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RP Learning sapience

IQ

Game Master
Shiro Suzume Grounds
Planet Yamatai

1300 local time

It was a rather hot, sun-kissed afternoon. A quiet, yet gentle day. So much walking, but his metal feet carried him anywhere. Uninhibited by exhaustion or thirst, or hunger. It was one of the perks of a steel frame. The disadvantage was that there was no sense of taste, nor feeling. Not even the softest of winds that brushed through the trees were felt. Not even the small spots of sun that seeped through the foliage were sensed by Kensei.

Sound sensors informed him of the present of birds. His head tilted upwards, watching from underneath the straw hat. He imagined their singing must be beautiful. It was critically acclaimed by some of the literary works he was programmed with. But he only knew it as 'bird singing'. So, he tried to spot one. Though failed to see any kind of birds. They were too well hidden for him.

Moving on from this, Kensei just proceeded. Coming on one side of a lake. Glancing up at a massive, white castle. And there he stood. Waiting, maybe for minutes. Maybe for hours, days on end even. He was captivated. And had all the time of the world to admire the view.

A small chirp came again from a low-hanging branch in the quietude that persisted after the unit had found his place amongst the hills. It was then that a sole creature could be seen, a bird as white as the Drakon Unit himself, that fleetingly emerged and then hid itself from view once more.

It was then that a lack of stillness in the surrounding area would perturb the echo-locator he had. Tops of trees spread and rushed aside as two Hatamoto mecha with added thruster packs came flying up from the tree-line on a distant mountain.

It was this bird that momentarily held his attention, before the gold crested android moved on again. Resuming his steel gaze on the fortress yet again. A soft wind caused the purple robe that was bolted to his shoulders to sway ever so slightly. Brushing across the sheated Nodachi on his back.

Kensei looked up to the mecha's. Tilting his faceless head much like a curious puppy as he watched the ensuing machinations. White plated, finished with gold, digits slowly moved up, resting on one of four present Wakizashi. The hilt a bright red cord surrounding hefty durable metal.

Flying in slowly but without cessation and in a direct line to the castle, the hulking mecha found their way over Kensei's head and then, soon, past him and over the lake, making huge and sudden ripples before slowing their movement. They had stopped suddenly and were hovering twenty feet above the lake's water line, near the middle of the lake.

A soft whirring resounded as the android turned on his feet, following the mechs flying over at rapid velocity. Before holding position above the lake. Such an oddity. Turning properly on his feet again, Kensei made his way to the edge of the cliff. Which was bordering said lake. Looking up to the mechs without a word. Content to just watch.

The mecha stayed for a minute and then, when the Drakon Unit did nothing, One mecha appeared to open up in the top of the mid-section.

This warranted at least some amount of suspicion from Kensei. The grip on his wakizashi tightened, as well as a hand moved up for the nodachi on his back. A soft click of feedback as he pulled the larger blade just an inch from it's sheathe. But he seemed to default back to watching what was happening, before making any bold moves.

From that distance, it would become noticeable that a Nekovalkyrja was emerging from the Hatamoto, clad in a white yukata and black hakama as well as a pair or black geta and jikatabi. Her own wakizashi and katana hung from her obi belt, much like Kensei. She stayed in the air a moment, then accelerated towards him slow and steady above the lake, towards the cliff.

Kensei slowly pulled the blade just a bit further out of it's sheath. His other hand still on the Wakizashi. "H-... Hello?" His deep, mechanical voice carried far. Yet emotionless in its sound. "I will not attempt an attack," he stated with a soft glitch to his voice modulater, before some withe noise resounded. "I will defend myself," the Android stated, taking a wary step back from the cliff.

The Nekovalkyrja did not pause, but slowed, as she kept coming towards him.

She spoke out so that he could hear in a delicate but loud voice, "I am a samurai of the Danko Clan, I mean you no harm."

A soft click ensued. From the Nodachi being pushed back in its sheath fully. And his arm lowered to rest on another of the four smaller blades strapped to his hip. "Then-..." He seemed confused. At a loss of words. "What do you-..." Another series of glitches as his voice turned lighter. "Can I help you?"

The young-looking woman seemed to muse for a moment before saying, "You can tell me who you are. I am Yukiko."

"I... Can?" Kensei questioned. Tilting his head as a toughtful, cybernetic hum was pushed from his voice module. "I... Yes. It is possible." Another curious tilt of his head. "We- No. I am... This unit is designated as Kensei Ichi/Rei."

"And..." Yukiko's light teal brows pushed towards the center of her forehead, "What species are you? Pardon the prying question."

"Species?" A moment of silence passed. Only the soft humming of Aether engines present. "I... We are not a species? We are-... I am an android produced by Drakon company." He seemed to glance at the ground. The shade of his hat falling over his face. Or a lack thereoff. "Are we... Is that a species?"

Yukiko looked down and then thought, before looking back up, "Just as much as I am, Kensei Ichi/Rei. I believe that, do you?"

"I... Do not know," the Android answered. "What is... No, silly question." He scolded himself, before standing up straight again. "I do not think we...- I can believe."

"Would you like shelter, then, Kensei Ichi/Rei?" Yukiko asked, her reddish orange eyes inquisitive as the two Hatamoto, one pilot-less, stayed over the lake.

