Chapter XIII – Defense Shooting

After Rem and Marybeth became great knife throwers, the basic knife throwing training was removed. The level 2 shooting, on the other hand, focused on hitting targets of different position and distances. Moving objects became faster and smaller.

One training day, Jonathan asked Rem to go with him while Marybeth to Alvarez. They entered a huge room that was about 30 meters long and 9 meters wide. The whole place was atrium-built where the second and third floor can overlook the ground like those of typical shopping malls. Inside were different materials like boulders, plywoods, wooden chairs, tables, ropes and different types of ladders that you can use to climb to the upper floors.

“Alright Rem, this part will teach you how to defend, duck, dodge, and attack,” said Jonathan. “Here, you will be forced to formulate strategies on how to avoid attacks from your enemies and at the same time attacking them back.”

“But first you must wear this. This is called the Arkiman Suit,” said Jonathan who showed Rem an overall black suit that resembles those of ninja’s. “Look around you, those machines attached on the walls will throw real daggers that can kill a man. However, this suit is made from special fabric that will prevent the daggers from puncturing your skin. But, once you got hit, it really hurts.”

Rem was never startled. He was actually excited about his new training ground.

“This suite is also compatible with the machines. They have these specially designed sensors that can only be triggered by the suit and when that happened the machine will try to hit you with knives. But since you are only new, I will be kind to you, I won’t turn all the machines… Just some,” said Jonathan squeezing Rem’s shoulders.

“And… I will go with you,” the man added showing his suit.

Rem smiled and got more excited knowing that he had a great partner. He just turned around to remove his clothes to put on his suit on. After they were done putting their protective dresses, Cooney gave Rem a pair goggles to protect their eyes and a belt bag containing daggers.

“Burrows can you please go to that rock over there?” said Jonathan pointing to the rock a few meters from them. “I will just have to set the machines up.”

Rem was impressed with the suit as despite his mentor’s mouth was already covered, he can still hear him clearly. He was also wondering how such a thin suit can protect him.

Jonathan then walked to Rem.

“In this activity, 25% of the machines were on. They will release a knife every five seconds once we triggered their sensors. So, we must be alert to dodge anytime. Once we got out of their sensors, they will still try to locate us and continue shooting. So, relatively speaking, running is not escaping. If you saw a machine shooting knives you can hit it back to turn it off. Got me, Burrows?”

Rem nodded and since he was obviously ready, Jonathan also readied himself.

“Your main goal is to reach the other end on the third floor and something is waiting for you there,” said Jonathan. “But, there is a time frame. Once the buzzer went off, we are done and we’ll continue the next day. And, when the machines hit you five times, it’s over.”

“Ok I will hit the button,” Jonathan said who took a knife from his belt and threw it to the huge red button hitting it via the knife’s handle. Rem saw it. He was impressed.

“Rem behind you!” said Mr. Cooney, who pushed Rem hard to the ground. “Come, run!”

Jonathan and Rem ran to the boulders and used it as a shield. A machine was still trying to shoot them, but because of the boulders, the knives just use to bounce.

“And what is that?!” an irritated Jonathan asked Rem. “I just told you to be alert!”

“I’m sorry Mr. Cooney. I just don’t know what to expect,” Rem said.

“Rem, my main role here is to only guide you. I will help you with your defense by suggesting some strategies. But, I won’t be shooting knives at those machines. Your main task here is to dodge and eliminate all those activated.”

Rem nodded and half-stood to look for the machine that was shooting them. When he saw it, he stood and aimed. However, a knife just hit him on his side hip. The impact really hurt. The next thing that Jonathan saw was that Rem was curling down and probably hurt. He just protected him to the blazing knives by hitting them with his daggers.

“Rem let’s go, we just triggered four more machines,” said Jonathan pulling Rem. “This area is not safe.”

Rem and Jonathan ran to another boulder and again found relief.

“Rem, listen to me,” said Jonathan. “You only have split seconds to aim. Remember our training? Apply what you learned.”

