Finally managed to get this chapter done. A lot of work came up last week that stopped me from finishing it off then liked I wanted to and this week has been no different. Add in Red Dead 2 finally coming out last week and Fallout New California mod and my weekend was busy playing games that have been on my list for half a decade. Both are great, one is free to download and will play with most pcs.
Anyways, here is pretty much the second half of Father, Son and the mother Hen chapter. I had a commission piece for it done by SkyGiratina00 that will be at the end. Think you will all enjoy seeing what Oboro and Saburo look like.
Hopefully the next update will be chapter two of Roanapur Connection and will be before the year is out. Thanks again for your continued patience.
A tallish figure (about the size Shizuka-Sama was Oboro guessed). Clad in full white kimono, with a flowery pattern of cherry sakura adorning it, fur mink covering the shoulder and neck area, what looked like a cross was hanging around their neck, though it wasn't a usual Christian cross Oboro had seen on one of Genbu's lieutenants, Josui was it? It was more of a design she had seen in one of those books Rabbit used to show her of early British history, she couldn't remember what they were called. Fan covering the face with the image of a large smile laced in red lipstick. Light soft giggles as they walked in with their Tabi socks quietly touching the wooden floorboard. With a slender figure that looked familiar from the recent video they had just watched. Was this person the one with the long flowing hair who lifted off with the man in suit?
Flanked at both sides by two people, one more burly and the other looking more hippish. Both wearing the same what looked like detailed merc uniforms, faces and hair masked up with only their eyes visible and hidden by sunglasses and Golden colored Berets. HK33 Assault Rifles resting on their shoulders.
The Golden Company's sigil of a Golden Skull with a snake wrapped around it printed on their shoulders. Their words printed on them 'Our word is as good as gold.' The burly one was carrying a briefcase with them. The other what looked like a parasol.
They walked over to where Oboro and Saburo were standing to greet them.
"Good afternoon Shinozaki/Iga Oboro, Kirihara Saburo. My boss and very dear partner. Andre Nathaniel sends his greetings and admiration to fellow crafters of our art, that he is a big fan of your wrestling. Along that it would a great honour to be work with you if we come to an accord today." Came the soft sounding voice with flamboyance and what Oboro assume was some scottishness mixed in its tone.
Fan snapped shut to reveal their guests face. Right eye winking at them as they stood with confidence.
"Allow me to introduce myself, I am Maclean Akira, Personal Assistant to the Director of Intelligence of Europe for the Golden Company. Andre Nathan, whom has entrusted me the honour of meeting you face-to-face in order to discuss business and if possible, a contract for our services." A deep bow from the trio followed from their introduction.
To which Oboro and Saburo returned, though a bit awkwardly from Saburo due to the sight they were seeing. Oboro also had to stop herself from bowing too low, lest the pain of her stomach plays up again. Which thankfully had eased a little after taking her pills earlier.
Oboro had to blink to make sure what she was seeing was what she thought she was seeing.
She gave Miss Maclean a through look just to make sure she was seeing what she was seeing.
Their face... painted up in makeup with particular red eyeshadow/eyeliner under her eyes. The calmness of a deep blue sea in their eyes as they slyly looked at Oboro and Saburo. Eyelashes layered in a slight tint of mascara. Rose pink gloss over their lips practically grinning as they giggled a bit more. Opera looking gloves gloated in white covering their hands. Long amalyest tinted hair flowing on their shoulders, while the top was wrapped in a golden tier on it's top like a Geisha would have their hair made up. Oboro continued to scan over Akira's body, but then she noticed something that caught her attention. The neck, was that a Adam's apple she could see sticking out of it? Was this someone who is or used to be a man? Or was this a man… in disguise as a woman?
No, Oboro thought. She could not and would not jump to conclusions.
Oboro had seen her fair share of undercover antics over the years, a fair number of women had disguised as men during some operations she had taken part in (even she had to chop her hair at one point to make it more boyish), one or two men as women. Especially since the Shinozaki masks could hide or morph their facial structure to allow them to become the person they are impersonating. Along with a good wig, reasonable mimicking of a person's voice or accent (tech could come in handy there with the right sound engineer to work it has her mother's clan often kept tabs on). Masked tape could pad up an appearance to an extent as well. But this one was certainly… unique.
'Well, this is certainly something I wasn't expecting. What exactly is your game here Mr Andre, in sending this interesting individual to meet with us? Are you merely trying to fluster us? To show us what sort of people you have under your wing. Or, is this more aimed at getting Rabbit's attention considering the artefact in Pendragon being taken from Britannian hands caught her eye? Either way. You have certainly caught our attention with sending Maclean to meet with us.'
Oboro quickly glanced at her husband and what he was thinking, who looked very unhappy at what they were seeing. She touched his hand to steady his emotions.
He steady removed his frames to rub his eyes. But kept them off, putting them away in his top pocket after wiping them with his handkerchief. Saburo always removed his glasses, when he wanted to make a point or was getting serious.
"Is this… is this supposed to be some kind of joke! If it is I am most certainly not amused. Who does your boss think he is to treat my wife in this regard by sending someone… like you. Especially within the confines of our own home!" Saburo raising his voice as he glared at the trio.
The two guards tensed up and probably would have whipped out their side pistols if their hands weren't already full. But Oboro saw Miss/Mr Maclean pull out their arm to stop them.
