I wrote this a couple of years ago. Apparently it was inspired by something that happened in the rpg version of the setting. ~shrugs~ I no longer remember the inspiration, but that’s what the email where I first sent it to a beta reader says.
Anyway, Kenshin Kenodori is a major character in my upcoming novel, No More Lies. He’s a retired Sweytzian Special Forces spy/commando. He’s also an honest-to-god ninja master. He left Earth as a young man and ended up stranded on Sweytz with his best friend during a misadventure that involved a prostitute, a stolen wallet, and a sure bet that wasn’t. I really need to write that someday. I think I’ve got a brief biography of him around here that I could post someday . . .
I think Lyndsey and Katri are explained well enough in the story. Though posting this did remind me that I never did the post about just what the Daggers are.
I’m not to be held responsible if anyone gets the bright idea to try any of the activities discussed in this story.
Also, I’m leaving the time units and units of measure Sweytzian. I think you can understand the story without knowing exactly what they mean.
Here’s the story — vignette, if you want to get technical — edited some from the version some of you may have previously read. And if anyone has a time machine, I’d like to borrow it to go smack two-years-ago me in the head for all the damned unnecessary commas I’ve found.:
Kenshin wasn’t much of a drinker, but he still seemed to end up at The Sword & Scroll Tavern at least once a sulid. Damned near everyone in the area did. Being near a starport, there wasn’t a lack of bars in and near Lus Ville, but to anyone who wanted more than a drink — or who didn’t want a drink at all — the only one was The Sword & Scroll. And, as ex-military, he got a 10% discount.
As soon as he walked in that night, he noticed the unusual amount of noise and the large crowd near one of the dartboards.
“Ha! Beat that!” said a voice he knew very well. I wonder what she’s up to now, he thought as he wandered over to join the crowd watching the young ninja and a young man that he thought was one of the newer Daggers.
As he approached, he saw the young man take a swig of something clear and far too innocent looking for Kenshin to believe it was anything except high proof alcohol. Then the young man was blindfolded by an attractive young woman who seemed quite pleased to have an excuse to touch him. Kenshin had never known getting blindfolded to involve so much groping. Oh, drunken blindfolded darts again. I guess Viktor’s not here tonight. Viktor, one of the proprietors, and Lyndsey’s father, had explicitly forbidden blindfolded darts, with or without the additional complication of being drunk, thinking that the game was a tragic accident waiting to happen. Bobby, the other proprietor — and, incidentally, Kenshin’s apprentice — took a much more relaxed outlook and just discouraged those who weren’t ninja, Daggers, or Special Forces from playing.
To Kenshin’s surprise, the young man produced a very nice looking throwing knife out of seemingly nowhere and flung it at the dartboard. They wouldn’t, he thought before looking at the board; sure enough, a throwing knife he recognized as Lyndsey’s was just a touch farther from the bullseye than the young man’s.
“Impressive,” he commented.
The young man shrugged, looking upset. “Not really. Was a bit off.”
“But you won this round anyway,” Lyndsey said, handing over twenty credits. Noticing Kenshin, she said, “Hey, sensei!” The alcohol smell on the short woman’s breath was overpowering enough that he wondered how she was still standing. “I can do better than that, but was takin’ it easy on Katri.”
“Taking it . . . fine, triple or nothing. And no ‘going easy’, eh?” Katri said in an unmistakably lower class Ruvellian accent.
Lyndsey’s smile was huge and cocky. “You’re on.”
Kenshin smirked, looked at where their knives had hit the board, estimated how drunk they already were, and said, “Let me show you both how to do this right.”
Half an nulaire later, at least a hundred credits richer — he’d lost count after winning seventy-five, and more than a bit tipsy himself, Kenshin, now smiling broadly, refused their offer of another round. “I’ve won plenty off of you kids tonight. And I think you’re both about to get alcohol poisoning. Why don’t you go home and sleep it off? Maybe we’ll have a rematch the next time we’re all here?”
He walked away before they could argue, thinking that he should go to the bar more often. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had that much fun.
Kenshin later heard that Lyndsey tried to explain to her father, when Viktor got word of the game, that the notice by the dartboard just said no drunken blindfolded darts, nothing whatsoever about knives, but he was, in her words, “completely unreasonable. Kept going on about how someone could’ve gotten hurt or killed, like the three of us didn’t know what we were doin’, even that fucking drunk!”
The notice was changed. The next time Kenshin was at The Sword & Scroll it read:
Blindfolded darts is forbidden.
Drunken blindfolded darts is especially forbidden.
Substituting throwing knives for darts is forbidden.
Even if you can hit a bullseye with a throwing knife from 1000 varĵé away.
This applies to you too, Kenshin Kenodori.
He smiled at the last line. It had been decades since he’d been specifically mentioned in a list of rules like that.