He went over safety procedures before handing me goggles and an earmuff. Kuan reviewed loading the weapon and then stood back. I inserted the magazine in and turned the safety off. The hero demonstrated how to aim and position my body. After two minutes, Kuan confirmed I was ready. I fired off my first shot, not even striking the target. My hands shook a little and I took a deep breath. Okay, one more time.
“Not bad. I’m thinking any guns requiring magic have an automatic aiming feature installed into them for you. I’ll talk to Tess about it later,” Kuan said, grabbing the paper shooting target.
He handed it over to me and then glanced at the clipboard. My shots were scattered all over the place with no distinguishable clumps. I counted only five shots in the three inner rings. The rest never struck the target or hit the backboard. Kuan hopped over the range counter.
“I’m guessing it looks pretty bad,” I yelled out at him, removing my goggles.
“I’ve seen worse. It’s about what I expect from someone who’s never used a gun before. After a few more times, you’ll be hitting the middle,” Kuan responded.
“Thanks for the compliment I guess. Any fancy tricks you can show me?” I turned the gun safety on and removed the magazine.
“I don’t think they’re much use to you. You can really only do them in different dimensions. You would be shot right away if you tried it in the real world. No reason to really teach them to you at all until later. It’ll mess you up especially you’re still learning,” Kuan answered.
“You’re an interesting guy, Kuan,” I remarked, surprised by his statement.
“Don’t fall for me yet, Tomo. Let’s go through some drills. I’ll tell you if anything is off,” Kuan decided, leading me over to a different section of the shooting range.
Over the next hour, the man observed me undergo four different exercises. The first consisted of shooting moving targets , the timing and speed modified in each set. My reaction times were decent but I still needed to work on hitting the actual targets. The next exercise tested my shooting skills during movement. Kuan reminded me it was hard to actually strike anyone while in motion. Still, there were situations I might have to do so. I also learned how to take cover and return fire as well. The third exercise was an accuracy drill, training me to hit marked spots on the targets. My performance wasn’t great but Kuan showed me how to modify my form for a better showing. The final exercise was a quick crash course on handling different types of guns.
“Oh yeah, I remember En using a sniper rifle. Were you the one who trained him?” I still wasn’t used to the kickback on some of the firearms.
“Nope. Anything Long or Zhang have learned, it’s mostly Feng. There are a few exceptions, mostly related to Long. Zhang’s a decent shooter but Jin is way too good at sniping,” Kuan revealed.
“Figures that Kisai is good at shooting too. At this point, he’s just like Tess, great at anything,” I commented, watching the man clean his handgun.
“Nah, Jin wishes he could be Tess. It’s true that’s he’s quick at picking up things but even Jin has his weaknesses,” Kuan responded, reassembling his gun.
“Not that I’ve seen. So what’s those exceptions you’re talking about for Zhuyu?” I hoped he would reveal more about the zero vector user.
“Hmm, well, Long has a nickname some people call him. “The Servant Dragon”. I think I’ll let you learn more about it,” Kuan answered with a grin.
“Indeed. Tomo will learn about it at a future time. However, it’s time for you to finally teach her a few new things, Kuan,” Tess joined the conversation, her voice coming through a nearby speaker.
“I know. Follow me over here,” Kuan said, pointing at an open dirt field.
Skill Exhibition: Tomo Yuki v. Kuan
I started off with a pivot, attempting a rear neck choke. Kuan grasped my right wrist, twisting it, and then whipped me to the floor. The man stabbed a knife downward at my arm. I escaped via a portal and noticed my residual magic from it dwindling much faster than usual. I glanced around and saw smoke pouring out from a flare.
“Oh yeah, catch! It’s full of blanks, mine are too. Don’t hold back!” Kuan hurled a gun at me.
I caught it, slipping it into my holster. Immediately afterwards, a barrage of bullets flew towards me. I neutralized all of them with Zhuyu’s vector powers. As the six projectiles plummeted to the ground, I heard a pop. No, you’re not catching me off guard with that! I constructed a defensive barrier right away, protecting myself from the explosions.
“Not bad, Tomo,” Kuan responded, unleashing another six bullets at me.
That’s what he meant by not feasible in the real world. I created another barrier but these bullets shattered it with ease. I constructed a portal but it fizzled out. The impact of each felt like a sudden punch to my stomach and chest. I fell onto one knee, catching my breath.
Kuan wasted no time, ramming his padded knee into my face. I collapsed to the ground, coughing blood out. Come on, only a few more seconds before I could use magic again! The firearm wielding hero leaped into the air, preparing to slam his knee into my face.I rolled away at the last second, avoiding it, and then created a layer of ice. There’s a nice little surprise for you, Kuan! The man’s knee broke the ice, causing a burst of hot steam to strike his face. Kuan grabbed at his face, coughing and crying tears.