Oboro saw the grin on Miss/Mr Macleans grew bigger at her husband's comments. They were certainly seem unfazed by it.
"I assure you Kirihara-kun, this is no joke. I am exactly what your fine specs is showing you." Akira practically swishing along now as they came face to face with Oboro and Saburo, moving a bit of their hair to their ears. Their hips moving naturally as any woman.
Now Oboro see even more clearly of Miss/Mr Maclean's figure. While somewhat slender, Miss/Mr Maclean certainly had what looked like a taut toned build underneath his/her Kimono that hinted to… a fighting aura. Oboro was certain she could see a smidge of tattoo ink underneath the powdered neck area, no surprise considering the sort of people who wear tattoos in Japan. Is that why they were wearing gloves as well? To cover possible tattoos on it. It would explain why they were wearing opera style gloves. Along with the smell of, strawberry aroma was it across their body? It certainly gave a somewhat… pleasant feel and smell to them. She also caught a whiff of what she was certain was shaving cream, or aftershave since she could always smell her husband's aftershave in the mornings when she kisses him. If the very light stubble marks and very light color of reddish skin buried under the face make up hinted to.
"You can call me Mr Maclean if it will make you more comfortable and at ease with me, don't worry, I don't bite or have cooties. Your lovely wife can call me Miss Maclean. But I do hope you grant me the honour of calling me Akira. Wouldn't want to keep flustering you or making you blush on which prefix to use." Ms-Akira said smoothly as they winked again at the pair. Even going as far to give her husband a little poke on the nose.
Saburo stayed silent as emotions clearly raffled through their head, anger along with an attempt not to blush at such a sly comment were clear on his face, an attempt that failed as the roses of his cheek showed. Oboro knew she needed to say something to clear this awkwardness and get down to business.
Time to bring out the Mrs happy smile. Both corners of her lips went straight up to her brows.
"Akira I think would be best. You can call me Oboro in return. It's a pleasure to meet you." Oboro replied as she seek to regain control of things. Holding out her hand in return to show her pleasantry.
Akira gripped Oboro's hand in return, somewhat strongly despite the smooth feeling of their silky opera glove feeling her palms with a tingle. She did not like people who did strong handshakes. She found it to be macho chauvinism at play. A woman's hand was as precious to her as her hair.
"Likewise, Oboro. It's a pleasure to meet such a charming and beautiful woman. I love the way your grey skirt goes with your black shirt, and the way you have your straight hair fit your beret. I appreciate a person with fine taste." Akira practically singsong their response. Oboro merely smiled at the compliment.
Saburo held out his hand afterwards, to which Akira met with equal force as both gave neither ground to the other.
"Just to enquire, do you prefer Kirihara-kin or Saburo-kun? Just so i know which one to use." Akira enquired with a slight little smirk forming as they maintained their tight grip.
"Mr Kirihara would suffice for now thank you." Saburo replied without emotion. Giving an extra squeeze to Akira's hand, making his point clearly.
"Duly noted, Mr Kirihara it is. I do hope to earn the honour of saying your first name in future. Saburo is a most lovely name for the third child of Kirihara Taizo." Akira cheeky said as they ended their little handshake moment.
Oboro could feel her husband grinding his teeth as he put his hand behind his back for a slight second. Oboro knew her husband hated being reminded of the fact he was the son of Kirihara Taizo. Since in Japanese society, particularly with a father like Taizo. The eldest male came first, something Saburo's elder sister was most bitter about, quite rightly Oboro thought. It didn't help that Taizo would always bring up the fact their eldest child, who was a boy according to Saburo, had died in a fire accident years ago.
Something to which her father in law never talked about if brought up or angry shuts down anyone who tries to offer condolences over it. Even Maiko wouldn't talk about it after she brought it up once when it was just the two of them. While secrets were a habit of Oboro's life and stuff Kyoto house practically trade in. To be this closed up about it made Oboro suspect there was more to it than anyone would admit.
'I wonder, does Saburo know any more than I do on their eldest sibling and the accident that claimed them?'
Oboro put her hand on his wrist to get him to stop. The hippish guard sent a slight nod to Oboro, seemly it looks they agreed with her about the pettiness of it all.
The smirk falling from Akira's face as they formed a more serious demeanour.
"I imagine I was not what you were expecting to see today. Let me assure you here and now, my dear Nathaniel means you no insult in sending me to meet with you, he entrusts me a lot to meet with any potential clients on his behalf when he is either unable to as he currently is or when he has a personal interest in the client. He also thought it would be most prudent for you to meet with one of the few that has a smirch of Japanese blood within the Golden Company, to make it more comfortable for yourselves. Please take my presence today as an indication of Nathaniel's trust and seriousness in wanting to do business with you, which I assure you, he does not give out lightly. Shall we proceed to get our discussion underway? As much as I have enjoyed this introduction. I believe it's time to get down to business." Akira spoke softly and stretched their arm out to the seating area.
"Please, make yourself comfortable. We are most interested to hear more of what your boss has to offer us." Oboro quickly replied as they took to being seated. Akira's two guards finding it a bit hard to seat themselves with the uniform they had on, even after they laid their guns and items on the side. Akira sauntered over to their seat, gracefully sitting down on the cushion, back straight and tall. Kimono layered out at all angles, from far glance. You would think you were seeing a graceful Japanese woman from top to bottom and not what Akira seemed they were.
