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Old 02-08-2006, 11:25 PM   #72
Flamehart
The Commander
 
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Join Date: May 2002
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Chapter 6
A Time for Healing and Bruises



Strider was more than relieved to be back at the Jedi Temple. He had spent a maximum of three days in the medical center, and was already back on his feet. Jayde was impressed, and scheduled their first training session for the next week. Strider agreed to it, and spent much of his time meditating and relaxing his body in preparation for the training.


At the first day of the next week, they had their first training session. They met in the training chamber early in the morning. The shutters were closed, but Strider had seen on the way there that the sun hadn’t risen from the horizon yet. Strider yawned. He would have much rather slept in, but waking up early wouldn’t limit his performance at all. He was still a bit disoriented as well; his hair was a mess, and he was still trying to straighten out his Jedi robes as he walked into the chamber. His eyes seemed half open, and he didn’t appear very attentive.

Jayde raised her eyebrow when she saw the groggy, messily dressed Strider walk into the room. “You sure you’re still capable of training, Strider?” she asked him with an amused tone.

Strider shrugged, “I can manage,” he said simply.

Jayde laughed slightly, “I mean, I already knew you were going to get floored, but this makes it almost too easy,” she jested.

If Strider could have raised his eyelids higher at the challenge, he would have. He shot back, “You don’t know that, Master. I’ll have you know I’m even more deadly when I’m half asleep,” he said as confidently as he could in his tired tone.

Jayde smiled. “Right,” she replied. She crossed to her side of the room. Suddenly her attitude shifted on the dime. Again. “Okay now listen up. Today you’ll learn some basic defensive moves. Basically, I’m going to teach you how to take your opponent’s attack and turn it against them. This consists of simple blocks and throws,” she explained. “Take your first shot Strider,” she instructed.

Strider raised one eyebrow. He was still half asleep, and merely walked forward and threw a simple punch, not with much force, but enough to work with.

Before he knew it, his arm was in Jayde’s grip and the next second he saw the ceiling, then shortly after he felt his back collide with the ground of the training room. Strider grunted and got back up. “Well…that woke me up,” he thought to himself. He swiftly got up and did a spinning kick. Jayde shifted her foot slightly, catching Strider’s foot with ease. Strider rolled his eyes and rolled backwards, then moved to a standing position. He ran forward and punched twice at Jayde. Jayde blocked the first strike, and then grabbed the second. She twisted his arm, turned, and flipped him over her shoulder.

However, Strider managed to catch on. He landed on his feet, then after freeing his arm delivered a backward kick. Jayde took a few steps back and the kick stopped just short of her, she grabbed it and jerked back, wrenching Strider from his feet and landing him back on his back. Strider let out a grunt as he felt his back once again become acquainted with the floor.

“If she wasn’t a girl and if she couldn’t mop the floor with me…I’d have so run her off by now like the other masters,” he thought to himself.

Jayde sighed. “Strider, stand up,” she ordered.

Strider, just in spite, stayed on the ground a bit longer. “I think you broke my back, master,” he said humorously, then started to get up.

Jayde shook her head, then looked at him, “Strider, hit me,” she said simply.
Strider blinked. “She’s gotta be kidding,” he thought. “You’re joking, right?” he asked her. Jayde simply shook her head. Strider let out a sigh, not exactly quite expecting this, and threw a punch straight for Jayde’s face.

His fist stopped short half an inch from her face, his arm had plenty of room to extend farther, but it wouldn’t, as if he was stopped by something unseen.

Jayde shrugged. “Figured as much…Try again,” she said concisely.

So again, Strider attempted to hit her, and again, and again. Each time, it seemed as if something was stopping him from fully making contact with her, and she did not budge nor flinch. Strider then decided to get smart, and replied to his master, “Okay, well this isn’t working, how about you try hitting me?” he suggested. Jayde rolled her eyes.

