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Yukiguni


Sumeragi
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Some months ago.......

The color of evening had already fallen on the mountain valley, early buried in shadows. Out of the dusk the distant mountains, still reflecting the light of the evening sun, seemed to have come much nearer. Presently, as the mountain chasms were far and near, high and low, the shadows in them began to deepen, and the sky was red over the snowy mountains, bathed now in but a wan light.

In the midst of this quiet scene, a truck could be seen rumbling through the white plains. Inside one could see a group of scientists testing the samples they've collected from the various mountains.

Everyone was busy, but for some reason one of them was by herself, staring blankly at the measurements being taken. The lifeless, blank red eyes frightened all the others, making then stay away.

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Some months ago.......

The color of evening had already fallen on the mountain valley, early buried in shadows. Out of the dusk the distant mountains, still reflecting the light of the evening sun, seemed to have come much nearer. Presently, as the mountain chasms were far and near, high and low, the shadows in them began to deepen, and the sky was red over the snowy mountains, bathed now in but a wan light.

In the midst of this quiet scene, a truck could be seen rumbling through the white plains. Inside one could see a group of scientists testing the samples they've collected from the various mountains.

Everyone was busy, but for some reason one of them was by herself, staring blankly at the measurements being taken. The lifeless, blank red eyes frightened all the others, making then stay away.

The ship had docked at Niflheim only a day ago, and yet Margrave still felt sea-weary. Recognized by a select group of his followers there, he was escorted by his people to a Safe-house where he could prepare himself to be truly invisible.

Niflheim had not yet adjusted to the shock of the mass movements, nor to the news from Camberlain; the military had everything under its control, and the local rulers had prepared the populace for anything. But this was beyond Khendon now; for the moment, he would sleep in the bed of this small, two-story house, and wait.

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Dranagg

Located on the southern end of the Ross Ice Shelf, north of the Fallone Nunataks, the city extends out onto the Ice Shelf itself where the airport and most of the underconstruction biodomes are. The houses are made of wood and have extremely steep roofs that go almost all the way down to the bottom of the house. Constructions tend to be extremely sturdy, and reinforced for harsh winter weather. Government buildings are made of stone, and generally are rather lackluster in any uniqueness beyond the Re House. One could see that hydroponic farms are either giant glass biodomes or traditional greenhouse style. The already finished farms, and the plant ark, biodome Beta, are on the East side of the city.

There is a 3 meter burm around the city with only 3 entrance points. South, West, and East. Inside the Burm are dual rail lines, the only transport system on the ice. In the center of the city is the entrance to the Dranaggan Tunnel System. The building covering the shafts against the elements is kind of like a giant wooden circus tent. Also, next to the excavation, is the completed, covered, Gladitorial Arena. Just a wooden arena. Nothing fancy, but summer time use only.

On the street there was a young man who seemed slightly out of place, trying to find his way around. as he headed toward City Hall, the sound of mumbling could be heard.

"I hope you're okay......"

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Everything was white.

At least, that was Khendon's perspective. Of course, it was hard to see anything BUT white, laying in a snow-bank in Antarctica...he'd been traveling through Niflheim on foot for days, with a minimum amount of survival gear. So the storm that had raged for days now had given him only a minimal amount of time to prepare, without much of the gear the scientists and fighters of Niflheim used.

His experience in the Far North came back to him as he dug a snow-room in the bank, ten feet deep, into the warmth. Laying his thermal blankets inside of it, he braced the "Door" with some tools and then wrapped himself into the warm darkness.

*Later that night*

Khendon tossed and turned in his warm dug-out, caught in the midst of a dream. In his hands he held a locket, holding pictures from a happier time...

*In Auckland, Some Time Back*

"Akeiko, Which do you prefer, the sun or the moon?"

"Well, the Sun I suppose..it gives life to everything."

"Really? I prefer the Moon. The night gives time to reflect and rest, and the Moon is there, watching over it all like the peaceful eye of God."

*Present Day*

Khendon rubbed blurry eyes, waking for the first time in two days. He'd kept himself hydrated and fed just enough to continue his sleep cycle, since the storm still hadn't blown over...wasting abit of precious battery, he turned on his flash-light and stared at the pictures in the locket. One was of his mother, long passed from this earth...the other was a picture he'd had taken of himself and Akeiko during her stay in Auckland. In it, they both sat rather formally, each of them holding the others hand in a familiar, family fashion, lifting each others hands up so it almost seemed they were shortly to dance. It had been an odd pose (And unknown to Akeiko, it was a customary pose for a marriage photo, a fact the photographer snickered at all through the shoot) but Akeiko had enjoyed it, and rubbed the flash from her eyes when the too-bright bulbs of the flash had crossed her vision.

