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Becoming One With the Blade (self-training)

Antera

Flygirl
Character
Blue fingers traced slowly over the expressionless mask as the equally stoic chiss looked down at her equipment. It almost seemed inadequate, laid out before her as it was. As if something had not been considered. The mask and its accompanying suit of armorweave and leather took up the most space on the low table. They were joined by a variety of weapons, a set of restraints, an interrogation kit and the sundry devices an Inquisitor could expect to need on any given assignment. She knelt, her bare knees settling into the soft fibers of the rug. Everything had to be perfect. Exact. There would be no second chance to do this right.

I am the hidden sword of the Emperor. No foe shall stand against me. My quarry will not stain the soil of Jar'Kai another night.

As much as they wished otherwise, the reach of the Inquisition was ultimately finite. Their view limited. Even here, in the very seat of the Empire, a renegade could find a hiding place. For a time. She shut her eyes, taking a long, deep breath as she fell into a brief meditation. Focus. Recall the details. Alien. Twi'lek. Native of the alien district. Possible Reki connections. He'd been detected using his powers in a show of intimidation.

The fact he had remained unknown long enough to show such power made him either very lucky, or very skilled. Neither outcome was ideal. Beyond that he was certain to have friends in the criminal underground. He needed to be taken alone at all costs. This could not become an incident. Not here.

He will join us or die.

She exhaled slowly. It was time to act. She stood and began to slip her armor into place with practiced, drilled motions. Each piece of equipment found its home in one pocket or another. Her slugthrower settled into the holster on her hip, and the long, narrow blade of the jian-style vibro sword eased into the sheath on her back.

Only the lightsaber remained on the table.

Beneath that expressionless mask, Somarae frowned.

No. Not here. I will not use that thing among the people of my home. It has no place in this city.

Her mind made up, she turned to exit the safehouse and begin her hunt. The saber hilt remained behind.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
With a heavy, hooded cloak to conceal her armor and weapons, Somarae made her way through the back alleys of Jar'Kai's seedier districts. Sunset had been hours before, and most of the honest citizens had sheltered themselves at home. Streets that would have been bustling with legitimate activity during the day were now solely the property of criminals. Lesser gangs scampered about for scraps of power in the side-streets and alleyways, but it was the brightly lit and still active central places that were truly dangerous. For there was the domain of the Reki.

Somarae had never had cause to interact directly with the Reki, but growing up in Jar'Kai she had been keenly aware of them, as most citizens were. There were places all throughout the city that were known to have ill reputations, places to be avoided by those who wished to live a decent, honorable life. There was rarely ever enough evidence to truly shut them down, and over the ages they had grown to be tolerated in a tangled balance between criminal and government. Legal and illegal activities. She had never understood it. For all the good the Reki could do, they caused harm tenfold. Drugs, trafficking of humanoids, extortion, murder. And all for nothing more than credits. No matter how much they played at legitimacy, they were thugs.

Her jaw clenched at the thought that one of them might be returning with her to the Citadel tonight.

Carefully, she let her senses expand as she walked, seeking the brighter mind in the press of urban life around her. He was there. Somewhere. And if she was lucky, he was working again without the sense to conceal himself.

Even knowing where to look, it was a slow process. Nearly an hour had passed before she could feel it. A flare in the force. Indistinct and untrained, but powerful... She couldn't pinpoint it, but it gave her a direction to work towards. She subtly picked up speed, working her way through the crowds of the city towards her prey.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
"Next time, make sure we don't have to come out here personally. The boss... prefers his dealings go smoothly."

The twi'lek sneered as he spoke, resting a hand on the hilt of a sword carried openly on his hip. He was clad in a dark, clearly expensive suit and his skin was a mottled pattern of various greens. A Nikto and a human in similar attire flanked him as they spoke with a second human man. A spacer by the look of him, almost certainly a smuggler. Probably one of their drug runners.

"Yeah... yeah I'll get it done," the smuggler chuckled, "It just takes a little more to pay all the bribes these days. The Imps are getting more serious, seems like."

