:: The two men met on the beach before the twin suns announced dawn. Inside the Embassy, only the night watch was awake, guarding over its sleeping occupants. Each man was a study of flesh and bone, finely honed muscle and sinew. They were warriors, one human, one Andorian. As they approached each other in the dark, pre-dawn coolness, the Andorian could not see the human smile. He was looking forward to this meeting. He had learned much from Tel-ar when they served together, such as dealing with his rage to become a more disciplined, and more deadly fighter. Hannibal had further sharpened his skills over the years, and, like the Andorian on the beach, Hannibal loved a good fight. ::
:: Tal enjoyed the cool breeze coming in off of the ocean. It ruffled his short white hair which was still damp from his swim and carried the scent of the salt water to his antenna. The cool wet sand felt nice under his bare feet and the occasional wave that washed over them had a gentle touch. It suited his mood, the stars fading from sight as the new day approached, just as the young human marine walked towards him. Tal had agreed to this meeting, even looked forward to it. It still had not stopped him from spending the last 3 hours alternating between swimming in the ocean and running along the beach. Even as he walked closer to him Tal could feel that expectation, the need to test himself awaken deep down inside him. ::
:: Hannibal was shirtless and barefoot, wearing only a pair of SFMC olive green shorts, Tal wore only a swimsuit the color of midnight. The two men stopped a respectable distance from each other, the roar of the ocean in their ears. It was then Hannibal spoke to his chosen opponent. ::
Parker: Good morning, Commander….
Tel-ar: :: Tal waited a few moments before he replied, a faint tinge of light was now barely visible on the horizon and it bleached the sky an interesting tint of red even as he finally replied. :: It is Major.
Parker: What’s your pleasure? We’ve got all day if you have the time for it….
:: Hannibal was fresh and was more than willing to be wrestling and fighting with his former First Officer as long as he wanted. It would be a great test of will, strength, and endurance. ::
:: The evident eagerness of the man caused a brief hint of a smile to drift across Tal’s face. To be so young, so eager to test one’s abilities. It reminded him of his own past, some of his own struggles even as he replied. ::
Tel-ar: Why not just keep it simple and use any and all of the skills we have. After all I am sure that you have some that you want to trot out and test against me.
:: Tel-ar was right...Hannibal had learned a few things since they were assigned together, and yes, he wanted to try them out. One thing Hannibal had also learned was to not be baited so easily as he had been in the past. ::
Parker: Sounds good to me, Commander...shall we begin?
:: Tal took a deep breath, enjoying the way the cool ocean air felt even as he settled himself into a defensive posture. His steel gray eyes watched closely as the marine did the same. ::
:: Hannibal watched the Andorian take up the standard defense posture, one which would allow him to spring into any defensive move he chose. Hannibal shadowed him and for a moment, the two men held their positions, frozen in time, neither one ready to give the game away. Each man looked for an opening, a seconds' in attention, none were forthcoming. Hannibal’s breath was even and quiet, the two dancing in the sand, the only sound was that of the rushing waves. It was time for a little good-natured taunting. ::
Parker: Well, Commander...are you waiting for an invitation?
Tel-ar: Victory is often to the swift but not the reckless Major. I may be many things, reckless is not one of them. :: Even as he spoke Tal shifted his weight, angling his body so that he had more options in regards to both defensive and offensive possibilities even as he lowered his center of mass slightly. ::
:: Hannibal was still watching him, not interested in making the first move...at least not yet. Hannibal moved with him, keeping himself squarely in front of him, keeping himself low and balanced. ::
Parker: I'm sure Commander...you have heard the term of playing possum...
Tel-ar: Some would say that was a clever illusion, others a weakness to be exploited. :: Tal moved suddenly, using his greater height and speed to close the distance suddenly even as he struck with a combination of punches aimed towards the head. He followed this up with a side kick to the man’s abdomen. All of it was designed to force the man to back up, even as Tal prepared for the real attack. ::
:: Hannibal saw the rush coming too late, and he was pummelled, driving him backwards. He managed to block several hits directed at him, but Tel-ar landed a solid blow to his nose, and Hannibal could hear the cartilage crunch. The side kick was more of the same, a solid blow. Feeling the trickle of blood running down his nose, and tasting it in his mouth, Hannibal smiled. ::
Parker:: nodding:: Game time.....
