Aurora Dancing With The Sky
Chapter 2
Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Sky stood in the now empty main cargo bay of his H.S.S. Bolt, which had been emptied of its contents to provide the open space in which he and his entire crew now stood. He had given the order for the ship to be put onto auto alert meaning that for short period of time, whilst the ship hid in an asteroid field some distance ahead of the Demi-God, the bridge could be left unmanned.

"I've brought you all here to assess your hand to hand fighting skills. That means I will be testing you all both with and without a sword." He took a quick moment to survey the emotions portrayed on each crew member’s face. His eyes lingered for the longest on his first officer's face. She wanted to beat him and to prove that she was stronger. Sky held back his smile and continued his little speech. "First of all I want to see what you are like without weapons. Each of you will pair off and spar using standard training patterns until I say otherwise, Lieutenant you will observe with me then we will spar. Begin."

He watched as the crew immediately moved into the quickest pairings they could find, which in most cases was the person directly next to them. He watched his crew spread out into the space of the cargo bay and began the practice movements of the naval combat art. Sky could tell that the crew were still trying to impress him as each did their utmost to bring down their opponent using the proscribed moves of the naval combat art.

The first to fall was Leading Starmen Soren's opponent after the man used his greater size to overpower his opponents kick to his ribs and send him flying to the deck. “Excellent Mr. Soren and you Mr. Larab don't be disheartened you did well, but I would recommend that you don't try a move like that on a target bigger than you. That will most likely happen again." The man stood up and the two began sparring again. Sky walked slowly around the cargo hold looking at each pair in turn offering words of encouragement occasionally.

"That will be enough for now. Clear the floor, Lieutenant Dentelle and I will spar next." Sky stepped out to the middle of the floor and leant back into the basic fighting stance as his crew had before him. Harmony walked out and assumed the same stance opposite him. "Don't hold back Lieutenant, that's an order." Harmony's face lost its composure for a moment as the shock of his words registered on her face. However a moment later her expression was neutral once more.

Sky took the initiative and struck out first sending out a simple kick, followed closely by a flurry of punches. Harmony simply danced backwards letting the attacks pass harmlessly just out of range. Sky saw the ease with which she had avoided the attack and stepped his attack up a level. He sent a series of punches, kicks and sweeps at Harmony that would have taken most opponents down. However she was not most opponents and she danced backwards before quickly going onto the counter-offensive. She lashed out a series of punches that barely missed followed by a straight low kick that Sky knew if he hadn't spotted it coming and moved back, barely an inch out of the attack's range, he would have been knocked to the ground. Harmony didn't stop she threw all of her strength into a shoulder charge and would have finished the battle if Sky hadn't already stepped up his skill another level. In the last moments before the shoulder charge struck he side stepped and sent a strong palm strike into her diaphragm. With all the inertia behind her attack she felt the air being forced from her lungs and she fell to the ground. The match between the captain and first officer was most definitely over.

He stood quietly for a moment allowing her to recover her thoughts and get some oxygen into her winded body. He then extended his hand to her. "Well done lieutenant, I'm impressed. You nearly had me for a moment there." She took the proffered hand a lot more quickly than Sky had expected. "With all due respect sir, no I didn't." Sky's respect for the woman increased tenfold with that simple denial. She had been able to see him and knew that she couldn't have caught him.

He stepped into the centre of the cargo hold again and ordered the crew to 'Form up'. "So now I've seen what you’re like with your hands, now it’s time for your swords. You have two minutes to get your swords and their training covers. Move out." The crew quickly ran off to their quarters to get their weapons. In a larger craft their weapons would be stored in an armoury, but on the tiny H.S.S. Bolt there was no room for such luxuries as an armoury. Only the bare essentials for survival in space were provided.

He walked over to the sword stand which had brought down to the cargo hold as soon as it had been cleared by crew beforehand. Standing vertically on it was his long Katana. The gift from his tribe and his most precious possession. He de-activated the heating coils, before drawing the sword out of its sheath and gently running his fingers down the blade gently touching the ancient Misalli Runes that were engraved on its tang. He turned the sword's tip towards himself and slid the smooth shock absorbent training cover of his Katana's deadly edge. He then replaced it in his sheath and attached it to his belt.

