USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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A New Song for Saurians

Posted on Thu Aug 3rd, 2017 @ 5:03am by Major Storr Garlake & Petty Officer 1st Class Shadi Zatra

Mission: S2E1 - Secrets
Location: USS Vindex - Deck 25 (Marine Barracks)
Timeline: MD 99; 1600

It had been over a week since her life had changed forever. Shadi refused to think of it as an ending. Just a permanent, debilitating change. When she had transferred to this tasty ship, she was delighted with the fresh opportunity to become the engineer she had dreamed of becoming.

Nobody in her life had looked at her and seen anything other than a killing machine. On Sauria, it was due to her lineage. Anywhere else, it was an automatic presumption. Saurians were known for two things: brandy and killing. And Shadi was all out of brandy.

Skryt, a Reman who walked between two worlds, had identified with her struggle. He had left his old life in the Romulan Empire and sworn allegiance to the Federation, serving among fellow Marines who slept with one eye open when he was around.

It was a match made in paradise. And then... he left. Transferred to the newly established colony on the world they'd discovered. A warrior had to answer the call to battle. She knew this, and did not resent him for it.

But, oh, how she missed him. He who had stolen both pairs of her hearts.

Her shift was nearly over, and for some reason Lieutenant Atkinson had not assigned her any additional duties. Shadi wandered into the Marine Barracks, unsure of what she was looking for or why she was there.

Part of her hoped to see Skryt barking gravelly orders at the men during training drills. She knew that wasn't the case, but there was no other part of the ship that made her feel close to him or rekindled his memory.

Shadi traced a lone talon down the side of the bulkhead in her aimless wandering, leaving a faint mark that would probably buff out with enough elbow grease.

"Ssskryt." His name would forever be on her forked tongue.

As the MCO rounded the corner, his mind on three things other than anticipating a Saurian also deep in thought rounding it as well, the two unceremoniously crashed into the other and fell to the floor in a tangled mess. A gruff apology reverberated from the Major as he disentangled himself from the scaly arms of the reptilian engineer.

Standing, he smoothed his black and Kelly-Green uniform and shivered unconsciously from the unanticipated contact with Shadi's cold, wet scales. "Petty Officer, I don't think we've met. I'm Major Garlake, Marine Commanding Officer." Storr extended his hand and looked down at the enlisted lizard's claws, suppressing another shudder...he wasn't completely at ease with progression down the humanoid scale.

Shadi shook the man's hand and offered the traditional Warrior's greeting. "Victory, Major. My name is Shadi Zatra."

"Victory, Shadi," he replied, unsure what the appropriate reply would have been. "it's a pleasure. What brings you to the best-run section of the ship?"

"I can't say as I know." Shadi's head drooped downward. "Skryt and I became close. I miss him." When her eyes fell upon the groove she'd etched into the bulkhead, she turned frantic.

Storr's right brow popped up. Did she mean his Reman MXO? A quick visual up-down of PO Zatra and he immediately dismissed the encroaching thoughts of Skryt and her...he couldn't even name the act. Far too clammy and scaly.

"I am so sorry, Major! Let me come back with my optronic coupler and iso-linear spanner and I'll have that bulkhead looking good as used in no time..."

The MCO quickly put his hand on her shoulder to stop the Saurian from spinning into the ceiling. "No need, Petty Officer! I have a few Marines on detail that need the opportunity to take care of that. Now," he continued, removing his hand and clasping them both behind his back, "it seems that your mind is a bit preoccupied...care to take it off your worries? You mentioned victory before," he began the last sentence with the faint crack of a smile, "care to try your hand at a few competitions here?"

The Afrikaner knew that Saurians were natural fighters and was curious if their reputation was worthy of their actual performance. The question would be if he could round up enough jarheads willing to spar a few rounds with her. Nothing like getting decked by a lady lizard.

Shadi assessed the human before her. He had the height and mass advantage, but she knew even so that her physical strength easily matched that of the strongest Terran. Any contest between them would be determined strictly by skill.

