Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

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Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:27 pm

It had been ten years since horrible, bloody battle ended. What had once gripped Japan in panic was long since gone, however it gave unto a fledgling government still trying to find its way in the world. However many within this new institution are corrupt; dealing in back-alley agreements and using extortion to get what they wanted. It was a home for dirty politics, and equally dirty politicians only worrying about themselves, and less for the people around them. It was undeniable however, even with all the faults of the current Meiji Government, that there had been ten years of solid peace. It was an age without war, not seen since the reign of Ieyasu Tokugawa during the 1600s.

In the shadows, beneath the eyes and ears of this Meiji government however, gears started to turn. People of a different sort started to move once again. They hadn't been seen or heard from since the end of the Bakumatsu, a group of people feared far and wide by Pro-Imperialists for their deadly skills during the Revolution. The Shinsengumi, unbeknownst to the people, worked to reunite in their cause. Thought the Meiji Revolution had ended, their battle had only just begun.

...................................

Night had descended upon the city of Kyoto, as the sun started to wane. Just as the many civilians of the city closed up shop and headed home, from an alleyway, a shadow of a figure remained despite such a thing. Slowly but surely, candles were lit within the lanterns all down the main roads beyond. In the glow of one lantern, a man's face was illuminated - he was slender however quite well built, and sported a simple kimono of navy blue and a hakama of grey. His hair was a dark brown color, tied at the back into a queue - a Samurai's style.

At his hip was worn both a katana and wakizashi, something outlawed since the abolition of the Shogunate. The Samurai was a dying class, yet he wore his swords freely and with pride it seemed. However, this night he was sure to not be seen in the city. He avoided the light as he ran down the street with his tabi socks and waraje straw sandals. One hand was subconsciously was posed at his sheath in case he had to draw his swords - likely against a police officer. The man deeply hoped it wouldn't come down to it.

Heading down another street, the man pulled out a piece of paper from his robes, unfurling it and taking a quick glance down to the black inked characters scrawled upon the page. Smiling slightly, he made his way to a smaller side street where he stopped in front of a small home of the traditional Japanese pagoda style. Walking up to the door, the man knocked three times before backing up and waiting for the owner of the home to answer his call.

The sliding shoji door opened to a tired looking man with black hair tied at the back into a long ponytail. His face shone with an annoyed expression at first, narrowed eyes of a threatening type - much like a demon's. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness outside and he spotted the man at his step however, his expression immediately changed.

"Will you invite me into your home, Fukucho (Trans. Vice Commander)?" The man asked.

He looked shocked firstly, then he smiled happily and allowed the man to come into his home with a hand gesture. The man indulged and walked in after leaving his sandals in the home's genkan (alcove where you leave shoes).

As they sat on cushions around a small fire and pot of tea, the houses owner looked to his guest and poured him a cup of green tea. Graciously receiving the beverage, the man took a sip after placing his swords by his side - something that the home's owner seemed to not mind.

"Souji, it has been a while. I'm honestly surprised to see you here so soon." The dark haired man said to the guest named Souji.

"Ten years is long enough. I have already contacted everyone else. We're to meet in Mibu two days from now at the Old Spot." Souji Okita responded after sipping from his tea.

"Mibu huh? I wonder if it has changed..." The man trailed off.

"Not as much as you'd think, Toshizo-san." Souji answered with a grin. "Our old headquarters still stands."

"Truly? That's shocking considering the raid that occurred just before the end of the War." Toshizo Hijikata remarked as he thought back to the past.

"There are now government hounds staying there. It's a police headquarters in Mibu now." Souji said with an air of anger in his voice. "So, Hijikata-san. Will you become the Demon Vice Commander once more? Kondo-san won't have it any other way."

Toshizo didn't answer at first, seemingly deep in thought. He took out a long pipe and loaded the end with some tobacco. Lighting it and taking a long puff, he looked out the window of his home to the lit road leading to the main thoroughfare into Kyoto. He had made somewhat of a living while subjected to the Meiji Governments, and even escaped the eyes of their hunters for ten years.

"Kondo-san... everyone's still alive huh?" Toshizo steered the point away.

"Hijikata-san, you can't remain a medicine peddler until you die here. Western medicines are starting to flood in anyway... your old remedies, no matter how efficient they might be, hold no market anymore. Take up your true title. The Shinsengumi needs you." Souji said.

Everything went quiet for a while before he added:

"And I'm surprised that you remained here in Kyoto. That was a dangerous decision to make."

"Heh. I suppose so. I stayed well enough out of public eye. However, I have watched this government take form since the beginning. It sickens me. Japan is becoming westernized, losing all sense of tradition and nationality. Along with the new government comes much corruption as well. The Shogunate would have never allowed such things to happen." Toshizo commented more or less to himself.

"Does this mean...." Souji started before being interrupted by Toshizo.

"Yes. I will once again serve with the Shinsengumi. It is my duty, to you all, and to the Late Yoshinobu Tokugawa, to preserve Japan. The only government for Japan is the Shogunate."

The two men smiled to each other, their eyes glimmering in the candle light, a hint of things to come for the future. In a few days, plans would begin for the immediate recreation of the Shinsengumi, and the reintroduction of the Shogunate in Japan. For now however, their operations must remain in secret - acting in the dark until the right moment presents itself. Times were changing - for the better or worse was to be seen.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:47 am

Morning came rather quickly for Itsuki Takahashi. Rays of sunlight pierced through his windows, blinding him even though his eyes were closed. Itsuki sat up from his bed, rubbing his eyes slowly. Even though he had a good sleep he could never help but feel quite fatigued every time he woke up. If he had a day where he could sleep in, it'd do wonders for him.

Itsuki quickly got himself dressed in his normal attire, donning the westernized clothing that he received so long ago. It drew a few glances from some normal citizens who were still stuck in the ways of the old, but he supposed it couldn't be helped. Getting the Japanese people to become familiar with new culture was good for them, he believed. For so long they had been quite xenophobic. Now was the perfect chance to stand aside the other great countries in the world.

However, Itsuki left his thoughts at that, not wanting to linger on politics. It was time for him to do his job, after all. There was a criminal on the loose, of course. A murderer and thief this time, very dangerous person with a sword. He heard that it was a woman, but he wasn't sure if that was to be believed. What would a modern woman be doing with a sword, committing murders and the like? It just didn't seem like it fit.

Itsuki took a step outside his small home, entering the streets of Kyoto. It was bustling, as always, marketplaces and family business going on just about everywhere. Today was a good day to get a quick breakfast at one of the restaurants. After some walking he made his way to a favorite dining place of his. It had a few historically famous dishes from Japan along with more modernized foods. He took a seat at a table and a waitress came up to him after a few minutes.

"What would you like, sir?" she asked kindly.

"Oh, just some coffee, perhaps, if you have it," Itsuki replied. "And perhaps a bowl of rice."

"Very well, sir, we will have your food here in a minute." The waitress left quickly, leaving Itsuki by himself again. Today was just another day on the job. Early morning coffee was a tradition, essentially, for Itsuki now. He hated the taste but it helped keep him going. The food and drink came quickly as promised. Itsuki started to eat right away, nearly burning himself with hot coffee.

"I'll never learn, will I?" he said to himself with a grin.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:39 am

In a restaurant on the main thoroughfare through Kyoto, named the Akemiya, a long man sat at a table by the corner. He was somewhat of a usual customer, however was quite unusual with his sporadic appearances there. He was ragged looking, wearing the attire of a Samurai with kimono and hakama. He even wore two swords, which currently leaned against his table as he ate. It seemed that he was unafraid of the laws forbidding his carrying them.

He had a scruffy beard, long dark hair tied to the back into a gueue, and had eyes hearkening to a predator bird. His eyes were unsettling if one looked at them for too long - thus prompting his nickname as "hawk strider" by the locals. Interestingly, the waitress he had seemed to be anything but afraid of him - perhaps she knew him well enough by now not to be.

"Will that be all, sir?" Asked the waitress, a strikingly beautiful woman with long dark brown hair down to her waist and deep hazel eyes.

