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Chapter 9 - Dinner with the Prince[]

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Meeting with deadly young man[]

09/05/3046 Location: Masamori, Hachiman

Isoroku Kurita observed a brightly lit ferry cross the placid river from this meeting room. Its wake caught subdued hues of a scarlet sunset and distorted the reflection of Murasaki's brilliant lights. The bright thrust plume of an aerodyne Beacon (Buccaneer) Dropship appeared above the ocean heading far beyond this world with its valuable cargo. Likely heading to one of the gargantuan space stations operating at Hachiman's jump points.

Buccaneer DropShip (Full Thrust - MWO Version)

Beacon Class Cargo DropShip

On the streets below traffic picked up as workers engaged in their commute back to apartments throughout the city. A passenger train roared across the Sen'nendai Bridge to Sebunshisutāzu, named for the Seven Bridges connecting the Metro area. Bobbing green lights highlighted a fleet of fishing boats departing for their nightly labors.

He leaned heavily on the ivory headed cane he borrowed from Chandrasekhar flexing his leg under the dark gray hakama. Isoroku rolled his hand across the injured area on his upper thigh. “Couple centimeters to the right and life would have lost some joy.”

A wounded expression came across the hardened shadows of his face. His free hand clenched the amulet under his coat. “Not that I intended to use it for that purpose any time soon.”

Behind him a low voice with a sinister tone spoke. “We could always find an alternative arrangement to help you heal, Tai-Shu Kurita.”

“Good Evening, Ninyu-san. I believe my current arrangement will suffice for a few more weeks before I continue my tour. How are things at the (ISF) Academy?”

“Not as interesting as Masamori.”, Ninyu responded

Isoroku set his cane into the rich blue carpet as the windows turned into a bronze mirror. Ninyu Kerai Indrahar's reflected form stood slightly behind him. Lurid red hair, scarred visage, dark wardrobe, and toothy smile, an infernal vision only lacking horns. “Any progress tracing the attackers?”

“Negative Tai-Shu. Literal Ghosts.” Ninyu said with disgust

“Then I suppose I am haunted until I exorcise this curse.” Isoroku told the younger man.

“I will do whatever I can to aid your efforts.” Ninyu told him

In the mirror Isoroku saw a black suited aide waiting next to the door. “We both know you are no priest.”

“I revel in the last rites.”, Ninyu said

“Whoever they are we will find them and bleed them white.

Just as they tried to do to me.”, Isoroku said with venom

“With pleasure, Tai-Shu.”, red headed man said

Miya meets the Prince[]

Miya waited in the corridor adorned with a block prints of life on the ocean, or at least a romanticized version of it. Vibrant shades of color were carefully layered atop one another with a master's skill.

“Admiring the artwork, Miya-san?” a voice said from behind

She looked over to Isoroku and another man standing beside him, roughly the same age but unknown to her.  Her bow was rushed and she almost lost control of the long sleeves of her deep maroon furisode adorned with gold leave brocade and fine embroideries. The obi binding her waist fought against any change in 'proper' ladylike posture.

“Isoroku-denka, how long have you been there?” she asked

He nodded to her in response as did the other man. “Only a moment. I didn't want to rush you as you seemed to be enjoying yourself. The restaurant is open till midnight and its hardly nineteen hundred.”

The other man chimed in. His dark foreboding intonation and Glasgow smile chilled her blood. “Bar's open till two. I will take my leave, Tai-Shu Kurita. Enjoy your evening.”

“Good luck with your hunt, Ninyu.” Isoroku told the redheaded man.

Ninyu bowed deeply and disappeared around the corner.

“Apologies for the brief business interruption. I am honored you deigned to accept my invitation.”

With a gesture he led her on in the opposite direction toward the most expensive and elite restaurant in Masamori. Even hobbled she could move faster than Isoroku's stuttering steps.

“Are you well?” she asked him

“Thanks to you I will heal. It's not my first major injury though it was my closest brush with death outside of a battle with the Davions.”

They walked through Sen'nendai Hotel's richly decorated interior featuring textured tropical hardwoods, principally from Togura, water block prints, tapestries, and remarkably beautiful ink paintings. Plush carpet muffled most of the noise. All external windows had turned to opaque mirrors reflecting the decorated walls. Also scrambling targeting solutions on anyone inside, three new skyscrapers were joining the school of sharks that loomed over the River Yamato.

