When the three siblings arrived home later in the summer, they had learned so much it was hard to remember everything, but they never did forget their temporary teachers and the most important lessons they taught. They just refused to tell their parents the details. There was some feeling deep within them that urged them to keep quiet about it, to only discuss it among themselves and their grandfather.
A week before back to school, in the public library, the three boys were researching for their summer assignments. Colt was on the computer, Rocky was in the books, and Tum-Tum switched off between the two. Somewhere along the line Rocky got sidetracked by the tons of books in the library's shelves.
Whether it was by pure coincidence or some kind of fate, he pulled out a few book on ancient Japan. In the meantime, Colt was pulling up a few web pages about samurai in Japan, in the mid 1800's.
"Oh, Rocky, come here! Look, look!" Tum-Tum said excitedly. His brother hastily shushed him as he walked over.
"Don't get us kicked out again!" he said in a harsh whisper. "What is it?"
"Look, Colt's found something." Tum-Tum pointed at the computer screen. Colt had an article on a group of samurai on it; he was scrolling through the page.
"They were hired to protect Kyoto," Colt said, skimming. "Here's a list of their rules. It's pretty interesting."
Rocky put his books down and pulled over a chair, having a feeling that this would take longer than he wanted.
The Strictures of the Shinsengumi
One, you must not stray from the samurai's code.
Two, desertion is not permitted.
Three, you will not raise funds without permission.
Four, you will not take up litigious matters without permission.
Five, private conflicts are not permitted.
Those who defy these articles shall be sentenced to commit seppuku, without fail.
"Wow, so strict," Tum-Tum said, reminding himself to keep his voice low as soon as he'd finished saying "wow". Rocky raised an eyebrow.
"This is all very interesting, but we have a report to write," the eldest pointed out. Colt grumbled and scrolled through the page a last time.
"Hey…" he said suddenly, as Rocky was walking away. "Come back."
"Look at the members list…" Colt said, his voice falling into a low, frightened whisper as if he'd just seen the scariest movie in his life.
"I don't see…"
"Just look!" Rocky rolled his eyes and put his books down again, wondering if they would ever get that report down today. He focused on the screen and read the names out loud.
"Commander, Kondo Isami. Vice Commanders, Yamanami Keisuke and Hijikata Toshizou. Captain of the first squad…" Rocky suddenly knew why Colt was so spooked. His blood ran cold as well. There was silence for awhile after he said two simple words:
"…W-what?" Tum-Tum said. "You didn't read it wrong?"
"No," Rocky said, glancing at the screen as if he were expecting the swordsman to come out of the computer. Colt was stiffly moving the cursor to click on the name. Another page was brought up.
"Okita Souji, died in 1868…" Colt whispered. "It's him. How can it be him?"
"It's not another one?" Tum-Tum asked, his voice afraid as well by now.
"No…No, it's him."
"Was that…a ghost then? What about Yamazaki?" It felt weird saying their names now. Colt looked up the cold ninja's name and sure enough, he came up as well. It was the same. They were real. They died over a hundred years ago.
"It can't be…" Tum-Tum said.
"…They wanted to teach us, right?" Rocky said slowly, mulling it over in his head. "They didn't want us to make the mistakes they did. They had time to think about those mistakes, if they're dead. They also were surprised by most normal things."
"Like refrigerators and the lights," Colt imputed.
"They wore old Japanese clothes, knew weapons better than themselves. Yamazaki said something like "You can't kill people so easily," or something…They were like war veterans."
"G-ghosts?" Tum-Tum stuttered. "They were real. We touched them!"
"Ghosts that could interact with the living?" Colt offered. Rocky shivered.
"Think about what their lives were like back then. Why try to help us kids onto the right path? Surely, they cut kids down as well, surely they killed when they were little too…" Rocky tried to find a reason, but it didn't work.
"That means…Yamazaki's sister is dead too. She was weird, just coming in like that in the middle of the night, then leaving," said Colt.
"Not just that…She said something happening a long time ago, after Yamazaki said something in Japanese. She disappeared as you said, and that's weird…And, how did they leave the woods? It's a long walk. I doubt many would walk that far these days without a cab. They seemed fine when they arrived too, and they walked that time as well."
"They cooked weird foods…" Tum-Tum said.
"Okita said that he got sick a lot…" Colt said. He repeated two more times and hit a realization. Clicking the back button, he returned to the page on Okita Souji and read through the brief history. He found what he was looking for and gulped. "Died of tuberculosis when he was twenty five, approximately. Didn't he say…"
"He was twenty-five?" Tum-Tum finished.
"Wait, do the math," Rocky said quickly. "Yamazaki, he said he was thirty-one."
"Something doesn't add up," Colt said after he'd finished. "He died when he was thirty-five."
"They were practically murderers," Rocky said, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. "But they wanted to help us."
"Wait, this says that Yamazaki was a spy," Colt pointed out.
"Well, I guess they're the same…" Tum-Tum still seemed scared about that.
"They didn't want us to live like they did," Rocky finished softly.
 The Strictures of the Shinsengumi- the rules made by Hijikata Toshizou that governed the Shinsengumi. From the Peacemaker anime, and history of course.
 Seppuku- ritual suicide
 Doesn't add up- My bad…I mixed ages of the peacemaker timeline and the death ages. Well, Susumu forgot, let's just say that.
Last chapter! This was a great journey and it was so fun writing this, especially the Peacemaker cast.
Don't forget your opinions! I still would like reviews, even though it's done...
Don't own anyone here, nor do I own the strictures and stuff.