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  • 📅 May and June 2024 are YE 46.4 in the RP.

[Yamatai] Hanami Festival & BBQ Cookout of YE 45 - OPEN RP

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"Nothing to forgive here. I appreciate your honesty. I just want you to be happy with who you are. If anyone else has anything to say about what you are doing on your own time, remember I am and assuming you don't mind, here for you always, unlike that chusa that tried to take you against your will." Yoshiro said with a grin. "So if it makes you happy, be as naked as you want to be. Just remember do what makes you happy and don't ever worry about anyone else's opinions. I do apologize for my behavior when I looked at you, though. I assumed you didn't want me staring at you so I turned around and looked away and you are right about a better way to handle this. To be honest your beauty just stunned me and I just couldn't think what to do properly so I decided to look away so I didn't offend you. Long story, short , just be who you are and don't worry about what me or anyone else has to say." He blushed after saying that but meant what he said.
 
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AELYA

Aelya stood in front of Yoshiro in possibly one of the greatest states of shock she had been in for some time. Her head tilted to the side as if to search for some sign of that this was all a hallucination, she found none. Though there was hesitancy at letting someone new close to her lingered in the recesses of her mind as she responded, "I do not mind if you do so. That is if you do so of your own free will and not mind if I do so in return." she said with a genuine smile as her eyes sparked with a tinge of joy. If nothing else, it would be nice to have a good friend.

Increasingly she began to find that his presence equally as pleasing as his appearance. Though she did a better job at keeping herself restrained then the first time she met someone she liked here in Yamatai, for what reason she could not quite tell. "Indeed being free of clothing does make me happy, for probably quite silly reasons. Perhaps someday I will tell you." she stated looking off into the distance thinking about those reasons. In the course of all her duties as Tal'Cel before they arrived here she found herself often having to wear clothing and with it came a very vague expectation. This time though she planned on keeping such things as far from her personal life as possible, since it certainly had not helped things the first time around. "There is no need to apologize for how you reacted. I understand why, at least I would like to think so. For I must admit your honor here today has only added to how handsome I find you. Though I do hope you do not take that the wrong way." the tips of her ears turned a light shade of pink seeing the adorable blush upon his features. "Would you like to continue walking with me throughout the festival or is there another festival activity that piques your interest? Feel free to continue on without me if that is what you wish, for I have enjoyed the time we have spent together so far." she said offering him an out. In the hopes that he did not feel chained to her for what certainly was meant to be a celebration of beauty and nature, not chaos.
 
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Yuri
Sensing Luna might be busy, Yuri decided to go off on her own, and as she did, her mind began thinking about her future career, that of a doctor. Yuri had seen how much it has helped her mother, so she wanted to explore a medical career, and as a sort of extra aid to her resume, she thought of joining the Star army.
As she walked her mind went to her state of dress, and wondered if she could persuade Hanako, or Yui even to let medics remain without clothes, after all, would save on laundry. Unfortunately, she knew or thought she did that they probably won't go for it. In addition, there was just as high of a chance that a medic had the same kind of mindset as her mother, and very likely against it. Ah well!

Her walks soon brought her back to a familiar sight, Aelya and Yoshiro, and it also brought to her mind an important thought… she forgot to introduce herself! Time to correct that error in judgement. “Heya!” She said, waving to Aelya and Yoshiro. “I saw you two as I walked back and I remembered something important.. I forgot to introduce myself. I apologize for that lapse in judgement” she cleared her throat. “Hiya, I’m Asakura Yuri! I’m honored to meet you both!” She said and extended both of her hands for them to shake if they desired to.
 
Life, it does hit you kind of hard, doesn't it? Yoshiro thought to himself. He decided to treat Aeyla to whatever she wanted to do. "Is there anything you..." He tried to ask when someone tried to introduce themselves and held out their hand. He took it and shook it, introducing himself. "My name is Tanaka Yoshiro, it is a pleasure to meet you, Asakura-san." He said with a smile. He bowed to her and stepped aside to let Aeyla introduce herself if she wanted to.
 
