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True Grit (Part I)

D O M I N U S
Writer
Despite the fact that Josiah Denko was infamous for his unability to properly "function" early in the morning, the Templar had opted to shatter every single stereotype which was forming about his character by arising close to dawn one day in particular. Sure, he was exhausted as all get out; but the Knight felt that he needed to take some time in order to sharpen the skills that could very well spell life or death for him on the field of battle. As such, following his typical ritual of bathing, dressing, grooming, and consuming unhealthy amounts of caf and puffcakes, Josiah made his way through the halls of the Sanctum at Roon until he had arrived at one of the many training rooms in the lower levels. Finally awake, his strides, long and confident, bore him to the center of the room; where he then yawned and stretched his arms above his head.

The Knight then embarked upon the journey of loosening up. First he set about stretching his arms rather thoroughly, followed by his back and legs. Once he was limbered up to his satisfaction, he stepped across the floor to a panel set into the adjacent wall. His fingers danced upon the console, inputting a request to the computer system which operated behind the scenes. Promptly, his request was answered in the form of a sudden tremor erupting from the wall behind the console. It shuddered, then shifted, revealing a compartment within which a large number of training droids stood dormant. As per his request, a single droid powered up and unfurled from its crouched position, slowly moving out of the compartment and into the center of the floor. Within its grasp was a single training lightsaber.

Josiah followed the droid to the center of the floor and reached within his cloak to produce one of the three blades he always carried with him. T'was a training saber, the very same he had received during his training session on Tython with members of the Jedi Order quite some time ago. The other two within his possession was the one which housed a Solari crystal, that he had forged alongside his beloved students @[member="Kara Avoyos"], @[member="Seth Lockheart"], and @[member="Iella E`ron"]; and the one which housed a synthetic, silver crystal, which he forged alongside a hulking beast named @[member="Krag"]. With but a flick of his finger, the Templar ignited the training saber's blue blade into existence and held it aloft; at which point the training droid did the exact same. With a calming breath in order to initiate focus, Josiah Denko began his sesson of training.
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
"Alright," came the confident voice of the Templar, addressing the mass of durasteel and circuitry before him, "let's see what you got!" As the words escaped his lips, he began to assume the opening stance of one of the two lightsaber forms that he especially excelled in; and thereby desired to sharpen even further this day: Djem So. To this end, he elevated his trainin saber above his head, angling it back ever so slightly until it achieved an angle of approximately forty-five degrees. Here, the Templar awaited the eventual offensive action of the training droid; as that was one of the principles of the lightsaber form. It was defensive in nature, but only for the briefest of moments...for after a successful deflection or parrying of an attack, the practitioner was to counterattack relentlessly.

This was a fact that the training droid was going to become very familiar with.

Utilizing a swiftness that a glance at its form would never allude to, the training droid reared crossed the distance between them and began to assault the Templar with a series of introductory blows. They were simple in nature, warm ups to say the least, and revolved around attempts to disarm the Knight as quickly as possible. Instead of outright picking apart the introductory offense with pure strength, Josiah instead focused on clean parries and deflections, then exploiting the subsequent openings with a step forward and a solid strike. This quickly became a cyclical exchange between the Templar and droid; a dance which bore them in a circle about the center of the room. Josiah recognized that, as part of the training routine he had selected, things were going to start out slow and then pick up very quickly.

And this was evidenced by the droid's sudden surging forth with a powerful blow, and his assumption of a stance to match that of the Knight's.
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
Josiah had anticipated that the training program would scale up in difficulty the longer the training session continued, but he did not anticipate that the training droid would assume the Djem So stance in order to face off against him. This was a surprise that the Templar thoroughly enjoyed; as it appeared as though the systems had been updated in order to afford a greater challenge to those in dire need of a good workout. In any case, the session became rather intense from that point, as the Knight and the droid began to exchange blows and counterattacks at a swift pace. There was a near rhythm which filled the training room with its din; the regular sound of training sabers colliding and feet shuffling as Josiah both gained and sacrificed ground in his waltz with the droid.

The scales of favor were momentarily tipped in favor of the droid when it raised its blade above its head and sent a blow crashing down into Josiah's defense. It nearly set the Knight off balance, and was promptly followed by another swift and powerful blow. It took the Templar two steps in retreat to right himself once more and enter the fray with vigor. Perhaps it was the slight frustration that came from being unbalanced by a hunk of metal that caused the improvement in the Knight's performance, or perhaps he was simply being a touch more focused, or maybe even it was the caffeine raging through his system due to his morning cup of caf. Whatever the source of this sudden change in intensity was to blame for the Templar's gaining of ground against the droid.

