Shichinin no Nezumikishi, Part III
Posted by Doug on May 25, 2009
Part three of my series of short vignettes of the history of the Seven Gray Knights:
“Hey kid, you think you’re some kind of samurai?”
Clad in a white gi shirt and dark blue hakama pants, a bamboo shinai practice sword in hand, fourteen-year-old Hoshino Tomokazu practiced his kendo techniques in the park not far from the junior high he attended. He liked practicing in the park because it was peaceful here…well, at least most of the time.
He looked up to see a trio of boys from the high school which was also not far from the park. By their slovenly attire, flamboyant multicolored hairstyles, and loud, belligerent demeanors, Hoshino figured they were delinquents. So much for a quiet afternoon of practice.
“Yeah, samurai, what happened to your topknot?” one of the delinquents said, ambling up to Hoshino’s side to rub the short silver stubble of hair on his head. An orphan, Hoshino had been raised in a Buddhist temple, and he had only recently started to grow out his hair.
Hoshino brushed the delinquent’s hand aside. “Hey, what are you trying to start something?” the delinquent said, tensing up.
“I think you’re the one who is trying to pick a fight,” Hoshino said calmly.
“So what if I am?” the delinquent said.
“Yeah, what you think you’re going to do about it?” the second delinquent said, pushing Hoshino roughly. “Your play sword doesn’t scare me.”
However, Hoshino did not budge from his position. “I think I will convince you that starting a fight with me is ill-advised.”
“What do you mean by that?” the third delinquent demanded.
“Yeah, you need to learn some respect,” the first delinquent said, reaching into his back pocket. He drew out a switchblade. “Because I got me a real—“
The delinquent could not finish his sentence, not after Hoshino brought the pommel of his shinai straight up under his chin in the blink of an eye, with enough force that the delinquent would feel the fracture in his jaw for months afterwards. The bamboo sword spun, a blur, and the switchblade, its blade still retracted, was knocked out of his hand, landing meters away in the grass.
As the first delinquent staggered back, clutching his jaw, the other two just stared at Hoshino in shock for a moment before they lunged forward. Hoshino sidestepped, lashing out with the shinai as he moved, hitting the closest in the side of the head with an echoing crack, collapsing him to the ground.
The third closed in from the side, blocking another of Hoshino’s blows with his forearms, but this left him open for a low kick to the shin that dropped him to his knees; it was followed by a tremendous strike with the shinai to the back of his shoulders that dropped him to the ground.
Hoshino turned on the first delinquent, who had reclaimed his switchblade and now brandished it, still nursing his jaw with one hand.
His voice still impossibly calm, Hoshino identified himself. “I am Warrant Officer Hoshino Tomokazu, 119th Titan Battalion, C Company. I have faced enemies far more dangerous than you could ever hope to be many times, and each time, I have triumphed. I strongly recommend you think twice before assaulting me further.”
The delinquent withered under the tranquil fury of Hoshino’s gaze. After a moment’s indecision, he ran.
“And you?” Hoshino said, turning to the other two, but they, too, had lost their will to persist. Their flight was slowed only by the appearance of another young man in the park, this one wearing a Ground Self Defense Force uniform and a distinctive gray beret.
Lieutenant Watanabe just smiled at the scene he had just witnessed. He had found who he was looking for.