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[Round 18] Fleet Captain Sidney Riley: From the Ashes


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((Holodeck 2, USS Independence-A))

:: Sidney entered the holodeck and simply stared at the yellow on black grid for a moment. She took a deep breath and sighed. Closing her eyes, she felt a knot in the pit of her stomach. She took several more deep breaths, tears falling from the corners of her closed eyes. Collapsing onto the floor, she opened her eyes, staring at the grid for what seemed like a very long time.::

::In many ways Sidney felt as though she had given the wrong answer to Jade's question, "...is it always like this? I mean, before I joined I understand you have Operation Bright Star, and before that the Gorn War. It is war and death in every direction and through time. I fear I'm not strong enough, I can never be like you." War, death and destruction had filled her life in so many ways for a long time...was there joy, love, happiness?::

::She hadn't said it not verbally, but she had really wanted the child she had lost. She had wanted someone to love and take care of, someone who was a part of her. She loved Belleau. She loved Tirzah. She knew she always would, but there was something different about *having* a child. She was a mother, but in many ways she felt like she wasn't.::

::How could she be? She was a Starfleet Captain. Her personal life was a mess, she couldn't make up her mind...she couldn't control her emotions. She was...different. She wasn't like anyone else. She had tried to talk to Bron about it, but she always felt as though she were talking to a brick wall with him. She didn't fit the mold she had been taught was right as a child. She didn't fit the mold people wanted to place her in now. She felt so many emotions coursing through her being they threatened to overwhelm her.::

::Sadness over the loss of her daughter. Anger at herself for things not working out with Alleran. However, she didn't fit that mold...didn't fit the mold because she was different. Anger that she had been placed off duty. Anger at the ship having been attacked...Anger that she had been attacked. She bit at her lower lip just hard enough to draw a drop of blood.::

::She could feel her heart rate rising. When she finally pushed herself up slowly, she felt herself becoming light headed. She pushed herself through it with determination to stand. Her face was set in a solid almost blank expression.::

Riley: Computer, activate Program Riley 5.

::The holodeck came to life, the interior of the room was stark. The area surrounding her darkened. The light which illuminated where she stood cast shadows along the walls in eerie ways. The Terran/Deltan walked over to her right where a rack of swords stood. Carefully she selected the one she wanted, a slightly thicker sabre than she normally used. She moved gracefully as she tossed the sword from hand to hand her eyes intent on the blade. She watched as the light played on the surface, glinting as she moved into the lighted circle.::

::Taking a deep breath she paused. Her eyes a deep determined green.::

Riley: Computer, create adversary...

::A woman shimmered into existence. A Terran woman with long brown hair who was slightly taller than Sidney.::

Riley: Computer, use the records from the attack of Fleet Captain Sidney Riley. Can you create a holographic image of the assassins?

Computer: Affirmative.

::The woman disappeared and was replaced with the image of two Bajoran men. Both were over a foot taller than Sidney. Both armed with swords. The men were dressed in engineering gold. Sidney's eyes narrowed. They had been a part of the crew. Her face took on another expression one which held the betrayal she felt had been committed.::

Riley: oO They were one of us...part of the crew...Oo

::She bit into her lower lip again without thinking. Engineers! Crew members! She stared at them for good long while. She had never gotten a proper look at her attackers. They had stabbed her in the back, not just figuratively.::

::Her breath became uneven as she watched the holographic images. She could feel the emotion running through her, like an electric current.::

Riley: Computer...calculate ability based on service record and physical stature, begin program.

::The figures came to life, both moving carefully their eyes trained on her. Sidney moved stealthily just outside of attack range for a moment, sizing up her opponents moves. They were clumsy, not well trained. Her eyes narrowed further, her expression as intent as a hunter following his prey. One of the Bajoran men lunged in her direction, crossing his feet. Quickly she swiveled her body, a 90 degree turn, just outside of the man's reach. She moved gracefully, if one had not seen the swords it would have looked like dance.::

::Her small frame moved quickly, her moves becoming more and more calculated as the two began to attack from different sides. She felt her emotions beginning to well up as the two men went on the offense. She took up a defensive stance as she tried to keep her emotions under control.::

((Flashback, 2386, Holodeck, USS Tiger))

Clack: Then lets begin. ::he raised his sword toward Sidney's face:: Discipline is the most important issue to remember.... if you let your emotions get the best of you... you are lost.

::Sidney raised an eyebrow but said nothing.::

Clack: Let's start with the basic cutting action. Once you learn them we can put them together for an effective offensive motion. There are three generic cutting techniques. ::break:: With the basic overhead cut, there are four basic motions. Overhead position, with the sword perfectly horizontal cast out, much like a fishing rod by pulling with the left hand at the bottom much like a lever until it makes contact with the head or shoulder of the opponent.

