MOTF Book II: Ascension Chapter 4

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MOTF Book II: Ascension Chapter 4

Post by Emperordmb on Sun Mar 01, 2015 2:31 am

A lightsaber room in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant was bathed in green and blue light as master and apprentice sparred with each other. Arthur wielded a bright green training lightsaber, and Mongooku wielded his own sapphire blue blade, with the intensity dialed down to that of a training lightsaber.

Arthur walked backwards in a slow retreat as he deflected Mongooku’s strikes, using defensive maneuvers derived from Soresu. Mongooku’s strikes were fast, though Arthur had no doubt he could fight much faster and harder at a moment’s notice if he wanted to. Arthur carefully and skillfully deflected a series of strikes from Mongooku, each of which were equally precise, fast, and powerful, by utilizing a series of tight defensive maneuvers, his blade held close to his body with both hands on the hilt. Rather than retreating completely backwards, Arthur maneuvered his body to the side, beginning to circle around Mongooku.

“Excellent strategy Arthur!” Mongooku complimented. “By keeping your blade close to your body, you are conserving as much energy as possible, while at the same time reducing the space your blade needs to cover to block my attacks. By circling to the side rather than falling back in a straight line, you are reducing the amount of space you need to surrender to me in your retreat.”

“Thank you master,” Arthur replied, beaming with pride at his master’s compliment.

“No thanks is necessary Arthur,” Mongooku replied. “But it is appreciated nonetheless.”

They then resumed their duel, Mongooku returning to the balanced blade work of Niman, and Arthur returning to the defensive move sets of Soresu. With a serene and calculating focus, Arthur deflected Mongooku’s strikes with great effort, but also with satisfaction at his own level of ability. Mongooku then drove Arthur back with a series of graceful slashes, ending the sequence with a casual Force shove.

Despite the very casual nature of the shove, Arthur knew it was more powerful than anything he or his fellow Padawans could conjure up. Realizing this, Arthur swiftly dropped to a crouch and channeled his Force energy into a barrier. Not a barrier meant to outright stop the shove, but one meant to reduce the Force of the shove. When the shove penetrated Arthur’s barrier and struck him square in the chest, Arthur rolled back with the force, somersaulting backwards over the ground before coming back up on his feet a couple of meters away, and raising his lightsaber back up in a defensive stance.

“Good,” Master Mongooku said. “Defensively, you have great strategy and excellent adaptation, but lets see how you do offensively.” With that statement, the Grand Master drew his blade close to his body in a defensive stance.

Over the past three weeks, Arthur had not only been studying Soresu, but Ataru as well, learning its graceful, fast paced, and elaborate moves and sequences straight from Master Mongooku, who was himself, a master of the form. Arthur relaxed for a moment and took a deep breath, calling the Force into himself to sharpen his mind and strengthen his body. It was a stream, trickling through his spirit, invigorating him.

Ready to make his master proud, Arthur charged forward in a blinding burst of speed, and opened with a series of extraordinarily fast jabs and slashes, each move transitioning gracefully into the next. Mongooku this time applied a defensive application of Niman, countering each of Arthur’s moves with balanced and improvised blade work. Arthur pressed his offense, striking from various different angles in quick succession, but every time his blade lashed out, Mongooku’s was already waiting to meet it. Every so often, Mongooku counterattacked, forcing Arthur not to abandon his defense, though Master Mongooku’s application of Niman was still far more passive now than it had been at the start of their fight.

Arthur twirled around in a lightning fast motion, sweeping his blade at Mongooku’s face, but the Grand Master was quick to counter, blocking his blade with casual ease. Arthur then twirled his body the other direction, lashing out at Mongooku’s legs, but his blade was met yet again by that of his master’s. Arthur’s blade was swept upwards by his master’s, opening the lower half of his body up to attack. Mongooku swept his blade at Arthur’s legs, but Arthur leapt up above the blade, and swung his blade at the side of his master’s head, while at the same time throwing a kick at his chest with his right foot.

Arthur watched as Mongooku leaned backwards, the tip of his blade passing a handbreadth away from his Master’s face. Arthur felt the palm of his Master’s left hand strike his leg, sending it spinning away from his chest. Arthur twirled his body with the momentum, spinning and landing on both of his feet with his right foot forward. Resolving not to stay in constant motion, Arthur held his training lightsaber in his right hand, swinging it at his Master three times in quick succession, the first at his chest, the second at his legs, and the third at his neck, all of which the Grand Master calmly blocked.