"Shelter?" He glanced at the other mech. "It would be impolite to decline such invitation, wouldn't it?" It wasn't rethorical. It sounded like a genuine question.

Yukiko smiled for the first time before admitting, "It would be. Please, come to Shiro Suzume Castle."

"Of course-... It would be," a moment of silence again as he seemed to think the idea over. Or he was hesitant on what to say. A soft whirring, before he nodded. "Where is Shiro Suzume Castle?"

"You're looking at it," Yukiko said as she waved a hand behind herself, away from the cliff, and to the white castle he had been gazing at from afar.

"Oh," it responded. A mechanical hum generated, before he nodded. "Then I will make my way there, Yukiko-sama. Many thanks." And like that, the Android turned on his feet, trotting off.

When he arrived at the front entrance, he would still be able to see over to the lake, where the Hatamoto mecha no longer were.

And when he reached the entrance, after quite some time of trekking. The android looked up in awe, before back at the gate. Unsure what to do next. So he waited.

Greeting him at the door, once opened, was a large Kodian dressed in the same garb as Yukiko, who said, "Konichiwa Kensei-san."

Kensei glanced up at the Kodian, tilting his head. "You... Know of us-... Me?"

"Yukiko told me," the gargantuan bear-like being replied. "It's no less simple than that. Do you wish to come in?"

"Yukiko?" The android seemed to mull it over momentarily. "Oh, yes. The female Nekovalkyrja that invited us," a soft mechanical hum that was quite akin to a sigh. "Me," he then nodded. "I... Was invited here. That means I am allowed to enter?" He questioned with a faint tilt of his head.

Nodding, the Kodian chuckled, "Yes, yes. You'll learn that asking permission is graciously accepted here. Thank you for your respect of Shiro Suzume. Welcome." He stepped aside to let the droid though and closed the door after he had entered. The inside was sparsely, but aesthetically, decorated with the clan's banner hung on tapesty-like wall hangings. There were two doors on either side of the main entrance to pass through.

The android nodded momentarily, watching the Kodian with what could only be described as bated breath. Despite being an android. Kensei walked in, inclining his heads as he passed the larger figure. Though the sound of the door shutting was heard and he turned on his feet, a small blip coming from him that could only be interpreted as him being spooked. Though the shock was quickly overcome as he proceeded to examine his curious new surroundings closely. As if forgetting where he was, or even that the Kodian gatekeeper was present. Once again, that faint tilt of his head showed itself.

The Kodian raised and lowered his hands, "No need to be worried, I was just closing the door... Come this way." He moved them through the door on the right into a hallway that had several open doors with which Kensei would be able to notice places for lounging built into the floor and some low to the ground tables. They made their way into a central room in which several white and black clad forms were sitting on the ground, knees folded with their feet positioned under their butts.

"Join them, if you please," the Kodian said in a voice loud enough to be heard in the once-silent room. A sleek, dark teal-haired Nekovalkyrja floated at the front of the room and her silvery eyes opened a few moments after the Kodian spoke.

Kensei's attention snapped back to reality with the Kodian's reassurance. Which he had recorded in his audio banks, a quick process and replay command later, Kensei nodded his gratitude and fell into step next to the Kodian, a tad scatterminded still, his optics scanners feeding him colours and shadows. The three sixty view built in adding to his general ideas of the surroundings. And even to the finer of details. Still following the Kodian, they reached a large, symmetrically designed room. With several, to his estimation a percentage of 97.8 percent, Samurai kneeled before him. Neutral expressions reached him. Once again, the Kodian's reassuring voice called out to him.

Who he felt he needed to thank. "I...- We please," he responed with a curt bow of thanks. Silent enough to be unintrusive, which was hard given how mechanical he sounded, yet clear enough for everyone to bear witness. He turned to the mat and glanced down at the border, kicking off what was a poor excuse for footwear that consisted of a rubber sole and poorly done bandages.

The droid then bowed lightly, before stepping on the odd fabric. Closing the distance to be near enough to the Samurai to be heard. Yet remain at an unengagable range for combat. A tradition of respect and submission. A soft, ever so musical chiming broke the silence in the room. Originating from the Android clicking loose the sheathes of the four wakizashi on his hips. He placed the weaponry infront of him, before kneeling in similair fashion to the present warriors and counselors. Head lowering and glancing at the floor, Kenseijin waited for the Daimyo to speak.

Dark-teal hair bobbed slowly as the head of the Clan moved down so that she was no longer floating. Her bare toes touched the ground of the padded room and she bowed gracefully.

"Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu," Kuro said, a word with an odd meaning in Trade. It meant that she welcomed the opportunity to meet, learn with, and teach the droid. "Watashi wa Danko Kuro desu," she added, introducing herself.

"Arigatōgozaimashita," the droid thanked humbly, his head still pointed to the floor at this point, before inching upwards to look at the Daimyo. "Watashi no nihongo wa saikōde wa arimasen," he explained in somewhat lacking Trade, sitting up fully now, his head tilted to the side as he spoke. Rehearsing his lingual codex. "Watashi wa-... Kenseijin," he lingered momentarily, a soft, humming beep coming from him. It was a sort of erring sound, one could even see the small dots of crimson lights.

"Yorokobashī-... kotoda? Daimyo-...Sama." He concluded, obviously more than attempting to have proper manners in a room filled with unknown variables.

