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RP [Yamatai] Year-End Winter Holiday Party, YE 42 [Open RP]

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RP Date
9月 YE 42
RP Location
Kyoto, Yamatai

YE 42 was almost gone. It had been a tough year, full of war, death, and struggles, but the people of the Kikyo Sector had stood strong against the threats that tried to dominate and crush them, and now there was reason to be more hopeful than ever. The Kuvexians had been stopped, the factions were cooperating, and there was a light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel. People had worked hard, fought hard, thought hard, and it was time for a fresh year and a fresh start. A time to welcome YE 43, ending the long war, and all the giant possibilities and opportunities a new year would bring. With this spirit in the air, Kyoto had become ground zero for the Kikyo Sector's largest holiday party, as the whole city celebrated in the snowy streets and parks, enjoying hot cocoa or eggnog, warm fire pits, street vendors selling fresh-baked cookies, and drunkenly kissing each other other the mistletoe that was seemingly everywhere. Jingle-bell-filled music and sweet smells filled the air and smiles filled faces as the year-end party took over the town.

Ketsurui-Shinjuku Hanako, the Star Army's newest Taisho, took to the streets with a few old crewmates to join the revelry and see if she would run into any old friends or make new ones. She was dressed in a wine-colored velvet dress, white tights, and ermine coat with a Father Yule cap on her head, while her small entourage were in Star Army uniforms with the long black coats. Several of them were carrying large bags of chocolates and candy or toys and as they went around the city, Hanako and her crew would give treats and prizes to children from the bags.

(OOC: This is an Open RP/Crossover RP thread - Any Yamataian or Yamatai-friendly characters from any faction are welcome!)
TL;DR: Sonoda is in Kyoto on leave, gets some eggnog, gets a little drunk, and says hi to Hanako.

The raucous chatter of the crowd rose and fell in intensity around Sonoda Takashi. Outside of his direct line of sight, the voices and sounds of thousands of people within the park blended into a single stream of noise. Within his immediate vicinity, there must have been dozens of conversations taking place between hundreds of people and if he focused very carefully, he could start to make out distinct voices which would eventually resolve into words and after a few moments of eavesdropping he could start to follow a single conversation. After experimenting in this way on a couple of different groups, he started to feel overwhelmed by the immense stimuli. Instead of attempting to find meaning at the level of individuals, he tried to imagine all of the noise that was assaulting his senses as one immense orchestra performing a particularly modern piece of music that was meant to be taken in as a whole rather than trying to pick out separate instruments. It didn't help much.

Sonoda found a quiet refuge in a corner near an approximately spherical man standing behind a cart whose booming voice invited passers-by to indulge in some of the eggnog that he was constantly whipping up in a pair of huge metal bowls and tossing into the air to combine. Sonoda was sure there had to be a more efficient way, but he gave the rotund man his due for pulling in a steady supply of onlookers perhaps mostly to gawk at his airborne concoction. Watching the interaction between this performance-based eggnog salesman and these less-than-surefooted patrons entranced Sonoda, and were it not for the cold steadily sneaking into his boots, he was sure he would have spent the whole night watching. Rubbing his hands together and stamping his feet to warm up, he took his eyes off the vendor for just a moment.

He looked down at the outfit he had bought specifically for tonight, which included practical black leather boots, khakis whose seam was so crisp that they must have been new, a perfectly unremarkable white shirt, and a black coat that was very similar to the one that was part of his uniform, but was distinct enough that he hoped wouldn't draw any attention. Sonoda wasn't sure if he had made the right decision, but between school uniforms and army uniforms he had gone through most of his life so far without thinking about clothing himself, and he wasn't about to start now.

"Eggnog, sir?" The familiar voice nearly went unnoticed, until it rang out again and Sonoda realized he was being addressed. "Sir?"

With his attention back on the eggnog slinger, Sonoda realized that the crowds had died down, and he was now the closest potential customer, a fact which had not gone unnoticed by the seller.