Jayde’s arm had moved in a flash, almost evident only by the sound of her fist contacting with Strider’s chest, sending him back into the wall with such unbelievable force. Strider let out a groan of pain. “Well…that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped…” he grunted.

Jayde laughed slightly, then explained to him, “Strider, were there any morals your parents taught you that stuck to you?”

Strider shook his head in an attempt to reorient himself, then thought about it, flashing back to his past.

Strider is in his house, being scolded by his mother regarding his “conduct” towards a female around his own age. She’s giving him one of those good morals speeches, telling him about being a gentleman, not being rough with women, among other things. The kind of talks Strider usually doesn’t like listening to, even at that age. At this age, as it was prior to him joining the Jedi Order, he didn’t comprehend its importance whatsoever. It wasn’t until he had made friends in the Order that happened to be female, that he understood its significance.

Jayde was able to see him searching his mind, awaited his answer patiently

Strider broke his silence, and replied, “Its silly…my mother raised me not to be rough towards the opposite gender. That can’t be it though, you asked me too, so I shoul-…”

Jayde interrupted, and finished for him, “Shouldn’t be able to do anything to me. Your morals are holding you back. You’re refusing to do what I ask because your upbringing conflicts with it. Nothing wrong with it, it’s not a bad thing at all. Just know that as a Jedi, you’ll have to learn to be a bit more impartial to the opposite gender in a potentially challenging situation. Now, let’s change the stakes a little, and see what happens to those morals given the situation changing.” She unhooked her lightsaber from her belt and activated the blade.

Strider’s eyes widened, “Hey now, let’s not be rash,” he replied, “Jayde I’m sure there’s a better way of getting a point across than with a live blade!” he exclaimed, moving back. Jayde moved forward and struck forward with her lightsaber.

It was almost as if suddenly, everything Strider believed in that moment vanished from his mind. Strider’s reflexes were automatic. As soon as the blade came at him, he moved just to the side, grabbed her hand, and elbowed her in the stomach. Jayde let out a shout of surprise and pain. Strider’s foot hooked around the back of her leg and jerked back, pulling it up. He then swiftly moved it around to the front and kicked down on the same leg while it was up, knocking her to one knee. Strider kicked to the side, knocking her blade out of her hand and sending it tattering across the floor. He breathed hard and stepped back quickly away from Jayde, surprised by how he reacted.

“What did I just do…?” Strider asked, stunned by his own actions.

Jayde held her stomach as she stood back up, and replied, “Apparently, if your life is on the line, the morals step aside and let you do your work, I see. Although you didn’t seem quite sure of what you were doing, you did do what you had to in order to disarm me.”

Strider took slow breaths, then looked at her, and then said in a “smart” tone, “Well how does that help me? I mean after all, if I can’t hit you when I’m not in danger, which means I‘m screwed if I’m fighting a female in hand to hand.”

Jayde shrugged, “You have to simply convince yourself that your opponent’s own hands are deadly enough weapons, then. You saw what I did to you with one blow,” she concluded. “Try again,” she offered.

Strider struck again, knowing full well he was able to hit her now. His fist was about to contact when Jayde blocked and countered with a strike of her own. Strider blocked and backed away. Jayde nodded, seeing Strider was able to put her suggestion into use, “I think that’ll conclude today’s lesson. You seem to be catching on incredibly faster than I expected, we’ll try a sparring session later this week to see how fast you can catch on,” she stated to him, patting him on the shoulder. “Go get some rest now, I woke you up rather early,” she said. As she walked out, she waved her hand in the direction of the window shutters. They slid open, revealing that the sun was just barely coming over the horizon now. Strider groaned, just now realizing exactly how early he had gotten up.

As soon as Jayde left the room, using the Force to levitate and recall her lightsaber back to her hand, Strider turned to look out the window for a moment. He gazed in the direction of the slowly rising sun, watching its light slowly illuminate the tall, magnificent structures of Coruscant. He turned around and looked into the training room, and thought of something. “Might as well, while I’m awake,” he said to himself. He walked into the middle of the room, waving his hands at the shutters and closing them with the Force. The room was dark once again. He ignited his lightsaber, it’s blade shimmering a navy blue in the dark room, and then spoke loud and clear, “Activate lightsaber training drones. Start training session number twenty-five, difficulty number ninety-two. Increase difficulty with each successful session completion.”

