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Posted on 25 Apr 2022 @ 2:23pm by Lieutenant Commander Harva Taliborn & Lieutenant Commander Cintia Sha'mer

3,376 words; about a 17 minute read

Mission: A New Frontier
Location: Gym

It was late in the evening. Work was done for the day. Most people were either in bed, or getting ready to go to bed. Not Harva though. The massive Sirran was in the gym, working out. Not a high intensity one, more a doing-reps-while-thinking one. He stood on the mat, wearing sweatpants and a tanktop, a 70kg dumbbell in each hand, doing bicep curls. One arm, holding it for a moment, then lowering it again, then the other arm, holding that one for a moment, lowering it again and repeating from the start.

Massive furred, clawed feet, turned slightly toes out, legs apart for a strong, balanced stance, muscles rippling with each rep, his breathing calm and controlled, in measure with the workout. The backs of his arms, lacking the fur that would normally be there, covered in scar tissue - old burnwounds that hadn't healed too neatly. What parts of his torso were visible outside the tanktop - hinting at similar scar tissue across his chest.

Now that Sha'mer was training with Indi several times a week, she had gotten into the habit of working out on the days they weren't training together as well. Usually early in the morning, but that wasn't always an option – even at that early hour the gym was reserved at least once a week. And today had been a long day with a lot of meetings, a lot of sitting still and listening. After all that, Sha'mer felt antsy.

Before her injury, she would've solved it by either going to the holodeck and start up one of her programs, one involving mountain climbing or something equally strenuous. Or if the holodeck wasn't available she'd simply take a walk, roaming through the ship in the middle of the night, walking through quiet, out of the way corridors until she felt both physically and mentally calm and at ease again.

Climbing was out of the question now. Long walks, the type she needed, was, too. But working out was shaping up to be a good alternative, with the new techniques Indi showed her.

At this time of day – well, almost night – the gym was still listed as 'open gym', meaning 'not specifically reserved, open to anyone who wants to train'. Few people did at this hour. So when Sha'mer entered, mind already focused on the mental exercises she ran through before she began her training, she wasn't prepared to find herself eye-to-tummy with Harva.

"Cin," Harva flicked an ear. "Seventy-eight. How's the brace fix holding up? Seventy-nine," he asked, not interrupting his workout, bicep curling weights not far off twice what Sha'mer weighed.

"So far, so good," she answered automatically, looking up at the impressive set of muscles moving under fur and scars. "Um. Sorry. This place is usually empty around this time…" She shook her head at herself and grimaced wryly. "If we keep running into each other at midnight, people are going to think we're setting up secret meetings…"

"Best time to work out when there's nobody else around," Harva flicked an ear, his words measured to his breathing, it measured to his weightlifting. "I'm almost done, then you can have the place to yourself," he added, matter-of-factly. "And, let them think. People are going to think, draw conclusions and talk anyways, so why not give them something to talk about. You know, for amusement," he added with a toothy grin.

Sha'mer smiled back, it was almost impossible not to. "Don't let me curtail your workout, though," she said and forced herself to stop staring. The last thing she wanted to do was to make him uncomfortable. Or maybe she was just projecting her own discomfort on him.

She set the cane she brought with her to lean against a bench – she didn't need it right now, but knew from experience that it would be sure to come handy after her own training – and stepped on the mat, some distance away.

"You sure? Ninetyfive .... I've done my thinking, you - ninetysix - look like you still need to get started. Ninetyseven," he mused, glancing over with a curious look, ears perked up and listening.

"I don't require much space," Sha'mer replied and regarded the punching bag in front of her. Without closing her eyes she forced her mind to focus inward, harnessing its own internal strength while remaining aware of her surroundings. She touched it, shaped it and held it ready. Then she moved into the nearest approximation to a fighting stance she could manage and began to punch the bag, using the power of her mind to add more force to each blow. Soon the bag was jangling and dancing around, and she adapted her punches to move with the rhythm.

