Time Cat: An American Feline in Edo

Tobias is just an average black cat. Well, almost black - he has a white sock on his left rear foot and a white patch under his nose. One day while exploring the yard of his Human, he comes across a curious glowing orb. He begins to investigate it and inadvertently activates it, creating a rip in the very fabric of reality. Much to his dismay, he is sucked into the rip and carried through time and space to an era much earlier than his own. Now he must track this orb across time and space in order to activate it and bring him back home. Don't forget my author page: tinyurl.com/anrisarynfb

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18. A Good Man Goes to War

         The morning greeted the camp with a light dusting of snow. The sound of yawns and stretches echoed across the field and road, wherever the tents were set up. Hitoshi emerged with groan. Tobias raced by him, having snuck into the structure well after the boy was asleep. Hitoshi had woken up in the early hours of the morning to a weight on his chest. It turned out it was just Tobias, so he turned over and his feline friend was forced to find a better spot on his back.
          "Watanabe!" a voice called to him. He looked up and saw a man beckoning to him. "Bring some of your friends this way. We're forming a hunting party!"
         Hitoshi looked at Taijo who was grinning rather widely, which was strange considering the boy had woken up not minutes before. He tapped some of their awakening comrades ont he shoulder and pointed to the man.
          "Let's go!" he nodded. 
         The boys stood up, happy to have some action, even if it was just killing animals for dinner. The other men were waiting for them, bows strung and ready to go. Most of them had shed their heavier armor in favor of greater movement ability.
          "What are we hunting?" Hitoshi asked, stringing his own bow.
          "Anything we can find," the man who had called for them replied with a grin. "Mostly small game like rabbits, but I'm sure we can find some deer or other things."
         Hitoshi glanced around and spotted some other people gathering near the shore. It looked like they were fishing. Hitoshi much preferred fishing, but there was no harm in practicing a new skill.
         The party set out, exploring the nearby woods for any game. Behind them, the camp began to stir, and breakfast fires. The scents reached the noses of Hitoshi and his friends, spurring them onward.
         Hachiro was in the lead, in front of even the older men. He sprinted about silently, almsot as if he had been trained his whole life to do this. Hitoshi wondered if he really had.
          "What a show off," Taijo whispered to Hitoshi.
          "As long as he gets us some food, I won't complain!" Daisuke chimed in at a low whisper. The three of them chuckled, but were promptly hissed at to stay silent.
         Hachiro paused at the edge of a ground of bushes. The trees beyond had grown rather thick, their branches sagging under their own weight.
          "Have you spotted something, Shirakawa?"
         Hachiro stayed silent, but knelt by the bushes and beckoned them closer.
          "What do you see?" Daisuke asked, leaning forward. Hachiro pointed at something moving in the distance. It was dark in color, but was also too far away to see.
          "What is that?" Hitoshi hissed. The figure jerked and slowly turned towards the group.
         He didn't have time to hear the answer.

         Tobias was busy sunning himself when the alert was raised.
          "Attack! In the woods! Bakufu samurai!"
         It was Arata. His hair was a mess and he had lost his bun. His armor was rather ragged, but overall he seemed alright. Tobias watched as he raised the alarm, leaping to his feet.
          "Bakufu samurai! Help!"
         Takiachika poked his head out of his tent which was already guarded by his own personal guard. Realizing what was happening, he dissappeared again, to emerge seconds later in full armor. 
         A group of Choshu, alreayd clad in armor raced over to him. A woman with her hair in a tight bun reached him first and put her hands on his shoulders.
          "Calm down, Fukuda," she said. He was red in the face from running and shouting. "Are you sure it was them?"
          "Yes, I am postive," he breathed.
          "Let's go, then!" she shouted, beckoning the group to action.
         Tobias approached Arata, sniffing about him and rubbing his face on his leg. The boy intially took a step back, but when he realized it was just Hitoshi's cat, he sat down to pet him and catch his breath.
          "I still don't know why he brought you," the boy said, looking at Tobias as he scratched his head. Tobias mewed a reply. The thought crossed his mind that he should flood Arata with images, but he thought better of it. Perhaps it was better to lay low. Instead he purred loudly.
          "Is everything okay?" It was Natsuko and Danno. They had seen the alarm but the group was already gone by the time they were aware of what was happening.
          "The bakufu samurai," the boy said, still breating hard.
          "Yeah, that's exactly what they are," Danno said, looking behind Arata. Natsuko stood up and raised an eyebrow at her brother.
          "Are you sure?" she asked.
         Danno nodded. "That's what it looks like."
         Natsuko looked where he was indicating and her eyes widened in fear. Arata turned around and soon his face was white, the blood drained from it. The force of samurai was at least two hundred or more, and they were all invincible.
          "Kannon have mercy," he breathed.

