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Ashur A Few Hours Earlier

"It's a fuckin' super mutant! Shoot it, shoot it!"

The wind howls violence as the explosive barrels of a half dozen guns sound their reports, muzzle flashes lighting the way. The lead rolls with heavy force through the clamoring air, striking knots of muscle and flesh inches thick. The behemoth, all crimson-skinned and blue-veined, roars and charges across the ground, crunching dry grass and rocks beneath bare feet.

An Hour Earlier

"We're really sorry, sir," says one man, his voice pinched from a broken nose. "We didn't know you were a friendly, sir. Ah, here, have another drink, sir!" Another, with a broken arm, sits next to the chatty man, nursing his own mug of rotgut. "We really appreciate you not killing us, sir. And it's like you said, sir, no hard feelings, right?"

Ashur stares at them in silence and drinks.


A stream of urine strikes the side of the fight club in Jack's Town, the bullet-wounded Ashur draining the pipe in an alley. He shakes it off, readjusts his loincloth, and wanders through the building's front.. where Fern is waiting for him, having met up with her while drinking before. Turns out she had a friend in this scummy settlement, and so they coincidentally met up!

"You got your gloves, girl?"

This early, the fight club's mostly empty. Ashur's using it as a bit of a training ring for now, seizing one of the painted circles for his own use.
Fern     What's a kid to do here when left alone? Try and find something to drink. That's what! As Ashur steps back into the building, Fern is drinking what little bit of alcohol has been left in a glass from some random person at a table. She sneaks it as best she can, then wanders about looking for more.. even if it tastes disgusting! How the hell do adults drink it!?

    The girl scowls to herself, but the expression is wiped clean as soon as she hears Asur. Turning to look his way, Fern says, "O'course! Wouldn't leave home without them." She nods her head back to the backpack she wears, hands slipping back to grasp the straps and hold on to them as she starts walking in Ashur's direction. She eyes the bullet holes in his form and asks, "Ain't you gonna get that fixed? Or.. it don't bother you? That's fuckin' crazy.." She's grinning wide.
Ashur "Kumo can take them out later," the man decides. "I tried to pull them out with my fingers, but it was hard to do. She has tools to dig in and pinch them." One massive shoulder lifts in a shrug, and the minor irritation of bullets lodged in his tough hide is forgotten. "Good girl. Should always be armed; you never know when trouble might pop up, and you'll need to pop it in the mouth." The giant swings a fist the size of Fern's head through the air, striking some invisible foe.

With a toss of black braids, the bull paws his way toward the painted circle, thump-thumping with each heavy step. He hrms, and gives the street rat a considering gaze, those bright golden eyes drifting up and down her scrawny form-- from the slenderness of her limbs, to the flatness of her chest, to her messy hair and short stature, in every way she's a skinny as hell tomboy. Not the sort of person he expected to teach the fundamentals of boxing to.

"Alright. Get on over, and put your backpack somewhere," he instructs, voice booming. "First step. What do you know about fighting?"
Fern     Fern narrows her eyes slightly when she sees she is being judged like that, and she sticks her tongue out at Ashur, too! The kid moves forwards then, following Ashur into the ring where she moves over to the side and drops her backpack down, opening it up so she can pull the boxing gloves out. She puts them aside, removes her helmet, and puts her things in a safe place by the fence.

    Turning once she has her gloves, Fern looks towards Ashur and says, "Go for the eyes.. The groin.. Uh.. Run like hell if neither work? Break a nose.." She lists things like that while she starts to put her gloves on by puting them on the ground and pushing her hands down into them. She then lifts her hands up as she walks closer, holding them up in a silent request for them to be laced up tight.
Ashur He laces her gloves tight, though the act takes him a little longer than expected with his oversized fingers. "Those are the basics people who don't know any better say," the man remarks, leaning down to playfully flick Fern's forehead. "It's a lot harder to hit someone in the eye than you think. Just wave your hand near someone's face and they flinch away. The nose is a bigger target, and easy to break."

He nods, and then.. sits down. Seated, he's only a little taller than Fern, though his massive red bulk makes him resemble a tree-covered hill in autumn. "Today, you're going to learn how to jab. I'll teach you one punch at a time, and you'll practice those and get plenty of exercise, alright?"
Fern     "Yeah, but I bet they all work! You sayin' that if I kicked you in the balls, it wouldn't hurt? I bet it would! And if someone breaks your nose? You'll stop dead in your tracks," Fern says with a snicker as she takes a few bouncing steps, playfully jabbing her gloves at Ashur like she knew how to box already. She doesn't.