Especially with the way the two guards seem to have no problem following Akira's lead as they handed Akira papers, folders with Akira thanking them with a pat on the arm
Oboro certainly thought from Akira's demeanour and the effort they have obviously put into their presentation, looks and movement.
That there was in some form, a woman within the layers of their male origin. Or at least crossdressing was something that was part of their identity and helped to express themselves to the world. She didn't have trouble with it at all, but knew the world was not as kind as to someone being different. An old saying she heard a lot as a child was that the hammer nails down any nails that stick out or causes any disruption to the harmony. Something which certain people she knew took to with a vigour that scared her.
So to come dressed up and stick out the way Akira has. To which she admits without hesitation, is a fearless thing to do. When many people are often quite apprehensive in dealing with something they don't usually deal with or conflicts with what they believe or were brought up to believe.
Oh sure, some of the women at the Kyoto House gatherings would joke about fantasizing or writing about male teenagers being in love or doing it. Or Rabbit herself in her drunken phrases teased Haru about how he would look good in a dress and make up with how pretty he was (and still is) when they were younger, which everytime led to him hiding his face in one of his hats he loved to wear. But to actually deal with it face to face. Well that's where people's words either become wind or gain the fire they claim it to have.
She was actually interested in finding out more about Akira if things go well here. What sort of story and life had Akira had? What was it about women clothes that made them want to wear them so openly? Oboro always welcomes an opportunity to expand her horizons/viewpoint. Akira would certainly be just that.
It also made her wonder more on what sort of person Mr Andre really was. She couldn't think of anyone she had ever dealt with that had someone like Akira come and deal with people of their statue. Most would take it as an insult or think this was some joke as her husband thought it was. But Oboro, knowing what they knew of Mr Andre from their intel and of the quirkiness he displayed in the video they had watched.
'He's testing us isn't he? To see how we react to something very few would expect to happen. That and also because he likes to apparently be cheeky. What with the way Akira has ruffled my husband already and the way their eyes seem to be reading us for a reaction every moment of this meeting. But to trust a unique person like Akira with this level of business indicates he is open minded or believes in giving social outcasts a chance? Or might be one himself in some way. Either way, I have gotten a good amount of detail, insight and information into him that will interest Rabbit. She will certainly will find Akira fascinating to meet with.'
"Before we start, please let me say that I really love how you have designed your guest room. It has a charm to it that I find many meeting rooms often don't. Not every day I have the pleasure of a duck looking down on us while sitting on such smooth cushions that really feel good for my bottom. And what a pleasant breeze and aroma coming from your gardens as well. You certainly know how to please your guests. Which in my experiences as PA to the Director of Intelligence for Europe, is not a courtesy we get from many of our clients, some have been less than kind or inflexible in dealing with people like us. To which we greatly appreciate the effort you have gone to receive us." Akira said as their eyes sparkled and words of flattery flew.
"Thank you for your kind comments." Oboro softly smiling at the compliment, to which Akira returned.
Though she wondered if Akira was saying it to put them at ease and was sincere, if they were flustering them again, or possibly trying to influence them. Well it was probably a mix of all three. A woman's courtesy, along with flattery can go a long way in any meeting or in breaking the ice. Which Akira seems to understand that fact very well. Something her husband, Taizo and Rabbit could learn to appreciate more.
"Not to be so abrupt, but could we get this meeting underway. I would very much like to spend the rest of the afternoon with our daughter." Saburo curtly spoke up.
"Of course Mr Kirihara, I don't want to keep you from spending time with your loved ones. We will be as brief as we can be considering the subjects we are about to discuss." Akira said as they cleared their throat lightly, taking a deep breath before they continued.
"The Golden Company has been keeping an eye on the situation in China for a while now. Like any company, we have an interest in expanding ourselves into new areas of operations. Especially with the likely scenario of war between the differentiating circumstances in different parts of China and the countries they share a border or sea with. Along with according to our sources within Vermillion. Of the growing tensions between Emperor Xiang, the Eunuch, his generals and ministers. All of whom seem to packed into different factions of supporting either his heir apparent the Crown Prince, or his daughter, Princes Hui Ying for the throne if he does abdicate. To whom has reached out to both of us from the meeting I believe you have witnessed before this meeting am I correct?" Akira detailed out as they passed out photos and sheets to Oboro and Saburo.
Photos of Emperor Xiang and Empress Wu, cladded in full ceremonial robes. Sitting attentively their thrones, faces stone faced and regal, back fully straight. All the while what seemed to be the Ten Eunuchs, Minister of the Government Xu Ding and his cabinet. Chinese army figures that Oboro knew from the work of Goru in the area. Major Generals Xinghe and Liu, Colonel Ma, franking the Crown Prince all arguing as court was held within the Imperial Palace in Vermillion. With Hui looking disheartened by it all with her aides and MSS Minister Roku looking on beside her.
"We have yes, Agents Akane and Hikaru filled us in with the full details of what happened and passed on the footage of it as well." Oboro replied.
"I do hope you found all of it informative, we were able to get a fair amount of insider details on the current situation between the factions thanks to Princess Ying's aide being forthcoming in the princesses intentions and current plans if things do escalate to war." Akira continued on.
"Exactly what are those intentions and plans? And how do we, you, the Maharani's and their people, potentially factor into all this?" Saburo enquired, left eyebrow raised to state their scepticism.
