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"Tora Tora Departed for the Unknown: the Massah of Prince Tamemoto,"

Chronicle Sixty-One,

Anno Stellae


Tora Tora Departed for the Unknown, and an uncertain future as the only free Nergulian representing his oppressed and re-enslaved people. What is he to search for? What should he want to find in the outer universe? Will he not just run into the Overlords, the Atlanteans, and face the same old bondage as he and his people knew in his home stars and planets? It is a definite possibility--but he has taken his disciples' admonition and wisdom, and must continue, to see where it might lead. He must do this, he vows, for their sake, which they had clearly expressed to him. How could he let them down by turning back? He must plunge on, regardless how bleak his prospects looked.

When the prince and his disciples ran toward their ship, they found it had been commandeered by the shogun's men. Quickly, the prince decided to do the same to them. The shogun's force of ships lay a distance away, out of sight of the entrance, as they had come unannounced, to surprise and capture him. A fast run brought them to the enemy ships, and since they had run around the attacking force, they found them defended with a skeleton force. The guards on duty were not able to identify them as enemies fast enough to prevent the prince capturing a vessel. Climbing aboard the twin hulled warship (though it did not have a many-celled triage fusilage like his own ship), Tamemoto was going to immediately lift off, but all his shishi refused to go with him.

"No! Master, you alone must go! We will remain here to hold the area until you are safely away!"

The prince could not dissuade them, try as he might. The shishi slammed the outer hull's double-hatched door, and it automatically sealed him in.

There was no time to lose, as the enemy was returning to the launch site, eager to intercept the prince.

The hearing and speaking guidance-power crystal chambered in its own room just behind the bridge of the starship, loaned to the Nergulians by the Atlanteans, was well able to direct and guide the ship, with only occasional commands from Tora Tora.

With sounds of blows of swords upon the door, which he knew were his enemies, not his shishi, the prince gave the power crystal the command to launch. The ship's rockets thundered to life, and the blast killed many of the attackers on their feet. But Tamemoto's shishi had done their work well, they had captured, at least temporarily, two more ships, and so the enemy force was divided, trying to deal with two events at the same time, and there was much confusion in their ranks. One ship lifted off, speeding away, acting as a decoy in case Tamemoto was followed. It turned back as soon as the shogun's ships were locked onto its trajectory, and targeted them. The resulting collision not only blew up the pursuing starship but the debris engulfed the second one as well. That was the end of the shogun's commander's attempt to intercept Tamemoto, and he was free to continue his journey unmolested, though at the price of more of Tamemoto's disciples.

The prince-captain had a speaking tube in the cockpit, but as any captain would, he went personally to inspect the crystal and found it humming, ready for any command he should issue, while it supported all the life systems aboard--water extraction (though marsupial Nergulians required little water compared to Atlanteans), lighting, heating, propulsion, and so on. Before going to examine the power crystal, he had to make one trip he dreaded most--opening the box in the corridor nearest the bridge and viewing the dead slave boy inside. Gathering him up in his arms, he took him to his own cabin, lay him as neatly as he could arrange the bedclothes, then shut the door, locking and sealing it as the boy's tomb. This duty discharged made the next duty not so onerous, viewing the contents of the galley's larder.

He had seen larders and pantries before aboard ship, from a few glances in on previous voyages that he always regretted later. The galley was unspeakably filthy, of course, which was always true of Nergulian warships. Blood and offal and a litter of stray bones abounded, but the butcher blocks were the most beastly spectacle, with remains of organs and joints and other members of the slaves' bodies covering them, the ship's cooks never bothering to do any cleanup of the visera and blood for each meal they prepared for the captain and his chief officers.

Yet even that sight was not as bad as what greeted the prince as he kicked open the larder's cold storage door and flicked on the light. He tried not to look at the slaves' faces and their rigid open eyes as he removed each one from the ropes and meat hooks, where they had been hung alive, their hands tied behind them, and slowly frozen to death.

He lay each body down on the floor, arranging the stiff limbs as best he could to lend each victim a degree of dignity.

There were tablecloths from the captain and officers' tables in the other room, which he got and then used to cover the bodies.

What more could he do? He then turned back to his captain's duties, which took his mind off the horror. The power crystal was alive, he found, and busily at work.

With such a crystal to maintain and administer everything essential for an inter-galactic journey, Captain Tora Tora thus had plenty time to meditate.

But he did not take up his philosophical thoughts, he sat instead and thought of his prospects, while the ship left Nergulia far behind and, increasing its velocity just beyond the speed of light, hurtled toward the middle and outer rings of the Universe exactly as he had just directed.

All he had said on entering into the chamber of the guidance and power crystal was, "Take me to the blue water planet we last visited," which, of course, was Earth II.

He knew of no other planet he wanted to visit as an uninvited guest. They were all too big, or too cold, or too hot, or too populated already. The Blue Planet was like a jewel in his mind. Yes, it had some specific problems. One was its inhabitants, who though not too numerous registered a distinct dislike and suspicion of anything or anyone alien. He had not been able to show himself, of course, to the various inhabitants, particularly the human race. His nose, feet, and top knot and other aspects of his body immediately identified him as an extraterrestrial alien to them--and they would become either afraid or fierce and warlike, and then he had to leave them immediately or fight with them (for even the fearful ones could easily procure professional armed soldiers who would then fight to kill him).