The computer replied to his request. “Record the score?”

“Yes.”

“Difficulty levels set unusually high. Consequence of failure may be severe burns and require a trip to the infirmary, are you sure you wish to continue, Jedi?”

“Yes.”

Seventeen drones appeared in the room, each one equipped with rapid firing blasters.

Strider pulled a cloth from inside his tunic and wrapped it around his eyes, blindfolding himself. Once again he heard the computer’s voice chime in.

“You wish to do this test blindfolded, Jedi?” the computer-intercom voice asked.

“Yes.”

“Deactivating room lights, initializing stealth protocols on drones,” finished the computer’s voice.

The lights shut off. Strider couldn’t even make out the glow of his lightsaber through his blindfold. He closed his eyes, simply to remove the temptation to remove his blindfold, and held his weapon ready, waiting for the first strike. He concentrated, immersing his mind in the Force. The feeling it presented when he did so was always awe-inspiring to him. It felt almost as if his reflexes and senses were increased by a hundredfold. He could hear the slight sound of the drones floating around him, and knew exactly where each of them was positioned. Finally, after what felt like an eternity of waiting, the first blaster bolt was ejected from a drone on his left. His lightsaber moved swiftly to deflect it, knocking it back at the drone it came from. The drone didn’t expect the response time from Strider, and was destroyed. He smirked slightly in satisfaction at the sound; however this caused him to be drawn out of his sense of concentration. The other droids’ stealth protocols indicated that this action meant that their stealth maneuvers were useless, and the droids began opening fire from different directions.

This was the part Strider was waiting for. He went back into his state of concentration. Once again he felt the overwhelming feeling of his senses sharpening and reflexes quickening. Strider seemed to step foot into time itself; everything had slowed to a crawl, while he moved at almost standard speed. His blade met each low-powered blaster bolt as it arrived slowly, knocking the blasts all away effortlessly.

From the droid’s perspective and from the recording camera’s perspective as well, the scene was quite different. Strider was seen moving at what seemed an impossible speed to block each blast as they came, not having to move but a little from his current position to block each one. On the recording, and to the droids, he was moving so fast to block, it almost left afterimages of his hands in their previous location to deflect the previous bolt. More and more drones came to replace the ones that fell, the computer chiming in to say what difficulty level he had achieved with each completion. He progressed to difficulty number ninety-six before lightsaber-wielding drones were dispatched as well as the blaster ones.

Although he couldn’t see his opponents to know that’s what he was up against, he was able to hear the sound of multiple lightsaber ignitions, coming from objects without a life Force. He was able to piece together the sounds with a mental image of the training room in his head, and knew where each droid was. Strider hadn’t quite considered he’d be up against these kinds of opponents, but thought of it as another challenge to overcome. As one droid began to strike at him with a training lightsaber, he realized he had to not only block that, but then deflect the bolts of most likely anywhere between ten to twenty turret drones, then about three to four lightsaber strikes from lightsaber droids.

However, he was ready for it. He blocked the lightsaber droid’s blow, moved his blade with incredible speed to deflect bolts coming from two different directions, back flipped to avoid another strike from the first drone, then at last whirled around and sliced hard, disabling a second lightsaber wielding droid. He could feel the sweat drenching his robes. He was getting tired, and fast. He deflected more bolts, and then spun around to block two blows from the first lightsaber droid again. He leapt over the droid and slashed backwards, cutting the droid down, and then brought his blade back up swiftly to deflect shots in all directions, taking down the remainder of the drones.

