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A Second Generation Whateley Academy Story

Rises the Sun

By Andrew “MageOhki” Norris
With assistance from Elrodw, Nightelf, JG, and the rest of the Generation 2 crew

 

Interlude:  Molecular Cloud

 

“Dropping a pebble into a pond causes ripples.  What would a huge rock do in a ocean?”

“I am not a rock, I’m a goddess, be accurate please.”

 

Author's Notes:  As always, unless specified otherwise, Japanese naming convention will be used, and in multilingual scenes, Japanese will be denoted with : <””>  If an entire scene is in Japanese, it’ll be noted to be translated.  Previous author’s notes still apply

 

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Ise Grand Shrine,  Japan, 13th Dec 2015, official daybreak (same time as Amaterasu activates Daniel)

(Translated from Japanese)

Ikeda Atsuko, High priestess of Ise, Keeper of the Mirror, and former princess, and still older sister to the sitting Emperor was startled from her morning rituals, as her apprentice and assistant, Sato Miya came running.   Turning to the out of breath girl, she rose one white eyebrow.  “Well? You know better than…”

“The Mirror!”  Miya’s pants, hair and clothing in disarray as she bent over, showed her hurry and  why she needed to pause to catch her breath.  “It’s glowing!

Atsuko kept from rolling her eyes, and sighed.  “It does that, if we’re doing the rituals right, Miya-chan…”

Miya straightened up, and shook her head. “No, no… just… come look!”  She put her meaning to action as she pulled on the elderly woman, heedless of her age.

“Child… what?”  Atsuko could finally see into the room where the Mirror was kept behind sliding doors laced with some of the heaviest wards Japan could produce, and the bright light radiating from inside.  She allowed herself to be dragged to the doors themselves, marveling at the level of light, which normally would be invisible, as part of the wards was to trap the energy the Mirror shed, to feed the Shrine and wards.  To glow at all, even ever so faintly, outside the room, showed the Mirror was receiving a lot of energy from the Celestial Empress, but never, never, and most certainly never at this level, much less the fact it was continuing to brighten.   A part of Atsuko knew that shortly this would be visible above the shrine, though it might blend with the dawn’s rays, and if it was having an effect here… what about other shrines?

Shaken from her thoughts, Miya’s words brought home the true question.  “What does it mean, Saishu?  I mean… you told me the Mirror would glow when Amaterasu was happy, but this? This can’t be…”

“Peace.”  Ikeda Atsuko held up a hand, as she realized the other possible meaning.  Amaterasu had wandered Japan on occasion, and the mirror had glowed then, but dimly, as she did not have her power, but only her mind on Earth.  This? Only one reason for the sustained and increasing radiance that was coming from one of the Goddess’ treasures.

 Amaterasu had come to Earth, with her power.  And as the other signs that would indicate the wards of Japan, the seals that protected from foul beings, and frantic calls from Onmyōji as the wards fell had not happened, that left only one conclusion.

“Miya-chan.”  Taking a deep breath.  “Remember that number I had you memorize?”

The girl nodded. “Un.”

“Call it, and say this precisely.  ‘The Myoujin have been called.’”  Atsuko felt her assistant’s puzzlement and added as she stared at the light.  “They will know.  My Brother will know what that means... and he will act.”

The sharp intake of breath and “Un!”  accompanied by Miya’s departure, told Atsuko that her brother would know shortly.   Atsuko’s part in this event was not over, but the actions that she bore indirect witness to, would have many, many, many ripples.  And it was her Brother’s duty to handle them.  Not hers.  And he was welcome to it.  A small silly grin crossed her face, as she imagined the reactions from her family.   Well, little Tsugu-chan needed reminding why she was so happy he was born… though she was sure that he’d not appreciate the reminder.  Or at least the chaos involved.

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Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan,  Early morning, 13th Dec 2015

(Translated from Japanese)

*Bzzzt*  A hand reached to the alarm clock, slapping it off the nightstand, with the hand disappearing back into the cover.  Sadly for the owner of the hand, it wasn’t the now broken alarm clock that was buzzing.  “Kako.  Wake up.  Phone.” a voice insisted over the speakers in the room.

The phone was grabbed and dragged under the covers, with a muffled female voice going “Wzzat.”

“...”  A pause for a moment, and then “The Myoujin have been activated.” responded from the phone.

The covers tumbled off the rising form, who shot up straight, but still sitting.  Looking at her phone, Naishinno Kako, 2nd Princess of Akishino, repeated. “Wat.”

“That was the message I was told to send by Saishu.  I don’t understand it.” the female voice replied.

“... Wat…  Wait, no.”  Kako ran a hand through her hair.  “Thank you, I will handle it from here.”  With that, in an unheard of display of rudeness,she clicked the phone off, and sild out of her bed, the bedding being left ajar.  “Temple!”

“Yes?”  The voice dryly replied from the speakers.  “I am processing all information that might pertain to this event.  As I should.”

“Riiight.”  Kako often thought Temple, the main AI recently installed for DOPS, was a bit trollish, but she’d not complain about the AI’s dedication and skills.  “I hate to do this, but could you wake my father up… and whoever else is on an ‘instant’ reaction list of the Class 1 events?”

“Of course.”  The AI seemed to hesitate, even though Kako knew better, but Temple, like many of the new AIs, aped human conversational patterns, intentionally.  However, before she could muse on the whimsy of a AI hesitating, he spoke up.  “I think we should also call TSG.  You might want to watch this live stream from New Orleans, where Daniel Moate is.”

“... oh… dear.”  Kako wasn’t slow, nor unaware of her family’s, both sides to be accurate legacies.  “Stream it, alert TSG’s 47s.  Also do your best to mark any faces, I suspect that Father and Abe-san will have… some thoughts.”

“Understood.”  The AI’s voice shifted from the dry ‘wise’ elder he preferred to a colder, harder… more lethal tone.

Kako watched the video, only interrupting once to find out who the Japanese girl was.  At the end, she nodded once.  “Command Sergeant Major Tyson, correct for the one who had to waste his ammunition on unworthy targets?  And… an American army warper.”

“Correct, to both counts.   Abe-san is already awake, and I do believe that Palace san thinks he’s fuming about the MCO.  Again.”  The AI’s voice seemed darkly amused.  “He is calling his cabinet together, though he’s not yet aware of the actual significance of what happened.  Your Father is awake and watching the video.  Your Mother...”  The AI trailed off.

“I get it from somewhere, Temple-san.  I suspect I know what she’s saying.”  Kako sighed, and grabbed her robe. “I better go and see what the decisions will be… and can you have my assistant pack some bags? I think I’m going to be going to America.”

“I will have her pack for North Carolina, Kako-chan” The AI answered.

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Office of Commanding General, Ft. Bragg/JFK Special Warfare Center, North Carolina,  Early Morning, 13th Dec 2015

Tyson shook his head, looking around at a base he hadn’t visited for years.  Looking at the General in casual clothing, he didn’t bother saluting. “Sir.”

“Tyson.”  Richard Smith, the senior commanding officer of all Army Forces in the United states simply looked, as medics swarmed Daniel, and a few tended to the Japanese girl.   “We’ve already downloaded the fight and recordings.   I’ve already ordered a complete lockdown of all MCO personnel on any US Army base, and I happen to know the same orders went out to the Navy and Air Force.”

“Expect the Moving Canned Orgies to bitch?” Tyson asked idly.

Smith snorted and nodded as the Medics moved the two wounded into the waiting ambulances, and gestured to a waiting Humvee.  “If they didn’t, it’d show more common sense from them since… oh, ever.”

“Well, it’s all legal, so I don’t give a shit.  And if they try a warrant on my ass, it’d be ONE hell of a repair bill they’d rack up.”  Tyson snorted.  “That was fun.”

“It’d be the last bill they racked up, and I’m sure CJCS is informing them of that.  We just want an excuse.  Fucking Saros.  Fucking Fullerton.  Fucking sociopathic good PR agents.  We had them done, dammit!  We thought once they got their wings trimmed at the same time the Goodkinds dropped out of the game, we could just let them wither on the vine.”  The General’s cursing was interrupted by Tyson.

“Was a good idea at the time, but, sometimes…  So, the girl?”  The quirked eyebrow indicated that they had more important things to care about.

“Marines are sending a FAST company to guard the consulate, and help the girl pack up,  and then she’s gone to Japan, on our warper’s dime.”  Richard nodded.  “I have no doubt that the Prime minister is being woken up right now, and is screaming at the Mobile Crapform Organisms.”  A dark grin crossed the older appearing man’s face.  “I’d be more concerned about threats to you if I actually thought they had anyone competent enough to be a real threat right now.”

“Those we didn’t kill over the years, pretty much were retired or quit by Fullerton, Sir.  If not, they, by and large, got put into the most dead end, quiet spots possible.”  Tyson shrugged.  “When they got some power back, they put the … well.  Daddy once said that bigots were bigots.  MCO is MCO.”

“Roger that.”  Smith settled into the Humvee as Tyson got in the other side.  “Now, how in the name of every bloody god out there, did Daniel go all Anime on the snowflake’s asses.   Not that it wasn’t amusing.”

“Not sure, not yet.  Late onset manifestation, maybe?”  Tyson’s head tilt indicated he didn’t quite believe it.  “Could be something else.”

“Uh-huh.”  Smith sighed.  “MCO’s going to use that as indication we ‘need’ to give them more information.  Try to say they'd have handled it differently if they knew an Alpha level was there, defending… yadda, yadda, yadda.  And if we say he wasn’t Alpha level while in, they’ll use that as we lie to them, or that he faked or hid his powers, and try to break open the databases.”

Tyson smiled evilly.  “As the boss would say, ‘Try, yes, Do, not.’   That video went out, and I’m sure that the DPA’s already ‘leaked’ the recording of our conversation.  We could…”

“...  Done.”  Smith’s smile grew evil, matching the senior NCO’s expression.  “And we can flip it around, asking why the MCO sent 4 heavy combat suits to arrest someone being attacked, and do it publicly, after the DPA asserted authority.  Sure, they have some legal authority to respond, But Lousiana only signed on that with the explicit statement if the local police and DPA agreed, if either asserted jurisdiction, they were to back the fuck off until called in.”

“Might try ‘a first responder’” Tyson mused.  “But that won’t fly when the DPA points out they have the agreement that they can deputize any officer, commissioned, warrant or non commisioned of the Military to be an acting agent, and can even recall for short term, the person.  And they did so with one on site.  Nice bit of craft that.”

“Thank Patton for it.   He suggested it to a congresscritter in 2010, pointing out how many vets are around, and generally still in shape.”  Smith smiled.  “Too bad for the MCO.  It took away one of their most useful recruiting and propaganda tools.”  A pause.  “But, since they didn't have time to fully establish the full set of programs they had planned before Fullerton blew up in everyone’s faces, MCO managed to use that.  But, not everyone bought it.”

A sigh from the actually older man captured the General’s attention.  “Enough did, sir.  And even those who really didn’t, too many of them had their own axes to grind, their own power seeking desires, and in essence, became MCO fellow travellers, riding the wave of fear that disaster caused…  Which, our let them starve strategy backfired, since too many of the PR people were still around, and eager to justify their salaries… and get bonuses.”  Tyson settled deeper into the seat as they slowly made their way to the hospital, and sighed. “This isn’t going to end at our level, Sir.”

“Fuck ‘em.   We got the MCO red-handed this time, if they push it.  That stream and recording pretty much nails them to the wall.  So, Fuck ‘em if they want to play the injured party.”   Smith nodded, putting aside the MCO problem, while looking at the upcoming hospital.  “We’ll do the debrief at the hospital, to save time.  I’m sure you have a few calls you want to make.”

“Yes, Sir.”

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Office of Commanding General(FORSCOM/Ft Bragg), Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, 14th Dec 2015

“So.”  An older black man sat down after the general waved at him.  “What can this retired old man do for you, General?  Been a bit busy doing that AAR from the recent fun.”

“Read this, Sgt. Major Tyson.  We know why Dan went Anime.” The white haired general passed a file, rising slightly from his desk to pass the file.  Papers rustled and finally the retired sergeant sighed as he tossed the file back on the desk.

“Huh.  Poor Boss.”  Tyson shook his head.  “Did the tester get ripped a new one for not catching this?”  Tyson returned to looking at the general.  “Sir… no, Richard.  Dan’s a good officer, and a good man, he doesn’t deserve to be hammered over this.”  His voice grew more intense.  “If anyone…”

The general raised a hand.  “At this time, I intend to make sure he doesn’t get screwed by a blown testing.  I agree with you, James.”  The general shook his head.  “No one’s to blame.  Hell, the tester pointed out his conclusions were ‘inconclusive’, not a lock.  We gave Dan an MMID, just in case, as you’re aware.  And Avatar powers, especially at that time were one of the hardest, if not the hardest to gauge, for us.  Still are, if a spirit isn’t in residence, I’ll say.  You know all that.”

James nodded.  “Yeah.  I mean, I got a glance at his full file, and hell, given Dan was raised by a man trying to stuff in centuries of legacy into him…  I can agree.  Most of what they caught could have been explained easily by training.”  He quirked an eyebrow.  “And if the spirit that moved into Dan had already marked him as off-limits to others…” he trailed off, raising an eyebrow.

“Dan might not have known, our tests likely wouldn’t have caught it, etc., etc…”  The General nodded.  He leaned back and nodded once.  “Moot anyways.  The Mayor of New Orleans has already collected a lot of scalps of those H1 bastards, and the media for once isn’t parroting what the Saros and MCO want.  Since the whole thing went out on live feed streams, their lines aren’t playing very well. The DPA ‘leaked’ the entire recording.  Got to love JITTERS.”