"Not our problem. If you can't do the job, we find another who can. Bring me another excuse and I'll cut out your tongue," the twi'lek was brash, bold enough to show a few inches of his sword's steel to drive the point home. The smuggler had the sense to remain silent, just nodding in response before making his promises and departing.

Somarae watched the display impassively from a nearby alleyway, observing the three men as they laughed to themselves at the spacer's misfortune. Clearly they loved their work. They continued to move as a group, walking further down the street as the twi'lek made a few more jokes at the expense of the smuggler's parentage. Somarae tailed them, moving through the crowd and keeping her head down, letting the force keep her on the trail now that she was close. She could feel him clearly now. Even without his powers he was a bright spot in the force amid the dimmer sparks making up the crowd. His friends remained with him, but she could wait for the opportune moment. She wasn't going to lose him now.

The three men ducked into a tea house. She found a quiet spot outside and waited.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
He'd left without his friends less than an hour later, a woman in a scandalous take on traditional Atrisian dress and far too much make up hanging off his arm. The muscle was gone, but a witness would still be problematic.

Somarae curved her shoulders inward and lowered her head, making herself smaller as she tailed them through crowds that continued to thin slowly as the night wore on. The twi'lek didn't appear to realize he was even being followed, far too enamored with his human companion. The fact she openly caressed one of his lekku as they walked only served to distract him further.

The inquisitor fought down an urge to gag at the public display.

They stopped outside a condominium not far away, the twi'lek fumbled with a passkey to gain entrance, laughing at something the human woman whispered to him before pulling her inside and off the street.

Front entrance is right out. Too many chances to be spotted. Somarae mused to herself, continuing on to the corner of the structure before vanishing down the alleyway. She could still feel him in the force, he wasn't that far away yet... but even if she lost track of him he'd be easy enough to find now.

She found her way in near the garage, an unwatched maintenance post. She paused for just a moment, making certain no one was near, before walking up to the door. A military grade security spike did most of the work for her, getting her inside and on her way to the stairs. A quick check of the directory confirmed his position. Like many Reki, he didn't bother with an alias.

Went Halix, room 2503.

Not wanting to risk attention in the elevators, she went for the stairs. By the time she reached the 25th floor, she found herself ready to kill the man on simple principle.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
Her computer spike got her inside Went's condo easily. The door shut with a soft hum behind her, and she took the moment to ascertain her surroundings.

Went certainly lived large. His decoration was full of thoroughly modern touches and minimalist hard angles, but all done in a manner that exuded wealth and confidence rather than the spartan military bases she was used to. Expensive materials and fine taste, though the man certainly had a preference for keeping blades on display. Collector perhaps? Regardless he either he had a flair for home decoration or had hired someone who did. She could hear muffled voices coming from down a nearby hallway deeper in the property, clearly still quite focused on their own private world.

Brows furrowing under her mask, she resolved to leave them to their privacy. She had absolutely no desire to be seen here by anyone but her target. She instead invited herself to further examine the rest of the room, moving as silently as she could across the carpeted floor. The layout was simple. A foyer at the front, what was probably intended to be a formal living room converted into entertainment space (including a pool table in the center), a full kitchen and dining area, rest rooms, a balcony, the rather occupied bedroom and finally what appeared to be an office. Somarae let herself into the latter option, shutting the door behind herself quietly and waiting for an opportunity to carry out her mission. In the meantime she availed herself to Went's desk, looking through printouts and an active, but unfortunately far too encrypted to be of intelligence use, datapad.

At least it had games installed.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
Almost an hour passed before she heard the door opening to the hallway. She'd tried to distract herself with the datapad at first, but after fifteen minutes the sounds coming from the other room were simply too much to ignore and she had retreated into meditation instead, leaving just enough of herself aware of the outside world to register whenever the Reki and his companion of the evening were finished.

She stood easily, rolling her head around her shoulders once as she crept to the doorway, waiting...

A discussion, muffled phrases of praise, promises to call a taxi and... payment?

Of course. How else had he gotten someone to leave with him that quickly. She shook her head, disgusted. It wasn't long before she heard footsteps heading down the hallway, and the more distant opening and closing of the front door.