He had visited Earth II with the Nergulian probes, and on one, when no one aboard could decide who was best to send forth to spy out human society, he saw immediately that he could do it, since he knew all Nergulians hated deep masses of water, much preferring the deserts and high rocky regions and dry caves to all that wetness of the Blue Planet. Yet the Nergulian nose was best suited for immersion in water, he had discovered. How could that be explained, since Nergulia was so barren and waterless and mostly barren rock?

He knew he could deal with the water that lay across most of the planet as no other Nergulian was prepared to do. For once when he was an adventuresome youth careless of his life he had deliberately held his head under water in the daimyo's palace pool, just to see how long he could do it without stopping, and that was how he found out his nose was wonderfully suited to being under water for long periods. It closed shut perfectly without even having to think about it, sealing him up, and his eyes could see very well too under water. If only Nergulia had pools large enough, he could have learned to swim like a cave fish! But there wasn't enough water, only the underground streams that flowed intermittently in the rocky mantles of the planets, producing a little, shallow pool now and then, but never anything larger that a man could swim in.

With no inbred Nergulian terror and loathing of water engulfing his whole body, the aquatic, seal-like Tora Tora volunteered to the ship's captain, and so he was sent to spy out the city of the humans, and he did his task successfully and returned to his ship. Everyone was amazed at his ability to navigate in such an alien, unpleasant element as water, keeping beneath the surface for long periods as he swam from place to place.

Now and then, as in the canals of the big human city he found, he rose to the surface to observe the surrounding and the ways of the inhabitants. The humans were fascinating subjects to him for a number of reasons.

Unlike Nergulians, they raised their young outside their bodies, without the use of warm, protective belly pounches. Defenseless without exterior built in weaponry, they possessed no poisonous spurs on their heels for use in kicking one's foes in the face or neck. They also could not leap and run as fast as Negulians, and liked to wash their entire bodies frequently in water, using a brush and a bar of yellow fatty nature that made a kind of foam when rubbed. Never did a Nergulian apply water to his entire water if he could help it--as too much was considered a danger to health and might drown his air-breathing skin and asphyxiate him. That idea, of course, was disproved by Tora Tora's own experience, but all Negulia believed it, and could never be dissuaded if he tried a hundred years, plunging himself in baths of water and showing a prolonged exposure to water on his entire body surface was not harming him the least bit. He could understand that the females might be terrorized by water, fearing their pouches might fill and drag them down and drown them--but the males--they had no such pouches, of course, and could easily move about in large amounts of water, swimming like the fish--if they could only overcome their instinctive dread of water!

Yet humans were a most interesting case--how could such a species survive and multiply its numbers successfully? It seemed so disadvantaged compared to Nergulians, in his opinion.

On this initial probe mission, they learned that the city was called New Amsterdam, New Amsterdam--a most strange name to them, and why the name was repeated, they had no idea, since Nergulian language was thifty about words and used them sparingly. The people lived in tall, cone-like hives riddled with rooms, with rivers running between them called canals.

Seeking out the humans in their various locations on the planet, he learned much about them, gradually and painstakingly...

After the collapse of the hitech, geodomed Crystal Age in 2170, the blue water planet spiraled backwards in technology, rather rapidly, with all sorts of steam engines dragged out of museums to do the heavy hauling work of a mostly agrarian and pre-industrial society. By the 23rd century, in the middle part, a race of humans called the Dutch managed to eke out a precarious existence in North America and the Caribbean and the northern coast of South America, re-creating a revived Dutch colonial empire of sorts. The glaciation, however, continued to drive agriculture and civilization southwards, and even the stubborn, tenacious Dutch could not hold on indefinitely to the more northerly portions of their realm. Yet for a century or so they seemed to be holding their own, even in the teeth of the inexorable advance of the New Amsterdam glacier and ice sheet. Bridges were not something they could afford to rebuild, however, and the amount of traffic did not warrant the expense any way. It was more economical and practical (solid Dutch values in Holland America) to tow an engine across the Hudson or any other major river rather than construct a railway bridge. Cars could be picked up or dropped off on either side, and the goods could be shipped by boat from those points as needed. Or the boxcars could be towed across, if the business made it pay.

Back to the future in the 23rd and 24th centuries, railway passengers in First Class cabins of the Nieuw Drenthe and Nieuw Rhine Line (the D & R), were treated to all the amenities Holland America could muster: a shoeshineboy, a Jamaikan Maroon for a cook and houseboy, private water closet, and a schlempf bottle fitted with a hose reaching to the upper berth.

The Dutch North American countryside was not exactly a showpiece of rural prosperity. Country stores were few and far between, just as their customers were few and far between. Consequently, they had to generalize, and not load up too much on any specific item, lest it stagnate on the shelves or in inventory for years on end without a buyer.

For travel to the city, even the largest metropolis Holland America could boast, it was still better and cheaper to go by boat than rail, as canals had come back in a big way, and New Amsterdam (formerly Manhattan in New York City) could not function without them. Then again, locks might fail, and cause some annoying trouble and delay, but railway bridges--that was a far more serious matter.

Yet, try as they would, the plucky, undaunted Dutch were not able to push the ever-encroaching glaciers back, nor could they raise the lowering temperatures, and thus the fatal hemorrhage of rural and urban population continued, with emigrants showing up every day at the Van Castle Gardens dock and Emigration/Customs House where boats from the Royal Dutch South came to meet refugees from the north.

