Kr'Suv side-stepped a mighty hammer blow from the Hrg'o 2.0 Battle Droid, his right-side swords a blur as they shredded two incoming arrows. As the Droid raised it's hammer to try another blow, Kr'Suv leapt lightly atop the hammer. It stopped, the Droid sensing the danger but it was already too late. The hammer was already three meters in the air and the Droid's control dome in easy reach. Leaping high (and thus avoiding another flight of arrows), Kr'Suv raised his swords . . .
"Kraaaaaaa-ga!" The four pelium alloy blades came down in vicious tandem, cleaving through armored control dome, destroying the delicate electronics inside. In a practiced move, Kr'Suv landed on the Droid's chest and, using his feet as fulcrum, wrenched his blades free, turning the motion into a backward somersault. He landed on his feet, the upper swords on both sides deflecting two more arrows, the lower swords flicking out in snap throws.
The sound of metal piercing metal filled the arena and both swords hit their marks--the chests of two Hrg'o 1.0 Battle Droids on either side. The Droids' arms dropped, bows dropping from frozen fingers. The blades had destroyed the primary control nexus of each Droids. A glance behind him showed Kr'Suv the larger 2.0 Droid was also immobile, it's complicated AI totally destroyed.
The battle was over.
Kr'Suv retrieved his weapons, checking them automatically for damage. There was none. After a moment, the crowd began to applaud and Kr'Suv allowed himself a few moments enjoyment. He turned at footsteps; his teacher, Tp'Pil iv-Ivla, approached. He had groomed his deep red fur to a high gloss and wore a beautiful gown of flowing itla, in marching colors of blue and green and soft lavender, the colors of the school. Kr'Suv noted, however, the gown in no way interfered with Tp'Pil's ability to draw his own four weapons, two swords similar to his own and two black-hafted energy sticks. As the venerable, and still dangerous, Krduneh approached, Kr'Suv tufted his own ears to match the position of his teacher, sheathed his blades, and bowed low enough to lose sight of the other--a sign of great respect and trust. After a moment he straightened.
"You have done well, Kr'Suv," intoned Tp'Pil iv-Ivla, holding a medallion in his hands. "You have earned the title ir-Pxla, Master of Blades. Step forward and kneel." Despite the ritual quality of the words, they contained a true and deep warmth. Kr'Suv did as bid. Tp'Pil placed the medallion of the Master upon his neck and Kr'Suv barely restrained a grin. Tp'Pil rewarded his restraint with words softly spoken, "You are the greatest student I have ever trained." He continued in a more normal voice, "Rise, ir-Pxla, and greet the sun."
Kr'Suv rose and turned his gaze to the blazing yellow sun overhead. He lifted his arms and let out a roar of pure exaltation. It contained the pride of a Krduneh who had achieved all he had sought, who had conquered all foes, including the greatest of all: himself. It contained validation for long years of toil and sacrifice. He held the roar as long as he could (and that was a long time indeed).
When at last he subsided, Tp'Pil iv-Ivla, Master of Masters, the greatest warrior on Uxvl, perhaps the greatest fighter the Krdun had ever produced, spoke, "Rise students, fighters teachers, fellow Masters. Rise and greet our newest Master. Give voice to his victory!" The assembled throng of Krduneh and Krdunah, five thousand strong, roared their approval; the ground, the arena itself shook in response.
Later, after a thorough and competent rubdown, and a short but welcome soaking in hot wernx, Kr'Suv ir-Pxla joined the reception already in progress. He was noticed, of course, tall even for a Krdun, and wearing beautiful and stylish robes of scarlet and yellow. However, the greeting was far more restrained than the one in the arena. Stout warriors the Krdun might be, they were also sticklers for protocol. Everything in its place. Kr'Suv wandered through the reception greeting old friends, making new acquaintances. As a matter of honor, he responded to every greeting, spoke with every person who wished it, regardless of age or life-station. To do less would be to cast dishonor upon himself, his parents, his clan, and his teachers. He would not. Eventually, he made his way to the table reserved for the Masters of the Treil'hi School. More greetings followed and he finally took his place next to Tp'Pil.
