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  • 📅 February and March 2024 are YE 46.2 in the RP.

RP: YSS Kaiyō [OPEN RP] Aside: Tanjōbi

"It is?" Hoshi asked, then seeing the small change Aiko made, she furrowed her brow. "I can have the statue warmed if you want, Aiko-sama. It's a better use of my money than burning a hole in my pocket." With a pink smile creasing up her deep blue eyes, she turned around to point out the gate to the bright white of the outside world some many feet away. "This is the Southern Entrance so many park-goers will see it. On the wall are the names of those that served in the Kuvexian War."

Hoshi had turned back around walked up to it. Solemnly her smile dropped and she traced her finger over a name just to the right and below the gold statue of Aiko.

"Here's Musuku Penny. I regret taking the order to feed her to the enemy with false intel, but it opened up our path to take Kuvexian strongholds, including the one you were in." Her pink finger continued gliding over the names, stopping on those that had been aboard the Kaiyō. "As a warrior I didn't know how to look back at my past actions as mistakes. After meeting Kitsurugi I have seen that a leader must do that and how you have. You've been learning and growing all your life. Like I said, I was supposed to teach you, but you taught me. I'm proud of you."

"Here you are," Hoshi said at the very center of the wall. Her smile had returned and her finger rested on the birthday girl's name. There was no rank, no title, no Kuvexian or Yamataian nicknames for her, just Ketsurui Aiko.
Aiko's feet touched gently into the snow as Hoshi pointed to her Imperial name. The princess had floated about the monument to her heroism — and every Star Army soldier's during the war — while Hoshi spoke about both of their experiences, contemplating her still-brief life that had mostly been taken up by hardship and fighting against the Kuvexian menace. She leaned down (the full 14 inches that separated them) and wrapped her arms around Hoshi's shoulders, resting her head next to the pink captain's in order to peer at the words Ketsurui Aiko from Hoshi's eye level.

"There was little choice in the matter for me, Hoshi, but I am glad you are proud," Aiko told her friend, captain, and Nekovalkrja sister in war. "Like Penny, my purpose was decided the moment of my creation. Had I failed to inspire our fellows and lead in my own way then the sacrifices of soldiers like her and all the others on this list alongside us would have been diminished. To strive for anything less than glorious service to Yamatai would invalidate my purpose."

The princess pressed her head into the side of Hoshi's face enough that her raven black hair tickled the captain's cheek, thanking Hoshi again with the embrace. She then stood and pointed to Hoshi's name, which fell higher up on the gleaming white wall a few columns to the right of Aiko's, finding it quickly with her sharp Neko eyes and the instantaneous processing power of her computerized brain.

"Here is where your choices have put you among us," Aiko said from behind a grin. "That should bring you pride as well. That you are among the finest captains in the Star Army is because of the path you have taken instead of one set for you, and beyond that you are a great woman whose actions have brought you not simple acclaim but personal bounty and comfort. These are not the result of mistakes."

Aiko paused for a moment, thinking about how Hoshi had Saiga and her ranch and so many other things to fulfill her outside of commanding the Kaiyō. And that in turn brought her to the sudden realization of what Hoshi had said about warming the statue, and the admission to this park's provenance that the statement represented.

"And no one else in the entire Kagami Galaxy is as good at birthday presents as you are," she said in a way that sounded like a joke but that Hoshi would know was doubtlessly serious. "That is certainly something important to be proud of!"
With Aiko over her shoulders pointing out the captain's own name and expounding on all that came with it, Hoshi had no words to return to the princess. She would cherish the exchange for the rest of her days. She was already moving the words about in her mind as tears had sprung and slid down her pink cheeks, warm and hot against the frigid air. Hoshi laughed a bit, billowing out a breath of even hotter steam into the cold winter morning.

"You're too kind. I'm going to have a hard time making next year's even better. We'll have to really do something incredibly brave in Uesureya if I'm going to do this sort of thing ever again. Here, here," Hoshi said and ran away a short distance, then back to the wall after she had pulled a chunky lensed camera out of her sleeve and set it down on a timer. In another few seconds, it had taken a photograph of the memorial, the two Aiko present, and herself. With it back in her hands, the little captain cheesed a smile and put the camera at arm's length to get a simpler selfie of the two of them.

"Let's get back!"

