Babylon

Tillamook 
#1
@ezra

GPS coordinates sent: A makeshift range used by forest rangers to train with firearms. Booths are hardy, but simply constructed, meters marked by downed, spray painted tree limbs. Downrange, an impressive wooden wall is backed by a mountain of earth, several hand painted signs pointing out redundancies associated with safety. Target lines are manually operated, paper silhouettes anticipating bullet holes by swaying with a gentle wind.


It wasn't a habit of Coria's to venture far from her twin while he slept, but business called, and she needed some space from this age's seemingly perpetual congestion- people, cars, buildings, technologies. Never had a century provided so little room and such vast distances, the juxtapositions striking hot against a metal that hissed but did not concede to warp.

With a click, her trunk opened, skilled hands laying out the small arsenal she'd transported, a myriad of functions hidden amidst the visually similar and identical. The nuances of difference where what Coria was paid to understand, and despite this sale not yielding a large return, it served as a welcome distraction. Finding the perfect gun was an exercise in psychology, and while Coria hadn't had a problem catching up to modernities, she felt oddly detached for someone who had existed for so long. Admittedly, that was the root of her problem, but without the reprieve of finality, these interactions served as small islands interrupting a never-ending tide.

Hearing the grumble of tires against the hazards of an unpaved road, Coria shed her jacket and rolled her shoulders, scarred flesh turning an indignant shade in the bare sunlight. The damage written into her skin was irreparable, no gold dust able to make the grid work of marred tissue seem more beautiful. It simply was, and most people faked modesty well enough to avoid asking too many questions.

"You're on time." Neither complementary or punctuated by surprise- a neutral statement to break the ice that innately existed between the meeting of two strangers. Fingers pushed brown strands away from her eyes as she took in his figure, working at the periphery to examine what she could about the man who walked towards her. "Got plenty of stuff to show you."
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#2
 He probably should've been more nervous. But what was the difference, really, in buying a private firearm versus a couple of grams of cocaine? Both were illegal, obviously. And both could be lethal. Ezra supposed a gun had a bit more flair and potential to be messy, but wasn't that the point? He needed protection, and he needed it quickly. If there was any room to dick around, he wasn't going to entertain it.

 They'd found him on a fucking ghost tour, for fuck's sake. They'd cornered him in public and managed to threaten him - surrounded by people, right where he'd expect to be the safest. Whoever (or whatever) he was dealing with was serious and he had to act accordingly. Protect himself. Stay one step ahead.

 GPS chiming with confirmation of his final destination, Ezra threw the car into park. For a long moment, he did nothing but survey the scene set out before him. He could already feel the splinters from the shoddily-slapped together booths. The paper targets, which eerily reminded him of police chalked outlines, fluttering about like flags. And the dealer wasn't at all what he had expected: she was tall, thin, and seemed wholly delicate, like someone who would be better suited to a ballet bar or a catwalk than a gun range. Oh, what a lovely surprise.

 Stepping from the car, he gave a jaunty wave.

 "I've got a watch," Ezra replied by both ways of greeting and explanation. He slammed the car door behind him. His leather lace-ups crunched as they carried him across the treacherous, sure-to-scuff path of gravel, dirt, and spliced sticks. Eyes barred by a set of darkly shaded sunglasses, he stopped just outside arms width of the open car trunk. He peered curiously into the cargo and offered a long, low whistle.

 "Cool. Shall we begin?"
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#3
Her lips twitched at his reply, but did not break their horizontal, with an arched brow, looking downward and towards the guns when he whistled. She deciphered the intention behind the sound almost immediately, but, like his appropriately functional, yet pristine wardrobe, the gesture still seemed wholly odd. "And people are born with brains, and yet I often find they remain appalling neglected." There was a tilt in her words that implied humor, but perhaps it would be too slight for him to notice.

She pressed the small of her back against the tail light of her car, thin, black shirt allowing the heat to radiate, the quiet pleasantry cut short by his directness. Mouth to the plate. With a steady, booted heel, she pushed herself away, fingers catching his hands without hesitation, arms guiding palms forward with pliable suggestion. She brushed her thumbs against his skin and studied the contours. Wider than long. Soft. Smooth. An abrasion here or there...the small, telltale white of an old burn.