It's time. I'm not going to get a better chance.

She opened the door, stepping out into the hallway. Went was in the kitchen, speaking into the holo and, as he'd promised, calling a taxi service. Judging by the fact he seemed to have an account with them this must have been a regular occurrence. He hung up, stepping out into his dining room, dressed in a pair of slacks and a belt with a thin sheen of sweat still on his skin. He reached over his head to stretch.

"Mr. Halix, I presume. Good evening," her tone was flat, almost mechanical, as she stepped forward into his line of sight. Her cloak in place, she was a formless mass of shadow, only the bottom half of her implacable mask visible in the low light.

His reaction changed immediately, hands slowly lowering as his expression twisted from surprise to rage, "What is this and who the feth are you?"

"Who I am is unimportant, Mr. Halix. We have far more important matters to discuss if you wish to keep your life this night," her body tensed in readiness, every muscle coiling as she walked in a measured, even half-circle to place herself between the twi'lek and his front door. She drew her pistol, leveling it at his chest to emphasize her point.

His eyes remained narrow and his lips tight, but his hands inched upwards, "You supposed to be some kinda cop or something?"

"Irrelevant. This is entirely about you, Mr. Halix. What you are, and what you represent. Even now I can sense your power. Power far too dangerous to let run wild in the streets of Jar'Kai," with a brush of her thumb she flipped the safety of her suppressed slugthrower off, holding her aim steady, "You cannot be allowed to continue as you are, but this need not be your end. You have a choice, Mr. Halix."

He looked about ready to spit at her, but thought better of it, "That a smegging fact?"

"It is. You can surrender to me now, Mr. Halix. You will put your talents to the Empire's use from this moment until the day you die... or you can die right here. Right now. One such as yourself cannot be allowed to act without control."

He glanced around for a moment, but otherwise remained still. Somarae's pistol didn't waver. He looked back in her direction, meeting the gaze of her mask's lenses.

"Not leaving a man much of a choice here, sister," he sneered at her, dropping his arms and breaking eye contact with her.

"There is always a choice, Mr. Halix. Perhaps tonight you will make the correct one."

"Yeah... yeah I think I will."

His body snapped into motion far faster than a regular man's, one arm outstretched towards the wall. Somarae squeezed back the trigger, tracking him. Three bullets left her weapon with the audible pop of suppressed munitions. Three bullet holes were left in a line on the far wall. Went Halix caught one of his dueling swords in his grip, and drew steel.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
She jumped backwards. Went closed in quickly, yelling a battlecry as he tossed his weapon's sheath aside. He was gripping the curved, serrated blade's hilt with both hands, swinging it downwards to chop into the chiss's head. He was fast, but with the force she could match him. Exceed him, if only just. She lifted her right hand into the air, twisting her pistol to protect herself with the weapon's barrel. The Reki's dueling sword hummed as he activated the vibroblade, metal screeching on metal as the weapon bit into her pistol.

She only just deflected the blow, her hand releasing the ruined firearm. With a large rent down its side, it wasn't about to shoot either of them. She reached into the slit at the top of her cloak, pulling free the long, narrow blade of her jian just in time to parry his next strike. A shriek of metal rose in the condo as blades clashed, Somarae stepped to the outside, past the directed force of Went's attack. He was aggression. Linear rage. Murderous intent. She was yielding, giving up ground, redirecting power...

They had nearly moved into the kitchen before she counter-attacked, slipping inside his reach and past his blade, using her cloak to hide her intentions until the charging twi'lek nearly barreled into the pommel of her raised hilt. His nose flattened with a crunch, blood spattering.

Somarae stepped back and away, putting distance between them again.

"You dirty fething schutta!" Went howled, his voice nearly as flat as his nostrils had just become.

"I suppose this means you aren't reconsidering this course," her breathing was heavier, but her tone remained infuriatingly level.

Went's only reply was another cry of rage, his sword lifted to his right side, parallel to the floor as he charged. Somarae readied herself to intercept. Another wound. One final chance. Then he would die.

She felt the change in the force before she saw or realized her misjudgment.

