Down by the Riverside
A Samurai Jack Fanfic
By Laura McDaniel

Poor Jack. He'd just had a rough fight with a tribe of killer, mutant chicken people. They'd pecked him all over his body with their sharp beaks and scratched him with their terrible talons. He desperately needed a place to rest and he was grateful when he reached the bank of a gently flowing river. Breathing a sigh of relief, he sat down by the water and watched it as it as it ran its course. It was so relaxing that he felt like he could go to sleep, but just as his eyelids started growing heavy, he heard a strange voice.

"Hey, man, what's with the sword?" it asked.

Jack turned around to see a rather funny looking man. His skin was an olive green and his clothing consisted of a multi-colored tie-dyed shirt and bright red bellbottoms that almost completely covered his bare feet. His red hair was long and unkempt and he wore a leather headband strewn with feathers and multicolored beads. "I am a warrior," Jack replied matter-of-factly, hoping that would answer the man's question and that he wouldn't have to go into his whole life story.

"Oh, dude, the last thing this world needs is another warrior."

"But, I am the world's only hope!"

"Yeah, that's what they all say, man, but let me assure you: killing and stuff will only give you bad karma."

"But," Jack said, knowing exactly how to respond to the man's statement, "killing is my dharma as a warrior, whether I like it or not."

"Oh, man, that's somethin' else they all say!" the green man said, shaking his head and covering his green eyes with his hand. "But that just isn't the way we're supposed to live, dude. Make love and not war!"

"What are you talking about?"

"The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind."

"The answer is blowin' in the wind?"

"Yep."

Jack was apparently not amused with the strange visitor. "All right, who are you and what is it you want?"

"My name is Moss," the green man said, "and I'm just a lowly hippie. What name do you go by?"

"I am called Jack. Samurai Jack."

Moss shook his head. "I'm tellin' ya, ya need to ditch the samurai stuff. First of all, war is wrong 'n secondly, this isn't exactly feudal Japan. How about I teach you my ways? I'm tellin' ya: you're livin' your life all wrong!"

"Well...I am always willing to learn," Jack replied. "Where shall we start?"

He looked at Jack thoughtfully, rubbing at the red whiskers that were barely visible on his chin. "I say the first thing we do is drop that 'Samurai' thing from your name and give ya somethin' better. How about...'Moonshine?'"

"Moonshine?"

"Yep," Moss said. "Moonshine Jack."

"I'm not sure about that..."

"Aw, come on!" Moss said, throwing an arm around Jack's back. "Moonshine is a great name!"

"Well...if you say so."

"Oh, I do, man! It's a totally groovy name!"

"What do we do now?"

"Well," Moss said, backing away from Jack to examine him. "I think that dress of yours is really somethin', but I don't know, I just don't think it suits you. You need some better clothes. My Volkswagen bus is parked pretty close to here. Would you like to, I don't know, go inside and pick out some new clothes?"

"I suppose I could have a look," Jack replied.

"Cool. Just come with me." Moss led Jack down the riverbank a bit and pretty soon, they were walking through a beautiful meadow in which brightly colored flowers grew and parked in the middle of the meadow was Moss's Volkswagen Bus. It was painted in a splendid array of psychedelic colors and there were large decals of flowers and peace signs all over it. The hippie opened up the door and said. "Welcome to my home sweet home!"

Jack entered the bus ant noticed that it was fairly spacious. The front seats were made from rather worn-out leather and all but one of the back seats had been removed. The remaining back seat had been converted into a makeshift bed. On one side of the bus, there was a large black trunk and on the other side, there was a mirror. "You live here?" Jack asked.

"Yep," Moss said. "I don't really need much else. Sometimes, I don't even sleep in here. I just sleep outside, close to Mother Nature, listening to her creatures sing me to sleep." He shrugged and added, "I sing along sometimes, too." He pointed to a guitar that sat in the front passenger seat. "So...mind taking off that dress of yours so I can see what I have to work with?"

"Well, I guess so. But it's not a dress!"

"Whatever, man!" Moss said. "Just take it off, Moonshine!"

Jack quickly removed his robe but left on fundoshi. "Is that what you wanted?"

"Yeah, that's it," the hippie replied. He scratched at his whiskers again and exclaimed, "Whew! You've got quite a chest there!"

