at. You can also align the riddle sighting to your target if you feel more comfortable that way.”
The three found their comfortable position with the soldiers guiding them along the way. Eugene was the most comfortable and followed the instructor's instructions with no stress. According to her former trainer, slowing breathing whilst relaxing was key to shooting accurately.
Her completely relaxed figure did not go past Instructor T.E, the two soldiers, and Duke Rodriguez who was supervising the three children’s every move. In fact, Eugene stood out like a sore thumb when compared to the other two whose shoulders stood up from the tension they were feeling.
‘.... I was shaking when I first held a firearm.’ One of the soldiers looked at Eugene, Aernest, and Aedelak in awe. Although Aernest and Aedelak were slightly tense, they weren’t shaking.
‘Isn’t the older twin taking this too lightly?’ The other soldier thought whilst watching Eugene from the top of her crown.
The way Eugene was holding herself at this moment was as if she wasn’t scared of the machine that could kill a person with just one pull to the trigger. As if all the warnings didn’t phase her one bit. This could mean that her mentality was incredibly strong. But this could also mean that her mentality is a bit dangerous.
As for which spectrum she’s in, only the future can tell...
“Now, once you’re ready, you may pull the trigger!” Instructor T.E finished, allowing the children to shoot whenever they are ready.
A thunder-like roar indicated that Aernest had fired his shot.
“MISSED!” One soldier shouted out.
The first shot was shot by Aernest who completely missed his target by jerking his head over before the bullet completely left the firearm. Wincing from the recoil, he sighed at his failure.
The next shot was by Aedelak, who managed to graze the figure. Aedelak had followed through with her shot up until the end but the reason for her missing the target was due to her heavy breathing. One could tell, she hesitated a lot before shooting.
Eugene carefully studied the way Aernest and Aedelak shot before adjusting accordingly. Using her time wisely to properly secure the end of the firearm to her shoulders, Eugene put all her focus on the target ahead of the riddle sighting before pulling the trigger.
When all the smoke died down, all everyone could do was stare at the target figure and Eugene with wide eyes. Silence filled the area as everyone’s heart started to beat fiercely from the adrenaline rush at the figure Eugene shot at.
“......” Eugene blinked. She didn’t mean to shoot there.
“10! 10!” One soldier broke the silence.
“The recoil made me shift…” Eugene sighed, putting her firearm down. Eugene had aimed towards the chest, but ended up going for the kill at the neck area! Although unintended, this shot would one million percent kill.
Seeing her frown at the result she got made everyone’s mouth widely gape. For a soldier, shooting and aiming for the highest score is a must when competing with one another. Yet, seeing Eugene dissatisfied with her full marks made the adults not know what to do. Then again, they told the children to be well versed in shooting the least critical area as opposed to the critical area.
With no choice, instructor T.E spoke up. “For now, let’s aim for the highest score instead of the lowest score.” At the back of his mind, he slightly sighed. For sure, Eugene shooting a 10/10 would spread around the military-like wildfire.
“How uncomfortable.” Eugene rubbed the back of her neck out of habit. ‘Getting familiar with this firearm will take some time.’ Eugene deeply exhaled.
“WOAH SISTER! ELDER MISS!” Aernest and Aedelak shouted in unison once they came back to mother earth. Not only did Eugene shoot with ease, she even went in for the kill! As expected of the person they look up to! She was way too cool to be true!
“.. Wow..” Duke Rogriguez muttered, staring at the oldest and the 2nd oldest child crowding around the youngest child. Having steady breathings up until the end says so much about Eugene. ‘This child might just be born to be a soldier…’ He secretly chuckled. Like Levis, Eugene was most likely an all-rounder; good at everything.
“Ahem” Instructor T.E coughed, grabbing the children’s attention. “Just like young Miss Eugeneia, keep calm when you shoot and always follow through until the end.” He advised.
He fully understands the emotional aspect of wielding a gun, hearing a bullet blasting from a gun, and the fear one naturally feels when shooting, so he could understand why it would be difficult for the children to stay calm. If even his soldiers have difficulty doing so, how much more difficult would it be for the children to stay calm?
‘How should I go about this?’ Eugene began to silently think. She had missed her aim earlier on because her small body wasn’t able to fully absorb the recoil of the gun.
“Hmm…” Eugene raised her hands to Instructor T.E. “May I take on a more comfortable position?” She asked.
“... Yes, that’s quite alright.” Instructor T.E responded, assuming that Eugene would only spread her legs to stand firmly. Who would have known that he would be completely flabbergasted and baffled within the next few seconds?
‘By comfortable… you meant, incredibly comfortable?’ He choked, looking at the small girl getting herself all snuggly. ‘Wasn’t she supposed to be of a noble origin?’ He silently kept his thoughts to himself.
Like how instructor T.E lost his composure, everyone too watched as Eugene climbed off her high chair and planted her butt onto the table made to lock firearms in place for easy shooting.
As if she wasn’t born into the most prominent and outstanding family of Xenperia, she sat with one of her legs propped up, and the other crossed. With permission to hold the firearm from the adults behind her, she began to steady the gun with her propped up leg and shoulder at the same time.