“You look as though you are about to debut, Miya-san.” Isoroku commented

Blush came to her cheeks at the compliment. Renting and fitting the kimono from the Canopians would cost her a year's worth of specialty pay or months of enjo-kosai. Not that she wanted to actual act on that particular stream, again. Only her 'cut'-rate ticket to Hachiman had cost more, but that debt wasn't only any official ledger.

“Thank you, Sir. But I'm just a country girl from Kirei Na Niwa.” she told him

“It lives up to its name from what I've seen.” His look dipped noticeably. “Kanoko...”

An ornate sign adorned a balcony held up by five decorative pillars adorned with long streamers reflecting an autumnal theme. The hotel's grand staircase, delicate chandeliers, and mosaic floor accented a cavernous lobby.

Waiting for them at the entrance was an older man. He stumbled through scripted words. He bowed deeply, “Tai-Shu Isoroku-sama. I am the owner of Chuka Shinkai, Genya Liao. It is my great pleasure to serve you and your guest this evening.”

Incredulous Miya spoke out of curiosity despite expectations of silence. Liao?”

“A distant relation, all Great Houses have hundreds of members.

Chancellor Maximilian only trusted family with his food. I was his personal chef throughout his reign...” A sudden and mildly disturbing smile came to his face, “until I emigrated to Hachiman.” Genya Liao told her

Their table was laid out in a normal fashion with actual seats. Miya breathed a sigh of relief until she saw the menu. Isoroku helped her into the seat ensuring the ornate bow on her gold and brown obi adorned with autumnal patterns wasn't crushed in the process.

They sat at an elevated area behind a beaded curtain while musicians performed live on a stage across the dining hall with table separated by paper walls. A ceramic bottle with Chinese writing on it, a pitcher of water, and selection of cups occupied the far side along with two handwritten menus.

“Fifteen courses!” she said amazed


Miya put a hand to her stomach held captive by the wide rigid belt. “What kind of restaurant is this?”

She held the menu out. “There are no prices.”

“People that dine in these establishments don't care about the price. You choose what you like when the server comes by. Chandrasekhar-san gave me some recommendations. Apparently he is a regular.”, Isoroku told her

Isoroku placed a pair of cups on the table, uncapped the bottle, which hovered over the cup. “Baiju?”

Her nod was the answer so he poured and lifted the cup. “Kanpai.”

The funky fruit taste of the spirit brought back memories of friends in the forest. “Baiju? We always called it Batchu when we made it.”

“Maximilian was apparently quite fond of it.”, Isoroku commented

He struggled to follow it and put the bottle off to the side, “I'm not certain it will take off in Combine space, but Hachiman is a strange place. I would not want to insult, Genya. It is apparently a symbol of hospitality. ”

Their first course arrived and much to her relief the course was merely a morsel. If all of them were such she might be able to make it to the end. “It's why I sought to come here. There was no more opportunity there for me.

I want to be a BattleMech Pilot.”

Her head lowered, “but only the Ghosts would sponsor me for training despite my potential. Now that they test women.”

“So you joined the MMK?” the Warlord asked

She nodded and tried her best to eat the next two morsels, artistically decorated sashimi and pan fried pieces of pork belly, as gracefully as possible without her draping sleeves getting dirty. The server brought a small sake bottle which Miya used to fill now empty cups with the clear spirit.

“I have been very impressed with the MMK's professionalism and have doubled the district's contribution to its growth. Including an authorization for a larger SecurityMech service now seeking recruits.” he commented

The light in her eyes and pause of the hand were not subtle as more courses arrived and old ones were removed. “Really?”

“A final deal was signed with Commissioner Marangoz yesterday.” he told her

“Sun-Tzu School of Combat was already looking for a new location. Nashik already serves as a major training ground from the DCMS and Hachiman is growing in importance.”

Isoroku looked up at the ornate chandelier poised above the dining hall. “If only the bright lights and big buildings weren't so overwhelming.”

“I miss long nights in glades looking at the stars and milky way.”, she commented

“I can sponsor you for the training?”, Isoroku asked

He paused for a moment, “Although that's not really enough.”

“What else would you like? , he said

Giving you more work however higher status doesn't seem an adequate reward for your selflessness.” he told you

“I didn't even know who I was saving.”, Miya confessed to him

Miya paused, pushing the plate away as her stomach pressed against her belt at the 13th course. “It was my duty. I don't need a greater reward.”