Arthur spun around, stabbing his blade at his master’s gut, only for him to deflect its momentum downward with his sapphire blade. Mongooku swept his blade at Arthur’s midsection, but Arthur crouched down and rolled across the floor as Mongooku’s blade split the air above him. Coming back up on his feet to the side of Mongooku, Arthur raised his blade and channeled the Force through his body, unleashing a fast sequence of three strikes at Mongooku in less than a second. Mongooku casually deflected the first two strikes to the side before catching the third one with his blade and holding it in place, completely stopping its momentum.

Arthur and his master stood frozen in place for a couple of seconds before Mongooku took a step back and deactivated his lightsaber. “You have excellent improvisation and adaptability Arthur,” Mongooku said as Arthur deactivated his training lightsaber. “I think you would do well with Niman.”

“After dueling with you, it’s hard to imagine anyone not doing well with Niman,” Arthur replied.

“Well,” Mongooku began. “Most people who study Niman do so because it is easily learned and doesn’t take much practice to maintain their skills in. Many who study this Form are consulars, usually not elevating the Form beyond its basic level. It is because of this that Niman is usually underestimated. But in the hands of someone willing to take full advantage of its practicality and versatility, it can be quite lethal.”

“Could you train me in Niman Master?” Arthur asked.

“Of course,” Mongooku said smiling warmly back at him. “I’ll train you in Niman after you construct your first lightsaber. But for now, practice Ataru and Soresu. You’ll find that the two forms are quite complimentary.”

“I will Master,” Arthur replied. “I will.”

“Just one more thing before I release you to your studies Arthur,” Mongooku added. “What lessons about the Force have you learned from our duel? What knowledge can you extrapolate from your technique that also applies to the Force?”

Arthur stopped to think for a few seconds before responding. “I learned that the Force can be applied directly or in a more passive way in combat, I learned that the Force can be used creatively and tactically, and I learned that the Force can be used to empower my entire body. But above all, this duel reaffirmed the simple truth that you’ve taught me since the first day of my training.”

“And what is that truth?” Mongooku asked.

“The Force is my ally,” Arthur replied, “and it is a powerful one.”

“You continue to amaze me with your insight Arthur,” Mongooku responded with a warm smile.

“Thank you for your praise Master,” Arthur replied. “I’ll be in the Archives if you need me.”

——————————————————————————

“Are you sure you are ready for this Jaira?” Master Nalaniel asked.

“I’m sure,” Jaira replied.

“When I unlock the crate, it’s going to try and kill you,” her master reminded her.

“You’ve trained me well master,” Jaira replied. “I am ready for this.

Extending one telekinetic arm forward, Master Nalaniel opened the lock on the crate a dozen meters in front of Jaira, and took several steps away from the crate. Jaira could feel Nalaniel concealing her presence in the Force. The cage then opened, revealing one large, well muscled Vornskr. It was a quadrupedal canine predator that tracked its prey using the Force, locking onto the strongest Force signature it could find, and going in for the kill. With Nalaniel’s Force presence cloaked, there was only one presence strong in the Force that the Vornskr could feel; Jaira.

The Vornskr silently broke out on all fours, charging at Jaira at full speed, covering remarkable ground in almost no time at all. Jaira reached out and felt the Vornskr’s mind through the Force. It was wild, aggressive, and filled with a ravenous hunger that would only be satisfied by her blood.

As the predator continued to rush at Jaira in a blur, Jaira extended a hand and reached out to its mind, mentally projecting a wave of soothing from her mind into its mind. She saw its body relax a little bit as it began to slow down, but still moved extraordinarily fast. Jaira then imposed a simple mental command on the creature.

Remarkably, when the creature came within two meters of Jaira, instead of pouncing, it skidded to a stop and dropped its head down, bowing to her. Jaira took a step forward, and placed a single hand on its head, projecting another wave of soothing and compassion into its mind. Immediately, the creature rolled over onto its back, and Jaira dropped to her knees and began to pet its stomach soothingly.

Jaira looked up to see her master walking towards her, a look of amazement on her face. One second, the creature had wanted desperately to rip her apart with its teeth, and the next, it was best pals with her. Jaira felt its mind relax as she continued to play with it.