Looking around the room, the samurai Daimyo raised her arms and said, "Yame..." The practitioners in front of her, a group of perhaps fifty-some different species and races, began to open their eyes and train their attention on the Daimyo and, perhaps less apparently, on Kensei. "Acchi ni itte," Kuro said, then added in an emphatic but quiet tone, "kudasai..." She had pleasantly asked everyone to leave and they began to, alebeit slowly. Kuro's attention was on Kensei after looking out at those gathered as they shuffled about. She said nothing, though looked calm while studying nothing about the droid, merely looking as if at a distant sunset.

As the Daimyo spoke, so the Ronin silenced himself, it was the rather poetic approach Kenseijin came to describe this situation. Each and every of his non-vital systems powered off, his pose slumped in a most humble manner as the joints locked themselves as the attendants started to shuffle by. Some of them casted glances, others remained their stoïc selves. There was no noise from them during the gathering to leave. When the last attendants had made their way out, a soft whir resounded as energy spooled through his systems.

He looked up to the woman again, but remained silent. His face was the most neutral of masks, devoid of any human features. Even the shape was nothing like a traditional skull.

With a motion of her hand, Kuro walked towards the center of the matted floor and sat in the same pose that the samurai practitioners had been holding. Her eyes watched Kensei while her body stayed positioned so that she was able to look out a great window in the wall of the Eastern facing room.

Kensei remained in the same position, not even flinching. Though his head did follow Kuro's movements. He kept looking at her and waited, silently. Not daring to make a noise, though he couldn't withold himself from examining the demure and reserved woman infront of him.

"Would you join me?" Kuro asked.

Kensei nodded curtly, "Of course, Daimyo-sama," he uttered. The soft rustling of well tuned parts moving was ever present as Kensei got to his feet, before moving forward and kneeling down next her. "It's our pleasure," he added with an inclination of his head.

"Mokuso," Kuro said to close eyes. She did so herself.

Kensei remained silent. Originally panicking at the command. He had no eyes to physically shut. He pondered for a moment, before a soft click resounded from his core. His optical sensors and echolocator switching off. Preserving a few charges and making it easier to cool his power source.

"Wakarimashita," he answered with a nod.

"Arigatou gozaimasu," the Daimyo replied without opening her eyes. They stayed quiet and sitting for a long minute before she said for him to stop and open his eyes, "Yame."

Another soft click as energy spooled to his optics, right after the Daiymo told him to stop once again. A soft whir as his head raised and craned around, glancing around the room, before he turned back to Kuro. Remaining silent. He was bursting with questions, yet defaulted to silence.

Kuro's silvery eyes landed on Kensei's own mechanical ones and she asked, "What do you think about in moments of contemplation?"

"We... I-" a brief moment of hesitance. No clue how to respond, a soft beep came from him. "Do not know, there is... Are countless of processes and maintenance we can adress during these moments of silence." He couldn't help but be fearful of his answer falling short from her expectations.

"Which ones," Kuro asked, "matter most to you?"

"Maintenance," he answered swiftly before resting back. "Memories.. Secondly. But there isn't... Infinite space, I... We can't remember everything. There are things I must remember."

"Maintenance is of great importance," Kuro said, nodding only slightly so that her chin dipped a half of an inch. "Do you think that performing maintenance here and now would be appropriate?" The question could be misconstrued if not for the way it was asked, with a questioning and open tone.

"It is, Daimyo-sama," he agreed, feeling the need to attest on it once more, before glancing over at her once. The steel, featureless mask a devoid of emotions. "I-... Yes. Did it...Offend?"

"I would like the same thing," Kuro said, only. She lifted her hand up, beckoning him to stand before she did so. When only her feet were on the ground, she asked, "Would you like to show me the method of maintenance you most identify with?"

As commanded the droid did, unsure how to answer the remark the Daimyo made. The following question was even more of a confusion to Kensei. He remained sioent for a moment, before grasping at the purple cloth that clung to his frame. Ripping it off. The sleek plating on his chest slid outwards to reveal a large, blue spherical object. Humming softly. "This... Is my core... Our life. Our...- Heart?"

Kuro remained silent, with a look on her pale face of someone in awe. She remained standing near Kensei, looking at his torso, then reached out slightly before looking up to his eyes, asking with her own grey ones if it was alright to move her hand up even more.

There was a moment that Kensei lingered, not saying anything as the hand moved up. Eyes looking onto his faceplate questioningly. It wasn't dangerous to touch it, a Drakon's core was properly insulated and designed for easy access and maintenance. Though he was afraid of letting Kuro's creeping hand closer. But the reasoning was entirely illogical. If they had hoped to harm or disassemble him, they would've done so with the fifty or so Samurai present. So he nodded solemnly.

Her hand hovered there above the core for a moment longer while she looked at it, then her eyes shifted to Kensei's. Her hand lowered and she stood at ease in front of him.

"Would you like to tell me more about yourself?" Kuro asked.

He looked at her as she moved ever so slightly. Just inches away from his core, before she relaxed again. At which, the reactive armour plating clicked and slid back in place. A soft hiss as it settled in again and sealed the core off.

"I... -I do not know what I can tell you about us-... Myself."

"I know little of you, but enough to know you can learn," Kuro said, "here. Would you like that?"

