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LtCmdr Chloe Mannin: Blade Dance

Dizmim ChNilmani

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((Holodeck 3))

::The light brown kimono and tabi that she wore, in addition to the sword hanging across her back, had attracted attention as she had padded quietly through the corridors leading from her quarters to the holodeck, but, being in her own mental world, the jet-black-haired young woman hadn't even noticed. The fact that it was a mans kimono didn't seem to occur to anyone, thankfully; Chloe found that she could move better in it than in a traditional woman's version with its unattached sleeves. Now she stood outside the holodeck.::

Mannin: Computer, display a Japanese dojo, Hokkaido style, in winter.

::The computer responded with its ubiquitous beep and the room around her became a wintery terrain, with deep snow drifts. Chloe stood on the edge of a courtyard, about 30 feet on a side, with a light snow falling through the calm air. ::

((The image to have here is the courtyard in Kill Bill where O-Ren and the Bride fight it out. -- Chloe))

::I have always loved snow, ever since I was a little girl. The sharp crisp air in my lungs, the light kisses of the flakes on my face, the crunch of new crystals beneath my feet. All of it makes me feel well alive.::

::Taking the sword from the sheath, Chloe placed the latter on the edge of the steps, laying it precisely parallel to the long boards that made them up. Six steps backwards into the courtyard, crunching lightly in the snow, gave the young woman enough room to move. She began with Gathering Energy, rolling the sword forward, then up in an arc, reaching center and focusing her mind, clearing it for the rest of the forms.::

::Mediation is a basic aspect of my life. I am able to cope because I am able to quietly reflect and consider, as if from an outside perspective, the events of the day and the actions that I have taken in response to them.::

::The Fair Lady Weaving came next, with the sword tip weaving back and forth, as though it was pushing numerous opponents on both sides back. This was followed by the Crane Exercises Wings; with the sword itself moving from hand to hand, then from low to high stance position. The Crane moved into Drive Tiger Away, a quick series of forward steps, Grasp the Bird's Tail, her hand sliding down to the end of the pommel in a risky grip that gives an unexpectedly long reach to startle the enemies, rolling into Repulse Monkey, a forceful step-and-push combination.::

::Dance is the active manifestation of meditation. The motions are predetermined, a routine and because of that the mind can be clear as the body moves of its own volition.::

::The space poses complete, the defensive stances came next. Repulse Monkey became Wave Hands like Clouds, where a spinning sword moves back and forth between the hands, creating two slightly overlapping circles that look something like clouds. Consoling the North Wind pushed the woman forward and to one knee, as if a high slash was going over her head and back. Within the Cyclone stood her up and put the sword into a spin around her body. The Wild Horse Resists involved jumping over a low slash, while the Eights Strands of the Brocade put her through vertical blocks to each of the compass points in turn. The stances were finished by the Tail of the Pea[...], an upward sweep behind the back designed to block thrusts coming from behind.

::Swordplay, for me, is more dance than martial. My blade is a partner, one to respect and move with, rather than a tool, something to command and dominate. Try to force the blade to do something it cannot and you will only end up hurting yourself... or worse. It is a relationship, like with a dance partner, of respect.::

::The Offensive forms finished the set: the Cobra Unwinds, a forward thrust that turned 180 degrees right back over the wielder's head as she leaned backward, was followed by Flexing the Single Whip, snapping the sword in a wrist-driven slash down and across. Encompass East and West incorporated a vertical cut down to the right that turned into an upward one to the left. The Five Elements attacked from multiple directions: upward (Earth), downward (Air), across diagonally (Fire), across horizontally (Water), and was finished by a thrust directly forward, aimed at the opponents heart (Spirit). Archer Releases His Arrow repeated the final thrust of the Five Elements, but turned it into a throw as the woman's hand slid off the handle and only caught the sword by the long tassel. Finishing with the Scissors Cut the Silk, a quick-combination down-then-up slash, Chloe closed the exercise with Gathering Energy once again, re-centering herself and calming her ragged breath.::

::I think of swordplay as meditation, as well. It clears and centers the mind. It exercises the body, if done right, loosening every muscle. It focuses the thoughts, draining away the stress of the day. The respect that dancing with a blade demands is very one-sided, though. A true partner respects you, sees that cooperation is best for both people. The blade cares nothing for you. A moment of distraction... even an instant... it will cut you.::

::She began again, moving faster through the forms the second time. As the slender woman reached the middle of the defensive stances, the jingle of a comm badge echoed through the room. Her concentration broken ever so slightly, the spinning defensive stance of Within the Cyclone slipped slightly out of place and, in the blink of an eye, she lost control and had to dodge her own sword.::

::Whoever this is... is going to regret it, she thought as she caught her ragged breath.::


Lt. Commander Chloe Mannin

Strategic Ops Officer

USS Victory

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