As Strider requested at the beginning, the difficulty level raised and more started to appear, but consequently, Strider was starting to grow weary. He wasn’t able to move as fast, his body was tiring, his muscles aching. He managed to deflect several blasts, but was now forced to resort to rolls or other evasive maneuvers to avoid them. However, he was determined to finish this training. His breathing was heavy; his chest rising and falling slowly, appearing to be crushed by concrete on his shoulders. After another evasive roll and some deflective swings, he lifted his sweat drenched body to his feet.

“Relax Strider... Breathe... You can do this...” he told himself in his head. There was a part of him he had to reach. When faced with the strength devouring effects of fatigue, there was somewhere in his body where fatigue would never reach until tapped into. It was like an inner core within him, swelling with untapped and reserved energy. He searched inside himself until he found it.

It felt now as if he had stepped in front of a giant fan powered by turbolift engines. He started to feel what seemed to be a refreshing, cool sensation swell inside his body, his veins felt cooled and his blood as if turned to ice. His body moved with renewed energy, deflecting bolts and decapitating drones. Another hour passed, and finally Strider collapsed onto both of his knees, his lightsaber deactivated, and nearly ripped the cloth blindfold away from his eyes. The computer registered this as a queue to end the training program, and did so automatically.

A transparent holographic screen shot up to the ceiling and spanned horizontally before Strider. It showed the top recorded training scores from the temple’s records, which most never exceeded past difficulty level 40. The computer scrolled to the top of the list and began keying in his name and record.

Time Duration: 3 Hours, 30 minutes, 27 seconds.
Student
Strider F.
Training #
Final Test (#25)
Start Difficulty Level
Level 92
End Difficulty Level
Level 100 (Final)
Score: 100% Completed. Time Per Level = Approx. 26.30 Minutes
Combat Rating: S
Defense Rating: S
Efficiency Rating: S
Technique Rating: S

Strider let out a breath. Finally, after all his training, he’d achieved the level he wanted to be at; straight S ratings across the board. His body was now exhausted, his energy reserves were depleted. His breathing was uneven, and his voice was weak as he spoke to the computer. “Save session under my training regimen…I wish to train under these conditions again at a later time.”

The computer replied in an emotionless tone, “Training session saved. Is there anything else, Jedi Flamehart?”

“That’ll be all,” he replied. He stood up, barely managing to bring himself back to his feet. His legs felt like rubber, and his arms felt like every muscle and bone had been surgically removed and replaced with some sort of mush.

As he went back to his room, his body heat felt as if it was starting to feel the equivalent of the surface of Mustafar. He thought this would be a long week, consisting of healing and bruising, at the same time. When he got to his room, he dropped on his bed and instantly fell asleep.

Strider awoke a few hours later, the sun was now up, and the breakfast meal would be served soon. He got up and dressed into his robes, noticing a few bruises from being thrown around by his master, and a few burns from his training session. He straightened everything out and waved his hand at the door, opening it, as he picked up his lightsaber from his nightstand.

Strider walked out the door and looked around at the empty hall. Most of the students probably had already started making their way towards the mess hall. He went to the lift that would take him to the right floor. He opened the metallic silver turbolift when it arrived and stepped in. Just as he was about to close it he saw a fellow student trying to rush to the lift. Strider pressed a button and the sliding door froze in place and slowly eased back. The fellow trainee nodded thanks to Strider and stepped in.

The apprentice was about 17 years old, shoulder length brown hair, hazel eyes, and a slim build. The explanation for the availability of a description was obvious. Strider had been paying attention to her. Her name was Cylia, and he remembered her from working with her on several occasions before, when the Council had paired Sylvia and her master with Jayde and him.

Cylia smiled at Strider, and then said softly, “Thank you for waiting…The other turbolift is a good running distance from my room, and I didn’t want to have to go all the way to the other side of the student dorms to get to it.”

Strider nodded, and replied, his voice sounding somewhat tired still, “No problem, Cylia. I know how that is, I’ve had to do that a few times myself.” As the turbolift ascended, there was a discomforting silence between the two of them. For some odd reason, it felt awkward for him to be standing alone in the turbolift with her, but on many occasion during missions they were split up from their masters. They were often left alone together to solve things by themselves on their end and things always seemed to work naturally between them, but for some odd reason things were never quite comfortable or natural between the two of them outside of a mission or training
environment.

