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Author Topic: Learning from the Master  (Read 170 times)

Learning from the Master
« on: October 24, 2019, 11:40:49 PM »
This afternoon was a rare treasure, their last class of the day having been cancelled. All around, cadets seemed set to enjoy their gifted free time, lounging on their beds or walking the grounds. As much as Marco would have liked to spend the spare hours writing or reading - for pleasure, rather than study - he decided it was best used more constructively. And today, he was hoping for a little help.

The cadet dropped his books and notes at his bunk, tucking them safely into his storage chest, before casting his gaze around the sleeping quarters. Several groups of cadets loitered, chatting idly, but the one Marco sought wasn't among their number. Maybe it's a sign, he thought to himself as he stepped out of the cabin, onto the porch and into the autumn sunshine. I shouldn't make a nuisance of myself, I should -

Just as the freckled cadet was on the cusp of talking himself out of asking for assistance altogether, he all but walked into the one he was looking for. Literally, as it seemed his quarry was on his way into the dormitory. "Oh, hey Jean! You got a minute?" Marco greeted brightly, a note of laughter warming his voice. "I'm going to sign out my ODM gear, get some practice in," he explained, feeling an odd bloom of nervousness as he worked his way up to the question. It seemed like a lot to ask of anyone, especially on a crisp, sunny day like this. Jean probably had a hundred other things he would rather do. The fortunate thing was, if that was true, Marco could trust him to speak plainly.

"I was wondering, maybe you could join me? And give me some pointers?" He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "It seems so instinctive with you. Maybe that can't be taught…" Feeding Jean's ego might not be the wisest decision, but the boy from Jinae could only be honest. Truth was, Jean was a natural at ODM manoeuvres; his movements were swift and decisive, and he almost always seemed to have a read on any given situation. There was greatness in him, Marco was sure. "Don't worry if you've already got plans," he hastened to add, wanting to give his comrade a ready-made excuse, just in case he didn't fancy spending the afternoon practising a skill he already seemed to have mastered.
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Re: Learning from the Master
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2019, 05:14:31 AM »
Jean didn't have many plans for the afternoon. Not having much of a social life really helped with the lack of plans. He was just pondering what to do, tempted to take a nap just to pass some time away. Walking towards the dorms, taking his time to just enjoy the sun.

He was just letting himself enjoy the sun, head tilted up a little as he looked out at the clouds in the sky. He didn't notice Marco walking over to him until the other cadet called his name. Stopping, he turned to the other with a raised brow. "Hm?" He tilted his head, waiting for Marco to continue on with speaking.

He wasn't expecting Marco to ask him about the ODM gear, however. He shifted his weight a little, brows furrowing as he listened to Marco's little explanation. Jean wasn't much for being modest when it came to his skills, and the ODM gear was one of his favorite things about training.

There was something about moving with the ODM gear that just came naturally to Jean. He adored being able to just sail over the ground, practically flying through the trees. It felt like that was the only time he was weightless- no emotional baggage holding him down. It was just him and his body moving. There were times where he would sign out his equipment and just roam around the training course. It was the best way for him to just relax some days.

"Wait, really?" He looked genuinely surprised that Marco would ask him of all people. Jean felt like he was one of the more difficult people to work with. Just in general- he didn't have a personality that meshed well with others. He was very aware of this fact. Marco must some form of desperate to want to put up with him.

"I don't see why not. I can't promise I'll be any good at teaching you." He wanted to be candid about this. He wasn't going to agree to Marco's request and make him believe that Jean was as good at teaching as he was at actually using the gear. Sure, he could do literally anything else at the moment and Marco more than likely wouldn't even blame him.

However, there was something about how passionate Marco was about getting into the walls that made Jean want to try to help him. Jean chalked it up to just not wanting anyone around him to end up dead like his father had. The more he could drag into the MP with him, the better.
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Re: Learning from the Master
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2019, 11:21:23 PM »
The faint frown that creased Jean's features caused Marco to believe, at least initially, that a refusal was impending. What he didn't expect, however, was Jean's surprise. "Yes, really!" Marco smiled wide enough to crinkle the corners of his eyes, pleased that his friend had acquiesced. Whatever spark Jean possessed might not be teachable but he felt he was sure to improve under that sharp, watchful amber-brown gaze.

"And I can't promise I'll be a good student," Marco laughed, turning and beginning to walk in the direction of the storeroom. The pair cast long shadows along the ground, courtesy of the low autumn sun, its light gentle and warm. As they crossed the courtyard, he nudged Jean lightly with his elbow. "At least I can trust you to be honest with me and tell me where I'm going wrong." Jean would likely be blunt in his delivery but it was the truth that Marco was after. How could he improve if his weaknesses weren't pointed out to him? If he wasn't pushed?