Something stirred in Isoroku drawing a worrying look from Miya. “And yet I'm going to give you one because it is mine.”

Leaning back Isoroku quaffed the contents of his cup. “If you don't have a preference than I suppose it will be Warlord's choice.”

“That sounds dangerous.” she told him

“No more so than anything else you've done so far.” he told her.

Miya thought to herself. 'If only that were true.'

The lights dimmed further as the paper screens separating tables were reeled up. Curtains opened to reveal a blonde man with a powdered face and wig dressed in a LCAF style uniform with a sash so long it was more a curtain. He ‘tripped’ over it as he walked across stage to the microphone. His overly accented voice emphasized perceived pain. “I haffe received ein injury in service to zee Commonwealth!”

A Draconian woman in a blonde wig and sparkling blue dress appeared from the main entrance. In her hands was a large reflective foil medal that caught the light magnificently. “Antonio for your valiant service to zee Lyran Commonwealth I present zis medal.” She pinned it on the sash to much laughter from the crowd.

He clacked his heels together and bowed to the woman. “Thank you, Archon. See you at the next party.”

As she made her departure he picked up and knotted the excess material to form a caricature of the hakama. The hilt of some kind of sword could finally be seen on his belt as he did so and he blundered about walking like a samurai with exaggerated ways under the lights to much amusement. Above him the house lights followed until he swayed to one of the tables where a young man was dining alone.

Miya blushed at the sight of the handsome man below his curly dirty blonde hair, black military cut uniform fitted well over lean muscles, and rapier all seemed exotic and enticing. Dashing Davions, inspired by the present First Prince Ian Davion, were a frequent hero in what little romantic literature existed in the Combine. The distribution of which was as subversive as it was scandalous and treated as FedSuns propaganda by the ISF. Whoever this man is was certainly cultivating that image and it captivated her so much she didn't notice Isoroku standing at the railing to see what had drawn her rapt attention.

'Antonio' squared up to the man although his already dense faux accent become nearly incomprehensible to a comedic degree. “You stranger Auf der Haut!”

The young man looked at him curiously. “I'm afraid I don't have a hat on inside, Sir. That would be rude.”

Around them the guests waited in anticipation for what happened next. “Nor will you have a head.”

A rubber chicken was attached to the sword hilt in Antonio's scabbard. As he drew it a a speaker inside squawked as the diners laughed at the buffoonish Steiner. He drank the last of his small cup. “I'm good I just ate.”

Suddenly the performer dropped the act handing the rubber chicken to a nearby server. Clapping at the black clad stranger, “I would like to thank the Honorable Percival Filington for playing along with my opening skit and being a good sport all around.

On behalf of our host Master Liao I would like to thank you all for dining with us today and invite you to stay, drink and laugh heartily along with my troupe this evening.”

Miya was speechless and blushing as the young man stood up and clapped the clown on the back as he returned to the revelries. “Filington, the planetary chairman's son?”

Isoroku was slow to catch the keen interest his guest had shown in the young man but he noticed it now. Miya was either flush with sake or blushing at the handsome young man that now wandered about greeting dignitaries and conducting lighthearted business. He subtly signaled to Percival while she wasn't looking.

Percival appeared in their booth to the surprise of Miya who quickly downed her drink. “Isoroku, good to see you out in the real world. I would have though Chandrasekhar would be here until I saw Ninyu. I know they don't really get along.”

He looked at the man's ivory topped cane, “A handsome cane. Intend to keep it?”

“I borrowed it from Chandrasekhar. As such I would be sooner without. It would not do well for the Warlord of the Galedon District be hobbled by such things.”

“Capital, I'm certain you will recover and be stronger than ever,” He gave him a playful jab, “if such were possible.”

His hand palm out gestured to Miya who was attempting to conceal her unease, poorly. “I am well on my way to recovery thanks to this young lady. Constable Miya Kibo this is the Honorable Percival Filington, son of the Earl of Hachiman.”

Quickly he ducked in to take her hand. “I am charmed to meet such a brave and beautiful woman. You can call me Percy.”