With that they made their way back to the ryokan, wondering who would be up after the sleepover at the teahouse. The central room had a low table set up again with a light breakfast spread of miso soup, grilled salmon, rice, and tamago-yaki which was a thin rolled up omelette. From the central room and in the light of day, the northern windowed wall of the room's view of the lake beyond led to a breathtaking view of the dense fog and pale waters surrounded by snow-laden park foliage. It was warm and lively inside and the cold melted right off of the two of them.

"Hello everyone," Hoshi said, sniffling a bit from both from the cold outdoors and from the sweet words from Aiko.
As the two women had their heart to heart, the one ID-SOL was leaning against the side of the building holding a cigar. Looking out around the park, he was reminded how far he himself had come. From the kid who was swept up from the orphanage, to the NSMC marine he had become.

After leaving the Kaiyo and going to officer school it seemed like he was constantly fighting. Bouncing from battlefield to battlefield. It was nice to finally have a break, even if it was a short one.

Taking another hit of the cigar, he pinched the end and put it out. He then slid it back into his pocket as Hoshi and Aiko appeared. "Morning Captain, Your highness." He replied, pushing off of the wall he had been holding up.
"Likewise, Wil," Aiko said with her fanged smile showing, though her left eyebrow cocked up as she got closer. The stink of his pinched cigar wouldn't leave his fingers soon, nor dissipate from his clothes so quickly. She wasn't the type of Yamataian to call the cops on someone for the grievous offense of smoking but was nonetheless a Yamataian and so would never show approval for the pastime. It did intrigue her to see him acting more like his ancestors, though, and she'd been around smoking plenty of times when visiting to review Legion 777's troops, who had a full company of ID-SOLs on exchange among their ranks.

"Rei would not excuse your embrace of Nepleslian culture so quickly as me," the princess whispered as she approached him, still grinning when she gave him a soft jab in the ribcage. Before she proceeded into the ryokan, Aiko grabbed her old Nepleslian friend by the wrist to drag him along for breakfast. "I will not tell her, but only if you admit that I slayed more of the knaves at Glimmergold!" she added with a devilish playfulness.

Once inside, Aiko sat down at a spot around the table where Hoshi had ensured the wonderful morning feast would be waiting, and pulled William down into another seat by his cuff as she went. Immediately, her eyes widened at the selection of traditional Yamataian faire that appeared to rival her breakfasts at the palace. The smells and glistening, perfect preparation were almost enough to make her begin eating without waiting for anyone else, but she stayed her hand atop her chopsticks and resisted lifting them to pick up a tamagoyaki straightaway.

"Again, your arrangements surprise in a perfect way, Hoshi," Aiko said. "Hopefully Wil-kun has not forgotten the pleasures of a Yamataian breakfast so that Mikodimus is spared from needing to whip up some kind of eight egg omelet with twelve slices of bacon," she teased, glad to have a companion from her youth back around for however long it would last. "That is how a true Nepleslian Marine starts his day, no?"
William chuckled at Aiko's ultimatum. "Hmm get scolded by Rei or let you win? As tough as it is I'm just gonna have to take the scolding. It's funny you think we can hide anything from her in the first place though." He replied as he was dragged along by the wrist.

Sitting down next to her, he shook his head. "You do remember I lived here first right? Of course I'll enjoy this. Though the bacon does sound appealing." He added, throwing the princess a sidelong glance before smirking down at her.
"I expected any problems to come up from here wouldn't be from someone with the ship from launch!" Hoshi had stamped her feet about as she looked for any ashes from the Yamataian-turned-Nepleslian. With a huff she seemed to be doing the reprimanding that Aiko and William thought more befitting Rei. "What a menace you've turned out to be!" She was exasperated as she looked at the tall blond but couldn't help but smile at the familiar but missed sight of the now grown man.

With a loud groan she asked, "Don't tell me that chef is still hanging about? Well, regardless, I'm happy to see you, William. You look like you've been treated well by your brothers. Excited to be coming with us to Uesureya, right?" She had tucked into a warm bowl of miso and drank from its rim as she found a spot by the large window.
Mikael was awestruck twice in the last month of YE 44. First the unexpected of Empress Himiko putting him (assumedly) at the bottom of the current succession order to the throne. Never going to happen, but the fact she made the gesture to a low born soldier deeply impacted his view of the world. But then got the chance to meet the Mistress Taisho herself. It was clearly a sign from the heavens of something, but he wasn't sure what exactly.

Early into the next morning, not really able to sleep despite being on a comfortable floor, he grabbed his butt pack her had hidden under his coat and donned his exercise uniform (shorts, shirt, and jacket) to go on a very long run through the maze of a path he memorized via video recording and the greater area as a whole to think.