The first of his crew were returning with their weapons. Almost all of them were carrying were carrying the standard star forces dirk, a trustworthy weapon in most situations. Sky's attention was drawn to Soren as he walked through the door, as on his hip he saw the sword his father had told him was called a scimitar. Its long curving blade widened near the tip and he could see how the widening would add extra inertia to each blow, therefore strengthening it. Harmony was one of the last to return and when she did she was carrying a thin and fast rapier sword. Designed to quickly pierce an opponent’s guards with a lunging stab, the rapier would be perhaps the most dangerous sword on the ship if it was not for Sky. Sky was supremely confident in his own swordsmanship ability. In his three years study to become an officer at Hereclisa's Naval Academy he held a running record of 276 victories and 0 defeats to the Academy's Master Swordsmen. The three men, who for twenty years had never been beaten by a single student in any of their time of study.

With the last of his crew returned to him, Sky began a slow pacing across the front of the single rank. "Now we move on to the true challenge of today. The test of swordsmanship." he drew his own blade and extended it out level in front of him to allow his crew to get a look at his sword. "This is my sword and as of yet it is undefeated in combat. In point of fact I have been regularly taking part in melee combat and for nearly five years I have been undefeated. As such I will be testing each of you personally." He saw the looks on his crew's faces they were all impressed by his speech, although he saw doubt on two people's faces. They were an older crewman and his first officer.

Sky sheathed his sword once more and waved his hand to the first crewman in the line. The man stepped hesitantly out, but took his first stance well enough. It was the standard star forces swordsmanship pose a strong a well used style, but very predictable in the hands of all apart from true masters. Sky left his sword in its sheath taking the stance of the sword style his clan had created. The man was surprised and only launched a half strength swing, which Sky quickly side stepped and brought his sheathed sword across striking the dirk out the crewman's hand.

"Don't take me so lightly Mr. Rollov. Pick up your sword and try again." Mr Rollov was annoyed now, having been shown up in front of his comrades. The man was only in the standard stance for a second before he was attacking his commander again. Sky didn't attack this time an allowed his subordinate to come to him the man swinging his sword with all his strength. Sky saw the paths of the swings and slid from one side to the other avoiding slashes from the dirk. In the three seconds of attack Sky realised that in battle this man was easily better than most swordsmen. He then moved on to his final lesson. He stepped up his speed just enough to allow him to spin around and strike the man in the lower back. Mr. Rollov was sent to the floor in a sprawling heap his sword clattering from his hand once again. "That was an excellent effort Mr. Rollov, but try not to drop your arm when you step forward." The man look up at him and Sky could see that the hidden lesson had sunk in; the man was seeing that in real battle he would have to take every advantage he saw just to stay alive.

Sky worked his way through the next seven members of the crew in whip quick fashion. Giving each one a piece of advice to improve their style and showing them a little of his ability.

When it came to Soren, Sky saw that this match would be different from the others. Soren walked out and took a low strong stance with his scimitar in downwards and forwards angle above his head. The stance was much more effective than the standard star forces stance and gave better protection to the wielder, but to pull it off the swordsman would have to have much greater than average physical strength. Sky took his sword drawing stance once more and tied the sheath to his hip, Soren's resolve didn't falter for a moment.

He felt a smiled play across his face in spite of himself; Soren was going to be an interesting opponent. He took the initiative making a quick lunge forwards to test Soren's reaction, the man neither flinched nor budged from his position. He had seen through Sky's feint and still stood patiently waiting for the assault. Sky took the initiative charging forwards his sword still sheathed, but Soren saw that the attack was real and swung the scimitar downwards. Sky was forced to draw his sword to parry the blow, due to the unusual circumstance if his sheath actually being attached to his hip. Sky went to throw a second swing, but Soren was already moved away and was back in his stance a few paces away. Sky sheathed his sword once more and untied the sheath from his belt. Taking a lower stance than the one he'd used before holding the sheath of his sword behind him in his drawing position.