"I receive the honor you give to me as daughter-spawn of the Ragolar brood," Shadi said. Her voice changed along with her posture, both more forward and imposing. "In the spirit of the Sixth Virtue of the Warrior Code, I accept your challenge, Major Garlake. Name your weapon."

Noticing the Petty Officer's instant change in demeanor, the MCO's faint smile broke out completely "Excellent. I choose to honor the Ragolar brood with unarmed combat. Follow me to the training room and I'll have a few of my men instruct you on the various rules of the facility.

A very short walk had the two entering the sparring room where four enlisted Marines were just finishing up their evening stretches and came to attention before saluting smartly. Storr returned their salute and quickly explained the situation, it not unknown for the Major to bring in various challengers to their sanctum. Lance Corporal McBroom stepped forward and addressed Shadi, though his commander as well for validation of his professional conduct.

"Rule One: respect others
Rule Two: Be Courageous
Rule Three: Train your mind, body and soul
Rule Four: Practice Daily to Protect the Corp
Rule Five: Strive, in all things, to train harder than your enemy
Rule Six: Never, never give up."

Major Garlake nodded to Flint who returned the nod with a smile and jerked his head to the side in order to corral his mates to the edge of the mats. The smell of dried sweat and tears hung heavy in the air, a suitable aroma for the meeting of warriors.

Shadi bowed to the Marines, then slinked into a serpentine posture that accented her inhuman joints and flexibility.

"I shall recite the the Six Virtues of the Warrior Code of Sauria:
First Virtue--Rectitude: to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason and without wavering.
Second Virtue--Courage: to perceive what is right and to do it.
Third Virtue--Mercy: to choose compassion over confrontation.
Fourth Virtue--Etiquette: the expression of a benevolent regard for the soul of another.
Fifth Virtue--Integrity: to abhor the devices of avarice and theft.
Sixth Virtue--Honor: to bear the unbearable in a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth.
Seventh Virtue--Loyalty: to steadfastly support those to whom one is indebted.
Eighth Virtue--Character: to teach the warrior's virtues through the model of one's own conduct."

Shadi bowed again, this time directly to Storr. "In the spirit of the Warrior Code, I must advise you to acquire personal body armor, lest you come to harm during practice."

The MCO was struck that Shadi's virtues aligned greatly with those of the SFMC (Justice, Judgement, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Enthusiasm, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, and Endurance), though he appreciated even more the nearly terse definitions that followed; the Corp, while it prided itself in using two-syllable-or-less words, still often times was far less succinct than necessary.

As the Major considered Shadi's request that he wear armor, his eyes flicked from one taloned hand to the next, her black claws seemingly absorbing the light that the rest of her body reflected in slick greens and blues. Storr was torn. Should he wear armor to protect himself from the near-certain claw scrapes, piercings, and slashes that were to come? It would save him pain, blood, and a potential scolding from Jaya but more than likely would lose him a few points from his men for cowardice (justified or not). If he did not, would Shadi go easier on him for fear of hurting him and therefore make the match less...enjoyable for the both of them?

Suddenly, a name flashed across his mind, quick and bright, then was gone as instantly as it had come. Doqqu. The Klingon had broken him at The Facility where he had not worn armor and Storr unconsciously reached up and felt the divot on the outside of his right orbit from the mek'leth's impact. *Never Again,* he thought.

Major Garlake shook his head and stripped down to his undershirt and briefs before donning the heaviest gi available. The thick fabric was tightly woven and provided a significant barrier when practicing with various melee weapons there in the dojo though its ability to stop, let alone deflect, razor-sharp claws was questionable.

Rather than bow again, Shadi stripped down to her barest garments for greater agility. Her scales glistened in the light of the training area, casting off flickers of luminescent light from her movements. She turned end over end, first onto one hand, then another, then her feet, then a somersault frontward and back in ever-increasing speeds and gyroscopic spins.