    Once he is seated, Fern slows to a stop before Ashur and calms herself, hands lowering to her sides. She stands there watching his face, listening to what he says, and she nods. "Okay, yeah. Jab and practice and exercise.. Whatcha mean by exercise, exactly? Like.. running around or you want me tryin' to life buckets of water over my head or something?"
Ashur "Nobody who hasn't fought thinks about how tired it makes you," the giant rumbles. "Moving your body, defending, attacking, most people are dead on their feet after a few minutes. Stamina is the most important thing to build up. You need a strong heart! Strong lungs! At your age, you won't put on much muscle. But you can get lots of energy."

Humming a little, the wild-haired mutant reaches along the ground and picks up a chunk of dried clay that had broken off the open-aired roof's lip. "Catch!" He yells, and flings it at Fern. It's not his hardest throw, just quick enough for her to snatch-- at which point he nods. "So you're right-handed," he says, watching her squeeze the debris in said hand. "You'll jab with your left. The non-denominant hand." Brow furrows. He holds up his left hand to show her, then riiiiiises, shaking off the sleep of the ages, clay dust falling from his lap and cloth and petering out in faint smoke-cloud around his muscular calves. "Three things about the jab. You do it more than anything else. It helps you land other punches. And it lets you figure out how close you are to the other guy."

Truth be told, teaching her to throw a punch already is pointless-- stance, footwork, defense, and general conditioning are all more important. But the brute remembers well when he was a boy, and knows that THE PUNCH is just cooler than the rest. You want to get a kid to stick to something hard, give them something cool early on.

"So. You punch someone. Where do you think the power comes from?"
Fern     Dropping the bit of clay from between her gloves, Fern takes a few steps back so she can look up to Ashur and not be craning her neck too far back. The kid lifts her right glove and then her left, and she jabs at the air, testing it out a bit. Jab, jab! Jab! Fern dances a little on her feet again, getting distracted, but she's back and focused soo enough. "Uhh.. The.. shoulder?" she guesses, arching one brow as she eyes Ashur. "Can't come from the fist or the arm.. Maybe the shoulder. Or the hip.. Fuck, I dunno! Just teach me how ti hit!" She jabs at him, poking him in the side with her glove before she puts both of them up and peers over the goves at Ashur.
Ashur "So impatient," he gripes, albeit good-naturedly. "Knowing how things work is important. When you know how they work, you can figure other things out on your own." He holds up his hand. "Make a fist with your left hand," he instructs. "Don't put your thumb in it. You'll break it. " He holds his hand up flat, folds the fingers in, and curls them downward, putting his thumb horizontal over the flat portion of his fingers between the knuckles. The basics of making a fist!

"Your feet! It's about moving your weight from back to front. Keep your shoulders up," and as he says that, he takes a traditional boxing stance, hands held loosely before his face. "And use your right hand to cover your face. Step in with your left foot," and he does so, "and punch!" As the man steps, the weight transfers from his back foot forward, the right shoulder opens, and his left arm rockets out in a straight line, with a little twist of the hand at the end. It's a quick, simple punch.

"Copy me."
Fern     Fern glances down to her glove, eyes it, and looks back to Ashur as she nods. "Kay." She shifts her hand around inside her glove, then lifts the right one to protect her face. She takes a step back, working on shifting her weight back and forth several times while watching how Ashur does it. It's kinda funny looking, too. She's not even half his height, and there she is, looking like she's going to fight him.

    Fern lifts her shoulders and continues to move back and forth, getting a feel for it before she takes a bigger step with her left foot and swings with her right arm, trying her best to hit Ashur! Hey, he can take it! Puny human swings!
Ashur A dozen criticisms come instantly to Ashur's mind. She took too big a step; she swaggered like a rockstar, and that telegraphed it. She didn't pivot her hips to help transfer power. Her shoulder was stiff, and she forgot the twist of her hand at the end to complete the arm and shoulder's extension. She smacks him right in the side, and odds are whacking the wall of muscle-- hard as brick!-- hurt her hand more than it would ever hurt him. And hell, after hitting him, she gets that shit-eating grin, admires her handiwork, and leaves herself completely open.

It reminds him of the first punch he threw. When he was in her shoes, the man teaching him smashed him right in the face for being full of himself. And went through every last one of those criticisms.