This time Soren made the lashing out a vicious downwards slash, that would have easily knocked Sky to the floor, but he was already out of the way. In the matter of a few heartbeats Sky was behind him and swinging a downward slice into his sword arm's shoulder. Soren hit the ground had his scimitar skittering wildly across the ground. Sky took a deep breath and steadied himself from the blow, suppressing his in-trained instinct to go for the kill, even though his sword was training covered.

Soren stood slowly looking at his commander in awe. It was obvious that he hadn't been beaten so easily in a long time. "You've got excellent form Mr. Soren, but we should work on your speed." Sky extended his hand to his fallen subordinate. "I will sir." Soren said meekly flexing the shoulder where he'd been hit. It was obviously uncomfortable. Soren made walked to his scimitar before taking a seat again the bulkhead wall.

Harmony was the only opponent left and Sky could see she was out for revenge. She drew her covered rapier and took, what to Sky's eyes was, the perfect fencing stance. He could not see one unguarded point in her stance as he had with the others. He was going to have to fight at the level he had beaten Soren at just to keep up with Harmony. Sky took his low sword drawing stance one more and was immediately under attack. Harmony made a series of fast lunging stabs that Sky had to speed backwards from to avoid being stabbed in the chest. In those first few stabs he saw that Harmony had been easily the best swordsman on the ship until he had arrived.

She made another more powerful lunge so fast that Sky's only choice was to use a fast draw across his chest. The slash slammed the stab off its path towards his chest and too the side. Harmony sped past him in the same direction as he deflected stab and immediately turned so as not to present her back unprotected. Sky had already sheathed his sword again and was in his drawing position. "Sir with all due respect we've all been giving this our best." Sky froze completely in position, unsure of where the conversation was going. "So maybe you should give us your best as well." He saw what she wanted in those words. She wanted to see what he could really do. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment, raising his skill level to the maximum possible.

Harmony took the lead sending another lunging attack as fast as she could. She watched as the sword slipped through the distance between herself and him and reach the range of no escape. He had not moved an inch. Then her sword passed through him and he was no longer there. "You wanted to see my best Lieutenant." She heard is voice from behind her. "The question is can you see it." She spun round to see her commander standing calmly in the same pose as she had last seen him in. She stepped forward again and in an instant he was gone. She stopped and felt a dull pressure on the base of her neck. She froze not daring to move a muscle. Somehow he had moved from ten feet away in front of her to behind her and she hadn't even been able to see him. "This is the reason why I have not lost in such a long time; the swordsman style of my tribe." Harmony felt the pressure of the sword lift slightly and spun to land a stab at close range to end the match. However before she got halfway around something smacked the back of her hand causing her rapier to come spilling out and fall to the ground.

She looked up in awe to see her commanded standing before her, his blade held across his front so she could see the tang clearly. She saw some sort of scrawling runic writing inlaid there. "It reads as 'God of the Lightning Step' in Misalli runes. The title my tribe gave me when I reached the pinnacle that this style has ever reached." He looked directly in Harmony's eyes and she felt a shiver run down her spine. "I can move so fast that no human eye has yet been able to see me using the full technique. That was an example of my best." He waited in silence for a moment letting his statements sink in. "You are all good at fighting with your hands and a sword. You are all more than a match for the average swordsman. We will improve on this while we're together. I will make sure that you all became strong enough to take on true sword masters. Do you hear me?" The crew who had been standing watching the match in awe all snapped to attention. "We hear you, sir!" He could see that he had won their respect with his little display even though part of they hadn't even been able to see. "That will be all. Mr. Soren you have the bridge, Mr. Rollov organise the return of the supplies to the hold, dismissed." This time the whole crew including Harmony snapped to attention present a salute then went about their business. Sky watched Harmony as she headed out the door of the cargo hold obviously deep in thought. He could see his plan was working.

Chapter 2
Chapter 4
Aurora Dancing With The Sky