“S***, you got me!” Kuan wiped away the condensation on his glasses and then pointed two guns at me.
The shots from his left gun enveloped the entire area with a thick smoke. S***, I couldn’t see anything. I tried tracking his footsteps but couldn’t pinpoint his location. I made a portal, hoping to suck the smoke away. However, it was unstable and broke down immediately. We’re playing this game, huh? All of a sudden, something jammed into my back and then the sound of multiple pops occurred. I hit the floor face-first, paralyzed by Kuan.
“Huh? Sure, I got it Tess,” Kuan said, helping me back up to my feet.
“What did Tess say?” I asked, regaining sensation in my hands and legs .
“Stop the fancy gun work and focus more on takedowns. I’ll lead you through a few,” Kuan replied, tossing his guns to the ground.
The man demonstrated several methods of bringing a person down to the ground and then showed off potential submission maneuvers. A few involved locking their arm and wrenching it. Kuan warned with the correct set-up, one could break or severely injure someone’s arm. He also taught me chokes, similar to the ones Kyoi went over. By the end, my entire body was in pain. I stumbled to the bench, losing all motivation.
“For someone who says they’re not in shape, you sure don’t look like it,” I accused, filling a glass cup with water from a nearby dispenser.
“I’m out of breath, Tomo. See?” Kuan panted, sweat pouring from his forehead.
“Whatever, that’s some b*******,” I pointed out, slapping an ice pack onto my shoulder.
“Two more minutes of resting. S***, I can’t keep standing, gotta sit down,” Kuan announced after checking his phone.
I finished two more cups of water and then readjusted my holster. Kuan didn’t pick up his guns and wielded a hunting knife instead. He requested I fire off shots at him. Alright, more stuff I couldn’t actually use in the real world. Then again, that wasn’t the purpose of these exercises. I fired off a single shot, aiming for Kuan’s chest. The man sliced my projectile in half with one fluid motion.
“This time, keep shooting until you run out,” Kuan instructed, tugging on his bulletproof vest.
I nodded,emptying my magazine. Kuan deflected five bullets and cut the other ones in half. My aim was getting better at least. I noticed an elevated level of magic when he moved his blade. It must be his Conditional Execution power at work.
“Your powers, right?” I removed my empty magazine, placing it on the table.
“Yep, Tess wanted me to give you a preview. I’m familiar with your gun so I was able to manipulate your bullets. Might have said this before but I need information for me to really use my power to full potential,” Kuan confirmed, sliding his knife back into its sheath.
“That the reason why you work with Kisai so much?” I realized, catching the new magazine Kuan tossed over at me.
“No one wants to work with Jin, let’s be honest. He’s f****** too good and he pulls off so much b*******. But, he has a sharp eye for certain things so he’s a good pair-up with my powers,” Kuan answered, finally retrieving his guns from the ground.
Kuan, reading off from the clipboard, explained my grimoire would automate most of the process when using his powers. Essentially, it all came down to one thing, enough pertinent information. This could originate from repeated observations or someone providing it. However, if it wasn’t in-depth enough or lacked key facts, then the powers wouldn’t activate.
“It’s not really something you see. You just know it when everything comes together. Pretty ambiguous, I know, a lot like Jin’s explanations for things. Anyways, your grimoire is like my glasses. It’ll alert you to what you still need and what you already know,” Kuan provided further details.
Over the next hour, he walked me through gathering information and then applying it. Kuan fired off multiple rounds from his gun. Trajectory, shot location, and frequency of shots were a few of the important details to pay attention to. Luckily, my grimoire displayed most of those facts for me. Still, Kuan advised me to mentally keep track of anything that stood out even if I didn’t know the numbers or theory behind it. It might be helpful later on. My body became battered by the rubber bullets I failed to manipulate using Kuan’s powers. By the end though, I finally got the grasp of it and avoided further damage.
“Nice job, Tomo,” Kuan complimented, stepping aside as Tess walked in.
“Yeah, this is gonna hurt tomorrow,” I predicted, feeling a sharp pain in the side of my stomach.
“The fun’s not over yet, Tomo. Come, follow me. This will be the last official training session for the day,” Tess informed me.
Kuan let me keep the training gun, reminding me he could modify it for me if necessary. I wondered if Yukie could pull her magic and produce something crazy. Still, it was a bit tricky for me to just bring a weapon home without expecting any questions. I would leave it in Tess’ care at the training facility for now.
“Don’t worry, Tomo. You’ll have some time to rest before engaging in any grueling physical activity,” Tess assured me with a slight smile which made me feel only dread.