“That helps.”  Tyson leaned forward.  “Look, we all know that the MCO’s current leadership, as usual, is fucking nuts and sociopathic, sir.”  He pauses.  “It doesn’t help they keep attracting a lot who agree with them.  And well…”

“The Saros don’t help, no.  And I’ll admit, that back before the turn of the decade, we urged all their good people to leave, and join the DPA, and helped sweeten the deal, we pretty much made sure that it would be an organization that was sociopathic.  Not that some wouldn’t argue that it wasn’t before.  Butcher’s Row proved that.”  Richard Smith leaned back, eying Daniel’s old sergeant.  “But it’s coming out.”  He nodded once.  “Upside, since Samurai managed to avoid killing any of those thugs, the DPA gave them a nice ‘out’, so no one’s inclined to push it.”

Tyson nodded.  “Not that I don’t appreciate the heads up on Samurai, even if he needed a two by four recently, why do you want me still involved, sir?  It’s not like the Army’s going to reup either of us.’

The General nodded.  “Honestly, we’re thinking you’d make a good person to handle some things.  Realistically you’re one of the few people that Dan got along with that we can pull without much headache from something.”  He paused, nodded once.  “Not to mention that given that almost all of Dan’s family is dead, and trust me, we’re now looking into the details of all those interesting deaths, now…  It helps that you had built a file, and we finally can pry some information out of the Japanese.”  He shrugged once.  “We need a next of kin, at least ‘til Japan gets over the shock, and I’d rather not trust them that fully, not yet.”

“Shit.”  The tone of the Sgt. Major spoke volumes.  “Hate this political shit, sir.”

“You’re not alone.”  A pregnant pause followed.  “Not to mention whatever the spirit is, it’s imposing a BIT on Dan.”

“You sure, sir?”  Tyson leaned back slightly, shooting an eye at his superior.

“The docs are.”  The general stood up and nodded.  “Better take you, so you can see.”

Tyson got up as well, and nodded.  “I’m still recalled, aren’t I?”

“It’d be nice if you did it voluntarily, old man.”  The General smiled.  “But I have the paperwork to make it mandatory.”

“Ah, hell, I was only fishing anyways.  By mandatory retirement, if I recall correctly... that I tried to fight.”  Tyson’s quirked lips spoke volumes.

“Good.  Very good.  Let’s go, Sgt. Major.”  The General waved a hand at the office’s door and followed the reactivated noncommissioned officer out the door, towards the hospital.

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Office of the Prime Minister of Japan, Tokyo, Japan, Morning, 14th Dec 2015

(Translated from Japanese)

“Sir, the Princesses are here.”  Abe’s secretary spoke through the intercom.

“Send them in.”  Abe looked out his window, alone for a moment, until the door opened, and the two women walked though.  Both were severely dressed, and the armed guards behind them indicated how the Palace was feeling this day.  Not a surprise.

“Ladies.  I am surprised at your request for an meeting.  I would have been”  The elder of the two, Princess Kiko raised her hand, to Abe’s utter shock.

“I speak for my Father in Law.”  Pausing.  “I Speak for the Celestial Empress, as little as she has chosen to inform us all.”  One last pause, gauging his reaction. “I Speak for the Myoujin.”

Abe’s mind whirred.  This … was unprecedented.  Unexpected.  And worrisome.  “I see.  I hear the words of those you speak for.” Standing straight, he simply waited.

“Our Celestial Empress has claimed her rights.  She has acted on her Obligation.”  Kiko paused, nodded once. “The children of Jinnu are no longer the only ones who speak for her, indeed, we have been replaced in that role, as Our Mother’s children have spread out of Japan.  My Father in Law, still reigns for her in these lands, but her voice is not his.”

Kako steps up and follows her mother’s statement with her own.  “The Myoujin, our first and oldest branch family, have been called to do their promised duty.  Their last heir has agreed.”  Pausing, she nodded once.  “It is our duty to support the Myoujin in this, as was agreed.  The Celestial Empress has finally chosen a Voice, direct, and a champion for her causes.  Do you stand in the way?”

Abe opened his mouth, then paused for a long moment.  This explained several things.   “Am I to understand that Amaterasu-omikami-megumi chose a Paladin?”

“You may choose to understand in that manner.”  Kiko’s voice was dry.  “The agreement was slightly… different.”

“Ah.”  Abe whirred through the possibilities.  “How may I assist in this aiding?”

Kiko nodded once.  “My daughter will go to collect the Myoujin.”  Pausing a moment.  “We also require elements of the TSG to go with her, to Ft. Bragg.  We would be most appreciative if you made this point clear that Kako acts in all matters with yours and my father in law’s will.”

Abe boggled.  “The American Fort Bragg? The one in the South?”

“Yes.  We are sure the Myoujin, my cousin, is there.” Kako spoke amused.  “It would not surprise me if the American Army was all aflutter.”

“I…”  Abe tried to process this.  “I must ask, who is the Myoujin.”  He got a sinking feeling that he’d not enjoy what he was about to hear, as both women’s polite smiles turned… trollish.

“Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lewis Moate, United States Army, Retired.  Last Assignment, Commanding officer, D Squadron, Detachment Delta, 1st Special Forces Group.  And my 4th cousin, on my mother’s side.”  Kako’s voice was perfectly innocent, though her eyes gave away she was taking what amusement she could from the situation.

Abe couldn’t keep the shock off his face, as he felt his spincher tighten to the point his proctologist would tell him he was making diamonds…  Why did he have to be right about not liking this?  Struggling for a moment to regain his normal expression, he finally asked.  “And if he was suspected to be Amaterasu’s potential avatar, why was he not in Japan?”

Kako’s expression grew cool.  “Your maternal grandfather suggested a law, I believe, in 1929 removing the last of the traditional Yojimbo houses for our family.  The Myoujin’s cover was such.   Further, at that time, several Myoujin began to die.  So, the head at the time, took steps to preserve the bloodline… out of Japan, and it worked.  More than that… well, is there any real need to know?”

Abe suddenly understood his situation.  “I… see.  I am sure that he had… reasons, and was not informed of the need…  But surely the intent was not ill.  I would be most distressed to learn such.”

Kiko responded.  “We are less inclined to believe that the intent was pure.  Too many suspicious things have happened, too close.   And to add in some new information that the Colonel’s ashigaru has added to our knowledge… Well, Prime Minister, we would be loathe to agree that it was ill, but we have our suspicions… and it would not do to not investigate how far they go, would it?”

“I would be… most distressed if any of your justifiable suspicions proved accurate, indeed.  I would have to take steps to see who lead him astray, would I not?  All he wanted to do was bring Japan into the Modern age, fully, and well, traditional retainers were a … relic, in his eyes, surely.”

“Perhaps.” Kako spoke.  “But knowing so many of my kin fell to the assassin's sting?”

Abe went white.

“It is not our intention or view to even hint that you, yourself had any part, desire or hint of want to prevent our Celestial Mother’s return, that would be treasonous, wouldn’t it?” Kiko smiled.  “Nor would we ever assume that you wished to seek to have full control of this situation, would we?”

Kako once again picked up her mother’s thoughts.  “But we have to admit, there are those who would, and that would be… ill, would it not?  As well as oh, so, treasonous.  We would not believe a man who has tried, not always successfully, no one would disagree, but always given his best as he could, for the people of Japan, could be guilty of such.”

Abe calmed down and realized the deal that was being presented.   Help root out those ultranationalists, who he didn't agree with anyways, who could be threats to this situation, or sought to fully bind the new avatar, or be exposed as one.  Not to mention that the two women were making their other point clear.   Moate belonged to the Imperial Family, not the Prime minister.  There was only one real choice, wasn’t there?  Well, two, but he could not actually do the second, his soul wouldn’t allow it.

“Your Imperial Highness, I am always Japan’s servant, and I cannot tolerate those who seek to betray her.   And I would not dare to interfere with your duties to your kin, that would be a treason in itself.”  Abe bowed.  “You may count on my people to give their full assistance to your duties, as well as to find out who betrayed Japan in such a manner.”  Abe suddenly realized that he could use this internationally.  “Perhaps…  If we bring this all out in the open...”

“We thank you for your understanding.  And we quite agree, it would be of assistance to truly understand the past by many.”  Kiko returned the bow properly.  “But we must not take up more of your time.”  Kako on this, bowed and departed.  “My daughter is ready to go the moment your office tells us the details have been handled.”

“Of course, and you must have many things to do.” Abe walked the older princess to the door.  “And so do I.”

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Office of The Commanding General, SOCOM-PMA, US Army, MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida, early morning, 14th Dec 2015.

"Goddammit, I just got a fucking migraine bigger than when I had to debrief Carson about why the Back Cage missed three all-clear signals when Mahren went dark."  Lieutenant-General Patton rubbed his temples as he listened to the report from the Colonel.

“Sorry sir, but that’s accurate.  For all intents and purposes, Lieutenant-Colonel Moate’s been picked up by a Japanese Class-3 spirit.”  The man didn’t look sorry, just grim.  This was not news he enjoyed bearing.  “Further, He’s showing signs of GSD that are basically resulting in a gender shift.”

“I thought I’d gotten done with the most obnoxious possible fucking cleanup when Carson told us about Mahren doing the same fucking thing and needing to clean up the clearances and ID problems to keep the Cage in-line.  Get that new private in here, I need a pot of coffee, two Ibuprofen and all the goddamned antacids you can lay hands on while I try to sort out this shit-mess.”

“Yes Sir.”

“Sure as shit, Moate had to prove me wrong and up the fucking ante.  Let this be a lesson to you, Colonel, when you’re fully cleared for all that this job entails in two weeks, make sure you don’t forget the fucking antacids.  You’re going to need them.”

“And find where that crusty bastard babysitter of our special snowflake is.  I want to hear what he has to say within the next twenty-four hours.  I also want to know why the MCO was on our boy that fast, now.”

“That much we have sir, they were after a girl being mobbed by H1’s.  Low-grade Siren, vocal mimic, basically harmless.  Our boy put half the crowd on their asses and then proceeded to go into a burnout.”  The colonel paged through his ream of documents as he spoke to verify.

“Well, shit, at least Samurai hasn’t lost his knack for theatrics.  Get on the horn with the MCO, and make them spell out in crayon why they felt the need to open fire on one of my soldiers who had been given the authority to control the situation by the DPA.  I want to hear the bullshit excuse they cook up.  The wall of shame hasn’t had a new addition in over a year.”

“Are we going to do anything about this, General?”

“No.  Chicken handed them their asses, for now we leave it at that, but you can be sure they’re about to start some shit.  If they post warrants for Chicken, Samurai, or the girl I want to know immediately.”

“Yes, sir… and about the request from Japan?”  The Colonel eyed the piece of paper in his hand.

“They want to put a TSG squad on detail, as well as have their princess assume responsibility for Samurai.”

“The request from Japan can go through the regular diplomatic channels for now.  We sort out Samurai and what may or may not be compromised.  Once we have that, we’ll consider visitors contingent upon Moate’s health and mental state.”  Patton shook his head irritably.  “I want to know how the fuck they knew about this before the report hit my desk.  Put someone on finding out.  I want two squads from Echo on Moate, no one gets to him, he doesn’t walk out until we’re done.”

Patton stopped and sighed.  “Tell our boys gentle handling of Moate.  He served honorably and well.  Priority is to keep anyone from taking or killing him, and the MCO doesn’t get any information on his changes, ever.  Full MMID workup, regardless of what results.  Daniel Moate doesn't get associated with the girl if she turns up crazy.”

“Yes, sir.”

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Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan, Midday 17th Dec 2015

No place in Japan partied with the quirkiness of Akihabara, Amaya mused as she made her way through its streets.

Unfortunately.

Japan was aflame with joy and speculation, and nothing quite amplified and distorted Japan’s soul like Akihabara.  The cosplayers had done emergency duty to construct their own Amaterasu costumes, a thousand ways to interpret the Sun Goddess, and all of them had converged on Akiba to celebrate her return.  She’d seen traditional, kimono-wearing Amas resplendent in scarlet and white, modern Amas in everything from fiery business suits to sunburst schoolgirl uniforms, samurai Amas, ninja Amas, French Maid Amas, Bishonen Ama-kuns, Furry Amas… the nation had every interpretation for what it saw as ‘their’ goddess, and all of the deluded fools were out to party.  Age, status, gender, nothing seemed to stop it.

The crowd, however, parted for her.  They always did.  They may not have known why – maybe it was the all-black outfit she wore, the severe hime cut of her hair, the dark, piercing glare she sent out at the world – but they always parted for her, making way like prey guarding itself against a predator.

She had power, true – subtle power, but her Lord gave power as He willed.  Hers was a gift for storytelling, for artwork; she was a mangaka, a rising young star in the horror and suspense genre.  Some people were repulsed by her stories; enough bought them, though, that she made a living.  She’d even heard rumors, whispers, that her most recent offering, The Hand of Shadow, might be made into an anime series.

She liked the irony of that.

Her storytelling had a purpose.  Hers was the Hand of Shadow, beckoning those who had caught a glimmer of the truth to find the whole truth.  She knew, as she could feel their presence, their isolation; within the crowd were others like her, others just as repulsed by the carnival as she was.  The light burned; the light lied; the light blinded to the truth of humanity.  The fools around her dressed in scarlet and white danced in the light, danced in the lies, wallowing in their own filth like pigs at the trough.  Only in darkness, only in shadow, could humanity find Truth.  

Seeking others who sought the Truth… that is what her manga accomplished.  Like any mangaka, she received fan mail.  Within the words, the type or the scrawl, she could separate the Chosen from the pretenders, those who saw the Truth from those who were merely playing children’s games.  Those Chosen were investigated, befriended, slowly brought into the shadow, slowly shown the Truth – just as she’d discovered a decade earlier.