"Oh, uh. Sure," Sonoda stammered and stepped towards the cart, now painfully aware of the awkward way he had been standing behind and to one side of the other man, as if trying to stay out of his peripheral vision.

"Of course you do," the man bellowed and poured him a cup of the last batch he'd mixed. "This your first time in Kyoto?"

"Uh, no." Sonoda said, taking the cup. "I grew up here, but this is the first time I've really participated in any festivities. I was in school and then I joined the army. I'm just here on leave."

The vendor stood a little more upright and put on a very severe expression.

"Oh, right. Currency." Sonoda used his free hand to start fishing around in the pockets of his coat for Kikyou Satsu bills or coins. The vendor suddenly slapped the cup out of his hands and Sonoda jumped backwards, taken completely off-guard.

"A man in the service gets a fresh cup of the good stuff," the portly fellow announced before dumping out the contents of his bowls and starting to mix a new batch.

"No, that's really..." Sonoda started to reply, but could see that his protest was falling on deaf ears so he gave up and watched, noting that the proportions of this small batch seemed noticeably different from the rest, and included a large amount of a liquid from a small bottle the man produced from within his coat. The other man finally poured the mix into two cups and handed him one. Sonoda tried to offer a bill he had found in his pocket, but the vendor wouldn't take it. The young service man tried a sip, and was surprised that it didn't taste quite how he remembered eggnog should, but when he saw that the vendor had downed the cup in one gulp, he drank more out of politeness.

"There y'are, lad." The man slapped Sonoda on the shoulder, which threw him off balance more than he would have expected. "Now go enjoy yourself out there."

Sonoda turned on his heel, and headed out into the throng and continued to drink his eggnog against his better judgment. Before too long, Sonoda felt like he was finally getting it. What had been an assault on his senses was recontextualized into a dazzling array of music and voices and faces and bodies. One such body caught his eye, wearing a wine-coloured dress, white tights, and a coat made of some furry animal. She was surrounded by other bodies in uniforms and coats that made her much more flashy apparel that much more eye-catching. Sonoda approached, teetering only slightly.

"Hello there."
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Colored lights were strung above the open heated winter patio at Takeda House's downtown Kyoto location, the fine dining establishment had become a common hangout to find Ketsurui-Motoyoshi Katsuko and her fellow officers during off-duty hours. A fire roared in the outdoor fireplace, as restaurant staff worked to clear snow from the deck that overlooked the street below. The decision to spend the winter festival on Yamatai was more of a logistical one, the Taisho would have preferred a return to Jiyuu - presence was important after all. Katsuko had arrived in style, a horse-drawn sleigh from Motoyoshi-jo, the clan's castle on Yamatai and a place where new memories were quickly replacing those of the dark times she had spent there in winter's past. The chauffeur offered sleigh rides to customers and passersby, especially those with children who would find the tour of the festival streets entertaining.

It had been a year that the Motoyoshi clan leader would never forget, her family pieced back together and the haunting past being put behind them. She had something to show for it which was an unexpected turn of events. A glass of umeshu Yuki-42 cupped in her grip at the top of the stem, teetered slowly back and forth teasing a spill before she leveled it and brought it to her plum-colored lips for another sip as she leaned on the patio railing. It felt strange being out of uniform, yet comfortable after a year of war and turmoil; the hooded black wool blended coat along with the plush of her grey cashmere turtleneck swear kept the cold away. Her blue hair straightened and unusually unbound as it fell down her back, a departure from the uptight ponytail she had been sporting when in uniform.

She watched as Hanako and her crew passed on the street below, so she called one of her waitstaff over. "Have a VIP basket taken out to the Taisho and her crew," she instructed. The basket was filled with wine, cheese, and winter fruit from Ainu Orchards as well as some freshly made pastries from Takeda House's kitchens. The waiter bowed respectfully and did as instructed, with the fancy tails of his outfit along with his holly-covered black top hat a special costume for the season. He grabbed the basket and headed out into the street and respectfully offered the basket with a respectful bow towards Hanako and a pointed finger up towards Katsuko on the patio so she knew who sent it.

