The Corridor of Setbacks

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"When they heard that the Imperial Army had Koufu Castle, Those Shinsengumi dogs seemed rather shaken," Kaoru said as he sat on the steps of a shrine by the side of the road. They've boasted of their ironclad code, but dissension is growing in their ranks.

"Heh-henh," Koudou laughed through his teeth as he smirked, leaning against the inside of the shrine door. "It would seem the time is ripe."

Kaoru smiled slightly as he stood up and left to set everything into motion.


A few hours after Hijikata left, a man who had just joined the corps fired at the slowly advancing Imperial Army, which instigated the battle.

Even from the safety of Koufu Castle, Sumiko could hear echoes of the cannons and gunfire as she stood atop one of the ramparts, staring off into the distance in the direction of the battle.

"Are you worried?" Amagiri asked as he joined her. "About Yukimura Chizuru?" Kazama had gone out as a scout, and was keeping an eye open for Koudou while he was at it. He had asked Amagiri to stay behind and guard Sumiko since she still wasn't at her best yet, because she had wanted to go with him to check on the others despite the danger. She could walk  around, but fighting was still a bit too much for her.

"Of course. A lot of good men are going to die today. This battle won't last more than two hours. But she'll be all right," Sumiko said with a wan smile. "We all want to protect Chizuru because we care about her, but the truth is she's a lot stronger than we... than she gives herself credit for. And those guys won't die so easily, either."


All around them, bullets were flying, and cannons were going off.

"Hang in there!" Shinpachi said as he helped one of his injured men to his feet. "Don't die."

"Don't fall asleep!" Sano said urgently as he knelt beside one of his fallen men, trying to keep him conscious.

"Harada-san..." the dying man breathed his last.

"O-Oi! Oi!" Sano shouted shakily.

"Hey! Hang in there!" Shimada shouted at another fallen comrade.

"Keh!" Kondo gritted his teeth and furrowed his brow as he watched the horrific scene of carnage unfolding before him with Chizuru at his side.

"Kondo-san!" Sano said as he approached them, getting the commanders attention. "Please issue the order to retreat. They're too strong! We can't beat them."

"Fool! Have you grown cowardly in the face of adversity?" Kondo asked sternly. "And you call yourself a man!?"

"!" Sano was shocked Kondo would even say something like that to him.

"Commander!" Saito shouted as he ran up, out of breath. "The enemy is... flooding in from the south!"

"What!?" Kondo said, shooting to his feet.

"They're coming from the north, too!" Shinpachi announced as he rushed over to join them. "At this rate, they'll pull off a pincer attack and wipe us out!"

"Kondo-san! Retreat isn't defeat," Sano said determinedly. "We should pull back for now."

"Keh!" Kondo gritted his teeth and furrowed his brow. He wasn't giving up here. "If you are a samurai, you should value your honorable name, not your life! Main forces, follow me!" he shouted as he turned away from them and rushed into battle.

"Kondo-san!" Chizuru cried as her eyes widened. She immediately chased after him and the men he was leading in a charge towards the enemy.

"Charge! Show them our power and spirit!" Kondo roared as he personally led those who followed him into battle.

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