Nalaniel had taught her this power about three weeks ago, and at first, she had worked with smaller creatures, such as small lizards, the palm sized furballs known as O’cerrys, and even a Troiken Indictidle, before moving onto larger creatures, such as Tauntauns, Kybucks, and now a Vornskr. Jaira felt special when she reached out to the mind of another creature and connected with it. Every creature’s mind seemed to hold an emotional sensory work of art for Jaira, and she found it beautiful beyond measure.

As her master continued to observe, Jaira stood up, and mentally guided the Vornskr to its own four legs. At an unspoken command from Jaira, the Vornskr began to start racing circles around her. Through her connection with the creature’s mind, Jaira could feel its heartbeat, the pumping of its muscles, its lungs expanding and contracting as it breathed in and out. She could feel the creature’s spirit connecting with hers.

Jaira smiled with pleasure as her Master gave her a small smile and a nod in approval, pride beaming in her eyes. Jaira began to pour some of her own energy into the Vornskr through this link, watching as it picked up speed, running faster and faster around her until it was nothing but a black blur completely surrounding her.

“Your abilities in the Force have improved immensely my apprentice,” Nalaniel said, smiling as she stared in awe at the blur of motion encircling her apprentice.

Jaira smiled back at her master as she made the creature slowly reduce its speed down to a slow walk. She nudged its mind with the Force, letting it know of her approval. The Vornskr purred with pleasure as she slowly guided it back towards the crate, having it walk back into it and sit, calm and content after its bonding experience with Jaira. Jaira then extended a hand and closed the latch, locking it again with her telekinetic manipulation.

“In all my years of teaching, I have never seen a Padawan pick up that power so quickly,” Nalaniel announced in astonishment.

“I appreciate the compliment Master,” Jaira said as she bowed in gratitude. “Just as I appreciate your training.”

“It has been a pleasure to be your master,” Nalaniel replied. “You are a wonderful student Jaira. It has been my privilege to be the one to teach you.”

“Thank you again for the compliment Master,” Jaira replied.

“Your welcome,” Nalaniel responded smiling. “My services are needed off of Coruscant, so I’m going to be gone for the next couple of days.”

“Where to?” Jaira asked, taken aback by the sudden announcement.

“Lehon,” Master Nalaniel replied. “The Sith are seeking to rebuild the Temple of the Ancients as a new Sith Academy.”

“The Temple of the Ancients?” Jaira asked.

“It was a massive temple built by the Rakatans on Lehon millennia ago, and was later visited by Revan,” Nalaniel explained.

“The Jedi/Sith guy who almost destroyed the Old Republic, then saved it, then developed the most severe case of multiple personality known to man?” Jaira asked. “The one some of the other Padawans won’t shut up about?”

“Yes that’s him!” Nalaniel exclaimed, laughing at Jaira’s depiction of him. “Anyways, after the war between the Republic and Vitiate’s Sith Empire, the Jedi quarantined Lehon, closing it off from the outside Galaxy. We’re not exactly sure what happened, but when Luke Skywalker’s new Jedi Order explored Lehon, they found the Ancients completely obliterated, a mountain of rubble. Nobody knows exactly how it happened, but that thing has stood under a barrage of turbolaser fire before. I can only imagine what could have possibly brought the whole thing down like that.”

Jaira stopped for a second, to try and comprehend what it took to bring such a temple down. She could only hope that such a thing would never happen to the Jedi Temple.

“Anyways,” Master Nalaniel continued. “It is my assignment to lead the Triumvirate’s armies against the Sith on Lehon and drive them out of the system before they can build their academy there.”

“Can I go with you Master?” Jaira asked.

“No,” Nalaniel replied sternly. “You are not ready to accompany me on these types of missions yet. I’ll allow you to accompany me on missions after you build your first lightsaber on Ilum.”

“I understand Master,” Jaira replied, slightly disappointed.

“I’ll see you in a few days Jaira,” Master Nalaniel said as she turned to walk away.

As soon as Nalaniel left Jaira’s line of sight, Jaira began to head off in the direction of the Jedi archives, feeling several very familiar presences there. Surely enough, when she reached the Archives, Arthur and three other Padawans were already waiting for her, talking and laughing.

