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Continued from The Dust Settles

The next morning, Jared headed to deliver the report to Jacques desk. Jared summoned mana as he walked and it was really the first time he had held mana without utilizing a spell shortly thereafter. It was an amazing feeling. Whereas most of the time, things on the edge of his vision would be slightly blurred, while holding mana, Jared saw everything more clearly than he had before. He could smell the food cooking in the mess better and he could hear even the tiniest of sounds. He made a mental note to add that to his report later.

A couple of days later, Jared checked the duty roster and noticed he had a free hour. Jared was thankful that he would have some time to actually practice and wondered if Jacques had something to do with it. As he was eating breakfast in the mess, another Leigonaire gave Jared a message and he read it saying that he would have time to practice today and to take Leigonaire Carpenter with him to assist. Jared thanked the man and then headed to do his normal routine until he had a free moment a couple of hours later.

The work was more routine than anything; he mostly did rounds around the district, keeping the peace and making sure things didn't get out of hand. Things had quieted down, but the situation was still tense. The whole situation was a time bomb; one wrong move and the whole thing would explode.

His replacement arrived and Jared left immediately to get to work. It was about 10 AM and Jared had taken to holding mana whenever he could. It was mostly to practice, but he had a feeling that there was more to it than that. He wondered if it was becoming an addiction. Jared frowned at that and turned his thoughts to the practice session. As he headed to find Jay.

I'm not really sure what he can do to help me, but we'll think of something.

He found Jay near the room he was in after they had fixed up his leg.
Jared had thought about attempting to heal his leg, but he had never attempted such a serious healing before not to mention the surgeons had done quite a bit of work already. If his theory on healing magic causing the human body to work in overtime to heal people he could cause more harm than good. Jared approached Jay and shook his hand while wondering if that even informed Jay of what he could do.

"Mornin' Hollywood. It sounds like I get to work with you for a bit today. Do you know what's going on?"

Edited by Jared Vanders, Jul 30 2014, 11:23 AM.
The next couple days blurred by at glacial speed. Fantastic fun. Right up there with the time he had a root canal, but with less potent pain killers. The company had been backed up with reinforcements, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out supplies were finite. As soon as he could stand it, he slapped on a self-assured smile and told the bonesaws he was fine and dandy so long as he had Shredder. He knew they didn't believe him, but silent acknowledgement was exchanged anyway and the pain killers were saved for guys really in need of them.

After a couple days in Jay's care, Shredder was doing great. The little gal's belly was full and warm. Her fur took on a shiny cast. And the crusts around her eyes were shrinking. She consumed almost all of his time between reading up on the bullshit awfulness going on in the world. The guys talked, but some of the others were in too bad of shape to do anything like play cards or whatever. So Shredder occupied the majority of his time. Including obsessively checking her for fleas. None of the bonesaws thought to ask him about it, but Jay recognized the problem it'd be if fleas hopped around their little injury ward snacking on his brothers.

Such was how the vinegar baths started. There weren't many options for flea meds for kittens anyway, but vets weren't exactly easy to come by in his situation, but Jay had a few tricks up his sleeve. He was raised on a farm. And his mom was really into natural remedies.

Apple cider vinegar would have been better. It has a milder taste should Shredder lick at it. But he settled for white vinegar mixed with diluted shampoo. They took his shirt away, sadly for Shredder since it'd been soaked with his scent, but it was for the best. Jay assumed the guys burned it. Is what he would have done.

A couple days later he was up and wandering around on a cane. He had a molded cast around his leg that looked like plastic white honeycomb. The bonesaw told him the wound was closing up well and without infection. Jay kind of wished he could see the back of his leg better, but he didn't quite bend that way. All taken care of, the honeycomb cast hardened around his thigh and knee but was slender enough to fit under his pant leg. That meant no more laying around in his boxers, sadly.

His foot was a little swollen still, but while he could stuff it into a boot, the laces remained loose. Other than the hobbling and cane, to look at him he didn't seem too bent out of shape. Except for the fact that he hadn't shaved. But nobody was really going around inspecting the guys' close shave. Guys in the Legion could keep a beard so long as it was short and well groomed. But Jay was officially off the field for recovery. So stubble it was.

Which was why he was completely blindsided when Vanders strolled in with an assignment.

Jay looked up at the guy. He hadn't seen him since the day he met the CEO. Nobody had given Jay any kind of heads up on work except the Red Cross thing. But he hadn't a clue what it meant to be the Legion's Liaison other than to follow Natalie around. But he hadn't seen her despite the others telling him she'd seen plenty of him. The thought made him smirk.

"Mornin' Vanders."
Jay shook his head. "Heard you might stop by. What can I do for you?"
He grabbed his cane and awkwardly got up.

Only darkness shows you the light.

Jared offered a hand to help Jay stand up. Despite his injury, the man was trying hard. He could imagine that Jay was probably getting bored. Things had quieted down, so even the healthy Legionnaires were stuck with just patrol duty. He couldn't imagine what is like to just sit on the sidelines while tension just built around you. Jared assumed he would feel helpless.

