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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6. The Strange Samurai

         It had only been three days since he arrived in the village, many hundred years in the world's past, but Tobias already knew his way around the village. He spotted some elders speaking to the daimyo and trotted over to listen to the conversation.
          "The troops in the capital are growing restless. Rumors are traveling that troops will be sent again."
         Mori-san rubbed his chin thoughtfully. There had been a few expeditions to the Choshu region already, and they had fought them off easily. Perhaps it was time to take it to the capitol. But, were they ready?
          "I will consult my men. If they think they are prepared, we shall assist the villagers in the task as well."
         The elderly man nodded, but opened his mouth to say something else, but then closed it again.
          "Is something wrong, Ishikawa-san?" Takachika asked.
          "Mori-san, there have been rumors of samurai in the capitol," the old man explained. "Some say they can't be killed, even if they are cut many times. Some day they have armor that cannot be penetrated."
          "Nonsense!" Takachika protested. "They are the same as they have always been. Weak and untrained!"
          "But, we should be prepared none-the-less," Ishikawa reminded him.
         Tobias didn't hear the rest of the conversation. He dashed away, heading toward the woods. The sound of a bird caught his attention and he gave chase, killing the creature quickly. As Hitoshi had instructed, he gathered the fathers, especially the larger flight feathers, and set them aside before eating his breakfast.
         His mouth full of the prize of his task, he raced back to the house where the Watanabe family was just stirring. Without making a single sound, he placed the pile of brown and gray feathers next to Hitoshi's slippers and raced out again.
         People of the village were all waking up now, and everyone was preparing something, whether it be breakfast, wood for the stoves, or even weapons. He raced past a man that was cutting bamboo and a woman that was spinning a green plant into a threat. There were signs that a battle would come soon, and if the orb was right, it would be a big one.
         The sound arose in the village, slowly at first, but then shouts began to ring out. A feminine sounding scream echoed across the paths of the village, heads turning to see what was going on.
          "Bakufu! Bakufu samurai!"
         The shout was followed by the gathered crowd scattering, most dissappearing into their houses. Takachika did the same, but emerged seconds later with his guards. He instructed them to gather his troops, the Choshu samurai, to defend the people.
         Men in armor emerged from the house and various other buildings surrounding, some donning bows, some with katanas, and others with guns. Tobias, watching from the roof of the Watanabe house, thought it odd that these traditional fighters might carry guns, but the orb had told him that this was perfectly normal, especially since the Choshu had purchased so many.
         The villagers began emerging from their homes now, some carrying the same weapons, others with farming tools: scythes, axes, or rakes. The troops of the bakufu were drawing closer, the sound of their marching like a portent of danger.
         The uniformed men of the bakufu were lead by someone that appeared to be a general, though Tobias wasn't completely sure. Perhaps it was just a squad leader, or something. He said a few words to the men in front, then stepped out alone.
          "Attention, residents of the Choshu region!" he said, raising his weapon in the air. Tobias couldn't tell if it was a gun or a sword from this distance. "Give me your weapons and we shall leave peacefully, providing you surrender to the shogunate!"
         No reply came, but no one moved either. The bakufu troops stood at the ready, waiting for the signal.
          "Is your reply thus?" the leader of the troops said, his voice projecting like a bull horn. Another long silence followed. The villagers waited anxiously.
          "We'll never surrender to you baka-fu!" A cry rang out from seemingly nowhere and a single shot followed. A samurai bent over, clutching his shoulder in pain.
          "Attaaack!" the squad leader shouted, pointing his katana in the air, it's sharp blade glinting in the bright sunlight. Tobias' fur stood on end. Had he seen it was a blade before now he would have climbed far into a tree. There was something about the sheer size of that blade that made him more scared than if it was a firearm.
         He heard the Otou-san tell the other people to stay inside and hide somewhere. There was no telling what was actually going to happen.
