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Author Topic: Muscle memory. [Emery]  (Read 741 times)

Muscle memory. [Emery]
« on: May 28, 2018, 03:18:37 PM »
[ autumn, 845 ]

Battlefield medicine. He knew it was important, but everything they had learned thus far was difficult to get used to. If they went through herbs that could heal or be useful for medicine, he either considered whether they were edible and used in baking or... forgot about them quickly enough. He didn't have the patience for it, but he had to be good at everything or what was the point? Would he have to depend on others? The idea of depending on others made him feel sick, like he was useless and, well, dependable.

Axel Falkenrath was going to be a force to be reckoned with, not a kid who sobbed for help. Because he had to be there for those who did need help.

And in his semi-delirious state of ambition, he had to learn everything he could. So, when he had picked out a day to hang back after class, he lingered to talk with their instructor. He was an inquisitive sort, who could ask plenty of questions but didn't want to be seen as an idiot either (he thought that played into the idea of him being either a zealous Garrison candidate or a mulish Scout wannabe). But he needed direction.

"How do you remember everything?" was his first question, when his fellow cadets had scarpered for free time before lunch. The small boy - he looked shrunk next to his classmates, even if he wasn't all that short for his age - blinked at his instructor, Emery Deorwine. It was a silly question, so he expanded on it. "I mean, there's so much to think about. A lot to memorise. Fighting is easy, do something enough and muscle memory comes in. But medicine and injuries, there's so many, and unless you're pushing to be a medic... it's easily forgotten for a lot of people, isn't it?"

Re: Muscle memory. [Emery]
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 12:17:46 AM »
Sometimes Emery despised her role as an instructor. Heralding over a group of rambunctious cadets, children too young to be soldiers, was aggravating more often then not. A handful were unable to idly sit quiet, and the rest figured battlefield medicine to be a waste of time. If they figured they could pass with only the most basic of concepts stuffed inside their premature brains, they were wrong. The ‘basics’ could not save a life.

She grimly figured the slackers in class would not be able to survive once the time came.

Emery Deorwine, poised lecturer of that hour-long session, watched as the same set of kids she taught on regular basis filed out; eagerly discussing their free opportunities for lunch. The crossed swords on their backs suggested destruction in the future, a symbol she would never be a part of ever again. Those were the damning thoughts of a life turned bitter, and though she had told herself she’d made peace with the devil, sometimes peace does not drive away all the demons.

Her leg reminded her of that every day.

With her weight supported against the front desk in the makeshift room, a pale hand scrubbed wearily at the chalk on the board. The details of a semi-realistic elbow were erased by her sweeping fingers, and that handwriting – neat and strangely tidy – faded off into dusty oblivion. In the midday light that filtered softly through the window near the board, the exhaustion in her features was present.

She lived a mundane routine; a trance of teaching children all she knew to only have them sent to the slaughter. It almost seemed in vain. Her mind was absent, the inklings of a concentration long since zoned out when a voice suddenly pulled her from her musings.

And she was torn from her reverie.

Emery’s silvery-blonde head turned to peer at the source of the noise, burned-out honey colored eyes meeting with the sight of a rather familiar face. He was short, scrappy; wiry in the way youths were before their bones filled out and they grow tall and hardened for battle. That mess of dark hair, tousled and unkempt, summoned a name from the depths of her quiet mind.

Axel Falkenrath. One of the more respectful soldiers-to-be when he was doing his work and not bickering with other cadets, of course. He held a hunger for knowledge that sometimes seemed insatiable, and for that, Emery was far more tolerable of his presence. His question and elaboration came at somewhat of a surprise, but nothing more than a furrow of Emery’s brow gave away her acknowledgement to his appropriate inquiry.

“Practice.” She murmured initially, soft and quiet as her long-fingered hands clapped together to brush off the offending chalk. “Experience helps settle that memorization, and, after a while, it becomes trivial. Medicine and knowledge of injury can be easily forgotten, you are not wrong, but practice makes for perfection.” Emery’s worn eyes, steely like the gaze of a woman that has seen a lifetime of suffering, fixated themselves onto the grey orbs of the boy’s youthful stare; gleaning from the depths his curiosity.

It was apparent a better explanation would, perhaps, soothe his questioning.

