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Zirvell's Self-Defense Lesson

Posted on Wed Sep 29th, 2021 @ 9:22pm by Lieutenant Thetteth Sh'zorrerh & Zirvell Khen

Mission: Mission 1.5: Shore Leave with a Twist
Location: Gym 1, Deck 11
Timeline: Post-Prisoners Arriving

Thett had prepared the sparring mats for solo instruction, and dressed appropriately to teach, loose but secure basketball shorts with tight bike-short leggings and a loose tanktop over her sports bra. Usually, she'd be sparring in full uniform, or even standard-issue workout attire, to teach self-defense to other officers, but this was an informal setting.

She was attempting to go into it with a positive mindset, but of course, as she stretched her muscles out, she began running through worst-case scenarios. She wasn't equipped to handle a panic attack if he had lingering stress from being strangled. She'd have to call the shrink.

Zirvell inched into the gym, feeling horribly out of place. He'd been instructed on what to wear so he had managed to replicate Starfleet issue workout gear. He tugged at the fabric, considering it all just a little too snug.

His eyes widened when he spotted the Andorian security chief, and he gawked as he realized she was wearing quite a bit less than what she did when in uniform. "Uhm.... Should I wear that too?" He asked softly as he came closer.

"No, it's fine, unless you're uncomfortable in that. Just wear something you can move in." Thett waved her hand, then took a second to assess him. Skinny, as was to be expected. No significant muscle groups, since he probably didn't have the nutrition to build any anyway. He was already starting to show signs of abetter diet, but even then, he still seemed frail.

Then again, cardassians were typically pretty effective in a fight for their size, especially when they were desperate. They typically maintained a solid strength about them in their need for dignity, not to mention the natural armoring around their neck in their ridge bones. "Do you need to change? It's best if you're comfortable."

"I'll change," the Teenager said, while continuing to tug at his clothes. A few minutes later, a happier looking boy returned, wearing looser pants and a sleeveless shirt. "I don't want to fight," he said again, "but I don't want to experience what Pell did to me again I need to learn to defend."

"Precisely." Thett nodded, "I intend to teach you a modified from ot the human martial art known as Judo, which focuses on holds, breaking holds, and wrestling an oponnent to the floor instead of striking or attacking. There have been a lot of modifications from the human base, of course, since I learned it from an andorian, who learned it from a vulcan, who learned it from a human, and it has been adapted by each. There's elements of vulcan, andorian, and klingon martial arts woven in," She caught herself before trying to explain what elements she could figure had been modified, "-but that's neither here nor there. You want to be able to keep yourself safe, and to start let's teach you to prevent a hold by a single attacker, face-to-face. Does that make sense?"

She searched his face for any sign of anxiety, since that was the exact scenario he'd recently undergone.

What she said was way over his head and well beyond his comprehension, so he just nodded stupidly at her words. However at her final question, he seemed to stiffen a little, his breathing increasing and his stance changed a little. "I'm not sure," he managed to squeak out, "what are you going to do?"

"There is one thing on the lesson plan today, and it's very simple: I'm going to show you how to avoid being strangled. Both in the way you were, but also in a few other ways." She spoke calmly, looking him in the eye as she did so she could gauge his reaction, "To do this I will not have to strangle you, but I will have to put my hands on your neck. I wanted to get this lesson first so you can handle any situation like that one you were in, alright? I don't want you to be afraid of some enemy strangling you ever again."

"W-what?" The boy's hands went to his throat and colour drained from his face. "Do you really have to do that? I don't want you to do that, I..." he faltered, his voice dropping to a bare whisper. "I still have nightmares...."

"If it will help, you can attempt to strangle me first. I can demonstrate how to escape a stranglehold more effectively if you seriously attempt." She almost-joked, and then she turned serious again, "If it makes you too uncomfortable, we can save that lesson for later and begin with how to divert attacks.

"I...I think diversion might be better. I don't want to do to you what was done to me," the boy stammered nervously.

"Before we begin, I want you to be certain of one thing; There is very little you could do to me that I could not stop if I wanted to. There is a risk of injury, as there always is, but if I am injured and you are not, we are in a good place, and it is unlikely that you will injure me regardless. I have trained to fight my entire life. You are beginning to learn how to fight. Even if you attempt to strangle me, it will not be like it was with you and that man. I swear."