AELYA

Aelya listened intently as the anticipation built for whatever it was Yoshiro had begun to ask, when all of a sudden a friendly voice popped up next to them. The blush disappeared from the tips of her ears as there was now someone else near. She waited her turn patiently as her new found friend introduced himself to the witty Neko. This Yuri was the very same woman that had called Alastair a naughty man for his claims of marital conflict. What luck that their paths had crossed again! The red headed norian looked to Yoshiro, dipping her head slightly while whispering, "Thank you." Slowly she stepped up to where he had stepped aside from and shook the hand offered to her with a hint of a playful smile. "I was hoping to run into you again! My name is Aelya Caeyara, it is very nice to finally meet you." she said releasing Yuri's hand and stepping back.

Well now that they had a third friend it would be awfully awkward to not include Yuri in the conversation. However, that topic would likely now change from her fumbling over her words to something more composed.
"Well if you both can tolerate putting up with me perhaps we can hang out together? If not, that is agreeable as I have caused quite the scene today." she nervously fussed with her hair a bit as her nose wrinkled at the thought of what had happened not too long before.
 
"Correction, we are enjoying your company, not tolerating it or putting up with it." Yoshiro said with a smile. "I didn't defend you just so you could be so down on yourself. Smile and the world smiles with you." He hoped that Aeyla understood that he was trying to encourage her, not insult her.
 
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Rin accepted the chacelle, she didn't say anything further than the "Thank you." She just watched as it all unfolded, a stoic look covered up how much she inwardly seethed at it all. She felt as if she was all appendages without tools now, she rolled her eyes heavily and turned away after the next hero stepped up to the plate. "By the damn Espra, the knights in shining armor form a line up around here," she uttered quietly to herself as she walked away from the scene. She picked up the robe from the chair where she had originally been seated and disappeared into the crowd of reveling Norians gathered under the shelter of the tent.

A few moments later she was seen with her cousin Cheol. They left the park and headed back toward the manor. "Knock me out next time I suggest going to something like that," she said to him quietly. He knew better than to give her an answer so he just maintained his brisk pace beside her.
 
Mikodimus

In another part of the universe away from the chaos of Alastair, his brother was having a wonderful time with his new friend. "Majnun, I have just one word to describe this drink, heavenly." He said with the biggest smile. He was glad things could be this peaceful at this wonderful event. No drama from the normal day to day life of being Star Army. The breeze blowing in the wind and the most beautiful smells. To top it off the company wasn't half bad either. "So how long have you been around these parts? I had not asked if you was part of Star Army or not. Normally the uniform would give it away but I can't seem to find any badges on your current outfit." He acted as if he was trying to find them by lifting her arms and moving her hair around in case it was hidden. "Nope, not a thing here." He said with a grin.
 
Yuri
She did it! The young Neko finally introduced herself, Yuri was so happy as she shook the hand of her new friend Aelya. Even her new friend’s name sounded cool, and a part of her thought if she had a kid, and a daughter she might consider naming them after her. But she pushed thoughts of future kids out of her mind to focus on the present. “I’m pleased to meet you!” she said then turned her head to the white knight who hadn’t yet introduced himself.

But her attention went back to Aelya as she spoke, before Yoshiro had. She sent a smile to Yoshiro before she spoke to her friend. “The good man is correct, enjoying your company is the correct thing!” she said to her and found herself unable to stop herself, and hugged Aelya. “You’re a good person Aelya-Chan, a very good person! I like being around you!” She said to her, before releasing her hold unless stopped.

“My cousin who’s my guide at the festival would also like to meet you, I just know it, but we kinda got separated..” She said not bothered since she got to meet someone new. “If you two are open to it, I was going to get something to eat, wanna join me?”she asked the two of them. “My Cousin says the food here is extremely yummy!”