“The knowledge of medicine can become muscle memory, just like any swing of the sword becomes ingrained into your mind. You sew up enough wounds, set enough bones into place, and your hands will eventually take on a routine of their own. Muscle memory is found in many things.” She explained simply, twisting her torso so she was able to fumble for the cane she’d left at the side of the desk. It was an old thing, worn with a silver handle, but it was the same one she had relied on for years. “Muscle memory is what keeps me standing.”

With a sigh of air through her nose, she pushed herself off the desk and supported her right side with the walking stick. Balance was key, and as she finally turned her entire form to face the young boy, that missing leg came into full view.

Chewed off right above the knee, the only knowledge any part remained was the material of the uniform tied at the pant leg; bound just where the wound had been sealed. Emery’s voice was tight when it trickled out, yet to reinforce Axel’s question. “It may be a lot of material to cover and memorize, but when the time comes, you won’t hesitate. Being able to recall battlefield medicine will be the difference of whether you lose a friend,” her tone dropped, suddenly a thousand times quieter, “or whether you lose your leg.”

Re: Muscle memory. [Emery]
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2018, 07:01:50 PM »
Watching as she brushed away the chalk, Axel listened carefully. Practice was such a typical answer, and had she stopped there without further explanation then he might have become annoyed at being brushed off so simply. As she explained, he itched to interrupt, holding himself back out of respect and wanting to know if there was something he was missing. While there may be those in the cadet corps who sought to become medics, or to become exemplary at battlefield medicine for personal sakes, he struggled to give another reason to try harder. It was confusing, and too much to listen for something he doubted he would need an awful lot in the future. This was his struggle with many of his subjects, for his drive to succeed needed some kind of rationality.

If throwing yourself into the military for the sake of helping others was rational. As though tempting fate of being eaten by a Titan could be truly rationalised.

Muscle memory. Was it possible? It was difficult to imagine, that he'd be able to apply such a thing, when he doubted he'd go out of his way to develop those skills outside of her instructions. Of course he wanted to help people, but he had always considered himself better for doing something more proactive than sitting down and bandaging wounds while others did the work.

The problem was, he was young and inexperienced. In due time, he didn't know what might happen. If he would be pulled to a position where he might rethink it.

As Emery turned to face him, he could not avert his eyes from glancing to her leg, or rather what was missing. He felt uncomfortable, jerking his gaze away quick, hardly subtle. Fingers curled to press his nails against his palm, reminding him to focus. Her words stabbed at him; he almost flinched, though held himself strong, solid.

"I understand," he muttered, grey eyes fixed on the ground. Her explanation had almost escaped from his mind entirely as her last words sunk in. Was he being selfish, to see battlefield medicine as below him? Yes, it was a struggle, but he couldn't work it out. Would pushing himself to learn and memorise it all take away from other aspects of his training?

He took a sharp intake of breath. "It just seems like so much. We've hardly begun and I still struggle to remember any of it. I know it's important, but..." it doesn't feel important, he stopped himself from continuing. "It's hard to convince myself to try harder, and not give up. It's not the only thing, but..." Again he trailed off, struggling for the right words. He prided himself on his ability to focus on his training, and studying like such should count, yet it felt like it didn't. That was his trouble. So he wanted, irrationally, some sort of hidden trick that he could unlock, to make it easier on himself.

Axel glanced back to his instructor. "Do you ever feel like that? Do you think many soldiers, who don't specialise as medics I suppose, remember a lot?"

Re: Muscle memory. [Emery]
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2018, 08:48:10 PM »
Emery’s quiet eyes roamed over his features, saw how his gaze darted from her missing leg to the ground, and then to some distant thought she could not see. It was not the answer he had hoped for. She could assume that much, judging by the sort of forlorn sound that overcame the boy’s youthful voice. But reality was stark and bitter.

There was no use sugarcoating the truth.

She was eerily silent as she let her words sink in, straight through the brain of the cadet she had taught lesson after lesson in that makeshift classroom. Emery stood tall, back ramrod straight as she lorded over him like a shepherd watching its sheep come to terms, and struggle with the wriggling thoughts. Her eyes sought out Axel’s face when he eventually brought his head back up to address her.