"I want to get better at this. I know ODM usage is kind of restricted for MPs but still…" He trailed off, looking sheepish, momentarily worried that he had sounded arrogant - not that Jean was likely to judge him for it. Marco understood that there was no guarantee he would make the top ten, though he was certainly applying himself. While his skill with the ODM gear would be considered perfectly acceptable to most, he wanted to push a little harder, to know he had truly done his best. And to do that, he needed assistance. Jean was a lifeline, whether he knew it or not. "Thanks Jean, it really is good of you to help me."
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Re: Learning from the Master
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2019, 06:00:59 AM »
Jean wasn’t expecting Marco to be happy about working with him. Jean prided himself on having a personality akin to that of a porcupine or hedgehog. Every angry lash out or dim-witted joke at someone else’s expense was just another quill others had to be wary of. He turned on his heel, leading Marco over to the storeroom. It wouldn’t surprise him if they caught people inside- due to the oxygen cannisters it was the coldest building on the grounds. In one of his father’s letters, the elder Kirschtein described a particularly hot summer where a couple cannisters exploded and woke up the entire camp with how loud it was. The thankfully didn’t lose every cannister, but many of the cadets believed that a canon had been shot on the training grounds.

It was told like a funny anecdote in his father’s letter, but Jean wondered how that would go down nowadays. How many of these cadets would believe it to be the lightning strike? How many would treat it like a gunshot before a race, only to survive one must win? His thoughts led him to Eren, wondering how he would fair? Something so simple could bring back awful memories, Jean knew this well.

Marco dragged him out of his thoughts, nudging him and joking around. Jean found himself smiling despite the thoughts that had just been clouding his mind. It almost felt like… friendship, dare he say? Jean was still terrified that this was all some twisted prank, but the longer he and Marco were talking and interacting like this, the more Jean wanted to be friends with him. It was weird and he wasn’t quite used to wanting someone else around. It was nice to have someone he could somewhat depend on. He didn’t trust Marco fully, not yet at the very least. They were working towards it.

He also found impossible to think of Marco as arrogant. He was a damn good soldier and an even better person. He actually cared about his work, which couldn’t be said for many. He processed Marco’s statement a little more, wincing a little. “If things go to shit like Jaeger thinks… It’ll be up to us to be the last line of defense. We’re supposed to be the best of the best- hence why they pick us out of the top ten.” Jean wasn’t stupid or ignorant. He understood Eren’s frustration and he understood that things weren’t as clear cut as everyone is so willing believe. He also understood that there was a time and place for anger and speculation, Jaeger didn’t.

Jean shoved his hands in his pockets as they walked, wandering beside Marco. He was letting Marco take the lead, as this was his time to practice and improve. “I’ll trail behind and just keep an eye out for anything you need to improve- just to start off at least. I’ll try to give tricks as I see them, but this is my first-time teaching… anything, really.”
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Re: Learning from the Master
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2019, 03:17:12 PM »
"I really hope Eren is wrong…" Marco murmured darkly, musing on the blazing passion and surety that burned in the younger cadet's teal eyes. The thought of Wall Rose failing was unimaginable, and not simply because Jinae would be in the path of approaching Titans. Innumerable lives would be lost and those who survived would surely live just long enough to die in the inevitable famine. How many people could Wall Sina realistically support, given that the majority of arable acres were to be found in the outer Walls? They were already feeling the pinch, now that the territories of Wall Maria shuddered beneath Titan footfall.

Jean was right though, they were training to be the best. Not only to achieve all they could personally but to, hopefully, stand head and shoulders above the majority of other cadets as well. They would be as well prepared as they could be and be ready to defend - to the death, if necessary - the last bastion of mankind.

But first, ODM manoeuvres.

"That'd be great," Marco agreed, happy with the game plan. He noticed that Jean mentioned it was his first time teaching anything, as though he didn't want his impromptu student setting his expectations too high. The freckled cadet couldn't help but think the reverse was true too - he might prove a trying pupil. "And hey, if you get bored, or if I start pissing you off, you know you're free to head back any time. No hard feelings."

They stepped into the storeroom, and it was cool enough compared to the warm, autumn sunlight that a shiver rolled through Marco. Familiar with the protocol, he stepped over to a table where the relevant paperwork waited and, leaning over, he lifted a pen to sign his name, the date and time on the log. With his equipment signed for, Marco moved along to where various cubbyholes to where his gear was stored. A couple of the instructors' assistants were present, working at a desk, its surface glittering with screws and tiny gears. The storeroom was kept under a watchful eye during the day, and locked securely at night.