Khendon drew Will and Strength from this memory, and retreated back into the depths of sleep."

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Her eyes.

They were the first thing that struck her when she looked into the mirror. Her eyes were huge red circles, as if they had been bruised in a fight. She had obviously been crying for several hours. Her voice was hoarse, as if she had exhausted all its strength.

"Why are you alive, Akeiko?" she asked softly to herself.

She felt distraught, depressed, nearly suicidal. Every sharp object looked like an invitation to sweet release, an end to this emptiness. Deep inside, she knew that she wanted warmth. She had a lacking in herself that she wants to fill, with some kind of emotional warmth, from someone else if possible.

But did she deserve it? Did she, who had caused the death of her sister by the selfish act of abdication, deserve to even be alive now? Even if one could justify her survival as a continuation of Kyokujitsu, that still didn't change what happened. notihng would change that Onee-san is no longer on earth.

She slapsed her face with freezing water, trying to make all the guilt go away, to no effect. Seeing that it's time for her to go to work, she put on a white jacket and. after going through several security checks, left the building. She started walking down the many steps of the Ministry of Trade and Natural Resources into the darkening twilight.

And kept descending, into a depth of sadness she had never known before.

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He had finally made it.

Emerging from his frozen cavern several days ago, he had walked across the vast expanse to Dranagg, the Land Of Snow. So many rumors, so many stories...were they true? Was the Flower Of The Sun blooming in this frozen wasteland?

He reached their capital at dawn, his body near failure. Stopping in one of the warm domes, he rested in the open area, looking like any normal drunk. As he awoke to the light of the false sun-in-the-dome, he decided to head for the local bars and clubs...surely there would be some word.

Surely.

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The cold was slowly creeping into his body, and Akasaka knew that he had to go inside. He headed into a somewhat homely looking establishment. The seats were relatively clean, and the bartender a kind old man. Akasaka ordered some hot tea, when someone else came in from the cold.

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The cold was slowly creeping into his body, and Akasaka knew that he had to go inside. He headed into a somewhat homely looking establishment. The seats were relatively clean, and the bartender a kind old man. Akasaka ordered some hot tea, when someone else came in from the cold.

All was bitterness within Khendon's heart as he came in from the cold, bitterness and anger. His heart, so conflicted...had he not sacrificed his nation, his home, his people, all to chase the love of his heart? He took a seat at the bar, the bitter cold within him seeping out as he stared into nothing with baleful eyes.

"Whiskey."

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He noticed the stranger coming in and ordering the whiskey. Something told him that those sad eyes were part of a larger unhappiness.

"Master, that drinks on me."

At least he wouldn't have to worry so much about money for the time being, with the somewhat large account that Haewon had made for him for this "mission". He could spare to buy someone drinks. He turned to the stranger.

"What brings you to this end of the world? your eyes tell me you have a story."

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  • 2 months later...

Unlike most of the world, where snowflakes turned gray almost the instant they hit the ground, here the Heaven's sprinkling of white crystals stayed pure, creating a sense of pristine tranquillity.

She had always adored snow. Although one could rarely see it in Kyokujitsu, she had this instinctive affection for the natural coldness, better than any air conditioning, that snow gave to those who touched it. Akeiko loved snow, there was no other way to say it.

And yet, now it meant nothing. With everything she had worked for destroyed, everyone she loved and cared gone, nothing had any meaning. Snow was just snow, just a substance that reflected her inner heart. It was what could have made her up now, for she had no significance in this world.

'Why was she alive?' A question that still had no answer, and a question that had no importance.

For she was just a snowflake, in the land of frost and ice.

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Akasaka half stumbled out of the pub. The stranger had a very interesting tale to tell, and Aksaka tried to keep the atmosphere friendly by buying whisky for both of them. He knew he had low tolerance for alcohol, but somwethings are worth getting drunk for.

He had left the stranger at the bar, after paying for a night's room since the stranger had fallen asleep from the drinks. Akasaka was aware he should also get a rest, but he had a more pressing thing to do. Namely, finding the one he..... that he.....