She nodded when she finished, then stood completely upright, "But let's focus on diversion of strikes from the front, stretching first. Copy my motions to the best of your ability." Easy stretches first. She touched her toes.

Still unsure, Zirvell did as he was told and copied her movements. He had no trouble touching his toes with the tips of his fingers. "Why have you been fighting all your life?" he asked curiously.

Thett chuckled, then stretched all the way up, reaching as high as was reasonable, on tip toes, fingers outstretched. "How much have you learned about the culture of Andorian homeworlders?" Like this, her tank rode up, but that was fine, it wasn't like it was made to cover her completely, it was just another veil of modesty over her bra. Many of her scars were visible in this outfit, but she was working on being comfortable revealing them. Just as he was working on confidence, so would she.

Zirvell couldn't help but stare as he too stretched out, and nearly toppled over as he stood on the tips of his toes, and lost his balance. "Nothing," he admitted, "father kept me very much in the dark about things, while he told my sisters everything. I read as many books as I could when I learned to read, but I know very little about other cultures." His eyes were still on her scars, traveling up to the hem of her shirt and his cheeks coloured ever so slightly. Gosh she was so gorgeous!

She nodded, "Andorians are one of the four original creators of the Federation, and of the four, we were the most warlike. Of course, our history of imperialism pales to romulans or klingons, but we fought mostly among ourselves and occasionally the vulcans. We're a clan-based society who view combat, especially hand-to-hand, as honorable. I was gifted my first blade before I learned to walk."

As it had seemed to her like he was staring at her scars, "If you want to know about my scars, you only have to ask."

Zirvell nodded. "How did you get them?" he asked, lowering his arms towards his sides. "I have scars too..." They weren't many, and most were probably psychological, but he did still have the scar from where an older male had stabbed him, when he'd gotten between him, and a woman with a baby.

"Well, most of my prior scars were covered by these, drip-like things, in an accident. I lost most of my squad. It was in atmosphere. Molten duranium is not something that I recommend for skin." She may have offered up the information, but talking about it was still a lot, "But if it doesn't look like a droplet, it's either a knife wound or a disruptor burn." She twisted her back.

"Why didn't you have them removed?" he asked curiously, seemingly unaware of her discomfort in discussing it. He leaned a little closer to study them, since she was pointing them out. "Or was that impossible, or too painful?"

"I didn't have them removed because they are all I have left of my squad, in the way the knife of a warrior is all that is left to his widows. Due to the nature of the accident, the blood of my comrades was not able to be added to the wall of heroes, and as squad leader, it is my eternal shame that they cannot be memorialized as a part of their clan's histories. My scars are the only memorial left of them, to my shame and as will remain my duty until my death." She did not want to talk anymore.

Thett took advantage of his proximity and pulled him into a different kind of choke-hold. She turned him and braced him against her chest, his neck in the crook of her elbow, with that forearm braced against her other arm. He seemed so small, but she was careful not to hurt him, keeping her arm firm but not strangling him, just keeping him in a headlock. "How will you escape this?"

Zirvell squealed in alarm and in reflex stomped on her foot hard, while clawing at her arm with one hand, and trying to elbow her into her side with the other. He wasn't even thinking about what he was doing, he was reacting purely on instinct, and reflex.

She released him after the third method of attack. "Perfect, you've got some good basic instincts kid." She smiled, "I'm sorry if I surprised you, I wanted to see how you'd react if I caught you off-guard. Are you ok?"

He was breathing hard as he cast her a somewhat murderous glare, even though his eyes were wide with fright. He took a few steps back to get out of her reach. "Why did you do that!" he managed, even though she had already told him why.

Thett stretched her arms up again, checking her ribs and foot for any pain. Maybe a little bruising, but what would a self-defense lesson be with out some bruises? "I wanted to test your instinctive reaction. You did well, actually."

"Yeah well you grabbed me," the boy all but spat, "and I didn't want you to choke me. And you said you wouldn't do that, so why did you?"

"Did you have trouble breathing?" She raised an eyebrow, "You shouldn't have, i was holding your neck loosely enough to allow airflow."

"I wasn't ready for that, and you said you wouldn't be," Zirvell insisted, eyeing her suspiciously now. "How can I trust you, if you don't do as you say?" Trusting someone was very difficult for him, and he was really trying and he had thought he could trust her. Had he been wrong to then?