Marco removed his jacket and draped it across a bench, lifting his harness from its hook. The scent leather and mechanical grease tickled his nose as he fed his arms into the straps, the back plate sitting in a neat cross against his upper back, leaving room for the movements of his shoulder blades. Then he prised off his boots, catching the heel of one with the toes of the other, so that he could place his feet into the loops. Gearing up had seemed impossibly complex at the start of training, but he was getting swifter with practice. The harness was already adjusted to his size, fitting neatly, needing only buckles fastened. Freckled fingers worked at the clasps hanging loose at his hips. There was nothing like being measured for ODM equipment to make one aware of their own bodily dimensions. Marco had been embarrassed to learn he needed a size up from the standard for his thighs, and wondered what that said about his proportions.

Patting himself down one last time, he snagged and tested the straps with a thumb, before beginning the more difficult process of fitting the vertical manoeuvre device at the small of his back. Wide, brown eyes sought Jean, hoping he wasn't holding his companion back.
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Re: Learning from the Master
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2019, 04:16:01 AM »
Jean shrugged, unsure of what to say to Marco. He may not agree with Eren most of the time, but the boy made sense. You just had to read in between the lines of his angry ramblings. They got into the walls once, they could do it again. It wasn’t impossible anymore. It wasn’t just a nightmare or something parents told their kids to keep them in line. The titans attacking the walls was the truth. As much as it seemed like a nightmare, it was the scary reality they lived in. Jean got it though- everyone else had the same thought process as him. Everyone else was content to give that problem over to kids like Eren. Suicidal bastards who thought they could actually do something and turn this stupid so-called ‘war’ for the better. He didn’t think it was right, but who was Jean to dictate what was right and wrong?

”We all hope he’s wrong,” Jean sighed, head tilting to look up at the sky. It was a bright blue today, with only a couple clouds in the sky. The idea of all of humanity stuck in one wall made Jean shudder. Trost seemed overpopulated as it was, he couldn’t imagine even more people wandering those narrow streets and alleyways, wandering around the already too close buildings. Full of people from the south. He shook his head a little. He did not want to think about that.

Whatever his opinions, Jean still wasn’t sure he was quite ready to give his life for the cause yet. He didn’t like thinking about it. Thinking about sacrificing himself for humanity meant thinking about leaving his mom behind. Leaving her behind to be on her own completely wasn’t an option. It simply couldn’t happen. Not while Jean could still argue against it. The fever dream Jaeger and a few others like him had, this idea of freedom, was too far away for Jean to want to reach. Still, the walls couldn’t stand forever. Just like life, those too were temporary. He and everyone else should be prepared for when they crumble around humanity. 

The storeroom was always its own special place within the training grounds. It was like its own world somedays. He enjoyed it, the fluttering in his chest as he thought about putting the too many straps on and getting back out on the training course. He adored the ODM gear. He loved sailing through the air. It was like he was flying. When Jean was using his gear, he felt invincible. Nothing could ever touch him with the ODM gear on. He followed Marco, signing his name below the other’s and just copying the date and time, too lazy to turn and ensure that he got the exact time down.

”I doubt you’ll piss me off. Annoy? That’s a different question,” Jean joked, setting his jacket to the side before reaching up for his own harness. He kicked off his boots, not caring at the moment as he would pick everything up soon enough. He finally felt comfortable enough with Marco to joke a little. He was still skittish- not unlike a cat. There were days where he’d let Marco come a little closer, where he was comfortable and would chat happily to him. There were other days where he still gave him a suspicious glare before every interaction, where he would hesitate before speaking. He was working on it. Slowly.

Jean was quick with strapping up- the leather straps reminding him of his mother’s crocheting. Every strap had its place, just like every strand of yarn did. It was simple memorization after you understood that. It was easy to tangle yourself up, especially early on. Jean had done it to himself plenty of times before. Now the straps and harness were second nature. Jean’s own proportions weren’t “normal”. Jean honestly thought the normal comment was just another tactic the trainers made to break the cadets. Weed out the weak. He had to have extended straps for his legs- being lanky and a solid seventy percent leg meant that he was ‘out-of-proportion’.

Jean was just a step ahead of Marco, but he allowed himself time to stretch and get used to the straps. Everything seemed in place and everywhere he yanked seemed sturdy. Jean caught on pretty quickly what it felt like when your straps weren’t placed properly. It was far too easy for one misplaced strap to end in an injury- a muscle pulled, or bone broken. He wrinkled his nose when he remembered the poor cadet in their second week of ODM training. One wrong strap and too much weight bearing on that leg led to her getting sent to the infirmary for a broken leg.  Jean, and many other cadets, were very careful when buckling up in the weeks that followed.