When he made his way back, he quietly entered the building and looked around to see who was awake.
"See, William!" Hoshi exclaimed quickly as she looked to the man back from his run. "That's how to use this park!" She wanted to ask Mikael about certain rumors she had heard, but she kept her focus on William. Her mission-specific curiosity was piqued as she tried to gauge how he felt about their upcoming joint venture and how he held himself now after so long away from the Kaiyo and his homeland.

Meanwhile, the door creaked open and Rei stepped in while Boss' teal hair could be seen quickly sprinting from the upstairs and into the main room as she slipped past the samurai to go outside in a Type 32 coat. There was a slight bit of snow where Rei's brown hair parted on the top of her head and she patted it, making it melt uncomfortably against her hair. She looked with red eyes between all those gathered as if hoping none had seen her and paid her no mind.
William smirked at his former CO. "Oh come now Captain. I've been a trouble maker since the day you stepped on the ship, though if I'm not mistaken..." He took one of his chop sticks and pointed it accusingly at his former captain. "You started it when you forbade me from fighting." He teased, recalling the memory.

Hoshi had been new to the ship, and had just taken command. She then arrived at his door told him he couldn't have a weapon or his power armor since he wasn't official military and walked away. The young William proceeded to wallow in self pity then fought anyway. He rolled his eyes at the memory. "Stupid kid..." The ID-SOL murmured at the memory.

He then returned his attention to Hoshi. "And to answer your question they are a pain in the ass! They grow on you eventually though. Like a painful zit..." William replied. "But all that aside, I'm looking forward to the upcoming campaign. I get to show up a Princess again." He added elbowing Aiko playfully, before giving a curt nod to Mikael as he entered.
"I do not remember you ever not fighting," Aiko wondered, unable to recall even a single moment where William hadn't trained with her or been there in battle with the Mishhu, Kuvexians, or anything else the multiverse had thrown at them. Whatever Hoshi's order to him had been, he had surely forgotten it with haste. She remained in reverie with those thoughts of fun adventures past while the conversation between Hoshi and William continued, replaying the glory and greatness he and many others aboard the Kaiyō had earned with her.

William's nudge brought her back to the present, though, and she gripped her chopsticks tightly. The thought that he showed her up! It was ludicrous to Aiko of the Ketsurui Clan. But this sort of jovial back-and-forth between them was so constant that she didn't feel the need to press it too hard just now. There would be plenty of time for that soon enough, and with real Mishhu to destroy together rather than bantering over the simple memory of old specters who'd been defeated in years past.

"Any time you feel like it, Wil," Aiko said assuredly, springing her loaded chopsticks toward a fat slice of tamagoyaki rather than poking them into her Nepleslian friend's arm. With Hoshi setting the example through her sipped soup, the princess did not hold herself back from breakfast anymore and quickly nibbled down the fluffy egg wrap. Not a moment later, she had a healthy sliver of grilled salmon between her utensils and managed a wave with the laden chopsticks in Mikael's direction before proceeding to land her next bite.
Mikael bowed deeply towards Aiko and by extension Hoshi before he stood up and nodded his head towards William. He never really thought of the relationship between the princess and William before since it was just a civilian at the time. But Mikael is fully willing to admit he wasn't exactly the brightest bulb of a Nepleslian at the time. Watching the two for a moment, he just grinned a bit before he turned silently turned to combat shower with some nanite cleansers and change into his duty uniform. Rei was not able to escape his senses though, earning a deep bow of her head as he walked past.

Setting up a private area, Mikael proceeded to squeeze a tube of Advancer Enterprise Cleanser onto his hands and started rubbing it on his body. Finished and waiting for the critters to do their job, he started to connect with his old NCO self and started signing Yamataian cadences with a subdued command voice.

"Left right low, your rigggght. Left right, your right. Low hay eee low right lef..." he sang to himself to no one particular since there was no formation marching.
It was the next morning when she’d heard the news from her sister Yayoi, that she was pregnant, which meant that she was truly an auntie. So as they returned to the group, Kiyo and Luna were giggling, squealing and gushing with each other about it. Of course Luna remembered her own childhood, and she remembered the mischief she got up to so they could hear her apologizing to her mother for her antics. Now seeing the others, Luna and Kiyo rejoined them.
Satisfied to see the sibling squabbling that her questioning had devolved the Sky Marshall's son and Yui's daughter into, Hoshi looked with keen eyes to where the ship's former SAINT operative went. She followed a polite distance.