Jared waited until Jay had his balance and gestured for him to follow. Holding mana, Jared was certain that should Jay stumble, he would be able to react on time, but he would allow the soldier to keep his dignity by allowing him to move on his own.

Jared offered a simple explanation as they walked, "You're just going to help me with some drills. It's nothing difficult."

Jared kept next to Jay as they walked, having to consciously make the effort to walk slowly, but he didn't mind. He was going to have to tell Jay about magic soon, but didn't want others to hear. He was pretty sure Commander Danjou didn't want everyone to know yet, and it Jared's opinion it was up to the commander who needed to know and who didn't.

They arrived at a part of the complex that was relatively unused, so Jared further explained, keeping his voice low. "I'm not sure Commander Danjou wants this to be known by many people, so you'll have to keep this to yourself. In his briefing the other day, the Commander mentioned people that could use magic. I'm one of those people and you're supposed to assist me in practicing."

Jared was unsure of how the man would react, but tried to keep the tone light. He turned his head to face Jay and said with a grin. "Don't worry, I won't saw you in half or anything."
He did his best to keep pace with Jared, but damn the guy was walking so freaking slow!

He wasn't sure what kind of drills they could do inside the embassy compound. There was barely room for the wounded to stretch out. Were they going to do hand to hand stuff on the roof? Actually, that wasn't a bad idea.

But Jared said it wasn't difficult. So Jay was definitely game.

They came to door that Jay thought led only to a closet, but turns out opened upon a flight of stairs. They pulled a cord that turned on a light half-way down, but the basement was drowning in ick-factor.

"Let's do this."
Jay shrugged and followed Jared.

The basement looked more like a storage room for old files and outdated equipment. Jay could see why the Legion had decided not to put the square footage to good use. Apparently the only thing it was good for was drill practice. Jay leaned against a metal file cabinet and peeked inside the cardboard box sitting half-closed on top of it. As soon as he touched the flaps, a brown beetle crawled out. Jay cringed and stepped away.

Once they were well and isolated and totally out of range of anyone should shit hit the fan, Jared finally began to explain.

Jay shook off the bug thing and slowly turned toward Jared.

He must have misheard.

He rubbed one earlobe with his thumb and finger. Jared was looking at him. Neither man moved. The sound of footsteps overhead was the only thing in earshot.

But despite his best instincts, Jay gave in. He leaned his cane against the stone wall, crossed his arms, and held himself up on his good leg. "Alright. Let's go then. What do I do? Besides stand here and look pretty? Because I can do that all day."
He grinned.

Only darkness shows you the light.

Jared smiled at Jay's attitude. He was ready to work, but unfortunately Jared still wasn't sure what he could do. He thought back to what Jacques had shown him a couple of days ago. The CCD operative had formed a shield that stopped bullets and slowed down rockets. Perhaps he had formed a shield of air in front of him and Jared thought it would be worth a shot.

Jared grinned at Jay and said, "That mighr be fun, but I think it might be more fun for us to find something for you to shoot at. One of the things I saw was a man wh formed a shield to stop bullets. I want to try to replicate it."

Jared started to look around for a suitable target and then his eyes rested on a piece of plywood that had fallen. Jared picked it up and set it across the room, then he pulled out his pistol and made sure it was loaded. He flipped on the safety before handing it to Jay.

Mana raged inside of him and he felt the need to release it in a torrent, but he controlled it, forming only a wall of air in front of the wood. There was no visible effect in the room as Jared told Jay to fire when ready.
Jay watched curiously while Jared propped up a piece of plywood. It was a good size for a target, but Jay had to wonder how long it would hold up under fire. Plywood was basically cardboard glued together. But Jared was the boss. So, ok.

Jay accepted the pistol. And a pair of ear plugs. They'd hear this upstairs. So hopefully Jared had arranged a warning for a few other guys to stay out of the basement.

Jared's pistol was an exact replica of Jay's sidearm. Therefore he worked the weapon with practiced familiarity. Loaded, he took aim, and glanced one last time at Jared. This was the first time he was really testing his balance on the leg. So he made sure he was physically ready to react should it buckle beneath the kick of the gun.

"You ready Mister Wizard?"
Jay's grin was lighthearted at the nickname. Actually, Wizard was a pretty damn cool name for Vanders. Jay made a mental note to remember that.

But then the grin was lost to a determined focus. His aim centered, and when Vanders was ready, he fired.

Only darkness shows you the light.

Wizard...Jared had never thought of himself in those terms before, but perhaps it would be a good nickname for him. He wondered if it would stick. There were more important matters at hand though, so Jared turned his thoughts away from them and focused on his air shield.

Jared had put in ear plugs, but the sound of the gun still made him flinch slightly. His hearing was augmented by the mana in his system and he wasn't expecting the sound to be so loud. Jared expected the bullet to stop upon hitting the shield of air, so he was somewhat disappointed when the bullet hit the piece of wood.

Something was off though. The wood didn't shatter as it should have and it had the board far below Jay's trajectory. There was no way a Legionnaire could have missed that badly at this range. He shield had worked, but not to the degree he thought.

