Sisters In Arms
Posted on Thu May 31st, 2018 @ 5:09pm by Centurion Eilaea t'Keirianh
Location: IRW Rovaran
Timeline: Early 2392
Vriha rooted herself, exhaling as she turned, one arm sweeping in a cross-body block as the other rotated in a hard strike. She jumped, spinning in a wheel kick and landing low to then drive upward, slamming both palms beneath an opponent's jaw and lunging forward to land above him as he fell and strike in with a claw hand to crush and tear out his larynx.
She examined the torn flesh for a moment before the hologram vanished. There had been less resisting cartilage than there should have been; she'd have to correct that in the program.
Later. For now, she wanted to complete the last form. After finishing her duties - fairly light with the ship still in dock taking on crew - she'd made her way to the gym to practice her Llaekh-ae'rl. Part martial art, part meditation, her mother had begun teaching it to her when she was small. Blending solid grounded leverage with fluid formless form, the art was a perfect vehicle for teaching the knife edge balance between control and no-mind reflex. Though since her time on a ship patrolling borders that Klivam had decided to test her emphasis on the martial aspect had become more intense, despite the violence in the exercises she always found them calming and left the workout feeling centered.
She reset, inhaling and taking a fighting stance as three holographic opponents appeared around her.
Eilaea watched the young woman over in the practice area out of the corner of her eye, somewhat impressed in spite of herself. She counted herself perfectly competent in several forms, but not a true master of any...and the one the younger officer was engaging in was more difficult to master than most. Quite honestly, it was one Eilaea was reasonably certain she herself would never be a true master of--in her youngest year she had certainly lacked the proper temperament, and now she also lacked the time. There was little enough spare time available aboard a warbird in general; and most of hers tended to be spent pouring over reports and data.
Vriha slipped the first punch, caught the wrist and twisted as she threw a palm strike into the extended elbow. There was a satisfying 'snap', but she didn't pause to enjoy it, instead throwing him into the man who had been coming in from behind and side stepping to face the third. He feinted a strike, and she leaped back into a ter'ak stance. Peripherally aware of the other two disentangling, she sprang forward, raking at eyes to draw the block upward as she threw a hard kick to break the knee. Then spun as the other two rushed her, slipping to the left and catching one across the neck with a forearm, stomping forward to root to the ground and cause a devastating differential in momentum between head and lower body. The only one still capable of attack had a broken elbow, but came at her with a flying kick. She dropped under, blocking up with wrists in an X that caught his ankle and then with a hard forward lunge turned it to an attack that threw him backwards. She pounced even before his back hit the ground, stomping a heel down to break ribs and drive the shards into his heart.
The holographic attackers vanished and she straightened, a wide grin on her face. That had felt good. Noticing another woman observing her from nearby, she inclined her head politely. "I am finished if you're waiting for this practice area."
Eilaea returned the slight little tilt of the head with one of her own. "No. I was merely admiring your form."
"Khnai'ra," Vriha smiled, bringing hands together in a brief sign of respect toward another practitioner, which she assumed this woman to be from her comment. "My mother taught me. Would you care to spar?"
"Certainly." Eilaea knew the moment she agreed that the results of the contest would not be in her favor; but if one refused all such opportunities merely because you were overmatched, you would never improve at all.
Delighted, Vriha quickly changed the program to a sparring ring with a light mat. The other woman was a bit older, though not greatly, so she anticipated a match with a partner her equal or better. She took position on the mat, waiting for the other to do the same. "Five points or three?"
Eilaea considered for a moment--five would give her a better chance of scoring at least one of her own; but would also mean a rather more embarrassing defeat if she still failed to. Still, in the end the answer in this case was clear to her; a calculated risk like a great deal of her life and career had been. "Five."
"Five." She nodded, her estimation of the other woman going up slightly. Once both were in position, she bowed slightly from the waist but never lowering her eyes from her opponent - good practice, but also a sign of respect. Taking a ready stance, she signaled ready to spar in the traditional way. "I am Vriha t'Ehhelih. I welcome the honor of this practice."
Eilaea returned a bow as given, and adopted a similar stance. "I am Eilaea t'Keirianh. I welcome the honor as well."