"Um...thank you."

"How about we use that to your advantage? I think I might have something here that'll work for ya." He went through his trunk, and finally came back with a leather vest that was bordered in fringe from which brightly colored beads hung. "Put this on, dude!" Jack slipped on the vest and Moss nodded excitedly in approval. "With that chest of yours, the ladies will totally dig ya, man!"

"Is that a good thing?"

"Oh, sure it is, man! It means they'll love ya!" He thoughtfully looked at Jack again and then went back to his trunk. "The pants shouldn't be too hard to take care of," he observed. He pulled out a pair of dark green bellbottoms and tossed them to Jack. "Put those on, Moonshine!"

Jack put on the pants, but not without removing his sword, and then looked at himself in the mirror. He wasn't quite sure what to make of his new look, but Moss was ecstatic. "Stylin'!" the hippie declared. "But there's still something missing." The green man carefully looked Jack over and then suddenly looked like he had a revelation. He pulled out Jack's hairpin and jet-black hair immediately cascaded down his back. "Better," Moss said, "but still not quite right. Ah, I know! Accessories!" He rummaged through his trunk again and came up with a handful of stuff. "Let's see here..." He gave Jack his own beaded leather headband as well and then put a pair of granny glasses with highly reflective silver lenses on him. To top it off, Moss tossed a necklace around Jack's neck that bore a giant, silver peace sign. "Top of cool!" Moss gasped. "Err, wait, forget I said that. Anyway, Moonshine, ya look great now. How about we get to your training now?"

"Yes, I'd greatly enjoy that."

"Groovy! Just lose the sword, and we'll be cool."

"I don't know if I want to be cool..." Jack said.

"Sure you do! Look, you don't need that sword now 'cause you ain't gonna study war no more!"

"I ain't gonna study war no more?"

"Ain't gonna study war no more!"

"I'm not so sure about this..."

Moss sighed. "Fine. I'll let you keep the sword for now. But as soon as you learn how groovy my peaceful life is, you'll want to lay down your sword and shield down by the riverside!"

"I don't have a shield."

The hippie groaned. "I was quotin' a song. Music makes the world go 'round, ya know."

"I'll remember that."

"You'd better, man! 'cause it's important! Now, how about we get out of this stuffy bus and experience Mother Nature in all her glory! I've just got to grab a few things to begin your, um, training. You go on outside, OK, Moonshine?"

"Very well," Jack said as he exited the bus. Once outside, he smelled the fresh air and the scent of all the beautiful flowers was almost hypnotic.

"Groovy, isn't it?" Moss observed when he joined Jack in the meadow. He was carrying his guitar case and a small wicker basket containing some items Jack couldn't identify. "Let's find ourselves a spot and have a seat."

"How about over there?" Jack asked, pointing to a plot of particularly soft looking grass that was under the shade of a lone tree.

"Looks good, man," the hippie said. "Let's go." The two of them walked over to the spot, and Moss set his stuff down before he sat down himself. "Come on, Moonshine, sit down!" Jack sat down in front of Moss. "How about a little closer, man?" Jack scooted closer to Moss. "Yeah, that's groovy! Well, let's start with the basics. First of all, Moonshine, war is bad. Fighting is bad, too. Flower power is cool! Got that?"

"I think so," Jack said. "But how are problems supposed to be solved without fighting?"

"That's easy, man," Moss said. "You stage a nice, peaceful protest."

"A protest?"

"Yeah, man. You make colorful signs, chant catchy slogans, and sing groovy protest songs. Then, you just gotta hope the right people pay attention to ya!"

"And how is that supposed to help me overthrow Aku?" Jack asked, getting right to the point.

"Overthrow Aku?" Moss gasped, almost falling over backwards. Regaining composure, he asked, "What do you have against The Great Aku, Moonshine?"

"Well," Jack said, getting visibly frustrated, "for one thing, Aku took over my country and flung me through time!"

"Oh, so that's why you were wearing that dress and calling yourself a samurai?" Moss said with a smile. "So you're an accidental time traveler? Well, what are you going to do about it?"

"I plan on destroying Aku and then traveling back to my own time to make sure this terrible future never came into existence!"

"Moonshine, you need to mellow out! Like, that is so uncool. Don't mess with time. You just need to go with the flow."