Katsuko smiled pleasantly as she looked down towards Hanako and company. She silently wondered which members of her crew would join her for the night's festivities. The soft melodies played by the violin and piano played in the background from the live musicians on the deck and blended into the rhythmic ringing of jingle bells as the sleigh passed by in the street again below.
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"Hello! Happy Holidays to you!," Hanako smiled to Sonoda. She was a small, short, and slender woman with mesmerizing gold saucers for eyes and bright, wavy hair that went from light teal to violent. "On your way to party with some friends?" she asked with a smile.

When Katsuko sent the gift over, Hanako decided she should stop by and say hello and thank her in person. After all, they were something like family, as members of the Ketsurui Clan. In the meantime she waved to Katsuko and blew her an air kiss as thanks. As she saw the win in the basket she couldn't help but feel a tinge of sadness thinking of how her own vineyard had fallen into Kuvexian hands and didn't make any bottles this year.
"That would be verrrrry tricky," Sonoda slurred before taking a sip of his nearly depleted nog. The cool liquid made him feel surprisingly warm, particularly in his face, but he was sure that none of the ingredients would cause any exothermic reaction within him, so it must be something physiological. Perhaps the small bottle the eggnog vendor had produced was something more than just flavouring?

"Because I don't have any friends," the fresh-out-of-training recruit continued. His words were spoken in an amused tone, with no sense of sadness or any other negative emotion that might be contextually appropriate. He didn't seem to feel bad about not having any friends, as if it was something he just hadn't gotten around to yet.

"Unlessss, you're going to a party," he mused while the inclination of his body swayed gently like a metronome keeping a very slow rhythm. "And you'd like to be my friend."
"Aww I think she likes you..." The playful tone from her side pierced through the soft music that filtered out from the interior of shop. The green haired Eri had soon enough joined her sister as she looked down over the railing of the balcony. She gave the newly promoted Taisho a finger wave from where she was and a small smile. but made no other movement before she sat with Katsuko. Like Katsuko, her own thoughts drifted back over the year and how much... good had come from the year prior. She had been reunited with her family, she had found her home again. and that more than anything had made the woman smile.

Sure there were issues, there was still the war, there was still things going on, but she had the Motoyoshi again, and that made her glad and gave her the smile across her face. A mug of hot chocolate set before her that let off a small trail of steam to waft upwards, she snuck a small flask from the inside of her coat that she had hung on the back of her seat and added a splash to her cup before she offered it to Katsuko.

"Anyone else showing up that we know of?" She asked as she took a sip from her cup.
Takeda House, Kyoto Downtown

Katsuko waved back at Hanako with a smile, it faded though as she inhaled a deep breath of that cold refreshing air and took in Eri's commentary. "Jealous? You really need to dull that tongue a little. You might cut your own mouth with it if you're not careful." Katsuko teased before she took another sip of her wine. "I left the invitation open. Some will show up, if not I hope you're hungry," she answered her sister and lover then shook her head and lifted her glass of wine in soft refusal of the spiked hot chocolate. The heaters hummed and melted at least most of the snow that fell onto the deck.

The Taisho left her perch against the railing and walked around the back of Eri's chair, she leaned with her arms over Eri's shoulders and kissed the height of her cheekbone. "I got you something," Katsuko stated, then pulled back and walked the rest of the way around the table. She leaned down to the small red bag that was nicely decorated with white tissue paper stuck out of the top of it and set it down onto the table in front of Eri. Inside the bag was a small tightly wrapped gift box and a fancy paper envelope. "The first of many gifts for this holiday," she said to create curiosity and expectation of the additional gifts to come.