“You sound a little tired, did you not get any sleep?” she asked curiously.

“I got sleep, it’s just…well, let’s just say a rough training session I had the other day…kinda wiped me out a bit,” he said, trying to avoid the topic. She had gotten onto him before when he had started his rigorous training schedule about how it wasn’t “healthy for his physique,” and he shouldn’t push himself so hard. Just then, though, he remembered something.

There was also another strange occurrence that happened each time they ran into each other alone in the temple… Like a curse, a coincidence, or possibly just the mysterious workings of the Force.

“Guess we’re going to be assigned to another mission together,” said Cylia, in an attempt to break the silence between the two of them as the turbolift continued traveling from the student dorms to the mess hall. That’s what the strange occurence was: Every time they ran into each other, outside of training that is, they ended up being called together with their masters to meet in the council chamber, and were assigned a cooperative mission of some kind.

“Maybe it was just coincidence all those times…”

“Strider, it’s happened twelve-…”

“Thirteen,” Strider corrected, turning his head to look at her.

Cylia rolled her eyes and continued, “Okay, thirteen, but my point is, things don’t coincidentally happen thirteen times. I’m pretty sure the Force is doing it intentionally, bringing us together before each mission so we know what to expect later in our day.

“Well, that could be it, I mean, we are in a Jedi Temple, and this is the Force we’re talking about here. This turbolift could freeze in this shaft, we get a call from the Council telling us Sith are raiding the temple, and I wouldn’t bat an eyelash,” he stated hypothetically.

“Careful Strider, could possibly well happen, tomorrow is never a promise,” she replied in a solemn tone.

“Oh c’mon, now you’re sounding like my master…” Strider said.

“I’m serious Strider…you say that lightly, but with current situations that could very well likely happen. You know better than I that one has to expect the unexpected,” she said to him.

Her tone was much more serious, now, Strider noted, and he changed his attitude about the whole thing. The last thing he needed was to end up on bad terms with Cylia before going on a mission later that day with her. “I understand what you’re saying, Cylia. But I mean, everyone’s been so edgy since the Jedi and Sith war started, I’m just trying not to be like every other moody person around here. Yes I know we’ve lost a lot of good Jedi, yes I know it’s been hard times lately, but being upset about the whole thing solves nothing.”

“So you don’t mourn the deaths of your fallen allies?” she asked, looking at him harshly.
Strider sighed, knowing this conversation wasn’t going the way he wanted it to, and replied back, “I do, but I don’t show it on the outside, because mourning solves nothing. We can’t let their death be in vain by standing around crying about our losses.”

Cylia’s expression seemed to soften. “I see what you’re getting at. I’m sorry,” she said in a low tone.

The turbolift came to a halt. Strider let Cylia step out first then followed, and responded to her apology, “Don’t be…I heard about what happened to a lot of our friends, and I understand that it’s hard, but I’ve always been one to keep moving and make things.” He paused to think of an example, then continued, “Why else do you think you nag at me all the time when we come to a point where we have to stop and think about what we have to do next before acting?”

Cylia smiled at this reminder. They proceeded to getting their morning meal and sitting at a table. Sure enough, halfway to their meal they were sent a message on their comlinks telling them to meet their masters in the Council Chambers after they finished their meal. Cylia looked up at Strider and asked, “This time, will you listen to me instead of bursting into a room of fifty-five Sith Soldiers and trying to make up our combat strategy as we go?”

Strider chuckled as he remembered this event vividly. What a magnificent battle it was too. Although he took out most of them, Cylia had her fair share of kills too. She was relatively powerful in Force powers, not a lightsaber combatant, and had used several protective Force techniques that he had never seen nor heard of before. Her master was mostly a Force user, and she learned a lot of what she knew from him, but never focused as much on lightsaber combat as she did on study of different applications of the Force. She had to learn several lightsaber techniques from Strider in training sessions. When she wasn’t conjuring Force miracles in that battle, she was combating the Sith side by side with Strider.

