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Blasts of freezing sprays hit Akasaka on the face as the ship went on in the stormy sea.

After the tip from Haewon on the location of Akeiko, he had been trying to reach Antarctica. From the relatively cold Jinhae to the sweaty Indian Sea, he went through all sorts of climates and environments, coming closer to his destination.

Even in the midst of all the extreme changes, he felt warm inside, reminiscing the soft wind that blow on that fateful day, the day his life changed more than any other time.....

OOC: A flashback story. It takes place sometime before the Ryumu Sumeragi goes on trial in Shilla (now Korea).

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"All passangers for Special Flight 012, please come to the gate"

Sergeant First Class Akasaka Mamoru picked up his bags as he headed toward the gate.

It was time for the annual !@#$ennou Field Exercise, where the best battalions of the four head divisions of the Imperial Army gathered at the training camp in the mountain retreat near Mt. Kousei, the holiest site of Kyokujitsu. It was an honor to be part of the exercises, for only the ones worth of being the true warriors of the Sumeragi are allowed to participate. And it was almost by chance that his battalion was chosen to represent the Gentengun Division.

The Gentengun Division is the force in charge of the defense of the Sumeragi and the Imperial Family, and by extension of the Capitol. It is a small, elite army, directly under the Sumeragi’s control. It has it headquarters in the northern end of the Imperial Palace in Nankyo, and is comprised of the best soldiers from every branch of the IJAF, and they are the most feared men in the Kyokujitsu Teikoku Rikugun (Kyokujitsu Imperial Army).

The Gentengun is the most diverse military organization the KTR has ever seen. It is not a swift, decisive force like the Naval Infantry, but instead is used to bludgeon any attack into the heavily urbanized Nankyo landscape. Nevertheless, the might of the Gentengun can be turned to many specialized tasks, from anti-terrorist actions to trench battles, to armoured thrusts, to coastal defense. It contains ten thousand men supported by armored vehicles such as tanks and troop transports. These armored vehicles take the shape of assault tanks, long range self propelled artillery guns, and the Tora Main Battle Tank. Due to its mission, specialized weaponry and armor rare in the rest of the KTR are reserved for only the elite forces of the Imperial Guard. Tactically, the Imperial Guard uses fine maneuvers and will rely upon high tech weapons, intelligence and surprise instead of sheer weight of numbers. Service in the Gentengun is a glorious path to tread, where this valiant warriors are ready to lay down their lives for the sake of the Empire, and the honor of the Sumeragi.

It was almost by chance that he had been able to join, given his family background. It wasn't that his background was bad, but the Gentengun was almost completely comprised of military families that had served the Emperor of the old Daikan Teikoku and the Sumeragi for at least three generations. Given the extreme competition, he still didn't know what made him stand out enough to be chosen. Maybe it was his record.

Either way, here he was, boarding a plane to be part of what any soldier would die for to be part of. He would be sure to make the most of it.

Edited by Sumeragi
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  • 2 months later...

"..... Name the two elements of mass, and explain their relationship to the principles of war.."

".....Time and space. Time focuses on applying the elements of combat power against multiple targets simultaneously, while space concentrates the effects of different elements of combat power against a single target....."

The small officetel was plain but comfortably furnished. It was the "unofficial" residence of the Sumeragi, where she sometimes stayed to get away from all the stuffy grandeur of the Imperial Palace and the crushing schedule of the downtown office. Almost no one, including the security detail knew of this place, and so it was the perfect location for having some privacy.

These days, the place was used as a sort of study room, where Akasaka was being tutored by Akeiko in preparation for his promotion exams. Originally, he had entered the military right after graduation from high school, and never got any particular education to be an officer. The Gentengun was supposed to be made up of only NCOs and above, but special exceptions were granted for soldiers of outstanding quality. Nevertheless, this meant that they had to become a NCO as soon as possible.