"Yes, thank you... Kaede right?" The man asked.

The woman didn't answer, but instead grinned slyly and gave a quick wink to her patron as she strode off for the kitchen of the Akemiya. The man contented himself to drinking his tea peacefully, without the annoyance of others. Just moments later, another man entered the restaurant. He wore western clothing, but was undoubtedly Japanese. As he sat down and made his own order with another waitress, he couldnt help but listen into their conversation.

"What would you like, sir?" the waitress asked kindly.

"Oh, just some coffee, perhaps, if you have it," the man replied. "And perhaps a bowl of rice." Moments later, to himself it seemed he concluded. "I'll never learn, will I?"

His own waitress returned with what he wanted for breakfast - a local pastry of sorts and of course, the staple bowl of rice. Kaede saw her patron watching the westernized man and bent down toward him with her tray still in hand.

"I think his name's Takahashi-san. I think he's a usual here too. Have you never noticed him, Matsuyori-san?"

"I suppose not. And just call me Kenji, please. My last name holds no importance anymore." Kenji said as he took a sip of his tea.

The waitress bowed, smiled, and then left Kenji with his bill for him to pay later on. Kenji looked back to the man named Takahashi.

"Sugar and milk can do wonders to the bitter taste of coffee, Takahashi-dono." Kenji said.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:10 pm

"Hmm, really?" Itsuki said, looking up from his coffee. "I'm still not used to all these western customs, it seems. I was starting to wonder how anyone could drink this liquid every day without going insane."

Itsuki examined this man quickly, noticing a variety of unique features with one single glance. He certainly looked like a samurai, sporting a rough beard and kimono. Swords were also near him, clearly a violation of the law. Itsuki was not a police officer, however; just a detective. There weren't many things he could actually enforce.

"You seem to know your coffee," Itsuki said to this man with a grin. "Why don't you take a seat with me? You can call me by my first name, Itsuki, as well. In the West last names are not as important as they are over here. In fact, most people just refer to each other by their first names. A good practice, I say."

Itsuki could talk all day about the wonders of the West, but he didn't want to bore his new friend. Hopefully they could have a nice conversation before it was time for Itsuki to head to work and investigating this interesting criminal case.

"So what brings you here, Kenji?" Itsuki said after taking a bite of rice. "Do you frequent this place as well? I can say it's my favorite place in Kyoto. A good place to stop by before I head on to... more official business."

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:20 pm

"Coffee allows me to stay awake when most tired, I guess you can say. And call me Kenji." He said. "And as much as I'm curious of western customs, I realize that we should never forget our own."

Kenji took Itsuki up on his offer. Sitting down by his new acquaintance, he lay his blades at the edge of the table nearest him. Sipping his tea, he replied to Itsuki's questions as he ate his breakfast.

"I can't say I am a usual here, although while in Kyoto, this is the restaurant I tend to come to. I enjoy the food here... when I have the money to spend of course." Kenji said. "I suppose you could call me a Ronin. I travel a lot."

Continuing with his breakfast, he looked back to Itsuki.

"What kind of business are you conducting, Itsuki-san."


.........................................


Souji and Toshizo had made their way through Kyoto the next morning after the sun started up. Souji had spent the night at Toshizo's home before they headed out the next day. They walked in broad daylight, swords strapped to their sides as if the laws forbidding it were not instated. Finding themselves down a sidestreet far from Toshizo's old home, they came up a larger cottage, wonderfully crafted in the traditional style amidst a few westernized homes here and there.

Toshizo looked upon the house with curiosity. It was large, obviously having three to four rooms attached as well as the front genkan. He glanced to Souji who stood with a grin, surveying his latest purchase with joy.

"Where did you get the funds to buy such a place, Souji?" Toshizo asked incredulously.

"I did a bit of work with shipbuilders a year after the Revolution ended. That trade sure does bring in some good money." Souji replied, scratching his head and chuckling.

"Then this'll do for now." Toshizo went to enter the building, sliding the shoji door and entering after taking off his sandals.

They entered, finding the place neatly furnished already, much to Toshizo's surprise. Souji sat down upon a mat in a living room. Toshizo sat opposite. As tea was made within a kettle, he couldn't help but finally relax a bit. After all, there'd be much less of that once their plans went underway. The Shinsengumi were nearly forgotten with ten years of peace, but that would end soon enough.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:57 pm

"A ronin, huh?" Itsuki said in mild interest. "Just like those old samurai stories, right? Excellent, excellent. I've always found such thoughts entertaining, though I'd never go on such escapades myself, mind you."

Ituski took a sip of his coffee now that he had some sugar and milk in it from the waitress. Surprisingly it tasted a lot better, making the beverage at least drinkable. Itsuki looked up when Kenji asked about what sort of business he was on.

"Oh, I work for the police force... kind of," Itsuki said, pausing briefly. "I'm just an investigator, however, I don't do a lot of actual enforcing. I suppose I could tell you what business I'm on currently, as it's definitely no secret. You may of heard of another samurai character like yourself recently in the news. They've been charged with murder and theft and I have to somehow find out how it happened. Oh, the murderer is also a woman."

Itsuki knew he was probably saying to much, but it wasn't like this man would do anything stupid with the information. There wasn't much harm he could do in the first place. Itsuki sat there for a moment, wondering if he should point out the illegality of those swords that Kenji had by his side, but decided not to. He figured the man knew very well that they were outlawed.

"Hmm, being a swordsman yourself..." Itsuki began, scratching his chin, "you wouldn't happen to know anything about this woman, would you? I hear she is looking for sword-fights, so it's possibly you could have come across her before."

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:10 pm

Kenji was a bit put off by Itsuki's comments of his being a Ronin. Truly, the public did not understand the plight of being a masterless Samurai, unskilled in anything but martial arts in a world where combat was quickly becoming a secondary trade. There was no longer any way to make a living by the sword. The Sengoku Era was diminished, leaving most Samurai in dire straights as Ronin, wandering like him through the lands, looking for a Master to call their own. His only hope was to become a Yojimbo... a bodyguard for some wealthy aristocrat somewhere. It was a pathetic existence for him.

"I am afraid that being a Ronin is nothing like the tales told to children no a days, Itsuki-san. It's more of a curse than a bit of freedom."

At his acquaintance's next question, he started to think of this woman Samurai. Had he ever met her before? He had indeed dueled many, and he remembered every battlefield he took part on. He couldn't remember a woman Samurai in his memories anywhere. Scratching his beard, he took the last bite of his pastry and looked to Itsuki.

"I don't believe I've ever come across a woman like that. Perhaps I'll meet here somewhere soon though." Kenji said with a grunt of a laugh.

At that time, Kaede had walked out of the kitchen and looked surprised that Kenji now sat by Itsuki. She approached them, just as Kenji retrieved a few coins from his kimono to pay for his tab. She took the coins and looked to the two of them with her brilliant smile.

"I didn't think you two were acquainted, Matsuyori-san."

"It's Kenji, and I suppose now we are." Kenji said looking back to her. Standing from his seat, he slid his two swords into his obi and bowed to Itsuki before reaching for his lap and retrieving a sakkat straw hat and placing it atop his head.

"Perhaps we shall meet again some time, Itsuki-san. I hope your investigation goes well." He bid goodbye with a kind smile before walking for the exit of the Akemiya.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:19 pm

"Oh, well, nice meeting you!" Itsuki called after Kenji as he got up to leave. "Maybe we can have coffee again sometime."

Itsuki hoped he gave a good impression of himself to that man, though he had a feeling that he said something wrong again. A lot of people that seemed to be against the Meiji government seemed to have a general dislike of Itsuki, mostly because he was so accepting of this movement.

"I guess you can't please everyone," he said to himself with a weak grin. Itsuki stood up after finishing his meal and payed the waitress the money he owed. "Thank you very much," he said before heading out onto the streets of Kyoto once more. Itsuki did not have much information regarding the criminal he was after, so his leads were few. First, however, he would head over to the Watanabe family's home. The man of the house was killed recently by this woman, supposedly, so it had to be investigated.

