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"Humanoid physiology hasn’t changed very much over the last ten thousand years.” Draygo waited for… something other than hesitation, but that turquoise blade just remained still, wavering perceptibly in the grip of uncertain hands. Freezing up wasn’t unusual for a trainee who had just been ordered to turn their weapon on a living creature--even on one who was entirely capable of defending herself. That was the entire point of drill: to supplement a panicky mind with useful instincts until the mind had the time to catch up and execute a conscious plan. The veteran Jedi took the first steps, advancing a meter with her own blade angled towards the young man’s carotid.

 

Genesis would have two courses of action: to bat away the advancing tip of her blade or to simply step out of its line. The novice choice was typically the latter and Armiena deftly brought her blade back to an offensive guard, the point of the incandescent blade only centimeters away from probing his own guard. What followed was a classical exchange of blows that could be reproduced in any duelist’s manual: stroke and counterstroke matched by circular sidesteps that could have been performed to music. The only complication was the uneven hull of McShipface and the many protruding ribs of its cargo hold.

 

“Shii-Cho is a useful foundation for swordplay. Even the masters need practice in the fundamentals. But most Jedi find it insufficient and focus on the more offensive Makashi, or defensive Soresu--or the acrobatic Ataru.” With that last comment, Draygo performed a spinning leap over her opponent, swiping his guard away with a strike from her forward flip. Upon landing on the hull plating, the veteran Jedi took a half-step back and tapped her apprentice just under the armpit with the unignited end of her lightstaff.

 

“That…” Armiena said, wincing just a little at the overexertion. “Was not Shii-Cho.”

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It didn't take long for my question to be given an answer, her form stepping toward me feverishly and hasteful. Twirling my blade in my hand out of sheer instinct, i brought up before my gaze and shifted my weight into my dominant heel, spinning out of her initial attack and turning back to face her in full circle. There was confusion in my gaze, perhaps even a hint of my rather not having to face her even in training. But she was as relentless in her pursuit as the Kath Hounds I've known my entire life. So I was forced into the defensive. 

 

Sparks erupted with each use of the blade's edge to block another attack, sweat bearing down into my eye causing it to sting and burn and water, using my weight to shift me from side to side to evade blows when I couldn't block. Even my breathing labored as fatigue began to set in along side my reluctance. But I pushed myself forward still, hinging on the balance between my will and my need. If I was truly to walk this Galaxy as a Jedi, I must become a Jedi in both mind and body.

 

I had to admit though, her last move before I felt her unignited blade tap me under my arm was slightly mesmerizing, a good bit of coolness emanating from it just as it had the night before when I performed a similar move upon the Kath Hounds that attacked me. Hearing her words, I sighed with subtle relief and deactivated my own. And I turned to face her, the gaze in my eyes still showing a semblance of unease as it shifted from my weapon to her.

 

"So there are many forms?" I questioned more i proclaimed, my mind wondering to which one would fit me best. "Which one works best with the curved hilt I chose?"


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"At least thirteen that I can think of," Armiena answered. Her right knee, not quite up to the prolonged physical exertion, was beginning to tremble from overuse. But she kept her voice steady, despite the fact that the color had flushed from her face. “And a few weird contingencies and one that most sapients are anatomically incapable of using. But you might as well ask a programmer what language is best. A good oneinevitably learns multiple over the course of their career and adapts as necessary.”

 

The veteran Jedi paused to take a deep breath and straighten from her crouch. With a sharp tug, she wrenched the two halves of her lightstaff apart and returned the offhand to her belt. “The answer is Makashi. The Jedi developed the form in a time when they expected to be fighting--and fighting people armed with lightsabers or other blades. You see a number of techniques that a curved hilt is better suited for--range control, using the tip of the blade for parries and disabling strikes. It’s very economical of motion, relies more on precise bladework and maneuvering than physical power.”