With the opening formalities completed, they each took a ready position and began circling, beginning the quieter but equally important opening of assessing a previously unknown opponent. Vriha's mother had taught her from early on that a match could be decided before a single blow was struck by watching the way an opponent moved, assessing dominant side, attitude, fighting spirit, inclination to attack or wait and respond. It was said that a true master could even tell her opposite's dominant Element within the first 3 heartbeats of the match.
Vriha was not a master, but judged Eilaea's Element was not Fire; she moved too warily. This was someone who would not baited into charging into a reckless attack. She also immediately saw that contrary to her initial expectation, Eilaea was not at or above her level in Llaekh-ae'rl. She was surprised, but not disappointed; it was entirely possible the other woman was more expert in other styles and would bring those into play which would make for a different sort of challenge.
As Eilaea had already known, having watched her opponent against her holographic practice partners, she was overmatched in skill and mastery of Llaekh-ae'rl, she confirmed as she watched the other woman circle. Her opponent was rooted to the deck as many an instructor she had interacted with over the years, in a way Eialea herself had never been quite able to master. Then again, honesty forced her to admit to herself; she had prioritized versatility over specifics in her defensive training; uncertain of where and whom she would face over the years she had wished to be at least somewhat prepared to face them all. It was a strength and a weakness alike, as many things were.
Deciding to take sizing up to the next level, Vriha did a quick shuffle in, feinting a strike to gauge reaction, and possibly get an idea of in which art or arts Eilaea was well versed. Eilaea noted the move for what it was, but firmly quashed her first instinct to maintain position or withdraw from the feint--instead, she moved forward herself, a block and strike of her own that she hoped her opponent would not expect. About to hop back after the feint, Vriha did so more rapidly at the sudden counter strike, bringing her hand down in a sweeping block and then springing in to snap a kick in the opening. A score signal sounded and she smiled. "One."
They each stepped back, resetting their positions. Vriha expected the other woman to circle again and reassess, but at the chime to begin was surprise by an instant aggressive attack. Only a lifetime of practice and trained reflex let her dodge to the side blocking a low kick with one wrist and a high chop with a forearm, and then immediately drive in, forearm running below the assaulting arm like a battering ram along a track as the other hand cut upward so she hit beneath shoulder and ribs almost simultaneously. The score signal sounded again: Two - Zero.
If there had been any expectation that the buzzer heralded the beginning of an escalation, however, the opposite appeared to be true in fact: Eilaea circled again, as unexpected at this point as her attack had been at the beginning; seemingly content to wait now for her opponent to commit herself.
Vriha considered this while watching her, guard never wavering. Despite having scored the first two points, she was if anything more wary of an opponent who so varied her tactics. She was beginning to suspect that Eilaea might be more skilled at the psychological aspects of combat than the physical ones ...or she was good at both and simply faking to get Vriha to err through over confidence. That wasn't happening. However, she was curious to see how Eilaea would react if she appeared to make a rash attack.
She continue to circle, using a crossing behind step, and swiftly pivoted on the next, turning so the direction sent her straight in for a fast side kick. She felt the kick connect but at the same instant felt an elbow tap down on her thigh. A different signal sounded - a mutual score. Vriha thought to herself how much more sensible their system was. She had once watched a Starfleet match and been amazed that no point was scored on a mutual strike. It seemed like a poor attitude to instill in combatants.
The tally now stood at 3-1. As they reset, Vriha nodded to Eilaea, acknowledging a round well played.
Acknowledging in return, they circled one another alike; and Eilaea quickly considered her options. The match would end, one way or another, with the next point or points scored. As she had expected, it would not, technically, be a result in her favor regardless, even if she scored a sole point of her own in the final round. But having seen how her opponent reacted now to both an unexpected attack and to being forced to push the envelope herself, she decided in fairly short order to force her to do so again, and waited for the strike to come.
Having satisfied her curiosity on Eilaea's response to a rapid attack, Vriha felt no need to repeat the exercise. However, as she watched for her opponent's next move, it occurred to her that perhaps she should try to mix things up as well. She dodged, threw a feint, weaved, threw a back fist punch and slipped under the reflexive block by dropping into a back roll and extending her legs up in a scissor kick. Catching the front of Eilaea's ankle and the back of her knee, she closed the 'scissors' and rolled, forcing her opponent to fall forward. Most people would end up flat on their faces, but Eilaea was quick enough to catch herself on one hand and land only on a knee, preventing Vriha from taking a point for felling. However, she wasn't quiet quick enough to also turn and block the follow through kick when Vriha automatically pulled her foot from becoming entangled and swung it over to land a heel mid-spine.