Luna
Luna only smiled at Aerin as she was thanked for what she’d done, and stepped back. Hanako soon joined them, and Luna feeling she didn’t have anything to add didn’t say anything more at first. But things changed, and Aerin had decided to leave, and she hadn’t thought of anything she wanted to tell Hanako, unlike her cousin.
“I’m pleased and Honored to see you again, Hanako-sama!” she said as her attention went to Hanako again.
 
Walking with Hanako had been more than Andar had hoped for. He took care not to stray into business topics unless they were brought up, doing his best to rely on the easy-going charm and good nature that he once held in canine form and had been tutored on once uplifted. Instead, he tried to spent his time chatting amiably with the others, showing appropriate respect and doing his bit to encourage conversations to continue along enjoyable paths. The mood was a friendly one, so he did his best to be the type of good friend that people such as these might want to spend more time with.

It was the most genuine he'd been able to be in a long time.

The Premiere was nothing like he'd expected - for all her history and prominence, she acted like she was just anyone else in the crowd. The people she spoke to certainly appreciated it and Andar felt like he could learn much from the woman. If all he ever had with her was these few moments, he would store them away with care. So this is what the leader of a nation can be. When you're someone who has so much history and confidence that you don't need to project authority - you simply have it.

When at last their walk came to an end, he crossed one arm over his chest and gave her a polite bow.

"Words can't express how much your time has meant to me," he said. He meant every word. "Should you need anything from me or the corporation I represent, know that these few moments have earned whatever I can offer. I could ask for nothing more."

He gave her a broad, earnest smile as he straightened up. Whatever pretense he often had to put on, in that moment he was simply the happy, trustworthy dog that had earned his way to sentience and beyond. It took all he had to keep his tail from giving him away any more than his words had.

When he considered the companion he'd only recently met, Aerin, he knew that he owed her a considerable amount, as well. He'd never have been able to simply approach Hanako - no matter how much he'd wanted to, NHI wasn't large enough, nor was he prominent enough. His mind raced for some small way to show them both some small amount of how much he respected and appreciated what had happened here today.
 
AELYA

Not since the day she had been born had anyone corrected her with such boldness. It surprised her in the most pleasant way making her raise her eyebrows giving the most chaotic side eye accompanied by a smirk. Even if this moment of joy was only a momentary reprieve from her sorrow she was glad for it. "As you wish." she dipped her head playfully acknowledging his encouragement. In the distance her eyes caught Rin leaving the festival accompanied by Cheol, who she somehow had not even known was there. Her cousin's sneaky level sure had increased since she last saw him.

The positivity both Yoshiro and Yuri had quite possibly would cause such a shock to her system that she might pass out. "What an event that would be?" she thought to herself as Yuri supported their companion's prior statement. Her pupils were still dilated dramatically from the very firm verbal encouragement when she received the unexpected, but welcome hug that caused a little squeal to escape her lips. She caught Yuri giving her a quick hug before releasing her, "I am quite honored you think so, although I am a bit.....feisty. So, lets see if that holds out." she said to the Neko with a smile. She looked to Yoshiro, "I would offer you a hug as well, but" she paused looking down at herself. "I would hate to give you the wrong impression, given my current lack of clothing." she flicked her gaze back up between the two with her.

Aelya's ears twitched a bit at the sound of Yoshiro's stomach growling after Yuri's invitation. "It would be bad form for me to let the person who defended me go hungry, you must eat," she said looking at him. "I could use some noms as well, though you may have to show me where it is so I do not get lost! I do not mind meeting your cousin, just a little skittish around big crowds right now." she said to both of them ending with looking to Yoshiro for what he wanted to do.