Emery’s eyes were the color of dying stars as she languidly chewed over his concerns.

“They don’t remember a lot,” she sighed wistfully, “and that is what gets them killed.” Her voice snaked out of her lips, faint in the dusty room; speckled in that falling sunlight. The thin arches of her eyebrows knitted together in a semblance of concentration. “There is a truth that, unless you are specializing in battlefield medicine, you will not completely know everything; or even care to maintain that memory. And that is where I feel I fail the most.”

The woman shifted her weight over to her left side, letting the cane take less of her burden as she stamped it down against the wood floorboards. It rapped against the grain with a sharp thud.

“Is it because I do not stress the importance enough? Battlefield medicine is so, so much more important when you are out in the field, or on those Walls standing at the precipice of life and death…” Emery’s voice trailed off into nothingness, and for a moment, she realized she had been lost to the past; those dark, swirling memories that dragged her down and wrapped its hands about her throat. Her steely gaze renewed, however, and her sharp eyes flickered over to the window. “You must try. You must try and remember all that I teach you.”

The grit of her jaw was tense as she turned to peer at Axel once more, bringing that young boy back into view; into light where she could see those grey eyes alive and brilliant with life. Walls forbid if they ever lost that color to death.

“You will die if you do not. So many others before you, foolish- foolish to think they can slip away with nary a thought on how to mend a broken bone or keep inflammation elevated. Tell me, young Falkenrath…” Emery took a crippled step forward, keeping her back taut, pulled tight like a bow as she rested that cane in front of her. Her gaze regarded him curiously. “If you were miles away from the nearest squad, with only your dead horse and a few supplies left, and your leg snapped in two, would you know how to create a makeshift splint? A splint, perhaps, that could keep the bone aligned while you wait for your comrades to heed your flare?”

She wanted him to picture it in his mind. Let it fester.

“Or what if you were just by yourself, no squads around? Your ODM gear is useless on the plains, from what I’ve heard. You’ve no where to run. If the Titans did not get to you first by some miracle, would you be able to take the necessary steps to ensure infection does not spread through your leg? Tourniquet the limb so you do not bleed out?” They were all example of scenarios that could happen to soldiers away from the sanctuary of the Walls, and though she was unsure if he would even find himself in that specific situation, it did not hurt to try to make a point.

If you lack knowledge on how to take care of your body when death comes knocking, the reaper will surely take you.

With a sweep of a pale hand upwards, she carded her fingers through her light blonde hair, pushing any loose strands back from her face to get a cleaner view of the Falkenrath’s heir. Did he not understand the severity? Medicine was so much more than just bringing to memory steps and basic information. It could literally be the breaking point of whether you survive to see the next day.

“Does that example portray the importance? There is nothing I could say that would make it any easier to memorize, but I hope having the desire to save yourself, to see the sunrise instead of wasting away from a bleed out, may give you motivation to try harder.”

Her tired eyes dropped to the floor for a moment, echoing in the depths some world-weary fire that burned away; extinguishing along with the slither of air that shuffled from her lips.
“When you are dying, or feel you are close to losing that last breath, you will know what to do.”

Re: Muscle memory. [Emery]
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2018, 04:39:44 PM »
The boy flinched at the casual morbidity of her answer, of the impending realisation that she was correct. Not knowing enough medicine might well cost lives, their own and those of others. The likelihood of dying was multiplied by ignorance. 'Luck' or whatever 'fate' people believed in played a factor too, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but most injuries could still be repaired, couldn't they?

Would it have helped any of his family, cut down like pigs for the slaughter?

The tone in her voice as she spoke, that she urged that he must try, struck deep within him. She was so serious, and he tensed as she looked back towards him, grey eyes fixed on her. He had to avoid looking to her leg, discomfort sitting there. Could she have saved her own leg? Wondering on the story, he had to pull himself out as he heard her speak again, his surname catching his attention.

Every example stung. The idea of being stuck out in the open with no assistance and only his own skills made him shiver, the hair on the back of his neck tingling as he pictured the scenario. Titans lumbering in the distance, pain swollen in his leg and desperation on his breath as he tried to remain unnoticed. But they would always come, sooner or later, that much he'd gathered from all he'd learned so far. With only one leg, he'd have no chance of escape.

