Shadow and Ghost
Chapter 10: Chiva Preparation
Set’rath agitated a set of whips as Bhu’ja flicked open two Shurikens. The whips he used where the reticulated tails of Kainde Amedhas coated in a protective wax for training. He had changed into his armor and Bhu’ja had to admit he was intimidating to look at. He stood poised to strike in polished black scale armor that covered everything vital. He wore a mesh under-suit that covered the rest of his exposed muscular frame. His bio-mask was also polished black with angular eyes framing his Blooded mark evenly between them on the smooth forehead. The cheeks where carved like gears from a clock, giving him an almost robotic appearance.
Bhu’ja chided herself for loosing focus as a tail came whipped towards her booted foot. Striking down with a Shuriken she deflected the tail, spinning around to avoid the other. Throwing one of the Shurikens towards Set’rath’s chest, she watched him back bend away from the spinning blades and struck again with one of the tails, this time catching her under the heel.
Feeling herself fall, Bhu’ja used her momentum to throw herself into a back flip, catching the returning Shuriken before her hands touched the ground. Growling at him from behind her mask Bhu’ja went on the offensive. Stepping into her strikes with the sun flared blades, deflecting each of the bladed tails as Set’rath struck out with them.
Changing the angle of the whip strikes, Set’rath began using them as long-range stabbing weapons, like the beasts they used to belong to would do. Bhu’ja spun out of range and then parried with a Shuriken as she tried to get closer for the “killing” shot. Set’rath allowed her to get between the tails drawing her in. Bhu’ja knew he favored this ruse and feigned coming in stepping over his sweeping foot and spun smacking him on the inside of a wrist causing him to drop one of the whips.
Roaring at her in mock rage, Set’rath went on an aggressive offence; Bhu’ja struggled franticly to parry the whip lashes away that she almost missed him stepping in slightly with his right foot. As he spun a backhand towards her, he spiraled the whip around striking against the empty spot she once stood. Whipping his head around, he saw her rolling to her feet and a shuriken flying towards his chest again. Sidestepping he lashed the whip out knocking the flared blades to the ground behind him out of Bhu’ja’s reach. Set’rath grinned behind his mask at her audible curse. “Focus!” He barked at her. “The Kainde Amedha will not give you a moment to breathe once the battle has begun.”
Throwing the second Shuriken at him, Bhu’ja used it to divert his attention as she ran towards him grabbing the tail about mid length and dropping herself to the floor sliding between his legs pulling the whip with her. The sudden pull caught Set’rath off guard lurching him forward, he dropped the whip and dove into a somersault rolling to his feet with cat like grace. They both turned and charged at each other. Set’rath extended his wrist blades, slashing down at Bhu’ja as she came in low extending her own blade to deflect his. Reaching up she grabbed his chest strap and used his momentum as she dropped to her knees to throw him forward. His growl echoed through the room as his free arm caught her under the arm in the ribs pulling her into a barrel roll with him across the floor. When they ceased rolling, Bhu’ja spring boarded back to her feet and spun towards Set’rath. Pulling herself up short when his fist hit the chin of her mask and his wrist blades framed her neck.
Set’rath retracted his blades and gently ran a claw over her now scaring love bite. “You are doing better.”
“I still have not won a fight against you though.”
He chuckled softly. “It will be many years before that will be possible.”He lingered a moment longer over her scar, before dropping his hand. Sighing he turned to the door. “Come; let us report your test. There is no doubt your scores today will put you into the next Chiva.”
She nodded and followed him from the training room. During the last week of being on board the clan ship, Set’rath had been putting Bhu’ja through a grueling training pace and he had made it clear that training was all they would be doing. He had even made a point to sleep in a different room. When she had asked him why he was avoiding her, he had stated. ‘I do not want to distract from your training. I need you to pass your Chiva.’ Him stressing the word ‘need’ had not gone unnoticed and for now Bhu’ja conceded to let him have his way.
Most of her training had been done in the private training room of his personal ship, but today was for her ranking score and their sparing had been done on the clan ship so it could be recorded. The recorded score would determine what Chiva she would go on and Bhu’ja could tell Set’rath was both proud and stressed about how well she had done. As they entered the bridge, one of the security officers announced their entry and Thar’n-thwei turned around from a video console with a crooked grin on his face, clapping his hands together he spoke excitedly. “With myself as the exception, I have never seen anyone disarm the deadly shadow himself before. I am greatly impressed with you. Your score puts you in the top three for the upcoming Chiva.”