She could still see Harva as he finished the last of his reps.

"Ninetynine ... Oof, one hundred," he mused, his low rumbling voice soft though carried well through the space. He set his dumbbells down. Lumbering steps carried him over towards the punching bag - a device he'd been planning to thoroughly abuse afterwards as well - and moved to hold it steady for Sha'mer. "Oof. Those are some good punches," he rumbled, finding he had to work a bit harder than he had expected to hold it stable for her. "Where'd you get that strength?"

Sha'mer was in the zone now, in that perfect centre where she felt in touch with everything, inner balance and outer awareness blending together in perfect harmony. She adapted to the changed rhythm when Harva steadied the bag and began to vary the punches: straight punch, hammer fist, palm strikes, hooks, in different combinations.

"My mind," she replied, the words coming out in a measured cadance with her breathing. "Using it to compensate and enhance. One minute," she added in a mutter and began to move faster, trading strength for speed.

He flicked an ear, crooking a smirk. "You can do that? That could be useful," he offered, relaxing his grip on the bag a bit as she sped up, simply observing her form, not to judge but out of curiosity. A good workout was one of the things he enjoyed, after all.

"Commander Hawk has been teaching me some techniques I didn't know." Or never knew how to properly harnass, or things she thought she had forgotten but which had been hiding in a quiet corner of her mind, along with a lot of other memories. But she didn't have to focus on those memories right now. Only on the balancing act, only on the physical exercise, only on his voice. "Thirty seconds." Again she sped up, giving it all, sending out a mental pulse with each jab and strike. Tiny drops of sweat began to form on her forehead, dampening her hair.

He held the bag for her in silence, letting her finish her exercise. He noted her breathing, her form, her stance, but didn't say anything. He figured it wasn't his place to try and teach people proper form. Not that hers was bad per se, but it could maybe have used some tweaking. Still, not his wheelhouse. And so he simply remained silent.

"Three… two… one… done." Sha'mer lowered her arms and stepped back. She slowly released her hold on the energy she'd harnessed, having learned from experience that simply dropping her concentration and letting it all drain away had the same effect as a stimpack which stopped working – feeling empty and drained, shaky and cold. Of course, if she went in too deep that still happened, but at least this exercise was manageable now.

She wiped her forehead with one hand and looked up again at Harva. "I'm out of shape, I know. Thanks for holding it steady."

"I wasn't gonna say anything," Harva smirked, holding up his hands innocently. "Your form and shape aren't that bad, actually. Not bad at all. And, you're welcome," he smiled, tail giving a lazy wag, even as he took up position to start wailing on the bag.

"It might be not bad, but it's not as good as it should be." Sha'mer shrugged. "Never mind, if I keep it up it'll come back, I know." She shook her arms loose, then changed the setting on the brace to maximum support. "Your form is impressive," she added as she resumed the fighting stance and started to concentrate once more. This time she directed the focus of her energy to give extra strength and support to the bad leg so that it could support her weight, then she began a series of kicks with her left leg.

"True, practise does make perfect, they say," He watched her for a moment before turning his attention to the bag and starting off with a few quick jabs, left, right, left, duck, right, left, right, high, low - his massive bulk bouncing, almost looking light on his feet if not for his movements being a bit slower than someone smaller than him. Then changing up, adding a lot more power to his punches, an animalistic growl with each behemoth of a hit, resounding, sending the bag shuddering and rocking.

Sha'mer made it to just over forty seconds this time. Which was a considerable improvement over the first time she tried this, then she barely made it past ten. She grimaced as she transferred the weight to her good leg and let her focus on the harnessed energy slide away again. "I hope you don't mind that I won't hold the bag for you," she said, looking at the way it jolted around. "Though, granted, it would be a workout…"

"Yeah no, I'd recommend against it," Harva muttered, his words staccato like his punches. "Simple matter of inertia, doesn't matter how strong you are if you don't have the mass to make it count~" he mused, ears laying back, fangs bared, as the assault on the back increased in ferocity, quick thunderous hits resounding through the gym, violence unleashed. Though only for a quick minute, as he then brought down the intensity again.