"I've just started the day and my back is already killing me," Itsuki said, sighing, as he started to walk towards his destination. "The one good thing about this modernization will be better doctors, that's for sure..."

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:53 pm

Indeed, public opinion of the Meiji Government was highly divided. Many people knew of the corruption that went on behind the scenes, yet no one could truly do anything about it. Now that the government had a centralized military and police force, it was folly to try anything rash. Even most Samurai who remained didn't bother to do anything about it. They were happy enough to be left well enough alone - albeit times were changing. The age of the Sword was quickly fading unto gunpowder dominated combat - the police were becoming more hostile to the older class of warrior, persecuting, and in rare circumstances, execution of Samurai. It was yet another hint of the corruption that plagued the fledgling government.

Those Samurai who acted out were promptly stomped. The one's left over from the Revolution were dwindling - a new class of people emerged then, taking over the reigns. The Tokugawa were shunned, regardless of their part during the war. The Shogunate, the great war, and the casualties of the conflict were pushed under the rug. Tradition, to the traditional Japanese of the pre-Meiji Era, was quickly fading away. Something quite undesirable to many.

The Ronin Samurai, Kenji Matsuyori, was one of the last of his kind. A proud man who freely wore his swords and traditional clothing despite the changing times. Of course, he didn't fight for the Shogunate during the Meiji Revolution, in fact he was opposed to its continuation - he was a Hitokiri of the Ishin-shishi Pro-Imperialists that won the war. However, as ten years went by and he watched the New Government take form, he found himself less and less loyal to the new regime. The change he and his old comrades wanted was not quite the same as this ongoing transformation. He quickly found himself, and many other, disenfranchised despite their efforts to bring this Meiji Era into being.

He left the Akemiya restaurant that day. Standing before the entrance to the restaurant, he took a breath of fresh air before making his way into the crowds of people moving to and fro on the dirt road in Kyoto. His journey was aimless, no real purpose behind it aside from perhaps finding a way to make ends meet at some point. He wondered when the next time he would be able to eat was going to be, considering he used the last bit of the money he had on that breakfast. Perhaps it would be another day of foraging for food..


..............................


The day had passed quickly enough. Souji and Toshizo had remained at their cottage, waiting for the last of their comrades to appear before the doors. It was rather exciting for both of them, considering it had been ten long years since they saw each other. Ten very long years. It was only proper however, due to the fact that during the first two years of their hiding, the last of the Shinsengumi were being hunted down.

For all intents and purposes, they didn't exist outside of their civilian identities. The people had forgotten about them - their sacrifices and bloodshed for the good of the Shogunate so long ago. Soon enough, their names would resurface, it was only a matter of time.

With a few knocks to the door, Souji looked over and walked to open them. Standing at the threshold were two men - the old Commander of the Shinsengumi himself - Isami Kondo, and the 3rd Unit's Captain, Hajime Saito. They seemed to have met up before reaching the house.

Soon enough, the happy greetings of long standing comrades filled their abode. They all sat around the table and shared their stories - how did their lives go on after the Revolution. Contact had been severed for so long, letters were likely being read by the Government anyway, so it was foolish to write to each other.

Beverages and food was set out on the table, just as more knocks came to the door. Soon enough, the rest of the old crowd had arrived, all seemingly in good health. Toshizo Hijikata, Souji Okita, Isami Kondo, Shinpachi Nagakura, Saito Hajime, Sanosuke Harada, and finally Heisuke Todo were joined together, old friends for many years. After much reminiscing occurred, Isami Kondo stood at the table, raising a hand to command for silence. Indeed, the Commander of the Shinsengumi had returned. Silence fell immediately.

"I'm glad to see you all doing so well. It has been so long, I'm sure we've all being waiting for this day to arrive. Ten years went by too slowly to be honest!" Kondo said with his old cheerful voice.

"Here here!" Shinpachi said with a grin and a nudge to his old friend Heisuke who chuckled and raised his cup of sake.

"Now, let's get down to business. First and foremost, the Shinsengumi must be resurrected quickly, but before that, steps must be taken. We must eliminate certain figures that will impede our progression. Hijikata-san, you know of the first target, yes?" Kondo asked, fishing out a long parchment scroll from his kimono and unfurling it onto the table. It was a map of Kyoto, bearing a few red X's here and there.

"Yes. Our first target is the Head of Domestic Affairs, Keniichi Suzumiya. They control the Police Force here in Kyoto, and undoubtedly Mibu - the very place we will reclaim when the time comes. His assassination is first priority, while at the same time, we also have another target." Toshizo informed, his manner immediately becoming that of the 'Demon Vice Commander's'. "Her name is Kaede... Kaede Tokugawa."

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:52 pm

"Hello?"

Itsuki knocked at the door of the Watanabe home, wondering if anyone was there. Mr. Watanabe's wife did not have a job before he died, so he assumed she was still at home tending to the children. After a few minutes the door opened slightly, a stressed looking woman peeking out at Itsuki.

"Yes?" she asked wearily.

"I am very sorry to call at this hour, Mrs. Watanabe," Itsuki said apolagetically. "But I need to ask you a few questions. I am part of the Kyoto police force."

The woman paused for a moment. "Very well," she said, opening to door completely. "Please come in."

Itsuki soon found himself in the living room, sitting down across from Mrs. Watanabe with a table in-between them. She poured tea for them both and was now at full attention.

"I'm sorry to be so blunt, but what do you know about your husband's death?" Itsuki asked, scratching the back of his neck. "It may be harsh, but asking these sorts of questions will help me catch the culprit quickly."

"I understand," she said, nodding. "I have asked questions as well... Daisuke often works until midnight, so he usually takes shortcuts through the alleyways to get here. I heard from a friend that they last saw him enter an alley between the general store and another household. That's... where he was killed, I believe."

Itsuki nodded. "This is good," he said. "I will be able to use this information. I do not want to bother you any longer, Mrs. Watanabe, so I must be leaving."

The woman nodded and Itsuki bowed quickly, exiting the household. Staying longer would've been horrible. Daisuke Watanabe's murder was brutal. The police report said he managed to walk home with several stab wounds, blood running down all of his body until he fell dead in the doorway of the Watanabe home. His wife saw; the children saw. It was awful.

Daisuke was known to have some knowledge in the ways of the sword, though ever since the Meiji revolution he had settled down to raise a family. To Itsuki it was apparent that the murderess enjoyed stalking her prey in the night, preferably alleyways. He would have to draw the killer in himself if he ever wanted any progress here. First, however, he'd have to make a few calls to the police office...

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:18 pm

"So, Suzumiya is the first target? And how are we dividing this up? After all, it's only us seven up against an entire police force perhaps." Shinpachi asked as he peered down at the labeled red cross notating their primary target.

"The Head of Domestic Affairs' office is separate from the police headquarters. He will likely have near ten guards there at his office - it'll be easy to assault as long as we don't raise any alarms." Toshizo replied, tracing a finger across the map.

The police headquarters in the area of Kyoto that they would find themselves was nearly a mile away from the Domestic Affairs office. They would definitely have enough time to assault and clear the office before any police got involved. The Shinsengumi nodded from where they stood, their first task would be simple enough - they all made sure to keep their skills honed these ten years.

"And the second objective? What about Kaede-chan?" Souji asked, pointing at the X marked over a restaurant named the Akemiya.

That will be easier than the first, I think. Hijikata-san and I have already completed plans for that. Okita-san and Todo-san, you both are in charge of procuring the package. Meet her at the Akemiya and convince her to join us. If she doesn't listen... for her own safety and benefit, we'll have to take her by force. She might be disguised for now, but sooner or later, knowledge of who she really is will come to light. We cannot allow her to die." Kondo replied.

With that, the plans seemed to be finalized. Logistics were over-viewed by everyone there, and by the end it was clear who had what role. While Souji and Heisuke were responsible for their business at the Akemiya restaurant, the rest of the force would head to the Office of Domestic Affairs in order to hopefully stick a blade in the Minister's gut.

Both missions were to be underwent that night.