After Kr'Suv had been served and after he had sampled all the dishes and after he had said all the right things to all the right people. Tp'Pil leaned to him and spoke softly, "I hate these things. So stuffy. Give me a nice fight with Grahk raiders any time." Kr'Suv grinned in agreement even as he said with a low bow to a fellow master, "Of course Rt'Yun ir-Gfpo. I will consider your suggestions when next I face the Droids."
"So, 'poi, what now for you. You are the youngest ir-Pxla in the history of our School. Will you teach, perhaps? Train for honorable competition?" A touch of humor inflected these words, as though Tp'Pil already knew the answer.
"No, 'daln. I have thought long on the matter. Your counsel was both sage and generous. I have no aptitude for teaching, save by demonstration. At best, my skills would be wasted in such an effort. At worst, I would teach my 'poi all the wrong things."
"Competition, then? You will do well; make a name for yourself, bring honor to Treil'hi." More humor.
"No, 'daln. I have no wish to fight for the entertainment of others. My skills are for myself, 'daln."
"It is possible to fight for oneself in the arena. I did." A hint of gentle rebuke? The twitching of the ears said not.
Still, Kr'Suv lowered his head briefly as he replied, "Yes, Ko'daln. I meant no disrespect." Now it was his turn for humor. "But I would be paid because I am entertaining others. That is not for me."
"Everyone must eat, 'poi. What will you do?"
"I will join the Krdun Defense Forces. The Union is a wonderful place. Unfortunately, other species, other governments see us as weak because we do not seek dominion. I wish to protect what we have." For the first time a hint of passion colored his words.
Tp'Pil nodded. He knew his 'poi and had expected this. "A good choice, 'poi. You will do well." Kr'Suv cris-crossed his arms, clasping lower-right to upper-left and lower-left to upper-right, and inclined his head in the Krdun gesture of gratitude.
Two Standard Years Later: Kr'Suv stood nearly nude on the balcony. It gave a fantastic view of the Irdune Ocean, the gentle red waters lapping against the beach and cliff face two-hundred meters below. At least it did so during the day; now it was lost in the darkness. Soon, though, the twin moons Uxvl would rise over the horizon, bathing the scene first in soft yellow light and then in blue yellow, and finally just blue. He would be able to see the beach again, then.
He didn't turn at the soft sound behind him. The Yor'allah, or Pleasure Giver as she was known to non-Krdun, stroked his back with her upper arms while her lower caressed his own. Her strong supple fingers drove the tension from his body. But the pleasurable sensations did nothing to remove his pensiveness. Tomorrow he must return to the Krdun Defense Forces and he did not wish to. It was not that he disliked the Krdun Defense Forces or had philosophical differences with it. He and it wanted the same thing: peace for Uxvl and all the worlds of the Union. The problem lay not with the KDF's mission but it's actions, or lack thereof.
"I am bored," he thought aloud. The hands upon his body never stopped, "Bored? How can you say that, Kr'Suv. Have I not done well?" Gentle accusation filled the Krdunah's voice. Kr'Suv did not turn, allowing the hands to continue their work. "I spoke not of now or of you but of my life, Sl'Ella."
"Don't you enjoy serving in the Defense Forces?"
"I did, for a time. But I am a Krduneh of action and we see little. It's not that I wish to fight, or crave combat. Nothing so uncivilized. I crave to use my skills, the skills of a warrior. It is what I was made for. As you were made to bring pleasure," he finished, putting a smile in his words.
Sl'Ella heard and pressure and rhythm of the hands changed, bringing greater pleasure and more tension, though of a different sort. It would build, he knew, until he could do nothing more than take her and sate himself with her. As she intended.
Later, as the Yor'Allah slept, Kr'Suv returned to the balcony. The moons were low on the other horizon now and the beach was once more shrouded in darkness. And his thoughts resumed their earlier trek. In two standard years with the Defense Forces Kr'Suv had seen action only seven times, all against Grahk raiders. The fist of his lower-right hand clenched unconsciously as he remembered the last time, only a month agone.
A freighter near to eight planet of the system had called for help. Kr'Suv's ship had responded quickly. However, they'd not been in time to prevent the Grahken ship from disabling and boarding the freighter. Kr'Suv's team had also boarded the freighter. He'd known they would be outnumbered but there'd been no honorable choice. The mixed crew of the freighter, mostly Krduns but a few ??? and even one odd, pale-skinned creature called Human, would have been massacred. Memory surfaced . . .
