Ask Knowledge and Defense [Ajan Kloss]

Izel Thral

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Izel had never much cared for the lightsaber. She recognized it's utility of course, it was an extremely versatile and powerful weapon. But to her a simple laser sword paled in comparison to the nearly limitless potential of the Force. If she could have things her way she'd devote all her time to training her powers rather than waste time on glorified sword fighting techniques. The weapon didn't really suit the Vratix anatomy too well anyway, too humanoid centric in design. But she couldn't ignore that her lack of training had nearly been the death of her more than once. If she was ever going to advance to the rank of Jedi Knight she would need to show her superiors that she could fall back on the lightsaber when the situation demanded it.

To that end she had asked Padawan Dubh to join her for some sparring in the temple training training rooms. She had built something of a rapport with the human Jedi since their adventure together on Tython, or at least Izel thought they had. Fiach was a bit harder to read than most humans she had encountered. She had managed to grab a spot for herself separated from the rest of the trainees, giving them plenty of space for more advanced sparring.

As she waited for her partner to arrive Izel filled the time going through the motions of Form II. She was fairly comfortable with Soresu at this point, having used it multiple times in practice to generally successful effect. But the Vratix had to agree with many of the criticisms of the Resilience Form. It depended too much on defense, and didn't really present extensive options for offense. While Izel wasn't the type to seek violence unnecessarily, it always helped to have the option in her repertoire. The controlled, precise movements of Makashi lent themselves well to her lightsaber pike. Standing on one side of the mat the Vratix would take several lunging steps forward, stabbing her training pike forward again and again at different levels, jabbing at an imaginary opponent in different spots to attempt to overwhelm their defense.

@Corbeau (OOC Couldn't find the tag for Ajan Kloss for some reason...)
 

Fiach Dubh

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Fiach practiced with her saber daily. She had two overwhelming thoughts that drove her actions. Firstly, that practice trumped natural ability. She firmly believed that daily use of a skill or ability would develop it far beyond what a latent talent could deliver. The second was less controversial – and it was the fact that everyone had the same amount of time available each day. And to waste time – such as socialising – was almost a sin. But more practically, she knew wanted to do a few things very well, as opposed to a lot of things adequately. Yes, she had a working knowledge of the basic skills, but she focused on a few…such as duelling. And she in turn put most of her time into the third Form – as to her, it embodied what it meant to be a Jedi.

Yes, it had natural weaknesses – every Form did – but she was happy to accept them for the benefits it brought to bear.

Today would be a different day. As well as warming up with some velocities, she planned to spar with someone new. This was another facet of her practice. Left-handers, right-handers, all different Forms, different weapons. She embraced variety as much as she could. Unfamiliarity was a key weakness in duelling. Even aspects which were not inherently a weakness became one if the duellist believed they were at a disadvantage.

So, she arrived and removed her cloak, folding it neatly and placing it on a bench before unclipping her saber and adjusting its setting for practice-mode. Contact would hurt, and even leave burns, but these could be readily repaired overnight by the Jedi Healers.

She smiled at Izel as she walked towards her. “Thank you for thinking of me when you wanted a spar. I’ve never faced a pike before, it will be an education for me.”

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Izel Thral

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Izel paused in her evolutions as Fiach finally joined her, the Padawan removing her cloak before stepping onto the training mat. The Vratix couldn't exactly return the human's smile, but still gave a respectful bow of her head. "Well, I figured if I'm going to spar with anyone it may as well be someone who has something to teach me." Her antennae twitched. "Plus it's been a while, I thought we should catch up." That Fiach hadn't fought against someone using a pike before wasn't a surprise to Izel. It wasn't a common weapon. From what she had seen the overwhelming majority of Jedi preferred the more standard blade hilt. She saw this as a good thing. The less familiar her opponents were with her type of weapon the more easily she'd be able to catch them off-guard in combat.