Some, especially children lacking either mother or father, were not so anxious to leave home and everything they held dear and familiar. Holding their emigration cards, the refugees waited like the brave, phlegmatic Dutch they were for the blast of their steamer to announce boarding time.

Some emigrants arrive from a sinking African continent, with or without clothes, such as this married couple, called pygmies because they are less than four feet high, but known to themselves with more dignity and class as the Deng. With a fashionable Delft plate in his lip, there was no chance the Deng could manage the Dutch language, unfortunately, but sign language was universal, and shaking and shivering, he communicated his urgent desire for himself and his missus to be furnished a berth on the next boat to the warm and tropical climate still to be found in Carribean Dutch lands.

New Amsterdam's businesses retained some of the emigrants from Europe and the declining Dutch American countryside, however, and if it did not bustle and boom, it at least maintained a veneer of prosperity, with the look of a busy port in its main harbor and shipping district, the New Harbor that had been set up in a flooded Central Park.

Outside City Hall, Royal Dutch halberdiers stood duty, keeping away the riff raff and beggars that thronged the area trying to get the rich foreigners from Britain to throw them a penny or two.

British gold (thanks to the former 22nd century world dictator Chillingsworth's hoards) have kept Britain more or less afloat, with a thriving aristocracy while the peasants starved, but Britain cannot grow much of anything anymore for rich men's tables, so it has turned to Holland America's more abundant North American and Carribean/South American farm produce.

Trade has been restored to an extent, and for a time, airlines and trains and shipping make it seem that an international economy will revive. The few rich Dutch burghers and businessmen and bankers in New Amsterdam are able to afford some fine Dutch-style residences, which are set along the Princes Canal, or Herrengracht.

Yet even the gold of the British tourists and businessmen could not bring back the economy to what it had been in past centuries--and the most pitiful orphans lived on whatever they could find in the streets, or what they could beg from passers-by who often were not much better off than the beggars.

If times were not so good, and even bad, under the rule of Holland America, there was no going back. Reviving the conditions and economy of the former America was impossible, since it had ended, for a thousand towns and communities, just like Eudora, Kansas. One look and it was clear there would be no rebirth. Eudora's relics were all but swallowed up in the grass and weeds of the prairie, the remaining wrecks of buildings inhabited only by whispering ghosts when the prairie wind blew.

Up to the Re-location of Earth II, which changed everything including the Royal Dutch colonial empire, a much poorer empire of the Argentines of Buenos Aires ruled the increasingly barbaric middle vastness of South America:

Where there any other species that might be like the Nergulians? This question was answered in the affirmative, when Tora Tora searched and finally located some people of his own species--only they were uncommunicative. One type boxed beautifully and could kick monstrously hard at its opponent, but when Tora Tora approached the winner to congratulate him, he bounded off on his huge back legs and the prince was left in the dust. Another Nergulian type creature was equally unsociable, showing its fang-choked mouth to the prince and hissing--so the prince decided this meant there would not be any interview that day, and perhaps never.

He found others too that evidenced Nergulian body pouches, but they were stupid creatures, with no language he could discern and possibly learn. He gave it up, returning to the ship and informing the captain and expedition commander that the Nergulians on the planet were all low-grade, far too hostile and unintelligent, certainly not fit for some kind of cooperative venture with the colonizing agencies.

Later, on yet another probe, it was discovered that the planet was missing in the place of its old coordinates. The star that had illumined the planetary system was also gone--shrunken to a dwarf, the rest exploded and flown away. Only burnt fragments of the world's sister planets remained to circle the cold dwarf star forever. So they had followed the planet's path, easily enough to follow, as it left frozen water pellets and other numerous traces marking its trajectory, all sorts of litter from the surface trailing behind it in space along its path.

When the trajectory was traced out completely on the ship's viewing screen, which the crystal filled with all sorts of pictures, the planet was seen again, resting beside a glowing solar cloud in an entirely different sector of the Universe, and it was a bluish frozen planet, only it was already beginning to thaw out and even show signs of life on the surface.

So the inhabitants and the creatures of Earth II had not all perished in the re-location! This news was most remarkable to the Nergulian probe, and it was forwarded back to the Nergulian shogun, who decided to continue exploratory contacts with the Water Planet, as it was called, in the future. As to just how the planet was moved, there was no data available to determining the source of the required propulsion. That question remained to be determined later.

Thanks to the various previous probes and contacts, the trajectory coordinates for Earth II in its new home in 3C 295 were already well known to the crystal, and nothing more was required from Tora Tora for the duration of the voyage, unless he changed his mind about the ship's destination.

Understandably, there was time now to reflect upon the past circumstances, the philosophical stands taken, that had brought the prince to his present position of captain of a speeding starship headed to the Blue Water Planet shining like a jem in its new home.

Truly, he had lost much in leaving the way he did, but perhaps there was much to gain lying ahead if he did not give up and turn around. His heart was powerfully tugged backwards by his home planets of Nergulia and especially by memories of his beloved shishi, but for their sake he determined not to turn back--for what could he possibly do to help them now?