.........................


The day had been going slowly at the Akemiya. After those two men left in the morning, she only received a few more customers until her shift ended after breakfast was over. She had most of the day to do what she wanted, however she would soon return to the restaurant for waitressing for the dinner shift.

She expected it to be busy, considering the day was quite nice - the sun was out, cloudless and blue. Though it was warm, the breeze was refreshingly cool, allowing for customers to eat outside and enjoy the nice weather for as long as they had it. The next few days were supposed to be rainy anyhow - at least it wasn't Tsunami Season.

When she entered the restaurant around 4:30 in the afternoon, she already found two, rather conspicuous men, sitting at a table. Another waitress strode over to Kaede as she entered and took off a coat upon reaching the kitchen.

"Kaede-chan, that's your table. It's odd... they requested you as their waitress but I don't think I've ever seen them here before." The waitress commented quietly.

Kaede raised an eyebrow, but took a small pad of parchment and an ink pen. As she walked out into the restaurant, she spotted the two men sitting with glasses of water, waiting for her. They were both handsome to her, however somehow tough looking. To her surprise, as tough as they appeared, they didn't have any swords with them. Taking a sigh, she went to work, approaching them both to take their orders.


Last edited by BleachKing on Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:27 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:13 pm

It was close to evening in Kyoto. Aki Narita leaned against the outside wall of the Akemiya, counting the money she had earned so far today. There was a wild grin on her face as she added up the amounts, though truthfully she was probably miscounting them because of her terrible issues with mathematics.

"If I keep robbing punks like this I'll be rich," she said to herself, laughing harshly as she tossed the coin purse up in the air and caught it, putting it back on her belt. "This whole Meiji Restoration shit is making my job easy... No one carries any weapons anymore, so they're all just a bunch of helpless bastards."

Aki had great plans for tonight. She would take that familiar alleyway and wait for the first person she saw to walk through and take advantage of them. What seemed at first to be a shortcut would turn into a nightmare for whoever decided to enter her territory. Minutes passed as she positioned herself in the alley, leaning against the wall.

As expected, however, the waiting payed off. The shuffling footsteps of a man could be heard coming her way. Grinning, she took out her sword and jumped out of her hiding spot, aiming a sword straight at the man's chest. He seemed to be a middle aged man, wearing westernized clothes and sporting a grey mustache. This man certainly looked like he'd have a hefty pocket.

"Give me your purse, old man, and you can pass by without a slit throat," Aki hissed, grinning. The man somehow didn't seem surprised.

"I'm afraid I have no money," he said, shrugging. "Despite my clothing, I'm a rather poor person, you see."

"I bet you have a fat wallet tucked into that fancy jacket of yours!" Aki retorted. "Come on, show it!"

"Very well..." the man said reaching into his inside pocket. However, instead of pulling out a wallet, he pulled out a loaded gun, aiming it right at Aki's face. Her grin slowly faded away as a stunned expression took over her face.

"Don't even try it," the man said, noticing her grip the sword tightly. "I've got men on the rooftops with guns. They will blow you to pieces if you move an inch."

"What... are you?" Aki said, stupefied.

"I'm just a detective, miss," the man said with a grin. "Itsuki Takahashi, at your service. However, I'm afraid that you are under arrest, ma'am. Please do not resist or face the consequences."

Aki seethed, dropping the sword to the ground. She was reckless, sure, but she definitely still valued her life. These men with guns wouldn't mess around... She knew this.

"Shit..." Aki mumbled, putting her hands behind her head.


Last edited by Chef on Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:51 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:01 pm

"Jeez, I hope these two aren't just a couple of meat-heads..." Kaede hoped as she approached her table. "How do they even know me?"

Standing before them, she bowed low and put on a smile for her patrons. They both looked to her with grins of their own, then looking back down to their menus, they ordered their dinners. The first; a slim,brown-haired man, ordered a green tea and soba noodle bowl for his own meal. The second; a darker haired man, ordered some sake and miso soup with a side of rice. An appetizer of onigiri (Japanese rice-balls) was agreed upon, and with that Kaede left to fulfill her duty.

As she stood away from the table toward the kitchen, she looked the two men over. They were talking amongst themselves, paying no heed to her being there. They were utterly normal, not pulling anything denoting them as some kind of stalkers, or criminals in any respect. She wondered perhaps, if they were referred to her by another of her customers. Shrugging her anxiety away, she looked forward to ending the day with a well-earned rest.

The orders were made, and after the beverages were delivered to the two men, the food was brought out by tray after fourty-five more minutes elapsed. Gratefully, the two thanked Kaede and received their meals. Just as she bowed and turned to leave, one of the men called out to her.

"Miss, why not sit with us for a few moments."

"Excuse me?" Kaede asked, surprised by the man's words. "B-but I'm working at the moment."

"The name is Okinaga, Souji Okinaga, and I insist Kaede-chan." Souji said, purposely using an alias to avoid suspicion from whomever else sat nearby.

"Mr. Okinaga... well, I suppose I could for a short while." Kaede replied, obviously a bit flustered.

As she sat down, she was acutely aware of both men looking her over. It wasn't in that usual "drunken bar-goer" kind of way, but rather a more interested kind of way. She felt uncomfortable, but for some reason she dared not to leave her seat. Perhaps the feeling stemmed from her seeing the pommel of a kodachi in the dark-haired man's robes - well hidden from view. So they were swordsmen...

"What is it you want?" Kaede asked nervously, trying intensely to merely soun intrigued by their manners. "Who are you two?"

"I am Tora Heisuke, a friend of Okinaga's." Heisuke greeted with his own alias.

"And we want you actually." Souji said, quiet enough so that others could not here.

"W-what do you --." Kaede started.

"We mean we are here for you, Miss Kaede Tokugawa." Souji said with a devious grin upon his face.

Kaede was awestruck, unable to say a word. She didn't know who these men were, but something wasn't right. How in the world did they know who she was? She told no one, only her Clan's survivors knew she hadn't been killed - hunted down like the others, or exiled. She lived a separate life, as painful as that was. She knew, as she looked at them, she couldn't play this off as some kind of misunderstanding. They were completely serious, as the name of the Tokugawa wasn't some word to pass around carelessly anymore.

Kaede moved to open her mouth, but no words came to her. Her expression was all too telling of her internal struggle. She wanted to scream, to run, however she was rooted to the spot. She could only surmise that these men were government hit-men - they found her. They were going to kill her. Her nineteen years of life would be cut short by the cold, unforgiving metal of a blade.

"Don't worry, Kaede-chan. We're not here to harm you at all. In fact, we're here to protect you. Do you remember this?" Souji said.

He had grabbed a napkin from the table and took Kaede's pen that she had. Scribing out only three characters, he slid the napkin to her side of the table, anticipating a reaction - hopefully she would stay calm.

悪 即 斬

Upon reading the characters, her eyes grew wide. She no longer feared for her life anymore, knowing exactly who these two represented - however no so many questions cluttered her head. Their alias' cracked under her realization. The one's who sat before her were none other than Souji Okita and Heisuke Todo, two of the original Shinsengumi, said to have both died at Toba-Fushimi so long ago. So they had been in hiding this entire time?

"How... when..." Kaede could not collect her words. She was absolutely flustered.

"Tonight, when you're finished with you shift, please come to this address, Kaede-chan. We will explain everything to you then. Just know, your life is in danger, and we're currently the only ones that can do anything about that. The Meiji is not your friend." Souji said.

They had finished their dinners, and feeling fulfilled, they thanked their hosts for their meals. Kaede stood up, wobbling a bit, and was handed both their bill, a rather handsome tip, and the note containing the address. The two men walked out of the restaurant, bidding farewell to Kaede as they disappeared onto the street. She remained motionless, standing by their table looking down at both their note and the napkin with the characters for "Aku Soku Zan" (Slay Evil Immediately) scribed upon it.

"--ede-chan. Kaede-chan? Heeey, are you alive?!" A voice came to her from the mist surrounding her mind.