"Yeah. Much as I like flying, landing's gonna be a problem." She grinned briefly and ran a hand through her short hair. She took a few steps to the side, well out of the line of both Harva and the heavy bag, and several steps away from the bag she focused on now. This was tricky, a new technique she was just beginning to master, and the last thing she wanted was for something to go wrong. Once again she focused, and like the first time she directed the energy to her arms, her fists, and moved into a fighting stance. This time, though, she didn't move her body, only moved with her mind, sending focused punches towards the target.

At first, nothing happened. Then the bag began to move, rocked, rocked again, and she found the centre, the rhythm again, breathe in, pulse out, strike and strike and strike.

At first Harva was puzzled. The bag moved and reacted in between his strikes. A quick glance over to Sha, seeing her look of concentration, and remembering her earlier words about her mind and he figured out what was happening. Some form of telekinesis, no doubt. Very handy. He fell into a rhythm countering hers, light hits now, matching the intensity of her strikes, and together they kept the bag in balance like some sort of ballet.

Sha'mer felt the change, the added swing and smiled. This was a strain, this was tiring, but she had found the zone again and for the moment there was once again a perfect balance, this time not only between her and the bag, but between her and the bag and Harva. In this moment, she could feel his presence even if she closed her eyes, a ball of energy shining bright, adding a melodious counterpoint to her own dance.

All too soon, though, she felt her concentration begin to flag, the energy pulses began to fluctuate. She cut it short before an errant pulse would hit not the bag but an innocent target, and sent the final discharge towards the ceiling, safely out of anybody's way. It dissipated harmlessly, absorbed by the bulkhead.

This time the drain hit hard. She sighed deeply and lowered her head. Sweat dripped on her shirt and on the floor.

Harva noticed the change and even flicked an ear at the hit on the ceiling, though his focus went to Sha'mer. "That's a neat trick. Something your people do, or could I learn to do it too?" he asked, wandering over to hand Cin a towel, sitting down on a nearby bench.

"Thanks." Sha'mer wiped the sweat away with a slightly trembling hand, then put it on the floor next to the bottle of water. "To be honest, I have no idea how many of my people could do it. It's not something which is regularly used. I guess I have more incentive to learn it than most. So… no idea if I could teach you, really. And I'm not going to try until I get mine fully under control," she added with a smirk. "It starts out well, but at a certain point it begins to get out of control and if I don't break it off then… well, let's just say the first time I tried this, one of those bags exploded. I was lucky it was only a bag." It could've been, all too easily, a living person instead. The thought still made her shudder.

"That's fair enough," He rumbled, taking off his own tank top and starting to towel his own sweaty form down. He was done with his exercise for the night anyways. Plus, he'd done his thinking. "Takes a lot out of you to do it though?"

"Oh yes." Sha'mer straightened and stretched, beginning to pull herself together. "Recovery is one of the things I'm working on, too. Last thing you'd want to happen is someone come at you in a combat situation when you're all mentally exhausted and drained." She looked at him and grinned briefly. With him sitting on that low bench and her standing, they were finally eye to eye.

"Sounds like you could do with stamina training, though I don't know if that'd work for your mind tricks," he flicked an ear, tilting his head sideways a little. "D'you know how much strength you can summon, that way? What limits it? It's all fascinating, I'd love to test out the limits you can reach, some time. I'm sure I can figure out a safe way to do so, long as you keep your own limits in mind, that is~"

Sha'mer looked pensive. "I have no idea. With that exploding bag in mind it must be considerable. But I'd rather work on control first before I start experimenting with strength." The captain might not like it if I accidentily blast a hole in his ship, for one, Sha'mer added in her mind. "But it's certainly interesting to test. Maximum output, range…"

"Well, hit me up when you're about ready to find out," Harva rumbled, pulling on a t-shirt, a simple black affair with a simple, off-center vertical red stripe. "Figure I can set something up in one of the cargo holds. Pressure sensors, mass and tilt accelerometers, you know, fairly basic stuff," he offered.