Akasaka needed to crash study, since he had to cut studying time due to two wars which happened since he first joined the Gentengun. Although not a bad student, he faced possibility of flunking out with all the chaos that disrupted any quiet time to concentrate on what he should have been doing for the past six months. As he was getting slightly desperate, help from an unexpected corner came to him: Akeiko. Being the commander of the Gentengun, she was the perfect person to learn from, if one managed to ignore the fact that she was the Mother of the Nation. Akasaka would have attempted to avoid having to face such an honor, but the Sumeragi had insisted, and so here he was, in a very private place, sitting on the floor at a low table studying, alone with the most beautiful and powerful person in Kyokujitsu. Learning from Akeiko wasn't that bad. She was a very good teacher, patiently leading the private through the knowledge that any future officer would need when leading the troops. He couldn't have asked for anything more, if it weren't for the fact that he..... well, he liked her.

He couldn't help but be distracted by the deep rich tones of her voice, her sweet and amiable expressions, and her singularly spiritual and sympathetic large ruby eyes. She was very playful, teasing him now and then about how he didn't know a simple thing or two, and when combined with the sweet personality, she could have been one of those mythical perfect idols that almost any guy have had in his dreams. Personally, Akasaka had never looked upon a face which gave a clearer promise of a refined and sensitive nature. But he knew that there was a large barrier between him and her, for even if Akeiko was very free-going, she was divinity in human form. That barrier would have been enough for Akasaka to keep things to himself. However, there was one thing that constantly cracked his iron resolve: Her body.

Okay, she wasn't one of those glamorous statues that one could see being on the front cover of celebrity magazines. In fact, she had a pretty plain body, not that curvy or busty. You would think she might have a slight complex of how her breasts weren't as big as the average. Even considering this, though, Akasaka couldn't help but become attracted by the smooth ivory skin, the silky black hair, and the lithe body.

On this particular day, Akeiko was wearing a sky blue shirt with the two top buttons open and jeans. The shirt was thin enough to see the shadows of her underwear, and that was enough to wreck the calmness of Akasaka. He tried to drown his mind in the various diagrams in his notebook, but as Akeiko leaned over to point out a picture, he could almost see her cleavage through the open collar. Becoming completely flustered, he half jumped back.

"Really, Akeiko, you should button your shirt."

The little girl slightly tilted her head, like she was pondering at something she never seen before.



Akasaka's heart missed a beat at the seemingly naive question. Just why did she have this kind of innocence?!?!?!

"I.... I'm very..... distracted."

At the word "distracted", the girl's eyes started twinkling.

"Ah, so Mamoru-kun is worried about a chibi? How funny!"

With a mischievous smile, she crawled around the table toward him like a cat stalking a mouse. There was nothing he could do, but back up in an attempt to escape the approaching predator. Hitting the wall, he knew that he was doomed for whatever was coming. The kitty slowly pushed him down on the floor, her face getting nearer and nearer to his. The hungry red eyes pierced into his, and she licked her lips....


Akasaka woke up, as the plane shoke slightly as it landed. He had been dreaming of what happened about two months ago, just before he took and passed his promotion test. Right before her lips pressed down upon him, Akeiko suddenly stood up, and laughed.

"Really, Mamoru-kun, you should try to defend yourself more."

Giggling, she went back to her seat, and they continued studying.

He had been relieved back then that nothing serious happened. After all, he wasn't sure what he would have done if Akeiko had gone further than she did, and he wasn't ready to face what could have happened. Never mind inexperience, it was more of the repercussions of that aftermath that he was worried about. But then, it was fun imagining things. She was very beautiful, and it wasn't like he didn't like her. Nevertheless, there were lines that were not meant to be crossed, and he was content.

The plane taxied to a stop, and Akasaka got ready to carry his bags. It was time to get back to being a sergeant of the Gentengun.

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After checking out of the airport, the troops headed toward the helicopter hanger next to it. Mt. Kousei is highly inaccessible to the outside world, requiring a 100-km hike from the airport to the base camp. To save time, the camp had its own transport service, which was reserved for only Imperial and military use. Slowly the Gentengun was shuttled to Camp Onogoro, the site of the !@#$ennou Field Exercise.

