Before his first step on the tatami he paused and bowed. After all, he had not forgotten his manners on the battlefield.
From the corner of her eyes she saw him, moving gracefully despite his stature. Captain Yves Legrand, formerly of the Fusiliers Marins Parachutistes, now training in preparation for a most secretive mission.
She bowed in turn, as he approached her, at that instant a little too stiff, not quite controlling his military demeanour. She smiled, the man was attractive, in an old fashioned way, with the face of a soldier or a priest, serious and a little sad. She knew of his record, had read his commendations.
They bowed again. In a low melodious voice she said: “Captain, I have been asked to teach you the art of fast killing without weapon. I know you know a thing or two on the subject. But please listen.”
He was a good pupil, strong and fast. He would learn. The more she could teach him, the longer he would live. Maybe.
For two hours he tried to guard against the fireworks of blows from her small fists and feet. He was tired, he knew he would have died many times, had the combat been real. Her control was stupefying. He was aware that using brute force would be pointless: there was little to do against fluidity and speed. And her knowledge of the human body…
His training would last four weeks. She was the dream teacher.
Later he would remember. There, on the high mountains, alone, hunting the merciless enemy, with no other weapons, than his big hands and feet.