Her Lord, she knew, would not be happy at this affront, at the old challenger come back.  No doubt, He was already stretching His hand across the sea, to find this “Avatar” that had awakened, to snuff her false light before it could fool the rest of the nation.

This land was His land, after all – not some false goddess, not some fairy land of trinkets and maid cafes.  He would show His might by removing this blight from the earth, to shove the truth into the fools of this land like a dog forced to face its own shit.  And then – finally then – would the world see His Truth, His beauty - the beauty of the Night.

She smiled as she made her way to Akihabara Station, to join up with the others there.  She would need to contact her publisher; she suspected it was time for her to begin to wrap up her own series, where the ‘hero’ of the work slowly finds herself being drawn into the shadows… and joining in the darkness.

Just as everyone around her would be joining in the darkness.

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Office of the President, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, 21st Dec 2015

“Mr. Saros is here to see you, sir.”  Scott Cowen nodded at his secretary’s message.

“Send him in, please.”  He leaned back, and watched the door open.

“Thank you for seeing me so shortly.  I’m afraid I couldn’t make an appointment with your secretary, due to I wasn’t sure how long my meetings with various people in this fine city would last.”  Alexander Saros sat down uninvited, apparently not noticing Cowen’s slight narrowing of the eyes.

“I’d be amiss at not seeing the envoy of one of the wealthiest families in the world, even with all that’s on my plate.  And no matter, the Mayor and the DA were kind enough to inform me of your coming.”  Scott eyed him.  “Though I’m surprised.  You and yours would be better suited to Loyola, given our sister school’s history.”  He leant back and smiled.

“Well… this isn’t quite the same, not really.”  Saros paused.  “We realized we were amiss in a few of our charitable activities, and well, when your letter reached one of our executives, about how several scholarship programs had to be trimmed down…”  Cowen stopped him.

“We’re both busy men, Mr. Saros - You with your… organizations, and me with my university.  Let’s cut to the chase.  How much, and what are the strings?”  Cowen smiled a bit coolly, and abandoned all pretenses.  

Alexander paused, a bit at a loss from Cowen’s cool words and worse, his standoffish body language.  He collected himself, aware of the slight smirk on Cowen’s face, and rallied.  “Well… you know that unfortunate incident a few days ago… and your reaction?”

“Of course.  The students were expelled, per our campus policy - even if the students are no longer facing attempted murder charges with hate crime enhancements, sir.  My fine university does not tolerate racism or mob behavior; after all, we educate gentlemen and Ladies, Sir.”  Cowen smiled internally.  He had won a bet with his Dean of Students.

“We’d be most generous if you reconsidered such youthful indiscretions.”  Saros leaned forward, spreading his hands.

Cowen raised an eyebrow.  “Is that what you call it?  A ‘youthful indiscretion’?  Down here, we call that a lynch mob.  Even if the DA… oh, how did he put it?  Oh, yes, decided to be kind and let them plead to a charge of second degree battery, with a chance to clear their record in 3 years.”  He smiled.  “By the way, we sent out a mailer recently.  Seems we had several large donations come in that either had no strings attached or, as from Lord Paramount, were explicitly earmarked for the restoration of… oh, how did he put it… ‘The fine tradition of forward thinking and cutting edge research that Tulane has been known for in the past, and should be known for in the future.’”  Cowen grinned, quietly enjoying the look of surprise on Saros’s face.  

“Why, with over a billion dollars explicitly earmarked for restoring and reactivating our past engineering college, and 200 million in scholarships for gadgeteers and devisors, plus another 100 million explicitly for bio types in those two fields, and additional funding - significant additional funding, shall we say for medical gadgeteering and similar?  Sidewinder Holdings was quite generous.  Further, the lovely Mrs. Turner was able to convince several of her friends and contacts, to help staff the new departments.  Maybe not on full-time basis, I’ll admit, but even a series of guest lectures… Well now.  I’m pleased to say that I do believe that when I hand this university over to my successor, not only will I have restored it to its pre-Katrina state… but perhaps restored it to its highest state, or even better.  A fine legacy, for a fine institution, one steeped in history and the fight against bigotry.”

Saros paused, a bit dismayed, but pushed on, clearly a bit unused to being on the pleading end in a situation like this.  “Surely you realize we can match and easily exceed any of that...  Why we would be glad to, as apology…”  He was cut off by a raised hand.

“Enough, Mr. Saros.”  Scott took a deep breath.  “Considering the educational and classical  leanings of your family, Mr. Saros, allow me to explain my reasoning in language that maybe you would understand.  ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’”  Cowen leaned back in his chair.  “No amount of cash in the world from you is worth the price of taking it – the price of my soul, and those of all the students under my care.  Accepting it, with the strings attached, means condoning actions that no good soul could find acceptable.”

“But…”  Alexander paused for a moment, and then continued.  “Surely you see the dangers to your students?  Fullerton proved that, no?  They have to be controlled and contained!”

“I have seen dangers to my students, Mr. Saros, all too many in the past week,” the president continued acidly.  “I removed them from this campus, for all time.”  He shook his head.  “You forget the land you walk on, Alexander Saros.  This is New Orleans.  Lynch mobs are a scar on our past here.  I will not see them return; I will not tolerate seeing them return.  I have always wondered about you and your family’s stance on certain things, puzzled beyond belief, how a family rooted in one of the greatest crimes that humanity has and hopefully ever will see would be so… irrational.  However, I’m afraid I have meetings of importance to attend, so if you would be so kind…”  Cowen stood up, buttoning his suit.

Saros stood, letting his disappointment hide his anger.  “Surely you do realize what employment chances you’re cutting off for...”  He was cut off again by Cowen striding to the door.

“Of course I do.”  Cowen opened the door, a clear message.  “Given that a lot of my students will not be hired by you, sir, I do not see very much difference… and where you fail to see the advantages of treating all our children as our children… others won’t, Sir.  And a good day to you.”

Saros strode out, clearly agitated, and his secretary looked at him.  “Sir?”

“I do believe the board of Regents should be informed of such… unpleasantness.  Could you call them to schedule an emergency meeting?  There is much to discuss.  Maybe we should invite several others, see what the Regents think, m’dear.  And we do have an opening on the Board, and one of the traditions is we appoint one for a New Year.  I wonder.”

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Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, 21st Dec 2015

(Translated from Japanese)

“Kuroda-san.”

Akemi Kuroda’s eyes widened.  She immediately jumped up from her desk, and bowed deeply.  “Your Highness!”  In an instant, a hundred scenarios played out in her head; she eventually settled on her primary job.  Most procurement requests came through third parties, but she was trained to be prepared for direct requests.  “Is there anything you or your family need?”

Akihito’s eyes twinkled; his round, grandfatherly face grinned in bemusement.  “There are some procurement needs that have come up.  However, I will require your insight into what those exactly are.”  The smile faded.  “The first thing we need...  For what I need, you will use your blade.”

Akemi’s heart began to beat faster.  All members of the Imperial Household were prepared for such requests.  She just never thought she’d live to experience it.  “Your Highness?”

His dark eyes bored into her; he was taking his measure of her, she knew.  “A situation has come up in the United States, one for which you are uniquely qualified.  I cannot order you to do this.  What I am asking of you is extraordinarily dangerous.  When you hear the details, you will know why.”  He looked askance at her.  “Are you familiar with the Myojin clan?”

Akemi frowned.  “Only vaguely.  I am aware that the clan is given a stipend, as I see the entry in the yearly accounting, but I don’t know of any members.”

Akihito nodded slowly.  “Unfortunately, there is reason for that.  The Myojin clan is an offshoot of the Yamato, separated very shortly after the beginning of the line.  It was an understanding of responsibilities.  While they would serve the Yamato, it was understood that their ultimate responsibility was to Amaterasu Omikami, to act as her guardians and servants.”  He sighed.  “They paid a price for their fealty.  Someone was hunting them down – a battle death here, an accident there, a ‘mysterious illness’ here.”  He took a deep breath.  “Officially, the family book was closed in 1994, and the clan declared extinct.  The truth, on the other hand, is far murkier.”

His gaze turned back to her.  “Grandfather knew the clan was being hunted, knew that someone powerful wanted them all dead.  So, when a daughter of the clan met an American soldier, he gave his blessing for them to marry, and for her to leave for the States.  The hope was that distance and obscurity would allow the clan to survive.”  He smiled wistfully.  “It worked.  It has produced an odd situation, but it worked.”

Akemi tried to puzzle out the Emperor’s story.  “What happened, sir?”

He grinned.  “Explaining what has happened and what will happen is difficult.  We don’t know what precisely is going on, but too many greater powers and spirits have come to the fore, as well as beings we thought were fantasy.  Amaterasu is no exception, as she’s chosen this moment to make her presence known.  She took the one surviving Myojin and called on the clan to do their duty – and activated him as her avatar.”

Akemi’s jaw dropped.  “You want me to act as this avatar’s second,” she said, breathless.  Akihito nodded.

Akemi’s brow furrowed.  “What is the avatar’s condition?”

“She’s currently unconscious; that said, she’s likely to be confused once she wakes up.”  His smile turned positively mischievous.  “A forty-year-old college professor has been transformed into a fourteen-year-old girl.  A fourteen-year-old girl who will act as Amaterasu’s avatar on earth, who has little clue on how to live, and who will need help and protection.”  His eyes twinkled.

“Wow.”  Akemi steadied herself against her desk.  “…. Wow.”

Akihito stared through her.  “Kuroda-san, this is someone who will have to act as sword, mirror, and jewel – warrior, diplomat, and sage.  She is already an accomplished warrior, though your skills will be needed to keep her sharp.  She is also a sage, as she was a college professor before her change.  However, she will need extensive work – work from a member of the Imperial Household - in becoming a proper diplomat.”  He grimaced.  “And whoever does that… if our fears and suspicions on what stalked the Myoujin are correct, it could quite possibly become a suicide mission.”

Akemi raised an eyebrow.  “I… I see.”  She looked over at him.  “My sword is your sword; my shield, yours.  What budget do I have to work with?”

“Extensive, though not extravagant.  As the Myoujin are actually well off, all things considered.”  Pausing for a moment.  “Though I would not doubt that the last Myoujin would like to be reminded on how that wealth was all placed into Myoujin hands.”  Pausing for a moment, he nodded.  “However, for now, use IHA funds.  Act as though you are acting as aide-de-camp for a rebellious princess of the House.”

“Okay,” Akemi replied.  “When does this need to be ready?”

“One week.  Princess Kako has already flown to the United States to meet with her and to discuss the situation.”  He handed a thick envelope to her.  “Here is the information on the situation and on the avatar.  Please be ready to give an update and tentative procurement list in four days.”

“Yes, sire!”  She bowed deeply.

Akihito bowed slightly, and nodded.  “I will leave you to your work.”  He moved to leave, then paused.

“Kuroda-san?”

“Yes, sire?”

For that moment, Akihito looked sad.  “Protect her.  Guide her.  That things have progressed this far, become so desperate… this is my family’s failure.”  A quiet smile formed on his features.  “Please.  Redeem this old man’s failures.”

Akemi swallowed.  “I will, sire.”  He walked from her office, leaving Akemi alone to plan the operation.

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Visitors Desk, Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, 22nd Dec 2015

Annie looked up from the admittance desk and blinked.  The Asian man in front of her set off every warning bell inside of her.  He seemed out of place in the light and sterility of the hospital; his presence felt like a cancer, a festering disease to be fought and eradicated.  Plants edged away from him as he moved towards her admittance desk.

“Hello.  I’m here to see Daniel Moate.”

She raised an eyebrow at his request.  She’d been given very specific instructions on the lieutenant colonel’s visitors: no one was allowed admittance without clearance from on high.  She pressed a button calling discreetly for security.  “May I ask who wishes to visit?”

“Oh, I’m his brother-in-law, Mansaku.”  He gave his best smile.  “Ever since Aiko died… well, Daniel doesn’t have much family.”

She nodded.  One thing she’d learned in her job was to never take it personally.  “I see.  Lieutenant Colonel Moate’s visitor list is restricted.  If you wish to be added to the list, you’ll need to contact the office of the Commanding General, sir.”

The man nodded serenely in reply.  He began to reach into his back pocket, presumably for a wallet, when a shout from the end of the hall caught everyone’s attention.

“Drop it!”

The man jumped over the desk, faster than Annie could blink.  By the time she registered what was happening, the visitor had his arm around her waist, and a knife at her throat.

She swallowed.  Four MPs had rifles pointed at them.  Four others, officers by the look of them, stood by, weapons drawn.

“Now.  You’re going to take me to Moate or the girl dies!”

One of the officers began to speak.  “Put the knife down.”

He moved away from the desk, giving them room.  “It doesn’t matter.”  She felt the knife prick

her skin.  “I am going to release her.  However, she has tasted my blade; she will die within the hour if not treated – and only I have the antidote.  So, I would advise you to do as I say.”

Annie felt herself thrown from his grasp.  She felt for her throat, and could feel the blood there.  A cold chill swept through her.  If the assassin was right…

“Now, I am sure that you all wish for the young woman to survive.  All I ask is that you not interfere.”  He carefully picked up the enrollment chart, scanning it carefully, then looked up at them, eyes blazing.

“He’s not here.”

The oldest of the officers smiled.  “We started noticing a pattern once we looked over the death records of Lieutenant Colonel Moate’s family.  Accidental deaths, strange illnesses… this family makes the Kennedys look lucky by comparison.”  His hard eyes bored into the assassin.  “But they weren’t accidents, were they?”

The man’s next words chilled her to the bone.  “Then your nurse is going to die.”  He glared hatefully at them.  “Bring Moate to me if you want her to live.”