One of her waitress friends stood by her side, trying to get her attention. She looked a bit concerned as she looked at Kaede's face. She bore a tray with most of what was on the table.

"Are you alright? Your face is so pale... do you feel well?" The waitress asked.

"Ah.. yea. Sorry, to worry you Yumi-chan. Umm, is my shift over?" Kaede asked, trying to gain her composure.

"Yea, it's slow tonight. You can leave..." Yumi replied, looking worried. "Come get your pay tomorrow, OK?"

Kaede nodded 'yes' before untying her apron and heading into the backrooms to undress from her waitress uniform, donning her usual attire consisting of a rather beautiful layered kimono of brilliant design. Walking out from the back, she stood within a dimly lit alleyway behind the Akemiya. Walking out onto the street, she watched as slowly but surely, the lanterns of Kyoto flickered to life as the building owners lit them as the sun waned in the sky. Whomever was out still, walking the streets, headed home for the night. Her destination was far from that. A new adventure awaited her, and a new destiny.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:46 pm

"She's going to be a real handful."

Itsuki sighed after hearing the police chief's words. Couldn't the man just be happy that he had helped catch one of the most wanted criminals to date? Honestly, Itsuki just wanted some appreciation every so often. They were in the police chief's office, a rather plain room with a single desk and three chairs. The smell of coffee and cigarettes lingered in the air.

"There's nothing she can do behind bars, sir," Itsuki said, shaking his head. "I doubt we'll need much of a trial to find her guilty. She openly admits her faults, and, frankly, she's proud of them."

"We are not going to execute her, however," the police chief said. "Perhaps we could use her later on. She might know of a few other swordsman that need to be put behind bars."

"Right," Itsuki said, getting up from his seat and preparing to leave. "Well, I'll leave that up to you, as it's none of my business. I'm going to get some sleep before I find another case to chase after. Have a good night."

Itsuki exited the building and started to walk the dark streets of Kyoto. There were hardly any people about, making a silence that was almost disturbing. As he walked, he noticed a single person walking in the moonlight. It was that waittress from the restaurant he went to this morning.

"Excuse me, miss!" Itsuki said, approaching her. "I remember you from this morning at the restaurant (excellent food, by the way). What are you doing at this time of night? You know that there are thieves and other sorts about. Can I escort you to your household? I'd feel terrible to let such a pretty girl like yourself walk alone like this."


Last edited by Chef on Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:08 pm

Kaede froze on the spot. She knew that voice - he was the Investigator (or so she overheard) that her waitress friend took care of that morning. She turned then, only after shoving her papers into her robes, to confront the man. She wasn't afraid of the man of course, knowing that he was at least affiliated with the police. But then, there were many corrupt, bad officers in the force.

For a moment in time, she wondered if she should tell the investigator about the two men she met in the restaurant not that long ago. Perhaps he could do something to help her... she wasn't ready to trust them, not yet. She opened her mouth to speak, but then a sudden realization hit her like a lead weight to the head.

"What am I doing?! I can't tell him about them. He'll question what the Shinsengumi have to do with me... and then... and then..."

The Tokugawa name, after the Meiji Revolution ended, was made into a sort of taboo. They were deemed undesirables, and thus exiled to the very extent of Japan, and obviously banished from government and social life. It was a dead clan, merely a name - a remnant of the not so distant past. If anyone were to find out about her lineage, especially a government worker like this investigator, she could be put to death.

Her only hope was the Shinsengumi now. Their words rang true in her head. Trying not to sound nervous, she put on a poker-face and looked the investigator right in the eyes.

"Good evening, Officer-san. I'd be glad for your company to my home. I suppose walking alone at night is a bit foolish." Kaede found her laugh a bit unnatural.

Perhaps she would pass off as apprehensive, or frightened of the dark. After all, she was a defenseless woman (though she did have that tanto hidden away) that was out about at night. It wasn't surprising that she would be nervous; which she actually was, albeit for other reasons. With a faux shy smile, she walked to the investigator, and with as charming a voice as she could muster, she asked the man to escort her to Kumiyama, a small town in the Kuse District of Kyoto. It was the next town over, however not too far away from where they were.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:35 pm

"Oh don't worry, I'm not an officer," Itsuki said, laughing. "Just a lowly detective, ma'am. I'm afraid I don't really enforce anything unless it's of dire importance."

Truthfully that incident with the swords-woman was about the only life-threatening operation he'd taken. Of course, he could've just told the police about the whereabouts and gone his own way, but that was no way to look for a promotion.

They started to walk towards Kumiyama, as she had asked. There was no one else around, making Kyoto seem a bit eerie. Itsuki glanced over at the woman. She seemed to be a little on edge, though he couldn't exactly tell. Could it be his presence that was so intimidating? A lot of people nowadays didn't like people that were working for the police.

"I hope I'm not making you nervous," Itsuki said, chuckling. "A lot of people dislike me without knowing who I really am, just because I happen to work with the law. Pardon me for asking, but what is your name? I am Itsuki Takahashi, at your service."

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Sep 03, 2011 8:14 pm

"Um, my name's Kaede To-"

She had only just caught herself. Even after ten years of using an alias, she never could forget her actual last name. Especially with what just happened back at the Akemiya.

"Kaede Toyamiya, it's a pleasure to meet you, Takahashi-san." Kaede tried to finish slowly.

Of course, she received an odd look for a moment from Itsuki, prompting her to look away, toward her sandal'd feet and the ground ahead as they walked. It had been quiet for a few minutes, her uncomfortableness only grew as such. The only sounds around them were the cicadas in the trees and the sound of their own footsteps. It was certainly eery.

"Um... so, you're a detective? Have there been any cases of late, Takahashi-san?" Kaede decided to spark some bit of innocent banter. The quietness was killing her.


..........................


Within the town of Kumiyama, in that same Kuse Disctrict of Kyoto, sat a small house on an ordinary street. The home was just as non-distinct as its location, and thus nothing was quite different about it, or really notable aside from its make and style. However, within the usual home sat two very unusual individuals. Those being Souji Okita and Heisuke Todo.

They sat quietly at a round table, spread over the surface was a large map showing all of Kyoto. They seemed to both be looking down upon it, however avoiding one area with their eyes - the very spot that their comrades were advancing toward in order to 'subdue' their very first target. However, just as they looking upon the map, their attitudes seemed to suggest that they were waiting for someone.

Indeed, they were. The last true hope of the Shinsengumi, by their bidding, was currently on her way to them. The last of the "free" Tokugawa, the daughter of the late Shogun, was en-route to their home. Tea was currently being heated, and food prepared for her, for just as they implied, they wished to protect her. Her life was very important for their cause, precious even.

"Do you think this is right, Heisuke?" Souji asked, breaking the silence.

"What do you mean?" Heisuke asked, shaken out of a daydream.

"Involving the girl. She's young, you know? We don't even know if she'll agree to our intentions." Souji remarked.

"I suppose that's true... but then what we do with her is out of our hands. It's up to Kondo-san, and Hijikata-san." Heisuke reasoned.

"We can't just use her. Her name. That's..."

"Souji, when did you become so sentimental?" Heisuke replied, a light chuckle in his voice. "Of course we won't use her. It's just... where else will she go? Once we declare our intentions to Japan, every last Tokugawa will be rounded up. I'm certain an investigation will be put to the late Shogun's daughter. Are I not correct?"

"That's true. I suppose we'll just have to wait until Kondo-san gets back. For now, we wait." Souji resolved aloud.

Night had fallen quickly, their street stood almost completely dark but for the paper-lanterns that lined the street. The sounds of footsteps started to come, distinctly through the air, through their open window. They both stood, slipping katana into their obi as they awaited their guest. However, there came two sets of footsteps. Who was the second person?

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:34 pm

Itsuki glanced over at the girl when she paused before saying her name. There was some sort of hesitation there, but why? This woman seemed very uneasy around him, so there had to be a reason for it. However, Istuki did not really feel like prying, it would only make him seem nosy.