"Let's try you on this one." The sandpaper that was her flesh was removed mindfully, with what seemed like a single flourish, picking up, loading, and chambering a black handgun. She didn't wait to see if he would follow, choosing the middle booth as their perch, the wind considerably barricaded by the way the surrounding trees seemed to funnel it. "A Px4 Storm. Light. Reliable. 14+1 capacity. Easy to conceal," she glanced upwards, and for the first time, looked into the black where his eyes remained hidden, "shaped to minimize snagging." A bit on the nose. "Minimal kickback. I suggest sticking with the .40 caliber, but if you find you miss it, I can get a .45."

"Take a couple shots." She did not offer nor provide safety glasses or earmuffs. In her mind, it was a contradictory practice. "Tell me what you think." Normally, she didn't play such a heavy shadow, but based off small measurements, she foresaw some need for handholding.
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#4
 "C’est la vie," he sighed, taking a moment to pray fleetingly for the world’s many imbeciles.

 Toting the selected firearm, Coria made way for her desired booth. Ezra followed close behind, feeling not entirely unlike a young boy trailing after his father in a hardware store. What’s this? What’s that? His jaw clamped down hard against the tantalizing questions. He was used to knowing everything; not knowing anything about this sort of shit was nearly unbearable.

 And his frustration was made all the worse by the slick efficiency with which she worked.

 He’d jumped in surprise when she’d grabbed ahold of his hands, and had very nearly yanked them away to maintain his freedom. But a second granted, and he’d quickly realized what she was doing, what she was looking to achieve. Measurements, surely. Proper fit. And if she’d intended to put him on edge by subtly showcasing the coarse, practice texture of her palms, she’d certainly succeeded, the crafty bitch. Body of a ballerina or not, he watched his dealer with a dash more respect.

 "Ah, yes. Of course. A Px4 Storm. Concealable little thing. Light on the snagging, subtle kickback… Yes, I agree. The .40 caliber ought to do it nicely."

 Taking the weapon as though it were an unpinned grenade rather than a gun, Ezra cleared his throat.

 "And by it, you mean just aim and pull the trigger, right?"
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#5
He’d puffed like a toad as she’d mapped out his skin, and now he puffed again, but this time, without the dignified shadow of an excuse. His words made his tongue seem a fit too large for his mouth, as he regurgitated the weapons’s specifics, catching her gaze narrowing with visible skepticism. Pride could stitch a golden coverlet, but it rarely made for an effective show, anecdotes in history proving how easily hubris could topple, and this stranger was no giant.

On his own.

However, Coria had lived long enough to notice the pitfalls in her own judgement, so beside the slant of her gaze, she kept quiet, happy to let him continue his pantomime until she felt compelled to intervene. ”Yes,” she said with an exhale, leaning downward to snag a younger stalk of wild sorrel, ”but with a bit more intention than your hand is showing it.” She bunched up the leaf, placed it in her mouth, and chewed it, watching lazily as she enjoyed the acid and the show.

She swallowed, and picked up another leaf, repeating the process as she stepped behind the man, her knee forcefully parting his legs to widen his stance. "A bit past shoulder width makes you more stable, and slightly bent helps with the recoil." She moved her hand over his, and contoured it against the metal, shoving each finger into the appropriate crevice before reaching around to make his other hand join at the gun's grip. "Same with your elbows. Slightly bent, but don't get lazy unless you want to risk a black eye." This gun didn't kick hard enough to do that, but he didn't know that. "Lift to about here. Both eyes open. Finger off the trigger until you're ready to shoot. Take your time. Exhale as you pull the trigger."

Which her overlapped finger made him do. Ready or not.

The sound was like a crack of lighting, the echo carrying it into the surrounding hills as the smell of gunpowder permeated through the overwhelming weight of his cologne. Bergamot. The silhouette boasted a single hole through the center of its forehead, paper waving in the wind like a flag of surrender. "Do it again," she said, with the proximity, glancing at the pulse at his neck to mark its speed before moving away to leave him naked to the experience, and the subsequent adrenaline.

"What's it for?"
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#6
 If the drawn-out sigh was any indication, Coria didn't seem amused. Luckily enough for the both of them, Ezra was undoubtedly working to stifle a chuckle. It was a nasty business, all this illegal dealing. He wanted to keep it light, keep it fun. Something about his current shitstorm of a situation had to be.

 Watching in obvious, lip-curled disgust as she started shoveling leaves into her mouth like some feral pony, Ezra's nose wrinkled. "Oh, please, I'd hate to interrupt your lunch hour," he replied, though he allowed himself to be utterly pliable to her corrections. Legs forced apart, hand rammed against the cold metal in a somewhat unnatural position… It could've been sexy, had her breath not smelled like sour grass. "Really, I think I have some salad dressing in my car if you're interested. Or does just dirt and deer urine do it for you?"