Except for some stowaway Nergulian cave rats and numerous smaller vermin such as cockroaches, lice, and bed bugs, Tora Tora was the lone living Nergulian on board. He could not choose even one from among the disciples to be his retainer, lest he give shame of face to the others for not deeming them worthy to attend him on his long voyage. That was unthinkable to Tora Tora-sensei, to demean any of his devoted disciples that way. They were all, equally, noble shishi in his estimation. Best leave all, deeming them all worthy of their decision to carry on his legacy of freedom as best they could, though they might have to do so as slave labor in the mines of Ner-Gul's Eye to the times of their deaths and being eaten.

This left Tora Tora exposed to the sheer loneliness of the voyage, without a single Nergulian companion. Yet he soon found he was not alone. He felt a distinct presence. It seemed there was Someone else aboard. Who could it be?

The powerful Presence he felt aboard his ship the moment he entered, which he could not track down but which stood even now beside him, was again making its existence known to him. He did not sense it was hostile. Rather, it was encouraging him to go forward to the Blue Planet. What destiny awaited him there? He had no idea.

He looked around, rose from his seat, and then went to inspect more of the ship. He went from one side to the other of the double hulled, catamaran-type ship, crossing the connecting bridges, looking closely at everything once again, wondering if some stowaway were hiding aboard.

He walked the corridors and glanced into each chamber, and then returned to the bridge. He was definitely alone! Yet within moments he felt again the presence of another, and to even greater degree he felt it was a wonderful presence, not at all intimidating or threatening and malevolent.

Words formed in Tora Tora's mind.

"I have come and will speak to you, instruct you in My eternal law, so that you finish your Massah rightly and please Me, fulfilling your name and destiny written in it."

Unknown to Captain Tora Tora, he had another meaning to his name that no one on Nergulia had ever imagined, but it was true, nevertheless. The simple command to the power-guidance crystal had activated that meaning. That other meaning was: law. But it was Yeshua's Law, or Yeshua making his truth known by personal verbal communication, just as a teacher-sensei or parent.

"I will teach you My commandments," the Presence was saying to him when Tora Tora's attention was distracted. The ship began passing across the track of a star that had left a huge flare still glowing red among the dark, dimly glowing remnants of galaxies and star clusters embedded in it. What sort of star could do that, and throw away so much of its energy in its trajectory and not burn out? Tora Tora wondered. He passed through scattered planetary systems, their stars destroyed, and Eta Carinae was a total loss, ofr course.

Gazing at it, Tora Tora felt he was instantly frozen with cold, then boiled in heated oil the next moment. He was seized, top knot to foot, with a visceral terror that shook him where he sat in the captain's chair. Truly, this was a malevolent agency, for it had left a sense of its evil spread across half the Universe as it hurried in the direction of the Blue Water Planet, burning and blasting everything in its path.

The universal devastation wreaked by the passing super star, or whatever it was, seemed to be unstoppable. But the Presence spoke again, gently but firmly:

"Be of good courage, great champion, for I will be with you, to strengthen you against your foes. Do not be afraid! I am your mighty fortress and refuge, to whom you may run and be safe. No weapon formed against you shall stand. No star shall overwhelm you with its fiery floods, nor shall any arrow it sends by day or night or noonday strike you. If you should fall, my messengers will catch you, lest you dash your foot against a stone. Be of good cheer. I, Yeshua the Mighty One, am with you!"

Tora Tora was given much food for thought by this message, indeed. Who was this "Mighty One Yeshua"? Da-win and Ner-gul, his people's old gods, could not be such a one, as they had images that the Nergulians themselves made with their hands, so that they could not even speak from their stone lips, nor see from their stone eyes, nor hear with their stone ears! How then could such gods help his people? They were vain comforts, indeed, and seemingly cared nothing for the enslavement, misery, and oppression of his people by the Tojogawas and their shoguns!

He also continued to review his life, and what it produced, for good or evil. How could good intentions produce evil--which he had seen happen in his case. He has produced much hunger and suffering, all because he had acted to free his people from slavery and millennia-long oppression! What a tragedy! But he could not deny it. Freedom produce suffering, even death? Yes, there was a tremendous cost to freedom. Freedom did not come cheaply, with no sacrifice. But could he ask others to sacrifice for it? Should he not pay the entire cost himself for their freedom? But how could he do that? His one death would not bring freedom for all? He would vanish, and the tyranny continue as before, even strengthened with his absence.

He could not solve this dilemma at the present, so he went back to his Ninjo-to training, his sword dance, to clear his muddled and painful thoughts away a bit.

Dancing alongside the ship's giant gyroscope, Tora Tora found a measure of relief from his tangled thoughts and seemingly impossible Gordian knot, his moral dilemma. Who could pay the entire cost of freedom, since by rights it ought to be paid by the self-appointed Liberator himself, not the people, who would suffer needlessly and in vain if the revolution failed after they had dutifully followed their leader to defeat--as had just happened on Negulia.

Meanwhile, the ship neared the galactic group 3C 295. Targeting the star cloud in its midst was not an easy task, as it was hidden within a star cluster, and could easily be overlooked by a speeding starship due to its brighter companions, full-fledged stars blazing with far greater magnitude and brilliance.

Presently, he was skirting the star cloud, searching for the lone planet and its moon that were invisible to anything but his starship's probing scanner.

Once the planet was within range and locked onto, a further refining of the coordinates in the guidance systems of the power crystal guided the ship in to a safe orbit.