:: This time, it was Hannibal who launched low, sweeping the Andorians' legs out from under him, then spinning in the sand, locking Tel-ar's legs in a murderous leg lock, a position which if Hannibal chose, could painfully dislocate Tel-ar's hip. ::
:: Tal recognised the maneuver even as he controlled his fall, the sand cushioning his landing even as he wondered in the man would try for the follow up leg lock. When he did Tal allowed a slight smile to form on his face. Parker had improved. ::
:: Releasing it, Hannibal spun away from him, then put some distance between the two...::
:: Even as the marine was releasing the hold and spinning away across the sand Tal was in motion, lifting his legs and rolling back onto his shoulders before he rolled back to flip up onto his feet. ::
:: Part of him had wished that Parker had tried for the disabling follow up move, it would have given him a chance to display the futility of trying it against any Andorian, his musculature and the numerous cartilage plates concealed under his skin to protect all of his body’s weak points meant that it would have taken a Vulcan or someone from a species with the same kind of strength advantage to pull it off. ::
Parker: You are quick, Commander....
Tel-ar: My unexpected speed has often been an advantage. :: Tal replied calmly, his breathing slow and relaxed. ::
Parker: I am a little quicker than you remember.....I've been practicing.....you still kick like a mule....
Tel-ar: Practicing and learning Major are two never ending tasks.
:: The Andorian was never quick to give out compliments. Acknowledgement was the best he could hope for, and from him, that was enough. The two men moved at the same instant, each catching each other at the same time with devastating right hands which both found their mark. Hannibal stayed close, pounding the Andorians' rib cage with left and right combinations, then grabbing the Andorian in a crushing bear hug before head butting him and pushing him off. ::
:: Tal felt the blows to his rib cage but ignored them, the cartilage plates under his skin and his superb training and musculature allowed him to absorb the blows with no real damage. Tal merely wrapped his long arms around him and squeezed even as Parker did the same but Tal placed his feet and used his strength to lift him off the ground even as Parker slammed his head forward into Tal’s face. ::
:: Instinct warned Tal just in time to raise his jaw so that he took the blow on his chin. Parker took advantage of this to slip his arms inside of Tal’s grip and push. This combined with his size, weight and strength forced Tal to release him, however as he pushed off Tal grabbed onto his wrists, lifted one foot up to plant it firmly onto his abdomen even as he threw his body backwards. ::
:: As his shoulders hit the sand Tal brought the other leg up to join the first one, then as he continued the roll backwards he pushed out with both legs and released his grip on Parker’s wrists at the same time. ::
:: The result was for the marine to fly through the air even as Tal continued the move backwards to land on his feet. As soon as he was upright and on his feet Tal spun, as he turned he could see that Parker had tried to flip in the air and land on his feet. ::
:: The sudden ungainly contact with the sand threw up a small cloud, one that failed to hide his contact with the sand. ::
:: Hannibal had felt the move, but the Andorian was lightning fast, and as Hannibal spun himself through the air, he caught himself, but not fully as he turned to face his friend. ::
Tel-ar: You have spent too much time sparing with humans Major. :: Tal said as he waited patiently for him to recover from the landing. ::
:: That much was true. Hannibal was too good and too strong for most of his opponents, and he was light years in skill above them. What he could have used was Tel-ar's drones to train with. ::
Parker: Why do you say that?
Tel-ar: You forgot that Andorians have cartilage plates woven into the outer layers of muscle over all of their vital organs and major joints. :: Even as he said that Tal could feel something dropping onto his chest and a quick glance down showed it was blood, his blood. ::
:: Tel-ar had a very valid point. One must always consider how to attack an opponent where they were weak. Andorians changed the game considerably. Still, Hannibal was pleased that at least, they were both bloodied. ::
Parker: Looks like you're leaking.....