"And strong internal force fields," Sha'mer added with a nod, the exploding bag still vividly in her mind. "For now, the mentalics are out, though." She took up a stance in front of the bag once more and began a series of punches and strikes, unaugmented this time. Now she worked at a slower, more measured pace, paying more attention to technique than to strength and speed.

"Force fields?" Harva flicked an ear. "How hard you planning to go?" he asked, watching her work out. Her light frame and the fact that she wasn't augmenting her own strength right now meant the heavy bag didn't move much, so he didn't feel the need to go and stabilize it for her. Instead he sat back, catching his breath after his workout.

Sha'mer shifted positions as she changed combinations, closer to the bag for an elbow with left, stepping back slightly for a jab-punch-punch, allowing the momentum of the last punch to move even further away, front kick with left, and repeat. "I don't know," she said in between punches. "No idea what the upper limit of my output is." Kick, step, elbow, jab. "But it's better to have forcefields in place and not need them, than the other way aroun-" As she lifted her leg for the next kick, the right one buckled. The brace compensated and kept her from falling, but it broke her rhythm. She cursed and slammed with her fist against the bag, sending it into a wild swing. "Well," she added with a scowl, "I guess that's it for today." She slowly limped back to the bench and dropped down.

He flicked an ear, watching her. "You ok?"

"Yeah, I guess." Sha'mer leaned back and chugged some water. "Happens all the time, just means it's time to stop." She wiped her face with the towel and rubbed her leg, wincing slightly. "I'm getting used to it. Look, I came prepared," she added with a nod at the cane.

"If you say so," Harva chuckled, rising to his full height, giving a mighty streeEEeetch. "Well, I'm done here for the night. See you around," he added as he lumbered for the exit.

Sha'mer didn't even bother looking up at Harva as he stretched and stretched, knowing that from her low vantage point it'd be like looking up at a mountain. She wrapped the towel around her neck, held the water bottle in one hand and grabbed the cane with the other. "I'm done as well," she said as she limped after him. "Thanks for helping me out. We should do this again sometime."

"We should, and, you're welcome," he offered with a wave, making his way out.

Sha'mer followed him out just before the door closed between them (admittedly, she cheated a bit, using her mind to hold the door open a wee bit longer than it normally would). There was something she had been wondering about from the moment she entered and she had been trying to think of a way to bring it up tactfully. She was the first person to admit that tact was something she lacked often enough – one of the reasons why she went for a career in tactical. But now she had finally come up with something. She hoped.

"Do they bother you?" she asked, quietly enough that most people wouldn't have heard her. His hearing was sharp enough that he would be able to, of course, but it also meant he could easily choose to ignore her if he wanted to. "I mean, scar tissue has a tendency to be inflexible, making moving harder. Especially when you're training…"

".. eh? A little? I suppose?" Harva stopped and turned around to face Sha, flexing his left arm, then his right, contemplating how the skin felt. "It's been so long, I've gotten used to it, I think," He shrugged and flicked an ear. "Doesn't really bother me as much really."

"Ah." Sha'mer smiled faintly. "That's good." Once again she was at a loss how to continue. Normally talking came easy to her, but for some reason she was tongue-tied when it came to him. Maybe she was just too tired. Maybe she was just overthinking things too much. Projecting her own mindset, her own thoughts and insecurities on him and thus holding herself back.

Maybe it was just better if she stopped putting her foot in her mouth and call it a night. Bad enough that there was one officer on this ship she could barely look at. Let's try to stop at one, shall we? "Sorry to have bothered you," she muttered. "Good night."

"No bother at all," he replied with a smile, inwardly recognizing that she felt a need to extricate herself from the conversation, and giving her the space to do so. "It was very nice to see you again, outside of work for once," he added.


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