>As you soak in the heat, Mike asks you about what happened at the range, you give him a short summary of what happened during the war, leaving out the more intimate details.
"Shit, I had no idea, no wonder you got so weird all of a sudden, but what, then, made you change your mind?" he says after you finish with your summary.
"...If I told you I heard her voice nagging at me for being a mopey wimp, would you believe me?" you ask him while throwing more water on the rocks.
"After everything that happened today? Do you even need to ask?" he asks back.
"I guess you are right, she certainly was, figuratively speaking, a "larger than life" -character, I guess in her case the expression turned out to be literal..." you agree as you empty your first beer & grab the second one.
"Wait, you were serious?" Mike asks, not nearly as surprised as his question might suggest.
"Yes I was, now let's talk about something else, how has your honeymoon been so far?" you change the subject with a shit-eating grin.
"What are yo-fuck you you damn snowni**er!" Mike's retort is a bit late, making it all the more amusing for you.
"What, is the honeymoon over already?" you tease him a bit more.
"...Are all Finns crazy like you three?" he asks, apparently counting Sonja as a Finn.
"Technically Sonja is a Russian who just happens to speak Finnish, though with her accent she could be counted as a Karelian, in which case yes, all Karelians seem to have some loose screws", for the time being you count yourself as a Karelian as well.
>Just as you are about to leave you hear the girls' voices approaching, and in no time Sonja opens the sauna's door and pushes Hilja in before following her, they are both naked, which catches both of you by surprise, Mike also being embarrassed while you are somewhat used to mixed sauna.
>Hilja is slightly flustered, but makes no attempts to cover her body, while Sonja is obviously drunk & seems to have lost what little shame she had left.
"Ah, did we take too long? We were just about to leave" you say as you start getting up.
"You aren't going anywhere until we wash your backs!" Sonja declares, you try your best not to stare at her...eyes, those big, soft-looking eyes...
>Hilja coughs and looks at you with a dangerous expression, of course she noticed...
"Sit right here Anon" she says as she smiles, but no-one could mistake her tone for warm or friendly.
>You do as you are told, when Hilja suddenly says in Finnish:
"Wait, I bet Mike didn't beat your back properly with the vasta", vasta being the Karelian name for vihta, a bundle of tree branches used in saunas and banyas to beat oneself and/or others.
>Without waiting for your reply, Hilja grabs one of the two vihtas you had prepared and starts beating your back with all her strength, Mike looking in horror while Sonja is dying of laughter upon seeing his reaction.
"He must think Hilja is trying to kill me or something" you think as you let out moans as Hilja beats your back. After a while she stops and starts washing your back like all this were perfectly normal (well it *is* perfectly normal, but Mike doesn't know that)
"Mike, get down here so I can do the same to you!" Sonja demands, making Mike go pale.
"Go ahead, it only *looks* bad, in reality it feels quite nice" you say, but Mike isn't buying it.
"Thanks but no thanks" he says, thinking he has a choice on the matter. He doesn't.
"Sit, Right. Here!" Sonja demands, and Mike, realizing he has no choice, gives up, and few seconds later the air is filled with his surprised scream as Sonja starts beating him, the initial scream is also the last one as he realizes that you were telling the truth: it does feel quite nice.
>Just as everyone is starting to relax someone shines bright lights at the sauna & someone starts issuing commands over a loudspeaker:
"This is the police, come on out with your hands in the air!"
"You have *got* to be kidding me!"
>You all grab towels and come out, there are two patrol cars and four cops, all with their guns drawn.
"Identify yourselves!" one of the cops shouts.
"Just a minute, my ID is in my wallet, which is in my back pocket, which is in my pants, which, I believe, are in the house!" you reply, getting a laugh out of the other three, the cops aren't nearly as amused.
"Where's the owner?" the cop asks.
"I am, now why are you intruding on my property? What probable cause do you have to enter my property and point guns at me and my friends?" you reply.
"We got a call about suspicious characters sneaking around & alarming sounds coming from that building."
"What, that god-damn Jackson again? He knows perfectly well that that building is my sauna & that I use it at least twice a week, he's doing this on purpose!" you growl, the cops are unsure how to react.
"I wouldn't call two men and two women going to sauna together exactly normal" the cop that seems to be in charge says.
"It *is* where I come from, and even if it wasn't I believe it's my and my friend's own business how, when and where we clean our rifles!"
