03-05-2008 20:57:09

They can’t be serious. Callus thought to himself as he stood in the open courtyard opposite 2 Krath Journeymen; one a Protector and the other a Jedi Hunter. With the recent decree from the Iron Throne ignorant Journeymen were now allowed to have lightsabers. He had been given their names but hadn’t taken the initiative to learn them. They had been sent to him to learn the way of the saber, neither was worthy to learn the art that he possessed and neither had the desire. They would rather be learning the flashy styles like Mikashi, or Soresu. No one appreciated the simple effectiveness of Shii-Cho anymore, they associated age and simplicity with weakness. Those who were that ignorant had never been on the business end of Callus’ blade.

Callus didn’t turn his head as his apprentice moved beside him, as usual Callus didn’t acknowledge Strats’ presence as it was expected of the young Hunter to always be at his master’s side. Callus had been tutoring Strats for awhile now and had taught him more of Shii-Cho than either of the ones standing before them could ever hope to learn. Callus nodded to Strats who strode to the middle ground between the Dark Jedi and raised his stick into a Shii-Cho stance. Callus had instructed them all to bring sticks for their practice session to avoid any accidents. With a curt nod toward his master Strats attacked the Krath across from him.

After recovering from their initial shock they raised their own sticks and attacked. If numbers meant anything then the two Krath should have been able to overwhelm Strats, but skill will triumph numbers more often than not. Strats with lethal effectiveness and precision attacks quickly drove his opponents away. Strats attacked with a crushing overhead strike and his stick cracked as it slammed into the shoulder of the Jedi Hunter driving the Krath to her knees putting her out of the fight.

Strats then spun in an unorthodox maneuver for the Shii-Cho form, one that he had seen his master use time and again with extremely beneficial results. Strats’ stick splintered and broke against the side of the Krath Protector’s head sending the Kel Dor sprawling onto the ground.

“Enough,” Callus spoke raising his hand as Strats returned to his side, “so Krathlings, how does it feel to be dead? If you still have any qualms about learning the Shii-Cho style of lightsaber combat, then you are either incredibly ignorant or completely brain dead.” Callus said as he watched the others regain their composure and resume their previous positions. He handed his own stick over to Strats, “Strats here is going to begin your instruction while I rest and prepare for the final stages of your training.” Callus nodded to his apprentice as he began to instruct the Krath in the basics of the Shii-Cho form.

Callus found a spot under the sun in the grass and lay on his back watching the clouds move breathing slowly and relishing in the cool breeze on his face. It hadn’t been long since his rescue from the hands of the Crimson Tide and he had hardly spoken to anyone about his time there or his recent thoughts on the state of the brotherhood. His thoughts were interrupted by a yelp from the center of the courtyard. Strats must have given one of those impudent Krathlings a good thwack across the back when they missed a parry.

The art of Shii-Cho was easy to learn, and even to master but very few took the time to do so. Callus was perhaps one of the last to still adhere to the original style of lightsaber combat, the way of the Sarlacc as it had once been called. The style predated all modern history originating with the original Jedi, four millennia before the destruction of the first Death Star. Callus wouldn’t presume to call himself a master of the form but others would as most had rejected the simple form in lieu of the more attractive and flashy styles that had been developed since Shii-Cho. What most neglected was that some aspect of Shii-Cho is apparent in every fighter’s chosen style of combat.

It is affectionately referred to as the ‘Determination Form’ for its ability to allow the user to deal with multiple foes at once without much difficulty as Strats had done earlier. The motions and steps had become second nature for the Templar, and now for his student. Callus could be awakened from a deep sleep a saber put in his hands and instantly be ready to defend himself. The maneuvers we’re simple, powerful and lethal as those who had seen his attack and lived to tell about it.

Callus heard another crack and sat up to see the Kel Dor bent over clutching his chest. A small grin crawled its way onto his lips as he saw Strats correct the mistake that the Protector had made and show him the proper way to defend an angled strike to the legs, a quick step back or a low arcing counter strike into your opponent’s attack.

Defense in Shii-Cho was simple as it was actually attacking into your opponents attack with an attack of your own, one of the main reasons a proponent of the style had to always be on the attack and determined to go in for the kill, to never hold back. The Jedi practitioners of Shii-Cho had attempted to achieve a strike known as a sun djem that was meant to disarm their opponent. Callus had taken a lesson from this, but applying a bit darker twist, preferring to execute a cho sun completely removing the weapon arm from his opponents.

He watched as the journeymen continued their drills, it was slow progress but slow was better than none. He thought about some of the others who had been asked to instruct their underlings in the way of the saber. They had been disturbed at having to show their secrets to others who could one day challenge them for their station. Callus had no problem in doing so, he had been shown the proper technique and for his art to survive others had to learn it as well. He saw the Kel Dor Protector best the human Jedi Hunter in a velocity and nodded. Whoever had instructed the female human had neglected to instruct counter strikes and the Kel Dor seemed to have all of his basics mastered. Natural prowess could trump a trained warrior occasionally, but the Kel Dor had prowess and training, a dangerous combination indeed.

Callus rose to his feet and made his way over to where they were practicing.

“Well, that seems like enough for now. The progress was minimal but it’s coming along. The art of the saber isn’t something you can learn in a few days it takes years for you to be confidant in your abilities and be able to back them up. Alright well, we’ll meet back here tomorrow. Rest up and don’t forget what you learned.” Callus nodded as they bowed and made their way off to their respective places. Callus made his way back to where he had been laying earlier, Strats joined him.

“Master, there is something I’ve been meaning to ask.” The Hunter spoke sitting in the shade.
“Alright then, what’s on your mind.” Callus said closing his eyes enjoying the breeze.
“The two Krath today, they barely had even rudimentary skills with their weapons.”
“Who’s at fault?”
“At fault for the falling standards of the saber skills within the brotherhood?” Callus asked rhetorically, outwardly vocalizing the rest of his apprentice’s question. “Well most directly the masters of the journeymen, but I suppose a part of it could be because of the reliance on blaster weapons in our current day and age.”
“What about the council?”
“You mean the decree to give journeymen lightsabers?”
“Yes, it sounds foolish.”
“Well,” Callus chuckled a bit. “I guess I really have rubbed off on you, and not just my teachings. You’re starting to think like me. I don’t understand the reasoning behind giving journeymen sabers but then I don’t make the decisions. It has always been seen as a symbol of status; earning the right to carry a saber, but it seems like the honor is gone now. I know this, there are going to be a lot more accidents that result in death rather than a burn now that the impulsive masses are being given lightsabers.” Callus sighed as his apprentice shifted, leaning against the tree.
“My strikes were feeling slow today especially the counters. I could use some practice.”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Callus said as he sprung to his feet and grabbed one of the spare sticks. “You looked awful today, and if I see you do that jung ma again without striking at the neck or chest you’ll be sorry.” The two moved to the center of the courtyard and assumed stances. “Where’d you learn that move from anyway?” Callus mocked as he began his attack.

The two sparred for hours as the sun slowly dipped beneath the horizon.