Imperial Proclamation 1295-E9: It shall be known, from this day forward, that the Hall of Grand Debate shall be reopened without delay. Furthermore, to better facilitate the colosseum's festivities and maintain local tradition, Eshan’s planetary curfew shall be redacted by an additional three hours. The Empress, out of love and admiration of Her People’s cultural arts, has pledged economic support to the upcoming tournament cycle. Entry to the initial matches will be free of charge and open to the public. Those that attend will receive a commemorative ticket chip, which may be redeemed for secondary ration privileges at any time within the next standard month. Only one ticket will be provided for each attendee, and attempts to scalp or abuse this allotment will result in immediate expungement from the event, and may incur a cycle-long ban from any future games. In the interest of expressing her commitment to the betterment of both Eshan and Thrysus, the Empress has also selected a representative from the Imperial Military to serve as a special participant and liaison in this hallowed contest of strength. It is Her Majesty’s sincere hope that this gesture will further bridge this cherished system with the larger galactic community, and the sovereign banner which heeds loyalty from one and all.
The Office of the SEIP...
“Are you certain you want to do this, Sir?”, Kernaan questioned, a faint crease of empathy permeating his voice, “There is no guarantee you'll emerge unscathed”. “He’s got a point, Governor”, Heiys cooed with what Vassyl imagined to be feigned concern, “Once you're out there, you’ll have to weather whatever gets sent your way”. “I am well aware of the risks”, Doren insisted, in spite of the occasion tremble that took hold of his spine, “Though your shared concern is heartening. I’m no expert by any means, but thanks to my assistant’s noble efforts, I may yet prove more troublesome than they might expect”. “He isn’t the champion on the merits of honor and good sportsmanship”, Brant offered his quiet, final critique, “Do keep that in mind”.
Vassyl nodded appreciatively to his two collaborators, and took one last look at the distant exit. Then, without another word, the young officer made the solitary walk through a dark, narrow corridor. Arriving out in the open night air, Doren had no choice but to blink several times, and adJ to the harsh, silver light of Eshan’s primary moon looming overhead. Directly ahead, and on the periphery, Vassyl’s vision was dominated by thousands of locals, situated on bleacher upon bleacher of stadium seats. The Hall of Grand Debate, whilst invoking academic vibes from its lofty title, was as much a stage for athleticism as it was for philosophy. Both Echani and Thyrsians subscribed to a marital discourse, and as their primary form of communication, it was a mode of conversation Doren could not ignore.
And, while the Children of the Sun performed their sacred rites and battles by the light of day, Vassyl had unintentionally snubbed the nocturnal Echani by instating the immutable evening curfew. And thus, this display of combat, first and foremost, would serve as a sort of indirect apology for the Interim Governor’s original blunder. Far more important though, was the complicated dialogue Doren intended to open with the Empress’ own people: a monologue of solidarity, an in the end, an hand, open in friendship and collaboration. It for this reason that the Captain sought to employ Kernaan within his personal retinue. It was for this moment that he had demanded and endured the endless sea of ambushes, elbows, and cleft hooks to the jawbone. Everything was in preparation for the final repartee.
The older resident of Eshan had done all he could to ready Doren for the arena, and though many had pleaded with Vassyl to name a representative to ‘converse’ in his stead, the young officer would hear none of it. Still, despite his insistence, it would have been a mistake to think the Captain was without his worries. Aldebaran, simply known as “The Bull” by his doting fans, was roughly two-hundred and two pounds of pure muscle, and towered almost a foot above his Imperial Adversary. Upon entering the professional fighting circuit, the so-called Beast of Yusanis had proceeded to steamroll every opponent that crossed his path, and had taken to an early, lucrative retirement no more than two cycles past. His record had been spotless, and in the eyes of the public, it was going to stay that way.
As the two approached one another from the opposite sides of the arena, neither a glare nor sneer was shared between them. The Bull’s reputation was not lost on Vassyl, and he had no intention to belittle the man before his adoring public- not that he’d have the ability to do as much outside of breaking tradition. Much to the Captain’s greater confusion, there was no noticeable rage or malcontent upon the face of Doren’s contender. Still, his countenance was not austere like Kernaan’s. No, these silver eyes held intensity, focus, and perhaps even a flicker of excitement. Not unlike the young Jaeman, the lauded veteran had re-emerged onto the public stage for a very express purpose: and one way or another, his point would be made.
