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Forum Name: Our Witches at War
Topic ID: 50
#0, The Cutting Room Floor: Episode 08
Posted by Gryphon on Dec-17-17 at 12:13 PM
While I'm emptying out the cupboards: This bit was originally written for Episode 08, "Back to Work", as the lead-in to the scene where Mio and Minna get back. It was superseded by the version in which General LeMay showed up before them, in which case G and Perrine both needed to be elsewhere. I kept it for a while thinking I might use the other bits later, but the way the story arc has developed, it doesn't look like all the pieces are going to be together in the right way for that to work, so here it is.

When Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto told her that the man called Gryphon would be looking after things in her absence, Yoshika Miyafuji was a little bit skeptical. There was no doubting his bravery; even if she'd been inclined to question the stories she'd heard from her wingmates about the last time he'd been among them, that would've ended once she'd witnessed his performance in combat against the Neuroi and the... whatever-that-was... that had menaced the Kaiser of Karlsland the previous week. Similarly, she knew he knew how to handle himself in the air. But what in the world could a Liberion - even one who was apparently from the future - know about Fusō-style swordsmanship?

Well, in the course of the weekend, she had found out.

Up on the roof of the castle keep, above the control room, they had trained for an hour every morning, just as was Yoshika's habit with Mio. On the first day, he'd mostly just watched while Yoshika ran through the drills the elder Fusō witch had taught her, gauging her ability level. On the second, he had joined her for some of the exercises, performing them alongside her with his own wooden sword.

Today, they were sparring, and before long they had drawn a little bit of a crowd. Perrine Clostermann, as the wing's other keen swordswoman (albeit in a completely different style), had come to watch out of a kind of professional curiosity. Shizuka Hattori, the youngest of the 501st's three members from the Fusō Empire, had a few motivations for joining in, including a growing curiosity about her nation's style of swordsmanship, an enduring fascination with anything Yoshika Miyafuji (once her idol, and still a witch for whom she had great regard) was good at, and an interest in learning more about the still-mysterious visitor from another time.

As for Lynette Bishop, she was often on hand when Yoshika was training, ready with towels and refreshing beverages as needed; Chris Barkhorn shared a number of Shizuka's motivations; and Shirley Yeager was always up for a show.

This was a particularly good one, because Yoshika had learned a lot in the three years she'd been training with Mio, and Gryphon - as it turned out - knew really rather a lot about Fusō swordsmanship.

He wasn't in full "dojo mode", because Yoshika wasn't his student, but as substitute teachers went, he was pretty demanding. Enough so, at any rate, that Yoshika was kept fully on her toes, and their little audience paid close attention to the action.

"Good," Gryphon observed when Yoshika managed a particularly adroit counter to a strike she hadn't been entirely ready for. "Well-improvised..." He paused, looking up, as if he'd heard something. "Hm."

"What?" Yoshika asked, suspending her next maneuver.

Gryphon stood with his head cocked thoughtfully for a moment, then smiled. "They're back," he said, then bowed to her. "Good work, Miyafuji-chūi. My job here is done for the moment." Straightening, he added with a grin, "Normal service will be resumed soon."

As he did, the others heard it too - the distinctive drone of an approaching multi-engine aircraft. Only one of those was scheduled to arrive at Saint-Ulrich today: the one bearing the unit's commanding officer and her second-in-command home from their weekend pass in Paris.

After Yoshika returned the proper dojo courtesies, she and the others bustled off downstairs to make ready for their superiors' arrivals. Aside from Gryphon, only Perrine remained; with a pensive expression, the blonde Gallian stood at the parapet looking off to the west, watching for the speck of the approaching transport to appear on the horizon.

Gryphon went quietly to her side; she didn't seem to notice him until he said in a gentle voice, "Are you all right?"

Perrine glanced at him, then returned her attention to the sky as she considered the question. Then she turned back to him and replied, "Yes... I'm fine." She smiled, and though there was an undeniable undercurrent of pain in the expression, the smile itself wasn't forced or fake, nor even resigned. "I won't say it doesn't hurt," she added honestly, "but I'm fine."

--G.
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