Motoyoshi Clan Castle on Yamatai

Motoyoshi-Ieyasu Taro sat in one of the armchairs in front of the fireplace, a civilian datapad in his hands with a work of fiction on the screen. The ISS Shiori had put into port about a week before the Tokyo had arrived, he had used the opportunity to take Eidan to some educational events and to explore the capital. Hopefully, the new year would bring a change in the stress they had encountered in their attempts to keep the young boy safe. They had intended to be at the holiday party for the evening but Eidan had fallen asleep so Taro had sent along with his regards to Katsuko, that they would see her the next day.

A pile of presents that Eidan had purchased for members of the clan sat on one of the tables, gift bags and fancy decorated boxes with pretty bows and shiny paper had been each wrapped by the young man personally. Eidan slept on the floor in front of the fireplace where he had drifted off listening to music, his headphones glowed a bright blue and green as music played. A video game flashed paused on the datapad screen which laid beside him. Taro didn't bother to wake the boy to get him to bed, he would likely go on his own.

Taro stood up and walked towards one of the large windows and looked out towards Kyoto, the multicolored lights and the skyscrapers in the distance were a breathtaking sight as the snow fell peacefully to the ground.
Takeda House, Kyoto Downtown

Fletcher was officially on Yamatai for a coordination meeting, and to talk to the elements of the Seventh Fleet that were coordinating with Star Army Command. Unofficially, he was going to have part of the holiday with his wife. The two of them walked together to Takeda House. Fletcher waived to his former commander and approached with a warm smile. "Katsuko my old friend, thank you for the invitation."

Kyoto Downtown

Sacre and Gravity were inseparable as they moved down the streets enjoying the lights. After the harrowing rescue, the warrior and the doctor were still trying to figure out where the aftermath left them. The rumors of the big push were impossible to ignore. "So I really like what they did with that one, when we have a house let's include something like it, but bigger!" The blue Neko enthused.

"So you apparently want us to get an estate the size of a planet." Sacre snarked in reply before seeing someone who literally did have a planet for an estate. Gravity waved enthusiastically at the Taisho. While Sacre just gave her a nod as they approached. "So, any tips on getting a planet for an estate? This one apparently wants to turn it into a light show. Though fortunately less destructive than last time."

"Also, do you know how to paint a universe kill marker on the side of a ship? I haven't quite figured it out." Gravity said with a smile.
Katsuko smiled warmly as she watched Fletcher and his wife be led into Takeda House and upstairs to the heated patio for the party. She looked at Eri and winked, it appeared the invitations had reached at least a few people after all. She approached the fellow Taisho and his wife and bowed respectfully to her peer and his partner. "Good to see you, Fletcher. Come join us," she motioned to the table where Eri was, and the waiter presented the couple with a similar basket to what she had gifted to Hanako. "This is Motoyoshi Eri, Shosho," she introduced Eri, she kept the title in place just so Fletcher knew she was Star Army.

It was strange to see Fletcher again, the last she had seen him was when she handed him command of the Seventh Fleet - at the time it had seemed almost like a funeral, but it all had worked out in the long run. It was happier times now, even if they had all been through difficulties with the current war. "How is the Fleet?" she asked, she would wait for them to sit and the waiter to take their orders before she would sit down herself.
"Because I don't have any friends," the fresh-out-of-training recruit continued. His words were spoken in an amused tone, with no sense of sadness or any other negative emotion that might be contextually appropriate. He didn't seem to feel bad about not having any friends, as if it was something he just hadn't gotten around to yet.

"Unlessss, you're going to a party," he mused while the inclination of his body swayed gently like a metronome keeping a very slow rhythm. "And you'd like to be my friend."

"Tonight is a wonderful night for making friends!" Hanako told Sonoda. "That said, because of my position, there are certain restrictions on how friendly I can get with people whose careers I have power over. We should be mindful of our fraternization guidelines," she told him before giving him a big hug and then waving goodbye. "Good luck out there and take someone home tonight!" she encouraged him, awkwardly and narrowly dodging a passing car as she hustled across the street and over to the restaurant to make her appearance.