"Well, let's not waste any time shall we?" The Vratix asked before reassuming the Makashi stance, holding the edge of her pike up to about chest level and extending it forward to keep her fellow Padawan at a distance. As she waited for Fiach to assume her own ready position Izel looked the human over. She was nearly a foot taller than her opponent and that paired with her choice of weapon gave her a clear advantage in reach. Once the fight began she would press the attack quickly and attempt to keep Fiach on the backfoot. If she could maintain a steady offensive she could keep her opponent far enough away that she'd never have the opportunity to counter. Of course that was all theoretical. Knowing how to win a fight and actually being able to were two entirely separate things. And Izel would soon find out if she had what it took to achieve the latter.

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach gave a short bow as Izel greeted her. She was old-fashioned by many modern Jedi standards and always bowed in formal occasions — but rarely did when less formal, yet always reciprocated if someone else bowed first.

“I’d like to think we both learn from today’s spar,” Fiach responded. “And yes, it’s been a while since we last met. I trust your training is going as you’d hoped.” For Fiach, development was not a race, and as long as someone was progressing at a pace that suited them, well, that was all that mattered really.

As her fellow Padawan adopted a stance most likely to suggest she preferred the second Form, Fiach nodded. It was one that favoured those that liked to utilise a greater reach, and Izel ticked the box on this front on more than one area. Her height and the length of the pike were definitely to her advantage.

Fiach had a number of stances she might open with, but given it was a spar, she opted for the Center of Being option, which she often used for meditation and was seen as an old-fashioned stance. Fiach held the lightsaber horizontally, with the lightsaber hilt just below her chin and her eyes were effectively closed. It was a stance that lent itself to the passive and defensive Form she preferred — namely Soresu.

She connected deeply with the Force and quite literally gave her movements over to its guidance. Whereas this offered no real offensive capability, it allowed her to react to her opponent’s moves effortlessly and instead of her mind focusing on defence, it could instead spend all of her conscious thought on reading her opponent, seeing if they had any obvious idiosyncrasies or tells that she could allow later. How it would work against a pike, was anyone’s guess right now.
 

Izel Thral

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Izel shrugged at Fiach's statement about training. "Yes and no..." She replied as she remained in form. She had gone on a few missions since last meeting with Fiach. Some very successful, others... less so...

The insectoid's antennae twitched as she watched her opponent take up the Soresu form. So she was yielding the initiative to Izel then. It was a strategy in line with Jedi philosophy, but more than that would force the Vratix to show her hand first, as it was. Her fellow Padawan would be able to read her movements and wait for the right opening to make a counterattack. Well, in that case she just needed to make sure she didn't leave any openings.

Izel took a cautious step forward, then another, waiting to see if her opponent reacted by either retreating to keep the distance between them or holding her ground. Once she was just barely in striking range Izel would begin the match by making a few probing attacks, thrusting her blade toward different spots on Fiach's body to test her guard. Her left thigh, right shoulder, sword hand. None of these strikes were particularly powerful, and if knocked aside the Vratix would easily be able to withdraw her weapon and step back.

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach noted Izel’s somewhat ambivalent response. It was hardly a positive one – but she decided not to press the point, not least because they were sparring. She did not want to distract her fellow Padawan – as the intent was to get as much as they could from the session.

The duel began slowly, as was often the case. Sometimes, more experienced practitioners might start with a flurry – a tactic Fiach did not approve of. It was dangerous to begin forecefully when you had not weighed up your opponent’s capabilities. At least, that was Fiach’s view.

It was clear her concern about reach was justified. At the range where Izel could probe her defences, there was no clear opportunity to counter without stepping closer – making a swift counter and retreat far more risky. Having quickly summed this up, Fiach decided to maintain a defensive approach, parrying the probe and returning to a neutral defensive stance. The duel had begun more like a game of chess than a fight. Izel was white – and looking to seek a weakness. Fiach was black and intent on offering no gaps and waiting for her opponent to overextend in a desire to win.
 

