“I challenge,” the voice said, and Emily stopped at the edge of the ring, turning to look over her shoulder. “My choice of weapon is shinai.”
“There is no need,” she said, as she rushed to the center of the ring to kneel at Kano’s feet.
“Do not insult me,” he growled. “You will accept my challenge… unless you think it is beneath you.”
“I would rather be your student, Sensei, than your opponent.”
A moment later, she stood on the side of the ring, as Ishikawa and Lt Otane helped her strap on protective equipment. Shinai are practice swords, made of bamboo strips bound together in a single shaft, lighter than a bokken, and with no edge. But in the heat of competition, an errant blow can still do some damage… and Kano did not look like he meant to tap her lightly.
“You should not have entered the ring,” Lt Otane said. “This could have been avoided if you had just let Sgt Tsukino have his victory.”
“Nonsense,” Ishikawa roared. “Moon behaved like a donkey. He deserved what he got, and she fought brilliantly.”
“What are they saying?” Durant asked from behind Lt Otane.
“Dice thinks I’m a fool, and so does Kiku-san.”
“No, Durantu-san,” Ishikawa said, in the best English he could muster. “I think Tenno-san is awe-inspiring. But she is probably in for a beating.”
“I’m sorry for getting you in to this pickle, LT,” Durant said, after Emily glowered at him.
“Pic-kel-u?” Ishikawa said, with one raised eyebrow as he tried to fit his mouth around the word.
“Just like tsukemono,” Lt Otane proposed.
Emily offered an alternative translation: “He means this is a difficult situation.” When Ishikawa still didn’t understand, she said, “I’m screwed.”
“Yes, yes,” Ishikawa said with a big grin. “Screwed.”
“Can you take him?” Oleschenko asked.
“Not if he’s anything like his father,” Emily said. “Besides, kendo is not my best subject.”
“Kano-san was national youth champion as a boy,” Ishikawa said. “He is kyoshi.”
“You knew his father?” Oleschenko said, looking on as Emily tugged on her equipment to get it to fit better. “How is that possible?”
“It’s a long story, sir. Let’s just say it hasn’t put me in Kano’s good books.”