Once she arrived at the table she greeted everyone with hugs. "It is good to see you again, Katsuko! Our story continues! I do not have many people I have known as long as I have known you," she remarked. "In times like these, we all need friends like you who are brave. Especially those of us who are not as fortunate as we are. As we celebrate we must not forget those who were left behind on my planet and those we lost who cannot be here. I propose a toast to friends and comrades who never give up!"
Continuing to sway, Sonoda nodded along as she spoke to him, but he wasn't able to fully process what she was saying. Phrases like "position," "restrictions," "power," and "fraternization guidelines" sounded familiar to him, but weren't able to find purchase in his alcohol-addled brain.

"I understand," he lied as she hugged him. After watching her go, he spent a long moment thinking. "Who was she? Do I know her?"

Desperately, he tried to hold onto the thought, but the effort made him increasingly exhausted. Whomever she was, the memory of her features were rapidly fading into darkness along with any sense of familiarity they evoked in him.

After another moment, Takashi blinked and wondered why he was staring off into the middle distance. He went to take another sip of eggnog and realized his cup was empty.

"I shall find more nog," he resolved. "That was delicious."
". . . and that is just the beginning of the festivities here tonight in Kyoto. So what are you waiting for? Grab your friends or loved ones, and come celebrate the holiday with festive games, sleigh rides, or even just some good old fashioned eggnog. I'm Santo Hei Tatsugami Kozakura, and I'll be wishing all of you a happy holiday." As she finished speaking the light of her drone shut off and the device flitted to her side. "What do you think Maru? Did we get all the footage we need?" she asked of the drone. There was no reply of course since the drone was not sentient in the slightest. "Yeah I think so too," she replied a few seconds later as if she was actually talking to the drone. Apparently being on solo assignment to cover other people having fun had driven Kozakura a tad mad. That or she was just incredibly lonely. At any rate she was dressed in her official uniform, though tonight it was covered by the black winter weather coat; for the most part at least. Her legs however still felt the chill of the cold winter night air, clothed in regulation tights as they were. Fortunately the crowds respected her for the most part and had given her plenty of room while she was filming. Though the occasional child had jumped in behind her to make a silly face or give a shout out to their friends. Still it meant her scaly tail was free to swish about in an effort to help it stay warm.

Now that her reporting was done she was technically free to do whatever, but with nobody else to celebrate with things seemed sort of pointless. So she just sort of stood there on the side of the street, tail swishing about, while lost in thought. Luckily for Hanako of course, otherwise the intrepid Kozakura would have been forced to hound her for a quote. As it was however, she never even spotted the woman despite by being less than a hundred feet away. This did however also place her slightly down the road from Sonoda.
Sonoda Takashi watched his snow-encrusted black leather boots take a few steps down the street and noted three things. Firstly, the hems of his once-immaculate khakis hung just a little too low and were now visibly dirty and wet. Secondly, he didn't feel like he was walking. Moreso, he felt like his legs were pulling him along towards some destination of which he was not himself aware. Finally, when he took a few quick steps to one side to avoid falling, he realized he should be looking forward and not down.

For the second time this evening, the faces of the crowd washed over him. There was a man whose dark brown skin, earring and close-cut curly black hair seemed familiar to Takashi. Then there was a female anthro with grey and white fur, a pink nose, and icy blue eyes that matched her hair. Finally, his gaze found an androgynous face with pink dots above her eyes, small antlers, and pointed ears full of earrings. She had a gap on her left eyebrow, but no other obvious signs of a scar. Her pink bangs framed her face above and to either side, and Takashi thought that she was missing the bottom part of the otherwise complete pink frame.

Takashi blinked and realized he had stopped walking, and wondered how long he had been standing there. Was he staring? Maybe he should say something.

