Part of USS Altai: Here Be Monsters

One, Of Three – Part 1

Holodeck, Altai
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One. Of Three.

The sound of those words echoed across Magara’s tri-lobed mind as he slowly, and methodically laid out the groundworks of the first ritual. The Holodeck was made to resemble the homeland of the alien, but certain accommodations were made as to make it safe for the human to be present – as the temperatures of that world would cause her to pass out in only a few moments, no matter how strong she may physically be.

He drew using a long, crooked staff – carved from an ancient beast’s thighbone, across the jagged sand, crackling and popping slowly as he did so – the sand was a bright white, all colour long since bleached from it by the unforgiving suns. This place, which was just outside one of the Three Megacities that the Akh lived in – was one of the areas that Magara as a child had seen the power of fire, flame – and did his first ritual.

On the ground, he carved three circles, each of them intersecting – making a triple Ven Diagram. Each of them were large, perhaps thirty feet across each.

The Holodoor opened, and he emerged – the heat from within emanating “Enter, Black Sun” he spoke in his baritone rills, for once a cigar not in his mouth.

“So… this is home? It’s… well, it’s desolate, and hot. So, what do I do?”

“Upon, surface- Akh is desolate. The two eyes of this world hinder, the third allows sight of it’s true beauty. The trial of three, is a competition between companions, the trial of three – is to bond closely. The Trial of Three shall be decided upon by both. The first trial, this old one has decided – shall be combat, of the staff.” he said, taking a step within the further circle – and placing his hand upon the weighty staff at it’s centre. “The next, shall be of the Blacksun’s choosing.”

Astrid sighed, if this was going in the direction she supposed it was going to go this was going to be very painful. Melee combat was not something she was good at. In fact she barely passed her hand to hand combat training to earn her qualifications to lead the Hazard Team.

She crossed the distance to the circle and picked up her own staff. She spun it in an awkward and amateur way fully displaying her ignorance in the weapon. Mentally she made a note that maybe a few classes would be beneficial. “So, is there a point system? Timed? Or do you just bludgeon me until I give up?” She joked with a half-hearted laugh.

Magara bared his teeth, an imitation of smiling – something that was not done often by his people. But he smiled nonetheless “First, to three. There are three circles upon the ground, a combatant can only score a point whilst within one circle, and cannot score again if within the same circle. The final rule, a combatant must pull their strikes.” he said, picking up the staff as well, though doing no such spinning – simply holding it.

Astrid swallowed feeling mildly embarrassed. In an attempt to save face copied Magara’s demeanor holding the staff in front of her across her body with both hands. “And touching is a point?”

Magara nodded slowly, lifting the staff up – and beginning to advance towards her circle – his strides were long, but he did not rush. Evidently this was less of a game of raw physical strength and more of one of careful movement.

Astrid had enough raw athleticism and with years of cross country skiing she was light and quick on her feet. It was this that let her avoid Magara’s attacks, but her own were equally ineffective as she swing her staff at him and the strike was deftly deflected. She grunted as that sent her spinning, loss of balance threatening to send her to the ground.

A tap on the shoulder sent her the rest of the way falling left shoulder first into the sand knocking the wind out of her. “Okay, that backfired,” she croaked as she used the staff to help herself to her feet.

“The Blacksun’s instinct is to fight, this is no fight.” he said, looking over her to make sure she wasn’t actually injured. Before moving back and slowly circling again – moving interchangeably between the three circles on the ground.

Astrid raised an eyebrow, but followed Magara back to the circles. She took a deep breath and settled back into position.