Isoroku's form loomed large behind the slender form of Percy. “Now I am afraid I must retire for the evening. These old bones need their rest. I hope you enjoyed our time together Miss Kibo I certainly did. Inform the maitre de when you wish to return and he will signal the car waiting downstairs.”

As Isoroku departed and Percy took his place Miya was torn between a torrent of emotion. Percival was not only handsome but interesting and they spoke of all manner of topics more comfortable to her experience than the political machinations of Warlords and the Kurita Clan that managed them. Horseback riding, archery, dance, detailed adventures into Hachiman's vast wilderness that filled her heart with yearning for her home-world and the now disbanded or dead Ginzu Clan she left behind in order to escape a Daimyo's wrath. His trepidation at being deployed to help put down a Ghost Regiment Mutiny in the Capellan Colonies was so human and unlike any noble she had previously encountered.

There were more esoteric discussions as well. What was beyond the periphery? What might be the bright future of Hachiman, the wealthiest and most liberated world in the Combine. A stirring pride in Draconis Combine's people and their accomplishments. Percival's idealism heartened her, if every planet in the Combine had empowered leader like this she could actually believe the propaganda the ISF spread throughout the Combine and count her own experience as an aberrations.

This whirlwind ended with a slow flyby along the river through Masamori, Percival manned the controls with her tightly bound in the co-pilot seat. The quaint low buildings and dim streetlights of the Headwater's district looked like stars from below while the great bronze towers of Murasaki gleamed with brilliant multicolored splendor. A dropship burned out over the Shakudo Sea,

Percy spoke through the intercom over the roar of rotors above, he looked over to her with a smile. “I have taken to calling these shooting stars because of the fusion engines inside and the arcs they must travel on,” she returned the smile at the terrible joke told in earnest innocence.

En route to Stormhaven, they passed over the green lights of fisherman clustered around their catch. The vacation houses of wealthy merchants lined the shores along the way, many of them had a yacht or seaplane in the larger centralized marina they used to reach Murasaki when necessary. Most used holography to work remotely within the calm resort town of Varner or merely used the business center within for networking and meetings.

Stormhaven loomed over the ocean cliffs erected in an S shape conforming to the rocky pinnacle it occupied that jutted out into the sea. Their helicopter landing within one of the courtyards and she saw little of the inside of the building on the way to their destination.

Two days later, Miya arrived at the Kobun with an unusual amount of pep and clothes they hadn't seen her in before. Reika and the other Constables looked at her with great curiosity as she hummed up to Inspector Genju's office where she took her normal place at a desk piled high with the paperwork that had accumulated over her one scheduled day off per week. She took out the stamp pad and started her work only for Reika to come in and sit across from her.

Miya kept her eyes low. “Shouldn't you be on patrol?”

Reika crossed her arms and leaned back in the chair. “I'm taking my break early.”

“Suit yourself.”

“So how'd it go?”

Miya voice was low almost a whisper as she looked around. “Isoroku-denka and dinner were very nice.”

The small sound of the stamp pressing down was the only one in the office. “That doesn't seem like the whole story Miya-chan.”

She pressed the stamp down into the report still careful to avoid direct eye contact with Reika. “He said he would get me into the SecurityMech Pilot program.”

“That's great. You always said you have high potential. But I still feel like you are leaving something out. I stopped by your apartment yesterday and Mrs Sato said you hadn't returned yet. So where were you?”


Reika sat with her hand under her chin, “Sure you were.”

"Not with Isoroku."

"Then somebody else?"


Interlude - Bushwacking[]

09/26/3046 - Location: Unspecified location, Jungle Region - Continent of Nashik, Hachiman'

Miya reclined to look up at the milky way streaming across the nighttime sky for the first time in almost a year since she left Kirei na Niwa. Her hammock creaked as she shifted in its ropes suspended from her Battlemech's kneeling leg. A fire crackled next to her creating a pool of orange light on the jungle floor wisps of smoke rising to the sky. Faint sounds and smells of the engineering camp filtered through great tropical hardwoods of Nashik's interior joining the croaking frogs and ever-blooming flowers.

She rolled over to pick up a sheathed machete. “Oyasumi Nasai Sanjin!” Her arms closed on the implement, “Keep an eye out for Jaguars.”

Among the dancing firelight an angular mechanical construct knelt in a jungle grove, head slightly bowed to the ground, missiles and arm weapons behind protective doors. Shooting stars illuminated the dark blue sky.

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