But once he landed, via the ship's second shuttle, whom would he meet? Somehow he sensed this would be a special mission for him. No longer had he come to spy out the planet for important clients and colonizers. He knew the Algol, former clinets of Nergulia, had come and gone from the Blue Water Planet, for mysterious reasons. Desperate for a new home, they had overlooked the huge oceans that girdled the globe and settled billions of their numbers on the centermost habitable continent. What had discouraged them, so that they had abandoned their colony? How could he think he might be more successful? Millennia had passed, in the usual time warping that occurs between the time pool of the Local Supercluster where the Blue Water Planet originally resided and the middle sector where 3C 295 had become the planet's new home. Much had no doubt changed, perhaps beyond all recognition, since he had last seen the planet and its people during the 24th century, as that era of Dutch dominance was reckoned by the inhabitants. He felt some apprehension, knowing that he was actually going down to visit a planet grown unknown to him--and face circumstances that would have to be radically changed. After all, detectors on the ship had already informed him of the enormous surge in surface radioactivity, making many areas lethal death zones where nothing biological could possibly survive. What had produced so much radioactivity? Had a war erupted, and spewed death around the world? He would possbily find the answer to that, but he had to go in person, he knew.

Tora Tora did not know it, but he set his shuttle down nearest the largest mountain on the planet for a very good reason. That was the least populated spot on the globe, and his shuttle was least likely to be spotted there and reported to the outside world. Besides, this particular kingdom, called the Empire of Kolumbia, in which he had landed, was itself a suspicious, zenophobic hermit kingdom, that seldom reported anything about itself beyond its borders to neighbors it heartily disliked. For these reasons, he landed in a safe zone, but then what? What was he going to look for? Whom would he seek out? He had questions in his mind, but were they going to find any answers in this dangerous and strange world where he wandered a perpetual alien?

It had to have been the Presence he had felt so strongly on the ship during the flight, for now again it pressed on him heavily, as if impelling and even guiding his steps. He left the shuttle, wearing only his inner ceremonial garment, with part pulled up to leave only his eyes uncovered, lest he be seen by any indigenous people and identified as an alien.

As he made his way slowly down from the icy flanks of the great mountain, he encountered people--a caravan of sorts, that was making its way slowly round the base, toward some distant city. The rivers were available, and they used them, rafting and boating along them, in the passable stretches. At other points, they had to leave the water and climb along the rocky shores until the dangerous rapids and falls were circumvented.

At one such portage, Tora Tora encountered a lone young man frying a fish at a little fire, mostly glowing embers, set beside a rushing mountain trout stream. The youth did not seem surprised when Tora Tora approached, and so the prince sat down and waited. The meal was done when the youth spoke to him, indicating the filleted fish. Tora Tora nodded, and the youth handed him the fillet at the end of the stick, and the prince took a part of it, bowing and returning the bigger portion.

Together, they dined on the fish, which Tora Tora found very delicate and pleasing in taste, and then Tora Tora, recalling the highly gutteral, uncouth Dutch speech (for he had a wonderful retention of language) he had once learnt, tried it on the friendly and hospitable Blue Planet youth. Though his Dutch was understandably a bit rusty, the youth recognized a number of the words that had become trader's vernacular, and slowly and painstakingly, with some sign language, they began to communicate each his thoughts.

Finally, it was time for Tora Tora to return, for he had decided that he could not remain on the Blue Planet and abandon his people and his shishi to their fate. He knew now that freedom would not die, even if he were put to death by the shogun, as he knew he certainly would be. Freedom was not something that oppressors could kill, not as long as freedom remained an inalienable right, granted everyone by the Creator, Yeshua, not by any government or ruler or even a nation's people. At least that was what the Blue Starred One had confided to him, and Tora Tora longed to believe it too.

The time with Quinn proved most encouraging to the prince, as he faced his duty and resolved not to shirk it. The Five Blue Starred One had some counsel to give the prince, which he badly needed. Also, the special healing gift, which he could administer with a simple touch of his fingers, communicated more to the prince than his words, and he felt touched to the core of his being. It was so powerful, in fact, he sank down to his knees.

Though two different species, one human belonging to the Blue Planet, the other an alien marsupial from worlds hidden in far distant stars, yet freedom was something they both valued above everything else they possessed, and so their mutual love and thirst for freedom transcended every barrier and made them true brothers. But there was much more than even this to bind their hearts together forever.

Something leaped between them, joining, like a bolt of lightning springing simultaneously from earth and sky. It was though they had each seen a Face, the same Face, at the same time--the One which a poet of long ago sang: "When you see His Face, you won't believe your eyes!"

The Blue Stared One accompanied the prince to his shuttle, after leaving his leather jacket at the camp due to the heat his now glowing skin generated. The Blue Starrred One's skin, hair, and the mutant, radioactive stars in his hair shone all the more brightly as Tora Tora embraced him for the last time.

There were no words, of course, in Nergulian language for "good-bye" or "thank you" or "farewell, dear friend," or anything the least bit sentimental or affectionate--but the beautiful expression in Tora Tora's eyes said all that to Quinn and more--so speech now was utterly unnecessary. Has anyone seen the look of love that is from the depths of the conquered and surrendered heart, without reservation and without guile? It is matchless. It is real. It is most rare.