At that moment, Annie felt hands guide her away from the conflict, down the hallway to an open trauma center.

“Take it easy, Annie.”  Kate, the head trauma nurse, said as she guided Annie onto a gurney.  “Lie down.”

She gulped and did exactly as told.  Her heart felt like it was beating a mile a minute, and her body felt a strange tingling all over.  “Wh-what’s going to happen to me?”

Kate took a deep breath.  “You did well, Annie.  While they were talking, Lieutenant Mahren – who’s a telepath, by the way - was sifting through the assassin’s mind.  In fact, that’s why they’re delaying for time – to glean as much information as they can, because they don’t expect to take the assassin alive.”  She smiled.  “They brought you down here because they found out what was on the blade.  Whoever came up with this wasn’t exactly pleasant.  Let’s just say that it’s a very good thing you’re in a military hospital.”

Annie’s eyes widened.  “What is it?”  She looked over at the trauma doctor, Bob Milton.  “Bob, what’s happening?”

Dr. Milton adjusted his glasses.  “We’re putting you on quinidine to get your heart under control; bastard used oleander sap on the blade as the base for the poison.  He decided for the double whammy in that respect, going for some batrachotoxin; we’re going to treat it like the digitalis overdose from hell.”  

He sighed.  “Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing he put on it.  We’re also putting you on physostigmine to counter both the atropine and the adder venom; the antivenom for the adder venom is on its way.”  He put a respirator over her mouth, then looked up at the sound of gunshots.  “Don’t worry, Annie.  We’ll get you through the night… which is likely more than your attacker can say.”

Annie tried to nod, but could only look upward.  At that moment, it was enough to still be breathing.

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Paranormal Situations Wing, Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, 22nd Dec 2015

Tyson looked over the form on the bed in the room.  Turning from the observation glass, he looked at the General.  “So, sir.  We get anything from that clown?”

The General snorted.  “Lots.  I’ll fill you in later.  Lt. Mahren did well on ripping through his mind.  Better bit, we get to ask some seriously pointed questions of JSDF.”

“Like that’d help.”  Tyson shook his eyes turning back to the form on the bed.  “Ain’t that a kick in the pants, sir?”

“It could be much worse, Command Sgt. Major.”  The general’s tone was a bit repressive.

“Oh, not complaining, though I think the old man might, Sir.”  The CSM’s tone had a bit of humor in it.  “How long?”

“Docs want to keep Dan under another day at least.  Let the BIT finish running its course and any lingering issues from the burnout to heal.”  The general shook his head.  “Plus maybe get a specialist from Whateley to try to identify the spirit that seems to have taken residence.”  He rolled his eyes, shaking his head again.  “Your guess is the likely one, though.”

“And if our people can’t, what makes anyone think Whateley’s people can?”  Tyson snorted, looking at his general.  “We have Navajo shamans.  Hades, one’s one of the ones who countered the Japanese spiritualists, the few that fought, that is, and a tough old bastard he is.”

“And that’s why I agree with you.  Whateley has no Asian experts.  Asta states it’s similar to what he felt from a few when he fought them on the islands.”  The general waved at the door.  “That’s all he got, and he admitted whatever it is, is powerful.  Lodgeman didn’t fight the Japs, so…”

“Yeah, power isn’t everything.”  Tyson turned to look at General Smith.  “Sir, if Lt. Mahren is right, and from what CID and ASA managed to cobble together, we’re dealing with a cult worshipping a Class X.  Combine that with the power Asta saw…”

“Yes.  I know.  For our sins, we’re the ones who get to make the decisions.  We’ll wait for some more information, but…”

“Until Dan wakes up and we can talk to him, we’re still whistling in the dark, in a lot of ways.  Prying information out of Japan about their major spirits has always been a pain and a half.”  Tyson nodded, leading the way out of the observation room.

“Exactly.”  The General closed the door, and turned to the Delta Sergeant at the door.  “We’re done for now, Master Sgt.”

“Yes, Sir.”  The Delta sergeant nodded, and locked the door.

Tyson waited until the General took the lead, and then followed as they left the wing.  “Sir?  What’s going to happen?  We don’t have a policy per se on Avatars.”

Richard stopped and sighed.  “No idea.  If it’s what Para is thinking, or of a similar type, James, well, back to medical retirement, I suspect is the easiest answer.  After Samurai gets interviewed for just how bad any potential security breaches may be.”  He paused.  “With that, we don’t have to do anything stupid, like try to enforce conflicted loyalties on an officer.  The Jesuit problem.”  He starts walking again, looking over his shoulder as his aide caught up to the pair.  “The only upside about this situation, Tyson, is I make the calls.  NCA was quite clear, he’d back my decisions.”

“Not the way you thought you’d handle your last detail, Sir?”  Tyson followed as they hit the checkpoints, the general returning the salute of the guards.

“No.  But it could be worse.”  Tyson rolled his eyes at the general.

“Yeah, heard about Xmas 2006.”  Tyson paused.  “Guy really didn’t deserve that.  Wasn’t his fault.”

“No, he didn’t.  None of us deserve what’s going on.”  The general’s tone was dark.  “… You know, I might see if we can WORK with Dan’s spirit.”

“Oh?”  Tyson’s voice was curious.

“Yes.  I’ll get you read into some things.  But, as a teaser, James, China, for one… and well, if our guess is right, who better to aid our PR there?.”

“Really…” Tyson’s voice trailed off, then picked up.  “I… see.  Getting Dan to agree might be a bit more difficult.”

“Yes.”

“And if Dan doesn’t want to be part of your play?  Or Japan has different ideas for what we think?”

The general smiled.  “He and they will want to.  Since Iron Dragon is obvious in what he wants… and if you were Japan?”

“I’d be seriously considering amending the constitution, oh, yes.  As well as … ah.”  Tyson grinned.  “Well, well.  Explains why Japan sent that Princess.  Who we still haven’t let in, and have been letting State do the runaround.  Isn’t Patton going to meet with her tomorrow?”  Tyson nodded at the General.

“Yep.  Best to begin as we intend to end, no?”  A small smile graced the officer’s face

Tyson thought about it, and decided if the General hadn’t brought it up, he would.  “That’s a fact, and I’m gonna tell, I’ve started a long time ago.”

“Oh, that, I know.. and you can be assured that Japan knows too, or will, count on it.”  Pausing a moment, he sighed.  “I know that you’ve already charted your course and plans, and that we really don’t have a call on your loyalty, James.  Not anymore.  But, I’d remind you…”

“My oaths won’t conflict, Sir.  But it’s time to realize that I need to fully uphold one.  Again.  Well!”  A grin, a shake of the head, and a bemused closing statement, ended the discussion.  “Third time’s the charm.  Third time’s the charm for sure.”

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Soke’s office,  Dojo of Shadows, Near Nara, Japan, 24th Dec 2015

(Translated from Japanese)

“Headmaster, your 3 pm is here.”  A woman spoke quietly at the door of the Headmaster of the Dojo of Shadows’ office.

“Thank you, Ami-chan, please send him in.”  The Headmaster stood to welcome in his newest visitor, as the Prime Minister walked in.  

“Thank you for allowing this meeting, Headmaster.”  Shinzou Abe bowed to the man who by tradition was only known as Headmaster or Master of Yomi, as it was the Dojo’s tradition that the headmaster give up his name, to better serve his students and nation.

“When one of our largest funders requests an off the record meeting, much less the head of our government, the Master of the Dojo would be ill amiss to come, would he not?”  THe wizened man returned the Prime minister's bow.   “May I offer refreshment?”

“No, thank you, I do not want to take up too much of your time.  What you do is too important to waste time with politeness, for politeness’ sake.”  Abe responded, sitting down at the Master’s wave.

THe old man looked at the Prime Minister and nodded.  “May I ask what this is about?  If there are problems with my...”

He was cut off by Abe, who simply responded.  “While there is a problem, it is not with you, your dojo or your students, Headmaster.  Instead it is about a potential student.  I am sure you’ve heard the rumors…”

“Ahhh.”  The old man leaned forward.  “You seek to have Amaterasu’s voice educated here.”  Before Abe could respond, the headmaster sorrowfully shook his head.  "We do not have the facilities and setup to properly instruct one of such august heritage."  Leaning back, he shook his head.  “This is of course, is assuming she’s of an age to be educated, that is, not tutored.”  Studying the Prime Minister, he noted no real disappointment.  Good.  Abe was aware still that the Dojo did not teach those of the the upper class, by and large, because the Dojo’s graduates went on to serve Japan in less glamorous roles.   Those of the highest classes had much given to them, but they also had much responsibility, including finding their own teachers, and tutors, to more properly put them on the path of service to Japan their rank required.  He had thought Abe had forgotten that.

“I… am… not sure at this point, the Throne is… being cagey.”  Abe shrugged, having one question answered for him.  The Dojo hadn’t been contacted by the Throne for Amaterasu’s avatar at this point.  Either the house hadn’t considered the Dojo, and was making arrangements on their own, which he needed to know, for the Voice’s protection, or they hadn’t thought this all though, and needed his advice to carefully protect and steer the avatar.

“Well.  If so, we are ill-suited to teach the Myoujin to shine as Amaterasu demands.  We teach those who will serve as the backbone, often ignored, or operating in such a manner as not to shine brightly as you and others well known… but… may I offer a suggestion?”  The Master, old enough to have help fight Champion and his sidekicks in the war, if he had chosen to take part in such insanity,  withheld the laughter that bubbled within his soul.  Carson would be so bemused by his bringing up her name to Abe… for Japan’s newest idol and princess.

Abe sighed internally, this wasn’t helping him, he needed to figure out how to prove that his goal was helping the Myoujin, but responded politely.  “You may, of course, I would not be as stupid to not take the advice of the premier instructor for those of… special talents.”

“Whateley, Prime MInister.  I would concede that while my dojo serves Japan well, and that in Japan, we have the best breadth of instruction for as you say, special talents, Headmistress Carson has a better institution, simply because she does not have some of the cultural issues we do, nor some of the traditions to contend with, which gives her an edge that I sadly cannot compete with, though I do try.  I am sure she would be receptive, after all.”  The Headmaster smiled.  Oh, yes she would be receptive.  His call to her yesterday clearly indicated she’d at least listen to Japan’s request in this regard.

Abe thought for a moment.  Thought a bit longer.   He didn’t know for sure that the avatar was undergoing age regression, but the DOPS request for setting up an identify, and the age was to follow, made it clear that something was going on.  Well.  He could simply leave this into the Princess’ hands, and let them deal with it… they wanted to take charge… let them.  Either way, if it worked, they looked fondly on him, for not getting in their way… and if it backfired, they got the blame.  Not him, not his family.   He didn’t want his name destroyed when all he wanted what was best for Japan, and her citizens, all her citizens.  “I see.  I will bring this issue to those who are most concerned with it… though I might contact you on some other issues.  Our Voice is stepping out from shadows, and those shadows may need some careful examination.”

The headmaster nodded simply, knowing all that went through the politician's mind. Of course, Abe like so many forgot that this dojo, while loyal, oh for a certainty, but to whom was what they forgot, to Japan, and those who truly represented and honored the covenants. Not governments who came and went.  “Of course, it would not be well done to let anything darken the shining of Amaterasu’s choice, would it?  That would bring distress down on the wa, would it not?”

Abe stood up, bowing again, as he answered.  “You are most wise and generous, Headmaster.”

The Headmaster escorted the Prime Minister to the door.  “Ah, but you show wisdom in listening, and even seeking to calm your confusion, Shizno-kun, that is the mark of a truly wise man.”

“I don’t feel wise.”  The younger man admitted.  “THis is… all so…”  Sighing, he waved his hand, as the two men walked out on the grounds of the school.

“Ah, but as these roses, such a fine English import… and we are now under them…” The Master looked up, studying the climbing rose bush outside his office, and shook his head. “Forgive the digression, but as we are under the Rose, shall we say?  Stay out of this.  This is as much spiritual, Shinzo-kun, as it is political.  Your family was used, at best, and at worst, nearly destroyed the last time someone tried to mix Japan’s spirit with her Politics.   The truest mark of a wise man, is to recognize his limitations, and act accordingly.  We are not men who should be involved in mixing the political with the spiritual.  Let those whose duty it is, do so.  Support them, yes, and protect them, yes, but it is not our place nor our duty to be the ones to do so.  That…  honor belongs elsewhere.”

Abe stopped to listen to the old man, and had to agree.   “... And those who would wish to try to steer that mixing?”

The Soke of Yomi smiled.    It was not a pleasant smile.  “Let the shadows take care of them, Let the shadows.”  Pausing a moment.  “Or perhaps… well.   Capcom made that nice game, perhaps those who seek to use words and strings, instead of blades and rifles, to control a wolf… are less wise than you?”

linebreak shadow

 

Chapter 3: Ignition

 

“We are currently surrounded.  Good.  This simplifies our problems.”

 

Jan 23rd, Paranormal Situations Wing, Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina

Blinking once, a collection of both familiar and unfamiliar white tiles became visible to Daniel Moate’s blurry eyes.  *Government Standard, Medical issue…*  The irrelevant thought flew though Dan’s mind as he blinked slowly, coming to awareness.  *Not a pattern I recognize… so…* He rolled his head, feeling a strange, silky feeling on his cheek and a bit of wooziness from the turn.  Seeing the windows with their mesh and warping of the light indicating that they were heavy armor glass, he came to a conclusion after a moment.  *Ah… military hospital… paranormal wing?  Yeah… paranormal, likely at … hmm… those trees…  Bragg or Benning.*

Checking what he felt over his body, he was a bit pleased to not feel any cuffs on his wrists and ankles while feeling scratchy cotton all over his body.  He felt a bit… off, however; the bed felt bigger than it should be and the cotton was scratchier than the last time he woke up in a hospital.  Rolling his head back to staring at the tiles, he felt oddly calm and content at this moment as he shook off the sleep and wooziness.