Power. Raw, unfiltered, untrained, barely wielded power. Went's blade began to glow, crackling white-hot with his sheer, bloody-minded hatred. By reflex, Somarae lifted her sword.

The thin fencing blade snapped, splintering before the force empowered blow. The power of the impact pushed her back, knocking the broken blade from her hands. Intentionally or not, Went's attack sent her spinning, the leverage on her outstretched arms too much to allow her to completely keep her balance. He was too close to swing again, charging too fast. His shoulder slammed into her back instead.

Already unsteady, Somarae was thrown forward. She threw her empty hand out to catch herself on something, anything, but her gloved hand slid over the top of the twi'lek's pool table, and her ribs slammed into the side with a crack. She slid to the ground, vision flooded with stars.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
Get. Up.

It hurt to breathe. She'd broken something with that impact, she was certain.

He is going to kill you. Get. Up.

Gritting her teeth, she struggled to get her feet underneath herself once more. Her shoulder and elbow pressed down against the pool table as she shakily stood up. Went's footsteps got closer, his movements slowing as he let out a throaty laugh. Arrogant.

Her ribs were on fire with every breath, and it hurt to move. Ignore it. Ignore it.

"You still got something to say to me you dumb shutta?" he was sneering again, almost casual now that he had her at such a disadvantage. She needed a distraction. She looked past him, back into the kitchen.

Yes... yes that will do nicely.

She wheezed in response, leaning heavily on the pool table. Adrenaline sustained her, focused her. Yes, that's right Halix... you won. You have me at your mercy.

The twi'lek rested his blade's flat against his shoulder, grinning, "So who do you work for? Gotta know who to send the message to once I'm done with you."

She turned her head just enough to look back up at him. Two meters away. Not planning to kill her yet. Stupid. He lifted his foot to step closer. Now.

She lifted her left hand, open and empty, towards him. A gesture of submission? Went laughed, shaking his head, right up until the moment Somarae pulled her arm back towards herself, and sent the man's toaster flying into the back of his skull. She twisted aside, even as she felt another stab of pain in her chest. Went stumbled forward, screaming in rage again. Not enough. He was conscious. And angry.

Somarae grabbed for one of the nearby pool cues, lifting it in both hands to strike, but before she could swing he was pushing himself back up. His blade moved, and she knew she wouldn't be fast enough. She stepped back as the sword began to glow in his hand once more, held in his right as his left rubbed at the bleeding patch of his scalp. He cursed at her all the while, but she wasn't paying any more attention to his words now.

Think Soma, think. You have no gun. He will break any weapon you use on him. You aren't going to catch him off guard like that again. Think.

She circled back and around the table, keeping it between them, shifting left and right to keep him from closing for a strike. She could feel the power of the force in his blade. His unfocused mind letting it cascade in waves of power from the already potent weapon. If he can do it, so can you.

She gripped the base of the pool cue in both hands, holding it upwards like a sword of her own. Went laughed hysterically, flinging insults at her, wondering aloud if he'd finally get her to scream when he started cutting off fingers. She ignored him. She let the force flow through her. The pain in her side faded, unhealed but ignored. She could feel the power inside herself. She pushed it forward, down through her limbs...

Went tired of their dance, leaping up onto the table and swinging his blade downwards in a wide arc, letting out a wet, phlegmy laugh as he did so. In desperation, she raised her borrowed stick against it.

The blade stopped, white crackling energy hitting the unsteady, but focused sheen of glowing blue power that formed across the pool cue. The weapons locked together, neither giving way. Under her mask, the chiss smiled.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
Somarae pushed her borrowed pool cue back against the sword, the metaphysical hum of the force palpable in the air as the weapons continued to clash. Deep breaths. Ignore the pain. Deep breaths. Focus.

Her brow furrowed, sweat beading on her skin. She lost herself in the moment, the power coursing through her. The glow on her pool cue began to brighten, the force flowing and coalescing around the simple piece of polished wood. Protecting it and strengthening it. A thought came to her mind, unbidden. A saying, really, a turn of phrase carried by the Yovshin for untold generations.

A blade is only as strong as the will of its bearer.