Akira took a big loud sip of the green tea set out on their table before responding. Eyeing Saburo specifically as they waited for a response. Body language matching Oboro's to show interest.
"Did your agents not inform you of what went on in our little meeting of everyone's intention?"
"Of course they did, but I am interested to find out how your company. That is a mercenary organization, fits into all of this and why, beyond what you have already told us?" Saburo pushed further.
Okay, now her touch was needed here. Hand came down on her husbands to quell his aggressive approach. As a Britannian would say, she was the dove to her husband's hawk.
"We would greatly appreciate your input and viewpoint in this matter. As it will help us to come to an accord that benefits all of us." Oboro interjected, trying to keep their meeting cordial.
"Thank you for your kind words Oboro, the answer to your question Mr Kirihara, is quite simple. We all want to avoid a war that could potentially be the death of hundreds of thousand, if not millions of people across Asia. But we also want stability and prosperity to return to all of our respective countries, we do have a continent, a country that me and Nathaniel have a duty to seeing rebuilt, to which relates to our own… personal reasons for doing what we do. Princess Ying in particular according to her aide, seeks to reform her country by convincing her father to proceed with his intentions into loosening the rule of the monarchy so more powers are given to the people. Along with economic reforms to open up more trade and opportunities for the peasant class. While I do not speak for dear Nathanial's Indian allies, I will note they know full well that any attempt to liberate India and secure their people's future. Will rely on making sure that China will not try and replace Britannia as their people's rulers. Something they are convinced will be the case if Emperor Xiang is replaced by his son. If his abdication does go through next month as he has indicated will be the case among his court. Whom has made clear on more than one occasion harbouring ambitions of wanting China to dominate the Asian continent in all ways possible. The lad seems to have a grandeur view that he can unite all of Asia into one. Not unlike some of our own people's ideas in the past and present of Japan ruling over Asia.
"A scenario is one that is of no benefit to anyone, expect for the Crown Prince and the generals that surround him, to which I'm sure has occurred to you. However, we are a mercenary company that lacks in the numbers needed to fight a war against the beast that is China. Thus is how we fit into all of this Mr Kirihara. Plus, Princess Ying via her aide has already asked us to provide support in case of the worst case scenario that leads to war. Something to which Nathaniel would very much to cooperate with you on considering we share mutual interests in China, along with that it is the wish to present the gift of a family artefact to be delivered to your friend, Sumeragi Natsumi Oboro." Akira finished outline to the room.
"What gift?" Saburo asked confusedly with his brows raised. Oh darn Oboro thought. It must be about that artefact that got Rabbit's interest in the first place.
"A gift that is for Sumeragi Natsumi's eyes only. I do apologise for being unable to go into detail about it. But Nathaniel was insistent on my lips keeping shush on the matter." Akira said as they shut one eyes to bring their finger to their lips. Playing coyly again with them.
"Tsh, I'm sure he does." Saburo just shook his head at that remark in disbelieve.
Okay, Oboro had taken the minute to digest everything Akira had said, but needed to dig in deeper into it. Keeping her face blank so as not to give anything away. She eyed Akira as she asked the next question they had.
"Moving on, we understand your position and the desire of your boss to expand into Asia and support his allies in India, along with that there is a matter of business between him and Sumeragi Natsumi in all of this. But what I find somewhat peculiar is that you would seek to aid Princess Hui in the event of a civil war and not her brother? Isn't it a tenancy for mercenary companies to side with whoever would pay or is likeliest to win in war? Considering the Crown Prince would have most of the military backing him if it did come to war. Could you explain how you think Hui could overcome this problem to rise about her brother to the throne?" Oboro asked with a polite, but firm touch.
Oboro saw Akira giggling again as they covered their mouth.
"Ooh, you are insightful Oboro. A true delight to be dealing with. No wonder my Nathaniel wants to be working with you." Akira cooed in their response. Even giddily raising their fists in delight like a child.
"To satisfy your question, yes the Crown Prince and his generals abilities is most certainly an equation we have taken into account. While their chances of winning are certainly favourable. They are not assured, The Crown Prince has very mixed support among the eunuchs, who fear he will purge them in due time or affect their status with his warmongering. The government and businesses elders are worried he will bankrupt the country in his endemic to be replicate Lu Bu. Britannia will also not approve of a China that could threaten their military might and position within Asia. Hence part of why they export weapons and other items so much to keep China dependent on them. Nor I'm sure you will approve considering the very thin balance that keeps your independence. Considering he will eye the precious Sakuradite to fund his war efforts and improve the level of technology China is currently at, which is very lacking compared to Britannia and the EU. As Zhao Tai once said, An unarmed state is vulnerable, a bankrupt state is doomed.
Officials in Southern China, local leaders around the Tibetan area that border India. Have also expressed their discomfort at his actions and comments on northern Chinese people being superior to them or the way disappearances have happened while he was overseeing the area a decade ago. Something which Princess Ying has spoken out about on a few occasions. During which she supported the possibility of China giving Tibet independence in the future or at least autonomy. Her plans to recognise India if they gain independence from Britannia has support among the business community who are looking to expand their trade. The final element also being, if the Crown Prince does decide to go to war. He will have to fight a war on more than one front. To which history has shown to disfavour even the most brilliant of people." Akira confidently replied to Oboro's question.