In Yamato mythology, Onogoro was the first island created by Izanagi and Izanami. They lowered a jewelled spear into the ocean, and when they raised it, drops fell from the spear, forming the island. They built a palace on top with a great column in the middle. To honor this origins, the camp at the base of the holy mountain was named "Camp Onogoro". Serving as both a military camp and an Imperial Retreat, it was the most isolated and reserved place in Kyokujitsu, the perfect place to meet the needs of the Sumeragi.

Quite a bit of time had passed, but finally everyone managed to arrived safely with all of their luggages. Legs were stretched, and the troops slightly slacked. Soon, the lietenant of Akasaka's company came with a somewhat big crate on wheels.

"All right troops, get your bento. Break will be until 1900."

'Dang it, I forgot to pack one!'

Akasaka had completely forgotten that there was no meal provided that day, since it would take another day to get everything moved to Onogoro. Because of this, there had been orders for individual soldiers to prepare their own meal. It seems he would have to just forgo dinner, or maybe ask for some scraps from other later.....

"Sergeant Akasaka, is this yours?"

The lieutenant held up a three-story shokado bento, its black-lacquered cover reflecting the light of the setting sun. Every pair of eyes looked at it, as the luxerious lunch box captivated attention. A somewhat sheepish Akasaka stood up to get the bento. Sitting down at the patch of grass where he had been resting, he opened the three stories.

Whoever made that bento for him must have put a lot of effort into it. Aside from the warm rice, which had warm steam rising out of it, there were teriyaki, kabayaki, karaage, hanbagu, meatballs, tofu..... almost every kind of side dishes that could be thought of were packed into the remaining sections in a orderly fashion. It wasn't just a bento, it was some sort of art, with the colors being in complete harmony and the aroma not clashing with each other. On the bottom of the set was an envolope, containing a short pink letter written in a rounded handwriting.

Dear Mamoru-kun,

You should really take care of yourself and not forget the basic things in life. I've figured that you would need this, so enjoy!

From ♥♥あ♥♥

"Hey Mamoru, you got a girlfriend or something?"

"Already with a sweet wife, I envy you!"

His buddies gathered around him, jokingly congratulating him, They were armed with chopsticks, ready to assualt the feast that had been bestoied upon Akasaka.....

"What's going on?"

A small light-toned voice came from behind the crowd.

Everyone turned around and stood up at attention. In front of them was the Mother of the Nation, holding a rather huge onigiri.

"Some girl gave Sergeant Akasaka an aiso bento!"

"He's got a girlfriend~, Heika!"

As Akasaka's face grew redder and redder, the Sumeragi just smiled.

"Now now troops, we can't disturb the romantic life of Akasaka, so let's just leave him be."

At her words, the crowd went somewhere else, laughter breaking out. Soon only the Sumeragi and Akasaka are left. Glancing to the side to see if no one was around, she then gave the sarge a slight wink, with a small grin on her face. As the caped figure turned around and walked away, Akasaka could do nothing but blush, and slowly eat the rather large and delicious dinner that a certain someone had given him.

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Akasaka responded ravenously to the pungent aroma of spicy lamb coming from the mess hall. There was shish-kebab for dinner, huge, savory hunks of spitted meat sizzling over charcoal after marinating seventy-two hours in a secret mixture, served with rice and tofu, followed by sweets for dessert and then cups of fresh tea. He gorged himself in the mess hall until he though he would explode and then sagged back in a contented stupor, his mouth filmy with a succulent residue.

The Gentengun had unexpectedly won the "Iron Team" Contest with the custom training circuit Akasaka had developed. The system was simple: One did one push-up, one chin-up, and one crunch. Then, two push-ups, two chin-ups, and two crunches. Each time a set was finished, one hold add one more of each exercises until one could no longer go on. This "pyramid" circuit was very effective in getting the troops to gain strength, leading to victory in the grueling Iron Team Contest, composed of 100 crunches in, 25 chin-ups, 90 push-ups (with two minutes allocated for each exercise type), a 5 km run within 20 minutes, 11 meter climb up a rope, and 33 turns on the parallel bar.

Akasaka was feeling pretty good. He had earned the respect and disdain of the best units within the Kyokujitsu military, ensuring that he would no longer be considered an outsider. However, that feeling was cut short when he found an official-looking note inside his locker.