One was a Gamorrean boy named Setawin. Jaira had found his appearance a little off-putting at first, but after giving him a chance, she quickly discovered for herself that he was actually quite friendly. He could be strong headed at times, but his heart was definitely in the right place. He actually seemed to get along particularly well with Terro.

Another Padawan with Arthur was a Zeltron girl named Jaya Fynera. She had a deep pink complexion and dark blue hair, and she was very friendly and capable of getting along well with people. Jaya took a great deal of interest in Galactic history, and whenever nobody else was able to provide Jaira company, she could expect to find Jaya buried in the Jedi archives. That was, in fact, how Jaira and Arthur had first met her.

The third Padawan was a human boy named Bado Varren. He had curly blond hair, fair skin, and was a little shorter than average height. He always took a particular interest in the Jedi equipment, hoping to one day become the Jedi Temple’s quartermaster. He and Jaya had already been good friends before they met Jaira, Arthur and Terro. On that note, Jaira did not see Terro among them, which struck her as a little odd.

Jaira approached the other Padawans, who were talking and laughing, and waved as they turned their heads to face her.

“What are you guys doing?” Jaira asked.

“Shhhhh!,” Arthur replied. “We’re studying,” he said with a sly wink.

——————————————————————————

Arthur had been deep in conversation with his fellow Padawans Setawin, Jaya, and Bado about the eccentricities of their masters when Jaira had arrived. After Arthur greeted her, Jaira explained her most recent accomplishment to them.

“You did what?!” Setawin asked incredulous.

“I controlled a Vornskr with my mind!” Jaira replied. “I had it running circles around me in full speed!”

“Jaira that’s incredible!” Jaya replied.

Arthur himself was speechless. Jaya was indeed right. Such a thing was rather incredible, especially since the creature would’ve been trying to kill her initially.

“I suppose it is,” Bado responded. “Still, if you wanted something to run around you, I could’ve programmed a droid to do that.”

“Oh Bado,” Jaya responded in an exasperated tone of voice, rolling her eyes as she did so. “You’re missing the point entirely.”

The other three Padawans burst into laughter for a few seconds. Over the past few months, the five of them and Terro had grown very close as friends, studying, sparring, training, and laughing together. It filled Arthur’s heart with joy knowing that he’d have friends such as this fighting by his side in the war, that is, in the future when he would be allowed to fight.

“Where’s Terro?” Jaira asked.

“Yeah, where is Terro?” Bado asked.

“He’s training with Amoye Ilu,” Arthur replied. “He said he was practicing and preparing to perform the first of Faalo’s cadences in a few days.”

“Oh that’s absolutely amazing!” Jaya exclaimed. “I think he can do it.”

“So do I,” Arthur replied. “I have a feeling he’s going to become an extraordinary duelist.”

“Well such a thing is expected when you have the greatest duelist in the Jedi Order as your master,” Bado replied.

“Yeah,” Setawin responded. “He might even end up being as skilled a duelist as the Hero of Umbara!”

“The Hero of Umbara?” Arthur asked confused.

“He was a Jedi Knight during the Clone Wars who mastered all seven forms of lightsaber combat, and even managed to defeat Yoda in a lightsaber duel!” Setawin replied.

“I’m sorry,” Jaya replied. “But Hero of Umbara? That sounds completely made up!”

“I’ve heard of him too!” Bado replied excited. “He was also an incredibly skilled technician and encryptionist. He could build virtually anything from scraps and shards, and he knew various droid programming languages, and he was an exceedingly skilled slicer.”

“Wow!” Jaira replied. “He sounds impressive!”

“Yeah!” Setawin squealed in excitement.

“No no no,” Jaya replied. “I have never come across one reference to him in all of my studies.”

“You know Jaya,” Bado replied. “Just because you haven’t heard of something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

Arthur leaned back, an expression of amusement crossing his face. Jaya and Bado were best friends, but they got into arguments such as this so often, prompting heated debates between the two. Arthur had learned over time to enjoy such conversations, finding them a great source of amusement, and when he glanced over at Jaira, he knew she felt the exact same way.

“Alright,” Jaya said. “Where did you hear about the Hero of Umbara?”

“From many of the older Padawans,” Bado responded as Setawin nodded his head in affirmation.

“From the other Padawans?!” Jaya asked sarcastically. “Well if that’s the case then it must be true!”

“Do you really expect several Padawans to be lying about something like this?” Bado asked. “Or has it just not crossed your mind that maybe other people know things that you don’t know?”