Kr'Suv lead his team down the corridor. Power had been cut and only the emergency lighting illuminated the ship. A gesture sent Rn'Hut down a side passage with his fighters toward what should be engineering. Kr'Suv and the rest continued on to the bridge. They passed two dead bodies, Krduns, but the well-trained warriors did not react. Just then Kr'Suv caught a faint whisper of sound and the fetid odor of Grahken. A twitch of his weapons warned his fighters to be ready. Suddenly, two raiders leaped from a cross corridor, weapons firing. Kr'Suv twisted his body and the shots went past, into his team. He heard a body fall but was already leaping forward. One sword speared each Grahken through the chest and he used the feebly kicking bodies as shields to protect himself and slow the other raiders. Then the melee was upon him, Krdun fighters and Grahken raiders in quarters to close for firearms. The raiders were brave but relatively unskilled in melee and their greater numbers didn't fully compensate for this. Soon, they were all down, and so were two more of his warriors.
They'd barely confirmed the dead were dead when Kr'Suv's communicator crackled, "Kr'Suv, we need help. Forward cargo." Rn'Hut's voice. The burst of an energy weapon, the whine of disrupted electronics, then silence. Kr'Suv gathered his fighters with a glance. Their grim faces said they'd heard. "Let's go." Kr'Suv glanced at the freighter's layout displayed on his helmet visor and took the quickest rout to the hold. Soon they were outside an emergency access hatch from which came the sounds of battle. The Krdun prepared themselves then Kr'Suv took gestured for the manually operated door to be opened. As the door opened, two streaks of light blasted holes in the opposite wall. Tl'Ont and Rg'Pul tossed stun grenades through the open door. The concussive light blasts wouldn't hurt the Krdun fighters in their visored helmets but the raiders should be momentarily disoriented.
Kr'Suv leapt through the door, his fighters behind him, still wielding his four swords. He hadn't drawn his weapon; it was too random. He saw the grenades had done their work; most of the Grahkens appeared stunned. The Krduns moved quickly, disarming and immobilizing the raiders. On the far side of the room, Kr'Suv saw a group of four struggling to the door, trying to escape. If they left the shielded hold they could be transported off the ship. Kr'Suv could not allow that.
"Kiiiiiiiiiiyah!" He ran at them, knocking over a Grahk struggling to her feet. Just before he reached them, they recovered from the grenade-effect, turned and fired at him. He dodged two of the blasts and blocked a third. The fourth caught him in the chest and burned a hole through his armor, staggering him. Then he was on the raiders, his swords flashing in the emergency lights. A head fell (followed unheeded by the body) and a second raider fell, his guts around his feet. The third raised his weapon for another shot and fell as one of the Krdun fighters shot first. That left the last. He dropped his weapon and drew his own swords. He charged Kr'Suv who retreated, his own blades moving elegantly to parry. The Krdun warriors ignored the fray. Their leader could protect himself and they had prisoners to secure.
Kr'Suv spun his attacker with a single-side two-blade block, his other blades stabbing. But the Grahken used his momentum to spin away from the stabs and spin back. A blade flashed, pain flashed up Kr'Suv's right side, and his lower-right hand fell away, the blade clattering as it struck the deck. He suppressed a cry of pain, saying with a grin, "Krashuk! You fight well Grahken." He then leapt to the attack, the injured arm held up to slow blood loss. The Grahken retreated for a moment then renewed his own attack. Suddenly, Kr'Suv upper blades blocked up and out, catching the Grahken's blades and leaving his middle open. He saw his danger and tried to dodge away but was too slow. Kr'Suv's third blade stabbed through his chest and then pulled out. The Grahken stood for a moment, a smile spreading on his face, then collapsed.
Kr'Suv saluted his downed opponent, saw the battle was over, and sheathed his blades. He turned but one of his fighters had already retrieved the severed hand and sprayed it with a preserving agent until it could be re-attached. Kr'Suv slapped a bandage on his wounds as a Krdun approached, the freighter's Captain. They bowed slightly to one another. "Thank you, ir'Pxla," the Captain said, reading Kr'Suv's insignia. "You are a skilled fighter. The Stellar Shield themselves could not have done better."
Kr'Suv came back to himself, still unconsciously clenching his re-attached hand. Yes, now he knew what he would do.