Day 53, evening
Andy had just gotten through giving us all a lesson in hand to hand combat, using Jai, Kurt and I as test dummies. Not the most pleasant experience of my life, let me tell you. But in an odd way it was actually sort of, well, fun.
“Anybody who wants to practice or compare notes, y’all have fun. Gunney and I need a drink!” Andy said over his shoulder, headed towards Hanna’s. We just looked around at each other, still trying to figure out what had just happened. Ryu was the first to speak up.
“Jai, looks like you’ve done this before. Care to try out a few things?” he asked. Jai agreed, and we all started breaking off into pairs, experimenting with the many new moves and tactics Andy & co. had just shown us. I got Kaye. He was a quick learner, but so was I. Cute too. Him, I mean. We traded blows and joint locks, generally throwing each other around. After about ten minutes Kaye stopped mid move, just staring over my shoulder.
“Jai ‘n Ryu are fightin’,” he said, slack jawed.
“I know. Now grab my wrist, I want to try that throw again.”
“Na – look,” he gaped. I turned around and stopped dead. They were fighting, or it looked that way. It was like watching a movie. Their movements were practically a blur. They weren’t calmly powerful like Andy’s had been; this was something else. Before long everyone had stopped what they were practicing to watch the two of us who already got it. I’ve come a long way since we landed, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to play at their level.
Just watching them was tiring. I mean it was literally exhausting trying to figure out what the hell was going on when they moved. Jai was faster than Ryu, although not by much, but Ryu made up for it with his additional power. The result was an intricate and almost incomprehensible flurry of near misses and partial hits. There was no real line between attack and defense. Everything just seemed to flow together. Kicks and blows, knees and elbows flew faster than I would have thought possible, but their eyes never left each others’. And they were grinning like maniacs. For the first time since the storm I think Jai was actually enjoying herself.
The fight came to an abrupt halt with the pair locked nearly side by side, Jai’s elbow a bare inch from Ryu’s neck and his foot almost touching her kneecap.
“Good match.” Jai said. “We should do it again sometime.”
“No doubt. And I’ve got to say, you’re the first person our age that has matched me. I’m impressed.” Ryu replied, disengaging. “Where’d you learn?”
“My Dad and my Uncle mostly, with a fair few other influences thrown in. You?”
“Almost the same, weirdly enough. We should compare notes. I’m busy tonight,” he continued, glancing in my direction, “so tomorrow?”
“Sounds like a plan. Now let’s all go get dinner. I’m sure everyone’s worked up an appetite.”