Arthur wasn’t even going to both mentioning that he too had heard about the Hero of Umbara from others as well. He preferred to just enjoy watching his two friends argue with a little friendly teasing, rather than actually getting involved in the argument himself.

“Well I don’t believe he really existed,” Jaya replied defiantly.

“Well that’s the thing Jaya!” Bado chuckled. “You don’t have to believe in the Hero of Umbara for him to have existed, because guess what? He existed!”

“Believe in him?” Jaya replied. “You’re talking about him like he’s a deity or something!”

“Defeating Yoda in a lightsaber duel shortly after being knighted is pretty much the closest you can get to being a deity,” Bado replied.

“Shortly after being knighted?!” Jaya replied. “Do you know how absurd that sounds?! That sounds completely made-up!”

“It’s not like it’s impossible or anything,” Bado replied.

“Does he even have a name?” Jaya asked. Arthur noticed a smile on her face, and realized she already suspected she knew the answer to that question.

“Ummm…” Bado began to say.

“Bado! Does he have a name?” Jaya repeated.

“The older Padawans said all records of his name were lost,” Bado replied.

“How convenient,” Jaya chuckled sarcastically.

“Whatever!” Bado responded. “You’re just jealous because some of the older Padawans know things about history that even you don’t know.”

“Oh yeah you got me!” Jaya sarcastically responded. “I’m in denial about the Hero of Umbara’s existence because somehow him not existing allows me to pursue some hidden agenda that I have.”

“There, I knew she’d come around eventually,” Bado said to the other three Padawans.

There was a very long and uncomfortable silence stretching over the next thirty seconds. Finally, Arthur decided to break that silence.

“Sooo…” Arthur began. “Since we’re talking about lightsaber combat legends, how are you all doing in your lightsaber combat training?”

“My Master’s having me study some Makashi techniques so my application of Djem So will be more precise,” Setawin squealed, being the first to respond.

“I’m still studying Makashi,” Jaya replied. “And I’m still studying Ataru,” Bado replied. Both responses came at the exact same time.

“I’m actually considering studying Trakata,” Bado added on. “It seems like a useful and overlooked application of the lightsaber.

“I’m still studying Niman,” Jaira replied “Although… I would like to engage in some quarterstaff training, perhaps learn to wield a saberstaff.”

“Ah yes,” Arthur replied, knowing that she was curious to try out the lightsaber variant of the weapon she had utilized as a Lightor soldier back on Innamorta. He wasn’t exactly sure why, but he guessed that kind of combat held some sort of an appeal for her.

“And what about you Arthur?” Jaira asked. “Anything new in your lightsaber training?”

“As a matter of fact, yes Jaira,” Arthur replied. “After I sparred with Master Mongooku today, he told me he was going to teach me Niman some time soon.”

“Niman?!” Setawin asked. “I thought that was just a watered down form used by all the consulars who wanted an easy way to learn lightsaber combat. Oh! No offense Jaira!”

Arthur watched Jaira turn towards the young Gamorrean and smile. “None taken,” she replied.

“Master Mongooku’s primary form is Niman,” Arthur replied. “And he’s easily the best duelist in the entire order, after Master Ilu that is.”

“So why specifically does he want to train you in Niman?” Setawin asked.

“He thinks its versatility would suit my adaptability and improvisation in combat well,” Arthur replied. “He extensively complimented me on those two things during our duel.”

“Who knows?” Jaira interjected. “Maybe Arthur will become the next Hero of Umbara!”

“Yeah!” Bado replied. “He can become a complete technical expert, master all seven forms of lightsaber combat, and defeat Grand Master Mongooku in a lightsaber duel less than three years after being knighted. Then, two thousand years later, some know it all Jedi Padawan will deny your existence!”

Jaya shot Bado a look of exasperation and rolled her eyes as he stuck his tongue out playfully. “You’re never going to stop badgering me about this are you?” she asked.

“Nope,” Bado replied. “Not until you accept the Hero of Umbara into your heart.”

With that remark, all five Padawans burst into uproarious laughter, trying to cover their mouths with their hands, in order to avoid disturbing the other Jedi in the archives. Back on Innamorta, Arthur had only had one real friend, and that was Jaira. Now, Arthur had five friends, and he would do anything to protect them, because he knew they’d do the same for him.

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