Meeting in the middle, Doren clasped a firm right hand onto the titanic Echani’s cloak, while his contender did the same. The pair The continued their march to the inner edge of the ring, throwing the fabric off each other’s shoulders, revealing their torsos to the swooning- or jeering audience. Barefoot, and now clad only in a pair of thick black pantaloons, the duo turned about, and exchanged a set of ritual bows. Saying nothing, each man then took his stance. In Aldebaran’s case, his posture spoke to ceremony rather than technical application. Lifting his right foot up every so slightly, and leveling it back against its sibling, the young master extended his arms out like branches, mimicking one of the sturdier hardwood trees native to the system.
Vassyl, for his part, ducked low and long, sweeping his left leg out into an acute side lunge. Bringing his right arm back at a forty-five degree, Vassyl concealed his dominant fist behind the bulk of his body, whilst keeping a straight, fully-deployed left hand reaching out at his opponent. To the unexperienced eye, such a gesture might have come off as some sort of aerobic pose, or even an obscure dance move. However, for all its subtle eccentricities, Modified K’thri was as misleading as it was swift. The Captain had studied his defensive postures, and learned them well. Doren was soon to be single hydrolamp overtaken by the scorching light of a industrial reactor. The first move was Aldebaran’s: it fell to Vassyl to stand his ground when that fated maneuver was made.
And, not unsurprisingly, the Captain wasn’t kept waiting for long. With a strong, nasal exhale, The Bull made his charge. The sheer brunt of his initial impact hammered Doren to the bone. The young Jaeman could scarcely keep pace with Echani’s strikes, as the champion sustained his advance slowly and methodically. With each successive blow, Vassyl could all but feel the various bruises blossoming on his skin. He needed a window, but the undefeated juggernaut wasn’t likely to crack one open in the spirit of charity. Doren would need to make a trade, the economics of which would ultimately be in his aggressor’s favor. Electing to endure a terrific beating to the left breast, Vassyl finally managed to slip round the side of his attacker, and delivered a poignant elbow to the small of the titan’s back.
In truth, the lone hit might as well have been a gadfly stinging a bantha- but the measure of its value was hardly skin deep. It had been a precise, calculated hit, and one which lost on neither the reigning gladiator or the onlookers. Aldebaran halted for the briefest instant, as if to mentally register the development, only to about-face with a lighting kick aimed at Vassyl’s midsection. In a rather pained movement, Doren barely succeeded in catching the flying foot- its kinetic force wearing down his already-thin constitution. And yet, not to be undone by a lucky counter, the champion curled his captive leg up to the thigh, tugging Vassyl back towards him in ferocious display of balance and lower-body tenacity.
The Captain had two choices, with little time to consider the outcomes. He could try and hold fast fast to the fleeing limb, or he could withdraw and remain wary of a possible counter. Doren cast his lot with the latter, only to receive a harsh reproach. No sooner had Vassyl released the right leg before its twin caming zooming around in switch-hit. This time, the attack was directed at the Captain’s ribcage. To everyone’s amazement, Doren spread his feet at shoulder length, and steeled himself to take the assault head on. A flicker in The Bull’s eye betrayed a measure of shock at this development, as his bone-crunching gambit made contact with a furious crack. The initial trauma passed in seconds, but even to Doren’s adrenaline-flushed mind, it seemed like a small eternity.
With a guttural growl, Vassyl darted forward in spite of the fresh licking, nimbly advancing into The Bull’s guard. Aldebaran had only a moment to blink before Doren began his argument, peppering the hulking fortress of a man with swift, exacting blows to the stomach and kidney region. As the Captain had not tried to evade the previous gambit, his footwork was better situated for pressing the offensive. And, though the power behind his fists was nothing comparable to the champion’s, the unforgiving accuracy of his anatomical onslaught was enough to warp his enemy’s countenance. Indeed, Doren had nearly completed the entirety of the Guov Mel Aurek, when his opponent regained his center, and began to push back.