There was a moment of silence as Kensei pondered the request. He wasn't quite able to grasp the gravity and hospitality of the offer. A slow nod came from him. "Yes, we would-... I would like that," he answered as it slowly started to dawn to him. Not just a place where he could learn, or be safe. But a home, a place to fall back to.

People to fall back to. People he needn't fear for being disassembled or turned back in. He inclined his head, before slowly dropping to his knees before Kuro. "How do I express this gratitude?" He asked, judging from his tone and his earlier behaviour, it seemed like a genuine question.

"By learning and one day teaching what you learned here," Kuro said before stepping away and bowing deeply. "Today and tonight you can settle in and tomorrow, your training begins."

"Thank you," he answered. Though it was unclear whether it was him thanking for the offer, the reply, or both. His head remained inclined as Kuro moved away from him with a deep bow. He looked up to her. "Where... How do I settle in, Daimyo-sama?"

Kuro raised a hand and brought the fingers back and forth away and towards herself, gesturing for Yukiko to enter. When the light teal and fiery-eyed Neko entered, the Daimyo bowed her head slightly.

"Learn from us and we will learn from you," Kuro said. "In time, we will all be more thoughtful samurai of the Danko Clan."

She stepped away and was soon out of the room.

His question was met with silence, only a gesture. And the droid was led to second guess himself, worry whether he had offended the Daimyo with his last question. Though, a familiar face was called in and Kuro's voice reached his audioreceptors once more. His expressionless, flat mask turning towards her. And he inclined his head.

"Thank you, Daimyo-sama," he answered as she left the room. Leaving only himself and Yukiko.

Yukiko said in a hushed voice, "How did it go, Kensei-chan?"

Who he then looked over to. Tilting his head. "I-... Do not know," he answered before a curious blip came from him. "Chan?" He questioned, "why chan?" It was a genuine question. He was puzzled why this was the honorific Yukiko thought was most appropriate.

"You have a lot to learn," Yukiko giggled softly. She led him out of the room by motioning with her reddish orange eyes to the door to the North of the room, opposite of where he had come to. She took him to a room, more ornately decorated than any other that Kensei had seen in the castle so far.

"For you," she said. Then, Yukiko added, "Do you need anything before communal dinner tonight?"

"I-... We do?" He questioned again, but falling into step with the soft mechanical whirring and the soft thudding of his metal on the at in the room. With a light bow to the mat, as he was programmed, he then left it. Retrieving his bandage rubber sole sandals.

"This is our room?" He questioned, glancing around. "We...- I never had... A room," he added whilst glancing around. The straw hat, which he had taken off and attached around his neck, was pulled off. And placed next to his sleeping mat. "Communal dinner?" He glanced at Yukiko. "What-... Is communal dinner? Am I expected to nourish myself as... Biological kind?"

"Here," Yukiko said, "you aren't expected to do anything but your best!" She bowed deeply at the door, facing him, and left.

After the communal dinner, which was rather... Alerting for Kensei. Everyone was friendly, yet the wary glances didn't escape him either. It was a natural reaction, one he wouldn't hold against them. But it was still... Unnerving? For him.

A lack of a mouth made eating also impossible.

The crack of dawn soon arrived. And with a soft hum, Kensei 'woke'. Slowly gathering his things and pushing open the door. Unsure of where to go or what to do. Nobody was waiting for him, but the distant sound of kiai could be heard coming from downstairs.

Pushing his straw hat on his golden crested head and slapping the fabric around him, Kensei stepped out of his room, tossing his makeshift sandals to the floor before putting them on. He tried to spool back through yesterday's logs to remember a semblance of the castle's layout. And like that, he moved towards the sound. Having calculated its most likely point of origin.

The room he had met Kuro in was again filled with the samurai, all loosely formed and warming up, not guided by a sensei of any kind but lightly sparring or stretching.

Kensei, with no other alternative, moved to the side of the mat and kneeled down ontop of it after the proper rites of respect. And so, he waited patiently for anyone to approach him.

Nodody seemed to pay him much mind.

Kensei's looked across the room, his featureless mask craning as he did. Though it seemed like the others didn't pay much mind to him. And remained focussing on their warming up. It caused the droid to let out a soft, humming bleep. One of contentment, almost. It was fun and refreshing to see organic lifeforms warm up and flex. He didn't need it, it only costed him resources, but he was more than content to watch and learn from them. How it was done with the biological body. How the body moved as opposed to his steel frame. He sat there, content to just watch. Remaining otherwise silent and unintrusive.

"Onegaishimasu," said the now-familiar voice of Kuro from the back of the room, near the Southern door as she entered through it. Many students and samurai stopped their warm-ups and bowed towards her position. They would come up from their bows facing away from her as she had moved quickly through the room and was already at the head of the room.

It was when he heard Kuro's familiar voice that Kensei pushed himself up to his feet as well. Paying his proper respects with a bow, before standing up straight. Standing at attention and waiting for the Daimyo to speak.

"Seiza," she said and she bent at the knees once at the front of the room and went through the process of verbalizing the closing of one's eyes by saying, "Mokuso..." The room was quiet for moments on end as the Danko Clan prepared for their training. The Daimyo finally said to end after more than a full minute, "Yame. Kiotsuke," she added, telling everyone to stand. She looked about the room, eyes settling on noone but looking at everyone. She then sighed out and looked at the ground as she rolled her feet to either side ten times, then was rocking on the balls of her feet and heels methodically. The rest of the Clan was following along.

