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Babes in Arms

By Executrix
Page 1 of 4

Or, Sod That For a Game of Soldiers

1. Recruitment

"Don't you love farce? My fault, I fear."

+Call yourself a military organization+ Zen bootered (muttered, boomingly). +None of you could fight your way out of a crisp packet except the Auron female, and even then they'd have to start a featherweight division.+ Alleged computer humor.

"But we're not a military organization, precisely," Jenna said. "We are associates with a leader. That's all. We don't have a hierarchy or a command structure."

"The Federation at least displayed some modest esteem for my ability to fight--or at a minimum, shall we say create trouble," Blake said.

+As a leader! An organizer! If you walked into a bar...+

"With the Scotsman, the Irishman, and the Welshman..." Vila began,

"And the kangaroo," Avon supplemented. "Sorry, Zen. Alleged human humor."

+They'd be afraid you'd make the band play the Marseillaise, but they wouldn't think you'd start throwing the tables!+

"I'm not quite the duffer you think, Zen," Blake addressed the computer, wondering what the hell it knew about his martial prowess anyway. "As far as I can remember, I was quite an exponent of the Sweet Science."

"He means he can box," Vila told Zen.

"I wasn't born knowing how to fight," Cally said. "It's all a matter of training."

"That's what we'll do, then," Blake said. "We'll institute a program of survival training and fighting skills. Each of us will teach what he--or she--knows."

Avon sighed. The last few months factored out to a battle of wits. With Blake his instructor in unarmed combat. If only the prison ship guards had gone through with the original plans to bump off the rest of the prisoners and dispose of the evidence.

Well, he couldn't say he blamed them. Those would probably be the worst pies on the London.


"He may be full of hokum But I've no complaint He often is a bore But on the floor he ain't"

"Hope it's all right that I dropped by," Gan said, making it Standing Room Only in the door to Vila's cabin. "Y'know, I thought that, after all this time, we could get to know each other better. You and me, we've got something in common. Just good plain chaps. With all these hoity-toity Alphas around, we need to get stuck in--ah, to stick together. Separate the men from the boys, but only after the boys have had a jolly good time. See each other as we really are."

Vila looked at Gan's worthy homespun costume. Stout boots. Thick breeches. Solid linen shirt, its sleeves visible through the sleeveless overshirt. "Jerkin off, you mean?"

A grin warmed Gan's face. This was going even better than he expected. Any of the other lot, they'd be going all around Robin Hood's barn for days.

They stripped faster than a fireman can get dressed and slide down a pole.

Vila was a little disappointed not to have to run away screaming. In relative terms, well, it looked a bit on the modest side, and considering the angle at which it was pointing upward, that was probably all he was going to get.

In absolute terms, however, it was quite a big cock. Quite a big cock. Like a really good bacon sandwich: you needed both hands to hold it. And it took quite a stretch of the jaws to take a nibble. I'll call it Rosy, he thought. Because it's just riveting.

"It's only the hand we need," Gan said diffidently.

"We can do a bit better than that," Vila said.

Vila swallowed, and swallowed, and swallowed. Salt of the earth.

2. Boxing

"It's not talk of God and the decade ahead that Allows you to get to the worst. It's 'I do' and 'You don't' and "Nobody said that' And 'Who brought the subject up first?'"

Blake set up a heavy bag and a speed bag in the large boxroom that had been designated the crew gym. The floor was padded with several thicknesses of foam rubber. Ropes were strung between equipment stands to create a makeshift ring.

"Are we all here?" Of bloody course not. "You'd think that Avon would understand the need for cooperation when we all need to form a team and work toward the same objective. He's only making it harder on himself."

Vila nodded. That was his first guess too.

Avon made an entrance, his anthracite grey jersey trousers tucked into laced boxing boots. He wore a long-sleeved knit shirt, the color of lapis lazuli.

"Gan," Blake said, "Be a good fellow and hold up this pad." Gold satin shorts and a white ribbed singlet were not Blake's best look. "All right, we're going to practice the basic footwork and strokes. Don't worry, Gan, you're not going to hurt anyone. Afterwards, we'll work on the bags, and then we'll spar a bit."

Cally didn't have the strength to make much of a dent on the heavy bag, but she easily captured the rhythms of the speed bag. So did Vila--quick hand motions being, after all, his specialty. It was not clear whether Avon was not deigning to make much of a showing, or genuinely wasn't.

"Come on, Avon, into the ring."

"My project," Avon said, "Is to reduce the number of occasions on which I get hit by people bigger than I am. Well, in any violent sense of the term." It's not easy to cross your arms when you're wearing boxing gloves, but he managed.

So much for the "get hit" part, Vila thought. Wonder about the "bigger than me" part.

"Aren't you going to get into the ring and fight like a man?"

"Certainly not. Why should I?"

Hasn't he got any sense of sportsmanship? Blake wondered. He should have known better--like "Marquess of Queensbury rules," "constructive criticism," and "quickie" the term had simply never entered Avon's vocabulary.

"Afraid of me? Think that I can take you?"

"You and whose army?"

"Prove it, then."

Avon climbed into the ring. Vila looked around for something to make gong noises. Zen complied.

"Come on, then, man, put up your guard."

Avon kept his arms by his sides. "You can't touch me unless I let you."

Blake advanced one glove. Avon moved backward, out of range. This sort of thing went on for a while. "Stop dancing around and fight, dammit!"

Avon started intercepting Blake's arms, locking his wrist against Blake's and pushing Blake's arm away. It looked odd, but worked fairly well, until Blake began to feint with one hand and land light but stinging blows along Avon's ribs.

"Does that hurt?" Blake murmured, tauntingly.

"No, but I expect it's the best you can do." It damn well does hurt, Avon thought. And why am I encouraging this Neanderthal to inflict further violence on me? It must be a compulsion of some kind. It hardly counts as adaptive behavior.

Avon stepped back, tried to set up a combination aiming at Blake's jaw, but Blake blocked him easily. Avon moved back again, then changed directions just as Blake began to move forward. They both had their guards up, they were too close to land a punch, but they both kept trying, closer and closer.

In a clinch, in fact.

It's as good as a play, Gan thought. He and Doreen used to like going to the theater on their Thursday half-days. "Ethel the Pirate's Daughter and Romeo and Tybalt and Mercutio," now that was a good one. Lots of fights in that too, although knowing the people made it more fun.

Aw, get a room, Vila thought.

Oh, grow up, Jenna thought. At least with boxing gloves on, they can't pull each others' hair. Although Jenna strove to keep the knowledge to herself, smuggling was only a second career for her. Before that, she had been a primary school teacher. Vivid as an acid flashback, those days came back to her. Oooh, Miss, Broxven likes me! He put a frog in my desk!

"Keep your guard up, dammit," Blake said.

Least of his problems, Vila thought.

Even though Blake palpably pulled the punch, it landed hard enough to snap Avon's head around. That's enough, Avon thought. That's done it. He measured carefully to see Blake's belt line, then aimed a passable uppercut at the abdominal region. It had seemed to work well enough in the engine room of the London.

Collapse of Stout Party.

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