"Very nice to meet you, Miss Toyamiya," Itsuki said, smiling. She asked about his detective business, something he was always wanting to talk about. Of course, the police would probably be very angry if they heard about his occasionally rambling with random citizens about cases that he has taken. Itsuki simply loved to talk, and criminal cases were always great subject matter.

"Oh, I probably shouldn't tell you about my work, though I suppose you hear about all of it in the local news anyways," Itsuki said with a chuckle. "I just recently finished a case, turned in that big bad sword-lady that was causing a ruckus. She was feisty, but with a little help from the police I managed to take her down. I'm hoping that there will be far less criminals like this as modernization continues. I've always been a fan of change, though not everyone shares my opinion."

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:17 pm

Kaede, truthfully, had met many Japanese men just like this Itsuki man. They were progressives, by definition in the Meiji era - always wanting new change, more westernization. However, what struck her differently about this man, was his certain passion for his trade, detective work. It was a burning passion, it seemed, enough so to snuff out laws prohibiting him from telling others of his work. She admired such qualities, yet also found his western ways a bit irritating.

Truthfully, she wished she had something she was good at like that detective. Ever since the Tokugawa family was exiled and she went off on her own, she had to work various jobs, yet not out of wanting, but out of necessity. She had to do whatever she could to earn money - at least anything short of selling herself out. She was far too proud to do such a thing to herself. Normally, she had no patience for other people, however her relatively short time working at the Akemiya had made her a bit more caring. That Akemiya job was likely the only job she ever took on and felt some sort of enjoyment through it.

They had made it to Kumiyama quickly, and once they stood by her street (or rather her designated street), she glanced around to see if anyone was about. It was completely quiet - the entire journey there was quiet. It was almost eery.

Thought she was happy for Itsuki's company, she was growing increasingly paranoid, no thanks to the two Shinsengumi gentlemen who she waited on at the Akemiya. What they said back there continued to swim around her mind, like a parasite, quickly eating at her until she could hardly think of anything else. Of course, she always suspected that the Meiji would hunt her down once word of her escaping exile reached their ears... it was only a matter of time. Once years passed, she found herself forgetting the danger that lurked closely... she almost forgot she was a Tokugawa until she would return home at night and look in the mirror.

"Takahashi-san, we are by my home. I can make my way now from here, but I thank you kindly for your escort. I won't forget this kindness." Kaede said kindly, bowing.

Saying their quick goodbyes, she went off down the street toward the home she was directed to enter alone. The Shinsengumi; Souji Okita and Heisuke Todo, would be there waiting perhaps. As the cold night wind blew, her long silken hair flowing behind her while she walked. Climbing the first step, she was acutely aware of Takahashi looking after her as she went to enter the house. She noticed quickly that the door was unlocked - the Shinsengumi had to be aware that she had arrived, and that another person was just outside their hide-away. She only hoped that they would spare this man, by all rights, she now owed a debt of gratitude toward him - nights are dangerous alone.

Sliding open the door, she looked into the home - a gleam of eyes could only just be seen in the darkness, she gulped in fright, however when a whisper came to her ears to close the door behind her, she followed through without hesitation. She only looked back once to spot Itsuki Takahashi still standing there, then turning to walk away just before the door closed.

A flicker of candlelight lit the room then. There, standing by the door she entered was Souji, his blade still sheathed but with his other hand only just by the hilt of his katana. The eyes she saw in the dark belonged to Heisuke, who also seemed prepared to attack. It was uncomfortably silent until the figure of Itsuki faded into the darkness down the street, but once he vanished both men let out a long sigh.

"I didn't think you'd be escorted.. I suppose that's good though! It is pretty dangerous to walk along at night alone, being a woman." Souji said as he fetched the kettle of tea being heated over a small fire.

"You didn't tell him anything of us, Kaede-chan, yes?" Heisuke asked with a playful smirk.

Kaede found their sudden personalities quite different than what she saw hours prior. She didn't quite know what to say to them, so she answered Heisuke with a mere shake of her head. Bidding her to sit down at the table with them, a cushion was brought out for her as well as a cup for tea. Pouring the steaming, greenish liquid into the cup, Souji grinned playfully to the befuddled girl.

"Don't be afraid, you should know by now that we're here to serve and protect you, just as we did with your father. Relax, drink some tea!" Souji said leaning back against the wall after eating a dumpling.

Heisuke laughed, almost spilling his tea all over the table.

"Souji! Act more gracious toward our guest. After all, she's the future of Japan!"

At those last words, Kaede's eyes widened. What did he mean, "future of Japan"? Questions suddenly overshadowed her fear of being caught - what did the Shinsengumi intend for her to do while she was with them? She didn't know whether to dread or be excited for the future...

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:33 pm

Itsuki waved goodbye to Kaede as she walked into the building. He wondered what she would be up to on this night, but he supposed it really wasn't any of his business. Now a bit depressed that he had no one to talk to, Itsuki started to make his way back home.

"I should have gotten myself a wife, then I'd have someone to talk to," Itsuki said with a chuckle. Even throughout his childhood he had been too busy for women. His very lifestyle prevented him from having any sort of social life that didn't involve work. Having this job was both a blessing and a curse.

Itsuki made it back safely to his home, now ready to sleep and find out what there was to do for tomorrow. Perhaps he'd see that woman at the restaurant in the morning. It would certainly be pleasant to speak to her before he went out for work.

"That's a bit too much, though, isn't it?" Itsuki said to himself aloud, chuckling. "I don't want to bore that young lady with my stories. She has other interesting lads to go after."

Itsuki, a sad smile on his face, closed his eyes and quickly fell to sleep.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:31 pm

The front of the Office of Domestic Affairs was guarded only by two, regular, police officers. They were unsuspecting of any trouble, least of all warriors from ten years ago. The last thing on their minds was a plot to kill the Minister of Domestic Affairs. The officers wore the normal, westernized uniforms traditional to officers of the law - navy blue with copper buttons - complete with sidearm and a western saber.

How ironic, to the Shinsengumi who lay in wait in the deep shadows of the alleys surrounding the front of the Minister's office, that they would look upon the new lawful authorities in Kyoto. After all, the Shinsengumi used to be the law, the secret police, of Kyoto only ten years ago - how different these men were from each other. In their eyes, these policemen were corrupt, weak, and only performing their jobs for monetary value - whereas the Shinsengumi worked to defend their Lord, the people, and their own honor with the blade. Times had indeed changed, and for the worst.

It was now a normal occurrence to find police officers using their power for greed; flaunting it before the citizens, helplessly undefended from these dogs of the government. There was no longer any honor in being a protector, if the people couldn't even depend upon a defense against those who held power over them. In this regard, the Shinsengumi deemed the Meiji government far inferior to the late Shogunate. It was time for a change, one for the better.

Clad in robes of all black, and balaclavas covering all but their eyes, they lurked noiselessly as their comrade surveyed the Ministers office. It was a large, westernized building - baroque in style and construction, complete with stone columns and an engraved facade to the front, bearing statues and all the influences that came along with the West. It was ironic to note that the Empire had closed its doors to the West, yet claimed to want to become a nation in their likeness. Quite the paradox.

Toshizo Hijikata crouched over by Isami Kondo, both peered toward the guards, then panned around the entire area, spotting more guards as they went. Obviously, it was not as well defended as a major government facility, however it was obvious that the guards would have to go if the Shinsengumi wanted to complete their task without fail.

Looking to the others behind them; Hajime Saito, Shinpachi Nagakura, and Sanosuke Harada - Kondo nodded, a signal for them to prepare. Drawing their blades, or otherwise preparing their weapons, the Shinsengumi readied themselves for their first "battle" in ten years.


.......................


Back in Kumiyama, Souji, Heisuke, and Kaede all sat around the table and drank tea. For a while, it had been quiet. Kaede didn't quite know what to do with herself - she was in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people, and everything about her current situation was just... unfamiliar. She almost wished she had that false sense of security back. Souji however, always the out-going type, broke the silence.

"Well, I suppose we should tell you our plans then, Kaede-chan. After all, you're now involved in one way or another." Souji started.

"Souji! Shouldn't we wait for the Vice Commander?" Heisuke said concernedly.