“I guess I’ll try not to jump to conclusions so often,” he said, smiling at Cylia. He received a rolling eyes response, and merely just grinned and shook his head. They stood up as they finished their meal, and went to the council chambers to see what was needed of them.

As they arrived, their masters were waiting outside. They both bowed respectfully to their masters, and before long were asked to enter the Council Chamber.

Strider had been inside the Council Chamber many a time, but the view from this tower never ceased to amaze him. Along the walls of the chamber were large spanned windows, giving an incredible view of the skyline of Coruscant. The reflection of the sun off the towering skyscrapers of the city, and the outstanding glimmer of the shining metal of the Senate building were breathtaking. The masters and their padawans walked to the center of the chamber and both bowed. The Council members acknowledged them and they stood back up straight. Strider tried not to be distracted by the brilliant spectator view of the outside architecture of Coruscant, and drew his focus to the topic at hand.


“Once again, you two will be assigned on a cooperative mission. You will be assigned to the planet of Secerros,” said one of the masters.

“It’s a small planet just within Republic regions. They submitted a petition to join the Republic earlier this year, and now that finally their inauguration is occurring, there is some instability on the planet about whether or not the citizens want to follow through or not,” spoke another to Strider’s left. “Your job is to go there to keep the peace. Not silence the resistance, just keep the peace. If you must, to get the resistance to calm down, try to persuade them with the benefits of joining the Republic. If the political leader there decides to withdraw their decision to join, then you are to return here. Nothing more we can do.”

“You’re sending us on a diplomatic mission?” Cylia asked, “Is there something else?”

“A wise question,” spoke one of the other council members. “We believe the resistance that is attempting to prevent the planet’s inauguration into the Republic may possibly be allied with the Sith. It is just suspicion and speculation at this point. The resistance is mostly youth, which caught our attention when we received this report. The Sith most likely target the younger audiences, ranging from children to teens, simply because they’re easier to turn to the lures of the Dark Side. The easiest way to infiltrate and find out what is really going on, would be to allow your apprentice, Master Averre, and yours, Master Vien, to “join” the resistance and gather intelligence from the inside. You two will focus on the political leaders and keeping the peace. It is likely the pair of you will encounter each other at one time or another…”

“So we’ll have to act as if we have no former acquaintance with each other,” finished Strider, anticipating what was coming next.

The master nodded, “Yes, your masters must act as if they’ve never seen you before when around the other resistance members. This is a risk, as you can only imagine what may have to occur, so take caution. This is a risky mission, and the political fate of the planet rests on your actions. Your ship leaves in one week. You have the time until then to train, prepare, and rest. May the Force be with all of you.”
Strider and Cylia, along with their Masters, all replied, “May the Force be with you also,” and bowed. They then left the room and headed to the lifts.

Jayde turned immediately to talk to Strider, “We have one week…we’ll spend some more days training with melee, since you obviously won’t be able to draw your lightsaber on Secerros without giving away your allegiance with the Republic. We’ll have another session tonight, alright?”

Strider merely shrugged, already knowing he wasn’t getting another alternative, and so he voiced that opinion. “Not like you’re giving me much of a choice, Master,” he stated with some humor in his tone.

Jayde merely smirked and replied, “Good observation, my apprentice. You’re right, there isn’t much of one.”

Cylia laughed softly, and looked over at Strider and said, “Good luck, try not to get too many bruises.”

Strider just shrugged at this, he didn’t seem so enthusiastic about it, but at the same time, he wasn’t disproving of it either. He was rather exhausted, was all, from his morning training exercise, and didn’t know how well he’d perform. He turned to look towards his master, and was quite startled to see her penetrating green eyes gazing directly at him. He tried to suppress his surprise and merely inquired, “Yes Master?”