          "Hitoshi, you're the man of the house today," Hideki explained to his son, handing him a small knife. It was decorated like a minature katana with a sheath to match. "I know I promised to keep you out of this, but I didn't think they would attack so directly. I don't know what happened to the guards at the wall, but my guess is not something good." She put a hand on Hitoshi's shoulder. "I'm counting on you, Hito-kun. Don't open the door for anyone unless you hear the secret word!" With that, the older man raced out, leaving his son with a grim expression of determination on his face.
          "Onii-chan, we'll be alright, won't we?" Chihiro asking, looking up at her older brother.
          "Of course we will! Don't ask your brother those questions!" Akiko spouted, making sure the door was latched. "Now, help me pull the table in front of the door, Chi-chan." Akiko knew the best way to keep anxiety at bay was to keep the hands busy. This was not the first time the bakufu had attacked Choshu.
         Chihiro and Hitoshi obeyed, making crackling sounds on the tatami flooring. She then set about trying to find paints and brushes as well as parchment.
          "This will help pass the time," she explained, setting the supplies on the floor. "You can paint a picture of the house, or something you imagine."
         While Hitoshi was not all too fond of painting, it was a good idea to keep the sounds of the outside battle from his mind. Akiko set up her loom in the main room (which also served at the sleeping in the evening and lounging room during the day) and began to weave into her patterns. It always calmed her nerves in this situation.
         Outside, it was not so peaceful. While they were not as well trained at the samurai from the capitol, the Choshu people were fairing rather well. The bakufu troops were falling rather fast, wounded by arrows, bullets, and anything else the people might carry.
         The fighting bled into the streets between the houses. The bakafu troops began to set fire to some of them, causing the Choshu to fight even harder. Hideki began to worry about his own home, pushing the troops back with all his might.
         Some of the people used guns from atop the roofs, trying to hit as many troops as they could without getting directly involved in the fighting. The better marksmen, however, were those that chose arrows, shooting from far in the distance, nearly unseen, there bamboo bows twanging with each shot.
         Hideki breathed hard, his eyes intent on protecting his family. He ran along the paths, watching for any troops near the homes, his bow clutched tightly in his hands.
         A pair were fighting in an alleyway and the bakufu samurai seemed to have the upperhand. Aiming his arrow carefully, Hideki let it loose. It whistled throught the air and struck the samurai in the shoulder. He turned to see his attacker, but the other Choshu struck him down before he could make another move.
          "Watanabe-san!" a voice called to him. He turned to see another villager waving his arms as if indicating something. Hideki didn't know what he meant, but his answer came in the form of a sharp pain in the side of his head. He breifly saw a bakufu uniform, and then it being knocked aside, but then everything went black. He could have sworn he heard the sound of a cat yowl.

         Tobias raced through the streets, trying to get back to the house. It wasn't like him to risk his life for a human he didn't know. If it had been Food Plop Lady, he wouldn't have hesitated, but something about the Otou-san's connection to Hitoshi made him leap at the opportunity.
         Before he left the man, he made sure he was taken care of. He yowled until another villager raced over. With a purr of accomplishment, he raced off. This was no place for a cat. He was better off inside, away from all of this.
         The thought crossed him that he may have to fight to get out of here. He hoped that wasn't the case. He could hold his own if he had to, but he would rather not have to face an army of unkillable soldiers.

         The hours passed slowly, and soon the children turned to playing word games and taking turns painting lines on each other's paper to create games and pictures. 
         Akiko had finished nearly 100 rows in her new rug, it's colors weaving in an out like a fanciful braid. The pattern seemed to be forming a serpant or a dragon of some sort. Akiko liked having dragons around the house. They brought good luck and fortune. So, naturally, a dragon rug would make the new year a good one.
         Tobias, who had long since come inside, sneaking through the window after rescuing Hideki, rubbed up against Hitoshi. He was rewarded with a scratch on the head.
         A knock on the door made all three if them look up, the at each other almost as if it was a practiced gesture. Not a single one of them stood up. 
          "Make sure they know the password," Akiko reminded them. Hitoshi took this as a sign to check who it was.
          "Let me in," the voice said. "I have some takoyaki!"
         Tobias stuck his nose in the air, wary of whatever was at the door. The scent was strange and unfamiliar, almost mechanical. Something was not right. The only time he had smelled something like this was when he slept under a car and got woken up by the roar it made the next morning. He spent the next two days smelling like oil and smoke.