‘This will help shoot more accurately.’ Eugene nodded towards Aernest to do the same. Only Aedelak was left out because she was bigger and would fall off the not-so-wide table.
With permission and help of instructor T.E and the 2 soldiers repeating the same instructions, Eugene and Aernest began to shoot in a sitting position whilst Aedelak began to shoot with her legs stretched a bit wider than last time.
With every shot, the three would change their position to find the position they were most comfortable in. The stings from gun recoil soon started to become overpowered by adrenaline pumping through their blood from excitement. By running 5km with a log tied to their waist to shooting with guns, the blood, sweat, and tears they shed yesterday were definitely worth it!
‘Ahhh~ Shooting is fun~’ The three communicated using telepathy.
Because of instructor T.E’s advice to always keep calm, Aernest and Aedelak’s accuracy improved with every shot. Naturally, having the youngest, Eugene, to compare their results to, too gave them tremendous motivation and strength to further improve themselves. In a sense, Eugene was their support system, and if she could do it, so could they!
Of Aernest’s 10 shots, 6 safely pierced into the sanded figure. Two on the stomach area, one on the right leg, two on the shoulders, and one on the figure’s left arm. Although Aernest didn’t exactly shoot it right into the number, he was able to shoot according to Instructor T.E’s calls.
Aedelak in turn had no wasted bullets and was able to shoot with 70% accuracy on the indicated numbers. Right shoulder two, left shoulder one, chest one, leg two, head one, lower waist two, and neck arm one.
If Aernest and Aedelak’s results were good for first-timers, Eugene’s result would bring cold sweats down every soldier stationed at the Military base!
‘He.He.’ Eugene lightly coughed. ‘Not bad, not bad.’ She silently smirked.
Of all her 10 shots, 10 were shot to the critical areas. Six neck shots, two chest shots, and 2 heart shots. The more critical, the smaller the number, yet even then, Eugene was able to graze the numbers, hitting the indicated numbers!
‘A person born to fight.’ Instructor T.E gulped back his astonishment, his arms tingling in chills. ‘No, not just Miss Eugene, the other two as well.’ His eyebrows squinted at the three talented children. ‘Just because you were told to calm down, could you really calm down with such ease?’
“.... Lord.” -Save me. The soldiers who replicated the children’s results onto a chart wanted to faint. There was a possibility that Eugene’s first shot was a coincidence, but staring at the results they drew up, the first shot was by no means any coincidence. With every shot Eugene shot, her accuracy improved. It was difficult to tell in real life, but on paper, it was fairly easy to see that shooting was most possibly as easy as breathing to Eugene.
Out of Eugene’s eleven bullets, the first bullet was the furthest away from the target number; Her ninth bullet to her eleventh bullet was shot directly onto the indicated number.
To soldiers, people didn’t have to be born with the talent to fight. With experiences and intense practice will you achieve the ideal strong. Of course, people can be born with talent, but hard work will always beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard. This wording is especially true in the military. This was what the two soldiers believed in until now.
In front of their eyes were three budding talents. -Is it because of their blood that they were able to pick up things fast, or is it because of their blood? Whatever the reason, the two soldiers were glad that the three chose the military path instead of the knight’s path. Although they were still young, they were slightly excited about the children’s future. To watch them grow is a blessing, and to be comrades would be a dream come true.
The two macho soldiers looked at each other for a brief second before nodding to each other. -‘We shall stick close to the three and make way for their future!’
Whilst Instructor T.E and the two soldiers concluded their thoughts, only Duke Rodriguez remained stiff. As if he didn’t want to acknowledge their results.
And it was true.
“.....” Duke Rodriguez couldn’t bring himself to be happy with their results, especially Eugene’s. His face slightly darkened as he picked up the results chart. Even he himself did not understand why he felt this way.
As his eyes scanned through the chart with great details, his fists couldn’t help but unconsciously clench. Many times, the children surprised him greatly. From the use of fire to burn through the training field, to running 5km with a log, to replicating self-defense moves with ease, to now, training with guns.
It was suspicious how well the children were able to do. Eugene especially was a suspicious child. She was complicated, her insights especially so. Would the children be able to accomplish these things without Eugene? Duke Rodriguez’s inner self automatically answered ‘No, they wouldn’t be able to. Not this fast anyways.’
Eugene was almost like a leader to the children, someone who was there to guide them. But how? How can she maneuver things like that? She was like someone with many life experiences.
‘As if she was a grown adult.’
“.......” Duke Rodriguez shook his head, slightly chuckling with how ridiculous he sounded. His eyes glanced over to Eugene, then to Aernest and Aedelak who were having a serious conversation about Eugene's flawless moves yesterday.
‘They must be talking about self-defense.’ Duke Rodriguez thought…
Author’s Note: I'M BACK HUMANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So happy to be back!!! Who is still here?? Or has everyone left!
Duke Rodriguez is a father to a 2.5-year-old and I think he wasn’t able to be happy with the results because of that. I’m sure he must’ve been confused and disturb by the fact that the children weren’t scared of guns. Cause if they were scared, he would’ve dismissed this training immediately. Little did he know, he would be grateful that the children were able to learn guns this early.
(February - September 2020)
(September 2020 - First half of 2021)