Jared signaled to Jay to stop firing. He needed to investigate this more. Jared summoned a ball of light and moved it towards the hole in the plywood. It spanned a few inches across and Jared used his enhanced sight to search for the bullet. He spotted it rolling on the floor. It had apparently lost enough momentum to not go into the concrete wall on the other side.

Jared released his shield of air, realizing for the first time that he had used multiple spells at once. He grabbed the bullet with an air spell and dismissed the sphere of light as he brought the bullet to his outstretched hand. He examined it, seeing that the front side of the bullet was unnaturally warped.

Jared threw the bullet to Jay. "It worked, but wasn't strong enough."

Jared was about to tell Jay to fire again, but his eyes went to the man's leg. "How's your leg holding up. You need a break, or should we continue?"
He fired. His leg absorbed the shock surprisingly well. But something was wrong. He'd almost completely missed the target. At such close range it should have punctured right smack dab in the middle.

What happened?

Jay assumed it was him. The first few days after the surgery he'd been in a daze. Damn medicines. But since he'd stopped taking the drugs, it'd taken a lot of focus to bear the pain. Which he'd done successfully. Even now. But it must have taken too much out of him. He must have missed. Maybe his gauge of distance was off?

He squeezed his eyes shut and prepared to fire again, but Jared signaled that he stop.

Jay secured the weapon while Jared examined the target area. He didn't quite know what the other Legionnaire was doing until the bullet floated straight at him. Jay watched in awe. How had --?

Wait. Jay had fired true! Jared had done something!

Jared tossed the bullet at Jay, but Jay let it bounce off his chest and fall to the floor. It rolled aimlessly away.

"Shit bro. You really did that? Yeah no I'm fine. Other than--"
he shook his head as his slight grin grew wider. "If I need a break after one weak ass shot, then I am in real trouble."

He waited until Jared was back at his side. "So it didn't quite work right? Well whatever you do this time, just make sure it doesn't bounce off and come back at us. I don't want to be stabbed by a kid AND shoot myself in the same week. And if I do, I'm telling everyone you did it."
He chuckled.

Only darkness shows you the light.

Jared chuckled at Jay's statement, but inwardly he felt like an idiot. Jared and Jay were both lucky that his shield had been too soft. There was the chance the bullet could ricochet back and hit one of them, and Jared had completely dismissed it. He had not only endangered his own life, but the life of a brother-in-arms; Jared found that to be unforgivable.

Jared found a couple of chairs and moved one towards Jay. "I need a little bit of time to think."
Jared said, sitting down in the other chair.

He needed something to catch the bullet rather than deflect it. He thought of Kevlar vests an how they worked. Rather than a plate, it included several threads of fibers to create a tightly woven net. This allowed the vest to "catch" the bullet rather than causing it to bounce. Jared thought it was worth a try.

Jared formed a next spell, but instead of one spell of air, he manipulated several of them. He kept each "thread" of magic small and fine and interwove them like a basket. Each thread wasn't difficult, but holding them all at the same time was tiring. Jared began to sweat with the effort as he pulled the threads tighter together. As the spell got smaller, he had to add more to increase the size. Finally he had a wall about four feet by four feet across. He put a wall of air behind it, keeping it soft as he did before. If his net failed, at least it wouldn't ricochet.

Jared had remained seated not feeling well enough to stand. He had never manipulated this many threads at once. "Alright. One more time. Aim specifically at the center of the board - this spell is smaller than the last."

Edited by Jared Vanders, Aug 9 2014, 11:10 AM.
Well if Jared got to sit down, Jay figured he might as well. He had no idea how long it took to spellcast - in D&D it was only as long as it took to roll the dice - and Jared might be a while.

In fact, it did take a while. Jay had no problem sitting around doing nothing but wait. MARSOC made sure their guys had patience. Therefore, his senses remained heightened, and focused on anything between Jared, the target, and the seemingly empty space between while stuff was going down. Jay didn't know what he could do if the spell went wrong, but he'd sure as hell do everything in his power to protect the Hellcats more important Legionnaire. Its not like mages were a dime a dozen.

Finally, Jared signaled he was ready. He wasn't looking like he was in the best shape either - Jay recognized the telltale signs of wary focus. Jared was tired. Which meant that his magic came at the cost of his body. That meant it was dangerous work, and there was always the possibility of overstraining. How much could Jared handle?

He didn't point it out, though. He trusted Jared would know his own limits. Besides, this was just practice. In the heat of battle, men could perform extraordinary feats they couldn't duplicate in training.

Silently, Jay nodded his understanding. He returned to the former position and steadied himself. He had to adjust his normal stance to compensate for the wounded leg. He took his time about it until he felt secure.

In the moment he took aim, all nervousness, thought, and doubt faded from his mind. There was nothing but the weapon in his hands and the destruction it represented.

His was a seemingly still and silent figure, until the moment he fired.

Three shots. Aimed straight down the middle. He hoped the spell worked.

Only darkness shows you the light.


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