Chapter 27: Fierce Fight
Copyright© 2011 by Murasame
(Aoshi's punches rain down; one catches Kenshin across the face.)
Aoshi: No matter how many times you attack, it's futile. When pressed my kodachi could keep off bullets from a rifle.
(Kenshin goes down.)
Yahiko (thinking): He's too good ... Kenshin couldn't even hit him once...
Aoshi: Stand up. I don't like dealing the finishing blow to one already defeated.
Yahiko (thinking): No matter what advantage he has, he never has even a thin smile on his face ... he really does have a fighting heart of ice! Dammit, he must have tripped him! (aloud) Kenshin!
Kenshin (getting to his feet): I'm fine. It would take more than that to defeat me, without apologizing to Miss Megumi, without seeing Miss Kaoru's face, without a word to Sano ... Finally, I've come to see how to keep off the kodachi.
Aoshi: Suddenly, you want to say, but it's not in your nature to say such things. I'll show you how.
Aoshi (blocking): Slow!
(he drops the kodachi to counter the next, when he sees that Kenshin is not gripping his sword by the hilt but above it.)
Aoshi (thinking): What! The edge of the blade...
(Kenshin drives the hilt into his throat, driving him back.)
Kenshin: Aoshi. The secret to your strength is perfectly controlling your opponent's range.
Yahiko (thinking): Range... (flashback to a lesson from Kaoru.)
Kaoru: Okay, Yahiko, range. The distance your opponent can cover with one attack.
Kaoru: (You want to be strong, right? So listen up.) The range changes according to an individual's skill and specialty with his weapon, but in a match at the master's level, how your reach and your opponent's precommit your moves become the essence of the fight. Kenshin: While there's an advantage to my simple thinking and way of holding the sword, my longer reach creates a blind spot for me at close quarters. You use this blind spot when you trap the sword with the kodachi and attack with your fists. But when you attack with the kodachi, the blind spot is naturally eliminated.
Aoshi: To cut flesh and sever bone ... You've shown me the essence of the Hitokiri. In return, I shall bring you down with the essence of the Oniwabanshuu. (He strikes.)
Kenshin (blocking easily, and thinking): Slow! Why so...
(Aoshi is behind him, and then it seems he is surrounded by Aoshis, all in different positions.)
Kenshin: The Kenbu!? (dodging stroke after stroke, and thinking) This is no ceremonial sword dance!
Aoshi: You're too used to the clearly-defined moves of kenjutsu. This ever-changing flood of movement cannot be stopped.
Kenshin (thinking): The kempo moves and the kodachi techniques are combined in a true fighting sword dance... !
(He rakes Kenshin three times across the chest. Kenshin falls.)