"I don't think what he would say would be any different, Heisuke. Either way, she needs to know where she stands in all of this." Souji replied simple, shrugging his shoulders.

Heisuke went silent, as so Souji took that as a cue to continue. Clearing his throat, he looked back to Kaede, staring into her deep hazel eyes.

"Simply said, we are going to destroy the Meiji government, by any means possible." Souji paused when he saw her eyes widen in shock. "But, we wish to restore the Old Regime. The Shogunate was far superior to this current infrastructure - and it still held values such as honor, loyalty, and trust. No longer does this government care of values, or dignity, or tradition... no, it's just filled with greedy bureaucrats and politicians only looking to further their own ends. We, of the Old Regime, wish to reinstate the Shogunate... the Tokugawa Shogunate." Souji ended.

Kaede was speechless by the end of his talk. She had no idea they wanted to go on such a quest. And, with the last two words Souji said, she had a horrible feeling she understood what they wanted with her.

"I'm sorry... I didn't mean to go on a rant like that. Please forgive me, Kaede-chan. But you must understand - if we can secure the old government back to its old place, you would finally be able to live in peace, you wouldn't ever have to watch over your back again. Your family would be able to regain its lost honor!"

"I DON'T NEED HONOR! AND I WASN'T AFRAID OF ANYONE UNTIL YOU TWO SHOWED UP!" Kaede suddenly exploded, out of fear and anger toward the situation she was now in. What was worse, she had no way to escape it.

With that, she stood up, glaring down with menacing eyes to the two of them. Turning on the spot, her hair whipping around as she did so, the girl stamped over to one of the rooms in the home and slammed shut the shoji door behind her. Souji and Heisuke, obviously surprised by her outburst looked to each other with shock. Heisuke, making to stand up and go to her, was stopped then by Souji. Gesturing him to sit back down, he glanced back toward the closed room with Kaede.

"Leave her be. I think she has a lot to think about right now..." Souji said quietly.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:31 pm

Itsuki woke in the middle of the night, that same nightmare that had been haunting him for weeks waking him up again. He rubbed his eyes slowly and wearily and ran a hand through his hair. His body ached and he was still tired, but sleepless.

Itsuki stood up and opened a window, letting the cool air hit his face. It was still around midnight, so no one was even outside. Despite being under the shelter of his home, he felt so lonely out here. It made him uneasy to think like this, but he could hardly help it.

"Why do I keep having that dream...?" Itsuki said to himself, sighing. "Is there something you're trying to tell me, father?"

For the past month Itsuki kept having a dream about his father. In this dream he was a little boy, walking in the middle of a vast desert. There is no one else around, leaving him alone and scared. After a while however, he sees the figure of his father in the distance, but no matter how much he runs after him, the figure just moves farther and farther away out of his grasp.

"He's been dead for fifteen years," Itsuki said to himself, gripping the window pane tightly. "Fifteen years. I got over it a long time ago, so why am I thinking of it now? Am I so lonely that I miss my dead father? This is ridiculous..."

Itsuki sat on his bed after pacing for a bit, his hand on his forehead, waiting for the thoughts to stop coming. It was impossible to keep living like this. Itsuki, however, was not sure what the solution was. Perhaps he could check a doctor tomorrow to see if there was any way to treat a nightmare. His eyes still wide open, Itsuki laid back down and tried to get some sleep.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:07 pm

A scream pierced the air around the Minister's building, quickly muffled by something - all was eerily quiet then. An arc of blood sprayed onto the damp grass, illuminating it all red within the moonlight far above. Hijikata, cloaked in black, stood above the dead body that lay motionless on the ground, his katana cleaned of its prey's blood. He waved a hand and his four comrades rushed ahead of him. Standing nearby, unaware of what happened to his comrades, another guard was similarly dispatched by Saito, who severed their head from the rest of the body in a single slash of his blade.

The three other members of the Shinsengumi split and ran around the building, taking care of the rest of the guards that patrolled the perimeter of the Minister's Headquarters there in Kyoto. It wasn't a large area, so soon enough the five men met each other before the doors of the facility.

"All guards have been taken care of, Commander." Shinpachi remarked to Kondo who stood by the doors, a hand mere inches away from the knob.

"Right, let's finish this up quickly then." Kondo replied, nodding to his comrades.

Opening the doors quietly, the five of them ran in with a singular goal in mind - kill anyone who was inside. The covert soon turned quite overt within the Ministry as screams tore reverberated everywhere alongside the yells of the attackers. Soon, the marble floored hall was red with crimson blood and the bodies of the massacred. A few of the guards and those working late into the night fought back, though not to much avail as most of the weapons held indoors consisted of simple knives. The cover of darkness and surprise aided greatly in the success of the mission.

The Five of them stood at the top of the stairs on the second level. Two closed double doors loomed just ahead - all lay dead within the building, the last survivor was within the room, likely barricaded and defended by personal guards. The Shinsengumi anticipated this, and thus they stood in wait for the final order to break in and complete the mission.

Outside, a rumble could be heard - it had started to thunder. The slow patter upon the windows of the building told the Five that it soon started to rain, heavier and heavier until it was as a white-noise in the background. Just as a great flash of lightning illuminated the great gall, and a crash of thunder drowned out all noise, the Shinsengumi kicked open the doors of the room and ran into the room. Their mouths were open, showing that below the din of the storm raging on outside, they bellowed their fierce war-cries.

Two guards, both bearing Police-styled Western Sabers fell quickly to the skill and power of the Wolves of Mibu. The Five stood over a retching, man - balding and pale-faced, who cowered in a dark corner of the large room. He was the Minister, or so it seemed. Kondo knelt before the man, his blade resting upon a knee as he stared down to the cowering man.

"Are you Keiichi Suzumiya?"

"Who are you?! W-what do you want from me!?" The man asked with a terrified expression.

"So you are the Minister of Domestic Affairs?" Kondo asked directly.

"Y-yes... I am he. I-I can get you money.. that's what you want, right!? I can get you positions in the government even!"

"How ignorant. It's people like you that make this government truly inferior" Hijikata remarked with a sneer, stepping forward.

Kondo looked to Hijikata, standing up. Hijikata nodded and raised his katana, the gleaming, curved piece of steel arcing into the moonlight of the window.

"We, the Shinsengumi, are here to punish you, Mr. Suzumiya. Please die for your sins."

Swinging down, his sword met with the piercing, helpless screams of the man before his head was lopped off clean from the body. An arc of blood sprayed onto the wall behind and soon a scarlet puddle accumulated upon the floor beneath the crumpled body of the Minister. Hijikata shook his blade clean of blood then ran a white cloth down the edge before sheathing it.

"Mission complete, Commander. We should leave immediately." Hijikata said.

"One moment. Let's leave the Meiji authorities a small hint as to who was responsible for this." Kondo said as he took a blank piece of parchment paper from the Ministers desk.

Fishing out a calligraphy pen, Kondo started to write three characters - Aku Soku Zan. Folding the paper, he folded it and placed it into the slightly clenched hand of the Minister before the Five moved to leave.

Though belief was that the Shinsengumi had all died since the Bakumatsu, surely such a symbol would be all but forget by those who lived through the Revolution. Soon enough, their names would be at the head of every newspaper in the nation - the Meiji would tremble the next morning.

.............................

And that it did. News quickly spread of the Massacre at the Ministry Building, though news of the paper found in the dead Minister's hand would be mysteriously omitted from every page of the paper. All that was known was that the culprits were currently unknown, and a pending investigation was to take place there at the crime scene.

That morning, the "Hawk Strider", Kenji Matsuyori, had grabbed one of the papers (as he tended to do every morning) and read the headline. Behind his narrowed gaze, a sudden flash of interest could be seen in his eyes. A crude drawing representing the Minister (prior to his death) stood at the side of the lengthy article. He wondered then who would wish to kill such a man.

... Only one type of person occurred to him, and that was an Anti-Imperialist. And that wasn't his old Ishin-shishi self talking either.