"Not bad," he growls, and slowly moves his own left hand in, lightly tapping Fern on her temple and giving her head a little shove back. "But you're too excited. You need tight movements. When you're big and excited, people can see what you're doing. Sharp. Fast. Like a mosquito."
Fern     Fern makes contact, and to her it's all good! She stepped, took a swing, landed it.. and was just too excited, she hears. The girl pulls her arms back then and holds the gloves up, keeping the right before her face and the left close by. As she listens to Ashur she tries to give a little quick jab, and she says, "Sharp.. Fast! Like a mosquito!" She nods. She tries her best to not get too excited as she takes her stance again.

    Fern shifts back and forth a few times, trying to move her hip with it, getting a feel of the movement before she does her best at a quicker jab before swinging right again. She fails to twist at the end, but who knows if she even understands that! The kid tries again, not pausing before giving another jab, then two, and swinging right once more.
Ashur "Just like that," he compliments, reaching out and mussing her hair. "Step in, extend, twist, pull back." He performs the strike again, first with demonstrative slowness, and then with speed-- and what speed it is! Even with his size, his hand is a blur, fast enough to cut the air audibly; pow pow pow, one after the other, rapid-fire jabs faster than the eye can see. He does three of them, and then finishes with an overwhelming right cross, arresting the momentum inches from Fern's face-- all she sees is that huge fist.

"It wouldn't be fair to fight you like this," he comments, and.. sits back down! "So here are the rules. I'll sit and stick to the jab, and you have to land hits on my head. You won't hurt me. Every time you miss, I'll hit back, and you dodge. First one to five wins."
Fern     Those jabs are impressive! That fist is impressive! Fern's eyes are wide as she watches you working on jabbing out, and then the fist is right by her face! Fern's eyes close tightly and she braces for impact, tensing up and squealing softly.. but nothing happens. She slowly opens an eye to see where you stopped, and even though that hit could have killed her if it had hit, she says, "awww, c'mon! Fight me! Fight like a man!"

    Fern puts her dukes up again and starts to shift back and forth, but she pauses upon seeing you lower down. "Mmm.. Alright! Seems fair enough.. Ready?" The kid grins wide now, and she puts her glove up.. She's watching you closely, trying to guess what you will do and when you will jab as she shifts her weight and soon takes a swing when she thinks it's best to try.
Ashur Ashur crosses his legs and sits Indian style, elbows above his knees, hands folded in his lap. He makes a very large target, impossible to miss in normal conditions.. but these aren't normal. The only hits that count are ones to that big hairy head, after all! And as big as it is, it still requires you to get in past his shoulders, and stretch your little arms out all the way. You swing once.. and though he leans his head back, slowly-- too slowly, you might realize, if you're thinking about it rather than celebrating-- you catch him on the chin. There's a light thud from the impact.

"One for Fern," the big man says. "Spread your feet out a little bit. Keep your left foot forward. It helps if you bend your knees a little and jump-- but don't really jump. Just move like that. A punch is full-body."
Fern     Fern looks surprised when she barely grazes your chin, and though she surely wants to cheer she is holding off. You could easily knock her down in return! The kid pulls her gloves back again, parts her feet a smidge wider, bends her knees and almost squats before giving a little jump. She's trying everything you tell her to, but it sure looks funny. She looks more like an injured bird trying to take flight.

    Fern jumps, then remembers not to, and she tries again. She pops up and manages to keep her feet on the floor. "It's a lot to remember!" she grunts, giving a little jab your way.
Ashur "That's why it's one punch at a time," Ashur tells you, stating the obvious! Your little fist comes in fast but this time the super mutant tilts his head to the side. The ease with which he dodged that is almost insultingly dismissive-- he makes it look so casual, your arm stretched out past his big stupid head! "And that's a miss," he warns, for it was on a miss he threatened retaliation-- which, thinking about it, is yet another way this match is rigged in your favor without it being too obvious. "You remember and do it until it's so easy you do it without remembering," he explains - ?? - .. and then that own left hand whips out. With all the sharpness of a rattlesnake, the loose hand flies out and tightens into a fist only at the last second. The behemoth's moving purely with his arm and shoulder, though he rotates a little, but it's clear he's pulling his blow. If it makes contact, it'll hurt, but not oh-god-I'm-dying hurt!
Fern     Yes, it looks quite funny, indeed. Fern is soon trying to prepare for dodging a hit, but she's overhtinking it, and when you bring your fist out to bop her, she pulls back just a bit too late as well, letting your fist hit the side of her cheek. She hisses and growls, "Fuck!" before she steps back and starts to laugh, shaking her head. She spits onto the dirt and looks at it. No blood. Guess it wasn't too hard after all!