"Uhm, hi," he stammered. "I'm Takashi. What's your name?"
Kozakura was in the midst of a heated internal debate about whether to head back to base, call her parents, or to try and have some fun. Heading back to base seemed like the most obvious thing to do now, calling her parents would probably result in a voicemail message since they were no doubt enjoying a quiet evening together, and having fun seemed really difficult all by her lonesome. That was when the voice of a stranger hit her elongated ears, and snapped her out of her little mental world. She blinked and looked around for a second before those red eyes of hers settled on Takashi. A gloved hand gently rubbed the back of her neck, "Sorry were you trying to get my attention for a while Takashi-san?" There was a bit of pause before her narrow eyes seemed to light up with recognition or at least seemed be recognizing the question he had asked. "Oh um my name? It's Tatsugami Kozakura."
Takashi adopted a serious expression, looking off to one side to give her question adequate consideration.

"Was I trying to get your attention for a while?" He mused aloud. "I'm not sure. I don't think so."

Looking back to her attention-grabbing features, he was mostly successful in keeping himself from moving back and forth like a blade of grass in a light breeze. Mostly.

"Tatsugami Kozakura," he repeated the sound of her name, letting its shape roll around in his mouth. For some reason, he was especially concerned that it might be familiar to him, though he was relatively certain he hadn't met her before. "Well, if you aren't sure and I'm not sure, then I don't think we can ever know."

Takashi was suddenly aware of something in his hand and he simultaneously raised it up and looked down in a way that almost made him lose his balance. As if unaware, he looked back at Kozakura with a smile.

"Have you tried the eggnog?" He illustrated the question by showing her his empty cup. "It's rather good."
Kozakura noticed him sway slightly and was about ask if he was okay when he asked her a question first. "The eggnog?" she asked with a blink before her eyes drifted to the cup. "I haven't actually." Those reptile like eyes of hers studied him for a moment, taking in his appearance for really the first time. He seemed to be about her age though maybe a little younger. Kinda cute too. Her tail reached up to her pink hair, the tip brushing her bangs back a bit as she smiled, "What I mean is, I've never had it before... but I'm open to trying some."
Takashi was about to reply before her reptilian tail came into view, and he took notice of it for the first time. Even his swaying stopped as he was transfixed by her fifth appendage.

"Fascinating," he breathed with no sense of self-awareness, before he fully absorbed the rest of what she had said. "Then let usss commence our quest for nog."

Turning his head one way and then another, he tried to remember in which direction he had walked to arrive here. His recollection of the eggnog stand was crystalline, but soon after getting eggnog, it was all a blur of bodies, faces, and noise. Some part of him wanted to systematically retrace his steps, but he felt a much stronger impulse to simply pick a direction and walk confidently.

"This way!" He gestured vaguely towards a break in the crowds through which they could pass, then began to walk.

"You're wearing a uniform, I think," he stated, recognizing the black winter coat, seemingly sure at first then doubting himself halfway. "I have one too."

Takashi frowned with displeasure, thinking his words had sounded better before he said them.

"I'm into science," he tried to move on as quickly as possible. "What about you?"
Katsuko could not help but repeat the words of Taro in her mind, 'Words had an impact'. In a single moment and entire formulated opinion of Hanako changed for the better, not that it had been negative, more it lacked a certain substance beyond long-ranged communication and politics in recent years. Katsuko motioned to the head waiter, and more wine was brought out on the house, glasses were filled and distributed. "I agree, Hanako. A toast for those who are less fortunate or fallen. It is their sacrifices that allow us the ability to sit here after all. I would be honored if you were to lead us in a toast. I am glad you are here, and I hope the blessings from this occasion bring success to our future endeavors." It seemed to Katsuko, that Hanako had brought a gift this year that was more value than material. She smiled wholeheartedly as the waiter passed and filled her and Eri's glasses last. "Please, join us!" she invited, as more chairs were brought to the table for Hanako and her crew.