 Coria took each digit and adjusted accordingly to the gun's slim frame while Ezra winced. "You know, I really don't think they're able to bend that way—" A dramatic betrayal, his heartbeat quickened. Nerves? Probably. They were obviously at the final modifications. He'd never fired a gun before. Never held one either, and his mind was just beginning to wrap around the fact that he was holding a deadly weapon when the weapon in question popped violently in his hands, sending spasms and heat through his palm and up to his shoulder. Taken by surprise, Ezra yelped.

 "Fuck!" He shouted, flinching back into her chest. Then, spotting his mark: "Oh, fuck."

 Okay. Maybe this was some unlocked talent he'd just tapped. Or the beginner's luck. Only one way to find out. Trying this best to mimic Coria's sculpted stance, Ezra raised the gun. Closed one eye and took careful aim. " What'd most of your clients buy them for?" He asked, the tip of his tongue jutting out just so between his lips. "For protection, I'm assuming."

 And with that, the pull of the trigger - and a shot that sent birds flapping frenziedly from the surrounding trees.
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#7
Coria didn’t often reciprocate petty antagonisms, but she made a show of spitting on the ground, emphasizing what she thought of his opinions by wiping her mouth against the posterior of her naked arm. ”You babble a lot.” She tapped his elbow upwards, drawing the muzzle of the gun with it as she shifted to evaluate his next shot. Despite her words, a contradictory smirk lingered behind the width of the back that had just pressed into her for reassurance.

Fear.

The alacrity at which it exposed never ceased to surprise, and while it was often masked with different skins as parapets, it remained an ugly, stark thing- an exposed nerve on humanity’s already fragile spine. Every living thing was susceptible- the response was where difference would cull.

Poor bastard didn’t stand a chance.

The gunshot punctuated the string of thought, paper untouched by the bullet that had just been fired, and Icarus already burning in the sunlight. "And you don't listen." He'd closed an eye. She didn't have to see to know, able to tell by the dip of his arm and tilt of his head when the trigger finally depressed. She rounded on him and grabbed his sunglasses by the leg, pulling them away from his face to reveal a set of eyes that made her lambaste stagnate.

Wide and filled with a blue so deep they threatened to swallow- a greedy sort of hunger she could not identify. Something she guess was pursuit tinted the flesh that encircled them a similar shade to her own.

Protection, huh?

"I don't have to ask most of my clients what they need a gun for," she offered plainly, looking downward to even the small difference between their height, "But if this is meant for protection, you're better off purposing your fear. At least, with that, you seem well acquainted." She hung his glasses off the collar of her shirt, and straightened him out once again, pointing the muzzle downrange at the mocking target.

"A gun won't do anything to protect you unless you master the resolve and means to use it." She stepped away but did not move behind him, choosing a spot on the sidelines, arms crossing themselves over her chest. "Keep both eyes open and breath, Ezra." Her voice was not unkind. "Shoot when you're ready."
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#8
 Lowering the gun with the weight of a grimace tugging at his exaggerated features, Ezra emitted a throaty growl of disappointment. At himself, at the fates, the furies—

 "The wind shifted," he declared, speaking overtop Coria's silent, decidedly off-the-mark assumptions. No one expected to be an expert on the first day of target practice, but he'd set high standards for himself. Always had. Surely he'd expected to be better than his piss poor attempt.

 Leaving no allowance for his self-defense, Coria ripped the sunglasses from his nose. "Hey!" He protested, reflexively scrambling from her reach. "I have a gun, you know." What sort of idiot messed with someone toting a firearm? "I'd tread carefully if I were you." She didn't. Wouldn't Obviously. Instead, she simply left Ezra to meekly glare after his procured glasses as she hung them from her shirt collar with indignant mockery. If they were stretched so much as one millimeter…

 "I don't have to ask most of my clients what they need a gun for."

 "Then why'd you ask me?" He spluttered. Malleable again to her touch, Ezra allowed himself to be shaped. "If my answer isn't good enough for you? I am ready. I do have the resolve to use it. I don't babble, I certainly listen—"

 Fighting the desperate urge to close that goddamn fucking eye, he aimed.

 "And I'll shoot when I'm ready, thank you very much."

 A bang, a shudder, a searing of heat… Ezra lowered the gun.

 Okay. So he'd made it within the lines this time. Certainly not a death shot, but it wasn't half bad.
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