Natty, I had this idea before I heard about your sore throat. Hope it helps.

Sergeant Natty pulled up the sleeve of her olive drab jacket, checked her watch and sighed. They were late.

Finally, a large van pulled into the parking lot of the range and six people spilled out, all talking at once and causing a commotion.

"Detachment!" shouted Natty, as loudly as she could.

Six heads swung her way and the group of people, now quiet, approached her.

"Now, please listen carefully. I don't want to have to repeat myself because I can feel a sore throat coming on."

"If you want to make the most of this exercise," she continued, "you will have to pay attention and – you! What's your name?!"

A short man with a full black beard stopped grinning at the tall blonde and turned his head to look Natty's way.

"Me, ma'am? Morgan Grimes."

"Well, Grimes, as I was saying, pay attention and you'll learn something. Now, I understand some of you have had previous arms training?"

The tallest man, who had been standing straighter than the rest and had seemed to be the only one really listening, took a small step forward and barked out, "I have, Sergeant!"

The tall blonde rolled her eyes at him, raised her hand into the air a bit and said, "And me, ma'am."

"Well, forget everything you've learned, soldiers. This is a completely different skill. I think you're going to enjoy it," said Natty, as she got closer to inspect the ranks.

She stopped in front of the tall blond man, the one who looked like he worked out on a regular basis. He was wearing surf shorts and a tee-shirt that read "X-Treme Sports Forever". He stood silently and returned her gaze with a half-grin. "This is going to be awesome," he commented.

"You'll do," observed Sergeant Natty, and she moved on.

The next was a woman with long, dark hair who smiled prettily and then glanced at the blond man and back again.

"When do we start?" she asked, a challenging look in her eye.

"Soon enough," replied Natty. "We have to go over the safety rules first."

Moving on, the next one also seemed eager to start. He couldn't keep still, though, and his head turned this way and that as he checked out every detail of his surroundings, his dark curls jumping around with a life of their own in the breeze.

"Are you familiar with strategic exercises, soldier?" asked Natty, crossing her arms in front of her chest and waiting for his reply.

"Not in the field, ma'am," he explained. "But I've done a lot of simulations."

"Good, that's good. And you, Grimes?"

"Same as what he said," replied the short man, pointing to the tall curly haired one.

"All right, then, we're ready for the safety briefing," said the sergeant, turning around to a table of weapons set out nearby.

She distributed them, one to each of the people in the line and, when everybody had one, launched in on the explanation.

"First," she began, "only point the barrel at what you're going to shoot. And don't look down – Grimes! I said don't look down the barrel!"

Looking like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, the man lowered the barrel so it pointed towards the ground.

"Grip it like this," she continued. "Good, you two with the training. That's exactly right."

Holding her weapon up into the air so they could all see a bit better, Natty pointed to a section in the middle and clarified, "This is where it's different, though. The pump action can be a little tricky sometimes."

The tall man with the military bearing and the blonde woman were absorbed in what she had to say and turned their weapons so they could see the pump mechanism. It wasn't a big issue, though, so Natty let the others slide.

"All set?" she asked, pulling a pair of aviator sunglasses out of the top pocket on the outside of the right leg of her olive drab pants and slipping them over her eyes.

A chorus of eager "yeses" and "let's go, man!" followed immediately.

"All right. Now, the only thing left to deal with is your ammunition. I want you to line up over here and I'll distribute it."

After each one had their ammunition and the sergeant was satisfied they had understood the safety instructions, she shrugged into her own backpack canister filled with water, connected the hose leading to her pump-action water rifle and, jogging ahead of the group into the play area filled with obstacles, water fountains and hideaways, yelled, "Come on, guys, let's have some fun!"

The six laughing day trippers followed after her and began shooting long streams of water at her and each other under the bright sun.

The End