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Scott Harrington
01-20-2011, 02:25 PM
Aiki & Star Wars (How it really was)

"Does he do the exercises?"

"Yes, in fact, too much. Much more than I ever did. But I thought the way of strategy, the way of words, could save our people," Saigo Tanomo sighed. "High minded words, ne?"

They both chuckled at the joke, a phrase said over the dead body of a samurai, master of a respected school of military strategy -- not the blade, struck down by companions, assassins, on the way home from a party. So much for deep thinking.

Rubbing his calloused hands, Takeda Soemon made a slight nod and smile as the retired councilor, now monk, poured more tea for him. Too much time holding wood, steel, or pushing up from the hardened clay one more time, and for what. The brave Aizu people scattered to the four winds, all that fighting for naught. Dust in the wind.

"He has his sword skills. He has his weapon sense. What a sight if only he'd have been older. Instead of scampering about on the battlefield, the little piss-ant could have taken some Satsuma heads." "They both nodded firmly with grins. Fierce grins. He continued.

"Sokaku scares me sometimes. I stopped punishing him for his transgressions when he just blankly stared me in the eyes once. The training said he wasn't thinking if he could kill me but what would be the most efficient way." The big man shifted his tired bones, so tired frame. This body had carried cannons, now it just carried aches thru time.

Councilor Saigo started to say something, paused to choose his words carefully. "The way of the sword is over, but he will need the blade as he learns."

"And will he learn? The written word confounds him," Soemon asked.

"What does the paper matter? The scrolls are lost. All that has been burned to ashes. Like my house. Like my family."
He sucked thru his closed teeth, "I think of what could have been not was, excuse me."

"It is alright teacher. He always loved the stories your wife told when we visited, the girls giggling as he acted out the parts, strutting like Takeda Shingen, parrying Uesugi's sword blow with the fan. Let us remember the good times."

It worked, the fine mind of Saigo Tanomo focused back to the task at hand.

"I have begun the training. It will take. You know it takes time. And in time I will teach him what you were not allowed to learn." Saigo patted his hands on his knees and reached up to stroke his scraggly beard, thinking she would never have allowed it. Her soft hands used to touch his face. The children used to hug him and laugh. Oh, why.

Soemon saw the look and needed to change his thoughts. "What good do the old teachings matter with the ways of the west?"

"I have heard tales from the men of the naval battle off of Hokkaido. That tetsuo beast gorging fire as the men tried to overwhelm it. The men no match for those revolving guns. If only we had had more of them. And all attacks useless against its armor, cannons belching smoke and fire. As the ships sunk, they continued the barrage. In the night it gleamed like a Death Star on the water dispelling death. All for naught." He smacked his meaty hand down on the tatami, scaring the serving girl.

Saigo said, "He shall learn the ways, he shall probably be better than I. The combat skills come so naturally to him. You have taught him well. And the Onmyodo material -- Takeda Sokaku is intrigued, and we know what that means. Something else for him to master." Saigo Tanomo beamed, glad that the lineage would be passed on, through the little "Aizu Tengu" but still passed on. He wondered how Sokaku would find his own students. You could never see far. And when you did, too late, too late.

The two old samurai sat quietly. Then suddenly, Soemon let out a terrific kiai, smacked those meaty hands together with a loud slap and raised them open palms out, arms up in the distinctive shape of the Yamato school, shape of the character ‘yama' -- mountain. Saigo, a mere shadow of this large man, did the same and yelled, "Bring us sake." It was the warrior way.

The Aizu region scorched by the attackers, the rebellion forces scattered, consolidating where they could. In a final naval battle at Hakodate, three ships attempted to overwhelm the Emperor's latest weapon, an Ironclad ship bought from the Americans, the CSS Stonewall Jackson, complete with newly developed naval version Gatling guns - multiple barreled weapons shooting devastating fire, and belching cannons. Valiant attempts were made to swarm the vessel by individual samurai, attempting to board this ‘Death Star' and destroy it. Alas, it was not to be. The Emperor and his forces had won.

A small young short man, wandered the length of Japan, even to the islands of Okinawa, training, practicing, and learning; going back to his instructor Saigo Tanomo, to delve deeper in the depths of the knowledge once nearly lost to the Kai Takeda, once nearly lost to the Aizu Takeda. Who would he meet? Who would he teach?

Scott Harrington