"On more than one front? You think we will go to war with China simply because they might threaten us?"
"You already are aren't you? Your Prime Minister according to our sources is planning to resign in the next week or two over it. I do think a military man like yourself Mr Kirihara understands the situation that is happening. Regardless of what happens at the conference. Will mean Japan will likely send a measurable force to at least protect itself in the process. Our people haven't kept independence for so many years just because we have the largest sakuradite deposit. It's because you know that we have to keep our swords ready to unsheathe at all times. Hence part of why you attacked Russia during our war in Europe. Britannia will send a force to the region in some form or another since Emperor Malcolm is desperate to keep his credentials among the war hawks in Britannian courts with what happened with Viceroy Soresi in our video, they will demand consequences happen to General Xinghe for his intrusion into 'Britannia' territory."
"And the matter on you being a merc company and your agenda in all of this?" Oboro pushed again, Akira this time thinning their lips a bit.
"Yes, we are a mercenary company. But we do not choose to side with someone simply because they pay the most or because they seem the likeliest to win. As we have found, they tend to be the ones who break their word or bond you the most, commit the most war crimes. Or harm the people the most. We always evaluate each side in a conflict. So that we know we will be doing business with the side that will be beneficial in the long run to their country, their people and of course, be best for business for us as well." Akira said with a bit more force.
"Really, with all due respects. Explain to me how this collates to some of the dictators and unsavoury people of Africa you have been supporting in recent years? How does those elements fit in with what you have just said." Saburo asked sarcastically.
"My my Mr Kirihara, you are certainly a man of fine statue and one that likes to get straight to the fact and challenges. I can see why your darling wife is married to you."
"To satisfy your curiosity. The discretion of the Golden Company's actions in Africa are down due to the fact they are overseen by the higher-ups within our organization. To which the division of Europe that I am part of, only deals or works with when it is required, we mostly deal with the current climate happening within Eastern Europe and within the EU's territories. The powers that be often dictate Nathaniel's counterpart there to work with those they believe will serve their matters best, along with their own discretion into handling the different leaders of the African countries and the groups there. Britannia's intrusions in Northern Africa and near the Middle East/Eastern Europe with Euro Britannia contribute to this as well. Sometimes, we find ourselves dealing with those that we would rather not deal with in order to reach our goals, our time in Russia led us to compromise in places, but not to compromise in others. Something you Saburo Kirihara, know all too well from your time in the army during the Russia-EU war with what you and your generals did in Vladstosk?" Akira countered.
The final words caused Saburo to nearly rise from his feet. Only Oboro's hand on his wrist kept him from leaping up.
'Don't rise to the challenge Saburo, that's what she wants you to do.' Oboro sent Akira a frown and raised eyebrow for provoking her husband, Akira merely nodded in return. Not flinching or changing their stature.
"What-is that-supposed-to-mean?" Saburo grunted each word out with his voice deepening. Hands firmly on the Tatami mat now, practically clenching to them despite the sprinkles in them digging into Saburo's palms.
"An observation based on our intelligence and of the Russians who lived to tell the tale to their comrades and siblings who took part in the resistance we worked have told us, nothing more. I do not seek to judge you Mr Kirihara for doing what most trained in the Military are often ordered to do. But please do not seek to judge us because of your negativity about merc companies or what you think… of people like me. We are in the same line of duty and often find ourselves serving under those that are, unscrupulous shall we say when they want to be." Akira obustlety replied.
Eye contact never breaking from either Akira or Saburo. Hands on the side guns from the guards Akira had with her, this time she wasn't putting her hand out to stop them. Oboro could see Hanzo beckonly sliding a hand up the kunai by their side. She lightly shook her head out to stop him from acting on any impulse swelling in their hand no doubt.
The tensions in the room were practically more freezing than a snowy day. Oboro could really feel it shiver her neck and shoulders that her shirt wasn't covering.
Enough was enough. Oboro had to do what a Hen had to do. Clearing her throat, standing up slowly to prevent any pain. Looming as the silent engagement continued on. Spreading her arms out, as if to embrace the world. Yellow duck at the helm in the background. Mouth open as the room heard a thundering...
She ducked out as everyone in the room stopped on their tracks at the sudden noise
"Right, this has gone way off course. Too much quacking afoot here. I think we should return to the matter we were at hand with. No Ifs, buts or any excuses understood!" Oboro beamed to the room.
Quick nods followed as she finally feathered back down onto her cushion. Smile returning as she took a long sip of her tea in triumph.
Taking a deep breath, Akira's demeanour softened to its original affable from and their grin returned.
"I respect you have doubts about us and the goals we have put forth to you today, but please allow me to assure you. If you decide to work with us. You will find we are professional in every way, fully committed to upholding the tenants of war where possible. Committed to working with our allies no matter what difficulties and differences we have. A mix unit of intelligence, military and support that includes people like myself, my boss and others that served in the EU-Russia war and others in the five years that has led us to build a reputation as one of the best in the world at what we do. Others that were abandoned by those that should be caring for them or have no home to return to because of circumstances outside of their control. That we practically adopt and care for, not unlike what you do Oboro with some of your students. We are all fighting for something, something which requires us to work together to achieve. Because we cannot fight the enemies that sliver around in the oceans and lands that surround us alone. That is what i do know and understand and I'm sure you do as well." Akira stopped to take a breath before they spoke again. Drinking the rest of their tea in the process.