"I said I would have to put my hands on your neck, but not stangle you. I did nothing I said I would not. Just because we are learning the deflecting of strikes today does not mean you should let your guard down for other forms of attack. It is a lesson in readiness for attack. Your enemies will not be fair, and I am only trying to prepare you for them." Thett did not move once returning to a neutral posture. "You can choose whether or not to trust me outside of these sessions, but in them, I ask you not to. That is how it works."

"So I'm not to trust you when we're training?" That seemed weird. "Why?" Zirvell inched a little closer but still remained out of arm's reach for now. "Shouldn't I trust you to teach me? Not to hurt me while we do so? Are you saying you could or would?"

"You are learning how not to be injured. To teach you this, there will be a risk of injury. I could say you won't be injured, but I do not know that, no matter how much I strive to prevent your injury, there are risks. I also cannot promise you that I can teach you anything. Some people are born fighting. Some people are not able to learn, no matter how many times they attempt. And I'm asking you not to trust that I won't launch an attack at any moment, specifically. If you choose not to trust me for any other things, that's on you." She spoke calmly, and lowered her head to look him directly in the eyes, "I can promise you only that I will tell you no lies and strive to teach you safely and clearly."

Somehow, he could sense that this was the truth, even if he knew pretty much nothing about her, or the honour her species strived for. So, he gave a single nod. "Just...don't do anything I'm not ready for," he asked of her, "I'm not ready for that move you just did..." He paused, briefly looking away. "Can you teach me to be stronger?"

"Well, I was going to teach you how to deflect a punch, but before we do that we could start with some muscle training, or endurance training? You clearly haven't had the nutrition you need to build strength or stamina. Your elbow blow to my side will barely bruise. Why don't we do some sit-ups? Have you ever done sit-ups?" Thett decided maybe throwing a weak punch at this kid's face right now was not the best move. "All strength comes from your core. If your legs and arms are strong but your core is weak, then you are weak. Focus on your core first, and everything else follows."

"I don't even know what that is," the boy confessed. Being neglected as he had been, he'd never attended much of any physical education. Any endurance or strength he had, and that was fairly little in terms of physical strength unless fired up by adrenaline, was self taught.

Thett sat on the floor and pat beside her. Sit-ups were such an elementary skill, and she used to love the mindlessness of it. "Sit with your knees up like this, lay down flat on your back, and sit up so that your elbows touch your knees." She demonstrated as she spoke, not showing any effort as she sat up. When she wanted to do sit-ups now, she hooked her knees over a pull-up bar. This was nothing.

Zirvell sat down next to her, at first giving her a suspicious and wary glance but once he saw what she was doing, he felt a little silly for not connecting the dots. Doing as he was told, he lay flat on his back and tried to sit himself up. He grunted, not even getting half way before flopping back onto the mat. "You make this look so easy!"

"I have the muscles for it to be easy, and you do not. Yet. The more you use these muscles, the easier it will become each time. There will be lots of sore muscles as they grow stronger, though. Try to do just one." She turned to watch him, but didn't scoot any closer.

Zirvell grunted as he did his best but all he could manage was getting halfway. "I can't even do one..." Disheartened, he flopped back. "Maybe my father was right... Maybe I am useless... I can't get anything right..."

Thett thought for a second, and, she wasn't a counselor, but: "That was cruel thing of your father to say, and the ability or inability to accomplish a task does not determine your worth. For months after the accident, I could not move. Now, I can move with ease. I was worth the same at both points. You are worth what you are worth, and if you ask anyone on this ship, it is not nothing. One of the primary tenets of the Federation is the belief in the inherent value of life, regardless of utility. Not only that, you are a child. No one needs you to be useful. We need you to learn to be yourself, to decide what you enjoy doing, what you want to do, and then do that, even if you aren't the best at it. You will be able to do a sit-up so long as you continue to try. It may take weeks, or months, but if you eat, sleep, and try to do a sit-up, eventually you will be able to. The same with many other things. I paint silk. I was not very good at it for years, and I'm still not very good at it, but since I enjoy it, and since I enjoy gifting hand-painted silks to friends and family and seeing the joy it gives them, I continue, and I improve. Whatever you want to do, attempt to do it. You will be able to."

"But I don't know what I enjoy...." Zirvell sat up, wrapping his arms around his legs. "Other than reading books....I don't know what I like..." He tilted his head to look up at her. "I want to be useful, but I don't know how. Can you help me be useful? Help me learn this simple thing? This sit-up?"