"Go with the flow?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, I'm sorry that Aku did all that to you. But the point is, it happened! Accept it and move on!"

"But...what about my family in the past?"

"Aku probably already squashed them. Nothing you can do about that. Just focus what's goin' on here and now, and you'll be OK."

"I'm not sure I can do that..."

"You just need a little help. Here, let me get out my special incense blend. It'll help you let go." He took out a tiny Aku-shaped incense burner from his basket.

"Do I want to let go?"

"Of course you do! Now, come on, do you know how to get into a proper meditation position?"

"A lotus position, you mean?"

"That'll work," Moss said. Jack got into a lotus position while the hippie lit a stick of incense. Jack inhaled some of the intoxicating vapor. "Isn't that far out, man?" Moss asked.

"Most definitely," Jack replied, feeling a little woozy.

"Good! Now, just close your eyes, and I'll play my groovy green tambourine," Moss instructed, taking out a green tambourine from his guitar. He started playing a simple, relaxing rhythm.

Jack closed his eyes and breathed deeply. The sweet but unidentifiable scent of the incense put his mind at ease.

"How do you feel?" the hippie asked.

"I...feel...great..." Jack breathed. "What kind of incense is this?"

"Like I said, it's a secret blend, man. I'm glad you like it, Moonshine. Now, clear your mind of everything and listen to nothing but the sound of my voice and the jingle jangle of my tambourine, OK?" Jack nodded, but said nothing. "OK, Man," Moss said, "flower power is your life."

"Flower power is my life," Jack murmured. The words sank deep into his mind.

"You ain't gonna study war no more."

"I ain't gonna study no more..."

"You will surrender your sword and spend the rest of your life promoting peace!"

"Yes," Jack breathed.

"You don't care about Aku."

"I do not care about him at all."

Moss quit talking, but the sound of his green tambourine continued. Jack's mind was filled with psychedelic colors and the sounds of protest music. Tiny peace signs floated everywhere. "This is so groovy," Jack muttered.

"Good! Now, does that mean you are done being a samurai?"

"I am so done with that!"

"Groovy! Now, how about I take that sword of yours?"

"What do you want with an instrument of destruction?"

"Eh, I thought I'd sell it and buy new wheels for my bus."

"Fine. That sounds good. Just take it. I want nothing to do with it."

"Thanks, bro!" Moss smiled almost evilly, but Jack couldn't see it because his eyes were shut. He then relieved Jack of his sword.

"No, thank you, Moss! If it weren't for you, I'd probably still be wasting my life with senseless violence. This is so much better than that life I once lived."

"Well, just part of my job," Moss said. "Now...for a billion dollars, I could teach everybody to mellow out!"

"I'll remember that," Jack said.

"Far out! Well, my work here is done. I'm gonna get back in the bus."

"Good bye," Jack said flatly.

Moss chuckled as he blew out the incense and then climbed back into his Volkswagen bus. He revved up the engine, and the van flew off. Of course, Jack's eyes were still shut so he didn't see it. All he noticed was that the sweet scent of the flowers disappeared when the hippie left. This distracted his peaceful thoughts so much that he opened his eyes again to notice that while the meadow remained, the flowers had mysteriously disappeared. "Where have all the flowers gone?" Jack muttered. "Oh, never mind. I'll just get back to my meditating..."

Meanwhile, Moss's Volkswagen Bus landed a short distance away. The green man exited it and then turned into the familiar shape of Aku. He waved his hand, and then the bus disappeared. "Well, that was a little degrading," Aku said. "But, at least I got the job done. Let me make sure it worked..." He turned into a large bird and flew back to the meadow where Jack was still sitting and meditating. "Hello, Jack. Where is your sword?"

"I don't need it."

"Oh? How are you going to destroy me?"

"I have no wish to destroy you. I am just going to let you be. You aren't really that bad."

"Are you sure about that? How about we battle?" Aku turned himself into a dragon and breathed flames in Jack's face.

"Aku, you need to mellow out, man!" Jack snapped.

"Very well. If that's the way you want it!" Aku smiled. Turning back into a bird, he flew away, back to his dark castle. "Hmm, who would have thought flower power was that strong? Oh well. Peace and quiet at last! The minions and I will have a nice night together, I think." His evil laughter echoed throughout the land.

And Jack didn't care.