"You-your rifles?" the cop stutters.
>Before you can say anything Hilja and Sonja have already transformed, leaving the cop speechless.
"...In any case we have to check the building" the cop finally says.
"Unless you have a warrant you will do no such thing, sheriff Williams is more than welcome to take a look personally, but the rest of you need to get the fuck off my property, right now" you say.
"...Just a moment" the cop says as he grabs his radio and starts talking to dispatch, after a while you can hear the sheriff's angry voice berate the poor deputy before he puts the radio back and addresses you again.
"After talking to the sheriff it seems like everything is in order, I apologize for interrupting your...cleaning, have a pleasant evening!" the cop says before turning around and telling the others that they are leaving.
"What was that all about?" Mike asks as the cops leave.
"My asshole of a neighbour, Jackson. Apparently he's planning on selling his house & fears that my sauna will drive the value down & as the chairman of the Home Owners' Association he tried to block me from building it, but I never joined the HOA & when HOA tried taking me to court my attorney managed to argue that since I am not a member, HOA's rules don't apply to me, HOA's attorney tried arguing that I shouldn't have been able to buy the house without joining HOA in the first place" you explain, before continuing.
"The judge threw out the case & right now HOA is taking the matter to the district court, I am willing to go all the way to Supreme Court if I have to, in the mean time Jackson has been harassing me by first trying to get sheriff do something about my sauna, but when Williams agreed with me, Jackson decided to start calling the cops on me using every possible excuse he can find."
"Man, that's fucked up" Mike says.
"You're telling me, he's an ass hole, but I am not giving in to his harassment, instead I intend to use it as a weapon against him. If this goes to the next level I'm going to "accidentally" leak the story about this harassment to every news media in the district and have him tried by the media, even though it probably won't affect the court's ruling, he'll have much harder time finding someone to buy the property at what ever price he's currently asking for" you reply with a sadistic smile.
"Have I ever told you how you frighten me from time to time?" Mike asks.
"You may have said something to that effect yes."
>You return to sauna and after another half an hour of soaking in the heat you move on to the terrace to cool off and "re-hydrate", Mike voices his concerns about your neighbour calling the cops back if you don't at least put on some clothes.
"Jackson may be an ass hole, but he's not a complete retard, he knows that if he calls the cops back when the 'suspicious characters' are obviously still the same Williams will be dragging *him* to the county jail for causing disturbance" you explain to him.
>After some time you four move inside, and almost immediately Sonja drags Mike back to the guest room, almost certainly for Round Two, you turn on the TV and surf through the channels checking if there's anything interesting on, when Hilja comes out of the master bedroom.
"...Where did you get *that* from, or better yet, *when* did you get it?" you ask while trying to remain calm, Hilja has changed into...something provocative, you aren't entirely sure if it counts as a nightie or as underwear, but in either case the effect is the same.
"There's a woman in sexy lingerie in front of you and *that's* the first thing in your mind?" she teases you as she sits on your lap facing you.
"Don't tell me you aren't turned on by those two" she whispers in your ear before starting to nibble on it.
"Why don't you find out?" you ask.
>You had planned on doing some research online tonight, but it's nothing that can't wait until morning. Or the day after, or the day after that.
>After much thought you decide that you need another milsurp firearm, this time a pistol, after some searching you find a store with a few Husqvarna m/40s in stock, you'd prefer the original design but they are scarce so the cheap Swedish copy will have to do.
>Thanks to your recently acquired Curio & Relic -license you don't have to travel all the way to New England to get your gun/have it transferred to a local gun store: you can just have it delivered to your house.
>After anxious wait the day is finally here, you almost slam the front door in the delivery guy's face when he rings the bell, you sign the receipt and wish the man a good day before closing the door and walking to the garage, Hilja would probably kill you if you got gun oil and/or any other unwanted gunk on any of the surfaces she has just cleaned this morning.
>As you open the package you have to rub your eyes a couple of times before believing what you see. There's a loaded chamber indicator, the Swedish version never had that. You take a closer look and lo and behold, there's an SA -stamp.
"Bought the Swedish copy, got the original, for once I can be glad that what I received is not what I ordered."
>You wake up as the box you are in is opened, yet another idiot has bought you thinking you are some cheap Swedish copy, you wonder how long it'll take before he grows tired of your quirks, all of the previous owners gave up pretty fast after no gunsmith could find anything wrong with you.