"Try it again, and sit up. Use your muscles on the front of your middle and focus on sitting up. This isn't something you learn, so much as something you have to brute force." She shook her head, "It requires attempting, and failing, over and over, until you succeed."

Lying back again, Zirvell did his level best to sit himself up, his face turning several shades of darker grey with effort. After a few tries, and with great effort, he managed to get half way. But by the time he did, he seemed exhausted. "I don't feel so good," he whispered, his face very flushed from all the exertion on getting the one simple task done.

"Take a break, kid." Thett stood and grabbed the extra towel and waterbottle from the bench for him, "Your muscles are atrophied from years of neglect, don't push them or you'll break." She wrapepd her own towel around her neck, even though andorians don't technically sweat. Honestly, she didn't know if Cardassians sweat either, but it seemed traditional to bring a towel to the gym, and hydration helped everyone.

"Break?" With some effort, Zirvell sat up and accepted the water and towel. "I haven't done much exercise before no...but on Lamenda...after I was left behind, I did run. I had to be able to, or older boys and even men would get me."

Thett nodded, "Break as in fatigue your muscles, making it too painful to move for a while. Like soreness but worse. It's good you know how to run, running makes your legs and heart strong. I have a run planned for when we're done here, I like to use the holodeck and run in simulated nature when I can. One thing I should note, though, is that I believe running for survival and running for fitness are related but separate skills. We'll have to use another lesson to show you how to run in a safe environment."

"It's not the same?" The boy blinked in surprise at that. "I think I'd like to be in nature, there wasn't much of that left on Lamenda...." He gave a small smile. "I don't like being in pain," he added, "is there a way to avoid that?"

"It's not the same." the andorian confirmed, nodding, "To avoid pain, when it comes to getting stronger, is a difficult thing. Common sense and not overworking will help, but even then, some muscle soreness will happen. All I can say is to take breaks and breathe well, and do not over-do it. That will make it worse."

"How does one breathe well? How do I know when I'm over doing things?" He leaned a little closer. "How long did it take you to get strong enough to do things?"

"To breathe well is to take in enough oxygen so that you can speak, but not sing, while working out. This ensures you have enough oxygen for your muscles to work. You know when you're overdoing things when you're going just fine but then suddenly feel weak. That's a good sign to stop, but there are others, like sharp pain or trouble breathing, but that's the metric I usually use." She wanted to answer his questions clearly, but this was probably too much detail, "And do you mean when I started or after my accident?"

Zirvell gave that question some thought. "Both?" he finally answered, "you look very strong... I bet you can do anything you want!" He was clearly awed by her, and definitely looked up to her with a certain healthy amount of respect.

She gave some thought to his question in turn, shaking her head. "I have been working to grow stronger since I was able to walk, it's more of a reflection of how I relate to the world. When I am afraid, I become stronger than what scares me. I cannot do everything I want, you know. I am stronger than you, but everyone is weak one way or another. When I was a child, I did sit-ups frequently, so that I would be able to do more and more as I grew up, but after my accident, it took me several months to be able to do even one, as the weeks of bedrest had weakened my muscles. I don't expect you to do a full sit-up for at least a few weeks, since this is your first time trying to strengthen your abs."

"I mean, do whatever you want to do, whatever you want to... achieve?" Zirvell clarified, "I bet you aren't afraid of anything!"

"Quite to the contrary, actually. I'm afraid of many things. I'm afraid of so many things that I am good at pointing out to others things they should be afraid of, that's why I'm security chief." She rubbed her chin, "In fact, I took up the habit of concealing weapons on my person in any situation so I can be prepared for an attack at any second. I believe I can do a great many things, but I know I am small and helpless. It's that second part that motivates me, and makes me stronger. You are weak now, but if you want to be stronger, or smarter, become so."

"You don't seem helpless to me," the boy pointed out, then got to his feet to circle her a few times. "Do you have concealed weapons now? How do you hide them when you..." His cheeks coloured again as he looked up at her face. "...wear very little?"

She laughed, then pulled a knife out of her waistband. It was just a thin pocket knife with a clip that had been in her leggings near the 'v' of her stomach, the clip covered by the waistband of her basketball shorts. "I find ways. I've also got-" -she pulled another knife out of the side of her shoe, "but it's not useful to carry too many weapons on you while working out, because they pose a safety risk. Also it's against gymnasium regulations, but when you enforce the rules you tend to get extra leeway on them."