Kensei's hand came to rest on the hilt of one of his Wakizashi. His head inclined as his optics and all other ways for him to 'see' shut off again with the same soft click from his core. A moment of silence and introspection. As taught to him the day before. Though he didn't consider maintenance or anything. He tried to think, where he was. What he was doing. And what it all meant. The same soft voice reached him again. And once again, everything clicked into functioning state again. He followed the example given by Kuro and the other Samurai present. Rocking on his feet with a soft whirring coming from him.

The rest of the warmups went accordingly and went from the feet to the head. Kuro spoke after they had gone through kicks of three standard kinds, head-level, mid-level, and lower blocks as well as head-level punches, midsection punches, and sumo squat punches.

"Please pair up," Kuro said only. There were many people that did not choose a partner right away, such as the Kodian and Yukiko, who were both nearby the robot. There were several Nekovalkyrja that turned their heads around but did not extend themselves to anyone and one lonely Separa'Shan.

Kensei seemed to be able to fluidly partake in the warmup. There was no noise from him but the ever so gently whirring of his joints moving.

As Kuro told to pair up, Kensei defaulted to resting his hand on one of the hilts. Waiting, he barely knew anyone and decided to let the people make their choice. If there was an equal number of Samurai present, including him, there was no issue. If he was to train alone, no issue either.

Yukiko eventually approached the Kodian just as the Kodian approached the Separa'Shan, and so she went to Kensei.

"Onegaishimasu," Yukiko said to Kensei with a bow.

"Dōitashimashite, Yukiko-san," Kensei replied curteously, inclining his head and returning the bow.

She smiled, "Arigatou gozaimashita, Kensei-san."

The Daimyo clapped her hands gently, "Find a way to use one of the three blocks against your opponent as they perform a head, mid, or low punch. The offensive opponent will be the senior samurai and the defender, their junior."

"Hai!" came the response from many samurai trainees, including Yukiko.

"Hajime," Kuro said and there was a beginning of movement and speech in the large room.

Yukiko looked to Kensei with confidence, "I will be attacking, but we are only training, I will not be trying to hurt you. I am competent and if you don't move towards me, I won't even touch you. You are meant to touch my arms, though, as you block my approach. Only perform one of the simple blocks we have gone over earlier in our warmup. Do you understand?"

If he could smile, he would've. But otherwise, the droid just nodded, before lookingto Kuro as she began to explain the beginning of the actual training. When she was done speaking and Yukiyo began, he turned his substitute face to the Samurai again. Nodding as he listened.

"We... understand, though," he tapped his own forearm with a metallic chime. "We-... I would be remiss to harm you. Are you certain?"

"You won't harm me if we do it the right way," Yukiko said warmly. "Well, if we do it for more than a few hours, I think I'll start to feel it. Blocking my punch shouldn't hurt me, don't worry."

The other trainees were in different states of beginning or going over the instructions, as Yukiko and Kensei had just done.

She bowed to him curtly and then asked, "Ready?"

Kensei nodded as the girl reassured him. Softly bowing in return to hers. A soft, mechanical burble resounding that could only be interpreted as 'affirmative'. He then straightened himself and defaulted to the low-level blocks as a pose. Fully aware he wouldn't be struck there just yet. But it gave him a way of preparing nonetheless. It was swifter to start from this pose than it was from a relaxed one.

Yukiko smiled with a nod and then her face slackened, growing serious. She simply moved her hands up to be balled at her hips and pushed one of them forward, towards Kensei's mid-section. Her movement was fluid but not fast.

As instructed, as if he was a practicioner from the guard transfer they had just rehearsed in the warm up, Kensei's hands moved up to push asidethe blow. A soft thud resounding.

Yukiko pulled her arm back and nodded, "That was perfect," her fiery eyes glanced at Kuro, then were back on Kensei's. "Now to repeat that a few more times."

Kensei nodded simply. Holding his hands up at his mid-section, waiting for Yukiko to throw the next punch. It came as swiftly as before, but a bit faster. Kensei, after all, was a droid still. Programmed to do just this. And once again, a soft thud came as his metal hands moved to push the blow aside. They continued on, blocking and punching, ad nauseum. Twenty minutes passed and Yukiko had retained most of her swiftness, but was moving much faster than she had to start out. Kensei was keeping up, not saying anything. Just letting out to ocassional mechanized beep or machined blurt. The pair were like a concerted effort of force onto one another.

"Yame," came a restful voice, Kuro's, "switch."

"Now, you do as I have been doing," Yukiko explained in an exhalation.

Kensei's hands dropped as Kuro caused everyone to stop their excercise and listen. Just the simple command to switch the offensive role over. The Drakon glanced at Kuro again and nodded, putting a foot back and lowering his hands.

"I-... We will begin," he stated, giving Yukiko a few more seconds before he threw up the first, swift punch. Aimed for her face. Making sure that if the girl was unable to parry, he'd lock each joint in his arm and make sure it stayed just inches shy from her face.

Her block came slower than her punches had previously, but she intercepted the punch well enough and nodded for Kensei to continue after the prompt execution of the block.