Tel-ar: You probably did more damage to your hands than to me. :: Tal replied even as he reached up and checked his chin, felt the gash and was able to confirm that was the source of the blood. ::
:: Looking down at his fists, the knuckles were indeed raked raw, each streaked with blood. ::
Parker: Relatively minor damage....
Tel-ar: Andorian’s, Vulcan’s, Caitians and a number of other species have a denser muscle mass than humans. :: Tal said as he returned to a defensive stance even as Parker walked closer. ::
:: Hannibal closed to a discreet distance, just out of reach of the long-armed Andorian. ::
Parker: Remember and attack an opponents' weaknesses, not his strengths...
Tel-ar: Correct Major. :: Tal replied as he noticed that the distant sky was slowly turning purple and orange as one of the planets twin suns continued its slow climb into the sky. :: Also remember that if faced by an opponent with superior strength, use that strength against them.
:: Hannibal watched the sky as well, knowing the Marines would be up soon and headed for PT. He had already told Captain Martinez that should they see he and Tel-ar on the beach, they were not to interfere, as Tel-ar was a "friendly". Neither did Hannibal want an audience, he was here to train, to learn, to sharpen his skills. To do so required a worthy opponent, the willingness to sacrifice pride, to endure pain...and to listen. ::
Parker: Understood....which tactic would you consider best?
Tel-ar: Aikido is one, the Vulcan art of Shun-wa is another.
:: Hannibal was excellent at Aikido, and he knew only a little of Shun-wa. The choice was easy. Painful it would be, but that would be how one learned a new art. ::
Parker: My Shun-wa is embarrassing. I take it yours is better...
:: Very few would ever hear Hannibal say there was something he was not proficient in, but he remembered his purpose here as the twin suns slowly rose higher. ::
Tel-ar: That would be correct Major. :: Tal replied simply. He was not bragging, he spent many hours in training, had spent even more time learning how to fight. He had mastered a wide range and number of different styles, was even rated as an instructor in most of them. ::
:: The same could be said of his knowledge and understanding of primitive weapons. Most of this he had mastered long before he had first met Parker. Back before he had gotten married to Lt. Cmdr. Elina Rose Kincaide. ::
:: At the sight of Parker nodding in understanding the memories of his disastrous marriage were banished from his thoughts before they could truly form, even as the more pleasant diversion of the day resumed. ::
Parker: Let the lessons begin.....
Tel-ar: As you wish. :: Tal moved forward ready, even eager….. ::
((Time Jump – Mid day))
:: Tal was covered in sweet smelling floral scented sweat, another unusual aspect of his Andorian heritage. His left eye was swollen, the cut on his chin was bigger, it now constantly dripped blood onto his chest which was streaked with it and matted with sand that had mixed with both the blood and the sweat. ::
:: He was not sure but he though his cheek bone was cracked. He knew without looking that he was covered in bruises. He would be feeling this fight for the next few days at least and he was impressed. ::
:: Major Parker had indeed improved. The fact that he was still standing was proof of that although neither of them had truly been trying to do the other any real or permanent damage. ::
:: Hannibal was drenched in sweat as the twin suns were now high overhead. He had a cut on his forehead, his nose hurt, and every inch of his body was feeling the pummelling he had absorbed.. that was the nature of learning a martial art at nearly full speed. Hannibal had given out his share of punishment and the discomfort and pain he felt only helped him to focus, and he learned his lessons well. It was not pain, in a sense...it was euphoric, the kind of high long distance runners experienced. It was honest, brutal, and beautiful. ::
:: Everybody who had ever served knew there were no secrets in the military, and Starfleet was no different. The crowd had started to gather right around reveille, and continued to grow throughout the morning. Only absently did Hannibal know the crowd was growing, but Hannah had done her job in keeping everyone off the beach and out of their way. ::
:: It had obviously been, at least for Tal merely a great way to start the day and get reacquainted with someone from his past. Unfortunately they had drawn rather a large crowd, many of them members of Star Fleet but there were also a number of civilians and members of the local military and city police. ::
:: This was not the only reason that he was prepared to call it quits for the day. Parker was standing but Tal felt it was more a show of will power than anything else. His breathing was laboured and if anything he was even more drenched in sweat. ::
Tel-ar: I think we should call it a day Major. What do you think?