Rem nodded. He peeked through the rock. When he identified the nearest triggered machine, he stood and threw the dagger in a snap. He was successful in deactivating it. That shot gave him a boost.

Rem closed his eyes and counted the triggered machines using the sounds of the daggers hitting the boulder. During those times, there were about seven machines aiming at them. He again peeked and found out that all were already out of his throwing reach.

Rem closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He was trying to formulate a plan.

“Sir, in this position, I think all the machines were triggered,” said Rem pointing two hands at their previous location. “So, since we aren’t been hit by machines in front of us. It’s much better for me to deactivate all the machine there first.”

“Sir, can I ask for your help?” Rem added.

Jonathan’s jaws  and eyebrows crossed.

“Ok Rem, what is it?”

“Can you hit the knives thrown at me as I go nearer the machines?” said Rem. “Based on my estimation I can’t hit them here. They are too far.”

Jonathan was impressed, but he didn’t show it.

“Alright Rem, I’ll back you up,” said Jonathan.

Rem then braved the knives as Jonathan hit those coming to his way. After successfully dodging the other knives and reaching a few feet, he stepped on a rock and used it to jump high and while on air. He then formed a letter “C” using his body to release a powerful blow. He hit one machine that automatically shut down.

Rem opted to land with his whole body on the ground so he can easily roll over behind a small rock that can’t accommodate his body if he was not laying down. He looked at Jonathan who was already near him and pointing at his left side referring to a machine that was continuously shooting knives at him. He planked so he can position himself in front of his next target.

Rem nodded at Jonathan who stood to protect him from the knives. He used his legs to push himself against the ground, so he will have greater acceleration. While running, he threw a knife to his right hitting a nearer machine that instantly stopped. When he was at the right distance, he made a full side swing while bending his back and released the knife hitting another machine. He wasted no time and ran to the left boulder to shield himself. Along with his way, he picked some knives.

Rem also picked a plywood thinking that it might be useful. While behind the boulder, he looked beside him seeing Jonathan crawling to reach him.

Rem didn’t mind his mentor. Instead, he took a peek so he can again evaluate things.

“This one’s about 20 feet from me,” said Rem to himself referring to the one on his right. “Those three behind me are quite far.”

Rem knew that Jonathan was already beside him. But, he didn’t bother talking to him. He ran towards the nearest machine with his left arm across his chest to hold the plywood in order to cover his right part of the body. He threw another knife and deactivated his target.

Knowing that Jonathan was protecting him, Rem ran with plywood in front of him. As he came closer, he threw a knife hitting another machine. He then used his plywood for the other one and aimed for the third. He just finished them all.

Rem fell on the floor panting with Jonathan walking towards him.

“Good work Rem,” said the half-knelt Jonathan and while tapping his shoulder. “Come on and let’s go to the other side.”

Jonathan offered his hand to Rem. He then pulled him up. After a few meters of walking to the other end, Jonathan stopped Rem.

“Careful!” said Jonathan.

Rem nodded and continued. But, this time, much slower. After taking a few steps, one machine faced its knife thrower to them and blew a dagger. Rem was quick to react and able to avoid the knife. He also successfully threw a knife deactivating the machine. However, two more machines were activated from the other side. None of them noticed. He was hit twice. He groaned in pain.

Jonathan ran and pushed Rem. Since there was no boulder to hide, and more machines were activated, the mentor was then hit on his back. However, he didn’t mind the pain and just continued. They ran to the nearest boulder, which was located almost at the end of the room.

Unfortunately, one machine in front of them was also activated and threw a knife. Jonathan was quick to react and able to throw a knife to stop the fast approaching dagger. He then signaled to Rem using his facial expression that was easily decoded by the younger one. Rem ran towards the machine, swung and released. They were now safe and was able to formulate the plan.

“Sir, again, I need backup,” said Rem.

Jonathan gave Rem a devilish smile along with a nod. Rem first ran towards his left to avenge himself to the machines that hit him. He was able to dock the knives. Jonathan, on the other hand, defended him from those coming from the other side.