Bhu’ja noticed Set’rath’s spine was tense and he held himself like a coiled spring, but when he did not speak, she smiled at her uncle. “I had a good, though be it, hard ass teacher.”
Her uncle’s laugh rumbled through the room and his security officers caught each other’s eye briefly before hiding their own smiles behind consoles. Set’rath only clicked quietly. Thar’n-thwei clapped him on the shoulder. “You did well. Do not worry she will come back with her own trophies to add to your honor and to solidify her own.”
Set’rath nodded and when he spoke, his voice was tight. “How long do we have before the Chiva?”
“You have two days to enjoy your mate, before we enter orbit around K’lis 1. Once there we will pre-implant the River Ghosts.”
Set’rath tilted his head. “Why has the queen been pulled from the Chiva grounds?”
“We have received some concerning data regarding your current investigation and I thought it best to remove temptation.” Thar’n-thwei answered soberly.
Set’rath nodded. “I can set a plan in motion. I just need to get Ghost set up with the armor and weapons she will carry during her Chiva.”
“Very good, have you trained her on the shoulder cannon at all? You know she will need it.”
Bhu’ja listened to the males discuss her and the only thought she kept going back to was. Not another one of Set’rath’s plans. If it was anything like the one he had implemented on the planet, she knew she was in for a serious ass kicking and some seriously crazy stunts.
Bhu’ja pulled herself from her thoughts in time to hear Set’rath ask. “Who will be her hunt sisters?”
Thar’n-thwei shifted nervously on his feet. “There has been an interesting development concerning them.”
That put Bhu’ja on alert. “What do you mean ‘interesting development’?”
He shook his dreads and rumbled. “I have been ordered by the council to run five hunters through this Chiva.”
“What, why?” Set’rath’s voice held alarm and Bhu’ja was not liking the turn of events.
Thar’n-thwei clicked rapidly, his irritation evident. “They offered no explanation as to why the change in numbers.”
Bhu’ja cleared her throat. “In order who does that put me with?”
Clicking his mandibles tightly Thar’n-thwei glanced between Bhu’ja and Set’rath before finally answering. “Yey’thwei, scored one point higher than Bhu’ja. Next would be Dto’luar-ke, Thei-Kiloun, and the fifth is D’lex-dekna.”
Bhu’ja pressed her lips together. “Well it is obvious now who is behind the council’s order.”
Thar’n-thwei nodded. “Yes I have known for a while that Kha’cti-pa wanted to push D’lex-dekna through this Chiva and it is also obvious that she wanted it to be done either with you or before you so the whelp could challenge for Set’rath.”
Set’rath placed a possessive hand on Bhu’ja’s shoulder. “I have already made my choice, even if she was to challenge, it would give her no gains as win or lose I belong to Bhu’ja.”
“I know.” The elder sounded confused. Then a thought entered his mind. “Unless…”
Set’rath finished the thought. “They planned to make sure Bhu’ja doesn’t pass.”
“Just wait a fucking minute!” Bhu’ja did not like her men’s train of thought. “Are you now telling me I get to go on a rigged Chiva, where I not only get to hunt pissed off hard meats who will be desperate to find their queen. But I also have to watch my back with a hunt sister who wants my mate bad enough she’d stick a knife in my back to have him?” Her uncle nodded. “Oh this is fucking perfect…Any more good news?”
Thar’n –thwei nodded again and continued. “You will need to stay focused during the Chiva, there is no doubt, but I have a feeling knowing your mate he will not let you go unprepared for such a double cross.”
Bhu’ja turned to face him, and in her irritation flashed her visor at him. “You already knew this?”
He nodded. “I only knew of D’lex-dekna being pushed through to go on this Chiva, I did not know about her ranking.”
Bhu’ja glared at her uncle. “And why wasn’t I told sooner about all of this?”
Thar’n-thwei answered and Bhu’ja could still hear his irritation with the council. “When her scores came back low I did not feel it was important. I just found out during your test that the council issued the order for five hunters instead of three.”
She nodded and with a shrug, she asked. “Ok, so now what?”
“Go with your mate for now.”
“Very well.” She sighed and bowed her head respectfully before following Set’rath from the bridge.
“Come, I have your armor and your weapons.”
“And one hell of a plan I hope.”
Set’rath looked down as her, flashed his visor at her and purred. Bhu’ja just shook her head. Yep, pain, crazy stunts, and my ass kicked. Good thing I love this man.