Quinn the Alphabetic R-Letterman and champion watched his newfound friend launch the shuttle.

The shuttle swiftly rejoined the mother ship, and moments later the starship vanished in a blinding flash of bluish light.

Tora Tora's ship broke through the gravitational field, slipping free of Earth II's powerful tug.

The prince could not bear seeing the Blue Planet and all it meant to him recede, so he turned his back to the viewscreen.

As Tora Tora's starship raced beyond the speed of light toward home, he sat down at his chair in the bridge and recalled many things. The Blue Starred One had shared with him his knowledge of Yeshua when he asked about Him. He too was seeking this Mighty One--and had come all the way to Shouting Mountain, the colossus of a volcano that towered over this whole part of the globe. It was here that he expected to find Yeshua, for only such a mountain would be suitable for the Mighty One to set his chair upon.

The Blue Starred One had asked Tora Tora to remain a while and travel with him in search of Yeshua. Would he?

He might have leaped at the opportunity to join forces with such a one as this man, whose eyes seemed to see through everything, and whose hands gave him such peace with a mere touch, but he felt checked. Was it his place to be this man's companion? he had to ask himself. The Blue Starred One had already told him how persecuted his own people were, and despised in this far northern country by the people and their ruling priests. Then the Blue Starred One could not show himself in the night to the inhabitants, lest they think him a devil and an infidel and stone him. Only in the daytime could he go with his head uncovered, and his skin visible.

Moreover, what if these people of the north discovered the Blue Starred One was accompanied by a traveller from worlds ringing an alien star? Surely, both of them would be stoned on the spot!

No, he signified, in the way of humans he had observed. He could not accompany the Blue Starred One on the last part of his spirit-quest. It was better that their journeys remain separate, he realized.

Tora Tora now looked ahead, to the time when he would be landing back at Hagi. What kind of reception could he expect to receive? Surely, the Tojogawas would not be pleased by his return, and seek immediately to capture and put him to death before he could reach any of his followers.

The new Shogun--for there had to be one in power again--would no doubt have the emperor in his clutches, and absolute power would be his to wield over all Nergulia. What could he do against him? Wasn't his return a last useless journey? It could serve no purpose.

Yet he felt impelled to return, nevertheless. The same Presence that had presided so strongly and palpably on the journey to the Blue Planet now impressed upon him to the same degree that his return was for the good. Something good would come of it! But what?

His hope and expectation reviving, when it seemed to have perished, was a surprise. Could it be that the shogun would be overthrown? Had the people woken up, seeing that they were enslaved as long as they resigned themselves to being slaves--and broken their shackles on the heads of their oppressors? Had the revolution already taken place during his absence?

There was no way to tell. He could only find out by seeing how he was received. It would take the form of either an attack or a celebration.

Yet as he neared his natal star system, the prince sensed that he would not be received with anything approaching a celebration--rather, it would be the reverse! There had been no revolution--successful, that is. Things had been been forced by brute force back into the same ancient order of the past. Nergulia was once again one vast prison-house, with the warrior classes serving the Shogun as his wardens and jailors and task-masters and showing no pity whatsoever for those they crushed beneath their boots.

The prince recalled his kempakus. He had written against the bat gods, Da-Win and Ner-Gul. They were no gods but cruel fictions, used by priestlings to enslave the people. This religion served the purposes of the State and supported the shogun's power which he had usurped from the emperor. Religion and State marched together, holding the people as their possession, to do with them as they pleased.

He had also written against cannibalism, which was the means by which the slaves themselves furnished a vital foodstuff to the meat-eating warrior classes. The tiger-yaks' herds had long since been decimated, and a remaining few either roamed the wilderness or served, defanged, to pull state chariots. His kempaku had erased the distinction between slaves and masters, the warrior class and the mass of Nergulians beneath them. That had led, unfortunately, to mass starvation, as the slaves abandoned the lichen-farms and food-gathering in the caves, and the warrior classes, who despised slave-food, or lichen, also felt the cruel pinch of hunger in the belly as they found the meat shops empty for the first time. If they had to depend on their own servants for food, they soon ran out, and then had no servants to do the work of their households. It was a universal crisis.

This crisis, Tora Tora knew, had not been resolved, as he had been forced to flee before solutions could be found in some re-ordering of the food system and getting the emancipated slaves back to work. He had thought of several ways it might be done, but his kempaku on the subject had been interrupted by his unplanned visit of mercy to the miners on Ner-Gul's Eye, bringing provisions to the starving laborers.

Hadn't Hagi starved too? He had taken most of the daimyo's larder with him-- and had not restored it?

The thought of the suffering of Hagi made the prince was almost unbearable. What could he do to make it up? How many people had died? Wasn't he the cause? He had to wonder if all his doing good, all his good intentions, had not produced more evil than he had sought to correct!

It was a hard light shining upon his efforts, but he had to face it, and not turn away in denial.

A lover of truth, he could not run from truth now. He had attempted to emancipate Nergulia, and Nergulia had been emancipated, briefly. But there had been no real improvement of the people's condition--something he had not included in his first calculations and philosophy.

Who could feed the people if they failed to feed themselves? Not the state, not the shogun--unless it were done tyrannically, with the whip and lash. The Two Pillars of Nergulian society were the warrior classes and the slaves. He had swept both aside, philosophically, planting Freedom in their place, but Freedom could not organize and feed the population of either class. They both starved to death.