>Waitaminute, did he just call you "the original"? Could it be...
"Hey, what are you doing you idiot?!" You exclaim as soon as you notice that he's field stripping you.
>You freeze as the pistol disappears and in its place a young girl appears, she's wearing a simple 1940s -style dress, has a curly, blond hair and sky-blue eyes, she's absolutely flustered.
"Oh, hello, who might you be?" you ask the girl, you already know she's a waffengeist, you are actually asking about her name.
"Are you stupid? I'm your pistol!" she shouts at you.
"I figured out as much, I was asking about your name."
"...I don't have one" she says and pouts, this one is going to be a handful...
"How about Aino?" you suggest.
"Why do I have to be named by a stupid owner?" she asks while still pouting.
"What is all this ruckus about?" a new voice asks, it looks like Hilja heard the shouting and came to see what's going on.
"Looks like we have a new family member" you say while gesturing at the girl who is now looking at Hilja with big eyes.
"Mama!" she shouts before charging at Hilja who catches her and lifts her up in her arms.
"...What?" you asks, stunned, Hilja doesn't respond, instead she rubs the girls head and asks.
"What's your name sweetie?"
"...That idiot named me Aino."
“Well, I think it's a nice name, but why are you calling him idiot?" Hilja asks. Uh-oh.
"...He started stripping me as soon as he got me out of the box!" the pistol says with tears in her eyes, Hilja looks at you with murder in her eyes.
"...I didn't know she's a waffengeist! I just wanted to check her thoroughly while giving her a proper cleaning!" you try explaining the situation, Hilja looks at you suspiciously before saying:
"In any case you scared her, the least you can do is give us a ride to the mall so we can get her some clothes, she's going to freeze in such a simple dress."
>During the drive to the mall Aino sits on Hilja's lap, they formed a bond immediately, the sight would be rather cute if Aino wasn't glaring at you for the duration of the drive.
>At the mall you simply give your card to Hilja and stay at the car, and after what feels forever the two return. Just as you open the driver's door Aino rushes to you and hugs you.
"I'm sorry" she says, you pat her head before lifting her up and putting her in the back seat, something which she immediately protests.
"I want mama!" she demands, looks like Hilja's adoption as her mama is a fact now.
"Sitting in someone's lap in a moving car is dangerous" you try reasoning with her, in the end Hilja sits in the back with her, now that she's in a better mood she's adorable.
"Is papa always so strict?" she asks, almost causing you to drive off the road.
"Yes he is, so you must be a good girl or he won't take you to the range" Hilja replies, you get the feeling she already made that threat at least once before while they were shopping for clothes. In any case Hilja keeps surprising you over and over again.
"Strict, me? I am nothing compared to mama's rule of the household" you interject, knowing full well what Hilja's response is going to be.
"Aand guess who's going to bed without as much as a nightcap?" she retorts with a smile.
"See what I mean?" You weren't planning on drinking much tonight anyway so no harm done...
The next day
"That was fun, when can we come again?" Aino asks as you are leaving the range, you didn't bring much ammo with you so the trip was rather short, but she doesn't seem to mind.
"If you are good girl we'll come back next weekend" you reply while rubbing her head.
"Really? I'll be good, I promise!" she declares as she clings to your arm.
>You were a bit worried about how shooting might affect her, after all a lot of geists seem to get aroused by it. Not Aino.
>While she certainly enjoys shooting, like Hilja she doesn't get excited as a result of it, though there is one thing that bothers you.
"Is something wrong papa?" she asks, apparently noticing a change in your mood.
"It's nothing to worry about, I was just thinking" you reply while thinking of a way to distract her, but it turns out to be unnecessary as she spots a cat & makes a beeline for it, the cat is caught by surprise but allows her to pet him/her.
>As you watch her pet the cat, you sink back to your thoughts. While she is normally very much like her child-like appearance suggests, the moment you inserted a loaded magazine and took aim you could sense a change in her. A change you know well from the war.
>You can't describe the feeling very well, but it was as if all emotion vanished as you took aim, both of you focusing on the target. After you fired the first shot and it was a hit there was a split second where you could sense satisfaction emanating from her.
>It's the exact same thing you felt every time you aimed your rifle at your target during the war, only it wasn't your rifle but you yourself that reacted that way. You had been wondering about it ever since you noticed the date stamped on Aino's frame, 1940, but now you know for a certain.
>She had seen action, she had taken lives, and she had done so emotionless.