Kensei nodded in return and proceeded to throw punches at a faster rate, making sure not to hit Yukiko and slow down if she missed a punch. Though his movements were swift and smooth, only the ocassional whir was audible when he threw a punch. Yukiko was steadily blocking with uninhibited strength, making it apparent she was slowly numbing her pain receptors to compensate for the wear of the same movements against her yukata and, underneath, thin arms. All in all, they were a well functioning pair, able to augment eachother to make sure they'd get the most out of this session.

Again, Kuro said the word, "Yame," and the room slowed their rythm and soon, they had all bowed to one another and stopped. Kuro strode around the room and pointed to several samurai and trainees, thirty in all, then said, "Kata practice." She then walked to the edge of the room and any student not chosen went to a wall of the room. "Kurutta Neko," she added.

"Crazed Neko! Let's go, we'll watch!" Yukiko said to the droid happily and walked herself to the far Eastern wall, able to look out of the large Western wall's windows as the morning progressed and the kata were done in the center of the room. At first, the practitioners lined up, bowed, then covered one hand with the other, left over right. Then came the blocks and punches like they had done, followed by a quick succession of movements that had not been practiced yet that day, such as hands pulling into clenched fists, grabbing, and finally swirling kicks and gravity manipulation-assisted movements. Those of the group were of different species and those without the ability to float like a Neko did what they could of something close to equal value. Some of the practicioners were panting but not exhausted by the end bow of the kata. Then, those in the center of the room that had just performed a kata stood in ready stances as Kuro called on the next batch of practicioners to come up to the center and join those there.

"Honshū Sedoka," Kuro instructed, switching styles from Neju Koyu to Mugen'Yoshu Senko.

Yukiko was among them and she turned to Kensei, "Watch?"

Kuro spoke again. And Kensei glanced over, slowly lowering his hands, before looking back at Yukiko and offering her a bow. Kata practice, Kurutta Neko. Kensei had no clue what this 'Crazed Neko' was but a sort of fighting style he wasn't familiar with. Though he fell in to step next to Yukiko without a word. Resting both his hands on the sheathes of his wakizashi as they reached the eastern wall. Spectating the ensuing trade of blows. Keeping a close eye on them, rather than on the view the window on the western wall. Learning, judging their movements and starting to, halfway through the fight, predict their actions, their attacks and how they'd block eachother. Reading in on it. And while he was often surprised, he started to grow more and more accurate.

Yukiko was selected to take the mat. Kensei glanced at the woman, who stated another Yamataigo name. The fighting style. His head dipped slightly and he glanced at Yukiko.

"Of course," he answered simply, before turning his attention back to the mat. "We have been doing so the past fights, Yukiko-san."

The style moved swiftly and with grace and, within two minutes, the kata was over and Kuro spoke once more.

"Everyone, to the mat," she looked around, eyes passing over Kensei once, almost lingering on the droid, before moving on to look at the others that were to the sides of the room. "Please, everyone join in."

Kensei didn't seem to miss the lingering eyes, his faceless head reared over to Kuro. Waiting. He pushed himself up and moved to the mat, stepping on it and glancing at Kuro, before glancing back at wherever Yukiko was, before taking his kneeled position again. A soft whir resounding as he bend through his knees. Which in fact didn't bend forward, but rather backwards. As he was seated, he looked back to Kuro. Waiting for her to continue.

Kuro asked him to stand with a simple, "Kiotsuke!" Then, she was again walking between other samuai practitioners as she weaved in and around them before calling for them to begin after saying the name of the kata: "Kōgeki dai ichi... Hajime."

The samurai that knew the first kata of Neju Koyu began and were followed along by a small handful that were still learning.

Kensei stood again with a nod, following her movements silently. Before he glanced around again, a soft humming resounded as he expended several core charges into a larger view, three hundred and sixty degrees around him. Taking in the info of each practicioner, both beginner as well as master. And so, he began to intimidate their movements. Jolting and hesitant at first, though soon,there was a clear fluidity to his motions. And a pattern started to develop.

The kata went on for a few minutes before it was finished and all of the students bowed and were, again, in a ready stance.

"Again," Kuro said. "Hajime."

They all, again, bowed and began the kata.

Kensei halted his movements as well the instant he noted others did so. Bowing momentarily before standing up straight. Kuro's voice crossed the room again and the Samurai bowed, before bursting into movement again. A gesture Kensei followed once again, dilligently so.

The kata finished in the same time it had taken before and the samurai daimyo said once more, "Again... Hajime!"

And so, Kensei, once again bowed his head. Listened to the ensuing command. Bowed once more and proceeded with the same excercise. His movements by now well practiced and controlled. There was solid form behind the entire act and he only seemed to improve with each movement.

"Yame," Kuro said after the beginnner's kata was done for the last time. "Please enter into cat-stance."

Many samurai moved to have a back foot planted and knee buckled slightly while their front foot was propped up with only their inner toes, knee bent.

Kensei, who had seen the fluid motions of the Samurai after Kuro's polite command, bowed once again in greeting. Letting out a soft mechanical whirl. There was a bit of strain regarding core charges. The error messages were-... Disturbing, almost like any biological being could describe a numb tooth ache. But this was easily coped with regarding the bigger data-gain.

Regardless, he fluidly put himself in the portrayed stance. His feet whirring slightly as the littlest of mechanical toes craned over slightly. His backwards knee bending slightly, untill at a hundred and ten degree angle. Back foot slightly grinding into the mat. And there he stood, ready.