Just then, the elevator door opened at Master Vien and Cylia’s stop. They both exited the lift, bidding the other two Jedi farewells and leaving out of sight. The lift then continued to the next stop for Jayde and Strider.

“Nothing…It’s just, your bearing, demeanor, and posture; you seem exhausted. We didn’t train for that long last night. You’re not having any sleeping problems are you?” she asked worriedly.

Strider quickly shook his head. He sighed slightly, the burden of his crack of dawn training session now heavy on his chest. “After you left I thought it would be an opportune moment to try and catch up on some of my lightsaber technique and training,” he said, “I’d previously been doing unrecorded matches so no one would know how severely and how roughly I was training myself, but last night I did a recorded one just to see just how much my training paid off…” he trailed off.

Jayde immediately changed the course of the turbolift. Before long, they were back in the training center. Strider sighed, knowing exactly what she was going to do. She exited the lift, with an extraordinarily long and powerful stride.

“Oh man... What’s she gonna think of it? She’s oddly quiet all of a sudden, and a stride like that can’t be a very good sign... I’m screwed,” Strider thought.

Jayde stepped into the middle of the room. Strider walked in as well, but stood a bit of a distance away. The shutters were open now that it was daytime. He took a moment to admire the view outside, just to take his mind briefly off whatever was to come next. It wasn’t as splendorous as the view from the Council Chamber, but still permitted an outstanding view of the city.

Jayde waved a hand towards a console on the wall. Within moments, a large holographic screen appeared before her. “Show most recent training score results,” she commanded. The images and characters on the holographic screen began moving fast, going through the system and bringing up the results. The results showed the bottom most score, and started scrolling up. “Show me the top 10 scores,” she stated. Immediately, the holographic screen scrolled up and slightly expanded to show all 10 names. Strider’s name rested in its abode at the top of the list. The score was unbelievably higher than the rest before it, and Jayde couldn’t believe it. Since there was no record of his previous training sessions, it almost looked like his unbelievably high score was due to tampering of files. Jayde turned and set her leveling gaze at Strider. “Did you honestly earn this score, or did you tamper with the system, Strider?”

Strider blinked. This wasn’t something he was exactly expecting, but now that he looked at it, he couldn’t say he blamed her. His score was unusually high. He answered as honestly as he could, “I earned the score, Master. I did not tamper with the system whatsoever.”

Jayde let out an exasperated breath. Strider could see in her expression that she believed him, but she just wasn’t quite sure what to think. “Does the Council know?” she asked slowly.

“No, Master. I did this session shortly after we finished our melee training. The computer should still have a recorded video of the actual session,” replied Strider, trying to back up his testimony.

“Video can be altered. I’m afraid if the Council gets wind of this…they’re going to have to ask you to repeat the training run,” she said.

Strider let out a heavy sigh. He didn’t think he had the energy to, but he knew she was right…


Jayde addressed the council about the issue at hand as soon as possible. Just as she predicted, they judged it would be best if he repeated the trial to prove validity of the event occurring. They were able to sense Strider’s weakness as if it was a slowly degenerating spirit. He was exhausted, and they could tell he must have pulled off some extraordinary feat to drain him so. “We’ll hold the session two days from now to allow Strider to rest. If you’re going to give him any training, Master Averre, do it today. He’ll need the rest of the time to recuperate if he’s going to repeat such a feat,” said one of the masters.

Jayde nodded in agreement. After the meeting, she then told Strider to meet her in the training room in two hours. Strider nodded and took the lift down to the student dorms. On his way to his room, he saw Cylia walking his way in the corner of his eye.

“Strider!” she called, “I heard that you had to go to the council for something. Is everything okay?” she asked worriedly.

