Paladin meets with his friend Takara to play Go. They talk of the new militaristic leadership in Japan and how Takara will never go back there. he explains that two men have been smuggled into Mexico from Japan, a Priest and a Samurai. They will slip across the American border and seek out American-Japanese citizens willing to fight for the new regime. Takara can't officially take any action, but asks Paladin to stop them. Paladin takes out his business card as a gesture of agreement and asks when and where they will cross the border. Taka calls in his son Minoru and explains that he will lead Paladin to the appointed place. Minoru has already made the preparations, and Takara warns that they cannot awaken the tiger.
Soon, Paladin and Minoru ride to the border where the Japanese frequently come across. The coyote who smuggled them across made sure to collect his payment in advice. Minoru says that the Osata family lives in a border town nearby and they should check to see if they've heard of anything. When he says that they're still two days in advance, Paladin wonders if that's why they rode all night. Minoru admits that there's someone he wants to see, and Paladin agrees.
The two men ride into the border town and go to the general store that the Osata run. Minoru introduces Paladin and then goes to the Osata's daughter, Tikara. Osata says that Minoru will grow to be a strong man like his father, now that Minoru has learned to move slowly and softly, rather than pridefully. Mrs. Osata comes out and invites Paladin to stay with them for the evening.
That night, Paladin participates in a traditional Japanese meal with the Osatas. Osata says that the men Paladin seek are dead or soon will be. The man who brought them across the desert abandoned them, and they are less than a day's ride away. No one has gone after them, and Osata agrees to spare two horses. Minoru is surprised that Paladin is going after them.
Several locals barge into store demanding service. Osata and Tikara go to serve them and a few seconds later, Tikara screams. Minoru and Paladin go out and Minoru attacks the man harassing Tikara. The men knocks Minoru to the floor and one of them goes for his gun. Paladin steps out and tells him to put it away, and the leader insists that they were just fooling. Osaka has no choice but to agree, and Sam gives him a list of what they need. He tells Osata that he should marry Tikara off to some nice Japanese boy to keep her out of trouble,
In the family rooms, Paladin reminds Minoru that they're in Texas. An angry Minoru says that no place in America is different, and Paladin tells him that it isn't their concern. He assures Minoru that it will be different, and Minoru removes his Japanese robes and straps on his gun belt. Minoru then tells Paladin that they should go after the two men that night.
Paladin and Minoru ride out and the next day come to an abandoned shack. Minoru says that the two men couldn't have come that far, but Paladin points out that they haven't seen anyone. They go to the shack and Paladin bursts in. The Priest and the Samurai are there, and Paladin tells them that they're taking them to the border authorities. The Priest translates for the Samurai, The Priest asks for water, and Paladin has Minoru give them his canteen. The Samurai charges past them and scare off the horses, and Paladin orders him back inside at gunpoint. The Priest tells him to shoot, saying that the Samurai's life has no meaning, and promises that they will survive while Paladin and Minoru die.
The four men head across the desert on foot and Minoru finally collapses in exhaustion. Paladin tells the others that they'll rest there, and after a moment they sit down. The Priest says that he understands Paladin but wonders why Minoru helps the Americans. he tells them that he is a slave that pretends to walk like a man, Paladin tells him that change comes slowly but it will come slowly. He concedes that it may take 20 years, give or take, and what Minoru does after that will be up to him. As they move on, Minoru starts to tell Paladin something but then merely says that he's ready.
The men continue on and Minoru finally collapses. Paladin and Minoru share the canteen of water, and then Paladin gives some to the Priest. The Priest says that he realizes that Paladin wants him dead but cannot kill him. Ignoring him, Paladin asks Minoru how far they have to go and says that they will push on as far as they can.
When they come to a cliff, Paladin and the Samurai tie off a rope and the Samurai goes down first. The Priest tells Minoru that he has heard of the Takura family and that it has much honor in their country. Paladin tells Minoru to cover him and climbs down next. Before the Priest climbs down, he says that they have a divine destiny but must be strong. He tells Minoru to be proud and then climbs down
That night, the group rest less than a mile from the town. When Paladin mentions the Osatas, the Priest dismissively refers to them as more Nisei like the Takuras. Minoru draws his gun on Paladin and asks what he has to sell. he says that Takura made his choice and he is making his own. He refuses to live in the shadows, waiting for a chance to be equal. Minoru says that he might be better than Paladin, and Paladin tells him that he might be just as bigoted and frightened as the men in the store.
The Priest tells Minoru that he must kill Paladin. Minoru says that they can tie Paladin up, but Paladin warns that he will find them eventually. The Priest orders the Samurai to attack, but Paladin manages to defeat him. Paladin picks up his gun, and Minoru admits that he's been foolish. The Priest says that when he returns to Japan, he will speak of Paladin. Paladin wakes the Samurai up and they continue on their way.
Later back in San Francisco, Paladin and Takura play Takura again. Takura wonders if there will be more, and Paladin figures that there will be. Minoru is with Tikara, and Takura wonders if Paladin is afraid for his country. Paladin says that he isn't afraid for their country, and Takura figures that there is nothing to worry as long as there is a game to finish.
Written by Gadfly on Jun 11, 2017