(( Interior. The Guts of the USS Arrow. Near Cargo Bay 1. ))
Maria hopped off the turbolift, feeling like she was outright royalty for utilizing the mode of transportation instead of tunneling around the ship like a mole rat. Despite the crud and soot all over her face, and the scabbing wound on her hand, and the sleep deprivation, she could feel the impending success fueling her determination forward. One error in engineering; one manual bypass in cargo bay 1; one command to the computer and this waking nightmare was going to be over. Or so Maria thought.
She rounded a corner on her way to the cargo bay, and a lazy electrical signal coursed through her
brain in recognition of the bald, green-skinned Orion woman standing a
few short meters away in front of her. It was the same one that had had
a knife to the Captain's throat on the screen what felt like an
eternity ago. The signs of fight and battle were all over her. It was
too late to go unnoticed and sneak around, Maria had been seen. Besides, the cargo bay was not too far on the other side of the imposing figure - even
if Maria could go around, she'd be in easy range of an attack from the pirate
queen. Maria found the interloper's eyes meeting hers, a combination
of alien bloodlust and greed and ambition mixing with... something
recognizable she couldn't place. Somewhere, somehow, the look in her
enemy's eyes was familiar. There was a phaser pointed squarely at her face, and much to close for comfort. If Maria was feeling any fear, she sure wasn't showing it.
Ghant: You are not The Pretty One, but you are certainly A Pretty One, are you not?
Maria had almost been expecting to be shot then and there, and honestly might have welcomed it as a fitting end to the day even if it had meant failure. Still, she was just as happy that she was still standing, and took her time to assess the situation and keep a keen eye for an opening. She grinned macabrely, her eyes not so much as flinching as the adrenaline in her body kicked into overdrive, pulling every millisecond into sharp relief.
Alvarez: You know what? It's been a long day, I'll take a backhanded compliment from anyone. :: She smiled. :: I am pretty, dammit! Even if I look like I just came from an all-night Edosian rave party. Exactly who is asking me on a date?
Maria carefully watched the bald Orion woman bow. There was something so incredibly familiar about the bow, even if Maria couldn't quite place it. The entirety of her opponent's behavior and mannerisms made her feel like she was having deja vu, and it was going to bug the daylights out of the Ensign. A certain precision and calculation to the movement she recognized graced everything about the woman.
Ghant: Captain Eru Ghant, at your service. I assume you are the one I have to go through to get off this...wretched ship, yes?
Maria's eyes narrowed, part in a predator-like focus, part from a tiny smiling crease tugging at the corners of her eyes.
Alvarez: Ensign Maria Alvarez, decidedly not at yours. Unless you're an interphasic being, or intending on starting a new fashion trend based on copious quantities of freshly-obtained ensign giblets, I can't say I'd recommend going "through" me... However, you'd be correct that I have no intention of allowing a criminal's departure if I can help it.
Maria's hands rushed out as soon as she spotted a slight readjustment of Ghant's grip on the phaser. It was a relatively standard disarmament strike, but she knew just how painful and effective it was having been the victim of it many times in training. It was the instructor's sick idea of 'encouragement' to get better with her marksmanship. Either way, the weapon went flying a long ways down the corridor, but not without a heavy cost. Maria's stomach took the brunt of the counterassault, a painfully punishing reprimand that pushed Maria further away from her objective, and caused to briefly double over. She opened up some space between herself and Ghant to take a moment to properly stand back up.
Alvarez: Yeah, well, sometimes I surprise myself too. :: She
smirked, perhaps overconfident. :: I can't say I expected to find
myself facing down an interstellar terrorist after everything else today.
One of the many charms of Starfleet, I suppose. :: She shrugged. ::
Maria's body quickly dulled down the pain to almost nothing.
There were subtle changes in the ensign's body posture as she fully engaged her mind and body for the coming fight - her center of
gravity lowered, her feet positioned, her joints softened, her breath settled, and her gaze
fixed a line of sight on the Orion's eyes. It was much harder to feign
with one's eyes than their body. She couldn't help the faint smile
crossing her face - probably looking deranged coming from a Starfleet
officer. She knew the tactic Ghant was trying well. She wasn't going
to allow her focus to be disrupted, or be baited into an attack on an opponent she didn't understand or know yet.