Another point signal sounded. 4-1. Vriha picked herself off the ground and offered Eilaea a hand up to reset for the next round.
Again the pair circled one another; this time instead of waiting for Vriha to make the first move or making an obvious one herself, Eilaea slowly moved her feet in, leaning back ever-so-slightly to give the appearance at a cursory glance of still being too far from striking distance.
Vriha barely contained a smile when she noticed - it was an old sparring trick, but a subtle one and generally not seen except in experienced fighters. Eilaea was then not less skilled, but perhaps testing her or at worst merely out of practice. Either way, Vriha added cunning to her estimation of the other woman, and that was best met in kind. She therefore gave no indication of noticing the distance between them fractionally diminishing, but was ready to react as though facing a snake with head raised to strike.
Eilaea edged in close enough finally, she judged; and suddenly struck out at her opponent. The blow never landed, however; the younger woman blocked at lightning speed, immediately throwing a counter punch, which Eilaea blocked as quickly, leading to a rapid exchange of strikes and blocks between the two, until they separated nearly as quickly, set to circling one another again.
This time however, the circle was tighter, with Vriha dancing in and out with quick jabs but spiraling a fraction closer with each circuit - a somewhat more dynamic variation on the tactic Eilaea had just tried. She expected her to recognize it, but even a mutual point would give her the match and once close enough, she was confident she could get it. Picking her moment, she took a longer step, jab turning to a hammer punch, forcing a low block, immediately bringing her other hand over in a seeming chop, but as Eilaea reacted to block it, she rotated the the hand palm outward to miss the block and bring it down swiftly right in front of her opponents eyes, the sudden swish of air forcing an autonomous response to blink. In the same instant, Vriha shot a tight uppercut - a sucker punch, maybe but effective ...except that the blocking hand she'd slipped inside for that shot hit her ribs at the same moment.
The signal for a mutual point sounded. 5-2. Vriha stepped out and bowed. "Thank you. That was well played."
"Likewise." said Eilaea, returning the bow. Both women moved off from the practice area somewhat, and Eilaea braced herself against a nearby rack of equipment, using it to stretch her arm and shoulder against. "I am afraid we perhaps lack a full introduction, however..."
The workout clothes worn by both gave no more indication of position and duties than they did of rank, and Eilaea wondered to herself what sort of duties her opponent performed aboard. Being a skilled combatant did not in and of itself did necessarily indicate anything aboard a warbird, especially in the years following the fight against the Dominion--she had personally met a variety of medical and technical officers and crew over the years more than capable of taking apart a Jem'Hadar to it's component atoms (and who generally had).
"True. I'm the Senior Scientist aboard," Vriha supplied, as she stripped off her sparring gloves and began to stretch out and warm down as well.
No outer reaction showed on Eilaea's face, but her inward self might as well have raised a surprised brow--it was a higher position than she would otherwise have guessed for one of the age range Vriha seemed to be of; and she made a note to review her file later, the discongruence spoke potentially either of exceptional skill or exceptional connections, and either was worth awareness of. Then again, the former was perhaps likely to nearly be a given on this ship. "I am the Tal Diann mistress."
Vriha was not as adept at keeping reaction from showing; brows slanted upward as it registered that her introduction to the military intelligence lead had been a sparring match. One in which she had not held back from using street fighting tricks. At least it wasn't the head Tal Shiar... she thought. Usually this would be someone she'd hope would be an ally, so she hoped that Eilaea wouldn't hold losing against her. "I am pleased to meet you, though the circumstances were perhaps a bit informal."
"...I am pleased as well, as it would appear I may have reasonable confidence that the secrets within our labs aboard will not easily fall to any enemy boarding parties." Eilaea replied, showing a hint of a good-humored smile on her face for a moment. She only hoped whomever of their engineering crew ran and guarded their cloak were also so well-skilled in such arts.
"Khlinæ arhem," Vriha inclined her head at the compliment, relieved at the reply. She looked up with an equally good-humored smile. "I am reasonably confident anyone attempting to match wits with our Tal Diann mistress will have no idea what to expect."