You can’t let obstacles stand in your way. You must go around or bust through them to get anywhere. This is no different.

Edward Aldrich swung his makeshift bokken around, striking down an imaginary foe in the process. He couldn’t get Vidar to make him an actual katana, mostly because neither of them had any real idea of how they were made and the fact that it was a weapon, as opposed to a hunting tool, made it a little more difficult to explain. But he still needed something to train with if he was going to get anywhere, so he had Herger craft one made of wood instead. It wasn’t an actual sword in as much as it was more like a stylized baton. But he had seen what batons and the like could do to a man and some of the most dangerous weapons in martial arts had almost no metal on them at all, so construction did not matter. What mattered was whether or not one could use it properly.

So, taking a page out of Golden Boy, Edward buckled down on himself. Hard. But unlike Kintaro Oe’s lust-fueled desires and obsession with studying, Edward trained. Training! Training! Training! It had been several weeks since Edward had gotten himself off of light duty. Or had it? He really wasn’t really counting the days. He didn’t care how long he had been here; he felt better than he had ever felt before and he was in the best shape he had been since he was in the Army. He had the nearly constant manual labor and chores to thank for that. And when he wasn’t working, he was training.

But then he was always training wasn’t he? From the moment he woke up to the moment he fell asleep. The routine was simple, wake up, put on a pair of pants, stretch, do some calisthenics as a warm-up, run several laps around the village, more calisthenics as a cool-down and finally more stretching to keep from cramping up. This was always done before he even thought about breakfast, and to keep up with the Fyrkat’s work schedule, Edward was often awake before most members of the village. This way he could eat breakfast and start on the day’s work with the rest of the village.

While these morning exercises purposefully avoided any activities that could cause muscle failure, he did do thinks a little differently from time to time. Some days he would wear the suit of the armor he wore when he fought against the Giant People. On others he would put on a backpack weighted with a number of different things and sometimes he would do both and on occasion, he would also go through his katas wearing the whole thing as well.

At first, Edward was often asked what he was training for by some of the more curious villagers. The reply he often gave was ‘whatever happens next’. He wasn’t able to see the future, but he knew that there would be future threats – the fight with the Giant People saw to that easily enough. ‘I have found that The Emperor protects those who put on a flak vest a little more than those who rely on faith alone.’ he recalled reading in a short novel what seemed like forever ago. While he lacked a good flak vest (or even a really bad one), he saw the truth in those words and was determined to be ready the next time something happened.

As Edward continued through his training he noticed that he had acquired an audience. A small number of villagers were watching him. Most of them were younger, at least ten years his junior, and many of them were curious, bored or both. Some days there were more watching than others and even some days they even wanted to join in. Edward figured they were curious, as he quickly noticed that none of them really needed to get into shape, stay in shape or otherwise maintain their physiques. He didn’t mind though, the company suited him just fine. What he did notice was the different faces on an almost daily basis in that there was little consistency with those that joined him. The assumption was that they had things to do or interest peaked and waned. The only consistency was Dalla.

When she figured out his habits and routines, the young Hunting Person was there watching. Most of the time she joined him in an effort to learn, but sometimes she had to content herself with watching because her chores and duties around the village had a greater demand on her time. While Edward had, or, rather, thought he had feelings for the catgirl, it was apparent that she had more platonic feelings for him. When he realized this, Edward was a bit upset and more than once he had thought about claiming his ‘hero’s reward’ with her or any of the other nubile (and available) women like Billy Jo or Calvin had.

While certainly acceptable by the traditions and customs of Fyrkat, Edward just could not bring himself to do it. Granted at the time he explained things to Donovan he was still quite out of shape (though round certainly is, in fact, a shape), and was thoroughly convinced no girl in their right mind would have anything to do with him. However, now with things being a bit different, he still found that he could not move in that direction.

Maybe that is just how it’s supposed to be. Edward knew that he was, more or less, living in a Viking village, but he found he could quickly draw a lot of similarities between whatever world this was and far too many anime with El-Hazard: The Magnificent World in particular coming to mind. He looked over and saw Dalla was gone, as were most of the villagers. Prolly had to get back to work. Just as well. He thought. Part of him preferred to be alone when he was doing this sort of training anyway.

After a time, Edward decided that he had done enough for the day and decided about returning to the village proper. He had heard something about another group going out to salvage supplies and such from the wreckage and he wondered if idly if they had returned. He looked sunward and nodded. “Yeah, they left pretty early and they should be setting up the exchange about now. Better get going otherwise I’ll miss all the fun.” While Edward was not entirely a lecherous sod, he would not miss out on the opportunity for eye candy. Besides, trying to explain what some of the particular garments and objects were, how they worked and what they did was always amusing. The reactions received from the MP3 player and the digital camera were hilarious.

As Edward started to make his way towards the building that he and the others were staying at he caught sight of Dalla bouncing towards him. Yes, bouncing. Edward stopped in his tracks and watched as the young catgirl approached wearing a short plaid skirt, a white dress shirt that was two sizes too small. Granted she was only about sixteen, but he could tell that she still had some growing to do. This was topped off by a scarf tied around her neck as a makeshift bow. Adorably cute did not properly describe the scene before him.

“Edward” she beamed. “Billyjo said that these were what girls where you are from wear. What do you think?”

Edward blinked and started to open his mouth to speak. Before he could actually say anything however, he felt his face, cheeks and ears glow red for the last few moments of consciousness.

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