At the question, Axel nodded passionately, very almost hurting his neck in his speed. He spoke only after she was finished, his voice quiet and serious. "I understand, instructor," he stated, bowing his head. "I'll do what I can to make sure I know what to do. But..." He trailed off, hesitance gripping.

"How many people survive if that happens? If they get hurt, trapped, abandoned... and can only take care of themselves before somebody rescues them."

She likely had no answer, but he had to ask. Death was a constant in their lives, and as a soldier he knew he had to prepare himself to combat it, with words or actions. It was of the utmost importance that he was prepared for everything, and while it was truly impossible, he had to try. Battlefield medicine was more important than he'd given credit. Which led him to another question, though one he approached with far more trepidation. For it was one of a more personal note.

The boy blinked as he raised his head, a wider-eyed innocence to his features. "Is your leg why you teach?" He could not recall what Deorwine had said of her time prior to teaching. "Since you don't see many soldiers like you." Crippled; missing a limb. He couldn't recall many even within the Garrison, though perhaps it was simply not within his district, or else he had never spotted them because they worked in different specialities. It was perhaps a less than sensitive question to ask, but, as far as he was concerned, a valid one all the same. Motivations were surely important, and she was passionate about her field, so why?

Re: Muscle memory. [Emery]
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2018, 05:22:11 AM »
Emery was silent as her gaze tracked the boy’s movement; sharp tilt of his head in violent understanding. The way the severe light dawned within the grey depths of youthful, passionate eyes. His answer was not enough to set her frayed nerves to rest, but it was better then nothing, and she could almost feel assured. Almost.

Mistakes are always made. Despite her warnings, and the Falkenrath heir’s determination, there was a nagging pinch clawing at the back of her brain. Would he forget this conversation one day – a young man at that time, who may become overconfident? Emery prayed in her head to the Walls that that would not be the case. She’d seen it before; knew how age could bring some form of incompetence. Even further to lay waste to caution and the roots of childhood lessons in the cadet training camps.

Soldiers sometimes grew cocky. And with cockiness came forgetfulness.

But Axel… he would turn out alright. Emery had hope, gazing down at the young boy who was suddenly so hesitant to elaborate on her graphic examples. His inquiry was a difficult question.

As a retired Garrison member, she’d never been out in the fields herself, far away from the Walls where the lurking beasts of skin and bone ran rampant. No. The stories she told, they were all theoretical. Hypothetical scenarios from a woman who barely scrapped by a decade of loyal service. She had hung up her swords and bloody red roses the day she had been shuttled off to become an instructor, so the rest… those were tales from soldiers who had the misfortune of blazing the mantle of the wings on their backs. She’d know.

Many of them were dead now.

“You must always prepare for the worst.” Emery’s voice broke the stuffy silence, carried on fragile words after her brief tango with her thoughts. Her thin eyebrows were knit together, and there was nothing but an acerbic glint painting the tired features. “Out there, alone and suffering, many do not survive. It’s a blessing if any squads nearby manage to pick up a survivor’s lone flare, but often times,” her lips pulled into a thin line, “the Titans get to you first. In a worse case scenario, there are practices where an individual will commit suicide instead of being left to get eaten. Much more quick and painless then a Titan’s bite.”

She spoke from experience and held her gaze steady as she tapped her cane against the floorboards. The remaining portion of her leg occasionally ached even after all this time. It was her bane to keep.

At the beckoning of Axel’s last question, the training instructor could not help the chill that rushed through her blood; freezing and roiling in her gut. They were all horrible memories to recall, the events that placed her where she is now, but… it was an appropriate inquiry. Though her stare had adequately hardened, there was no mistaking the crack of weakness in her armor and she regarded the boy with a heavy gaze.

Her golden eyes broiled with a wealth of unshed emotion. “It is the cause of my current situation, that much I cannot deny. I honestly would not be stuck teaching battlefield medicine if I hadn’t gotten it bitten off.” She murmured softly, tearing her eyes away from Axel’s face to peer morosely down at the missing appendage. “Fall of Shiganshina took a lot of things from people. Loved ones; family; friends. The one thing it took from me was my dignity… The Garrison did not want a soldier who couldn’t run or patrol around the Wall, but I was still eligible to work. I just wasn’t the type they needed.”