          "That's the password," Chihiro whispered, looking at her brother.
         Hitoshi stepped toward the door, putting his hand on the latch. Tobias raced into action, yowling at the boy. He pushed pictures of resistance into his mind, hoping the boy might recognize a giant fish with teeth meant danger. Hitoshi stepped back from the door at this and looked at Tobias.
          "What's wrong, Hito-kun?" Akiko asked, standing up.
          "I think Tobias doesn't want me to open the door," the boy replied.
          "Why would he not want you to do that?" she asked. "How can you even tell?"
          "I just can…." Anything else that Hitoshi was going to say was cut off by the sound of the door crashing in. A samurai dressed in a bakufu uniform raised his katana over his head.
          "Surrender!" he shouted. "Surrender now!"
         Chihiro screamed and ran to Akiko who clutched her daughter tight against her chest. Tobias leaped to the man's face, trying to scratch it, but it was shielded by some kind of mask.
         The young girl cried into her mother's bosom, and the older woman crouched in a corner, yelling for Hitoshi to run. But the boy wouldn't listen. Hitoshi, shaking like a leaf, but with an expression of grim determination, withdrew the blade his father had given him from the sheath and held it before himself. The mysterious samurai chuckled, amused, and knocked the knife from the boy's hand. He raised his katana to strike, but a yowl distracted him. 
         Tobias flew through the air, powered by his fear of the new scent and need to protect Hitoshi. His tail waved back and forth, helping his keep balance until he landed with a crackle on the back of the masked man. The man began to flail about, trying to remove the spitting feline, but Tobias was clung tight. He wasn't sure how, but his claws seemed to have found some kind of holes on the back of the samurai's armor.
         The flailing was becoming much or desperate, almost as if Tobias' clutching was going to injure him fatally and he was trying to fight for dear life. He made a growling-grinding sound, and wiht one last effort, he finally reached around and grasped Tobias. The cat struggled, but almost as if on signal, the samurai froze with a grinding and squeaking sound. A hiss, much like the sound of a steam engine stopping, followed and everything went silent.
         For a moment, no one moved. Then, slowly, Tobias began to extract his neck from the hand, frozen into a lose clutch. He leapt off the samurai's shoulders, fur still raised. That smell was much less strong now, but the hiss had emitted a collection of scents that coupled with the original mechanical smell.
         Going off a hunch, Tobias scratched at the strange man's leg. At first just cloth tore away, but after that, his claws struck a metallic substace. He mewed for Hitoshi.
         Looking at his mother, who was now comforting a red-faced and puffy-eyed Chihiro, he picked up the fallen knife and sheathed it. He looked at Tobias and paced over to where to feline was.
          "What is it?" he asked, bending down. Tobias sat down and meowed at the boy who ran his fingers on the strange material. He knelt down and began to tear away the cloth covering. Chihiro gasped and put a hand over her mouth at the armor fell away to reveal a metal casing.
          "What is it?" she asked, echoing her brother.
         He didn't speak at first, but when the metal casing was torn away (quite easily at that), it revealed an array of gears and belts, some quite rusted.
          "What is that?" Akiko demanded, standing up. Chihiro remained on the floor, her legs sprawled out, and nearly fell over. 
         Tobias sniffed the contraption and hissed, remembering the smell of the car that woke him up that morning. He looked at Tobias and slammed him with images of gears turning and smoke and loud noise. He hissed to accompany the feeling of his dislike of them. The force of the mental images knocked the boy back.
          "Gear?" Hitoshi blinked. "What is a 'gear?'"
          "Who are you talking to, Hito-kun?" Akiko asked, walking over to inspect the metal man.
          "Tobi-uh…I mean no one," he quickly corrected himself. He thought it would be rather strange to admit to talking to a cat, even if he'd seen some old ladies do it.
"Well, either way, we have to clean this mess up. Chihiro, help me move this table," Akiko said, grabbing a broom. "Hitoshi, you can sweep up the main room here."

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