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The Clumsiest Ranger

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Many knew Artyom only as 'The Saviour of the Metro'; they told stories of the fearless young man who went on a journey to battle the forces of evil, taking down Nazis, Reds, and mutants without breaking a sweat, overcoming the greatest of challenges, defying the odds, saving lives along the way... A hero. A legend.

What the stories often failed to mention, however, was that Artyom was one of the clumsiest people you could ever meet.

Growing up in VDNKh this clumsiness was always played off, first as childish bumbling and then as simple mistakes. But when Artyom's 18th birthday came and went and the clumsiness continued, it became obvious that he wasn't going to grow out of this. So it was quickly passed around the station that, no matter what, Artyom was not to be trusted with anything remotely breakable. And the little problem was dealt with.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, this message was not passed on to them.

Four months had passed since D6 was found. The gooey creature that colonised the lower floors had been mostly dealt with, with a combination of controlled burning and carefully aimed gunfire. Miller and Danila had both recovered from their fights with Demons, Ulman had been promoted, Khan had disappeared seemingly off the face of the Earth (again), the Rangers were well underway in moving into the new base, and Artyom...

Well... Artyom just wanted to help.

In his desperation to prove himself worthy of being a Ranger, he'd thrown himself into helping move things from Polis to D6. Food supplies, weapons, ammunition crates, medical equipment, it all needed to relocated and stored away. At first the other Rangers had been glad of his offer of assistance; an extra pair of hands was always useful, right?

Right?

A crate of AK ammo - practically drop-kicked, scattering the contents across the ground.
A box of incendiary grenades - dropped and stepped on, breaking them and letting the flammable fluid inside ooze out into slippery (and almost invisible) puddles.
Three crates of canned food - dropped by the Ranger who slipped up on the previously mentioned almost invisible puddles of slippery stuff.
Two boxes of sterilised syringes - put down for a moment, then sat on and shattered when Artyom forgot where he'd left them.

Tipped off by multiple complaints, Miller arrived on the scene just in time to watch Artyom trip over his own bootlaces and almost send four Shambler shotguns tumbling into the recently-named 'D6 Pit of Death' (or just 'The Pit' for short). Sighing heavily, the Colonel walked over to where Artyom was on his knees picking up the fallen guns. He cleared his throat. "Artyom, could I have a word with you?" Looking up in surprise, Artyom scrambled to his feet and hastily saluted, somehow balancing the guns in one arm to do so. "Is something wrong, sir?" Miller took a breath, prepared to tell the kid off for breaking so many things... and then paused. He thought about how eagerly Artyom had offered to help, how happy he'd looked when the other Rangers let him help, how he hadn't whined at all about the heavy lifting and the trekking back and forth. Almost as if he was just glad to be here.

Even now, Artyom was looking at him with cheerful curiosity, head tilted almost puppy-like as he waited for Miller to continue. Miller sighed again. "Look, Artyom, I realise you're trying to help out, but-" Artyom's face fell, the carefree smile replaced with a confused and slightly worried frown, and Miller swore internally. He couldn't do it; he couldn't burst the kid's bubble like this. "... But I think you should go and have a rest."
"Uh... a rest?"
"Yes, Artyom, a rest. You've been working hard and it wouldn't be good for you to burn yourself out." Just like that, the cheerful smile was back.
"Yes, sir! I'll just take these to the armoury and then-."
"No need for that. I'll take care of them." Miller was quick to relieve Artyom of the guns while they were still in one piece; the less broken weapons, the better. "You just go back to your room and take a nap or something."

Artyom left with a garbled thanks and a quick salute, and Miller watched him leave, distracted by his own thoughts until a familiar chuckle to his right snapped him back to the present. "What're you finding so funny, Ulman?"
"Nothing, Colonel, nothing at all." Ulman continued laughing to himself before adding "Just wondering if you're, ah, getting soft in your old age."
"Stop it."
"What, what? Admit it, you were getting all paternal on the kid!"
"Ulman, I'm warning you..."
"So when are you going to tell Anna that she has competition for your fatherly affections now?" Miller spun around.
"Ulman, if you don't shut up I'll throw all of your cigarettes down the pit and ban you from buying more, I swear to god! Take these, and go make yourself useful." Shoving the shotguns into Ulman's hands, Miller practically stormed off, muttering about 'damned insubordination' under his breath. Ulman adjusted his grip on the guns and let himself have one last chuckle. "Yeah, you were getting all paternal."