To: Sergeant First Class Akasaka Mamoru

From: Camp Onogoro HG

Report to HQ room 208 at 2000. You may enter without permission. Make sure you are alone.

'Why in the world would they want me to report to HQ.....'

It was a worrisome sign.

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The HQ building was extremely simple, considering it was where all the commissioned officers and above were staying there. A stone two-story building, the only words to describe it were "strudy" and "bland", with only the tile roof something to show that it wasn't just some slab of granite in the middle of a forest.

Akasaka had arrived on the second floor the the building, after passing checking with the security details. He still didn't have the slightest idea why he was called with all the secracy, and to tell the truth, he didn't want to know. Walking up to Room 208, which was on the far side of the hall, he took a deep breath and opened the door.

He stopped in his tracks.

The room was very old-fashioned, seemingly from at least a century ago. Set up in the traditionalist way, it was filled with Imperial symbols, from the Seal to the Kyokujitsu-ki.

And Sitting on a chair in the middle of the room was the Sumeragi, half naked.

She was watching an analysis video of the field excerise with a very bored expression on her face. Laying back in the comfortable chair with cape drapped over the back, she had her legs crossed and hand supporting his face. Up to this was normal. However, she had completely unbuttoned her tunic wide open, exposing the pearl white skin beneath it..... and almost the entirety of her breasts. The trousers were also unzipped, making the fly completelyopen. The glistening body of the Sumeragi made her seem like a divine being, with light coming from within her.

As Akasaka was standing, frozen as a statue, she lazily rolled her eyes toward his direction. After a few moments, she realized who had intruded upon her. Her face became flushed, and the garent eyes immediately opened wide in surprise. Mouth opening and closing soundlessly, shockwaves could be seen vibrating throughout her mind.

"A, A, Aka, Akasaka-kun!"

The spell was broken. Akasaka immediately slammed the door shut, and leaned upon it, trying to regain his sense. Just then, a massive roar rang out.


It came from Room 207, which was somewhat along the hall. A blonde girl stepped out and looked around to see if anyone was in near. Noticing Akasaka, she beckoned him. Akasaka stiffly walked toward the room, still somewhat shaken at what had happened a few moments ago.

Room 207 was very barren, with only a desk and a cabinet decorating the white walls. At the desk was a Commander of the Heijo Division, Kei Shojitsu, who was fuming.

"Why are you late, Sarge."

"Er, sir, the letter ordered me to go to Room 208."

Almost instantly Kei's face cleared up.

"Ah, must have been a typo. I'll forgive your tardiness."

"Thank you sir. May I ask why you called me?"

"Your performance has been excellent, and though you aren't in my division, I want to give you a little award."

Kei flipped a piece of paper toward Akasaka.

"It's the time and enterance code for the VIP onsen. I want you to be there, and that's an order."

OOC: I have a picture of the Sumeragi in the scene above. First five to post comments here will get a PM to the link :awesome:

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Some things never change, even if the environment has become different. One such thing was the love for onsens.

The Kyokujitsujins loved bathing. There was nothing more comfortable than seeping one's body into the steaming water, letting the tension and stress fly away with the steam. Hot springs, called onsen in Kyokujitsugo, was the height of relaxation. The onsen culture in Kyokujitsu is very rich, but to have nature's gifts so deeply integrated into the spiritual culture is unprecedented.

However, there was one slight problem: the lack of hot springs. While the ancestral homeland had thousands, here in Kyokujitsu there were only a few dozens, most of them artificially made. Only about three natural hot springs existed, making them very valuable. Out of these three, the onsen in Mt. Kousei was considered the perfect onsen. Given its location in the holiest mountain, the Kousei onsen became part of the Imperial Retreat, reserved only for those who had been invited by a member of the Imperial Family.

At 2300, Akasaka had arrived at the entrance to the onsen. Punching in the codes, just as the commander of the Heijo Division had ordered, he cautiously entered. Deliberately taking his time with the showers, he entered the bathing area with a towel wrapped around him. Inside he could see that there was an enormous rotenburo, its crystal clear waters releasing silky steam. looking around to see if there was anyone else, he then slowly entered the water, feeling the warmth seeping into his body. Sitting on the stone bench within the bath, he relaxed.