         Hitoshi's heart raced as he ran. They had been completely caught off guard. Apparently the force had been heading to Satsuma and figured wrong, ending up in a Choshu forest. At least they had been stoppe dbefore reaching the villagers. At least they had a chance to stop them here.
         But there were hundreds of them. If one was not easy to defeat, how could their small force even stand a chance. While their weapons were better, their ability to feel pain and die was a huge disadvantage. Hitoshi found this comment to himself rather amusing, despite the situation.
         The boy grasped his bow in one hand, and a pair of arrows in the other. He wasn't that good of a shot, but he was taught the basics by his father, and for now that might be just enough. He turned, still running, and fired an arrow into the face of the nearest samurai.
         The arrow his its mark, but the mechanical menace didn't stop. They were obviously not going to if they felt no pain. He turned back to the vision of the camp. It was coming closer by the second. But something caught his eye that made him smile.
         Tobias.
         The cat was standing in front of Arata, who was now on his feet brandishing a katana. Danno and Natsuko dissappeared into their tent. Hitoshi only hiped they were preparing to fight.
         Tobias raced toward the boy, leaping into action. He yowled, a battle cry that sent shivers through Hitoshi. With a clank, he landed on the back of the samurai with an arrow on its face and dug his claw in.
         The samurai shuddered, then threw its hands in the air, trying to get the feline off it's back. Tobias bit down on the back of its metallic neck. Instantly, the machine stopped, drooping over. The other mechanicals raced by the trio as if they had become invisible.
         Arata, having spotted what Tobias had done, raced over to him.
          "What did you do? Or rather, what did your cat do?" he asked, breathing hard.
          "I told you he could fight," Hitoshi said, looking at him and grinning.
         Tobias didn't wait for the boys to react. He was on the next samurai in seconds, digging his claws into the back. Hitoshi slung his bow over his shoulder and withdrew his wakizashi, following behind him. The boy furvently wished his mother had allowed him to bring the full size katana, but his smaller version should do what he wanted to.
         As Tobias caused each samurai to short circuit, Hitoshi set about slicing their heads off. At first it was difficult, having never have been in a battle situation before, but these were not human. The head of the next samurai separated from the body in a shower of sparks. His slices reminded him of lightning, the sparks falling from the bodies as such in cascades.
         Arata had caught on quickly, but was now locked in a fight with a samurai that Tobias hadn't reached yet. Hitoshi came up behind it and gave its neck a quick jab. It went limp and Arata quickly finished it off.
          "Nice going, boys!" Natsuko shouted about the din. She sliced off the head of a nearby samurai and raced off to fight another.
         They soon had help. Takachika's samurai, all clad in full Mori clan armor, followed suit and set about with their katanas.
         Tobias raced around, bouncing about like a squirrel. He dug his nails into their backs over and over, preparing them for finishing off. The Choshu made quick work of them and a cheer rose after they were done.
          "That wasn't so hard," Daisuke nodded. Taro stood next to him, the pair appearing quite silly with their massive height difference. Taro simply frowned and rolled his eyes.
         The entire field was covered in upright bodies of the mechanical, and supposedly invincib;e samurai. It was a strange sight, but it was victory indeed. The cheering continued and Hitoshi grinned in triumph.
         Their joy was short-lived. The samurai began to shudder. The group let out a collective gasp as one headless samurai raised its katana.
          "Get out of the way!" Hitoshi shouted.
         The entire encampment was in chaos. Hitoshi did the only thing he could do. He ran. He ran into the woods, past all the samurai, hoping to find some sort of cover. He would have kept running if he hadn't come crashing into a familiar face.
          "Where's your cat friend, Hitoshi?"
         It was the man from Satsuma that had told him to watch out for Tobias! Hitoshi opened his mouth to say something, but the man shook his head.
          "We know," he nodded.
         A warcry was raised. Hundreds of Satsuma fighters surged out of the woods, racing toward to strange battlefield. The arrival of new troops gave new life to the beaten down Choshu fighters, and they surged with new energy.
          "Obliterate them!" Takachika cried, raising his katana. "Slice them to bits!" He himself leapt into battle again, slicing at the headless samurai with everything he could muster.
         The battlefield surged with new arrivals. Soon their small Choshu force, supplemented by their new Satsuma allies, outnumbered the strange, headless soldiers. Now that they knew the only way to defeat them was to dismantle them, it was easy when they could pair up and take one down to scraps.
         In mere minutes, the mechanicals were piles of gears on the grass.
         Takachika bowed low to Tadayoshi in thanks. "Shimazu-san!" he exclaimed, removing his mask. "I am very thankful to your men," and spotting a few female fighters, he added "and women!"
         Tadayoshi bowed also, removing his mask. The Satsuma armor was much darker in color than the Choshu; it was dark blue, almost black, the color matching almost the mechanical samurais', but there was a strong hint of blue, and a giant white circle with a cross on the chest that made the difference.
          "It was no trouble," Tadayoshi nodded, standing up.
          "Now that we are victorious, let us share a feast!" Takachika announced.
          "But we have nothing to offer," a samurai next to Mori-sama stated.
          "Worry not," Tadayoshi replied, holding up a hand. "We have brought some food along with us."
          "And us, too!" a man from the Choshu forces added. A chorus of agreement followed and Takachika smiled, well pleased.
          "Then let us!" he bellowed. A cheer erupted from all present. Even Taro could feel himself smiling at their achievement.