He still couldn't say the word out loud, even if it was only in his mind. Although he knew that it was mutual, but still he was too..... shy..... if that was the right word to describe himself concerning this. Yet perhaps it didn't need to be said.

Slipping on patches of ice in his drunkness, he contiued on.

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Akasaka half stumbled out of the pub. The stranger had a very interesting tale to tell, and Aksaka tried to keep the atmosphere friendly by buying whisky for both of them. He knew he had low tolerance for alcohol, but somethings are worth getting drunk for.

He had left the stranger at the bar, after paying for a night's room since the stranger had fallen asleep from the drinks. Akasaka was aware he should also get a rest, but he had a more pressing thing to do. Namely, finding the one he..... that he.....

He still couldn't say the word out loud, even if it was only in his mind. Although he knew that it was mutual, but still he was too..... shy..... if that was the right word to describe himself concerning this. Yet perhaps it didn't need to be said.

Slipping on patches of ice in his drunkness, he contiued on.

Khendon had unloaded his story like a black wave in the monsoon season, tidal waves of emotion rolling out with each ounce of alcohol. A master drinker, he was still unmanned as he put more and more of the stuff away, till he was left gently snoring on the bar.

Waking two hours later, he was told he had a room for the night and pointed into the right direction. Instead, he said something polite in French, cursed loudly in German and left the building, the mission branded on his heart a cold clear point of reason eliminating his drunkenness.

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She walked along the empty main avenue aimlessly, like a person without a soul. Her eyes were empty, void of life. Far off, she saw someone staggering toward her direction. As the two of them got closer, she stopped in her tracks, her eyes becoming wider as she recognized who the other person was.

'No, it can't be..... How did he..... What is he doing here?!?!?!'

*********

A still drunk Akasaka barely managed to keep standing; it was a near miracle that he was still awake. He saw that he wasn't alone on the streets, with a long-haired person ahead of him. He decided to ask the person where the closest inn was. Soon he could see the face of the other person.

'So you were here, after all.....'

He attemped to get closer, but slipped on the ice again, onto his face. Lifting up his head, he saw the person standing still, the cold wind making the long hair fly. He grinned weakly, then everything went black.

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She walked along the empty main avenue aimlessly, like a person without a soul. Her eyes were empty, void of life. Far off, she saw someone staggering toward her direction. As the two of them got closer, she stopped in her tracks, her eyes becoming wider as she recognized who the other person was.

'No, it can't be..... How did he..... What is he doing here?!?!?!'

*********

A still drunk Akasaka barely managed to keep standing; it was a near miracle that he was still awake. He saw that he wasn't alone on the streets, with a long-haired person ahead of him. He decided to ask the person where the closest inn was. Soon he could see the face of the other person.

'So you were here, after all.....'

He attemped to get closer, but slipped on the ice again, onto his face. Lifting up his head, he saw the person standing still, the cold wind making the long hair fly. He grinned weakly, then everything went black.

Two Weeks Later:

He had searched with futility for days in the Land of Snow. Broken, down on his luck, starving and lacking in shelter, the man once known as the Great Margrave Khendon cast a bitter prayer unto the gods and all of those who had done him harm, and pushed a small button hidden on his necklace. Soon, a black helicopter arrived, it's blades cutting through the air as it landed. Before he boarded, a heart-rending sob escaped his throat as he dropped a small item on the ground that would be quickly covered by the snow, the hidden grave of his heart. Her name had been a prayer, and now it had become his curse, a curse he cried out to the Heavens who had wronged him. As the chopper carried him away, the rose-red ruby he had left behind glistened, a flawed but beautiful piece. Before the ice and snow forever sealed it within the vault of time, perhaps some lucky eye would read the simple words written upon it with a simple script: "My Heart for Yours."

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Akasaka groaned softly, and his eyelids fluttered open. His hands were pinned beneath a rather heavy blanket, though, and he had to push it off to rub his eyes. He sat bolt upright, which proved to be a mistake, as stars burst across his field of vision. A moment, then another passed while he tried to get his bearings, and he was able to see once more.

"A, Akeiko?" he called out, weakly.

Standing up was not an option, Akasaka decided, as he felt the dull, throbbing pain in his right ankle. So instead, he twisted around in his seated position, carefully pushed himself upright, and blearily looked around. He was in a plainly furnished but large room, with a soft bed, a wooden desk, and a few bookshelves along the walls. It was austere, like that of a monk, devoted to studying. He noticed a note on the small table next to him, which had a bowl of something underneath it.