Much to Vassyl’s displeasure, the tireless fighter moved to grapple, and it was not long before the Captain was sent to the floor. Here too, The Bull was without equal. Wriggling and flopping about by a winded fish was the most that Doren’s strategies amounted to. It took all that the young officer had to avoid a game-ending hold; even more so to make his escapes appear as graceful as possible. Though the Imperial often reviled its theatrical origins, in somatic dance such as this, K’thri’s subtle movements worked wonders to paint a non-verbal picture. Even if Vassyl could not press under the present circumstances, he would defend himself- and look good while doing so. Every so often, Doren would send out a jab, but most were intercepted. The deadlock sustained in this manner for several minutes.
Eventually, Vassyl found the opportunity to log-roll his was to temporary safety. Returning to his feet, Doren made ready his defenses, only to garner a provocation from Aldebaran. Seemingly dissatisfied with his first encounter with the Captain’s technique, the champion willfully invited another flurry of strikes. Surely, he would not be caught off-guard a second time. Not about to play the same trick twice, Vassyl began the opening stances for Guov Mel Besh, hoping that the mix-up between high and low feints would bear new fruit. However, to the winded Vassyl’s dismay, the expectant wall of pure fighting spirit was well versed in a wide variety of blocks and countermeasures. Any hits the diminutive officer landed were superficial at best: minimal damage, catching small, insignificant targets.
Then came the turn. In a single, furious motion, The Bull swatted Doren’s hands up towards the vaulted ceiling, and began to lay into his nigh-helpless victim. It was a horrific display of raw, concentrated force- and one that threatened to rob Vassyl of his consciousness. With each thunderous impact, the Captain felt his stance crumble. His breath began to falter, and for a moment Doren teetered on the edge of his toes. Nonetheless, even given the might of his foe, this pain was nothing new to the loyal Captain. This exhaustion was not hard-earned like that born of battle after battle with the Sith. This agony was not the biting cold and unforgiving wildlife of Kashyyyk and Morikin. This was but a single man, and as lone challenger himself, Vassyl would fight to the last.
Just when undefeated warrior moved to perform a technical coup de grace, an inscrutable Doren, renewed by resolve alone, leapt forward, his hands locked at the fingertips. Like a barbed spear, Vassyl’s arms slipped deftly past the opposition’s, colliding against the man bulging windpipe with a sickening pop. Almost immediately, the man sputtered for lack of air, and now The Bull himself threatened lose his footing as a direct result of the surgical ambush. But, rather than send the behemoth toppling to the floor, Doren quickly circumnavigated around the faltering mass. Expending the last of his stamina, Vassyl labored to keep the man upright, until such a time he’d ceased his raspy coughing. Whatever happened after would be what it was, until then, Doren would not let the man fall.
The act was not meant to demean Aldebaran in any way, to be sure. This was the Captain’s final plea- a final offer of solidarity, support, and cooperation. And, as the two separated, Doren hunched over, prepared to receive the ultimate beating that, to his surprise, never came. Instead, The Bull merely looked down on the Imperial, his expression belying neither pity or contempt. A hand was raised thereafter, and Vassyl, in his delirium, feared for the worst. In spite of his worries, Doren’s eyes widened as he came to understand the meaning of the gesture. The Champion desired the match be called to a draw, or otherwise undecided. The audience was practically mute when the ceremonial arbiters arrived to reclothe the Captain and the Beast, utterly awestruck by the outcome.
Aldebaran himself said nothing, but before returning from whence he came, the mountain of a man imparted Doren with a single, auspicious gift: a nod of recognition, and what Vassyl interpreted to be the slightest of smiles. Afterwards, the Captain was all too happy to retire the infirmary, and his companions were full glad to find their interim leader remained more or less intact. The subsequent games and tourneys waxed well into the dark of night, the echoing cacophony of cheers resounding to the outskirts of the city. When the new curfew fell into effect, the stands cleared without incident. And, as the Ultimatum flashed from view on her early morning journey to the Core, the blood-earned tranquility persisted. No protests were raised, no revolts broke out. The Captain slept peacefully well into the afternoon.
"He's dangerous that one"
"Because he's a fanatic?"
"A fanatic with a conscience"