Even while relaxing, though, he was still worried. Why did the Heijo commander "advise" him to use this bath? Even assuming it was to award him for what he did during the exercises, no member of the Imperial Family would be so rash as to grant such a low figure access. Of course, Kei Shojitsu was notorious as being somewhat eccentric, but still, perhaps there was a hidden reason......

Had he been there for an hour? Akasaka started dozing a bit in the warm waters, when he heard someone coming into the bathing area while humming softly. The recognition of the person's voice hit his head like a sledgehammer.

It was her.

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Fight or flight. It was the the biological response of animals to acute stress, helping them escape harm from emergencies. For any healthy animals, it was a natural part of living.

But sometimes even basic instincts can shut down, when the subject is overwhelmed. And that was the situation Akasaka was in.

He knew that she was coming, and he knew that he had to get out of there as fast as he can, but he was paralyzed, stuck in the same place where he was. Somehow any signals the brain was sending to his body were being blocked, putting him out in the open. As the door of the bath area opened, his mind went completely blank, unable to comprehend anything.

A small girl came through the steam, a towel wrapped around her petite body. Still humming a lively tone, she had her eyes closed, savoring the warmth of the open area. When she opened them, she saw something that should not be there.

"...... Mamoru-kun?"

Akasaka wanted the ground to swallow him up, even if it meant going to hell. He would rather have faced whatever dangers there were in war, then this very embarrassing situation.

What seemed like hours passed. Akeiko looked at him with stunned eyes, but slowly she walked to the bath, and lowered her body into it. After settling down comfortable, we turned her eyes back to him.

"Mamoru-kun, how did you get in here?"

Might as well tell the truth.

"Th, the Heijo commander gave me the time and code, saying that he wanted me to be here......"


Akeiko looked up at the sky, pondering things over.

"I, I could just go now, if you don't mind, Heika......"

"Nah, it's okay, Mamoru-kun. Just relax."

Relax? How was he supposed to relax when he was alone with a woman, a particularly attractive woman, in a rotenburo while only one sheet away from being completely naked? It's a miracle he didn't have a heart attack or something. He tried to look at the girl in front of him in the eye. She had a small, smoothing smile on her face, looking at him cordially.

"Seems like we keep bumping into each other."

"Yes...... I apologize for what happened at headquarters."

"Don't worry about it. It's my fault for being too loose when I should be acting like the mature person I'm supposed to be."

She was so beautiful, a delicate, slender ivory statue, the most captivating woman he had ever seen. The jet-black hair and ruby eyes, beguiling smile, and, most of all, the child-like sensuality, for she looked like a budding-breasted teenager in early bloom. Everything about her was just so perfect, even with the towel hiding what was underneath. Although lightened at her assurance, he still couldn't look directly at her, blushing like pomegranate

"I've been meaning to ask you this, Mamoru-kun."


"Mind if you go for a hike around the forest tomorrow? I haven't been out there in a long time, and I want to see how much has changed."

"I suppose I can go. There's no schedules tomorrow, so I can "

"Great! Come to HQ at 0700 then."

Perhaps bathing together with a girl wasn't so bad, after all.

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The two of them walked in relaxed silence, watching the leaves of the trees lining the road flutter lightly. The sun shone, birds chirped. The air was pleasantly warm.

"It is a perfect day," murmured Akasaka softly.

"Yes, it is."

It had been a pleasant walk for the two of them. Akeiko was happy at being where she had played when she was just a kid, and they talked about various things. For now, they were just two young people, enjoying nature and each other.

After hours had passed, they decided to rest a bit before returning to camp. As Akasaka looked for a place to sit, he glanced up, and found Akeiko climbing a tree, onto a large branch.

"Akeiko? What are you doing?"

"I like it up here. I think it'd be nice to take a break right in this tree." She settled herself down on the branch, then beckoned. "Come on. I promise I won't knock you off."

She grinned, and he smiled back at her, after a moment. It was not difficult for him to climb up and settle down, to her right. They were close enough that their hips almost brushed against each other. The branch was quite wide, so there was little worry about falling by accident. Not too much, at least.