Akasaka,

I'll be back from work later in the evening. In the meantime, eat the matsunomi okayu I've made for you, and rest well.

Akeiko

The bowl contained porridge of finely ground pine nuts and rice flour, Matsunomi okayu was a quality food in Kyokujitsu because of its rich and creamy taste, nutritiousness and easy digestibility. It’s as bland as bland gets. Its texture would make rice pudding seem as exciting as a good risotto: the long simmering brings the rice to the brink of dissolution. Yet matsunomi okayu is not supposed to be a jumble of textures or a riot of flavors. Its blandness is its badge, its curiously thick and uniform texture a part of its appeal. A perfect food for for someone who is recovering from injuries.

Picking up the spoon, Akasaka silently thanked the one person he cared about for providing such a treat.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Once more, Akasaka woke up from a deep sleep. Being thirsty, he carefully walked out of the room into the living room. There he found Akeiko sitting slumped with her back toward the wall by the window, in the waning light of the late afternoon. Akasaka frowned at the position of the sun in the sky--it had been early evening when he'd found her.

"Akeiko?"

With almost deliberate slowness, she raised her head and opened her eyes. Akasaka shuddered slightly; the bleakness that he had seen yesterday remained on her face. It did lighten a little bit, though, and she smiled faintly.

"Oh...good, you’re awake." She climbed to her feet, moving a bit stiffly. Had she been sitting there the entire day? Akasaka hopped forward on his good leg toward Akeiko and threw his arms around her. This elicited a slightly surprised look from Akeiko, but he didn’t notice.

"Akeikoooo..." he mumbled, pressing his face into her shoulder.

She seemed to be at a loss for words, and cautiously placed her arms around his. "Ah...I’m all right, Akasaka. Were you worried about me?"

Akasaka sighed, and leaned against Akeiko heavily. "Yes, I was." he murmured, then turned and again buried his face in Akeiko's shoulder, holding her tightly.

"Akasaka...is something wrong?"

"You tell me, Akeiko," he answered, slightly muffled. "You keep on saying that you're okay, but I can tell there's something bothering you." He looked up into her deep red eyes, a bit sadly. "Won't you tell me? Please?"

She was silent again; he knew that look on her face - she was turning her thoughts over in her mind, slowly, thoroughly. "Come, sit." She gently helped him down to the ground, and sat next to him. She opened her mouth, closed it, and sighed.

Akasaka reached out and placed his hand on her arm, but said nothing, only looked at her reassuringly, and nodded.

"Everything that’s happened is my fault," she blurted out, suddenly.

Silence reigned supreme for the next several seconds.

"Wha, what? What do you mean? Your fault?" Akasaka finally managed. The reassuring expression, which had frozen on his face, slowly gave way to consternation. "I mean...um...."

"You know that what happened to Kyokujitsu was my fault," she answered, softly. "Starting from what I did in Siberia, the temporary alliance with Neo Japan, and the Taiwan movement. If I hadn’t done any of those, we wouldn’t have to be in this position." She drew her legs up close to her chest, and in so doing, drew away from Akasaka.

He was still astounded. "Oh my gosh...Akeiko...."

"But the thing that hurts me the most was that I wasn’t there to stop the Koudouha from wrecking the country with its hardline policies, but resting in a very comfortable ‘prison’ in Taipei. The war wouldn’t have happened, and everyone still alive, if I hadn’t gone to Taiwan…”

Akasaka stared at her, then reached a hand out toward her, tentatively. He touched her arm again, but she gave no response--neither drawing away, nor looking at him.

"Akeiko...I don't know what to say...."

"I could have done something, if I wasn’t so foolhardy all the time. If I had thought of the consequences, I would have been able to stop the downfall of Kyokujitsu….. and not have all this blood on my hands, especially the blood of my own sister."

"You think everything’s your fault?" whispered Akasaka.

She nodded.

He gazed at her, through a rising wave of tears. She looked absolutely stricken, completely lost, and what had happened to her was not something he could really quite adequately comprehend. His parents had died years ago, when was young, but at least he had been able to move one quickly by committing himself to life. His sorrows were those of an individual, while hers of that of an entire nation.

At a loss. He didn't know what to do at all. But he would try.

"Akeiko...what are you feeling right now?"

"...I don’t know...."