All he had was a lofty ideal, he realized. Reality was crushing it even now, stamping it out of existence.

The prince gazed blankly into the ship's viewing screen, unaware at first that it was showing his home planets and stars.

The slowing down of the ship and the abrupt ignition and thrust of the rockets that was slowing the starship and easing it toward either an orbit or a landing brought the prince to awareness of where he was. It was time to make some decisions as captain!

If there was no revolution, what was the best thing for him to do? Surrender? Let freedom die with him, the last emancipator Nergulia would probably ever know? Or land and seek out some cave where he would be free to carry on as an insurgent? No doubt he could attract a following again, this time of fighters, not students, and they could strike at the Shogun's forces, then run and hide until it was safe to come out again, to make yet another strike. But what good was such a life? They would achieve nothing worth-while, if he descended to the level of a disgruntled, out of work, patronless warrior and became one of the many bandits infesting the wilder parts of Nergulia.

No, he would not fight as an insurgent, nor become a leader of bandits. If he did anything, he resolved it would serve to destroy the Shogun's face. Only if his face were destroyed, would his power over the emperor and the people be broken forever. But the prince knew this could not be easily done. The shogunate's armies could not be defeated, except by a very large force, and the prince had no such resources to mount a winning offensive--having no army, no weaponry, nothing but this one starship.

Yet his kempaku had not destroyed the previous Shogun's face--the shogunate had revived in all its old power under the succeeding Shogun.

A lightning bolt seemed to flash in Tamemoto's mind. He saw for the first time what he must do. Yes! he thought, springing to his feet. He strode back and forth across the bridge, ignoring the view screen, as the thoughts raced, and he considered the consequences. At last, he knew his purpose in returning--it had been revealed, just in time!

He arrived in the outer atmosphere of his home planet and found no resistance, there were no starships waiting for him, to blast him to a cinder. Even if there had been, they could not have known his entry point, which he deliberately changed as he issued rapid orders to the power crystal.

Under full power, the ship, instead of reversing its position and landing, raced directly at the Shogun's castle city and its old defensive walls and towers set beneath the great Atlantean dome.

Sending rockets ahead, he blasted a way through the dome, then continued on in, targeting the Shogunate's ancestral shrine, which was the most revered site of the Tojogawas, containing their ancestors' skulls, which were the visible talismen of their power supporting their claim to be Nergulia's protectors and the Emperor's hereditary regent.

He knew what he was going to do in his remaining moments of life. The shrine's fiery destruction would signal the end for the Shogunate, since the shrine's loss would inflict such crushing humiliation to their face the Tojogawas could never show themselves in public again. The shrine was thought inviolable, defended by the whole fortress and its castle militia, in which it was set at the center in its own court, with the First Shogun's sword set on one pillar and the First Emperor's jewel on the apex of the other. Without this shrine and its prestige and cultic charisma, there would be no Tojogawa shogunate, as it contained the worshipful skulls of all the first shoguns, each containing the writ of an emperor authorizing the transferral of imperial power to his Shogun's handling). But thanks to the Atlanteans, Tamemoto the Tiger Prince grasped a most deadly sword in his hand, a flying Ninja-to whose thrust at their vitals they could not possibly survive.

Even as the warship loomed over Shogun's castle and roared toward the ancestral Tojogawa shrine that was the heart of the shogunate's cult, time suddenly stood still for its captain. The viewscreen went blank, then filling with a face that Tora Tora thought he had seen before, but, of course, he had never seen this particular Man before, though he had felt His presence powerfully many times already on his Massah.

Yeshua, the Lion of Judah, greeted the astonished Tiger Prince of Hagi.

Tiger Tiger, hear me! A candle was lit for your Champion and sponsor in the war, the Letter-Man, R, who will son finish the work of the seven star-challengers of the Rosebud. Since he joined his cause with yours in a solemn covenant, I will not forsake you but welcome you into my band of great warriors! You, the covenanted friend of R, are my servant too. But look, see first how your Candle was lit in faith by my little daughter of Zion. She saw only one great warrior, a healing warrior whose sword was for saving not destroying people--but yet you have been given a share of its everlasting light. So shine, burn brightly, Tiger Tiger, in the forests of the night!

Tora Tora saw Yeshua's image fade, instantly replaced by a little Russian girl lighting her seven candles (all she had money to buy) at St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Imperial Russia, during the last days of the reign of the last Czar, Nickolas II.

In control of time, Yeshua put Nergulian time on PAUSE, while he fast forwarded the ROSEBUD Champions, which in the night of Earth II's reversal became the DUBESOR, across the view screen so that Tora Tora could learn where he was enlisted in the battle of Earth II and its adjunct universe against the attacking star-stones and their resident spirit-forms.

Beginning the series with the last letter-man, Daniyel, the prince was shown the order in which the champions fought, and a little of how difficult they found things in their various battles for Earth II against their respective star-stone foes.

Daniyel (D) fought first against the Goldstone and its spirit-form the poison centipede. The first thing to happen was his castration, as he was a captured Jewish prince and was chosen to be a court eunuch in service of the King of Babelen.