"Along with that it will win you favour and connections, not just the Golden Companies Indian allies. But those in Europe that are watching the situation carefully. They would look fondly on Japan if the situation in China is resolved with your aid and potentially allows them more beneficial trade with Japan on Sakuradite. No doubt Kyoto House would be interested in gaining more influence among countries in the EU. Your father especially Mr Kirihara. "
"Yes, I'm sure he would be."
"Anyways, I think we talked more than enough today. I don't want to keep you from your daughter any longer than i have already. So allow me to leave you with a few items." Akira finished as they slowly got back up on their feet. Straightening the Kimono as the burly guard handed a few items to them.
Oboro and Saburo both raised up from their seats as well.
"Please read and if you wish, pass these on when you are ready to." Akira then put down a file on the table that contained a few documents sealed in confidential large letterheads. To which Oboro had Hanzo take to store in a safe place.
"They contain a contract for our services, signed on our end and ready to be put into action whenever you are ready. We do not expect you to sign until you have conversed with Sumeragi Natsumi and taken the time to consider your options as our people are generally known to do. But I will express that with the way things went in India, the fact is we need to act as swift as possible in making sure that we do not fall behind, as our enemies will not be idling by either in making their next move. We at the Golden Company also want to give to you a gift to show his appreciation for your time in meeting us."
Akira then passed over a wooden pine box, to which once opened revealed a few items in them.
"A jar of Uncle Joe's mintballs that comes with a free toy car of back when they first started up in 1898, Nathaniel hopes that you enjoy a taste of Northern England. Along with that you know where the best sweet shop is in Tokyo." Wait, balls? Oboro had to stifle a laugh at hearing the word balls.
She always found words or something that sounded innuendo, dirty or somewhat... naughty, hilarious. She remembered on Saburo's 18th birthday, she had gotten him a little something, that had him blushing so hard that it was the cutest thing she had ever seen. It certainly made things rather pleasurable that night. After they had finished the delicious cake she had whipped up with Natsumi and her mother in law.
"Something funny Oboro?" Akira enquired with a curious eye.
"No, sorry. Something popped in my mind for a second. Please continue with the gifts." Oboro said, her smile now more sly as Akira continued to pass out the items from the box.
"A book on the EU-Russian war for Mr Kirihara, he hopes you enjoy the detailed chapters of the military tactics used by the EU Generals and the operations that happened in Afghanistan and on the Eastern Europe front." Akira continued.
Saburo was a bit surprised at the gift for himself. Oboro could tell he wasn't expecting for Akira and her boss to do that.
"Oh, well thank you and your boss for your consideration." Saburo said softly, grateful for the gift of the book.
"Along with finally a wrestling video that you might find interesting Oboro to watch." Akira finished handing over the video cassette to her.
"Oh, I will have to check it out then." Oboro bowed to show her appreciation for the gift.
"He hopes that you do, after all. We were auditioning for your wrestling company after all." Akira winked again at Oboro.
She merely nodded in return.
Okay, Oboro thought it was time to wrap this up fully since everything had been discussed and heard. Though that had taken longer than all had cared to admit.
"Is that everything you wanted to present us with today? If so, we thank you very much for your time and will let you know within the next week of ours and Natsumi's answer. Though I'm sure she will want to meet with you before whenever your boss plans to come over if we agree." Oboro stated matter of factly before bowing with Saburo. Akira and her guards returned in kind.
"Naturally, thank you again for your hospitality and taking the time to meet with us, please send Sumeragi Natsumi our regards." Akira then turned to leave before turning with a finger to their chin.
"Oh yes, one final bit before I forget, since you haven't had the pleasure to see a picture or clear video of my Nathaniel yet. Please allow me to provide you and Natsumi with a photo you might find, a little cheeky."
"Ah, so nice to finally be able to walk in my socks and boots again. My feet always feels so rough after being on that Tatami mat for so long." Oboro gleamed as she gave her wiggles a real stretching in her brownish boots and the soft cotton pink socks she was wearing within them. She would have done a handstand or stretch her legs on the wall if she had the time to. But hey ho.
That had been a productive meeting in her mind. They had gotten a real sense of what GC were after, of what they knew already in China and what she knows as well. A good insight into Mr Andre's character from Akira and of the Golden Company.
She took another look at the photo of Mr Andre while she waited Saburo to come out from the toilet.
Mr Andre, was standing in a nicely detailed suit, with a blueish tie and black short sleeve shirt from the way the suits arms look droopy at Mr Andre's palms, in the English city Akira had noted was called Newcastle, the allure of the winter sun beaming down on his short chocolate trim with a bit of pomade that made it slick in places. Red sunglasses covering whatever was the color of Mr Andres eyes. A wide grin that behold the scars on Mr Andres lips and cheeks. Oboro wondered how he got that sort of scar. Akira seemed to go a bit gleemish when Saburo asked abruptly about them. While grinning, Mr Andre giving both v signs in each hand.
'As Akira said, a rather cheeky photo to send us Mr Andre. You certainly seem to like getting under people's skin and being a mystery with your antics and people you have around. It's easy to see why they call you the snake within our world. But what skin is the one that is truly you I wonder?'
