My left hand held firm on the lower end of the shaft, my right hand loose against it. My shoulder ached as I spun the Kandjal in a horizontal slice, the full length of the weapon extending parallel along my arm.
“Attacks against the mountain retreat of the Salvation Crusade continue, the death toll reaching 18, as rioters fueled by the recent military speech denouncing piracy within Republic borders seek to ‘clean up their own backyard’ of any and every threat perceived against the people. Cleric Abel Jarek had this to say regarding the unprovoked attacks:
‘ We are Matari at heart. Simply because our religious view differs from that of what many Matari believe does not make us a threat to our people. Enlightenment and education of all Matari is our only goal. It saddens my soul that the very freedoms we cry out for as a society are now being forcefully taken from us through ignorance and hate.’
Sanmatar Shakor’s office was unavailable for comment. This has been a Scope News update.”
Sweat poured from my brow. My heart pulsed in my ears. I closed my eyes, breathing in through my nose, out through my mouth, willing myself to focus, finding my relaxed center physically.
I spun viciously, one end of the Kandjal tucking underneath my armpit, using my rotation speed, momentum, and muscle force to drive a strong vertical slice through the air. I followed that up by pivoting on my right ankle, my knees bent low, my legs aching from effort, as I slashed in the opposite direction, a grand sweeping motion meant to disable multiple opponents. It left me vulnerable momentarily, the weapon leaning awkwardly away from my body. I turned my torso to offer the least visible target while I finished the strike, not slowing my motion, using momentum and bio mechanics as my ally.
“It’s confirmed, sir.” the Spike Commander reported. “One of our intelligence agents in Evati verified the actions of GIS less than an hour ago. Seems they employed a ‘less than scrupulous’ contractor to acquire defensive data to be used against the Bastards pirate operation there. The contractor was found dead. Ship emission trails and local intel from the area would indicate it was Hallan Turrek that was abducted.”
“Thank you, Commander. That will be all.” I said, dismissing him. Why did it have to be the Bastards first? Why did Hallan have to get his damned fool self caught so easily? I wasn’t surprised Hallan had escaped, or that his kidnapper was dead. In fact, I would’ve been disappointed if the outcome had been any different. GIS had no authority to act in such a manner. Their director apologized profusely to the Sanmatar; there was a chain of command to be followed after all.
But hell, with Hallan safely back with the Bastards, I knew Mynxee would’ve heard about the whole thing by now. Cripes.
I dove forward, tucking myself into a roll, while keeping the Kandjal away from body. I rose to one knee, the weapon striking out behind me as a spear, for any who had followed me. I stood to my feet quickly, reversing my grip on the shaft, jabbing the bladed end downwards into the victim I had just impaled, then pulling the weapon free.
I performed a two handed sweep rotation with the weapon above my head to put some distance between myself and my attackers, also allowing to re-establish a strong offensive grip on the weapon. I forced my breath out, feeling the coolness of deep new air enter my lungs autonomously.
Mynxee wasn’t returning my calls. I gave up leaving messages for her after the third attempt in ten minutes. I knew it seemed desperate, but I needed her to understand what was going on, needed her to know how I was “standing in the gap” so to speak, taking a dismal situation and trying to mold it into something good. I just simply needed her.
I jabbed forward again, stomping my foot slightly forward each time, closing distance between myself and the enemy directly in front of me. The stomp was also meant to amplify my presence, to inflict fear into those whom would attack me. I reversed direction suddenly, forcing out a blood curdling roar from my diaphragm, striking high twice, and then low at the enemy to my rear. A quick series of rapid jabs and defensive blocks, then I swept the Kandjal low again, driving back my attackers, using the reach of the bladed staff to my advantage.
A million isk had been added to my bounty; no doubt from a pirate trying to make a point. I was sure it would only get worse before it got better. If I wasn’t already an infamous target in lowsec, I surely would be now.
I dodged to the side, then reversed my stance, flipping the Kandjal upwards to disarm my opponent, then stabbing at the chest with full body extension. The weapon still felt incredibly uncomfortable in my hands; I would much rather rely on my pistols and my fists. I was a good close combat fighter, but I needed to learn this, wanted to learn this; it was part of our ancient heritage and I wanted to feel like the mighty Matari warriors of old.
“It’s quite the invitation, Roc.” Cytral said. “Seriously, if you want to leave the corp for a couple of months and go experience life as a nullsec capital fleet commander, I get it. It’s not like you can’t come back.”
The offer was tempting. I really did desire to experience the feel of commanding Dreadnoughts, Motherships and Titans in battle, and leaving Freeform would make it that much easier for me to join the nullsec alliance that had originally extended the offer, if they were still willing.
It is my regret to inform you that as of the time of this letter, I will be resigning from my position as Industrial Director of Freeform Industries.
Sincerely, Wordsworth Fireheart
The corp was getting smaller by the hour at this rate. Maybe it was time for me to leave, to dedicate myself fully to the task Maleautu Shakor had given me, to embrace my destiny so to speak. I hated that kind of talk. To me, it was the same type of bunk that Cleric Jarek preached. I forged my own destiny, thank you very much, or at least that is what I thought at the time.
I spun the Kandjal end over end vertically, using both the blunted end and the bladed end in a flurry of assaults. The bladed tip hit the floor during one rotation, a loud clang resounding throughout the training room.
“Shit!” I screamed to nobody, and stopped my exercises.
I examined the weapon closely; there seemed to be no damage or scuff mark to the blade. I laid the weapon against a nearby wall, then headed for the showers. It was a different type of workout to be sure, and I felt like a child taking his first unsteady steps into a bigger world. Doing weights was one thing, good for building muscle mass, but this type of exercise would work muscles I didn’t know I had, though I was sure they would make me painfully aware of their existence the following day.
After my shower and change into fresh clothes, I sat with the Kandjal, and spent the next hour carefully tending to it. I had been practicing my oiling of the leather, the sharpening of the blade, gently sanding the wood where needed to maintain perfect balance. It was a mental and spiritual exercise honestly, as intense and consuming as any physical work like using the best random orbital sander, you feel it in your body, only it take a much longer period to manifest.
Once I had mastered everything I could learn on my own, I would seek out a mentor if there still existed anyone that practiced this ancient martial art form.
I recalled Gigaer, the one whom had given me this gift initially mentioning some organization he belonged to that embraced and celebrated the ancient ways, their name on the tip of my tongue. No matter, it would come to me eventually.
I wrapped the Kandjal in protective cloth, grabbed my gym bag, then headed back to an empty office. I felt refreshed, possibly the best I had felt in months, and knew I would need that positive energy to finish the military paperwork that awaited me.