Gray Metal Faces – October 9

“Not another SABRIST?” The youthful voice seemed to rouse Juan from his dour cynicism, as he frowned playfully at the source behind Butch’s left.

“Our new friend wants to learn about the other weapons. But don’t worry, I’ll let you show him epee.”

“That’s only cuz you don’t LIKE epee, isn’t it?” The girl striding jauntily across the cafeteria floor had arrived at practice after Butch, and his first thought upon seeing her now was to wonder if she was really a high school student. Short and petite, with soft round cheeks unblemished by any creases or skin imperfections. But the hair, flowing from her scalp in long curls of auburn, seemed to capture then amplify the dull light of the overhead fluorescents, and her eyes smiled with a brilliance that made her unsmiling face seem pleasant and inviting still. He nearly blinked as her gaze landed upon him.

“The name’s OK.” She stopped a pace before Butch, extended her hand. “Aurora O’Kelly, if you MUST know.” What seemed like the scent of a summer wind rose into Butch’s nostrils as he shook her hand. She pointed to Butch’s right — “I believe Juan’s ready to show you sabre.”

“Oh!” Butch turned, saw Juan standing on a nearby rectangle of white, his mask perched on top of his head, a sabre in his hand, point hovering just above the floor in front of him. Butch walked over to the rectangle, examining this new weapon Juan had just given him.

It was unmistakably different from the foils he had used in his two practices with the fencing team. The blade was not flat and uniformly round, but curved with an edge. Even more noticeably different was the handle — the shallow metal cup that protected the hand on the foil was replaced with a crescent-shaped shield, larger than the foil’s cup at the blade and then narrowing to a thin barrier that connected to the base of the pommel.

This weapon not only looked but felt much different to Butch than the foils he had been using; the sabre seemed designed for slashing, rather than the thrusting motions he had so far found so awkward.  He held the weapon up to Juan like he was presenting the result of a science experiment. “It looks like something a pirate would use!”

“Don’t let Annie hear you say that.” Juan raised his sabre in a line above Butch’s head, then slashed down, pulling his mask down over his face with his left hand. “The scoring’s different in sabre — ” he held his weapon forward, ran his left hand down across the blade — “you score touches with any part of the blade, not just the tip.”

“Oh!”

OK stepped forward, caught Butch’s attention. “And you can hit anywhere from the waist — ” she held her hands, palms up, at her hips — “all the way up to the head.” She raised her hands up to her calm wide eyes.

“Arms too?” The arms being excluded from the target area in foil had been a big disappointment for Butch. He was delighted when both Juan and OK nodded.

“Awesome!” Butch stared down at the sabre’s blade, his eyes focusing on the light it reflected from overhead, seeing in that flash the potential for future adventures.

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