When she came to a final landing, she hunched on all fours with her feet apart and back partly hunched.

"I shall fight in the style of my ancestors: in your tongue, it may be called Iguana-in-a-Hurricane. Make ready, Major."

Storr chuckled to himself at the visual imagery of a lizard being flung about by massive winds and simply rolled his neck with a satisfying *crack* before lowering himself into a fighter's stance. Taking a breath and exhaling, the large Marine waited a beat before meeting the Saurian's gaze. He nodded curtly and immediately tucked low, shooting in at her hips and wrapping his massive arms around her diminutive waist at a speed much greater than his form likely presented. He pressed hard, pushing the two to the ground with a *thump* as their combined masses hit, him twisting for the dominant mount position both to control his opponent and to keep at least two sets of her claws away from his warm, pink body.

The bulky human had the height and weight advantage, which he used to great effect with Shadi finding herself on her belly with Storr on her back. Shadi retracted her claws into her webbed hands for greater dexterity. Her powerfully nimble fingers broke her free from his grasp, which allowed her to slither into a more flexible position.

Laying flat on her chest with her belly slightly elevated, she bent her back in an inhumanly acute angle. Her legs shot into the air with her feet twirling a tight circle before wrapping around his neck. Shadi applied pressure to the back of his shoulders with her knees, then dug her claws into the fabric of his gi to force tension. She then pulled his legs forward with her hands while forcing his shoulders backward with her knees, slamming him to his back with a hard thud on the mat.

The Saurian's dexterity was inhuman...Storr mentally smacked himself at the thought though not before his best efforts to control her body failed and the engineer slithered out from between his knees and mounted his back. His gi, so appropriately chosen mere moments ago, was betraying him in a reverse X choke. The Marine's heartbeat thumped louder and louder in his ears as the circulation tightened in his neck. Reaching back and hooking an arm with his, the two flapped for control before he flipped to his back on the mat.

Looking up, he had only a moment to see Shadi push herself off the ground into a spinning cannonball somersault directly over him. Decision time. Evade to the side and give her his back? Shrimp away and potentially have his hands and/or legs pinned? Or simply take the hit and attempt to reverse the inertia? None of the options were good ones and as the crazed reptile in a storm came falling towards him, he made his choice.

The impact knocked the wind out of the burly Afrikaner and he saw stars, causing him to nearly miss his opportunity to wrap Shadi into a guard. Nearly.

He knew that the lizard was dexterous but there was a limit to all things. Wrapping his thick thighs around Shadi, he quickly bucked his hips, forcing her to jolt forward and put out her hands to brace against the mat. Bringing his ear to the knee on the same side and ducking under her arm that was out, he spun on his back and rotated his now free leg around Shadi's neck while simultaneously holding and pulling on the exposed arm. Cradling her head in the crook of his knee, he slowly pulled the arm forward and squeezed, a satisfying wretch emanating from his opponent. He grinned, though the shimmering skin and glassy yellow eyes filled with adrenaline made him shiver.

The powerful Human was impressive. Shadi felt the pressure from her lung sacks pressing outward from her chest. All four hearts pounded in demand for air. Desperate, Shadi dislocated her shoulder, rotated her arm around, and popped it backwards into her socket. She would have to fix that later, as it would make using her tools very counter-intuitive. For the moment, it allowed her to reach below her, steal leverage, and lift the combined weight of both their bodies into the air. Her single arm gave out, but that was all she needed.

They both fell onto the mat, though their inertia focused directly onto Storr's knee. His chokehold weakened enough to allow her to slither free. Rather than retaliate, she popped her other shoulder out of socket and reversed its setting to match her other arm. With both limbs bent in a ghastly reverse direction, Shadi launched herself sideways at the MCO who had just regained his feet. Her cross-body attack knocked him back a few feet, but he quickly regained his balance.

That instant was all the Daughter-spawn of Ragolar needed.