It had only been a second since their weapons impacted, perhaps two. Went continued to lean into his strike, unwilling to pull back. Unwilling to admit defeat. Somarae ducked, twisting the pool cue to guide his dueling sword over her head, stepping below the strike and behind the blade. Went tumbled, falling ungracefully from the pool table and landing heavily on his hands and knees, the sword clattering free of his grip and skittering across the floor.

I do not make the same mistake twice. She raised her cue to strike, bringing the force empowered stick down hard on the Reki's back before he could try to move. He cried out, falling flat on his front.

She could feel her side beginning to burn again, she pushed it away. Her arms raised for another strike, "You asked me a question, Halix."

Crack! The pool cue impacted on his shoulder, something underneath gave way, "Who I serve."

She kicked his side, rolling him onto his back before she swung again, he feebly lifted an arm to block her, the swing snapping the bones in his hand before continuing down into his ribcage, "I serve a higher purpose. Something a thug like you will never understand."

Went could only groan in reply, thoroughly beaten. He curled up on his side, attempting to protect himself from the beating. Somarae's boot connected with his stomach, leaving him splayed out on his back before she swung downwards into his muscular abdomen, knocking whatever breath remained inside him out of his lungs, "I serve the Empire, Mr. Halix. And no one will ever prevent me from carrying out my duty."

He coughed, trying desperately to draw breath. Somarae stood over him, the implacable mask of the Inquistion staring down at the broken man at her feet, "You had a choice, Mr. Halix. You could have risen to something higher than yourself. Instead you chose this. Farewell."

She swung the weapon downwards, smashing it into his head and shoulders again and again until he finally stopped moving.

She tossed the pool cue aside, the wooden implement covered with Went's blood. A hand lifted to her injured side, tentatively feeling the injury with a pained hiss. With Went dead, her adrenaline began to subside, the pain creeping back upon her and no longer so easily ignored.

She left the body where it was, gathered up her broken weapons and made her exit out the fire escape.
 

Antera

Flygirl
Character
Atrisia - The Citadel
One Week Later

A debriefing and a short doctor's stay later, Somarae's ribs had mended. Clad in the violet robes of her station, she observed a training exercise between other Inquisitors, watching their forms and methods as they sparred. Most practiced with simple training blades, minimizing the potential of a crippling injury, but the more experienced inevitably used their sabers.

She frowned slightly, in the days since her recovery her mind had frequently wandered to swords. Technique. Philosophy. The strengths of one style of blade versus another. Some she'd learned in school, some at the Academy, most since her arrival within the Inquisition. Swords were an essential part of the Atrisian culture. The city of Jar'Kai itself came to name an entire style of combat, in fact.

These thoughts inevitably led her back to the fight in Went Halix's condo. The power of the force demonstrated against more mundane weapons, and how they could be improved. She'd taken to practicing the method in her spare moments, refining it. Focusing the power of the Force itself to become her blade. It was effective, far more so than a vibroblade alone.

But how far does it go, she wondered... how much could my blade stand up against?

She entered the dueling field, finding one of the other Inquisitors who looked ready for another match, "Good afternoon. Would you allow me to test myself against you?"

The young man nodded, "Sure... just don't expect me to take it easy on you, right?"

She nodded, "Then let us begin."

They strode to an empty circle, and the man casually flicked his saber to life, twisting it into his preferred stance. Somarae's saber remained on her belt, her hand instead drawing a training sword to her from the nearby apprentice's rack. The polished wood of the blade glinted in the afternoon light, "Given the circumstances... will you allow me first strike?"

The second inquisitor was momentarily confused by the chiss's choice of weapon, shifting his stance to a more defensive position with a subtle nod. Somarae offered a nod of her own in thanks, lifting the blade into a more aggressive position, and charging forward. She felt the increasingly familiar sensation of the force building within her body, shifting into the blade... the weapon took on the subtlest of auras, the power concentrating into the weapon instead of radiating outwards.

She swung. The saber stopped her, but her blade held easily.

The chiss smiled serenely.

A blade is only as strong as the will of its bearer. My will is stronger than any lightsaber.
 
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