"Hold it," Kuro said while she began to walk around the large room. She corrected samurai's poses and stances, saying to everyone the corrections she needed from the person she was standing beside.

For example, she said to the samurai, "Keep your back foot facing forward while your front faces away from it, at a forty-five degree angle." Then, to the person she was near, spoke. "Yes, like that..."

Then another time, she said to the room, "Your weight should be ninety percent on your back foot. Legs bent so that your body is low." As several samurai moved, she said, "Hai! Yes, yes. Very good."

Kensei listened to the adjustments, constantly checking his own parameters and factors his sensors gave through. His stance shifted ever so slightly, with each time Kuro corrected. He saw the shivering forms of others, though the perfectly still ones of some that had mastered their stance. Those were the targets he highlighted, to keep a further eye on. Another gentle, mechanical murmur rising from his core, his heart, placed within the armoured chest.

They stayed in the stance for a longer time than one kata, then longer. Kuro eventually made her way to the front of the room when she was sure all stances were correct and found a cat-stance, as well. As if seated, she stayed low and held her hands out as if pressing a piece of glass or wall in front of her body.

"Please hold your arms in this position," the daimyo said. "And we will practice blocking with open palms while in cat-stance." She moved her palms in towards each other while spinning them so that her left was no longer on top, then brought them towards her sternum, stll open. She brought her open hands to either side of her white yukata-clad waist and then pushed them outwards, right on top, so that she could press against an invisible, imaginary pane of glass. Afterwards, her students and the samurai did so, too.

It came like natural. As if instinct had taken over. The collective of information he had recieved from this relatively long training session thus far, it naturally clicked. His hands raised slowly. Mimicking almost exactly Kuro's stance, holding still as a statue. Hands held as if they were pressed against an invisible wall. Not even the lightest of shivers coming from him.

Yet, not one of his joints were locked, but rather constantly actuated. The pistons that served as muscles, constantly vented, blowing small tidbits of heat from them due to strain. It was more than just a statue pose. Almost his entire being was in move.

Kuro began counting each time she moved her arms' positions and blocked once more. "Ichi...Ni...San..."And so it went on, moving the class and Kensei with her count.

Eventually, she said, "Yame! Later today we will work on cat-stance some more by shifting from one foot to the other and those that have not worked on the kata that employ this stance will do so. For now, we will rest our bodies in prepatation for the rest of our training later. Seiza," she added and kneeled. "Mokuso," she said when she closed her eyes.

Kensei followed her movements almost identically. His head remaining up straight, and a soft, almost inaudible clicking coming from Kensei. Counting in tune with Kuro's movements. Though it also stopped as soon as she stopped. Calling out to stop the excercice, Kensei raised as soon as the rest of the mat did. Slowly whirring down to his knees again. A soft, dying beep coming from him as the core charges he utilised finally came to deplation. Even he was at rest now, as he sat on his knees.

"Yame. Kiotsuke," Kuro eventually said and bowed to the classroom. "Arigatou gozaimasu..."

Many samurai followed her example and bowed to her, saying thank you in Yamataigo, as well.

Kensei's form moved back to life as Kuro spoke. Bowing and thanking the many students and samurai for their attendance.

"Arigatou... Gozaimasu," Kensei stated as well with his deep, monotone and machined voice. Bowing so his forehead was thumped against the mat.

Yukiko quickly approached Kensei, "You were great! I kept looking over to see how you were doing and you were even better than me at holding the pose! You were great!"

By the time Kensei had raised his head, Yukiko had already called for him. He pushed himself up to his feet. And dipped his head in gratitude. "I... We thank you," he stated, holding his head down.

Yukiko smiled gently and asked, "Would you like to walk me around the grounds of Shiro Suzume?" She was slick with some sweat and looked like she could use some fresh air.

He rose his head again. Letting out a gentle nod. "We'd love to accompany you-... Friend," he stated, tilting his head. Both as much a friendly gesture as much as it was a tic nerveux whenever something held his interest. "Lead the way."

She took Kensei through the castle and out of it, to the Northern grounds, the opposite direction of the path Kensei had found himself on when he was going to the castle the day before. They could still see the lake as they passed under a red torii gate, but were far from the view of those in the castle.

Kensei follwed suit, walking with Yukiko in utter silence. Only the sound of the ocassional mechanical whirring, as well as murmuring, and the soft tapping of his metal feet. It was when they passed under the Torii gate. "Yukiko? I-... We-... A moment, please?" He stated as he ground to a halt.

Yukiko gave pause and said, "Anything at all, we can do. What do you need a moment for?"

"I-.. We don't know why we feel the need to attest this," a soft mechanical murmur came from him. "I wish that you realize-... That I-..." He halted for a moment. Confused. "No-... Maybe? We value... Your presence... Around us?"

Yukiko was slow to react, looking into Kensei's face as she processed what he had said.

Then, she spoke, "I believe you are important to me, too. If that is what you are saying. I value being around you, too, your presence."

"Yes-... Is that what we-... I mean?" He questioned. Moreso to himself rather than anyone else. The droid seemed confused. His head tilting and a soft, mechanical humming came from Kensei. "Yes-... I think that is what we mean," he added? Before nodding. "Thank you... For listening, Yukiko-san," he chimed... Happily?