Alvarez: Man, with the way you talk, you really should have considered opening up a shady timeshare business on Risa swindling gullibles out of their hard-earned latinum. Probably could have made more money off of that than this ill-advised little heist... or whatever this is.
Maria was nearly caught by surprise by the ambitious and strong
throw of blows. She was forced to give up another couple meters of ground in a
dodge, a block and a twirl out of the way, but she managed to escape
all but a less painful punch. She was thanking her dance instructors now for the swift footwork she'd developed over the years. She knew from the first contact her
opponent was more skilled and stronger than her, with a will to kill.
Maria would have to rely on speed and flexibility, keeping distance
between herself and Ghant to avoid a potentially lethal grapple or
painful throw. She needed to remain standing to have a chance with this
fight. She suspected her trademark wit might be outdone here, but
she'd keep looking for something to turn the advantage. In the
meantime, she refocused on her opponent.
Alvarez: I'm curious... what exactly was there to be gained in a risky assault on
this ship? You're locked out of my ship, and your ship is in smolders. Just what
was the plan... Eru?
Maria's eyes glinted, and
she unflinchingly sprung into a quick-striking series of kicks and
clever footwork, aimed less at inflicting damage and more at controlling
the space and pushing the Orion back. She was also proving to Ghant
she wasn't the only one who could control their verbal sparring at the
same time as their physical sparring. There really was nothing like baiting a villain into a monologue only
to interrupt it. At least if Maria died, she'd have ticked one more thing off of her bucket list.
Alvarez: Well, don't you have an interesting
personality. I never realized there could be so much depth and complexity and genuine empathy in a pirate! I almost bet we'd be friends if you weren't trying to kill
me... Please, tell me all about your "tragic" backstory before you
bore me to death with talk about how you're going to grind me to a pulp.
Maria's eyebrows flashed in a critical, adversarial smile, making her acerbic sarcasm abundantly obvious. Truth be told though, there was a tiny kernel of doubt in Maria's head, wondering if there was something other than a jagged-toothed monster in her opponent. It was a dangerous gambit: verbally, emotionally and physically, but one she was willing to take a shot at.
took the initiative this time, punishing a small opening with an
unorthodox strike, and momentarily used advantage of Ghant's instability
to fight her way another couple meters down the hall. She'd finally gained some advantage. It was
exhausting business, and Maria wasn't sure how long she could keep it
up. She could even tell her own sloppiness was preventing her from
really driving home this temporary win. She could only hope her opponent
didn't notice the imprecision and poor control of kinetics in the latest
attack, given that it was still effective. She couldn't help but draw
the connection that she'd always had the same kind of relationship to
martial arts as to dancing - she never practiced enough, she never took
it quite seriously enough to be actually great. Always just resting on natural ability and quick uptake. Was she thinking about dance, or martial arts? Maybe both.
in Ghant's story had thrown Maria a little. She had expected it to be a
sob story, and fully anticipated most of it to be 'exaggerated' -
that's what she'd do if she were a villain. But there was something else
too, something unexpected. A glimmer of recognition of her own course that could only be truth.
A story of two lives: one terrestrial and supposedly expressive and
high-minded but with a dark side; the other among the stars on a
hapless, perhaps ill-conceived, journey for an unclear purpose. Was
Maria just out here for a thrill and a paycheck, so to speak?
Alvarez: Even if I did believe any of your story, I'm still going to take you down and evict your motley crew off my ship. Almost everyone comes through adversity and hardship, that's no excuse to become a gleefully violent thug.
Maria's possessive, paper-thin bravado was probably unwise; her high-contrast morality utterly transparent.
yelped and stumbled with the full impact of a blow forcing her back to
the starting position of the fight, only considerably more drained now.
She had a sinking feeling this was a war of attrition, and not one she
stood much chance of winning. Natural ability and quick wits would only carry her so far against such a practiced, precise opponent. Still, she balletically recovered and
fended off the follow-up attack however more clumsily than before, at least managing to stay upright easily enough. Her dancerly instincts had saved her one more time. Her
breathing was heavy and slightly unsteady and sweat dripped down her forehead. That blow had hurt a lot
more than she anticipated, but she was still holding her own. For now,
at least. Her irrepressible grin came back in seconds, no doubt making
her appear just as deranged as her assailant. Maybe the two did share more
in common than Maria was comfortable with if she found this amusing in
Alvarez: Yeah? And what makes you think that?
Ensign Maria Alvarez
Ops Officer, USS Arrow