Izel Thral

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Izel kept her focus fixed squarely on Fiach as she silently made her attacks. As expected her opponent's form was excellent. In the Padawan's own experience Soresu worked best when the user was calm and centered, allowing the Force to flow through them and guide their defense. Fiach seemed to embody this approach quite well. There were two ways to win a duel using Form III, the first being to out last your opponent in a battle of attrition, the second being to take advantage of the mounting weaknesses in their assault with well-placed counters. Izel didn't want this bout to last all day, so she began to gradually increase the tempo of her attacks.

Still keeping outside of Fiach's range she began to put the pressure on her opponent, making more thrusts at a quicker pace, throwing in a few feints to try and throw off the human's rhythm. She doubted it would be easy to frustrate this opponent into making a mistake, but at the very least she wanted to get the point across that if she wanted to win Fiach would need to be more proactive in this duel. She could stand there blocking attacks for hours if she pleased, but Izel remained safe at this distance and was still only putting in a minimum of exertion.

If I can just get her to step closer to attempt a counter... The Vratix thought to herself as she kept up her assault. That's how I'll manage to land a blow.

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Fiach Dubh

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Some duels were lively affairs – with banter exchanged between the two combatants. Fiach tended to say little, if anything, save discussing how the spar was progressing if she was being instructed. Therefore, the bout was currently a silent affair. Not that this bothered Fiach in the slightest, but some found it off-putting.

There was a significant advantage to the third Form in Fiach’s mind. Well…two actually. Firstly, it embodied her perception of being a Jedi. The second was the ability to often duel against someone more skilled because it was in many ways a one-dimensional approach – defence only.

But it came with pitfalls as far as the Padawan was concerned. The first was the fact that she was not some Soresu master, but a Padawan with a decent grasp of the Form – and no more. The second was her inability to capitalise on mistakes her opponent might make. Yes, she was learning to spot openings and weaknesses, but she lacked the confidence and competence to capitalise on them. Which was fine in a friendly duel, but of no help whatsoever in a life-or-death situation.

She was aware that Izel was upping the tempo. This suited Fiach as she had learned that Soresu was most effective when her blade was in perpetual motion – it actually made for a less physically demanding defence. The Force guided her as best it could, but she still fell for the occasional feint as her conscious mind overrode what it told her. As a result, she smelled the singe of burning cloth as Izel’s pike beat her defence and she felt the sting as her thigh received a burn where the blade made contact.

She nodded her approval of the move and remained steadfast in her defence.

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Izel Thral

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Izel's antennae twitched curiously as she managed to score a hit, if a light one. She doubted it would have been enough to incapacitate her opponent even if their sabers were at full power. Still, it felt somewhat satisfying to 'draw first blood' in the sense. She returned Fiach's nod, but didn't ease up in her assault. She didn't want a simple mark, she wanted a definitive win.

As the fighting escalated she became more engrossed in the duel, pressing her advantage with more confidence and striking harder and faster at her opponent. She remained quietly fixated on the opponent in front of her, nothing but the sound of their clashing sabers breaking the silence. Despite the occasional misstep Fiach was falling into a stable rhythm with her defense, twirling her blade in Form III's infamous figure-eight to deflect her attacks. To that end Izel tried to employ a different approach.

Risking an advance within her opponent's range Izel swept her pike low, under Fiach's guard in an attempt to sweep her legs out from under her. It was a gambit that could succeed in one of two ways. Either her opponent would be unable to avoid the attack and be knocked down, or she would jump to dodge it, leaving her stuck in midair and offering Izel an opening for a quick and more decisive jab to the torso. However if Fiach instead opted to retreat, she would have the opportunity to rush in for a counter from the Vratix's large swiping motion. Hopefully the gamble would pay off.