:: Hannibal would have continued until he could no longer stand, until his body finally betrayed him. The adrenaline which fueled him earlier was now gone, replaced with grim resolve and pure guts. Tel-ar knew Hannibal would never quit, never surrender, it was his way, and there was no dishonor in retiring after over eight hours of intense, personal combat training. Nodding his head and smiling, Hannibal spoke. ::
Parker: I am fine...but I know your transport will be leaving soon...and we have done quite a bit of excellent work today....
:: Tal walked forward towards him even as he spotted a few people push their way out of the crowd and rush forward. He recognized one of them as Parkers wife. As for the other 3 it was obvious that they were medics, however only two of them wore Starfleet uniforms. The 3rd seemed to be either off duty or a local willing to pitch in and help. ::
Tel-ar: Your wife is fast approaching on your left. :: He said in a low tone so as to warn Parker without tipping the man’s wife off that he had done so. The last thing he wanted was to get the man into any trouble with his spouse. ::
:: Hannibal looked up and saw the blond curly hair of his wife bobbing towards him, leading the pack of others who were coming to render aid, all of which he would refuse outright.::
Parker:: Quietly:: I see her. I'm surprised she stayed up there this long....
:: Tal closed the gap, since Parker seemed more intent on keeping the image up that he was perfectly fine. Tal was unsure if that was for his benefit, his wife’s or the marines that were standing close by and had been watching the last couple hours intently. ::
:: Hannibal knew he had to stand tall before his Marines and his wife, no matter how much he hurt. The pain did feel good in a perverse way, a way only understood by men like Hannibal and Tel-ar. There were true warriors, proud even in distress, showing no pain towards either his opponent or those watching. His body knew a completely different, but wonderful story. ::
Tel-ar: I enjoyed that rather more than I had expected Major. :: Tal said as he reached out to shake the man’s hand. Tal felt it was the least that he could do since he had given Tal the first real enjoyment of this entire trip. ::
Parker:: Smiling as he shook the Andorians' hand.:: It was frakking wonderful, Commander....
:: Just then his wife arrived and threw her arms around him, hugging him briefly as he winced from the contact, then she let go and reached up to touch his face, turning it towards her so that she could look him in the eye. As she did Tal spoke to her. ::
Tel-ar: You should be proud of your husband Mrs. Parker.
:: Kamela looked at her battered, bleeding husband, and then looked at his face...he was happy. Thrilled, it seemed. Her husband was indeed a unique man, something she did not always appreciate. It was days like this she knew she the warrior she married was by no means domesticated in the least. Looking over at the Andorian, Kamela smiled. ::
Allison: I am, Commander.....
:: Just then the medics arrived and as expected they interrupted the conversation to fire off 100 and 1 questions at both men. For a short time they did not have the opportunity to speak to each other. Not until the medical staff were finished with their examinations and prognosis. ::
Doctor: =/\= This is Dr. Darlene Jones. Beam myself, Major Parker, his wife and Cmdr. Tel-ar directly to sickbay. =/\=
((Short time jump))
:: Tal sat on a bio bed being looked after by a nurse while Major Parker lay on the bed beside him, his wife hovering over him and the doctor and a nurse looking after his various injuries. ::
:: Hannibal lay on his bio bed under the rather stern looks of his wife, Kamela. Every time he tried to rise up to sit, her withering look forced him back down. Once the doctor ran down the laundry list of damage both men inflicted on each other, it was quite apparent to the medical staff that the two "friendly" combatants were either crazy or needed more help than they could give them. Once the nurse had finished with Tal, she left to give the three some privacy...but Hannibal knew the Medical Center would be swelled with curious onlookers outside in the waiting room. ::
Tel-ar: Major Parker.
Tel-ar: Thank you for an enjoyable morning.
Parker: That it was, Commander
:: Tal reached up and gently touched his cheek. As he had thought the bone had been cracked, the medical staff had told him that even with the treatment they had administered that it would be a couple weeks before it was 100%. As he finished checking it himself Parker spoke again. ::
Parker: When does your transport leave?