"I don't think I'll ever carry weapons...not anymore. I had a knife back on Lamenda, and I ended up getting stabbed with it. I only had it to defend myself and keep others from stealing what little I still had." He seemed to study her for a moment. "Do you think...when I'm old enough, they'd let me into Starfleet?"

Thett nodded. "You'll have to study hard and get stronger, but yes. I was not always a starfleet officer, or even their biggest fan, but I do know their philosophies. Starfleet is the place for anyone who wants to peacefully explore the galaxy, protect the peace of the Federation and her allies, and improve themselves." Her eyes went soft again. "You would face a lot of discrimination by people who know Cardassians only as enemies, but they can not claim to uphold Infinite Diversity in Infinte Combinations if they deny a Cardassian applying in good faith on the basis of his species. If that is what you want to do, then I am certain they would not only let you in, but welcome you, even if some of your teachers or classmates are wary."

"I don't have anywhere else to go," Zirvell reminded her, "besides my father I don't have any other family that I'm aware of. And I don't want to be a solder.. I think.... I'd want to help people in any way I can. Take care of those that need taking care of. I don't think I'd ever be able to be a security officer... that's being a soldier right? I don't like having to fight, I don't like the idea of hurting someone. That's why my father said I was no good for anything."'

"Security officers are kind of like soldiers, yes, and there are times when we have to hurt others. If you want to help and care for others, you could always be an operations officer or a medical officer. Operations keeps the ship running and working together, and medical keeps people alive and healthy. There are other jobs in the federation aside from Starfleet, but you'd probably have to apply for citizenship and revoke cardassian citizenship." She mused. "Which might be an involved process without being adopted by or marrying a current citizen."

"I don't see adoption happening," Zirvell answered slowly, "and marriage isn't an option... I'm fifteen... And why should I revoke where I come from? Can't I still be Cardassian, and work for Starfleet? Or anywhere?"

"Starfleet, yes. Federation civilian, no." Thett nodded, "I wouldn't worry about it just yet, though, at the moment, you belong here. You're our passenger and the captain's ward, therefore you are part of this crew's family."

"But there's no reason I can't try to be useful, right?" Zirvell pleaded, "I've missed out on so much... can't I be useful and learn things, and be a passenger?"

"You are allowed to learn all the information your brain can hold, so long as it is not classified, and you are welcome to take on educational projects when necessary. You can apply for holodeck hours whenever there is room with whatever programs deemed appropriate by the age restrictions and Captain's discretion. You do not have to be useful to us, all ship operations are handled by qualified personnel. All we are asking from you, as a passenger, as a child, is to apply yourself to studying and stay as safe as you can on our dangerous missions. Is that clear?"

Slowly, the boy nodded. "Yes ma'am," he answered formally, "but what if I can get qualified for something? I've been on my own for so long... can't do something that puts me with people? Learn other customs, and stuff?"

"If you get qualified, we can talk, and you'd have to broach that subject with the Captain." She didn't want to give him hope on that front, "But if you'd like to learn other customs, you are more than welcome to make friends with the crew while they are off-duty, or study other customs in holodeck approximations of other species' homeworlds, vessels, and colonies. There are a great diversity of peoples on this vessel, and from any one of them you could learn a great deal about how other people see the galaxy."

"I'm not used to holodecks," Zirvell admitted, "there weren't any on Lamenda, definitely not after people fled. And they're not the same as real people.... reactions are programmed aren't they?" He paused briefly. "How do you see the galaxy?"

Thett sipped her water. "The reactions are programmed," She sipped again, considering his second question, "For now, I think that is enough training. Practice your sit-ups, and come prepared to do some strength training next time. We will save learning to defend yourself until you are healthy enough to consider it, yes?"

Again, the boy nodded. "When I'm stronger," he agreed with a smile, then on impulse wrapped his arms around her. "Thank you..."

Once she'd determined that wasn't an attack, she carefully pat his hair. "Of course." Of course. Not 'you're welome', because it wasn't a favor, 'of course' because she couldn't imagine not helping where she could, he was a child and the ship's ward.

He squeezed briefly before letting her go, then darted off, out of the gym.

Thett wondered the last time anyone had thought to hug her. She then collected their towels, and headed to go begin her run.


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