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Fiach Dubh

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As the pace intensified, Fiach found herself more in the zone and therefore – ironically – found it harder for her conscious brain to override how the Force was guiding her. She continued to parry and not block, allowing for constant movement, as she built up a pattern in her mind of how Izel fought and the strengths and weaknesses of the pike as a weapon. Fortunately she was patient, as she was unable to identify an obvious weakness or pattern to be exploited.

Time would tell who was the more patient – and therefore the more likely to endure.

Izel made the first change to her approach, aiming low. It would be hard to block and retain defence of her torso – but then to jump risked a lack of control and her being a clear target for a follow-up. This is where Fiach’s preference for combinations came to the fore. Instinctively she was able to perform two acts at once to minimise the risk of a fatal blow (at least in theory).

So, she released one hand from her saber’s hilt and as she used the Force to assist a leap that comprised a backwards somersault, she channelled the Force through her outstretched palm and Pushed her opponent at the same time. The hope was that the combination of moves would put sufficient distance between them before Fiach landed – and therefore minimise the chance of an instant follow-up move from Izel.

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Izel Thral

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A premature feeling of victory flowed through Izel as she took notice of Fiach preparing to jump to dodge her attack, her opponent was falling right into her trap. What she hadn't accounted for was the human supplementing her evasive maneuver with a well placed Force push. The Vratix instead of making her follow up attack was forced to plant her feet firmly on the ground, sliding back a few feet from the push and out of striking range.

With the distance between them created by the exchange Izel took a moment to chitter with amusement. "Very well," She praised her opponent on her quick thinking. "That was a nice counter. I hadn't expected that." She spun her pike with a flourish and took up her form once more. "You can't keep running forever though..." With that she would start to slowly close the gap between them once more, preparing to reengage her opponent.

Fiach was skilled enough in Soresu that she seemed able to counter the bulk of Izel's attacks, which meant the Vratix couldn't simply go in with an all out assault. She would tire herself out too quickly and leave herself vulnerable. Having failed her gambit Izel instead decided to fall back on her initial approach, since that strategy had managed to win her a hit. She would once more remain at the edge of her own reach, making constant small jabs to try and overstrain the human's defense. She could maintain this attack pattern for quite some time without exhausting her energy, and if she could succeed in landing enough minor blows, Fiach would be left too weakened to defend against another all in assault.

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach nodded at the compliment. “In truth, the counter was practiced rather than spontaneous. My extensive hours spent here allow me to run through so many variations of attacks and defences. Your pike is new to me, but I am focused on not letting it be a distraction. It has an obvious strength, which is reach – but will have inherent weaknesses too. Such as an opponent getting up close. Most will look to keep out of range, but that will play into your hands. They are ineffective if too far removed whereas you can press and still be safe. Such a weapon is likely to be less practical when you’re toe-to-to I suspect. Not that I’ve chanced that approach just yet.”

“So, my move was practical given your superior reach and rehearsed as opposed to inventive. I tend not to be very good with the latter in any case.”

The duel returned to the exchanges they’d traded at the outset. From this distance, Fiach would not be able to make a successful counter and Izel was able to prod and probe, thus maintaining her own strength. Fiach surmised she had two choices, given the likelihood of a potential stalemate. Firstly, she could – as she suggested – move closer and negate the reach advantage. This was potentially risky and so Fiach ignored it for the present. The second was to remain patient. If Izel was a typical opponent, she might become frustrated and press to the point that she opened herself up. Of course, only time would tell if Izel was the patient type too.

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Izel Thral

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Izel nodded along with Fiach's explanation. She seemed to have quickly analyzed her fighting style and understood it's strengths and weaknesses, although she hadn't made any move to try and exploit them yet. "You must practice quite a bit if you have so many moves readily available to employ." She said as she reengaged her opponent. Using Force abilities in tandem with dueling techniques was an interesting concept, she would need to try and invent some of these combinations herself.