MAJNUN

Majnun could not help but giggling a bit at the heavenly comparison of a fiery beverage. "When you say heavenly it makes me think of something sweet and delicate, not spicy!" she grinned wickedly. The breeze blew the apron about as she inhaled the lovely scents of various refreshments. Certainly she had not expected to find a friend so soon after her arrival. "Just a few days actually! I am just your average, innocent little civilian I am afraid. Sorry to disappoint! Hmmmmm let me check your apron to see what we have here." she paused fumbling her hands through the pockets of his apron she happened to be wearing. Her fingers grazed what felt like a badge and she pulled it out to display to him right as he started inspecting her for it. She pulled it to her chest and started giggling like she had a hidden treasure while shaking her hair back down to a wild state. "You mean this thing?" she said holding it out in front of him.
 
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Yuri
Yuri smiled as Aelya reacted to the team-up compliments of the Y duo. The Neko hoped that the Norian appreciated their words in emotion as well as words. Yuri hadn't been able to stop herself from hugging Aelya but it seemed her hug was appreciated making her pleased she hadn't committed a faux pas. Though she had a bit more restraint when she looked at Yoshiro.

Yoshiro was a good man, a noble kind soul, but even so, they’d just met, and she wasn’t sure if he’d appreciated her hugging him like Aelya had. She was in the same boat so to speak as Aelya. Yuri’s Neko ears heard Yoshiro’s belly growl after her invitation, and she grinned as Aelya had agreed to come along. “Yay!” she said, bouncing on her feet, and then she began hovering, as she took their hands. She hoped that by holding their hands, they didn’t get separated. Once ready, she gently led them to where the food was. As she Flew-led she accessed her memory of Norian physiology, and specifically located what food they typically ate. Realizing Norians were mostly vegetarians, she tried to see if some selections were being offered, just so that Aelya would be able to eat.
 
"Thanks for that. I do want to eat but would you mind showing me what you like to eat? That is, if you don't mind sharing your culture with me, Aeyla." Yoshiro said. "I would like to get to know more about you and what makes you tick. I have always been keen to learn about others and I was always taught food is a good way to start."
 
AELYA

Aelya smiled when the Neko held her hand in the hopes that it would keep them together. However, there was a small pang of wishing that she could swap places to hold Yoshiro's hand. Although without the right timing it would seem very out of place for her to do so, or so she thought. She allowed herself to be led to where the food was almost certain there would be something Norians could eat.

When they arrived to the food area her ears twitched hopefully when she heard Yoshiro's voice speaking to her. A pleasantly surprised look crossed her face as she cleared her throat quietly. "Mhm, I mean....I do not mind! The food is easy, the culture might be a little much. So do tell me if something is too much for you. Your boundaries are important to me." Afterall her last alleged cultural exchange had gone out with a bang, quite literally and she was hoping that this one would end better. She looked over the food almost choking on her thoughts when he said he wanted to know what made her tick. Casually her gaze went from the food to giving him cautious side eye. "Food is an excellent way to start!" she said blushing a bit and looking back to it hoping to distract from the other part for fear she was too much to handle full throttle.

The redheaded Tal'Cel certainly was rather more outwardly feisty than most of the people that she had come across so far. Did he really understand what he had just asked? Perhaps it would be best to just ease him into things instead of going for the shock in awe. Either way she appreciated his kindness so much so she took the chance of releasing Yuri's hand. In doing so she slipped over to Yoshiro giving him a quick hug before gently holding his other hand. "For the most part we can eat anything, just not meat! Mushrooms and anything close to are my guilty pleasure, but do not hold back on my account. You must be famished!" she waited patiently then looked over to him. "Sometime I would like to learn more about your culture as well." she said with a smile.
 
Yuri smiled as she heard Yoshiro speaking to Aelya. “Aww” she couldn’t help but exclaim as she found it adorable and sweet how he was acting. “He’s not the only one!” she said in reply to Yoshiro’s desire to explore Aelya’s culture. The youngest in the group was fascinated by Norians and their culture much like Yoshiro was. She had to admit, the idea of earning about a culture through their food was fascinating. And it seemed like a good idea.