By both Oboro knew Mr Andre was practically giving a peace sign, and a really cheeky one her husband found to be rather crude. She knew what it meant from having seen Rabbit copy it from her favourite foreign films when younger and more innocent. She had made the mistake of doing it in front of Phillippe Malcal, head of the Malcal noble family and also a Lieutenant Gene Smilas at a gathering of Kyoto House and European leaders and businessmen back in the mid-80s, not realising how rude it was to westerners. While Mr Malcal an Smilas waved it off at the time. Kaida-sama and Taizo had ripped into Rabbit afterwards and barred her from attending any events and watching anymore films until she made up for her faux pas by working in one of the Sumeragi factories for the summer.
Rabbit being Rabbit. Managed to turn this round and was basically supervising the production line by the end of it. Putting up production up to 20% by convincing the managers to allow staff more breaks, buy new technology to improve production time. Along with finishing early on Fridays to go out for drinks. Who was going to say no to Sumeragi Natsumi when she wanted something her own way. But Rabbit had said she had come out of it all with a real appreciation for what the workers do for her family's companies. So at least a positive came out of her flipping off people.
Saburo came out a minute later, still in a mood after seeing the photo and Akira blowing a kiss his way as she exited the room. She took his hand in hers, one thing she always loved about her husband's palm, was that they were always warm and helped to warm up her own hands, that were often cold due to bad circulation in her body. Plus, it felt so nice just to tickle his hand with her fingers every now and then.
"So glad that's all over with. It's always a hassle to bear with. Honestly, to send someone like that to meet us, that Andre fellow really has a lot of nerve to send us… that cheeky insult and one of him giving us that insult. All this for what? Natsumi's interests, I'm failing to see how any of this is in our own interests." Saburo whinged as soon as they were out of their meeting with Akira and walking through the Shinozaki Dojo. Unbuttoning the top of his collar.
Goodness sake, every-single-time this happens when they meet him. Right Oboro thought, it was confrontation time.
"You don't have to sound so dour about it. I know what we just went through... wasn't ideal or what we were expecting. But it does neither of us any favour to be so negative about it when it has provided us with a range of options to choose from." Oboro said, giving a hard squeeze to her husband's hand to express her disapproval.
This brought something up that annoyed Oboro whenever they were together hand in hand, which often got them some pointed looks from people wherever they were out in public. Or Taizo expressing his disapproval for being public with their affection. Honestly, it was such an annoyance to deal with. Why should they not allowed to show their loved one affection when they go about their business? Young people do it all the time, is it the fact they are both middle aged and not a bunch of young blushing sweethearts that causes this reaction? It was something that Oboro really found so agonizing to deal with.
"What? You expect me to be even remotely cheerful about having to deal with all of this? Of dealing with my father's constant interfering in my life and all that comes with it? Of being expected to do this, do that all the time? After the way he treats my elder sister, my younger brother, who you know he locked away… in that place. Yes, all of that really makes me want to be super cheerful about everything we do!" Saburo said as Oboro felt his hand slip away from hers abruptly, now he was going into one of his moods.
Armed folded as he pouted and the frown deepened even further as he looked up at the huge ceiling of the Dojo's main entrance.
Oboro could feel the negativity basically smudging up inside and out of her husband.
Right, time to intervene. She marched right into his path as he stopped to look her in the eyes in return, steadying herself in her boots, thank god she was almost as tall as him of his 5'7 height. Looking her husband right in the eyes as she brought his head down to look at her by grabbing his chin The Mrs angry eyes she wears when she has to get strict with someone bearing out, fists on hips. Now he had done it.
"You think it's easy for me to deal with the tensions between you and your father. With all the business that it brings? Of having to balance between supporting you as wife and husband, respecting him and being polite at all times, upholding the duty and honour of my clan, maintaining my authority, my voice in a sea of egos and blood status trumping all dealing with masochism on a daily basis and guests trying to get under our skins. Read-my-lips Saburo Kirihara right now… it-most-certainly-is-not! Which isn't helped when you act the way you did today toward your father and to Akira, who was clearly agitating you to see how you would react." Oboro roared out as her finger prodded into her husband's chest.
"I don't expect you to smile when you clearly don't want to, I don't expect you to bend backwards or approve of everything your father as I most certainly don't, who was a good friend to my own father, who by the way along with my mother are dead as you well know. Does or says. But I do expect you to make the effort to be cordial enough and work with him like I do, because he is your father, my father in law and the grandfather to our daughter. You are both all I have left of my parents and your mother. I want our daughter to grow up in a household that isn't toxic or rife with negativity like yours was when we were growing up. Not least because this tension serves no one. But also because we cannot risk the chance of infighting between our clans or the other Kyoto Houses to gain leverage over us." Oboro continued on.
"Taizo's slights against your younger brother, against your elder sister. They are his to bear and for him to face. I'm not saying don't hold it against him or remind him to do better in making amends with them. But do not put all of on yourself. Remember… i am your wife and here to support you, as I expect you to support me. You know and understand that fact Saburo Kirihara." Oboro finally finished her dressing down.
Silence shrouded the pair as they kept their eyes on each other. The echo of the winds filling the hallway of the Dojo. Oboro remembers how as a child, she would shout out to hear her echoes. She had jumped up with Rabbit on her back to echo different words for hours on ends.
Oboro could see her husband's shoulder shrink as he took a large breath through his nose. Hand over his face, creasing the lines on the forehead all the while.