"You should eat up," Hoshi gestured to the food she had. She herself had set aside the miso to take up a small hunk of fish. It crackled as she crunched into it with her chopsticks, breaded and fried and perhaps not the lightest fair after a meal. In doing so she had gotten closer to Mikael and in a low voice said, "You've already died under my command once. I won't let it happen to you again due to malnourishment. Plus, the line of succession for the Empire would be all fucked up if you did, ne?"

Though she hadn't spoken much, Rei's interest in the duo entering was obvious as she followed their movements in the room like her head was on a swivel.

"Eeto... Training still?" The samurai quipped in a harsh chirp that was hard to ignore. It seemed the question had been asked already about what the girls had been up to, but the training on the Kaiyo's dojo with the crew was something she held in high regard.
Mikael peeked his head out when he heard Hoshi's voice. "Oh, Captain! Did not hear you there initially." He said as he was still waiting for the cleanser to do it's thing. So there was disappearing for him.

"With these augmentations and particularly the strength augmentation, that is a very real possibility. I am quite certain I am at the bottom of the list, but the fact the Empress did that means I need to be empiricist in my thinking in situations like that.

I will eat it once I am properly dressed." He said smiling a bit.
Miko walked out of the kitchen area and into the main dinning room. "Hey, I heard that comment. And I will have you know that my omelet is made with 6 eggs, filled with veggies then wrapped in bacon. It is so good that it will blow your clothes clean off your body." He placed the plate on the table and motioned for Aiko to dig in. Miko turned to grab another dish he had made for himself. Those looking would see that Miko's hams were on full display. Never one to miss a chance to be like old times and cook like he was back on the ship.

Miko took a seat and started up some conversation for old times sake. "So how has everyone been. It feels like it has been ages." He asked as he took a bite of his bacon egg and cheese sandwich.
Hoshi was not too concerned with Mikael's modesty but did note to herself how this was the second SAINT operative she had seen naked that day. Different contexts and former SAINT in Mikael's case. Still, it felt like an achievement of some clandestine sort. In the privacy of a room away from the lively group, Hoshi took a bite of her salmon to reply to him.

"You're her only listed successor," Hoshi said as a matter of fact. "Even if we had a sitting Premier, you're in line before them. At what point will you have to turn from bodyguard to having your own? I know more than a few apt samurai cut out for the job. But I mean, I'm sitting on a promotion to Taisa I should probably take if I'm going to lead troops. But I'm afraid it will take me out of direct engagements and stick me behind a desk eventually. Do you fear the same as you climb the ranks and get new positions of power?"

As she leaned in to faux-whisper, she deftly picked up her fish again, "And of course, service to the empire is reward itself. That goes without saying so don't even worry about prefacing your thoughts with such." She kept her eyes on Mikael as she popped the food into her mouth for a long nibble.
Mikodimus' grand bacon wrapped omelet looked ridiculous beside the delicate haute cuisine Hoshi had ensured was catered by her ryokan, but its presentation was no less fine. The Yamataian breakfast's subtly sweet umami scents that had filled the room were immediately overtaken by the bacon's trademark heartiness with a hint of the kind of sharp freshness always released by chopped-and-cooked vegetables. And despite Aiko's earlier teasing about the faults of Nepleslian morning meals, she hastily picked up a knife and sliced herself a chunk off of the glorious pile and whisked it onto her plate. The opened omelet released steam from its inner pocket as Miko's veggies spilled out onto its platter, which allowed all of the wonderful aromas to come together where they'd been overpowered by smoky bacon a moment before.

"The Kaiyō underwent extensive refits and repairs after Glimmergold," Aiko said in reply to Miko's question while she cut her portion of his bacon-and-egg concoction into more manageable bites. "Those took quite a while and allowed both Hoshi and I to have some time off while the engineers at Uesureyan Fields took care of our ship. Legion 777 asked me to come by and review the troops a few times, too. Oh, and the superintendent of SAAMMS asked me to teach a senior seminar where the cadets mostly asked me about my adventures alongside all of you."

The princess' face made a happy grin with the memory. Telling war stories to midshipmen was a duty she looked forward to fulfilling again next time she had some leave that lined up with the Academy's spring semester. SANDRA's reports had made the Kaiyō and her crew out to be just as heroic as they actually were, but the details that had been retold on the homefront never ceased to amaze Aiko with their inaccuracies. And she enjoyed the rare opportunity to give a correct accounting; it felt as if she was letting her cadets in on a greater secret history of the Kuvexian War than most would ever know.

