2009-08-25: High Stakes Training


Kalindi_icon.jpg Taskmaster_icon.jpg

Summary: Taskmaster gives Kalindi a life or death training drill.

Date: August 25, 2009.

Log Title High Stakes Training

Rating: PG-13.

NYC - Master's School of Martial Arts

This Dojo looks to be like just about every other Dojo known to man, save for the fact that the walls are lined from floor to ceiling with every weapon known to man. Theoretically these are just decorations, but anybody who's aware of who's Dojo this is knows better.

There is a reason why Taskmaster is named so. He demands a lot out of his students, and those who can't make the grade usually end up in the hospital from his brutal teaching techniques. Those that can survive the abuse, and the near constant drills and workout will find that the results are unmatched. This morning is Kalindi's turn. The fact that she's blessed with superhuman powers doesn't spare her from his gruelling lessons. If anything he's harder on her than most of his other students, reasoning that in order to live up to her greater potential, she needs to work that much harder.

While Kalindi usually seems impetuous, impatient and arrogant, it cannot be said that she isn't a good student. From her time in her demon step-father's dimension, she has learned a thing or two about enduring brutal and agonizing training sessions. She doesn't back down from any of Taskmaster's commands and, while she does tire, she seems to just grit her teeth and endure any pain she can stand through. Even though she tries not to let Taskmaster know that she's frustrated, it's easy to see when it starts bubbling over: her eyes flash black and begin to glow an eerie darkness. Today, she has reached that point, but as she had once assured, she doesn't complain and continues to endure Taskmaster's teaching.

The first week of Taskmaster's training was to make Kalindi unlearn all the bad habits she had picked up from her previous teacher, and have her relearn the fundamentals of the styles that he's trying to impart on her. The week before was to get some of the basics of Wing Chun. This week he's moving onto the first five fundamental angles of attack with Escrima, and has been trying to get her used to seeing these angles regardless of weapon used. "Worthless," he spits, tossing away a weighted chain he had been currently using. Clearly he was expecting much more out of the girl.

The word seems to momentarily sting the girl, but this passes. Kalindi has always seen herself as someone of high worth. Her eyes continue to glow, but they narrow a bit as Kalindi says, "I will try this again. I will get it right." She grits her teeth and readies herself once again and asks, "Please continue." It's not said in a commanding way, more of a request.

Taskmaster nods at his apprentice and walks over to the wall of weapons. He chooses a katana and unsheathes it, the bare metal gleaming in the overhead lights, showing that he's using a real blade. "Okay," he says, "The kid gloves are off." He falls into a Kendo stance, holding the katana out from him at an angle. "There's no subtlety in the katana. You should be able to see the attacks from the five angles comin' at ya a mile away. I'll give ya 'till the count of five ta catch yer breath."

Kalindi uses those five seconds as carefully as she can. She takes a deep breath and watches Taskmaster, taking a stronger grip on the gold escrima sticks. She uses it to calm herself down to the best of her abilities, the darkness around her eyes fading as she looks forward to try and see the angle. After all, this time, her life may very well depend on it.

Beneath his mask, Taskmaster smirks catching the telltale signs of her emotional state that her eyes telegraph. Once the five seconds are up he launches into a series of quick, but basic attacks. He doesn't hold back from his strikes at all, and any missed blocks could very well end up being lethal. However, he does keep his strikes to the first five angles of attack: Downward and inward upon the receiver's upper left, downward and inward upon the receiver's upper right, horizontally and inward upon the receiver's mid left, horizontally and inward upon the reciever's mid right, and straight thrust to the receiver's midsection.

Having calmed down a bit, Kalindi is a lot better at reacting now. While she's a little bit slow at actually moving the sticks, since she simply hasn't built the muscle for it quite yet, she makes up for it by quickly recognizing the angles. Apparently, when her life is on the line, she gets a little more focused, and blocks the attacks that come at her. For someone under assault by a katana in the hands of a martial arts master, Kali does an admirable job staying calm.

"This is the kinda performance I should be seein' outta ya all the time," Taskmaster chides between his strikes, his breathing easy and regular. "I shouldn't haveta put you into a life-or-death situation to get one-hundred percent outta you."

Kalindi opens her mouth and then closes it. It looks like she had the intention of saying something but simply couldn't, as her brain function just wasn't up to the job. Instead, she just keeps on blocking with the heavy sticks, eyes only twitching every few moments to try and catch motion as early as possible.

Taskmaster pushes his attacks, never relenting from his strikes. "I will if I have ta, though. It'd be a crying shame ta lose a good stream of revenue, but I don't settle for anything less than yer best."

"I was…" says Kalindi, pausing as she blocks a few times. It seems any message she might try to convey is delayed quite a lot. "…angry." She tries to breathe at a steady pace, and only says words when she's supposed to be exhaling anyways. "I will," She raises the sticks to block to protect herself from a downward-inward-left attack, "remember how I feel now."

Taskmaster pushes on until it's clear that Kalindi is getting tired from the workout. "Good," he says, finally backing off. He goes back to the wall and sheathes the katana. "I think that is enough for today."

As soon as Taskmaster puts the katana back on the wall, Kalindi reforms the sticks into gauntlets around her hands. The reasoning is that her hands are trembling now that the session has stopped, and she doesn't want to show that weakness to her master. "Thank you very much," she says, grateful to the man who just put her life in peril.

Taskmaster turns back to his student, nodding, twisting a little knob on his costume to turn the image inducer on back to his Tony Masters alter ego. His eyes skip from the gauntlets, to her eyes, to her neck and then back to her eyes. "How many times have you been put in a situation where your life was at stake," he asks casually.

Raising an eyebrow, Kalindi tries to think for a few moments. The question shouldn't be very difficult, but the way that Kali mulls over might suggest otherwise. "Well, when I work like I do, it is a few times. More than ten. More than fifteen, I think. But I usually know that I have an upper hand. That time…" While the exercise would have been easier if she used her powers, she wouldn't have regardless of the consequences. "That time, it was different. Why do you ask?"

"Dilation of the pupils, increased heart rate, the way you try to hide the trembling in your hands," Taskmaster explains, "all are signs of a major adrenaline rush: the body's fight or flight response. You wouldn't have had one so bad if this was a frequent thing for you."

Kalindi shakes her head. "The adrenaline rush, no, it is not frequent. It is as I say, I have always known that I was the superior force. If I slip, I will die, but I know I won't slip. I am very good at using my powers." The gloves reform themselves into heavier rings and bracelets, all rather ornate, without her concentration really seeming to shift. "But my body without powers? I have never had to rely on just that."

Taskmaster grunts, nodding, picking up all the spare equipment used for today's lesson, putting it all away. "Then it's a good thing ya had to do it with me then with somebody who wasn't cutting ya any slack."

Nodding, Kalindi says, "Yes, it is a very good thing. I need to be able to deal with people like that. People, they see me, and they think 'vulnerable'. I do not want them to think that of me. I want their hands shaking after they meet me." She shrugs and glances around, "Do you, ah, want any help in putting things away?"

Taskmaster nods approvingly at the girl, and gestures for her to pick up the rest of the equipment.

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