>You had debated whether or not she would be suitable for daily carry, you were worried that shooting a person might scar her. Not bloody likely.
>You are woken up by an unknown voice, as you sit up and reach for your glasses you realize this isn't your house & the voice belongs to someone wearing an M36 summer uniform.
"Sir, another ruski refuses to work, claiming to be too ill" the man in front of you reports.
"Fine, I'm coming, hand me my belt will you" you find yourself saying as you reach for the tunic hanging from the back rest of the chair in front of what seems to be your desk. You notice the tunic has lieutenant's insignia.
>After dressing up you follow the man, a sergeant, out of the hut & into a yard surrounded by a number of barracks, there's a barbed-wire fence visible through the gaps between the buildings.
>You follow the sergeant into one of the barracks where two soldiers are struggling to hold a man down.
"That's enough wrestling, take him outside!" you hear yourself bark & the men obey, dragging the struggling man outside, you follow them & as you are all a good distance away from the barracks you suddenly pull your pistol and shoot the prisoner in the back of his head.
"Assemble a burial detail" you say to the sergeant before returning to your lodgings.
"Did I do well papa?" you hear a familiar sound.
"You did really well Veera" you reply as you turn towards the voice, it's the L35 pistol you know as Aino.
>You wake up in your own bed covered in sweat, Hilja looks at you with a worrying expression.
"Did you have a bad dream?"
"If only, I think I saw a memory of Aino from the war" you reply. Now that you are awake & can think straight you remember seeing those buildings before, in old photos from the war.
"She belonged to the commandant of Jalkala POW -camp" you explain to Hilja as you look her in the eyes.
"That man executed POWs, and enjoyed every second of it."
"Good God!" Hilja exclaims.
>You can't see Aino as such a monster, but the cold calmness and satisfaction emanating from each hit start to make more sense.
>Geists tend to strive to please their shooters, Aino is no exception. Her first shooter was a sadistic monster who enjoyed executing prisoners, small surprise she can go from a cheerful child to such a cold, emotionless being when it's time to do some shooting.
"Papa?" Aino asks as she appears in her human form.
"Was Aino a bad girl?" she asks with a scared expression, nearly in tears.
"No, Aino is not a bad girl" you reply, making it seem as if you misheard her question, thus avoiding answering it.
"So we are still going to go shooting over the weekend? she asks with a hopeful tone, so that's what she was worried about you think as you smile and nod.
"Yes Aino, we are."
Yay!" she exclaims as she jumps into your arms and hugs you.
>What ever she did during the war it's not her fault you think, but one thing is for sure: you are going to find something else for a daily carry.
"Neither of you is going anywhere if you don't help with the chores over the week!" Hilja states firmly.
"Yes ma'am" you reply.
“Mama is mean!" Aino exclaims and pouts.
"A good girl helps with the chores without being told to" you respond, knowing full well how Hilja is going to retort.
"And a good papa sets a good example" she says with a knowing smile, she isn't going to be fooled that easily.
>Worth a try.
>You were not born in Japan, but right now you have to be able to be a Ninja.
>If the guard spots you, it's over, your goal will not be achieved today.
>Slowly, you sneak into the kitchen, fighting the urge to sneeze.
>The Guard is in another room, if you time your actions right you should be able to open the fridge without being heard.
"Papa, shouldn't you be in bed?" Aino asks.
>Before you can reply Hilja enters the kitchen.
"Yes he should, now what might you be trying to do?" she says with a knowing smirk.
"...I was thinking a little bit of Jäger wouldn't hurt, as a medicine you know?" you try to explain, knowing you aren't winning this one.
>Hilja walks up to you grabs you by the collar and drags you to bed, saying
"You *will* stay in the bed, we'll see about 'medicine' later."
>Defeated, you lay down in the bed as Hilja pulls the blanket over you, James appears out of nowhere to lie on your chest.
"Keep an eye on Papa, won't you James?" Hilja asks the tuxedo kitty while petting him, getting a soft "mrour" as a reply.
"Et tu, James" you whisper as you pet your Guard #2.
"No fair, why is James allowed to take a nap with Papa?" Aino protests, already climbing on the bed.
"We'll make today an exception" you reply as you hug Aino.
>You turn your head to the other side to see a glass containing dark brown liquid.
"Just this one glass, is that understood?" Hilja says sternly from the doorway.
(to be continued)