Akasaka wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, then shuffled forward on his knees, moving up to her side, and timidly placed his arms around her shoulders, in a questioning hug. "I'm sorry, Akeiko. I don't know what to say. I can't even imagine what you're going through right now."

No answer from her.

"But...Akeiko...Kaigen said that she thought that you wanted to just disappear. Please, don't go. I'd miss you so much if you are like this. And I don't want you to be alone, not after something like this. You'd be...I don't know...."

Still no answer. But, he thought, he could feel her relax slightly. So he continued. "You'll come, won't you? I mean, what are you going to do now? And you promised that you wouldn't leave me behind, remember?"

Finally, Akeiko slowly turned her head to face him. Confusion, pain, loss...but perhaps, the faintest glimmers of hope? Or something? Then her eyes quickly darkened. And she still didn't speak.

So he kissed her.

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Akasaka could tell that she was taken by surprise: her entire body went rigid like stone, and she didn't respond at first. Undeterred, he tightened his embrace, and pressed his lips a little more forcefully against her. Slowly, she warmed up to him, and started kissing him back, deeply. When they parted, Akasaka fell back, panting for breath. "So...um... you'll come back, right?" he asked, a little giddy. He vaguely realized that he was now wearing a rather goofy smile. She could really kiss, when she wanted to.

She was smiling, too, though not as exuberantly as he was. But it was a vast improvement over how she'd been earlier. "Yes, Mamoru-kun...I will go back. I’ll still be staying here for a little awhile, though."

"Don't worry about it now." he smiled, a gentler smile. "Are you okay, Akeiko? Be honest, please."

Her face fell once more, and she looked down. "No, I’m not. This is going to be...difficult." She sighed, and leaned back against the wall, now looking off toward the mountains. "I just do not know. This was too much for one time. Too much to think about. I am going to need time."

He nodded, and placed his hand over hers. "Take as much time as you need, Akeiko. I'll be with you, always remember that."

And she smiled again, and leaned forward to kiss him once more, lightly.

Just then the phone began ringing.

They quickly turned away from each other, and stared at the shaking phone. Akeiko giggled nervously, and went to pick it up.

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“Hello?”

“Greetings, little one.” answered a deep, slightly raspy voice.

“Who is this?”

“I am your ticket to salvation, to your return to the world stage. Dilberia has fallen, and I shall raise the Turks up in a new Horde. Will you join me?”

“..... Why should I?”

“Turanism calls for a unity spanning from the Turks to the Altais, meaning the Kyokujitsujins would also be part. And I offer you the position of Khan, to bring forth the rebirth of Kyokujitsu.”

“Interesting proposal..... Why are you offering me this? And what shall I call you?”

“I have a debt to repay. As for me, I never allowed this before, but you can call me Daigenshu.”

“Hmmmmm.....”

“Consider it, little one, and come to Karaganda if you accept. I shall be waiting.”

And the caller hung up the phone.

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OOC: Oh, I see...you're not covering just your time as DKT, but during your times you were nationless, and your second nation as well. Character studies are quite interesting things when taken over such long periods. Amazing the changes a person can go through in those times.

But I ramble too much. I mostly just want you to know I'm still reading this. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

She slowly put down the receiver.

"Who was it?" asked Akasaka curiously.

With her back towards him, she replied with a question.

"Mamoru-kun, are you willing to go to the ends of the world with me, to revive the nation?"

There was only one reply worth saying.

"Yes, even to hell and back if I have to. Anywhere, everywhere, always."

Akeiko turned around to face him. The fire in her eyes had reignited, radiating the absolute confidence that had been the signature of the Ryumu Sumeragi. In dramatically exaggerated formal tones she spoke.

"Sergeant Akasaka, your loyalty is unquestionable. I appreciate your presence."

But then she slowly approached him, coming close enough for their toes to touch. Looking up into the deep brown eyes, she whispered softly.

"And there is something else....."

Slowly standing up on her toes, she lightly kissed the cool, soft cheek. She then took a step backwards, as her cheek started getting rosy.

"Thanks for the kiss. It was very..... invigorating."

Her face, with eyes closed, beamed with a smile as bright as the sun. She was truly happy, glad that someone in this dark world still cared enough to come all the way to this frozen end of earth for her. Everyghing, the pressure of the world, the depression of failure, was wiped aside, leaving only two young people who were ever so normal, just trying to do what is right. She had Akasaka Mamoru, and knew she would never be lonely again.

And that was something she had always wanted: a companion, someone who she could trust completely.

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