::With speed and agility, Darius brought the blade frighteningly close to Sidney's neck stopping just inches from her skin. Sidney didn't flinch as Darius' sword came perilously close to her neck. She kept her bright green eyes firmly planted on Darius' face.::

Clack: Then simply drop down to stop horizontally again. The action should be done without `power', allowing the blade to drop down. ::break:: Don't use too much force in the right hand, which is really only just guiding the blade. One way to minimize this is to practice the casting movement holding the sword in the left hand only. ::break:: Now, you try.

::Sidney took the sword from Clack and mimicked his movements, but for some reason her wrist felt stiff.::

Riley: Like this?

Clack: Your wrist action is too rigid. Loosen up.

::Stepping behind her, he placed his hands on hers as he tried to correct her technique.::

Clack: The sword is not your enemy.... it is an extension of yourself.

Riley: An interesting thought...::Laughs::

((End Flashback))

::Sidney blinked and ducked as one of the swords swung in her direction. The man's move had been awkward opening him up to attack. The Terran/Deltan moved quickly, her muscles flowing as she brought the sword in contact with the man's middle. He fell to the floor and faded out of existence. She didn't have much time to gloat as the other man moved towards her from behind. She sensed his presence more than saw him. She moved quickly, ducking down when she suddenly felt very light headed.::

((Flashback, 2386, Holodeck, USS Tiger))

Clack: Interesting juvenile comparison.... your Captain Hook though had the right idea. ::break:: You need to be serious... this blade will cut you.

Riley: No, no I am being serious. I do want to learn...

Clack: Perhaps there is method in such a comparison with Peter Pan.

Riley: Are you always so uptight Darius?

Clack: ::Surprised:: Uptight? ::break:: I am not uptight. In an actual confrontation with someone, you can lose an arm or wrist if you are not

careful. ::break:: One needs to be serious.

::Sidney moved quickly, letting Darius guide her hand with the sword.::

Riley: Alright, let me try. ::Sidney smiled as she swung around quickly completing the maneuver not perfectly, but much better than when they had started.::

Clack: You are very graceful in your motion. ::break:: Not perfect, but with time.

Riley: I never said I was perfect...besides I was a Doctor in another life... not a security officer...::Chuckles:: Although I doubt many security officers could complete that move.

Clack: Security officers across the fleet would be grateful if they had a tenth of your graceful talent.

::Sidney stopped and looked at Darius Clack for a moment. She smiled and blushed slightly as she caught his gaze. Quickly she turned away practicing the maneuver again, this time with much more gusto and determination.::

Riley: You know, emotions can at times be advantageous. Even when fighting an opponent...

Clack: Not always. ::break:: They affect your motion.... cause you to expose yourself with no defense. ::break:: Ever been in an actual fight?

Riley: Well, no I've not had much cause for fighting...although I have when necessary and I've lived to tell the tale...

Clack: Interesting. ::his eyes flashed red to blue::

Riley: I've lived through war Darius, I've seen death...as no doubt you have. But just because I worked on saving those lives instead of taking them doesn't make me any less an officer.

Clack: I never said it did.

((End Flashback))

::Sidney fell to the floor, dropping her sword and rolling lightly. The man moved quickly coming around. It took Sidney a few extra seconds to stand, her hand grasping the blade of the sword instead of the hilt. She felt the steel against her skin, but didn't flinch. She tossed her sword lightly in the air and caught it properly. Somehow she spun around, dizziness threatening to over take her.::

::Her moves were not graceful, but the sword made contact with her second opponent. He fell to the floor and dissipated as the one had before him.::

((Flashback, 2386, Holodeck, USS Tiger))

Clack: I never said it did.

Riley: I prefer to talk about happier things...It's much better for me to focus on the here and now...too much thinking about the past only

hinders my progress...it brings on problems...I care too much.

::Walking directly in front of Sidney, he blocked the motion of her sword with his Talwar with spectacular speed. His eyes caught hers for a few seconds as he stared at her. She gave him a devious sly smile her eyes shining. Finally, a devilish grin spread across his face.::

Clack: We are products of our past.... good or bad. It is who we are. ::break:: I care too. Perhaps it doesn't show, but I do. ::break:: Drawing

on strength from the past sometimes gives the desire to continue.

Riley: I would agree with that...without our past experience we wouldn't be the people we are today.

Clack: You are improving.

((End Flashback))

::She simply stood there for a moment, staring into space. Her breathing was ragged. She sat down on the floor. Her muscles ached, the pain filling her senses, blocking out the emotional pain that had overtaken her when she had entered the holodeck.::

::Products of the past. Was she a product of her past? So much had happened, so much was past. Sometimes it felt like there was only past and future. Sometimes...::

::Sidney blinked, if it had been a fair fight... If she hadn't been stabbed in the back. Memories continued to come back to her.::

((Flashback, 2386, Holodeck, USS Tiger))

::Sidney attempted to mimic Darius' moves.::

Riley: That doesn't seem that hard...

Clack: Once you complete them, we can simulate a holographic opponent for you.

::Sidney gave the man a questioning look.::

Riley: You think I'm almost ready for an opponent...I am honored...