With teeth bared and clenched, Josiah battled forward. His blade sang through the air and made solid collision after collision with that of the droid's. With each passing moment, the combination of defensive coupled with counterattacks through Form V allowed Josiah to reclaim the steps he had lost against the droid, and then some! However, the training session was far from over.
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
It was amazing to the Templar that, in just the blink of an eye, the entire tide of battle could change dramatically. However, this was to be expected from a training program whose difficulty scaled in response to the performance of the trainee. In a sense, Josiah only made the session all the more difficult by exerting high degrees of effort; but that was the point! The harder the challenge was, the harder the Knight would have to fight in order to meet and surpass it. However, having never set the bar this high before, the Templar did not anticipate the trick that the training droid had up its sleeve. The irony of the situation was that the tides of battle were literally shifted because of that which was, more or less, in the droid's "sleeve"; for out of a compartment within its offhand sprang a secondary training saber.

With a hint of finesse, its blade ignited into existence and Josiah found himself beset upon by a relentless assault of twin blades. Once again, he found himself losing ground to the droid, as its furious blows collided with the male's defense. The attacks were so swift that the Knight could barely get in a passable counterattack! As the seconds wore on, the Knight found himself sacrificing ground once more in order to keep up with the new offense launched by his opponent. However, he would not be denied in his endeavor! 'Force, give me strength.' came the mental whisper of the Templar; an act of focusing his efforts on reaching out to the enigmatic entity that granted awe-inspiring might. His success came in the form of strength: an augmentation to the power within his limbs and the speed that they were capable of producing.

This was something that Josiah had @[member="Ember Rekali"] to thank for, as battling by his side and drinking of his wisdom resulted in the pursuit of this particular ability in the Force. Now armed with this might, the Knight pushed forward once more, colliding his saber with vigor and strength against the pair wielded by his opponent. The winds of change were nigh, and the battle would continue to rage back and forth between the Templar and the Droid.
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
Armed with the additional strength and speed granted through the Force, Josiah immediately began to regain ground against his opponent. His blade sang a relentless song against the pair wielded by the Droid, and as he exhibited his growing skill of Djem So, he began to exploit the shortcomings of the Jar'Kai form wielded by his adversary. By relying upon the powerful blows expected by the fifth acknowledged form, coupled with the strength he now commanded through the Force, Josiah was able to continually assault the defense of his opponent to the point where his guard would eventually give in. Now, if this were an organic opponent, the point at which the guard would drop would be considerably sooner than that of an automaton; and the circumstances would be drastically different.

For the Templar to cause the Droid to lower his guard, it would have to be through the sheer force reverberating through its metallic joints; thereby causing an eventual slip of the grip on one, or both, of the sabers. This was a cause that differed drastically from that of what would cause an organic opponent to lower his or her guard, which was sheer fatigue. As such, Josiah continued to hammer away at his opponent. His feet continually, and boldly, claimed steps and his training saber deflected and counterattacked in a blur of blue meeting green.

Eventually, salvation came in the form of an overhead strike delivered by the Templar, a maneuver known as the "Falling Avalanche" to be precise. With tremendous power, augmented through the Force, the Knight collided his saber with the defense exhibited by the training droid with such force that sparks sailed out of its offhand. Its grip was damaged to a slight degree, just enough so that the training saber was easily knocked out of its grasp when a followup strike was delivered. The green blade sailed across the room at that point and landed in the far corner.

There was a silence in that moment, a brief pause as both Josiah and the droid angled their blades against one another. They moved in a circle; a simple break in the fighting before resuming once more.
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
As if testing the waters, the training droid allowed the tip of his saber to tab that of Josiah's ever so slightly, causing a few sparks to issue forth from the point of contact. The break in the contest of strength spanned a handful of seconds, before Josiah opted to shift gears. The session had afforded him the opportunity to flex his "Form V muscles" quite thoroughly; and after both gaining and losing ground throughout the course of the endeavor, he could safely say that he knew a few areas that he would have to improve upon in order to be even more effective on the field of battle. As such, he decided to step into a pair of shoes that he seldom wore, those of the fourth form of lightsaber combat: Ataru.

Still relying upon the Force to empower his body and augment his overall speed, the Templar changed tactics considerably and went on the offensive. Even more so now than before, aggression characterized the blows which rang against the training saber wielded by the droid. To make matters worse for his adversary, the Knight employed feats of athleticism, enabled through the utilization of the Force, in order to effectively combat the automaton. He quickly ducked, and occassionally bent, out of the way of strikes in order to score counterattacks against the metallic hull of the droid. He would jump and allow his blade to crash down upon his opponent's, setting it offbalance and earning him a few steps with which to advance.

Josiah was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a master at Ataru; but the sudden change from Form V to Form IV was a reality that unbalanced the droid for a few moments. However, as the battle moved on and calibrations were made through the training program, the Knight would find that the degree of success he had would begin to lower; for the uphill climb had just begun!
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
As the training program made things increasingly difficult for Josiah, this time in the form of the droid incorporating unarmed combat in his offensive and defensive endeavors, the Templar found himself growing more and more impressed with the system. He did not anticipate such a thorough workout, to say the very least, and was actually enjoying himself; regardless of the momentary flares of frustration in response to having to sacrifice steps in order to avoid being clobbered with a training saber. The battle was one, however, that would not see Josiah walking away unscathed. As the droid employed its new tactics, the Knight found his body the target of heavy blows that were completely unexpected!