    Fern hops back over and takes her stance again, and she grins wider. "Maybe it'll leave a cool bruise! And I can tell everyone I fought the mighty Ashur!" She cackles happily, jabs quickly and then tries to swing again to make contact with your FACE.
Ashur "My reputation will grow all the more fearsome," declares the giant, voice thunder and aggression, "when it is known that I defeated Fern the Fierce! She once killed a Mirelurk queen just by giving it a nasty look." As he boasts of your pretend accomplishments, your fist finds purchase, that heavy glove pushing his head back. "Ouch," he says, with a wince, "you've got a hell of a hand there."
Fern     Fern is starting to giggle as you play along with her and say such nice things, and when she lands that second hit she grins wider. She looks as proud as can be, and she says, "ya really think so? Hell of a hand, huh? That's good!" She looks at it, which could easily be enough to sneak in a hit of your own. "Maybe one day I can hit as fast and hard as you can. You have crazy, blurry fists!" she says with a hiss, followed by laughter.

    Fern bounces back into position then and prepares to dodge. While that first hit didn't hurt toooooo bad, it certainly didn't feel good, and she doesn't care to get smacked again!
Ashur "Hell of a hand," Ashur agrees, giving you a long, golden-eyed look. "You almost hit as hard as a radroach." The compliment turns into a laughing taunt as you take another hop back, and this time his hand comes in slower, more a swat than a proper punch. The brute smacks his thigh, puffs out his chest, and sticks his jaw out straight. "Come on, hard as you can! Make me feel it this time, mouse."
Fern     "Hey!" Fern is starting to cackle now as she stands before you, her grin returning. "I hit lots harder than a damn radroach! I aughta hit you twice for that!" she says, laughing more. She sinks back and brings up her gloves, but starts to relax when you put your face out there for her to hit. "Mmm.. You sure? I mean.. I don't wanna hurt you or nothin. Don't need your wives to come after me when their man comes home with a shiner!" She snickers more, focuses, then tries her best to give you a good smack across the face!
Ashur You focus your strength, and throw what is no doubt the best jab of your life, right at that mutant's smug face! He said it was a free hit, so why not make the most of it?

Well.. because he lied.

As your fist comes in, his whole body rocks backwards, his feet coming off the ground. Then he rolls back forward and explodes into motion, launched with all the force of a rocket utilizing the momentum of the roll. The giant seizes you, lifts you off the ground like a sack of feed, and holds you over a shoulder-- long enough to grab you by the shin, and hold you upside-down by one leg, with one arm.

He lifts his free hand, and very lightly pokes you in the forehead, counting: "Two, three, four, five. I win!"
Fern     Fern looks so focused! She's staring right at the spot she intends to hit.. and then she's suddenly hanging upside down. The girl screams and starts swinging left and right, growling as she tries to smack you in the head repeatedly, but it's no use. She's hanging and getting poked, and soon enough she's laughing. "You're such a dick!" Fern calls, roaring with laughter again. She growls playfully and swings once more, trying to swing her body forward enough so she can smack tyou in the face. "You don't play fair!"
Ashur "Fighting isn't fair," he says simply. As you swing, he helps you along, that torso-thick arm waving you back and forth, back and forth, with the rhythm of a hypnotist's pendulum. "Anything can happen. And now you're gonna be eaten by a super mutant."

He clicks his tongue, and then blows a gout of cool air over your face, affecting a savage roar. "I'll grind your bones to make my bread!" Stomp, stomp, out of the circle.. and then, as you uselessly hit that sculpted torso, he gently lowers you, head first, back to the ground, careful to not put too much weight on your neck.

"Every morning, you run an entire lap around El Dorado," he instructs. "When that gets easy, do two laps. And when that's easy, do them faster. Then you practice your jab. Do one hundred perfect jabs every day. You do that, and I'll teach you the cross soon."
Fern      Gloves go down to help push her against the ground and roll forward, and as soon as she's on her feet she rushes forward, swinging at you again! She just doesn't know when to give up! It's just one swing, though, and then she is standing still and holding her hands out, needing help to get the gloves off. "Okay! A lap.. Easy enough. I'm pretty fast at running. If you weren't so tall I doubt you could keep up with me," she boasts.
Ashur "Too fast for me," Ashur agrees, beginning to walk back out of the fight club. The sun's directly overhead now, making it a sweltering afternoon. "Come on. We'll buy something to eat on the road, and then you can walk me back to El Dorado."
Fern     Once her gloves are off Fern rushes to her bag, stuffing them away and swinging the backpack over her shoulders. She puts her helmet on and hurries after, catching up so she can walk back to El Dorado with Ashur.