Rem easily shut the machines off. He hid behind another boulder. Jonathan watched him from behind. Obviously, he was impressed.

Jonathan made a “psst” sound to call the attention of Rem signaling to tell him that he should be going.

Rem breathed deeply and peeked to count the throwing machines. There were two more remaining. He gave his mentor a boastful half-smile and run towards the first machine. Jonathan followed him. He was able to avoid the first dagger of the nearer machine and in less than five seconds he was already running towards it. He immediately deactivated it.

“Now, for the last one,” said Rem to himself.

While running Rem was focused entirely on the tube and when it blew a dagger, he twitched himself to the other side.

“One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, one thousand four, one thousand five,” said Rem to himself measuring the time and indeed the machine blew another knife. He ran while counting and will instantly throw himself to the other side in order to avoid the knives. He repeated his process until he was able to go just in front the machine.

He counted and right before he reached “one thousand five,” he made a slight turn to avoid the knife. Then, the last machine was deactivated.

Jonathan was quite impressed with what he saw. Rem was the first mentee he knew who was able to anticipate the knives well.

Rem walked towards his mentor with a boastful smile. His devilish smirk was returned by the older knife thrower with another devilish smirk.

Jonathan picked a bundle of rope and walked to meet Rem. He put his arm around his shoulder and walked with him towards the left middle part of the room.

“Rem, on the third floor is a box and inside was your reward. You can climb now and get it,” said Jonathan.

Rem walked to the nearby ladder so he can climb.

“Just a sec Rem, you will not be allowed to use a ladder. Use this,” said Jonathan throwing Rem the bundle of rope. “I require you to use that.”

Rem looked at the rope and to the upper floors. The second and third floors were vertically aligned and with stone barriers. He walked near and picked a rock. He tied the rock using what he learned from his books about knots and ropes. He threw it to the second floor and pulled it immediately… the rock didn’t lock.

Rem knew his plan won’t work. So, evaluated the upper floors and discovered that the barriers have designs featuring holes. He thought of a better idea.

Rem tied the rope to his knife and aim directly to the third floor. In just a single attempt, the knife passed through the hole. He pulled it and smiled knowing that it locked. But, he wanted to be 100% sure. So, he took another rope, tied it with a knife and aimed at the same hole and again, a single shot made it right. He repeated it again ending up with four ropes.

Rem tied himself to two ropes so it will support him in case he fell. He started climbing using the other pair of ropes. When he felt numb, he carefully tied his body using the two ropes he used for climbing and untied the earlier pair he used for body support.

Jonathan stood just above Rem. He can’t believe what he saw. Even he himself knew that he won’t think about that strategy. He will just rappel up or use his upper body strength to climb. He’s quite impressed with the kid’s body and mind power.

Rem repeated the process until he was able to reach the third floor.

“Mr. Cooney I’m here,” said Rem. “What’s next?”

“Go to the end and you’ll see a small box and come down,” said Jonathan. “You are supposed to open the box here.”

Minutes after, Jonathan noticed that one by one, the ropes were being pulled and he was sure Rem will again show him something new. After a couple of minutes after, he appeared and trying to rappel down. Cooney smiled while shaking his head after seeing that he was using Swiss seat to go down faster.

Jonathan was so amazed he didn’t notice that Rem was already walking towards him.

“Sir, it’s the only box,” said Rem. “Can I open it now?”

Still in disbelief, Jonathan nodded.

Rem opened the box. It revealed a Swazoki knife and embedded on the blade were the letters “BURROWS”.

Rem smile exposing all his teeth. Jonathan rubbed his head.

“Rem, what you did here is quite amazing. Seriously, you are one heck of a trainee. I can say, you will outgrow me in time!”

“Thank you, sir!” Rem replied looking like a baby given a bottle of milk.

Jonathan again wrapped his arms around Rem’s shoulder and walked along with him out the room. He didn’t mind picking all their clothes because his student was quite amazed to the knife.