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23 July 2017 @ 09:25 am
_Testing_ part 2  
 

***

Indeed. Close to two meters of solid aggressive muscle. Gray beard and hair, white kufiyah scarf and green agal band. Imde wasn't brave enough to even raise an eyebrow about it.

Sharp brown eyes ran over him, Deim.

"Heh. Don't bother exercising, do you?" The old man's gaze dropped to Imde's right hand and he snorted. "Prance about with those little toy swords, do you? Doesn't count. Have you taken any martial arts at all?"

"Some karate, when I was in school." Deim's voice was even smaller than usual.

Imde nodded. "I haven't kept it up since I left college . . . fifteen years ago." We were pretty good. Kael taught us the basics and coached us occasionally after we started formal lessons. Now? Swimming, surfing . . . enough weightlifting to impress the ladies with my muscles, down on the beach.

The old man curled a lip, and turned to Rael. "Find out how much Speed they have. Princess Teez and Princess Fues should be arriving in an hour."

"Fussy and Tease? Oh we have caught the interest of the School, haven't we?" Rael grinned. "Fussy teaches basic and intermediate magic. Tease is the head of the department. C'mon, let's get you dressed out for some friendly sparring."

"Sparring?" Deim looked around at all the large men pretending they weren't eavesdropping.

Are we that interesting? Do they know about our . . . fathers.

A giggle from Rael. "Don't look so worried. We'll start with a warmup kata, and see how rusty you've gotten."

Izzo jerked his head to the left. "The men's locker room is over here. They've always got plenty of spares.

Indeed. Imde felt awkward in the old soft gi. It's been too long since I took my anxieties out in exercises. In hitting things. In being furious and angry at the universe for my fate . . . and then because I'd never seen another path, so sure I was going to be taken. Castrated. Merged. A priest, when I barely thought about a deity, let alone believed. I only believed in the power of the priests to destroy me. To take my power.

So I never allowed myself to have any.

Never thought of a future.

Math was always easy for me, an obvious path when I realized I was safe. But by then I was classified as weak in magical ability, and never questioned it. Avoided it, as I always had.

I relaxed. I . . . lost the need to go pound a punching bag into submission. Hmm, never got over the 'grab all the sex you can, while you can' attitude. The speculative looks from all these princesses is not going to last long, as I get walloped by . . . am I going to spar with Rael?

Oh One! I'm going to be destroyed!

Except a kata came first. Not one he was familiar with, but easy enough to follow along. Then more complex combinations. And more.

"Right. So you two were both really good, up to a decade and a half ago." Rael giggled. "Stop looking so apprehensive. This was mostly to see how careful I need to be. And you're both so stiff that it's going to be difficult to get you to show your Speed."

Izzo had worked—smoothly and easily—along with them. He stretched. "If Imde's been fencing, he'll do Speed."

Deim caught his glance and shook her head. "I'm a techie. Not management track. I don't need to . . . " snicker ". . . prance about with those little toy swords."

"Academia is rife with political power plays." Imde shrugged. "Internal politics, but all the more vicious for being personal. A good fencer has a psychological advantage over the people he regularly trounces."

Rael rolled her eyes and crooked a finger to pull them over to where the guards had been sparring with-and-without lessons. "Deim? Let's have a bit of fun."

"Fun? I hate getting angry!" Deim's voice squeaked, and she looked not at all angry.

"Good. Let's just have a nice little no-Speed match to get you back into the rhythm and response."

Deim huffed, obviously relieved. And bowed with Rael.

Rael bounced in with a friendly tap. Another until Deim relaxed and responded, blocking, a fast strike that Rael blocked . . . then it turned into a beautiful show a snapping quick punches and kicks. Blocks that Rael sometimes pulled too.

Imde winced. Letting her get a few strikes into encourage her . . . but if this is a no-Speed fun match . . . I'd hate to see what Rael calls Speed.

He eyed his sister, working as fast as he'd ever seen, and with no anger at all.

And going even faster.

Holy One. I've heard of Cool Speed. And now I'm seeing it.

Ding.

The women stepped apart and bowed.

Deim was wide-eyed. "How did you do that?"

"I didn't. You did. I just led the way, with you firmly trying to not lose your temper. I've got to say you're one of the easiest students I've ever had." She grinned over at Imde. "You ready to try, Professor?"

"Yeah . . . so I try to keep a hold on my temper?"

"Umm, or relax because this is just an easy review, not a competition."

"Review. Heh. Remedial class. I have to teach one every semester. Keeps me humble, the Department head says." Imde bowed with her.

And had a nice quiet bit of exercise, longer than usual, and he was well aware that this skinny woman was being gentle. Which didn't help the anger control. And fighting down the temper was distracting . . .

Ding.

He bowed. Rael bowed, grinning. "Very nice. Level three easily."

"What?"

Deim snorted. "Didn't you even notice? You always were quick as a snake. Haven't lost it."

"But . . . "

Rael giggled. "You must have noticed that that felt longer than the usual."

"Yessss . . . that can't have been just three minutes." Did I just do that cool Speed? Why didn't I know about it? Why do they always try to make your temper snap so you can reach Speed?

"Is that . . . one of the characteristics of . . . those genes you're studying?"

"It could be. You two picked that up faster than anyone trained to lose his temper that I've every seen. Right Wsca?"

One of the watchers grinned as he made a rude gesture.

 
 
 
(Anonymous) on July 23rd, 2017 03:57 pm (UTC)
A framing concept for these stories just occurred. In the original Zen & Co spy on the Oners, one of the politicians talks about a quest grouping of characters. Could you focus each story so it is focused on one of the archetypes? By the time you complete, you might have a better idea of the overall problem.

Darqref
muirecan: Withersmuirecan on July 23rd, 2017 04:16 pm (UTC)
Yes terrifying old man I dead. Interesting that they both easily.do cool speed.
matapampamuphoff on July 23rd, 2017 05:09 pm (UTC)
Having to get angry to jump to Speed isn't a technique known on Comet Fall, although of course it happens. But it's never taught. Cool Speed is equally rare on One, partly because it isn't taught.

No doubt there's a genetic basis, present on most of the Exile Worlds and One, all in varying percentages. Something to do with adrenaline (and other chemical) responses and semi-voluntary control thereof.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on July 23rd, 2017 08:22 pm (UTC)
Can a Halfer have Speed?
matapampamuphoff on July 23rd, 2017 11:35 pm (UTC)
Technically, yes. But without an outside source of power, it'll be really brief and utterly exhausting.
mbarkermbarker on July 24th, 2017 03:32 am (UTC)
Which suggests a pairing, maybe twins, with in drawing power and feeding it to the other who does speed...
Nancy naleta on July 24th, 2017 04:06 am (UTC)
I am really enjoying these. :)