She continued on with her ranged jabs for some time, trying to wear down Fiach's defense with a consistent flurry of light fluctuating attacks. But it was more than that. She wanted to get her opponent locked in a rhythm so that when she finally made her next move she would be less likely to react in time. Once her attack pattern was beginning to get repetitive she suddenly made her next move. Taking a note from Fiach she made a feint, stopping her jab short. She had already done this several times in the same spot, so she assumed Fiach would be expecting the feint and continue to the next form in her defense. Only the jab wasn't a feint, but the first stage in her attack. Reaching out one hand Izel summoned the Force, not for a push but a pull. The intention was to make Fiach stumble forward, allowing her pike's blade to score another hit, this time on her torso.

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Fiach Dubh

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Fiach nodded at Izel’s comments. “I am a rational person. We each have the same amount of time at our disposal each day. If I take away sleep and essential acts – like washing and eating – I like to maximise my time. I exercise daily and study of course. And even in missions, I practice certain things every day. Such as meditation and using a saber. I have been lucky enough to have had personal tutelage in duelling and of course, I read widely on the subject. And combinations are a good technique to learn. It cuts down on conscious thought, so they flow better. But they can be predictable, which is their only downside. So, the more you learn, the harder it is for your opponent to analyse your next move.”

Soresu was, to Fiach at least, unique amongst the Forms. Unique in the sense that it was not duellist-led. It was not even led by your opponent in its truest sense, as you were supposed to give yourself to the Force and allow it to guide your actions. It was very challenging, especially when learning initially, to allow a blow to go unchecked because the Force determined it would miss you.

That was, in truth the hardest part to master and already Fiach had fallen foul of the weakness – but overriding what the Force told her and instead relied on her instincts – which were fallible.

She’d read a mantra that she held dear and repeated at times like these: Trust in the Force, it will never let you down. Governments will let you down. Others will let you down. Even you will let you down. But the Force will never let you down.

So, when Izel fell into a constant pattern, Fiach observed it but did not consciously react to it – instead relying on the Force to guide her. This, when Izel’s oft-used feint transpired not to be a ploy, Fiach’s blade moved to defend against it. But simultaneously, she felt the pull of the Force and had little choice but to move closer to Izel.

If there was an unexpected bonus, it was that – because the feint failed – she had parried Izel’s pike and her fellow Padawan had pulled her inside of her range and Fiach’s own saber was now bearing down on Izel’s torso – without the blonde having attempted any proactive move.

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Izel Thral

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"I fear I've failed to do the same," Izel conversed with Fiach as they continued their spar. "My training has been skewed more towards my ability in the Force than martial prowess. And while I've managed to get by in the field I still feel there's much room for improvement. Which is why we're here of course..." She trailed off, trying to focus on the fight. Unlike Fiach Izel was completely in the present, laser focused on the duel at hand, moving through the evolutions of Makashi as she had studied them. Perhaps that was truly her greatest weakness, she mused. It was her inability to properly incorporate her Force training with her lightsaber training.

As she made her attack she was caught completely off guard when Fiach managed to predict her move and block it, leaving herself wide open as her opponent's blade rushed towards her. In her surprise the Vratix clicked out a most inappropriate curse in her native tongue and tried to scuttle backwards, but it was already too late. Fiach's blade struck her directly in the chest, in what almost certainly would have been a fatal blow were their sabers at full strength.

Izel grunted and fell back to the floor as the wind was knocked out of her, raising her hand to cover her mouth as she was seized by a violent coughing fit. This didn't last long before transforming into a sort of befuddled laughter, the Padawan finding some amusement in essentially causing her own defeat through her misstep.

"Well, I think you won that round..." She said between coughs as she pulled open the folds of her robe, looking down at her chest. There was a nasty mark where her fellow Padawan's blade had struck her. "That's going to be sore for a while..." She grunted as she slowly got back to her feet and brushed herself off. She looked back to Fiach with a slightly weary expression. "Would you mind taking a brief respite? I'll need to catch my breath after that..." Already this sparring match was proving to be quite the painful learning experience, though the Vratix had no intention of giving up yet.

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