The first of these offenses came when their blades had collided at an awkward angle, which prompted Josiah to attempt to guide the blades to the ground so that he may capitalize in some form. However, before the chance to do so was afforded, the droid surged forth and rammed his shoulder into the side of the Templar, claiming the air in his lungs. It was one thing to fight against a program whose difficulty increased with each passing moment; it was another to do so when completely and utterly winded! The Knight, wheezing, sacrificed a good deal of steps and winced as he stepped back, doing his absolute best to catch his breath and ignore the pain.

However, he did not have much of a chance to presence a passable defense in that moment. For as he stuggled to regain breath and defend himself, the droid set upon him with a relentless string of blows; which culminated with a stinging kick to the shin and a heavy shove back. It took every ounce of restraint for Josiah not to simply blow the droid away with a solid wall of telekinetic force; but that was not the nature of this session. No, he was determined to keen his skill with the lightsaber to new heights, and he could not do that by cutting corners. As such, he continued the struggle to fight through the pain and defended himself as best he could.
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
At long last, Josiah managed to catch his breath and the pain which had inhibited him began to ebb and fade. He was able, then, to put up a defense worth some value and halt the rampage of the droid which had begun to control the pace of the battle. Then, relying upon the Force in order to augment his physical condition once more, the Templar began to battle back with vigor. His blade first collided against the droid's with an impressive sum of strength, thereby costing it a few steps as it stumbled back. The Knight then took a page out of the automaton's book and rammed his shoulder into its hull in order to unbalance it.

This tactic was met with great success, but at the cost of a newfound pain surging up Josiah's left shoulder. However, this pain was neglegable to say the least and did not impair his ability to fight on in the slightest. So, he continued to battle on, capitalizing on the current state of unbalance exhibited by the droid in order to score additional blows against its hull. Sparks flew with each blow, and each burn that Josiah's blade left upon its body was a symbol of pride. He was succeeding, more or less, in his goal; but he could not afford to get distracted by gaining ground.

This fact became apparent as the program made its final escalation in difficulty; though the Templar did not know that this change had occurred right away. In fact, he was under the impression that the program was giving up, more or less, as the droid stepped back several steps in order to create space between it and the Knight. However, Josiah did not lower his guard; especially since the droid assumed a defensive stance characterized by both hands gripping its saber at the ready.
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
Once more, there was a break in the ferocious dance that had raged between Josiah and his metallic adversary. After minutes of relentless battle, the training droid was marred by a large host of burns, compliments of Josiah's training saber. However, the Knight was not unscathed in the slightest. Sweat beaded his brow, pain characterized his side, shoulder, and other battered parts of his body; and to top it off he was certain all of those spots would bruise. However, as the saying went: "no pain, no gain"; so in Josiah's mind, the session was fruitful on the basis of pain alone!

Finally, after the small eternity of pause had passed, the droid made its move. It surged forth with a flurry of blows which were promptly met and reciprocated by the blade of the Templar. Relying upon the Force as he had been, he was able to avoid and evade the brunt of the blows, parry when absolutely necessary, and counterattack relentlessly in order to score steps and gain ground. Then, the thought erupted into Josiah's mind: a desire to put the icing on the cake so to speak. It was time he put an end to the contest of strengths and conclude his workout.

As such, he sacrificed a pair of steps in order to give himself a moment to breathe before he assumed the stance which he had opened the session with: Djem So. He would finish as he started, and he would finish strong!
 
D O M I N U S
Writer
This was it, the opportunity to end the training session on a high note. Josiah was completely ready to put an end to whatever offenses that the droid attempted to launch with solid defense and even stronger counterattacks. After a final pause in the fighting, the moment to put this readiness to the test was at hand. The training droid elevated its blade over its head and came down with a blow of immense strength and speed. The Templar angled his blade horizontally and met the full brunt of the blow, relying upon the leg which was swept back to withstand the blow and push back.

With the Force as his ally, he was able to do so with moderate effort, and thereby pushed the droid's arm up. The opening was there, and the Knight seized the opportunity with as much haste as he could muster. As soon as the droid's arm sailed up, thereby exposing its midsection, Josiah struck...and struck...and struck. He unleashed as many blows, as quickly as he possibly could, across the metallic hull of the droid; and once he had completed his onslaught, there was another pause. The droid did not attempt to counterattack at that point; for the training session had finally run its course. Josiah had completed his goal, and was the clear "victor" out of the two combatants.

And his reward? Knowledge. The contest of strengths had shown him a great number of areas that he needed improvement within, and those areas would be addressed in subsequent training sessions from that point forward. However, it was time to hit the showers...and then reward himself with a puffcake...or twelve.
 
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