The musicians stopped playing, the waiters stopped and for a moment it would give Hanako the attention such a toast would deserve. One hand grasped upon the stem of her wine glass, and the other draped across the shoulders of Motoyoshi Eri, Katsuko waited readily to drink to Hanako's words. Snowflakes continued to fall gracefully through the air before they melted and disappeared when they hit the field of heat from the outdoor heaters. This was going to be a holiday to remember. Katsuko wondered where Yaichiro was, it would have been nice if both he and Eri got their gifts close to the same time considering the nature of her plans.
"What is?" She asked, forgetting entirely how much she stood out among most Yamtaians. To the untrained eye she probably looked at least half alien unless one was familiar with minkans who found body modification to be a free expression of the self and living art. Though he quickly pronounced the resumption of the search for nog and began to walk so she let it drop. As they began to navigate the crowds he posed a question? No, more of a statement about her uniform.

"Yes, it is one" she replied anyway if only not to be awkward. Though in the process of answering his statement she may have ended up being a little awkward herself. So she was rather happy when he suddenly announced that he was into science, if only for the change in topic. "I've always been more of an art person myself... not that science isn't fascinating. I'm just not all that good at it. Part of why I'm glad my mothers sent me to a school for the arts when I was little. Are you a scientist?"
A dozen or so meters down the path from Takeda House stood a little row of shops, bars, yakitori stands, and other restaurants whose patrons sat on street-backed stools and open air booths. They were Kyoto's masses; enlisted soldiers wrapped up in their long coats and zaibatsu workers grateful for their evening of revelry as the Kuvexian War raged on against Yamatai. Some number spilled out from underneath lantern-lit eaves and onto the maple-lined road, gripping big, frosty mugs of beer to keep warm in defiance of the snow. Most of businesses serving food and drink saw their patrons melded together at this point in the night with the big mix of patrons only broken up by the odd fence (which did not pose much impediment for the swarm of Yamataijin there tonight) and fire pits that were now a scarcer resource than they'd seem during any other season.

One such establishment on the stretch was called Tanngrisnir and the Tonakai. Its front was situated on the thoroughfare and had a corner bar just beside a foot path that packed in even more of Kyoto's denizens in father yule caps and Type 32 coats than the big street did. And it was here that sat Nicholas Saiga, who wore a festive black aloha shirt printed with Yamataian bellflowers and holly sprigs despite the chilly air and paired it with an old pair of dress white pants that had grown too shabby to wear with class A — they were, of course, still fit for this celebration. He wore his favorite white Type 36 captain's cap, too, mostly because he was quite fond of it but partly to take part in the camaraderie of the season as so many Star Army soldiers took to the streets. The grizzled Geshrin commando had spied his old boss Hanako down the road and briefly dreaded her noticing him back, and the scolding he might get for his hat. But he was able to chuckle and get back to his duty when she veered off into the big luxury chain restaurant with all of the other admirals.

"Three!" Saiga cheered in unison with a gaggle of heis and heishos (and maybe a few Shoi, too). They all slammed the glossy bamboo bartop and made the whole place shake as they hollered. "Two! ONE!"

With that, he took another cheap, warmed saké shot down his gullet and so did the dozens of soldiers around him. Except for Santo Hei Yuu Sakaki, the one member of his SAINT operations group who hadn't scattered off to explore Kyoto after their first shot a few bars ago. All she did was take a sip from her porcelain cup and put it back down on the bar. The fact that the quiet operative still followed along after all this time amazed and impressed him; determination was an important quality for secret agents to possess.

"Another round in twenty!" Saiga declared to everyone in the vicinity, the alcohol still making his voice hot and raspy. Then he turned his attention to Sakaki.

"Ach!" he huffed before plopping back down onto his stool. "How many times do I have to tell you, Yuu-hei. The whole thing's supposed to go down at once! You're going to scare off all the Minkan boys with that attitude and black uniform of yours!"
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