The door opening attracted his attention, and a face he hadn’t seen in a few years walked though.  He felt an eyebrow rise up, at seeing someone who he knew had retired back in Army Green but before he could speak, he was interrupted.

“Hello, Dan.”  The face had a slight smile on it as Tyson pulled a chair.  “Was told you were waking up, and everyone thought you could use a friendly face.”  Tyson sat down, and waited.

“Ah…”  Daniel felt his eyebrows furrow at the sound, but being irritated at the fact that his voice sounded different was difficult.  Gathering himself to speak was definitely a bit harder than normal.  Was he on some type of opiate?

“No, old man, you’re not on drugs.”  Tyson rolled his eyes at the puzzled look on his old commander’s new face.  “New trick they figured out.  Projective empathy, shooting huge levels of ‘calm’ and ‘relax’ at you, Sir.”  He paused.  “Pretty sure if they weren’t shooting out high levels, you’d figure out why.”

“Risk.”  Daniel took a moment to gather his thoughts then spoke.  “No idea… what powers…  I have… so…”

“Ayup.”  Tyson nodded.  “Glad to see even with them pumping that much into the air, you’re still as sharp as ever, boss.”

Daniel’s eyes narrowed.  “Exactly…”  Tyson held up a hand, causing Daniel to stop.

“Exactly what happened?  Well, sir.  Late manifestation, or avatar activation, per the quacks.”  Tyson snorted.  “Whatever it is, imposed what they’re calling a BIT onto you, and well, they didn’t want to risk you…”

“Freaking out?”  Daniel kept trying to break through the aura of calm he now identified, and was making a bit of progress, but still felt slightly detached from everything.  “Tell me.”

Not GSD of any type.”  Tyson stopped for a second to try to put into words his thoughts.  “But… you know changelings?  In mutant terms?”  

“Oh… that would explain…”  Daniel trailed off.

“That it would.”  Tyson watched as Daniel brought up a graceful hand studying it.   “So, boss… when were you going to tell us you hosted a female spirit?”  A mischievous tone entered the man’s voice, as he added,  “You could have made a mint just getting her advice to pass on to us poor sods.”

Rolling his… no, her head back up to stare at the ceiling…  “Didn’t know.”  This pause was longer.  “Pretty sure she just decided to move in recently.”

“Shame that.  Would explain why she fixed you up now.  Doubt any self-respecting spirit would want to live in your ugly old frame.  Got to say, she’s got a way with remodels.  She interested in a bit of work?  Less than you?”

“Ha… ha… ha.”  The stated words indicated that even the projected emotions couldn’t do some things.  “Girl…”  Daniel asked after a moment of silence, trying to collect the words.

“That you pulled out of that lynch mob?  A few scratches, nothing more.  Those punks got dealt with.  New Orleans, boss, not the backwoods.  She’s safely back in Japan.”

“Good… good.  Would hate to think it was for nothing.”  Daniel stopped and ordered his thoughts.  “Mirror.”

Tyson looked a bit sheepish as he hesitated, then dived in. “You sure, boss?”

Daniel looked up again at the ceiling, sighing, and then pushed himself up, looking over his new frame.  “Yes.  I’m pretty sure what happened.  Might as well confirm it while they can spare the empath.”

“Okay…”  Tyson rubbed his short cut hair and nodded once.  “I’ll get the nurse.”

Daniel quirked an eyebrow at his old friend.  “Really?  What, are they afraid I’ll grope myself or some such nonsense?”

Tyson had to snicker at that.  “It’s the regs, boss.  I don’t make ‘em.  Plus well, when a nurse gives orders, she does have brass on her collar…”

Daniel looked heavenward and sighed.  “And even if not… it’s dumb to annoy those whose clutches we’re in or possibly going to be in, for our own good.”

“Bingo, boss.”  Tyson left out the door, and Daniel’s eyes narrowed, recognizing the uniform of the person outside the door as well as what was missing from his sleeve.  Where was the MP brassard?  Was he that much of security risk?

Shortly, a pair of orderlies came in with a covered mirror as well as a nurse, followed by a female doctor.  Daniel’s eyebrows twitched a bit annoyed, as the two orderlies left the room.  “Is all this really needed?”  

The doctor turned to look at him, and smiled.  “It’s regulations.”  Daniel’s eyes narrowed as he eyed her.  “It is a … disturbing situation, wouldn’t you agree?”  Daniel watched the nurse come closer, and start to remove the medical leads and pads as well as the IV needle.

Daniel waited patiently, and stretched his arms after the last of the medical equipment was removed.  “Agreed.”  Privately, he shook his head at the oddity of a soprano in his… no, her, time to get used to that, usual style of speaking.  Denial didn’t help the situation one bit, Daniel mused.

As the nurse helped her up, Daniel muttered to herself.  “What is, is.”  Shaking off the helping arm, Daniel examined the legs that she swung out of the bed, and studied the legs visible under the hospital gown.  From what Daniel could see, the legs were long, slim, and shapely, with hints of strong muscles under a layer of fat, giving them an idealized sleekness.  They seemed a bit long compared to what the rest of what Daniel could see.  Further study showed her new arms shared the same traits, ending in elegant and slim hands with long, graceful fingers.

Standing up, Daniel noted a cascade of night falling and shifting around her new body.  Pulling up a lock, she noted the waist-length, silky-black mane.  Refusing the help of the nurse, she walked over to the mirror, and nodded once.  The nurse walked over and pulled the cover off of the mirror and Daniel came face to face with her new self.  Long classic night hair streamed in a hime cut, down her back to just below her waist, framing what even the hospital gown couldn’t hide:  a perfect heart shaped face, with clear complexion and a pert nose.  Further examination of the face showed perfect lips, elegantly arched eyebrows over a pair of slightly tilted wide eyes, still retaining their blue-green with a corona of fire coloring,  a slim athletic frame, with a few inches left to grow in the body, which would leave long elegant arms and legs, perfectly shaped for tantalizing hints of speed and sleekness.  She frowned as she studied the curves of her body, in particularly her chest; while she was clearly blossoming as a young woman, she could tell that further development would occur as she aged.

The doctor next to her interrupted her examination.  “So, think this is bad?”  Daniel blinked at the question and sighed.

“Could have been worse.  Though… high school age again?  Didn’t like that the first time,”  Daniel idly noted as he twisted around to examine all parts that even the rear was perfectly shaped to attract attention.  Pausing, she sighed.  “Hated high school before, don’t think I’ll like being this age again, not at all.  Outside that… could be worse.  Can’t say otherwise.”

The doctor smiled a bit.  “It’s quite an elegant and attractive form, and getting a chance to redo things could be something some people want, no?”

Daniel snorted and didn’t turn to look at her.  “Everyone wishes they had a chance to redo some things, doctor.  Wise people realize it’s not smart or wise to actually get that wish.  And I have just enough wisdom to realize this will cause more problems than a second chance will ever solve, especially in a form I am not familiar with, nor had much interest in being.”

The doctor grew slightly challenging, as she added,  “But what we think we want, Colonel, isn’t always what the subconscious wants, you understand, right?”

Daniel rolled his eyes slightly, where the doctor couldn’t see.  “Of course.  I do know basic psychology, Doctor.”  He paused then shrugged.  “This wasn’t my idea, and I’m pretty sure my subconscious didn’t have this in mind.”

The doctor's face twisted for a moment before settling on resignation.  "Do you mind if we ask a few questions?"

Daniel sighed.  "Fire away."

The psychologist paused and then nodded.  “I’ll have Sgt. Major Tyson return.”

Daniel raised an eyebrow, and rolled his eyes at the psychologist’s departure.

Tyson walked in after Dan had gotten settled in bed, with the head of the bed raised to be comfortable -or as much as was possible without proper clothing while in a secure military ward.  “So, boss.  You can guess what’s what.”

Daniel rolled his eyes.  “Verification issue, plus psych profile.”  He hummed for a second in thought.  “I’m pretty sure I actually wrote this reg for approval.”

“Not sure, boss, but let’s get it done.”  Tyson pulled a seat and sat down as the doctor took a position near the wall.

Daniel eyed Tyson, who pulled out a pair of flasks.  “Oh?”

“Got two choices.  We can do this the question and answer way, which I’m sure the doc here would want, boss, or we can do this the true way.”  Tyson held out a flask.  “Which means, we find a TV, a sports game, if nothing else, a repeat of the Super bowl, and we shoot the breeze?”

Daniel eyed Tyson.  “You do realize this body doesn’t appear to be twenty-one?  And I have no clothing?”

“First, per law, you’re over 21.  Second…”  Tyson pulled a bag out from under the chair he was sitting on, to Daniel’s slight surprise, and tossed it to Daniel.

The Doctor turned to Tyson, turned to Daniel who had started to sport a crooked smirk, and put her head into her hands.  “Men.  Not just men, Operators.”

Tyson turned around as Daniel pulled on the small scrubs, and nodded once, grabbing the bag and flask from the bed, as she kicked on the slippers.  “Ready”

Tyson nodded and pointed at the door.  “Ladies first.”  Daniel’s look at him caused him to snicker, and enjoy Daniel shaking her head.

“I’m going to get back in full shape and then invite you to be a training dummy,” Daniel shot towards the older man.  Tyson’s relief at the irritation in her tone wasn’t seen by Daniel.

“Can’t wait.  Bet old age and treachery will still win the day!”  Tyson shot back and the four Delta guards fell in around Tyson and Daniel as they walked.

As the group arrived at the TV room, Tyson waved at Delta to take the posts at the door and shot the doctor a look.  “Man thing -- you can wait, Doctor.”

The doctor opened her mouth, then shut it with a snap, and hurried off.  Daniel’s eyes narrowed a bit then he nodded.  Tyson came in, closed the door, and gestured at the plush recliners.  “Seat, boss?”

“Think I will.”  Daniel poured himself into one, putting the bag next to him and then eyed Tyson.  “So.  She scurried off to watch and listen to the take?”

Tyson smirked.  “Oh, yes, but it’s not being recorded, nor will she get sound.”  Tyson pulled out a small sphere and flipped it on.  “New toy from the gadgetteers at NSA.”  He continued at Daniel’s raised eyebrow.  “Jams all sound devices.  Something about white noise tuned to a specific frequency that gives nasty feedback.  Thought you’d have recognized it.”

“Huh.  I’m not sure I ever did see one. We really didn’t need that much countersurveillance, if I recall.”  Daniel didn’t notice Tyson’s narrowed eyes at his statement, becasue she was too busy uncorking the flask and taking a sip, then spat it out.  “What… where the hell did you get this cat piss, James?”

Tyson snickered, and took a sip of his.  “Well, I got it from this farmer…”

Daniel rolled his eyes and rooted in the bag, pulling out a bottle of Foster’s beer.  “At least you got a decent commercial to make up for it.”

Tyson nodded.  “Know it’s not that fancy craft beer shit you like.”  He paused.  “You always snickered when I said that, couldn’t figure out why.”

Daniel finished taking a pull, and cocked his head.  “Really?”  Tilting his head back, as the sports channel blathered on, he continued.  “That’s right; you never did do a tour in Japan, did you?”

“You know that, boss.  Leg infantry all the way.  Tour in Korea, but I was warned about Korean beer, by a ROKUSA.”  Tyson sipped again.

“Take those warnings, and apply it to every beer in Japan.  Except maybe a few Hokkaido craft beers.  Where I picked up the taste for microbrews.”  Daniel smirked.  “Trust me, after some of the vending machine beers…”

Tyson rolled his eyes.  “That stuff shocks me, boss.”  He paused.  “Let’s get serious.”

Daniel rolled her eyes.  “Let me guess: who’s the spirit?  Are you still you?”  Slouching a bit more, she took a pull of the beer.  “Anything else I forgot?”

“Oh and why aren’t you reacting as profiled?  Assuming you weren’t transgendered, which I’m pretty sure you weren’t, no more than any guy might be on occasion, and you should have thrown a shitfit to end all shitfits.  Even if you were that, it’d be like winning the lottery, boss: really awesome, but with enough problems and concerns to stress anyone.  And generally, we’d react to stress by removing the stressor, or otherwise reacting in a way that’s quite visible.”

Daniel snorted.  “Fishing, huh?  See you are putting that psych degree the Army paid for to good use.”  Daniel rolled the beer bottle among his hands.

“Ayup.  Got something more than a joke, at least.”  Tyson snorted.  “And stop avoiding.”

Daniel sighed, finished off the bottle, and tossed into in the trash without looking for more than a second.  Tyson’s eyes narrowed -- that was too good of a shot.  He watched as his old commander pulled another, and in a casual display, flicked the top off, sending it into the can as well.  Tyson stopped calculating possible reasons for this when Dan spoke.  “It’s this.  Amaterasu-sama basically offered me a mission.  Plus… well, during the burnout coma…  I’d swear I walked the border between worlds.”

Tyson’s eyes narrowed again.  At least they had some confirmation, though Asta still would have to do a binding dance to verify.  “Which worlds, Boss?”

Daniel looked up.  “Easiest way would be to say the pure world and the impure world, if you remember the discussions we had.”

“Heaven and earth?”  Tyson snorted.  “You know…”

“That it might be a coping method?”  Daniel nodded.  “Of course.  Though…  Aiko did mention that someone had been hunting my family.  That… does annoy me.  And gives me a goal.”

Tyson blinked.  Blinked again.  “Oh… for the love of, boss.”