He looked over at Marco, giving him his usual cocky smirk of a smile. “You good?” He asked, wondering why Marco was looking to him. Surely Marco understood what he needed to do? If he needed help now there was very little Jean felt he could do to help in one training session. ”Take your time suiting up- better you get it right than me having to drag your ass to the infirmary for a broken rib or something stupid.”
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Re: Learning from the Master
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2019, 10:56:38 PM »
(OOC: Hey Jonah! I figured it would make sense to get them to the arena, but I can tweak my post if I've moved them along too far. Just let me know. ^^)

As Marco suspected, Jean was already buckled up. He had made deft work of his fastenings, his dexterous fingers swift and thorough as they secured numerous clasps. Marco's honey-brown eyes travelled from his companion's secured harness to his increasingly familiar face, and found Jean had a cocky smirk gracing his lips. There was a certain swagger about the boy from Trost, a confidence that would be worth its weight in gold if only it could be bottled. Yet there was a vulnerability in him too, Marco knew, a deep well of grief and loss. He felt touched - trusted - to have seen that side of Jean.

Straightening, Marco flashed a warm smile of his own, rolling his broadening shoulders - he was going through a growth spurt, he was quite sure - to get a sense of his own harness' fit.

Take your time suiting up - better you get it right than me having to drag your ass to the infirmary for a broken rib or something stupid.

"You'd drag me all the way to the infirmary? Aww, you're a pal," Marco chuckled, his tongue pressing playfully against his teeth. Despite his jest, Jean's advice was solid, and he took a long moment to pat himself down one final time. Satisfied, and with the last of his gear clipped into place, Marco tugged on his boots and slipped back into his jacket. His equipment and clothes were both clearly cared for, the freckled boy keen to remain inspection-ready close to all times. Partly due to the instructors' habit of foisting appraisals onto the cadets with little to no notice, and partly because he simply enjoyed being well turned-out.

"Right, all good. Let's go," Marco nodded, indicating he was ready. The soft sound of their footfall against the floorboards fell away once they stepped out of the storeroom, swapping the cool, still air for the gentle heat of the autumn sun. As they walked, Marco basked in what might be the last sunshine they would enjoy before the chill of winter nipped at their noses. With the arrival of snow and biting winds, no doubt there would come a gruelling aptitude test. The thought alone was almost enough to make Marco shiver.

Ahead of them, the ODM training grounds loomed. Situated on the edge of the barracks, it consisted of numerous posts, frames and platforms of varying heights, all pockmarked with holes left by countless grapple hooks. On the ground was spread a thick blanket of diligently churned sand, given that falls were inevitable amongst the inexperienced. Towards the back of the area, the man-made structures blended with a small, dense area of woodland, the trunks showing the same scarring as the unfeeling wooden structures. Something about the copse reminded Marco of the woods near Jinae, and he almost felt bad for the trees here, their only crime growing in an unfortunate place, and for which they were left to weather amateur ODM operators year after year.

That short-lived sorrowful feeling was lost in a swell of exhilaration, however, his heart picking up pace as the prospect of soaring caused adrenaline to spike in his blood. Turning to Jean, Marco flashed a daring smile. "Don't go easy on me!" With those words, he aimed his hooks at the nearest pillar, tensing his core as the wires reeled him up and into the autumnal air.
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Re: Learning from the Master
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2019, 05:47:07 PM »
Jean stood off to the side as Marco walked, arms crossed. He hung back, waiting patiently for his friend. ”I would bitch about it the whole time and you know it,” he stated, shaking his head at the thought of it. He didn’t particularly enjoy the thought of bringing Marco to the infirmary- especially when he was supposed to help the guy. He would be the worst teacher ever if he let Marco get injured from an incorrect strap. The entire point of Jean being there was so Marco could improve.

He grew to have a spring in his step as they got closer to the training ground. Like most cadets, working with the ODM gear was his favorite part of training. He didn’t hop right up, though, waiting on Marco to get to it. He bit his lip, watching how the other cadet got up. He gave Marco time to get going before hopping up on his own- hooking into one pillar and pulling himself up to the side of the track. He was careful, moving to and from the various pillars and platforms as he watched Marco.

”Careful with gas usage,” Jean started, eyeing Marco carefully. ”Use too much and you’ll be titan bait. Use your weight as an advantage.” He moved carefully, easily keeping pace with Marco. He hovered to the right just a little- just enough to give Marco room to move. ”You’ve got more muscle than I. You can afford to throw yourself into it more. I have to get higher up to cut deeper- you don’t.” He smirked a little, looking forward. ”You’re not quite Reiner- so you can’t sledgehammer your way through a titan. But you can certainly reserve gas more this way. Just watch.”

With that, Jean let the gear unhook, letting himself drop just a moment to gain more momentum. He was quick to swing himself between the pillars. ”Think of gas as less of a necessity and more as a boost! Use it to move, but don’t depend on it entirely.” He chewed on his lip a little, moving with ease through the track. He turned back to face Marco- watching him move through the course.
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