When Aelya released her hand, she gasped, but as she looked back, she watched as Aelya gave him a quick hug and held his hand. This was an act she thought of as sweet and adorable. “I’m sure, we’d both be happy to teach you!” she said in response to her statement of learning more about their culture as well. “oh!” she said having spotted food with shitake mushrooms at a stall. “Aelya, have you tried shiitake mushrooms before?’ she asked her.
 
Soon after Hoshi had departed from the group around the Premier, Ketsurui Aiko did so as well. She gave a departing smile to Hanako as the girls in their black-and-green Origin Industries uniforms and the group with them approached, not interested herself in whatever kind of corporate liaising was about to happen, and stepped off into the Hanami crowds. With her creeping hunger sated for now by the little sample of Mikodimus' bacon she'd eaten, Aiko had nowhere pressing to be but aimed her path to end up at the private teahouse where she'd started off earlier that day.

Almost immediately, Aiko was confronted with festivalgoers who knew her and wanted a picture or a word. Some simply stared and pointed as the tall Nekovalkyrja hero strode through their midst. Hanako's company beneath the YSS Eucharis' legendary shadow had truly been a relaxing public moment for the youngest of Yui's scions. It was a place where all eyes fell on the Premier — including Aiko's — and demanded her attention if even for a passing instant. Now absent Hanako's famed presence, Aiko felt the familiar rigidity of her station return more fully to her conscience. She had no constituents to pay heed to, of course, but was nonetheless a member of the ruling clan and one of the most recognizable faces in the entire Kikyo Sector, and would never knowingly fail to inspire her fellow Yamataians as she was created to.

So Aiko's journey back to real comfort and the relative solitude afforded by the teahouse took quite some time as she indulged people with pleasantries and snapshots. By then the day's celebrations were in full swing beneath the abundance of Kaiko Park's trees and blooming vegetation. Even the quietest paths that Aiko had explored on visits past, splendidly shaded and (usually) out of the way, seemed like they held some new group every five or ten paces. But eventually Aiko arrived to a nondescript fork on the trail, following its quaint traditional stone pathway to a ryokan hidden within the trees.

"Saiga-sensei," Aiko said, acknowledging the SAINT operative that had become one of her mentors and a dear friend. He stood high over a low hibachi-style grill with a folding wooden chair behind him. "You should take care that your barbecue is fit for imperial palates," she added, sneakily suggesting that Hanako was coming without saying it at all.

Had Aiko not known him, she'd have regarded Nicholas Saiga's black button-up shirt tastefully printed with thin cherry blossom branches and their pink petals — unbuttoned down to the middle of his chest — with plain black shorts to match as somewhat dated. Perhaps he'd been fashionable a decade ago, but she'd seen him wear it too often for the princess to consider any such thing. Saiga did have a timeless quality about his look, though, tied together at least by his black Wayfarer-style sunglasses.

"I got over your complaints years ago, Aiko," he said back to her, not looking up at her from his gaze toward the flames building higher from his grill's belly. "You can take it or leave it, but I'm sure you'll like it all the same."

Aiko snickered as she walked past him to go change out of her uniform in the teahouse, still not giving away that Hanako might show up. A few of his SAINT team's operatives who'd followed him to Hanami like so many Star Army crews did with their commanders could be heard chatting inside.

"Make it extra special, Sensei," Aiko said, smiling in a devious way that he couldn't see. "Today is a holiday."
 
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Yoshiro walked up to the line for the food and made sure, when he reached the the counter, to order a vegetarian stir fry with extra mushrooms and rice for both he and Aeyla. "Is there anything you want, Yuri?" Yoshiro asked. "I am buying." Yoshiro was happy with the way the day had been going. He made two new friends and defended someone who was being harassed. Not the way he was expecting the day to but it was fun nonetheless.
 
Yamatai
Kaiko Park


Hoshi strayed from one of the ginkgo tree-lined paths to walk up a steep set of stone steps. The pathway was unobtrusive and blended in with the natural scenery. The sappy green spring trees projecting overhead while ferns and undergrowth nipped at the stonework underfoot. In front of her, she could see the wooden garden gate to the ryokan open wide and invitingly. Its cedar gabled roof caught the dappled lighting splaying from the trees overhead. A hint of wood smoke was visible on the air, but the scents of what the grill within the garden was cooking was ephemeral and hard to discern.