Daniel paused, cocking her head.  “What?”

Tyson paused and shook his head bemused at the situation.  “That part’s right.  We nailed an assassin who tried to hit you while you were out.  Fool didn’t have good enough psi defenses to keep a telepath from ripping through his mind.”

Daniel froze for a moment and then nodded.  “What did you learn?”

Tyson sighed.  “You’ve heard of Mikaboshi?”  He paused to Daniel’s narrowed eyes and nodded.  “Yeah.  Only good thing right now to come of all of this is we FINALLY confirmed what no one had proof of.  Mikaboshi was backing the Black Dragons, and we didn’t get them all.  And they went after you and yours.  I can guess why.”

“Yesss,”  Daniel hissed.  “Hopefully you won’t get them all.  I have a bit…”  She stopped at Tyson’s raised hand.

“You aren’t ready, you won’t be for a while, and you yourself said Amaterasu gave you a mission.”  Tyson shot his old friend a look.  “Don’t go off half-cocked.  You’re not a butterbar anymore, and even though you have a teenager’s body, you have the mind of a senior operator.  Be the senior operator you are!  Which means you think, not react, boss!”

Daniel visibly gathered himself, then paused, blew out a breath, and sighed.  “Fine… fine.  You’re right.

Again.”  Daniel paused and cocked his head as if he was listening to something.

Tyson didn’t know that it was because he was listening to something.  A sleepy mental voice piped up in Daniel’s head.  *Mikaboshi?* The voice was rapidly gaining alertness and continued.  *Mikaboshi?  Oh, how we should have finished him off when we had the chance.* The female voice trailed off disgustedly.

Daniel raised a hand to cut off any attempt by Tyson to speak.  *Where have you been?  I thought you’d be pestering me the moment I woke up.*  

*Ha, ha.  I was sleeping.  Rebuilding you after you abused the power I gave you wasn’t easy or simple, and was exhausting on a mental level, not to mention it drained me somewhat of energy to do so.* A pause reverberated.  *Before you ask, yes, I went female, because that’s what the power’s used to, because it’s the easiest template, and I had enough problems otherwise.*  A irritated snort rang through Daniel’s head to a slight wince.

*And the years taken off?* Daniel pressed.

*It was easier, in a way to do so.  I’m not a healer, after all.*  Daniel got the sense she was hesitant to bring up the next question and then heard her do so.  *Mind if I sort through your last bits of memory to see what I missed?*

*… you need my permission?* Daniel was metaphorically scratching her head.

*Yes.  Now, can I have it?* Amaterasu pressed.  *I promise not to distract you while you talk to that old African.*

*Okkaaay…   and it’s American,* Daniel shot back, turning to Tyson fully.

*… he’s black skinned - that’s African, isn’t it?* She stopped, then Dan felt what she’d describe as a shaking of a head.  *Never mind, we’ll discuss this later...  as well as something else we need to discuss.  Go talk to him.*

“Boss?”  Tyson looked a bit puzzled and worried.  “What…”

Daniel shook her head, cutting him off.  “Apparently Amaterasu-sama was sleeping after the rebuild.  She woke up.  Myths have him as her primary rival.  And if she was limited to my historical bloodline… would explain why they targeted me and mine.  However…”  She gave a sharp, savage grin.

“Oh, yes.  They missed one.”  Tyson nodded.  “And since they pissed a LOT of people off, I think they’re going to learn the hard way that we remember.  And still owe them just a bit of payback.  Just a bit you understand.”  His return smile was just as vicious.  He paused and shook himself.  “Business.  You said Amaterasu had a job?”

“Oh… yes.  She did.”  Daniel rolled her eyes again.  “All I know is it’s…”  With the next word, Daniel air quoted,  ‘something for the future’.”  After that, she tilted her head and then nodded once.  “Well, not quite sure what she means by that.”  Daniel just shook her head.  “Thanks to the rebuild.” Daniel sighed. “I’m not quite sure what it is.”

“Huh.  General Smith will be interested in that.  He’s wondering if she’d be willing to assist in some ways.”  Tyson noted the narrowing of Daniel’s eyes, with a bit of pleasure.

“I… see.”  Daniel closed his eyes in thought, and then nodded.  “I’ll even put money on the reason Smith is thinking that is politics.”

“I’d not bet against that.  Isn’t she chipping in?”  Tyson challenged.

“She’s reviewing what she missed.”  Daniel paused.  “I’ll admit I’m not really up to speed beyond the basics on Avatars, but I thought the spirits got pretty much free access to memories and like.”

Tyson shrugged as to indicate he didn’t know.  “Not sure myself.  From what I know, it’s the widest variance among the powers.  Moot point, you do realize we’re going to get a circle and do some checking?”

*Checking?* Amaterasu commented.

“You sure we have people strong enough to compel truthfulness out of her?”  Daniel smirked.  “She’s considered one of, if not the, strongest of the Japanese gods for good reason.”

“I’m pretty sure we do.  Plus, even if we can’t, I’m sure our people can tell if she’s able to break it.”  Tyson smiled.

*Which is a form of lying, in this case.  Clever.*  Amaterasu snorted.  *Ask if I can at least keep silent on certain questions without that being suspicious.*

“She wants to know if she can keep silent on certain questions.”  Daniel rolled her eyes.  “Putting aside the woman’s mystique they so love… there might be things she doesn’t’ want to talk about.”

“I’d have to run it past the General, Dan.  But as it is…  I think we got enough for now.”  Tyson capped his flask and sighed.  “Got to go report.”  Dan nodded.  “Catch you shortly, if possible.”  Daniel nodded again as she picked up the remote, flipping through channels.

“Oh, hey, Tyson?”  Daniel stopped flipping for a second to catch the Sgt. Major before he could get out the door.

“Yeah?”  Tyson stopped to look.

“See if you can get me a laptop with internet connection.  I’ll go nuts if the only thing I have is TV, and maybe some books if I’m lucky.”  Daniel sighed.  “I know better than to expect to get out for a bit.”

“Want some more clothing while I’m at it?”  Tyson snickered.

“It’d be helpful if you can get away with it.”  Daniel watched as Tyson tipped his beret, and walked out.

*Great.  Just great,* Daniel thought to his spirit.  *Hope you didn’t expect your plan to start now, we’re going to be tied up.  I’m also wondering when the security review is going to start.*

*Security Review?* Amaterasu’s voice sounded puzzled.  *What’s that?*

*Where the Army tries to figure out how much I know and that you can compromise.* Daniel smiled as he settled on a nice repeat of Star Wars.

*… Why would they?  If you know something that you’re oathbound to keep secret you’re going to.  You are bound by those oaths, as much as I would be.* Amaterasu’s voice sounded as if she solved a puzzle.  *Oh…  they think I would break your oaths?  They are your oaths.  I wouldn’t be able to break them, nor would I try to work around them.*

*They don’t know that.*  

*Ah.*  Amaterasu’s voice purred.  *Exactly what do they fear so much?.*

*Several things, including the Sun’s Fury on Earth.* Daniel’s mental voice stated calmly as she sipped at the beer.  Amaterasu gave off a sense of shock, that her avatar would know about nuclear weapons, but quickly overcame it.

Amaterasu paused after his statement and to even Dan’s ability to sense her and clearly became uncomfortable but she spoke anyways.  *You remember that promise I made?  About your soul?*

*Yes.*  Daniel’s mental tone grew wary.   *… what went wrong?*

*Well…*  She stopped, clearly not happy with what she was about to say, and then continued on.  *I didn’t quite calculate the effects of the power you used correctly.  Part of the reason I was effectively sleeping was to recover from what I did to fix the damage I caused by accident.*

*By accident?*  Daniel’s tone was sharp.  *Amaterasu-sama, you’re the Sun Goddess.  You don’t do accidents.*

*… I’m actually pleased you think that.*  Amaterasu gave the impression of a smile, then a sigh as she continued on.  *However, as Susano’o, and several of my own mishaps prove, we’re not infallible.  And what happened is a clear case of that.*

*Exactly what did you do that you didn’t think you’d do?*  Daniel rubbed her forehead at the comment and evasion in her goddess’ tone.

*Stop that!  You’ll cause wrinkles.*  The Sun goddess sounded sheepish with the next bit.  *Ah… I burned your soul beyond self recovery.*

*…*  Daniel froze at that, eyes going wide.

*Oh, no, you’re fine now!* Amaterasu hurried to reassure her human.  *Very fine!*  A pregnant pause sounded through Daniel’s mental landscape, broken by Amaterasu’s sheepish words.  *It’s just… well, I removed a part of my shinzui from my self and then merged it into yours, and kept you under while that merging took place.  You are now not just my avatar, but my daughter?*

Daniel remained frozen for a long moment.  Finally gathering herself, she shot back, *What, you expect me to call you ‘okaasama’ now?*   Shaking herself, she added to the snarky comment, *How the blazes did you miscalculate that?*

*Ah… so… ah… well, honestly?* Amaterasu finally answered.  Daniel felt another sorrowful look get shot in his direction as she continued.  *I have never really had a paladin as you’d define the term, or a champion, or an avatar with a high level of my power before.  We, and by we, I mean all my family, generally only give enough to ‘spark’ magical talent, or in a few cases enough of a physical boost to aid a warrior or defender:  never enough really to do much more than make the recipient exceptional among humans, not above them - not our style, not the way we like to do things, not part of the agreements we live by.*

*… Oh?  What do you mean by agreements?*  Daniel tilted her head, irritably brushing out some of her side bangs as they fell into her eyes.  *By ‘we’, who do you mean?  And what does that mean for me, being your daughter… and what else did that do?*

Amaterasu sounded a bit more reassured as she spoke up again.  *To answer all your questions, daughter, in order:  Yes, I would like the term ‘Okaasama’, but I’ll understand if you don’t.  Second, beings of my, Susano’o’s, Inari’s, and others, who agreed to certain compacts, to initially bind certain … things…*  Daniel caught the undercurrent of disgust in her voice, but she continued on before Daniel could interrupt.  *… effectively limited what we could do in your world.  It specifically limited how much power we could give to our followers who could handle it, outside a very select line.  Until now, we never needed to use that loophole.  Our children and others were strong enough in the peace we and others brought after the Sundering.*

*… But not now.* Daniel froze for a second then continued in a cool tone,  *And, given how the line has been broken…*

*Yes.  Change is coming.  Old threats will try again, new threats will rise, and we want to give our children help in this changing of the ages.*  The Goddess remained silent for a long moment, and in a tone hinting at her unfamiliarity with what she was saying, continued,  *Moushi wake gozaimasen deshita*  The line was delivered with all the regal poise that could be expected of the Sun Goddess, yet with an undercurrent of regret.

Daniel stared at the television for countless moments, absorbing the completely unexpected words from her, then finally thought at the waiting Amaterasu.  *Was my new age the only option?  Was my new gender?* Daniel quietly thought, controlling the fury she felt.

*Not completely, no.  After I had damaged your soul so badly, I’m afraid the gender was... unavoidable.  Not to imply I would not have done it otherwise, in modifying you to handle the level of power I feel that will be needed.  The age?  With what I knew from Kwannon’s discussions, it was the only solution I could find to feed the healing and changes.  Mass equals energy, after all.*   The sun goddess gave the impression of shrugging slightly, before she continued.  *However, once I … miscalculated and gave you a part of my own, to repair your soul, my choices and options in those regards diminished significantly.*

*I… see,*  Daniel thought for endless moments.  *This doesn’t change that the situation exists.*

*No.  Nor does it change that we are stuck here til your army feels fit to release us, or Jinnu’s children see fit to help free us.*

*What was,  was.  What is, is.  What will be, will be,*  Daniel finally stated.  *Jinnu’s children?  The Imperial family?  How’d they know?*

*Of course.*  Amaterasu sounded relieved.  *Well.  Your cousins do keep Ise, and the Mirror is a way to see how much of my power is on earth.*  Pausing.  *I would think you would… be more angry.*

Daniel sighed as she stood up and looked out the barred window.  *No… there’s no point.*  Not really looking at her new reflection, Daniel instead just seemed to stare into space.  *It’s … just another thing, really.  Nothing to do but endure it.  Like so much else.*

*Ah...* Amaterasu mused as Daniel walked out the door of the TV room.

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Jan 23rd, Secure Meeting Room, Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina

General Smith eyed the two people arrayed around the table in front of him.  Sgt. Major Tyson looked relaxed and at ease, while the blonde doctor, a Major Reinhardt, looked agitated.  “Report?”  He sighed, seeing the two start at once, before Tyson waved at the doctor to go first.

Doctor Reinhardt started with “While listening in to the … conversation between …” She was cut off by an annoyed grunt from the Sgt. Major.

“Excuse me?  I had a jammer.”  Tyson turned to the general, anger burning in his dark eyes.  “You yourself gave it to me!”

“I lied.”  General Smith shot a look at him.  “Mission, Tyson.  More importantly, Sgt. Major, we don’t allow Delta officers in this situation loose with a possibly hostile spirit.  You know that, and CID is not so quietly freaking out and wanting a nice long session with Samurai.”

Tyson opened his mouth, closed it, paused, and then shook his head.  “I understand, General.”  His tone indicated that they would be having words after this meeting.  “Sorry, Doctor.”

“Right.”  She was a bit rattled by the exchange, but gathered herself.  “As I was saying, the conversation between the patient and Sgt. Major Tyson raised some concerns to handle and treat.”  She stopped at the Sgt. Major’s snort but continued on.  “The patient’s views on her BIT, as well as other questions that should have been asked, indicate to me that at this time, she is not accepting of the fact she imposed the BIT on herself.  Her abnormal reaction also indicates deeper psychotic tendencies: possible breaks with reality, and…”  She paused and looked at a note.  “… In addition, the spirit that has taken residence is having a significant effect, as shown as how fast she was able to shake off the empath’s effects.  It is my view that we need to consider intense psychotherapy for Colonel Moate, as well as some form of power limiters, including bindings on the spirit.”  She paused and nodded once.  “If you wish a more detailed explanation I am at your disposal, General.  However, I do need to remind you of the conditional statements and caveats in my report.”