The Pea of Chezib (U) was a most unlikely candidate, in appearance and equal in ferocity, as he looked more like a marsupial Tasmanian devil than he did the offspring of a human mother. But as that was the only human part of him (his mother), it is understandable how terrible he turned out. Just the same, he fought a truly horrible species, the arachnid race of the Algol who had invaded Earth II under the allied banners of the Atlanteans and the Sapphire/Poison Frog and even the Nergulians--and sometimes what is horrible is the means to deal with what is just as horrible.

Brun O'Kele, the kidnapped Hawaiian prince, was (B). Here he was shown being dragged kicking and screaming toward the door of an airship by a tractor beam, for transport to Ahpikondia, South America. Though as flawed as (U), he too learned via some hard lessons to serve as a warrior to reach his destiny.

(E), or Molu, was just as flawed as Brun and (U), being more a hooved bull than a human being. Barbaric and a beast in his habits and temper, he too learned via hard lessons to be all he was meant to be. But he was first dehorned and flayed by Indian tribesmen, and then was chased by sharks across the Strait of Floyda (where Florida lay submerged) to the coast of Atlantis II.

Tora Tora then viewed (S), Mink, who was just as unlikely a champion for Yeshua and Earth II as Molu, Brun, and the Pea of Chezib. Fatally stuck on himself, Mink had a bad habit of not getting along with anyone, preferring his own interests above everybody else's-- a trait that was bound to bring him many enemies and, inevitably, times when he had to flee for his life from his infuriated fellow tribesmen.

Challenger of the Emerald and Topaz and their spirit-forms, the scorpion and vulture-lizard, (O) turned out to be Homer Bean, a troubled young man in search of his lost identity and his biological father. It was just too bad that he took along to Atlantis II his pet ferret, which started a nuclear war and destroyed the Cold War-embroiled, technological world of his time, bringing back the Dark Ages that (R), Quinn the Lakota-Shoshone Bluebird, the Five-Starred, the One-Legged, Pilgrim, Starboy...etc., later had to help heal, even as he sought Yeshua on his spirit-quest.

Just as drowning swimmers see their entire lives flashed before their mental vision in a brief second or so, Tora Tora viewed the whole cast of ROSEBUD/DUBESOR champions. What was his impression? Did he want to continue his association with (R), now that he had some idea how difficult it was going to be fighting the alien stars, whom he hadn't even known existed until this moment? After all, Nergulia had its own problems--it didn't need Earth II's. But were their destinies inextricably intertwined? Could he go it alone, finish his suicide flight of sepuku into the Shogun's power (mana) source, his ancestral shrine, thus destroying the Tojogawa Shogunate's hold on Nergulia for all time to come?

All these considerations flashed through Tora Tora's mind while he was viewing the various champions and star-challengers. And why was he being shown them? Was it not, he thought, because he was going to be presented a particular choice by Yeshua? After all, he hadn't really known what he was getting into when he joined himself to Quinn Ceylon the Pilgrim and Spirit-Questor. He had thought it was for freedom and brotherly union in the struggle for freedom--but perhaps there was a wider struggle going on, one which he was now being shown?

The former images faded, then Yeshua again appeared.

He said nothing to the prince, but a single question welled up in Tora Tora's mind and heart, "Well?"

Tora Tora was convinced this was the One the Bluebird, the Five-Starred, told him about and Whom he was seeking. Yeshua's hand, he realized, had somehow restrained his starship from reaching its target, at least temporarily, so this interview could be held. But what was Yeshua's purpose? He already knew. All his other questions faded, and showed they were nothing beside the single most important question. Would he, Prince Tora Tora Tamemoto, acknowledge, bow, and surrender himself and all he had to Yeshua, declaring in that surrender his complete fealty? Was this not the Supreme Daimyo, Shogun, and Emperor combined for which all Nergalia longed--but which was represented by imperfect beings who were either oppressed them, enslaved them, and, as in the Emperor's case, proved unable to help them?

Suddenly, as he thought this, he realized that Yeshua was infinitely greater. New images flooded across the viewscreen.

Yeshua--the Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds:

Yeshua, the Creator of all creatures:

Yeshua, the Father to all:

Yeshua, the Forgiver of even a betrayer among his shishi:

Yeshua's train, thundering out of his Unhewn Stone that had just smashed the gates of the Underworld:

Yeshua, who went down, after His crucifixion, and preached to the ignorant souls in Hades, giving them the light of his salvation, which some received:

Yeshua, leading away all those newly freed from death:

Yeshua, taking charge of Earth II's affairs, as Lord and King over the whole Earth, by splitting the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem, which brought the healing river forth that transformed the entire region and returned it to the former luxuriance of the Garden of Eden which had flourished on that site ages before Adam sinned and was driven away from it with his wife Eve.

Once again, the third time, Yeshua's face reappeared in the viewscreen. The question remained: "Well?"

Tora Tora made his decision, and he:

...decided that he was not able to choose Yeshua just yet, he needed more time and information, and Yeshua was not in his Nergulian tradition and philosophy, so this new sensei would have to be worked in somehow before he could be acceptable to the societal/governmental system (otherwise accepting him as Lord and King would make Tora Tora a renegade and an enemy of his own people). Tora Tora Puts Yeshua on Hold

...decided that Yeshua's revelation was true, and that there could be only one honest response: surrender to Him in loving, everlasting fealty. Tora Tora Chose to be Yeshua's Disciple and Follower

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