Hanako arrived at the ryokan where Hoshi said she was headed. She had left behind most of her entourage and well-wishers and it was just her maid/yeoman Honoria, and her supply specialist and bodyguard Victory. "Hoshi! I hope I didn't keep you waiting too long," she smiled.

"Hanako-sama!" With a start, Hoshi looked up from her seat next to a squat grill and waved a small arm, still clad in the purple and greys of her suit. Hoshi stood and stepped around the stoney rocks and sakura flower-topped pond to walk over the flowing waves of firm moss surrounding short shrubs towards the Taisho.

Hanako's big golden eyes lit up when she spotted Hoshi and she smiled and gave Hoshi a enthusiastic wave. She quickened her pace and came to a halt in front of the Kaiyō II's captain and grinned. "I am glad I found you. How are you?"

"Still thinking on your words from earlier," Hoshi said candidly. With a slight turn to the green-haired woman flanking Hanako, she added, "Speaking of, you must be Victory Kuroki? Your captain spoke highly of you earlier today."

Victory gave Hoshi a polite bow. "Yes, a pleasure to meet you," Victory said, "I'm the Eucharis's chief of supply and helper. And this is Honoria, her yeoman who waits on the Taisho," she said, introducing the curvy redhead in pink panels that trailed Hanako around with a data pad in her hand. Hanako said, "This will be my first time at the ryokan here, although I have been to the park before on opening day."

With a bow to both women, Hoshi looked to the entrance of the ryokan, then back to the fire. "I would offer you a tour of the inside, but I have been tasked with tending the fire. I guess the best I can offer you is a seat by the grill until Saiga gets back from collecting some meats from inside." There were a few camping chairs near the grill with a smattering of a handful of cushions were underneath the overhang of the engawa of the building proper. Having brought up her one role, the short pink woman took to the task. She lifted the top of the grill and prodded a piece of blackened wood, forcing it to splinter into bits of charcoal before placing a fresh piece in its place.

Hanako nodded and took a seat nearby the fire in one of the camping chairs. Victory stayed standing and kind of looked around scoping out the surrounding areas while Honoria continued to work on her datapad answering some of Hanako's mail on her behalf. There was so much these days. "It reminds me a little of the time I spent on Planet H. There was a lot of chopping wood and fire-tending involved. I heard you blew the planet up?"

Hoshi's pink cheeks brightened to a blistering red. Her first word was drawn out as she thought of those to follow, "Technically the enemy blew it up." She laughed at herself as she heard the questioning tone to her voice, so she leveled with Hanako more frankly. "Kuvexians installed some machinations within it and, yes, I did give the order to destroy it. I'm sorry, I never really knew what it meant to you."

"Such sentiments we often ascribe to nostalgia," Hanako shared with Hoshi, her words drifting on the wind. "When one invests time and effort, shaping the world with their own hands, an enduring bond forms. I spent a year in such toil, building a farm, carving out a shelter within a cave. Now, they exist merely as memories, ephemeral echoes of a bygone time. No eyes will witness the fruits of my labor again."

The teal-haired Taisho paused, her gaze distant. "In epochs past, life was a finite experience. Now, with mind transfers and replacement bodies, the boundaries of our existence have expanded beyond our comprehension. Yet, this does not render time any less precious. War, be it through the finality of death or the ravages of destruction, seizes our time, erasing our efforts."

Hanako's gaze refocused on Hoshi, an intensity burning in her big golden eyes. "We are left with a lingering question - does our labor, the time we devote to our endeavors, truly reflect the best usage of our existence?"

