Day 15, early morning
Two nights since Jack was killed and we’d seen neither hide nor hair of the rumbler, or any slizzards or anything else for that matter. The lot of us on guard detail were on short sleep, but we could handle it for a while longer while the young guns got trained enough that they didn’t need such thorough babysitting. Of course, Jack had been ex-military and had known what he was doing, so it was going to be a while before we let them totally alone. I just hoped one of those kids didn’t buy it. That would be more than the colony could take. It would be more than I could take.
The last shift had just ended, the sun creeping over the horizon. I had put the Tavor back in the tent, though I left the HK and one of the Pythons on and in plain sight. Andy was right; what people needed now was reassurance, and when you might be attacked weapons in the hands of competent people that you trust (I hope the other colonists trust us) are reassuring. As I was headed to Hanna’s for coffee (by now I had given in to the temptation) I saw something I hadn’t really ever expected to see again down by Windmill Hill. Coffee forgotten I started jogging in that direction. As I neared the man I slowed.
He was kneeling with his back to me under one of the few trees in the field, hand on the hilt of what was unmistakably a katana, staring straight ahead, motionless. I had seen this once before as a child on a trip to Japan to visit a friend of my father’s. I looked up. Sure enough, on a leaf ten feet above his head and not three feet in front of him sat a glistening drop of dew, inching its way ever so slowly downward. I kneeled, watching.
Minutes passed. The drop had stopped. Then suddenly it fell, catching the light as it sailed toward its fate. The sword flew through the air, bisecting the shimmering drop, catching half on its blade and letting the rest continue undisturbed to the grass below. The swordsman shook the water off, wiped the blade and gracefully slid it back into its sheath. He stood and turned.
I bowed, hands at sides, looking at the ground. “Hajimemashite. Benjamin Connor desu, yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” I looked up to see an ever so slight look of surprise in the man’s eyes. He bowed back.
“Maeda Kiyoshi desu, yoroshiku onegaishimasu.” He straightened and extended his hand. “It is good to meet you Connor,” he said, shaking my hand. “I am Ryu’s father. He has told me good things of you and your daughter.”
“Thank you. And you have quite the son. He’s turning into a real leader. I’ve met few people his age as mature as he is.” I paused. “If you don’t mind me asking, is that a traditional katana? I thought they had been outlawed.”
He sighed. “Yes. This was made by my father. I have two others made by him as well. I had to leave my own katanas on Earth. With luck, and if the gods smile on me perhaps I will make more yet.”
“You’re a smith?” I asked, stunned. “You were one of the five still allowed to practice, to make ‘art swords’ after the ban?” My eyes widened. “You’re Hayashi Maeda’s son?” He nodded curtly. “I have to show you something. Come on!” I started walking quickly back to the tents with the confused smith in tow. I couldn’t believe it. Was the world really that small?