The Nekovalkyrja gave a soft smile before she wrapped her arms around his clothed, mechanical form.

"Thank you," the sea-foam-haired girl said.

Kensei's form initially froze at the gesture. Though with another soft humming, he relaxed. And his hands moved up to return the embrace Yukiko had taken him into. His slumping slightly and looming over the girl. Though it was more a protective shelter rather than anything else.

"Is this-... What is this? A hug, no? A display of affection?"

Yukiko released her full grasp and let her hands slide so that she was holding his arms and replied.

"It is both..." she said.

A curious tilt of his head. "We-... I don't know what you mean... Isn't a hug a display of affection?" He was now probably confusing himself and the girl. "I apologize-" he answered. Unsure what he was actually apologizing for. His arms moved up with hers. Metal fingers lacing around flesh ones. The same tilt of the head still present. "Please... Explain?"

"Exactly," Yukiko said, moving her hands so that she was now holding one of his. "It's both, Kensei. Let's walk back to the castle. I would like to."

Kensei nodded solemnly. Grasping at her hand, surprisingly gently for the cold, metal claw. He turned on his feet, accompanying her back into the castle. Where he led Yukiko back to her room. And he moved back to his own, where he powered down for the night.

So began his trials. Though Kensei was a dilligent student. Always on the dot in time at training and sparring sessions, always ready and eager to learn. Always spectating others, mimicing their movements until they seemed to be practiced motions, rather than alien copies. he learned swiftly, both in the physical and the mental. Though, the training sessions that contained martial art with the sword or quartestaff, it seemed like he was a natural. Able to fight on equal footing to the veterans. Almost drawing even against the elders and masters. The droid was a formidable opponent. Yet, he was still as humble as ever, not once a hint of disrespect or a slip up in any of his mannerisms. And he seemed happy, even though it was hard to tell with a lack of any kind of face.

Mostly, Yukiko could tell. Kensei made a point to visit the girl. Each moment of free time he had. A good chance for him to learn social aspects. But also, he just enjoyed being around her. Talking to her, getting to know another being. It was marvelous.

Now, several months later, a new trial awaited: the teachings of the kusarigama, the last weapon to be taught and the most iconic one of the Danko Clan.

The Kusarigama proved a challenge. There was no program or information in his system regarding. He had several masters programmed into his shell, but none had an affinity with the chain sickle much like the Danko did. Though, he learned swiftly. Like all his movements, like the physical journey he went through to realize what each and every inch of his body did, he learned swiftly. Copied the movements of his sensei and was soon close to mastering the weapon's style.

It was on the last day of his time at he castle that Yukiko came to his room long before the morning routine started and asked him to come with her. She led him to the top of the castle, the roof, where Kuro was waiting.

Kensei followed, after greeting Yukiko with a nod. When he noticed the woman standing on the top as well, he dropped to his knees, inclining his head in respect.

Kuro was standing as banners flapped in the wind from poles rising from the castle's outer walls. She bowed to him in greeting and, then, motioned for him to stand as Yukiko left.

Kensei rose to his feet again, glancing at Yukiko as she moved off, before back at Kuro. And then he realized Yukiko was actually gone and a swift second glance broke somewhat of the sacred silence. As he turned on his feet and let out a soft, mechanical murmur. His gaze lingering at the staircase she disappeared to. He then looked back to Kuro, inclining his head.

"Watashi kara nani ga hitsuyōna no, Daimyo-sama?" He question why he was here. What he could mean to her.

"Anata wa sotsugyō shite imasu," Kuro told him that he was graduating.

"Hontōni?" He questioned, just to be sure, his hand moving up. Before he realized he was forgetting his manners. Lowering his hand and inclining his head again. "Sore wa meiyodesu," he thanked, attesting to the honour Kuro decided to bestow upon him. "Arigatōgozaimashita, Daimyo-sama."

"Now," Kuro said, still in Yamataigo. "If you were to be given the tool of the Danko Clan, would you uphold our values and continue your ongoing training outside of this castle? By doing so, you may pledge allegiance to other clans and institutions, but would never forget what you have learned here and would coninue to respect this clan in your heart, mind, and body."

Kensei listened closely. Remember each and every word Kuro spoke. The terms of his graduation, the values and honours he was taught here. Her request to keep learning, but remember where he came from. A hand moved up to his core. A soft whirring resound as he clenched his fist and rested it against the reactor.

"Hai, Daimyo-sama," he answered curtly. He didn't need anymore.

The Daimyo nodded and moved her hands sharply and from within her sleeves came a protrusion of sorts, the Danko Clan's iconic kusarigama that were detailed and etched, wrapped in cloth around the handholds with blueish plating. The weapon itself was a hooked blade which attached to a chain and, on the other side of the chain, was a weight that resembled the weapon's handhold. She held it in her hands, looking to Kensei.

"Then you are ready to leave and hold the Danko Clan within yourself," Kuro spoke.

Kensei inclined his head once. Stepping forward with his hands raised. Only to stop before Kuro and kneel again. Hands held up to accept the weapon.

"Thank you, Daimyo-sama," he answered. Looking up, his head tilting. "I-... We will bring honour to the clan," his hands grasped around the trademark weapon. "And we will return, to share tales-... Mayhaps we-... I may even train others... Here at home?"

Kuro nodded and said, "That is my wish as much as it is yours."

 
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