 

“And I’m lousy at it.” But Armiena soldiered on, determined to at least demonstrate the basics of the form to her Padawan. She took care to demonstrate the subtle difference in grip that Makashi demanded--slightly higher on the hilt, with the thumb facing upwards rather than cradling the hilt. That grip wasn’t quite as secure as her preferred Djem So, but it allowed for more nuanced control of the blade.

 

And then the sparring lesson continued, Armiena struggling to demonstrate how, with even subtle variations of blade angle right leverage, a duelist could wildly deflect a blow or even outright disarm an opponent by winding their blade around a poorly-aimed thrust. This time, however, the supposed Master clearly uneasy with a fighting style that wasn’t merely unfamiliar, but outright unpalatable--so much so that after trying to place her left hand on the hilt for a second time, she forced her hand to her hip and gripped the belt.

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"Makashi..." I spoke to myself as I glanced down upon the hilt, grasping it loosely against the palm of my hand with my thumb near the top as a means of guidence. Twirling the blade, I could see what she meant, the ease of the control, the fluidity of the movements, almost as if an extension of my own arm. "I see."

 

I stepped into position beside her, my gaze following her movements and allowing my form to mimic hers, stepping to the front with my dominant foot to the rear, and quickly using it retreat after. It was elegant, almost tasteful, the movements, parries, and thrusts.

 

But I couldn't help but notice that it could lead to so much more with practice, like learning to dance by following the base footwork and then improvising once it's been learnt by heart. And the most important part, was it felt natural to me, almost as if it called to my heart. And that alone eased my mind of using such a weapon.

 

And in that realization, I excelled. Soon I was moving ahead of Master Armiena at an invisible opponent, swatting their blades away, twisting around upon my heels, using feints to catch them off guard before quickly attacking with shallow cuts. But the most notable was the fact that I was drawn into using my form acrobatically, both as an extension of the blade and the blade an extension of my self. And in the final blow toward my opponent, I came into a spin, my blade against their invisible blade, and as I came out, I dropped the blade from my dominant hand into my off hand behind me and finished them with a well met slice to the torso.

 

I stood, deactivating my blade and clipping it to my hip. I turned with a chuckle, wiping the sweat from upon my face and had to catch my breath through my speaking, quite embarrassed. "Forgive me Master. I don't know what came over me."


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Draygo sprang back a step the moment that inspiration took her Padawan and consigned herself to the role of watchful instructor. Resting on her haunches and allowing the hilt of her lightsaber to dangle lightly from the tips of her fingers, she watched the motions of Genesis’ feet, hips, and back. Seeming to never blink, she occasionally frowned--more than any other Form, Makashi demanded exquisite control of the blade more than kinetic power. Only a critical observer could catch those minute shifts in balance.

 

“That spin is a moment of peril. If a skilled opponent sees that coming, there’ll be two of you on the floor. And even if they don’t, you’ll be off-balance once they block. I’ll guide you through it.” Rising to her full height, Draygo placed one hand on his shoulder and the other above his pelvis.

 

“Execute.” She guided him through the same spin he had earlier attempted, this time exerting constant pressure on his waist and shoulders to keep the young man’s center-of-gravity stable. Nothing about the motion would feel natural to Genesis and muscles that he didn’t know he possessed would be in agony after a few sets of repetitions, practice would make for a slightly faster motion, and more importantly, wouldn’t leave him off-balance if the finishing stroke was anticipated and blocked.

 

“And for your defense,” Armiena drew her own weapon and ignited the blade. “The danger of those spins is that, obviously, there is a half-second in which you’re blind and your opponent could potentially do whatever he pleases with you.What you can do is transition into a hanging guard to cover your back until just before you come out of that spin--and even swap into your off-hand for that backhand slash. It is a bit tricky…” Draygo demonstrated a few times, the motion growing faster with each repetition. The flourish that swept across her back to pick off a potential counterattack to her back looked like something out of a swashbuckling flick, but it would prevent her from being bisected by an experienced duelist.

 

After six repetitions, Armiena extinguished her blade and turned to face her Padawan. “Now, execute.”

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