Tyson snorted.  “Nice quick case study.  Note you didn’t mention you haven’t worked much with operators, nor avatars, nor changelings.”  Tyson looked up from his papers and shook his head briefly.  “Putting my caveats first, I’ve not worked with either of the last two in a professional situation, and I’ll admit I’m a bit weak on paranormal psychology.”  He stopped for a second, gathered his thoughts and then nodded.  “However, my master’s thesis was on special forces personnel and their psych profile.”  He watched as the doctor bristled.  “So, I’ll say I can eval the boss that way, much easier than a research specialist who hasn’t ever worked with him before.”

General Smith eyed the Doctor who was bristling like a Rottweiler who had her territory invaded, then turned to the Sgt. Major.  “With those considerations, Sgt. Major, you may continue.”

“Right.”  Tyson paused for a moment.  “Anyways.  Call it ninety percent of the Dan I knew a good decade ago is there.”  Looking upwards, he started to tick off points on his finger.  “The non-reaction to the change is simple: Boss’s suppressing the reaction til he’s sure he can do so in a safe situation.”  He paused to see the General’s response, and was rewarded with a sharp nod.  “The ability to shake off the empath’s effects?  Not sure at this point; power testing is needed.”  

“And the situation with the BIT effects, Sgt. Major?”  General Smith raised a hand to stop the doctor from commenting.

“Couple of things.  Bit of repression, concede, but that’s more situational related, as well as an mindset to endure what can’t be changed, common to both birth culture and military personnel who’ve seen combat, and lack of time to fully process everything in a safe situation.  Dan is quite aware of how much trouble this is..  You know how it is, General.  What is, is, what will be, will be.”

The general nodded.  “Typical combat vet response?”  He paused.  “Well, somewhat, I think we both, even on mission, wouldn’t be as calm.”

“Oh, given.  That’s why I’m putting in the cultural aspects, General.  Not to mention, she might be coping with the situation by considering this a retread or reincarnation event, more than a ‘change’.  Not to mention I’m not sure that Daniel didn’t suffer some mental damage.  He didn’t recognize the jammer, which you faked.”  Tyson paused.  “By the by, you owe Asta a bill.  He’s right -- it’s Amaterasu.”

“Well… that’s a not bad thing.  From what Asta and like reported, it was clear she took little if any part in the War.”  General Smith nodded.  “Downside is: she might be able to break the bindings.”  He was rewarded with a nod from Tyson.

“Asta’s good enough to detect that, though, so...”  Tyson shrugged.  “My view?  She’s mostly mission ready, though she needs time to settle into everything, as well get herself back into the game.”  Pausing for a moment, he added. “This should be enough of a kick to the ass to get Samurai back, though, if we had to, we could deploy her now.  Rather give her some time, though, if possible.  As well as power testing.”  He turned and pulled up a power point, showing a flash video.  “As you can see by this video, her accuracy with the bottle and cap is off the scale.  Either paragon or high exemplar effect?”  He paused and shook his head.  “No idea.  But, and this is important.  It’s the same shit Dan loved to pull on people, to the letter.  Casual arrogance.”  He paused.  “As well as all the worst traits of his impatience is back, likely backed by the hormones running through her.”

The Doctor broke in.  “That!  That little stunt you mentioned, Sgt. Major.  What do you expect a major spirit of Japan to pull?”  She smiled sweetly at the General.  “That’s one of the reasons why I state we…”

Tyson breaks in.  “Except, it’s the same exact stuff Dan’s always pulled, Doctor.  AND it’s not uncommon in operators at all.  We are arrogant people, to some extent.  Dan, especially when younger, took it full bore.”

“Frankly, Sgt. Major…”  She stressed the rank to indicate the differences between the two.  “I have read the research and discussed it with other psychiatrists, as well as those who specialize in paranormal patients.  Avatars need to be of a level to handle the connection, and the previous tests indicated that under no situation would a major spirit NOT have significant effects on the patient.”  She paused and nodded.  “Do we really want a spirit of a nature not beneficial to the United states running around in a body with that many clearances and possible knowledge of a lot of our most deeply held secrets?”  She turned to the general.  “Sir, it is clear, both for the patient’s own good, assuming she remains, and the nation, that we must keep her in a secure treatment facility.”

Tyson eyed her.  “You also mean research.”  His voice dripped disgust.  He shook his head.  “Sir, we’ll use Asta to at least confirm some things, but my view, the ‘significant’ effects the good doctor refers to, we’ve already seen.”  He turned to look at the doctor fully.  “Ma’am.  With all due respect, you don’t know the boss, you haven’t dealt much with operators, and you haven’t at all dealt with avatars or high level paranormals.  Asta himself thinks the odds of the spirit trashing Dan are low, at least mentally.  His view is that, yes, the major effects were physical, so Amaterasu didn’t trash his personality.”  Turning to General Smith, he stressed.  “You’ve read all our reports, you have to make the call, but frankly, sir, the good doctor is wrong, and projecting desires and interests that are not in the patient’s best interests, and that you can take to the bank.”

The doctor rose out of her chair about to rip into Tyson and was stopped by a hard glare from the General.  “I will hold off on making a decision at this moment, until Asta is ready to at least bind Amaterasu enough to get some truthful answers out of her.  However, from what I saw on the video, I lean in your direction, James.  Go ahead and get her a laptop and some more clothing.  Doctor, your considerations are noted, and will be fully considered.  I will not disagree that the risks you mentioned aren’t a major consideration, and on the forefront of my mind, as well as Lt. Colonel Moate’s own well-being, Sgt. Major.”  He sat for a moment to think and then nodded sharply.  “However, until Asta does his voodoo, we cannot make a decision.  Not to mention til CID makes a full evaluation of how much possible information the colonel can accidently compromise.  We have some time, so let’s take it.  Dismissed, both of you.  Oh, and Sgt. Major?”

Tyson came to attention and spoke.  “Sir?”

“Get me the head of psych here, please.”  He didn’t look at the doctor who bristled again, then turned and stormed out.

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Morning of Jan 24th, Location inside JFK Special Warfare Center, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina

Looking at the dark haired, sunglassed man, in the comfortable room, Daniel moved to sit across from him, paying no attention overtly to his tablet in front of him.  Settling, she raised an eyebrow.

“I am Agent Smith, of Army CounterIntelligence.  Do you understand that this is a full security review, which will take several days, Colonel?”  The man’s tone was bland, and appeared to be going through a prepared speech, but the Colonel in front of him, wasn’t fooled for a moment.

Daniel kept from rolling her eyes, and sighed.  “Yes, I do.”

“Do you understand why?”   The tone hadn’t sharpened or otherwise indicated any change, but an astute observer could tell a slight eagerness to his tone.

“If I recall correctly, because I have acquired a spirit, or gained powers from one, that is, and the spirit is sentient and of a land that is not the United States, a full review is required to determine the severity of the potential breach.”  Daniel rattled off the answer, gaining a nod from the Agent in front of her.

“Excellent.  We will first begin in chronological order, and go through all classified data you reasonably had access to, and all missions, field exercises, and other duties you may have performed, that have been classified.  At the end, we will go over what you think you have access to that you recall.”  The Agent’s face hadn’t changed a millimeter, but Daniel sighed.

“I understand.”

“Excellent.  Let us begin.  On… “   The voice droned on, and Daniel simply sighed, and answered away.

****

Observing from a window, was a General and a Command Sgt. Major.   As the Agent questioned the young appearing woman, Tyson over the interview winced as events and information that he knew his old friend should know, became obvious that she didn’t.  It wasn’t everything, but it was more than one or two things that were forgotten, meaning something mentally or physically was wrong with his old freind.

“Chicken?”  General Smith raised an eyebrow.  

“Sir, she should remember that.  I can tell she’s surprised about the question.  Well.   That answers one question the actual neurologists and para-docs had.”  Tyson sighed.  “And she’s going to hate, hate, hate the next couple of months.”

“Well, the neurologists were saying the odds of brain damage, concentrated in the memory area of the brain was high.  They were right.”  Smith paused.  “Full evaluation is going to be.. Interesting.”

“That it is.  Worse, for some of it, we’re going to have to bring in the Japanese.  Period.  Putting aside her language skills, and some cultural information we just can’t evaluate, there’s some stuff she knows that they know about but we don’t.”  Tyson’s eyebrow quirked

“Rephrase, that we don’t know how to evaluate, and you’d be closer to correct.”  Sighing, the General looked at his watch.  “First, make sure they eat, and break for the ritual that Asta plans for tonight.  He mentioned something that’d ‘sooth’ the troubled waters.”  Shrugging his shoulders indicating that he had not a clue, the General continued on.  “Also, schedule the full evaluation, after we get her back from Langley.   Even if we don’t recall her, we have to know just HOW dangerous she remains.  You know the rules.”

“Understood, Sir.  We take care of our own.”  A pause, and a sigh.  “No matter what we have to do.”

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Evening of Jan 24th, Secure Location, Special Warfare Center, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina

Dan walked into the clearing several shamans in traditional Navajo dress waited around a freshly-dug fire.  One, a leathered old man, got a raised eyebrow from the sweats-clad young woman.  *Be careful, child.  This man is an elder… and a trickster.*

Daniel paused and facepalmed.  *Oh, man, a Coyote shaman?* She was rewarded by a smirk and a twinkling of an eye from the leathered old man, who spoke.

“Welcome, young Sun.  This old Coyote welcomes you to our circle.  Be welcome and be truthful.”  The serious words were undercut by his roving eyes.  He pointed to a spot inside two rings of stone, and Daniel, rolling her eyes sat, then leapt up, batting at her rear, before glaring at the old man.

“Is that…”  Daniel paused to Amaterasu’s snickers.  Daniel checked her seat again, seeing no fire or heat, and shook her head.  “…  Dammed mangy mutts.”  She was rewarded by several snickers as she sat down and assumed a seiza position between two younger shamans, across from the squatting old man.

“Well, yes.  Still able to admire.”  He quirked an eyebrow and noted the slight reddening of the young woman’s cheeks, along with the flare of anger in her eyes, and interrupted her budding explosion.  “I am Astra, a Shaman of Coyote.”  He smiled.  “And yes, I do have to play jokes on you –  something about being too serious for your own good.”

*Serious?  Too serious for my own good?  How dare that flea bitten…* Amaterasu started to rant in Daniel’s head to a slight wince.  Daniel pushed it aside, and calmed himself.

“I’m going to have to get used to it, yes.”  Daniel shrugged.  “So, how are we going to do this?”

Asta nodded.  “I’m owed a favor… well, Coyote is, anyways, and he’s agreed to cash it.  We’ll start the fire, and Raven will come.”

*Raven?  Oh, this will go well.* Amaterasu’s rant ended with that, and a pleased tone entered her voice.  *Haven’t seen him in a long time.*

Daniel concentrated on the important points.  “Why not Coyote himself?”  Daniel cocked her head and admitted, “Amaterasu is happy with Raven though…”

“Well, Coyote mentioned something about ripping her dress off back in the 60’s…”  Asta smirked at the young avatar.

Daniel facepalmed again to Amaterasu’s rants and demands that Coyote show himself to be fried.

Asta snickered.  “See she didn’t tell you that.  Anyways, them old folks are impatient, and want this done as fast as possible.”  He grinned for a moment and then nodded a bit more seriously.  “So, settle down, inhale the scents, and just relax.”

The fire was shortly roaring, and Daniel listened to the chants, watched the slow rhythmic dance-like steps of the old shaman, and grew a bit hazy.  Those outside the outermost stone circle saw after a half hour, a shape appears in the smoke: the shape of an ageless man with long black hair and black eyes in old Indian war era pants, wearing a loose white shirt, with many black feathers among his clothing and hair appear in the smoke.

“You have called; I have answered, children of the arroyo.”  He paused and eyed the young woman.  “I see we have a visitor:  She whose children fought ours, and those who came later.”

Asta nodded.  “Great Raven, we ask you verify her words as truth, so many may be reassured of our visitor.”

“I can.”  Raven rubbed his chin.  “Why?  The elders of the white’s war bands do not need us interfering in their issues.”

“Ah… she is a visitor to our lands?”  Asta started only to be cut off by Raven.

“I stole her light, and I stole more than just that on occasion.  She will tell the truth; after all, just what truth is for the listener to determine.  But, if the elders are that way?  So be it.”  Raven shrugged and took a seat.  “Ask her if she consents.  I will just say if she lies.”

One of the other shamans nodded at Raven’s words.  Another Shaman tossed various herbs and other items into the fire to create a pungent and rich smell.  The smells reached deeply into her and temporarily froze her in place as well as causing her to feel less connected to the earth below her.  *What…*  

*Patience.  Their version of some incense that we knew about.  They wish me to speak through you.* Daniel felt something happen.  

“Your questions, gentlemen?”  The new figure in the smoke spoke.  Long night black hair pooled to her knees, caught in a simple ribbon, and framed the simple yet complex kimono she wore.  Her fiery eyes drew everyone’s attention, especially considering the pattern of flames along her kimono’s cuffs and hem.  The Obi only enhanced the effect, given its strong sun motif.  Careful study of the two females would cause the viewers to think that the younger was a younger mirror of the elder.  Her eyes swept all in the circles, then to the various people waiting outside the circles.