With a crease of her eyes, Hoshi looked up to the verdant canopy overhead. Her crew had explored the places Hanako had worked and spent her long year and seen the bond she had made, but there was no sense in bringing that up. Hanako had spoken about the ephemeral nature of that work and it was true that the longterm affects of her efforts on Planet H were able to be washed away by time, like many pursuits.

"The lasting impact on you -on whoever sees their labor through, I suppose- are what are to be celebrated. The best usage of our existence, though," the pink captain chewed on the words. "Is something I'm still reckoning with, personally. I'm sure you have a better answer for yourself than I."

"Indeed," Hanako agreed, "in the end, it is not the monuments we build, nor the landscapes we alter that define us, but it's how the events in our lives changed who we are as people and how we use that to do good. It is the transformation within us, the growth and wisdom acquired through the process, that truly matters. Even the pain I had to endure helped make me who I am. My advice simply not to give up. There is always a new frontier."

Having been listening while prodding at the older log on the flame, Hoshi's deep blue eyes stayed on the fire as she absorbed Hanako's words. The Premier was certainly thoughtful and inspired the same in the Kaiyō captain.

"I think there was a time not too long ago where I didn't consider a need for growth or wisdom. Everything was carried on the back of each mission and I never stepped back to consider my own choices or the consequences therein." Hoshi said, "But, ––not to add another question to the pile I've laid on you–– how do you know what is good, simply put? Sometimes it feels like even with good intentions, things go awry or were too complicated for pure motives alone. Does that just come with enduring enough to know from experience?"

"That is an excellent question without and singular answer. I can elaborate on what my intent was. When I spoke of good, I mean virtuous, just, and kind. Although the Star Army and Yamatai are strong, we should be using that strength and a force for positive change. Let us leave an impression on the people we meet that earns their respect."

"You're right," Hoshi replied. There was a touch of compassion in Hoshi's eyes as her blue brows above them raised towards the center. "I don't think I could thank you enough for sharing your thoughts and experiences with me." For a moment she thought to hug Hanako, but held back out of habit, which she had learned from the premier's Ketsurui sister.

= = =

JP by Wes and Ametheliana
 
Kaiko Park, Kyoto, Yamatai
Hoshi's Ryokan


A tall figure appeared in the ryokan's doorway carrying two packages in his right hand, one containing beef and another salmon for the grill, with the fingers of his left hand holding three bottles of Yamataian-style carbonated drinks and one bottle of beer between them. He was paying attention to a group of people inside the ryokan's teahouse — Ketsurui Aiko, a selection of the Kaiyō's crew and some of his secret agent squad — and did not see Hanako with her companions when he began speaking.

"Got you a few extras for lat—" Saiga was saying when his head craned around and spied more than his girlfriend Hoshi standing there. His mouth hung open for a second longer than was appropriate, and the grizzled old commando almost jumped out of his shirt when confronted with Hanako standing there flanked by Victory, who he knew, and Hanako's newer aide Honoria.

"Hanako-sama?" he wondered aloud, the gears turning in his mind to finally make sense of Aiko's weird comments a while earlier.

With his right hand full of packaged meats, Saiga gave the best salute he could to his old captain, crisply standing at attention regardless of the supplies he bore. Then he marched down the ryokan's teahouse steps to his grill, placed the drinks and meat on a folding wooden table beside it, and then quickly went in to give the Premier a big hug.

"It's been way too long, Captain," Saiga said. "You know I voted for you? And I never vote," he told her excitedly, breaking the friendly embrace for a moment to look her in the eyes when he said it. "Hey Vic," the SAINT operative added with a glance to Victory, his arms around Hanako's shoulders again after moving back in to squeeze her.

The Geshrin soldier had never been one for such types of affection, but he hadn't seen Hanako since right before his temporary and untimely demise when he was last assigned to the YSS Eucharis. So he felt a little overwhelmed now, having never said goodbye to his friend and comrade-in-arms, and could not help it.

"What can I get for you three while I grill?" Saiga asked after backing off. "Just grabbed a few marble sodas and a beer, but there's almost anything else you could want inside."
 
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