Emery leaned her weight against the cane and took a breath; pausing to rub wearily at her face. She’d seen enough grief and loss for an eternity. “Most soldiers who go down usually stay down forever. There’s no use for them on the battlefield, no reason to try and throw them back into the fight when they’ll only drag their teammates down. You… you become a liability after that. But I didn’t want to let all that work go… so they transferred me here when I was able to get up. And that’s when I decided to make the most of my new grip on life. Teaching medicine is all I have left, now. Take that away from me, and I’ll just end up like my leg.”


Re: Muscle memory. [Emery]
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2018, 01:29:38 AM »
Each word she spoke was a doorway into an uncertain pit of knowledge, one he could only graze a glean of, but never step in. There was an invisible barrier blocking his entrance, one he had decided to put up himself. It protected him from knowing too much; it hid from him the emotional blitz that he was not yet ready to delve into. He had heard plenty, it was true, but never enough. There was only so much a child would be told, and he was still a fresh recruit of the Cadet Corps. Worse: one of the youngest. Plenty would see him as a child still. He spat at the idea of behaving as a child. But as much as he might vocally deny his emotions, he still felt them.

The dread. A crippling question of whether this was truly what he wanted. This life, of turmoil, uncertainty. The brutish reminder of mortality and constant pace of grief. Some had already attempted to dissuade him of the path he'd begun, tried to appeal to him, to look elsewhere. His wavering between a fork in the road, between Garrison and Scout, would continue for some time, he was sure. But every glimpse of anecdote and knowledge would help paint the line on his map.

"Does that make them weak, to choose death?" The question was not asked with spite, or distaste. It was curiosity, burning bright, as Axel fixed his gaze upon his instructor. An innocence might have reigned, denial, but instead he asked. Because he wanted to know. "Nobody speaks of what it's like, to be there, in a Titan's mouth... They don't want to." Oh, he could imagine why. In his nightmares, when he woke up drenched in sweat. "But wouldn't people rather die fighting? To... try? They could take down one in their attempt! Wouldn't that be worth it?" Fire crackled within him as he urged an answer from himself, a deep-seated desire to never take that route. It seemed easy, but that wasn't what drove his words.

It was a passion to do everything he could, until his last breath. As a Falkenrath, he must.

To turn, instead, to the question of that missing limb, Axel's sharp eyes flicked back to the empty space, unable not to. Her confession that she would not be in her instructing position if it weren't for her leg made his eyes widen. It seemed an honest answer, one that caused him more wonder. She was no willing participant of the cadet corps, not quite. That made her both valuable and perhaps not quite as principled. Her experience was priceless, but he debated with himself how much he could depend on her, if her presence was not through desire.

Anger pierced his face, splintering it with a deep-set frown and tensed jaw. His fingers curled, nails biting into the palm. It was not directed at her, as was made clear an instant later. "That's stupid!" he exploded, voice louder than even he had expected. As doubtful as he was on her total honesty, he could believe it. That only fuelled his deep-seated fury.

Scarcely a breath passed before he went on. "Every soldier should be valued, and should have a place. There's got to be something more. There's more than running, more than patrolling, that isn't teaching. You shouldn't be here if you don't want to be." His blinding red vision blocked him from her final words; his ears were not in tune to that much. No, emotion had boiled, deafened him. "The Garrison shouldn't just ship people off for getting injured. We need more Garrison soldiers with actual experience with Titans more than ever!"

His breaths were deep, laboured, forced out as he continued. Axel was caught up in his moment, of his 'truth'. He did not see anything but the scarlet veil, and his helplessness at changing it. "You lost your leg to Titans, right?" But the question only gave him pause for a second, before he simply assumed it was given confirmation. "You should be out there, coaching soldiers, not cadets. On what to expect, on how serious this really is. They see refugees and too many of them think them lazy! Oh, how dare somebody weep in the streets, having lost their home, everything they have, everyone they care about. That's lazy, is it? You should be drumming up support to tackle the true threat, not teaching us!"

Axel let out an agonised cry, burying his face in his hands. It was an attempt to smother his emotions, to drown them out, so that he could think and calm.


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