         The men and women of the two regions melted together like butter in a hot pan. Though, that wouldn't really be a historically accurate representation, I believe, but just the same, the idea is accurate. Perhaps it was more like mixing sushi rice. Oh well, the point is that they got along rather swimmingly, and that was to their own advantage.
         Hitoshi and his friends greeted the newcomers with polite courtesy, but soon they were all laughing and joking about just about everything. The strange samurai were the topic of conversation. Natsuko had many of them convinced by now that the shogun was indeed behind all of this. She went on and on about how he planned to use his newfound power to take over the whole of Japan, and then perhaps the world.
         Taijo scoffed at the idea, as did most of the listeners, but deep down most of them took her words to be true. She claimed to have gotten them from Edo itself. Why would she lie about something as crazy as that?
         What impressed most of them more, though, was Tobias' performance. The feline listened, swelling with pride, as they spoke about how clever he was and how bravely he leapt upon the enemy like a fierce wild cat that was three times his size. It was because of him they had won.
         The casualties were minimal. The only lost one fighter. His name was Sota Ken. There was a brief ceremony for the man; he had fight bravely and with everything he had, but in the end, he had recieved a fatal wound. They had tried to save him, but it was simply too deep a gash.
         Hitoshi's heart felt heavy as the man was buried. War was not an easy thing, but it had to be done to save those that he loved.
         There were many more than were injured, but not fatally. Everyone still had all their limbs, which was the most important part. Small injuries could be repaired. There were many doctors and medicine men around, each checking the injured and bandaging them up. Many people lay under the sun in the clear spots where the snow had melted. This was truly a great day to have won such a victory and had such little injuries.
         But the worst was yet to come. Oh, this was nothing compared to the battle they faced ahead, and they all knew it. The silent understanding - the one no one spoke of - weighed heavy on all their minds. The worst was still yet to come.

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