She put her hand on his right cheek, caressing the shaved bits of hair riddled rough surface of it.
His eyes softening from its hardened state as she held her hand to his cheek.
"I know Oboro… I know. Duty to my family, honour to my father, Service to my country, my pact to my wife, my responsibility to our daughter. All of these… semantics, burns on me at times. So many responsibilities, so many conflicts. So many being caught up in plays and schemes that have nothing to do with them. The fury that rages among our youth. The lack of leadership from those we trust to lead us. All of which we have bear witness to so many times that it has lost so much meaning. Everything seemed simple when we were young, yet it never was. But these complexes… are just such a burden to deal with" Oboro listened has her husband went on.
She knew how difficult he found it to speak about what he was feeling.
"I know how hard you work with me to keep it all balanced. To which, I greatly appreciate. As mother said to me on the day we took our vows, you are the Yin to my Yang. Not that it makes me anymore like father." Saburo said as gave a little smirk at his remark.
Oboro couldn't resist smiling at his closing marks. The irony of what she had said earlier today about her parents in law made it even sweeter.
"What?" Saburo asked, all confused at why Oboro was smiling.
"Sorry, it's nothing dear…" Oboro reassured him with a kiss on the lips.
This at least elicited a slight smile from her husband.
She took a deep breath to calm herself from all this excitement. She never liked getting this way with anyone. But the Mother Hen had to do what a Mother Hen has to do. Young or old. Especially when she was dealing with a wall the size of Matsumoto castle that was her husband.
"Anyways… shall we be off to be with our daughter?" Oboro holding out her hand with her warmest smile.
A nod and grasp her hand was all that was needed to be said. As they made their way to their daughter who was waiting for them at the Dojo's gates.
She could see Akira, carrying their parasol and her guards walking by gracefully as the sakura blossoms ferry around in the air. As they saw Taizo walking up with Sayoko holding his hand from the gardens, Oboro could his eyes nearly pop out at seeing the sight of Akira, or at the very least seeing Adam's apple. Dai who was standing behind him practically gush at seeing Akira. Akira merely gave a bow to him, but when she tried to rub Sayoko's head. Taizo pulled her away from him. Akira merely sighed and continued to walk on with her guards.
Once that was out of the way, Taizo continued walking with Sayoko, smiling brightly as he talked to his granddaughter with Dai standing at his side, still wearing a grin on her face. Sayoko started doing cartwheels, handstands and other such moves in order to show her grandfather just was she was learning, all the while smiling brightly. To which he patted her head once she was done.
'Taizo, why can't you be like that with everyone else as well? You are better than many people give you credit. You owe it to Maiko, who loved you warts and all as an English man once said. You most certainly owe it to your children as well as me.'
Her charcoal hair all messed up, she liked to keep it somewhat wild as kids often do in their early years. Saburo's hazels glittering with joy as her purple t shirt and pink shorts completed her look.
Taizo looked up to see them approaching as the limo drove up behind him on the road ready to take him back to Tokyo.
"So, how did you meeting with that… person who came walking through with the parasol and armed guards from the Golden Company? I had to stop them from rubbing my granddaughter's head, you know what they often carry. What sort of person sends an insult like that." Taizo queried as the frown returned deeply and hands gripped the cane even more than usual.
"Fine father, it went fine thank you, we will regale with details another time. How has your time with our daughter. You looked positively happy as you walked with her."
"Very good thank you very good, the Kirihara and Shinozaki bloodline runs strongly through her. She will make all of us proud I am certain. Heh, seems the flower of Japan's youth will truly blossom after all." Taizo said as he closed his eyes and smile serenely.
"Anyways, we must be off back to Tokyo. I have a meeting tomorrow with the other heads. No doubt Hidenobu and Tousai will have much to talk about. Along with the odious that is Tatsunori and Tori as well. Take care… son." He bowed slightly, but not too low.
Dai bowed more deeper.
"You too… father." Saburo and Oboro returned the bow, deeper so as to show respect.
"Goodbye Sayoko, hope to see you again soon." Taizo spoke more softer as he patted his granddaughters head once more.
"I hope so Grandfather, next time i will show you my helicopter move that i have been working on."
Taizo and Dai then got into the limousine and drove off.
"Finally, alone at last." Saburo whispered quietly.
"Dad!" Sayoko beamed, smiling happily as the glow in her hazel filled eyes sparkled as she ran and jumped into the arms of her father. Hugging him strongly, to which he returned.
Once they had finished, he passed her into the arms of Oboro. Strong hug as well between them before Oboro put her daughter back on the ground as well.
"Hey Mum, check out the ori-origami's that I made during our class today. " Sayoko said as she digged her origami out from her pockets. While a bit crumpled up. Still were accurate renderings of the crane bird.
"My my Sayoko, what marvellous work these are. I am so proud of you." Oboro gave her daughter another hug.
"Hmm, moments like this make all the headaches and annoyances we've had today well worth it." Saburo said as he sat and leaned against the pillar of the Dojo entrance.
Oboro took a seat as well on the edge, putting her chin on her left hand. Letting the wonders of springs fill the air in, the beauty of the sakura flew across the winds. Almost as bright as the dusk of the ever glowing sun set.
"Indeed Saburo, indeed."
Silence fell apart from the laugh of their daughter. Oboro closed her eyes, as she enjoyed the ever blissful of peace they enjoy.