Akeiko swung her legs freely, while humming a soft tune. Akasaka relaxed, and looked out into the forest. He could actually see a bit of the camp from here.

"How much longer until sundown?" he asked, after a while.

"We've got several hours, I think. Plenty of time."


A breeze suddenly gusted through, bringing with it a few stray leaves...... and some dust.


"Akeiko? Are you all right? What is it?"

"Something got in my eye," she said, clapping her hand over her face. "Ow...."

Akasaka reached out, taking her shoulder so as to steady her. "Here, let me see." She lifted her hand away, revealing a slightly reddened eye. He reached up and brushed the tear away, and peered into it.

"Hmm...I think your tears washed it away. You will be fine."

"Th...thank you, Mamoru-kun."

Now he realized how close he was to her. He could see his own face reflected in her large, liquid red eyes. It was only with great presence of mind that he prevented himself from jerking away suddenly, because that might have unbalanced one or both enough for a spill out of the tree. "Ah...um." In fact, he wasn't moving away at all. And neither was she. They simply...sat there.

Another gust of wind flowed through, momentarily breaking the spell. When the wind passed, they simply looked out over the forest, not speaking.

It was awkward, yet not awkward. The slightly tense air was in a way expectant and exciting. One waited for the other to speak, but was bursting to say something first. In the end, they turned to each other at the same time.



And both stopped. Then laughed, easing that tension just a bit. Akasaka's left hand, the free one, reached for Akeiko's right, clasping it. She entwined her fingers in his and squeezed gently. Each was blushing furiously at this point, but neither seemed to care, or even notice much.

"Akeiko? Have you ever...."


Akasaka couldn't work up the courage to ask it out loud, but Akeiko somehow caught on.

"No...... Being the Sumeragi and all that...... Boys never really approached me. And I guess, before now, I never really thought about......" She shrugged, and smiled weakly.

He nodded, fell silent, before responding.

"And I...well, you know that I never really had time for romance and stuff."

He chuckled softly.

"I am glad that I met you."

Words ceased once more, and they just looked into each others' eyes, smiling.

"Do you want to kiss me?"


Akeiko shifted on the branch nervously. She looked about as surprised as Akasaka was at her own question.

"Um. Do you want to kiss me?"

Akasaka stared at her. Her eyes were wide open, inquisitive, uncertain. But they also held a sparkle of expectation. She unconsciously licked her lips, and he reflexively did the same. While continuing to study her face and this possibility before him, he found himself suddenly unable to speak. So he decided not to, and instead, slowly leaned toward her. She did likewise, tilting her head slightly as he neared.

Their lips met, hesitantly. She felt soft, warm, moist. They drew apart for a moment, as if slightly stunned by this tingling touch, then moved forward again to press more firmly against each other. Akasaka closed his eyes, as he felt the warmth spread from the kiss throughout the rest of his body. Her hand tightened around his, and he squeezed back in response. His heart hammered, his blood pounded, and yet, a part of him was at such wonderful peace.

The wind picked up once again. With reluctance, they finally pulled away from each other, blinking slowly. Before he could even open his mouth to say anything, though, Akeiko leaned against Akasaka, nestling her head on his shoulder. He let go of her hand, wrapped his arm around her waist, and drew her against himself, resting his cheek against the top of her head. She smelled of earth and pine and frost; she felt like a cloud that had drifted into his embrace.

They stayed like this for a while longer. Minutes? Hours? Seconds? Whatever. He couldn't tell, he didn't care. How foolish of him to have wanted to say something earlier; this was all that was necessary.

A brush against the base of his neck. She had slowly moved her arm up and across his back, and her fingers faintly tickled him there.

"Mamoru-kun?" she murmured.


"Do you want to kiss me again?"

Akasaka laughed softly.

"I do, but...."

"It would kinda ruin the first one to do it again so soon?"


Akeiko just nodded.

"We really should get back to the camp, though."


"I know. I do not want to move either."

And more silence. Only heartbeats, soft breathing, and the rustling wind.

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