• Graded • I. No Skips, No Excuses

Rising from the stony plateau overlooking the rivers and plains of the western continent, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from this same rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence, eagerly spreading its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the different factions set aside their agendas long enough to see this through?

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• Graded • I. No Skips, No Excuses

Postby Kasoria » Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:27 pm

Image

9th Trial, Cylus, Arc 718
Outer Perimeter, Southeast Civilian Housing
8th break




It was hard for him to sleep past the seventh toll of the bells. Three arcs of his life, almost every day had begun with boots kicking down doors, batons hammering on bed posts, and roaring, cursing voices rousing all the shit-spawned cadets to action. They'd barely got their eyes open and boots on before they were corralled out into the cold, running, stretching, lifting, training. The first two or three seasons were the worst, but eventually one's body was battered into submission. The routine became just that: routine. Ordinary. Accepted. Anticipated by the mind before the first steel-shod boot smashed into the first door.

Kasoria's eyes snapped open a few bits after the six break, and that was it. He was awake, perpetual darkness or not. No point rolling over and trying to sleep some more, even though the bandaged gashes on his arm and leg silently pleaded for it. He lay there for a few bits, collecting his thoughts, letting the wispy fragments of the Dreamworld drift off his mind like dew from the grass... and then he tossed the covers off.

No skips. No excuses.

Another mantra of the Cadet Academy, and one he'd found applicable to every man one's body was his livelihood. A man could mold himself into a peerless specimen, but those seasons and arcs of effort meant nothing if he couldn't maintain it. That required patience, repetition, and exertion. The killer grunted as he got up out of bed, bad leg creaking as he rose to his feet. He remembered when he could take a cut anywhere on his form, and shrug it off by sunrise the next day. Treat it, sew it, burn it, bandage it, and be off to the fucking races. Now...

Now you need three days just to get the limp to sod off. But you didn't miss any. Not really.

Kasoria grunted as he splashed water across his face, swinging open the backdoor and letting the frigid morning air slap his senses clear. Ah, yes, more memories. Nothing woke a man better than that kind of fucking cold. He walked outside, clad in his breeches and nothing else, feeling the icy stones under his bare toes. He swung his arms out, stretched from side to side, rolled out his shoulders and let the motion work its way down his body to his feet.

Stiffness, in his arm. In his leg. The wounds were healing, both were closed, but still... they inhibited him. Limited him. Kasoria scowled at the bare walls of his tiny backyard, and took one knee... then another... then braced his hands and-

Push ups. Proof that simplicity did not immediately mean ease. The first dozen were enough to knock the stiffness from his limbs. The second and third dozen had him sweating, glaring at the stones as his nose bobbed up and down above them. The last two dozen finally awoke the pain in his arm, twisted and contracted flesh and muscle growling around the wound there.

Kasoria stopped and touched the bandage. No wetness, no color... but he was pushing it. Just like he'd been pushing it the last couple of days.

He switched things up. Never stopping, never giving up, just... adapting. His arm and leg meant that his regular routine was stymied, but all that meant was he had to leave things out and beef up what was left. He rolled over onto his back, shuffled forward until his feet were against the wall. He bent his knees, then reclined until his shoulder blades touched the floor... braced his hands behind his head and crunched forward-

Sit ups. Proving pretty much the same point, just through different muscles. His torso clenched and tightened every time he came up, trunk going from flat to vertical with every repetition. It took a few dozen before the cramp started to gnaw at his guts. Sweat was dripping off him by the fiftieth, leaving a ragged template of smears whenever he touched the ground again. By the eightieth it was running into his eyes and he finally just-

-flopped back onto the stones, grateful for the cold, the cool hiss they seemed to draw from his scorching skin. Still his limbs ached. Still they kept him back. So many exercises he had to pass over, and he could only repeat these two so many times. As he lay there, panting into the night sky that was such even with the new day, Kasoria felt eyes on him. Or mayhap just a shadow, and turned towards it...

A figure battered and old and still loomed over him. Clad in rags and much-repaired, by the looks of it. The killer sighed and nodded to himself. Aye. Once again, that would have to do. He rolled over, gritting his teeth as he came up to his feet in the same movement, aching leg be damned. Up he came into a crouch, as if ready to lunge at the training dummy still hanging against one wall of his yard.

Come on, then.

Thanks to Rumor for the template
"This is the life we choose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will see Heaven."
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Kasoria
The Raggedy Man
 
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I. No Skips, No Excuses

Postby Kasoria » Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:54 pm

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If he were honest with himself, it was not such a hardship. Having to forgo the grueling tedium of calisthenics, in favor of sparring? Oh, yes, such a tragedy. As he came on in a crouch, knees bent and ready to slide or dodge, Kasoria felt a familiar growl rumble through his heart. Even facing a mute and faceless mannequin. Even wounded and with no gold or survival at cost. Already his mind was blazing with possibilities, attacks, counters, strikes, blocks-

-feints-

-like the one he lashed out with, a right hook that never connected-

-sliding to his left instead, picturing his enemy throwing up his guard to block that hook that wasn't coming anymore, leaving him open on the side where-

-Kasoria jerked upright and his knee came up with it, slamming into where the dummy's kidney's would be, pulping them, making him stagger and yelp-

He almost heard it. Memories, echoes, a hundred of them, from a hundred brawls and killings across his life.