Tel-ar: The Embassy maintenance staff have informed me that my shuttle will be ready for departure by 0930 tomorrow morning.
:: That gave Hannibal an idea. ::
Parker: Well, that's good. You know, we can practice some more, perhaps after sundown once they let us out of here...
:: That was when Kamela laid down the law to both men. ::
Allison: That's quite enough, you two! The only thing the two of you are going to do is rest and TALK! No more beating each other up for fun. :: smiling at least for now. :: Turning to Tal :: Commander, I'm not a bad cook, but it would be a pleasure to make you something for your long trip back. Something real and not replicated...
:: Tal considered the offer. Under normal situations he avoided any social activities, regardless of the situation. ::
Tel-ar: I would not want to impose. :: Tal replied calmly. ::
Parker: She is a very good cook, Commander....
:: It seemed even her husband thought it would be a good idea for him to join them and for some reason he did not understand he was inclined to accept. Considering the punishment that her husband had taken at his hands it might be wise to ensure that there were no lingering resentments between the two of them as a result of it. ::
Tel-ar: Very well. :: Tal replied as he looked back and forth between the two of them. :: I will accept.
:: Hannibal, despite his wife’s protestations, sat up. There were times when a man needed to look another man in the eye. It was a matter of respect and honor to do so. It was not the most comfortable thing he had done all day, but it had to be done. Smiling at the Andorian on the bed next to him, Hannibal spoke. ::
Parker: It would be an honor and a pleasure, to fight by your side, Commander...
:: It was amazing that although they both served together on board the USS Challenger-A together, they had never fought together. The commander was at his administrative hearing after Hannibal rescued Maya Gemini but killed several Remans in the process. Hannibal was cleared, but he never gave Hannibal a clear answer about if the same had happened to him, what would he have done. Hannibal suspected it all along it would have been the same thing. ::
:: Tal considered Parker’s simple but obviously heart felt statement. Given what he knew about him it was not unexpected or out of character. Still, even with that there were times when Tal took risks that bordered on the insane and seeing the two of them together he knew that he could never ask him to do the same. ::
Tel-ar: The feeling is mutual Major. :: And in his own way it was. There were not that many people who Tal would want to guard his back in a truly desperate situation. Major Parker had proven himself to be one of them. ::
:: Hannibal nodded. ::
Parker: You ever need me, Commander, for whatever reason, I will be there....
Tel-ar: I will keep that in mind Major, however I believe that your wife, your family should be your first priority. Take it from someone who failed to remember that and lost it all. :: Even after all this time he had regrets, not that he would have done anything differently, he was who and what he was. Still he often wondered what it would be like to still have his ex-wife in his life. Then again all things considered it was probably best that she had taken the kids and removed them from danger. After all he seemed to attract it like a magnet. The sound of Parkers wife speaking banished these morbid thoughts. ::
:: It was Kamela again who spoke. ::
Allison: You two warhorses need to get some rest and Commander...our home is open to you whenever you wish...
:: Hannibal laughed. ::
Parker: You heard the lady, Commander. Our home is open whenever you wish to drop by...
Tel-ar: I will keep that in mind Major, :: Tal turned and faced his wife as he finished speaking. :: Thank you for the offer.
:: It was then Doctor Jones pulled back the curtain and scowled at both men. ::
Jones: You two lie down and rest. Now. :: Shaking her head. :: Sparring for eight hours. Who the hell do you think you are?
:: As they both reluctantly followed the doctors' instructions, Tel-ar spoke. ::
Tel-ar: I believe we labour under the delusion that we are Starfleet officers Doctor, ones who understand that we need to be ready and trained for any possible danger.
:: It was an apt response, to which Hannibal replied. ::
Parker: We are indeed...
Major Hannibal Tiberious Parker
Acting Chief Of Security
USS Thunder-A/ Duronis II Embassy
Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar
Chief Tactical Officer
USS Doyle-A, NCC-80221-A
Tal Tel-ar’s Writer’s ID: T237708TT0