Clack: Then you will be ready for you first real opponent. ::break:: Me.

::Sidney laughed softly, out of the sheer enjoyment of the session as well as nervousness. Again she raised her sword in salute.::

Riley: I look forward to the challenge.

Clack: I intend to be nothing less.

Riley: I've come to a conclusion... ::She paused and looked in Clack's direction.::

Clack: What is that?

Riley: I don't understand why people are afraid of you, you're quite unique yes...but deep down, you're a really great guy.

Clack: Fear is a rational response to things one doesn't understand.

Riley: I can't say I've ever met anyone like you... ::Sidney walked over and took a seat on a nearby bench.::

Clack: That I find hard to believe.

((End Flashback))

::The fight had been easy. Too easy...Stabbed in the back.::

::Sidney closed her eyes and took another deep breath. Slowly she opened her eyes, blinking back emotions that were rising to the surface. Mixed emotions, emotions she didn't understand, or at least she didn't want to admit she understood consciously. Darius' words echoed in her mind...::

oO "Drawing on strength from the past sometimes gives the desire to continue." Oo

::Strength from the past to continue on...::

oO "I care too. Perhaps it doesn't show, but I do." Oo

::A sad smile crossed Sidney's face as gentle tears streamed down her face. She pushed herself upward, standing again with her sword. A familiar voice still echoing in her mind...::

oO "Don't be afraid..." Oo

Riley: Computer, create another holographic opponent. ::She paused.:: Female, use the data tapes from the attack on the Bajoran Central Archives. Adjust ability based on the tapes.

::An image of a taller woman in a red cloak appeared frozen. Sidney moved slowly walking around the figure. Wisps of blonde hair could be seen from under the cloak, but the face remained a hidden blur. She looked at her new opponent with curiosity for a moment. The Scarlet Brotherhood, this figure represented them all. The Terran/Deltan closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her eyes narrowed as she took up her position.::

Riley: Computer begin program.

::This figure moved much quicker than the previous two. With expert precision and in one graceful motion two swords were suddenly produced from beneath the cloak. Sidney felt her emotions threatening to over take her. She blinked taking up a defensive posture. The figure immediately went on the offense and she found herself having to duck and recover a better stance.::

::Her movements were awkward, much like when Darius had first taught her the basics of swordsmanship. The figure moved with speed and Sidney found herself caught weakened by her condition and the previous fight. She gasped as she spun around to avoid one of the thrusts of the sword, almost losing her balance. She fought the sensation to lose what meager amount of food she had eaten in the past few hours.::

::She moved quickly, dizziness threatening to overtake her. Slowly she felt herself falling, falling forward. She hit the ground hard, harder than she had expected. She could sense the movement behind her, sense the figure closing in. The darkness threatened to take her as she tried to push herself upward.::

::With a quick movement Sidney rolled to the side just as one of the swords made contact with the holodeck floor. It got stuck there and the Terran/Deltan had just enough time to push herself upward. She regained her posture and again faced the menace before her. This time she felt her sense of discipline slowly returning as she fought her own body.::

::Her head clear, she went on the attack, pushing the figure back from her. Now that there was just one sword, things were more even. The cloaked figure began to retreat. Sidney thrust towards the red cloak, cutting the fabric with ease.::

::The figure lunged and Sidney spun away from the direction of the attack. Sweat was dripping off her brow, onto her shirt, onto the floor. She pulled on her emotions, pushing herself further.::

((Flashback, Earlier the Same Day, Riley's Quarters))

::She tilted her head lightly, questioningly.::

Riley: Fire?

Storos: Deltans feel strongly. We love strongly, that is well-known. But that is only part of it. Everything is felt so strongly, it is like being a spark in the midst of the fire. We...it can be hard for us to reach out to other species. Perhaps we fear we might burn them. Fire is dangerous. But fire can also be the hearth-fire of home. ::beat:: Does that make any sense?

::Bron offered Sidney a quirky smile. She paused in deep thought for a moment. She closed her eyes, opened them and then sighed.::

((End Flashback))

oO Fire...Oo

::She felt the heat of the fire as it burned through her being. Everything, all the emotions, anger, sadness, despair, friendship, love...All rising to the surface is one massive flame, burning bright...::

::Sidney turned quickly, bringing the sword across, her wrist firm, but loose, in one graceful movement. It was over...The figure fell, disappearing into the holodeck...::

::A rising flame, a phoenix rising from the ashes...anger, regret...love, mostly love...::

::A voice echoing in her mind...a familiar voice, a comforting voice...::

oO "You are safe here ... Don't be afraid, you will never lose me..." Oo

::Strength from the past to continue on. No matter what anyone thought. No matter how many times she had been attacked. No matter who thought she shouldn't exist. No matter who thought something was wrong with her. No matter what happened she was...::

::She was...

...Sidney Riley.::


Fleet Captain Sidney Riley

Commanding Officer

USS Independence-A

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