General Smith cleared his voice, and stepped forward into the light so that the goddess could see him.  “I am General Richard Smith, United States Army.  We do have some questions for you, Lady Amaterasu.”

Amaterasu quirked an eyebrow and nodded at the General.  “So ask and I will either answer with a truth, or just not answer.”

General Smith felt his eyebrows rise, but got them back under control, reminded that he was told repeatedly by several people to be polite and that spirits will do as they will.  

A cost of using the Native traditions was that compulsion of the spirits involved was impossible.  While it was possible with some European or Hoodoun methods, the benefit of using the Native traditions was a spirit less likely to treat the questioners as hostile or consider them enemies.  This was not a minor consideration when dealing with Amaterasu, the Lady of the Sun.

Further, it was just good manners.  Contrary to some beliefs of the mystics of the period, Amaterasu had almost no involvement in World War 2, seemingly limited to only medical and counter-Mythos work.  Further, she clearly hadn’t support the more rabid elements of the Japanese society of the time, by all reports and post-war interviews.  She hadn’t done much to curb it, admittedly, but from all reports the most critical fact was that she never let her powers be used on the battlefields.  For that, not to mention Japan’s current status of being an ally and how mistreating their senior goddess would not play well with them.  All these facts added up to one conclusion:   She had earned or had earned for her a bit of consideration on his part.  General Smith felt these thoughts all flash though his mind.  He watched as she withdrew a fan from one of her billowing sleeves, and started tapping it in her hand.  Gathering himself, he began to speak.

“Forgive me for the delay.”  General Smith waited until she nodded, waving the closed fan at him.  “I was gathering my thoughts, so we may do this as … quickly as possible.  I doubt you like being out of your new hollow.”

“Oh, for this conversation, I have no issues with directly talking to you.”  Amaterasu snapped her fan open and waved it gently.

“I… see.  However, I would be remiss in not first asking what you have done to my officer.  Not just physically, but mentally.   Today’s interview was a bit… distressing in the amount of information he should have known.”  General Smith carefully didn’t glare as he wanted to at the goddess made of smoke in front of him.

“As for his body?  Changed his body to handle the power.  While his bloodline is fit for me, his flesh was… unfit to handle it.  This leads to the mental aspects.  When she first channeled my power, it proved” Pausing for a moment, the goddess searched for a word.  “Unwise to use it as much as she did, which led to a form of overload that would have killed her had I not intervened, yet the energy to heal the damage had to come from somewhere, no?”  Amaterasu waved her fan, covering her lower face.  “This of course, required more changes and healing, and I went with what I knew best.  Still.   It will be useful for what she will do for me.”  She paused, and nodded behind her fan.  “Explaining what that task may be, I won’t answer until I have a few of my own questions answered.”

General Smith hid a wince but continued on.  “There was no reason within Daniel for this radical shift, was there?”  He paused and added before the goddess could speak, “And, by appearances, the best form for your power… is you.”

Amaterasu waved her fan again, letting her smirk be seen.  “Of course, to both statements, General.  And before you ask if I affected his soul, I gave my oath I would not claim it, or intentionally harm it.  Anything with my child’s soul and heart is Daniel’s alone, though I wouldn’t mind a name change; Daniel is so… male.”  She made a slight disgusted sound and waved the fan covering her face.

“I see.”  He nodded.  Pretty much everything Tyson had reported was panning out.  By looking at the other smoky figure in the circle, whose posture clearly indicated his lack of concern and further confirmed that she was at least being honest in what she did say.  Rallying his thoughts once again, he asked, “Can you read his memories, and what will you do with them, if you can or do?”

“Not without his permission.”  The goddess eyed the general and smiled slightly.  “Her memories are bound by her oaths.  I will not disrespect her oaths or her duty.  I do not see the duty she will do for me, as conflicting, after all; unless you force it so.  Even then, previous oaths are just that: oaths;  and those will be kept.  Duty is heavier, isn’t it?”

“… Quite right.”  The general rubbed his chin.  “There is a situation you may be aware of, and we wish to use this situation with you and Colonel Moate.”

“In Asia, yes.  I’m not unaware of the geopolitical situation with the Iron Dragon choosing to be the newest bearer of the Mandate of Heaven, as the Han claim.”  Amaterasu nodded.  “I’m quite aware of certain things that are going on in Japan, and somewhat aware of what’s going on outside the Islands; and unless you know more than I do, having a champion to lead and inspire my children to remain free and safe, is needed in my eyes.”  She tilted her head, eyes boring into the general.

“Yesss.” The General rocked on his heels, and then continued:  “The Iron Dragon has made his intent and plans quite clear to those who can see.  It’s clear he intends to rule what we call WestPac.  Either directly or indirectly.”  He paused at her intent look, and waved to let her speak.

“Oh, quite true.  He may even think the wards that prevent a direct invasion are weak enough to break though, in some manner.”  She paused, collected herself, and continued.  “No matter what he thinks, we are right to be concerned about his objectives.”

The general nodded to confirm her last statement and added, “So.  We are in agreement that the situation politically is not ideal for Japan.  You sought my officer so you could… steer Japan from a Dragon’s clutches.”

“To some extent, though that isn’t the whole of it.”  She answered slyly.

“I… see.  What would be the whole?”  Richard paused for the goddess’ reply

The Goddess eyed the officer in front of her and tapped her fan to her chin.  “Times and ages change.  Humanity is leaving it’s cradle.   Wouldn’t a mother care for watching and helping that process?”

“I see.”  General Smith’s mind whirred through several conclusions, then chose to focus on the critical point, at least to him.  “We, and by we I mean the United States, are more than willing to work with you on the issues in the Pacific.”

“I see.  I would not be amiss to this, but what does the United States hope to gain here?  And what would Japan gain?”  Amaterasu asked, smiling a bit craftily.

“Well, we are against the Iron Dragon.  Putting aside all issues of what he believes or wants, or if he’s even justified, and to be fair, one could agree that there are some truths to his claims and lists of grievances, you must admit, it is clear that he intends to totally realign the world order.  And that’s not acceptable.  Putting aside the age of empire building by force or implied force has ended, there are too many … issues and situations that he would...”  Seeing Amaterasu’s amused expression, the General stopped, and shrugged.  “Japan being more proactive, or accepting of America and her allies views and plans, would be of a great help checking the Iron Dragon.”

Amaterasu smiled.  “I can understand that.  But it doesn’t answer what Japan gets.  America clearly is the hegemon, and wishes to retain that status.  But… I am not American, and while fond of your children, they are yours.

The General sighed.   Apparently the title “Celestial Empress” wasn’t for show.  Shaking his head.  “I can’t make any … promises, but America is well aware that while first, we are not an empire with tributary states, and while I could point out that it’s in Japan’s own interests to cooperate… well.    Shall we table this for now?”

The goddess nodded, an amused smile crossing her face.  Pausing a moment, she raised a topic.  “Perhaps if I could see what Jinnu’s children are thinking, and talk to them… your diplomats and my children’s could… discuss how this may go?”

Smith winced, hiding it to most.  “Understandable.  However, it still will take time to ah… be assured of certain things.  As in what is at risk.  Friends do keep secrets even from others, and well, I have no doubt you wouldn’t tell me everything.”

“Of course not.” Amaterasu sniffed.  “A Lady must keep her mysteries, after all.”  She paused.  “My oath is my bond.  As it is my daughter’s.  We do not and will not break our oaths.”

Smith tried to parse that statement, only to have a chuckle enter the discussion as the other great spirit spoke.  “But what that oath is, matters, no, Lady Sun? As it is with us and others.  Our words are truth, but what those words are will be seen through actions.”

“Quite so.”  An impish grin crossed her face as her avatar blinked, parsing the statement.

Smith blinked again, and finally spoke.  “So… the myths of the Kitsune and dragons being bound by their promises apply to you? I knew about the Spirits of the People, but…  are you saying you all treat oaths the same as the Sidhe?”

Amaterasu's reaction was instant and obvious, as a look of rage crossed her face.  “Do not compare me to those… barbarians.”   The General blinked, as Raven spoke up again.

“I do not share the … intense dislike of the Sidhe as Lady Sun does, but as much as she would find it… irritating, it is not an incorrect comparison, though which came first is a good question.”  Shaking his head and waving a finger at Amaterasu who was fuming.  “I suggest, War Leader, that you just accept the fact.  Truth is Truth.  Oaths are Oaths.”

Smith nodded, carefully keeping an eye on the irritated goddess.  “No insult was meant… but I should have thought of the kitsune, and the dragons of your land, not the Fey.  Or perhaps the Spirits of the People.”

“Yes.”  A hiss entered, as the goddess appeared to be taking deep breaths.  After a moment, she shrugged. “Craft an oath, that would sate your need, and I will look at it.  However, there is a price.”

The General narrowed his eyes. “Oh?” A wealth of meaning.

A slight smile crossed Amaterasu’s face.  “It is not moot that my daughter be bound, as I forbid my priests, to any government, would you say?  I would seek her complete release, outside any basic allegiance that she might agree to, concurrent with her honoring her previous agreements, mind you, about secrets and similar, to your government.  She is my daughter and Champion, not yours.”

The General nodded.  “That can be arranged.  It would actually be acceptable to us.”  Eyeing the shamans, who were clearly getting drained, he nodded once.  “We will work on the oath, but I am afraid that your august presence cannot be sustained here much longer.”

Amaterasu nodded, fading out with a soft smile.  Last thing the General noticed of her was her fiery eyes, as they disappeared into the thinning smoke.

The General sighed, and then smiled a bit crookedly as he spoke.  “Well, that was informative and very useful.  Thank you all.  Colonel Moate?  Thank Amaterasu for me.”

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Night, Jan 24th, Paranormal Situations Wing, Womack Army Medical Center, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina

Daniel stared at the tiles overhead, as she laced her hands behind her head, as she simply couldn’t sleep.  *So… exactly when did you learn how to play American military politics?*  Pausing a second: *At a style that’s familiar, not the usual politician/general routine.*

A sense of amusement radiated from the words the voice in Daniel’s head said.  *Oh, I did not

tell you?  Susano’o reminded me of how the Nisei acted, and how their officers worked.  He observed them during the War.  He was quite pleased with them.*

Daniel blinked.   Blinked again.  Her thoughts scurried for a second, then settled. *Huh.  That… explains some things.  Dare I suspect his pleasure with them, translated into material benefits?*

*Oh, I would not be surprised.  Not at all.  He always did bless his favorites.*  Her voice was amused.  *Often without thinking it though, I’d admit.*

Daniel nodded.  *That does explain some of their stunts, and how they survived them.   They faced some of Germany’s best, and smashed them.  And were often tasked for missions that I’d hesitate sending Rangers on.*

*Oh, yes.*  Her voice shifted tone, and moved on.  *I think one of Jinnu’s heirs are here. On the

base, I mean.  Though she seems a bit different.*

A long pause answered the goddess until Daniel spoke up.  *So… one of the royal family is at Bragg?  How …*

*I did say they’d know, I’m sure.   And finding you, well.   There are some resources they have that could do it, I suspect.* Amaterasu’s voice smiled.

*... do others?*  Daniel’s mind whirred through the possibilities.  *That won’t be the best… *

*Oh, I’d suspect a few would, but you’ll be known, and easily findable to those who want you, anyways, Royals are often, unless they take steps, don’t you remember?*   Amaterasu’s voice was bemused.

*Ah.*  Pausing for a moment, Daniel gathered her thoughts.  *... exactly what do you intend for me to do?*

*Besides meeting your cousins?  Learning what damage was done, daughter, and fixing that… then expanding your knowledge.* Amaterasu’s voice was serious.  *We need to know what you have now, and are able to do, before we move on.  And prepare for the roles you will play.*

*I see.*  Daniel sighed.  *This isn’t going to be a short mission, is it?*  

*Did I ever say that?*

*I didn't hear, no.*  Daniel’s mental voice took a tired note.  *Well.   It’s duty.*

*It’s life, daughter.   Enjoy it.  Duty doesn’t have to be boring and just endured.  It can often be fun and enjoyable.*  Her voice was repressive.  *And even if parts of it will be boring, or just something to endure, you will have free time to truly enjoy yourself.*

*Eh… you didn’t activate me for simple, did you?*

*...  I think we’re going to have to discuss things.   First things first, however.*  Her voice withdrew, leaving Daniel with an impression that her goddess was a bit… upset.

“Well.   Another sleepless night.”  Daniel turned on the laptop, after dragging it to her.  “Let’s see what I can stream.”  Pausing for a moment, she nodded.  “Something mindless.  It’s not like I need to think.”

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End Part 2

Comments   

+1 # alisa28 2017-04-29 21:57
Very engrossing chapter which has clarified its direction and has thusly captured my attention.
Anxiously awaiting further chapters.
a
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+1 # Elsbeth 2017-05-01 20:19
Excellent chapter. Now we can see a lot more of her background. Looking forward to more especially the meeting with her royal cousins.
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0 # Calamity 2017-05-14 12:01
Enjoying the story and the character. I do have one little nitpick though. Your use of "amiss" is...well...amiss. ;-)

“I see. I would not be amiss (should probably be "adverse" or "opposed") to this, but what does the United States hope to gain here? And what would Japan gain?” Amaterasu asked, smiling a bit craftily.

And...

“We realized we were amiss ("lacking" maybe, or "behind") in a few of our charitable activities, and well, when your letter reached one of our executives, about how several scholarship programs had to be trimmed down…” Cowen stopped him.
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0 # Mazaki 2017-05-15 03:12
Nice to see this story moved into the canon, I enjoyed reading it before on the other site and any changes if any were few. I will be looking forward to future chapters featuring this new character beyond what we have seen in the trip to Whateley.
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