"Other than that, my time was spent traveling around the sector on holiday and training with Rei, Mao, and other samurai," she added. "Tsuya-san and her guardians that serve my clan are truly warriors of legend. I am lucky to have their loyalty beyond what even oaths demand.

"And what of you, Chef Mikodimus?" Aiko asked to finish, ready to pluck up and try a morsel of his bonus dish when she was done speaking. "Have you done anything frosty with your life since you were aboard with us?"
Mikael's face contorts a bit at the mention of he being the sole listed person on the line of succession. Considering the importance of the position within Yamataian culture and the Ketsurui most likely wanting only a Ketsurui to be on the throne, there had to be a lot of other Ketsurui princesses that would be given the position. Aiko was downstairs, so they did exist. Waited for the rest that she wished to say before answering.

"Maybe officially, but unofficially I am sure that list is quite extensive. It is enough of an honor to be on the list at the back. Not many Nepleslians can boast about that among most of the idiotic things they do." Mikael said, almost rolling his eyes at thinking about his childhood. With the time needed for the nanites to do their thing, Mikael started wiping way the black cream from his body and onto a a dry wash cloth to be processed later.

"You asked two questions Captain, so I will answer them seperately. For the first if I am ever promoted to Chusa, per regulation I am suppose to be assigned a Close Protection Specialist for the rest of my career. But I am a Close Protection Specialist Overseer, that would be rather strange to have one of my men and women assigned to protect myself. Even stranger if they are from another detachment." Mikael said, omitting some ideas he had for better organization of close protection specialists with in the Rikugun at least.

"I have noticed far too few officers that should have Close Protection Specialists don't. I would strongly advise as an overseer that you contact 1XF HQ in assigning one to you and anyone else that is entitled to one. They can do more than stand around menacingly." he said, laughing a bit.

With the cleansers removed, he proceeded to begin dressing into his duty uniform so her can finally eat some food. After that long run, his body was craving nourishment and the durandium powder supplement his nanites needed to maintain his body. "As for your second question..." Mikael said, looking away from Hoshi as he pulled up his pants. "My goal is the welfare of the servicemembers the Mistress Taisho has placed under my command. All I can really do is look in the present and try my best that they have everything mentally and physically needed to perform their tasks at max efficiency. If it is required that I sit behind a desk to do it, then I shall sit behind that desk and fight the behind the scene battles of politics." he said, looking over towards Hoshi with a bit of a grin.
It seemed to Hoshi like her own offer of a bodyguard had been turned around on her in the form of a protection specialist. She gave a wry smile and leaned her head against the door. Had he outwitted her offer or was he just generous with regulations? She was happy it wasn’t on her to find out and simply shrugged as she twisted her head as her body turned to leave the room. She looked into the hallway as she spoke.

“You may be right,” Hoshi said. “But I’ve yet to die since becoming a Chusa. Maybe I have a guardian looking out for me already.” Without wanting to, she thought of the wall with all of the names of those that had served, laden in snow, and Aiko’s statue above it. It was strange to her and made her blink out of a confused face as she thought of the pines and ochre statue they framed.

After a moment, Hoshi remembered what the Empress’ successor behind her had said more and added, “Your kind is a boon to our Empire. I don’t know if I share your passivity. I have a need for activity in me. Maybe it’s my birthright as a Ningyô Heiki. Maybe whatever has safeguarded me so long has an appetite only for overcoming calamities face to face.”

Following a pause, she added, "I'm happy that we fight together, if not side by side."

Her mind had again gone to some kind of divine protection without willing it. Compelled to go back to the group, she went to where the others ate. She set her bowl down to take up a position next to Aiko in order to lean her head towards the raven-haired woman's tall frame. Hosh's own blue and white hair almost grazed the Ketsurui’s red kimono's shoulder before Hoshi pulled away to look at the food.

“The chef really knows how to treat a birthday girl!” Hoshi exclaimed. “It looks very fitting for such a celebration. Everybody having fun out here? I don’t have anything planned except a relaxed get-together, so if anyone wants to do anything specific we can do it.”

From the other end of the room Rei looked for Mao, then to the assembled former crew. She had an idea but didn’t know if anyone had anything more obviously fun in mind.