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   March 23, 2018

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RAP68 Tactical Paintball Shotgun (14 Inch Barrel)


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A Glimpse into the Future

Karena Valadnik was a stunning blonde from Norway. She sat with her hand tethered to her marker, adjusting the fore-loop that allowed her pistol to become part of her arm. At age 24, her bright green eyes had the calculating intensity of a fierce competitor, and a body that combined the grace of a ballerina with the power of an Olympic fencer.

Ergonomically designed paintball guns had taken over the sport years ago. Equipment no longer resembled firearms as they once had. Markers began an evolutionary process where they slowly became smaller, lighter, better balanced - until finally, the gun was integrated into the natural contours of the player by way of cuffs, slim electronic valve boxes and small gas cartridges that resembled the ones used in antique paintball guns. While the devices still operated by use of expanding gases to fire the projectile, the custom fitting devices had accuracy and speed to render even the fastest firing, large capacity markers obsolete. Who needed a vest full of ammunition when one could deliver precision shots that could take down a humming bird in mid- flight at sixty paces?

The shiny steel cuff remained fixed to Karena’s forearm making her look like a modern gladiator. Three gas cartridges were set in place around the circumference of her powerline and the short jet-black .62 caliber barrel was mounted atop the back of her wrist. The barrel poked outward only three inches past her hand and I could see that she had a small magnetic plate crazy glued to her fingertip. Most players wore the typical magnetic rings which triggered the proximity switches to fire the marker when brought to within three millimeters from the sensor and cocked the weapon when moved farther than twenty. But this vision of beauty and deadly precision took no chances. The bonded plate was faster and literally made the trigger a part of her hand. She was for real. I didn’t know many women who’d be willing to glue something to her body for a nanosecond advantage.

I was about to return to my teammates when she looked up and offered a very cocky smile. She looked up at my marker and asked with sarcasm, “Did you find that on Ebay?”

I spun with my cleats making a slight grinding sound in the dirt as I turned around, “Excuse me?”

Her eyes were squinting, looking up into the bright afternoon sun, and her expression changed to let me know her insult was meant in jest. “Only kidding, it’s not all that bad, actually. But I would suggest that you change the spring tension of your magazine to better match the chamber’s piston setting. You are just begging for a feeding problem like that.”

It was as if she’d just told me the color of my boxer shorts. I had no idea how she could tell my tensions were out of balance, but they were. My expression spoke words of shock that I could not verbalize. It was like hearing a woman “talk dirty”. Wow, was I impressed.

“I watched your last match.” she said clearing up the mystery, “Nice move at the end.”

I could not help standing a little taller at the mention of my teams’ last game. We were up against a very aggressive team of Japanese businessmen who carried the most sophisticated high-tech guns on the whole circuit. The open technology circuit even allowed “heads-up” masks which displayed a small crosshair in synch with the gun’s movements. These fellows were not playing around and came at us with very well timed, coordinated attacks.

Karena was right. I did pull a move at the end that won the event and the noise of the crowd was still fresh in my mind. There was a resounding, “Oohhh” from the spectators as the final player and I literally collided our shots in midair during the final confrontation and I was able to get another round off which struck his barrel. The smaller .62 pellet had returned a decade ago with an improved shell that actually broke on contact yet retained the superior flight characteristics of its ancestor. It was unusual, but not impossible in modern games to have shots literally collide in midair. The marvelous little impacting sound of the balls exploding into each other and the cloudlike fragments falling to the ground between the players made for quite a spectacle.

Karena stood and extended her left hand in the awkward “backward handshake” that was so common on the tournament field and nodded, “Name’s Karena”, she said standing to reveal her nearly six foot height. “I am here with the European Internet team.”

“Nick”, I said with my voice actually sounding like myself- deliberately trying not to act like a bone-head as was my natural tendency when confronted by an attractive woman. I even kept my shoulders in a natural position and only sucked my gut in a little. Who was I kidding? This woman was only a bit more than half my age. At age forty-five, I was one of the few on the field who could name every antique marker hanging in the Paintball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas without looking at the little placards.

“I know you.” She said in a rush of enthusiasm. “You’re that guy with the website. The old paintball guns- they used to call it ‘stock class’, right?”

Here eyes were wide, bright and alive. I could barely speak. The site had very little traffic. Most of the internet users were only interested in the live video feed forums given by the gurus of the sport. Not many cared about the historical aspects of the game anymore. “You have been to my site?” I asked, still unable to believe it.

“All the time!” she said back at me putting her hand to her chin as if she were meeting a celebrity. “It’s hard for me to describe why I like those old guns. I just stare at them, wishing I could actually shoot one. They are so much different than today’s rigs. It’s as if…”

“They have a soul?” I offered.

She nodded. And I could see her eyes looking at me in a different manner now. Was this how it feels to be a rock star?

“In all honesty, Karena, I like the sport enough to adapt to the changes, but there is a part of me that really misses playing out in the woods- getting away from the synthetic elements of our culture and feeling like a hunter in pursuit of another man- while being hunted myself.”

I could feel my every word being devoured by her as if I were telling her the secret to life. I found her standing closer to me now as I preached about the manner in which I felt we lost much of the game’s greatest benefits. When I finished my sermon, I looked up with hopeful eyes.

I could hear the popping sounds off in the distance as the next game was under way as I said, “I happen to have a few antiques I bring out with me to every tournament- back at the hotel room. If you are not doing anything later I’d be glad to let you see an original Nelspot that was used in one of the very first paintball games ever.”

Her smile was wide and brilliant… as she enthusiastically nodded. But then…

Like a hammer striking an anvil I was awakened from my daydream- I looked up to see my blonde waitress carrying over my dinner. She was the same stunning woman, but no longer carrying her highly evolved, precision marker. I was no longer outside in a futuristic paintball battle arena!

She wore a plain brown waitress’ uniform with a nametag with a little smiley face on it. Her name wasn’t even Karena, it was Karen! Even her posture and walk were different now- much less sexy and not nearly as “dangerous”.

“Can I bring you ketchup with that, Sir?” she asked placing my cheeseburger in front of me crushing any final remnants of the fantasy.

I shook my head and laughed. A few weeks ago it was the girl next to me on the train, and the time before that it was a striking Asian woman at the mall. When will I ever grow up and put away my toys?

Hopefully- never.

- NJStockplayer


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