-then he threw up his own right arm in a block, countering the backhanded blow that would come sweeping down to knock him away-

Almost felt it. Not just the stung from his cut arm moving so quickly, but the real, trembling impact of a limb smashing against his own.

Counter and strike. Counterandstrike. No pause between the two, and together if you can.

Old lessons. Hard memories. Ki'Enaq had many faces and tastes, depending on where you were in the city. The savage but channeled barbarism of the streets was refined into a brutal efficiency once it graduated to the Blackguard of Etzos. The shrieking desperation of the gutter standard, the use of any solid object to hand, the goal to cripple and maim and murder behind every flurry of blows... that gave way to something more... civilized. If such a style of combat could ever have that word attached to it.

For this morning, Kasoria took himself back to those lessons. Those sparring sessions where Tantos and that baby-bald bastard Drix taught them to take a man down without damaging him forever. "Just remember," Tantos told them with a grin, "Forever's a fucking long time."

The blow had barely been blocked before Kasoria's left hand snapped out and smashed into the dummy's "throat". The Leopard's Punch, they called it back at the Academy. His fingers bent at the second knuckle, not a complete fist, but narrower, more precise. Perfect for striking at a soft target like the throat. His knuckles thumped into the target and he-

Almost saw it. His foes eyes pop open in shock as crucial yet vulnerable things ceased to operate, just below his chin.

Kasoria knew what would follow. A blow that killed breath and voice and will, his enemy's hands snapping to his throat-

-his right knee hammering up between the dummy's legs, knocking it a foot off the ground and his left hand grabbed the side of its head before it could even settle and to finish there was-

One, two, three, four, over and over his elbow hammered into the wooden, cloth-and-sweater-bounded lump he'd fashioned into a head arcs ago. By the time he began, he was screaming out into the air, breath coming out like a steaming dragon's. His arm was inverted, hand touching his breastbone, elbow swinging over and over, thudding into his target until he could see it, and feel it, and know it.

Always in flurries. Never just one or two. Not when you were his size.

He let go and the dummy slumped to one side, mute and yet unimpressed. He'd fucked up the ropes again. Treat it too roughly, too much like an adversary of flesh and blood, and he knocked it around and off its hooks. So Kasoria grumbled and set it back where it belonged, deciding that had he still been in the Blackjack, Tantos would not have been impressed.

Well he'll be fuck-all good for interrogation, won't he, boy? Lucky if he still has any sodding teeth.

There was a soft snort in the darkness. Something sad and mirthful, and gone, just as soon as the breath it came with had dissipated into the air. That was some twenty-four years ago, going on a round twenty-five and Sergeant Tantos would not be coming through his door to scold Cadet Kasoria anytime soon. The old man was dead, he was sure of it. Vanished after he'd... done what he had to.

After you got your justice, he reminded himself, warm recollection turning to blood and rage and an absence of remorse than never dulled. Old memories. Old hates. They didn't die. Just rested deeper within you. Anything after that... wasn't up to you.

Kasoria stepped back and wobbled a little on his bad leg. Still sore, that one. All that movement, all the activity... he wasn't a young man anymore. Even that bit-long flurry of movement was enough to send pain rippling up his limb, from his toes to his hips. He walked it off as best he could, heading back inside and cursing softly at the pins and needles sticking him. The body's way of telling him not to be a cunt, or it would hurt him.

Joke's on you, wanker.

He closed the door as life yawned awake around him. The street was coming to life, mothers jabbering at children, wives at husbands, the elderly at the young and pets at pretty much everything that looked like it could feed them. By the time he'd washed himself and changed his dressings, carts were rolling down the cobbles and horses neighed indignantly in front of them. A slow, gathering hum formed of ten thousand voices, all hustling and working and earning and hoping and forming the great wheels of the city.

Kasoria wiped his face and got dressed. He would walk among them for longer than usual that day. He dressed and strapped on his weapons, those almost visible and those definitely not. His coat and his hat went on last, the latter squared carefully onto his head as he looked in the cracked mirror above his washbasin. The beggar mask he wore so often would not be appearing that day. Instead, he checked and re-checked his purse was safe at his side... and he opened it up to reassure himself of both the gold nels piles inside, and the short list atop them all.

Small, neat writing, speaking of a man who'd come later to literacy. Not too many items, but enough to warrant an early leaving, and an appearance more than one would find stinking up an outhouse.

A season's worth of supplies, and some fresh ideas.

Continued here

Thanks to Rumor for the template
"This is the life we choose, the life we lead. And there is only one guarantee: none of us will see Heaven."
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Kasoria
The Raggedy Man
 
Posts: 233
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I. No Skips, No Excuses

Postby Pegasus » Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:44 pm

Kasoria
Overview : Any thread starting with that song is on to an immediate bonus, far as I'm concerned! I had a little moment of reliving the 80s! Then, I enjoyed the thread in its own right - wandering round in the cold and pushing himself physically and mentally. I loved the little snippets of wisdom (pushups: proof that simplicity does not mean ease). I love the way you write, it's coherant and yet jumps around - very cleverly done and nice use of left-right align to make it easier on the reader, too. Interesting and well written thread. Enjoy your rewards and drop me a pm if you've got any questions / feel I've missed anything.
Points :  XP: 10

Renown: Nope
Loot :  Nope
Knowledge : Discipline: Not Skipping Exercise
Discipline: Altering a Workout, But Never Shirking It
Strength: Push Ups
Strength: Sit ups
Unarmed Combat: Leopard Punch
Unarmed Combat: Kidney Strike
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