Before her opponent could sink another headlock or chokehold, Shadi's arms and legs were slingshot by her momentum around his core. Her talons met on hands and feet, locking together in a savage chain mesh of razor-sharp bone. With her own hold set, Shadi retracted her claws to lock her hands and feet together, then squeezed with her arms, legs, and core with all her might in a full-body serpentine constriction.

*Mother...* was all his mind was able to process before he found himself feeling much like he imagined some poor monkey felt in the bands of a giant boa constrictor on Earth. Except for this time, it was a deadly, double-jointed reptilian warrior. There was still a poor monkey in the equation, though.

As he struggled physically, he also grappled with his chivalry. How far would he go to defeat Shadi, a female? A...woman? It was hard to think of the lizard in that sense but it was still there, no matter how different their initial physiology may be. True, she was highly skilled and likely very deadly in her arts, had him in her clutches, and would win their bout if he didn't respond appropriately. But what was appropriate? The Marines had drilled into his head that the enemy didn't care about your or their gender when they were trying to kill you, but cultural and religious mores are hard (if not impossible) to shake. Combat is one thing. Training...that's another entirely.

His vision began to darken at the edges as his fingers tingled from lack of circulation, signaling that his internal moralizing had only a few moments to conclude before the decision would be made for him.

Shadi's shoulder was being used to press against his jugular so the Marine pulled his head back as far as he could before bringing it down, his chin contacting scales and bone with a sharp *pop*. The force set her shoulder back and caused just enough room and distraction for him to activate his screaming calves and thighs to jump.

For a moment, the room was silent as the two bodies soared up a foot from the ground, entangled in an embrace of near-death and adrenaline. As they sailed back down, Storr did all he could to position Shadi's head beneath him. It was obvious what was going to happen if they landed in their current configuration and the MCO had the weight advantage to keep them in that position for the remainder of their fall.

Would she call "Tap" to avoid the all-to-impending crash? Would he go through with it and potentially give the Petty Officer a concussion (or worse)? Would he deflect at the last minute and likely go unconscious himself if he didn't tap? So many thoughts careened through Major Garlake's nearly-blackened vision that he was sure he wouldn't know the result until after he woke back up, regardless.

Once gravity overcame their rise to pull them back down, Shadi released her hold on Storr into a controlled flail of arms and legs that landed in a bizarre prone position. Rather than press the attack, she took the opportunity to pop one arm after the other back into proper alignment.

When she regained her footing, she bowed low.

"You are a mighty warrior, Major Garlake, and worthy to ssstand among the brood-mates of my clan." Shadi raised her head and opened her eyes wide. "May pestilence afflict your enemies and starve them to ruin," she intoned, "for famine would be better for them than to face you in delicious battle."

Storr gulped air for a moment before slapping his hands to his side and bowing low in return.

"You honor me and are welcome to fight at my side anytime, daughter-spawn of the Ragolar brood. Skryt would be proud and was right to seek your affection." Looking quickly to the sides of the mat at the several onlookers, he smiled as he straightened and stepped forward, offering a hand in friendship. "You're welcome here anytime, Petty Officer, as I'm sure my men would do well to learn from you...it's not often they have to look defeat in the eyes."

Shadi was sure to retract her claws before accepting Storr's hand into her own webbed grip.

"I accept your honor, Major, but I wish to be known as more than a warrior. My brood-mates have turned the Way of the Warrior into entertainment for tourists--those who have not married into brandy merchant clans. There are no songs of Saurian engineers. I wish to inspire the first of many."

The MCO nodded slowly. "I think I understand...if your technical skills are even half that of your unarmed ones, verses will be ringing out for you sooner rather than later."

The participants slowly shuffled out and closed the door behind them, the automated sterilization routine (not that much unlike a washing machine) running for the remainder of the hour. While some thought it overkill, it made the room smell at least a little less like fried chicken and eradicated MRSA outbreaks. That, and it was rumored that the Major forced everyone out to ensure they completed their daily SITREP reports and cleaned their weapons. Perhaps....perhaps.

 

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