Strider managed to nod a little. He didn’t exactly like the idea of repeating the training exercise, and he did look a little pale at just fathoming the thought of having to do it again. He was able to bring forth a reply in the form of a weak voice, “Yeah…everything’s fine…” He handed her a data disk, on it containing a hard copy of his training video. “My master took me for some hand to hand combat training early this morning…after we finished, I decided to do some different training of my own. Well they think that after seeing my results that the records could’ve possibly been tampered with since it was an “unsupervised” session. The video is on that dis-…”

Before he could even finish that sentence, Cylia grabbed the sleeve of his tunic and dragged him to her dorm. She let go and entered her room, coming back out later with a holographic projector, and then inserted the data disk. The video playback showed the intensity of the training session. She played it on fast, so they could get through it quickly, but even at that speed it was evident to see the punishment

Strider had put himself through to accomplish this feat. Her eyes were slightly wide, her face tense. Her head slowly lifted to look back at Strider, her hands losing the grip on the holographic projector and the disk shaped object fell to the ground with a rattling clang.

“Cylia?” Strider inquired in a low tone. His eyes were filled with worry, and quite frightened at what her next possible reaction would be. “Please don’t let her be angry for pushing myself like that...” he thought to himself.

She looked back up at him, “You pushed yourself this hard…and now…they want you to repeat it to prove you did it?” she asked incredulously.

“That’s…pretty much the idea,” he responded wearily.

“But…why? Can they not sense you are not lying?” she inquired.

“I would assume they could, but seeing is believing, I guess they say,” he replied.

“Strider…it’s suicide!” she exclaimed.

“I did it once…I can do it again,” he replied rather emotionlessly. Strider started to turn away and head back to his dorm. Suddenly though, he felt almost frozen in place by something, as if some sort of electric charge had suddenly passed from his right shoulder to both of his legs, immobilizing his feet. He turned his head slightly and saw Cylia’s hand on his shoulder.

“You push yourself too hard Strider…you don’t have to prove anything, I mean, you know you did it, why prove it to them?” Cylia asked. “It’s a simple training session.
Nothing drastically important,” she added.

“Because by not showing them after they’ve become suspicious about tampering, it would make them think their system was possibly vulnerable and I managed to get into it. It’s more trouble I get into than it’s worth,” he explained.

Strider turned around to look at Cylia face to face. His liquid blue eyes met with Cylia’s hazel eyes, unable to meet his gaze and seemed to tremble shyly.

“I just…I’m worried. I’ve seen you do amazing things Strider, and there are times I just wonder how all that power hasn’t gone to your head yet…surprised you haven’t become consumed by your own impressive ability…I’m worried that you’re doing this out of pride, for your reputation, not to prove you did it,” she said sullenly, lowering her head slightly after.

Strider blinked. He never thought of it this way, and he could see how she could see it from that point of view. Thoughts begin to swell in his head, questioning his own reasons for desiring to re-demonstrate his ability to complete the training session.

“Am I really doing this for proof? Or am I becoming full of myself because of my abilities? Surely it’s not pride...maybe impulsive behavior...but not pride.”

He came to his own answer, and placed both of his hands on Cylia’s shoulders. This seemed to set off something in her head, as her face seemed to jerk back up as fast as a turbolift. She looked up at him, her eyes filled with a sort of fear for his choice.
“This isn’t about pride or my reputation. It’s to simply prove I could, and did, do it,” he explained reassuringly. “Now, as for impulse, I can’t say my decision isn’t impulsive. You know me, it might possibly be,” he said jokingly with a smile.

Cylia nodded at his response, and smiled upon hearing his jest. Then suddenly, her arms flew around Strider and gripped him tightly. “Thank you, Strider. I’m sorry for doubting, I knew you’d make the right decision.” Her arms released him and she backed off, her face flushed to a scarlet color. “Sorry,” she said quickly.

Strider didn’t take the embrace to mean anything, given how close friends they were, and just smiled in response. “No need to be sorry. Thank you for saying that, actually. I never really saw it from that perspective,” he replied thankfully.

* * * * * * *




Check out my fictional novel writing project, Immortal Judgement, at my dA page.
http://shadowwolf471.deviantart.com
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