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by Chef on Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:19 pm

"I haven't seen anything like this since the Meiji Revolution," the police chief said, shaking his head as he stared down at the Minister's corpse. "All of them were killed by swords. Another crazy samurai spree."

"This is different, though," Itsuki said, scratching his chin. "These aren't just wild cuts. Look how precise the work is. They wanted to make sure these people were dead, and they didn't waste time in doing so."

Itsuki was at the scene with a few other investigators and a police chief, trying to figure out what the hell was going on here. His breakfast had been skipped after an urgent letter early this morning, so he had been here for a couple hours already. There was blood everywhere and it was likely the worst crime scene that he had ever witnessed. This was the Minister, after all, not just some average Joe on the streets.

"I guess you're right, Itsuki," the police chief said finally. "These aren't ordinary swordsmen. Professionals are what we are dealing with here. How many do you think there were?"

"There's no telling," Itsuki said, shaking his head. "They left no evidence here other than that parchment of paper. Could be twenty, could be five. Hell, it could even be one man."

"Now that's impossible," the police chief replied, chuckling. "But that parchment, what do you think of it?"

The paper they were referring to was found in the Minister's cold, dead hands. It said "Aku Soku Zan," an old saying that meant "Destroy evil immediately." It was a chilling note, but it could be used to further their investigation.

"The saying is oddly familiar--" the police chief began, but was cut off.

"It's an old Shinsengumi saying," Itsuki said, turning away from the Minister's corpse. "That's where you heard it from. The group of elite samurai during the Revolution. That's what they believed in."

'Wait, what are you saying?" the police chief asked, getting a bit worried. "You think it was them? That's crazy, they've been dead for years."

"I don't know about you," Itsuki began, "but when I see a massacre as expertly crafted as this and see this kind of note left behind, I get suspicious. I think it's safe to say that something big is happening. Even if this isn't the Shinsengumi, it's something just as bad. But come on, let's go get some coffee and think this over before coming to any conclusions."

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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

Post by BleachKing on Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:42 pm

Kaede had fallen asleep in the room she locked herself into. She found herself sprawled over the bed, the sheets and covers over her. At some point during the night, it seemed someone had entered to cover her. Despite her feeling thankful, emotions of confusion and worry overtook her. Bolting upright, she looked to the door. It was closed shut, but she was alone. The window at one side of the room was still open, a slight breeze fluttering into the room alongside a warm ray of light. Getting out from the bed, she wrapped her robes around her more tightly, being cold from the breeze of the approaching winter winds. Looking outside, she could see the back yard of the home she was in - a small garden sat by a row of berry bushes. In the center of the yard, a large weeping Cherry Tree leaned over the yard, granting ample shade.

She found her bag by the door, and all her provisions she brought with her. Opening the door, she noted that the house was quiet - Souji and Heisuke must have gone out. Closing it again, she decided to strip, wash up, and change into a fresh set of robes, these being a beautiful rose red and somber green with golden trim and a white inner kimono. Brushing out her long, brown hair, she viewed herself through a mirror. Despite her natural beauty, she couldn't help but notice shadows beneath her eyes - she did have quite a restless sleep it seemed.

"I wonder if I slept at all...." She said aloud quietly to herself as she finished smoothing out her silken hair.

Being presentable, she made her way toward the living room where she had had tea with the two Shinsengumi last night. They were nowhere to be found. Making her way further into the home, she found the kitchen. Entering, she looked around at the rather westernized facilities that surrounded her. For such a traditional house, this was a bit unusual - she couldn't help but note the brass-wear pots and pans and all the other cooking equipment.

As she thought about everything that happened, and truthfully what Soujiro and Heisuke had done for her, she decided to pay them back in some small way at least. Gathering everything she could use, she started to make her hosts breakfast as a small thank you. She had no real desire to escape now, and a feeling dawned on her that she would be seeing quite a bit of these Shinsengumi.


..........................


The team under Kondo and Hijikata had escaped from the Ministry building before any alarms had been raised. As they ran through various side-streets, they directed themselves straight for their meeting spot - the current HQ of the Shinsengumi. There in that part of Kyoto, they would meet up with Souji and Heisuke who had hopefully succeeded in their own task.

After around twenty minutes of constant journeying, they found the two contacts at the end of the street. At this point, the sun had started to rise and people would soon stir, wake up, and go about their daily lives. It wouldn't be long until someone would find the scene of a massacre at the Ministry. Not long at all. Continuing on, they made it to the home and sat around the main table in the living room. Souji checked that no one had followed before shutting the shoji quietly behind.

"Did you find the woman?" Hijikata asked as soon as Souji sat down.

"Yes, she's sleeping at the moment in the spare room." Souji answered quietly.

"I see. Good work. With her under our direct protection, we should have to worry about her well-being so much." Kondo stated as he took a sip of tea.

"Onto the matter at hand, we successfully dispatched the Minister and his ilk. The building is vacant, none were spared. There is nothing to be said any further, I believe." Hijikata said.

Silence pervaded the room as everyone contemplated what was to come next. Hijikata soon broke the silence as he looked to everyone else, he nodded to his Commander as he made to continue.

"Our last objective before we continue into the next phase, is to rescue an old friend from the Meiji dogs. Kazuki Yoshida has been incarcerated for these ten long years, I believe you all know what is to happen to him if we don't intervene.... his Date is coming soon." Hijikata stated with a cold voice.

"A month from now, yes?" Souji said as he took a sip of his own tea.

"Yes, the Meiji wanted to punish the 'Last of the Mibu Wolves' for ten years before he can finally be granted death. I believe he is deemed as the last of the enemies from the Meiji Revolution who has yet to meet the God of Death. Seppuku will be how he dies... by his own request too." Hijikata replied bitterly.

"Once Samurai, always Samurai." Shinpachi said with a grin. "I can't believe it has been ten years since we saw him last..."

"Indeed. I think a reunion is in order." Kondo said with a grin.

Thus, the plans were made to pay their old comrade a visit, that very day. Surely, these activities would greatly stir the Meiji in ways they never thought would happen again. As the plans were finalized after a few hours, noises from the spare room told them that sooner or later Kaede would be awake. With that, they moved outdoors to gather more information on the prison that currently held their comrade Kazuki in chains.

Afterward, returning together, they heard noises within the kitchen. As Souji entered, he found Kaede hard at work making their breakfast. Out of surprise, he stood there and watched noiselessly until she turned from what she was doing and spotted him there.

"Okita-san, please go wait at the table with the rest of them, I'm almost finished."

Nodding, he wondered how her mood had changed so quickly since the night before. First she hated him and the Shinsengumi, next she was making them breakfast? What a strange creature this woman was. With a sly grin, she slid from the kitchen and sat amongst the others. Moments later, Kaede moved out from the kitchen in apron and all, bearing a tray of her homemade breakfast - much to the delight of the weary Shinsengumi that sat around the table.

"You must be Kaede-chan? A pleasure, indeed!" Kondo said with mirth as he was given a plate of food, consisting of omelets, bacon, fruit, and warm morning green tea.

Shinpachi stared at the beautiful girl with shock as if he never saw one before, while Saito merely started on his meal without a noise. Souji snickered as he thanked Kaede and took his own meal. In turn, she returned him a straight face - he wondered what she was thinking, it was always so hard to tell.

One thing was sure, he hoped that there would be more morning like this to be had.


...................


"Yoshida Kazuki, please stand." A cold, low voice called out from the darkness of a circular courtroom.

A single seat bore a lone man, chained to the legs by rings of iron. He was worn in years and looked unkempt - after all he was a prisoner and had been for a decade. He did as he was told, soundlessly. His eyes stared in the direction of the authoritative voice - even though outwardly he appeared weak and chiseled down, his eyes still bore a great flame of resistance. Of an old passion shared by few others. He peered up in pure defiance, noiseless but incredibly intense.

"You have been judged as a killer of many, guilty of hundreds of counts of murder, and most notably an obstacle to the Government's progress. Your Sentence of Death draws near - you shall meet your end a month from now, that is our conclusion. We will use you as an example to those who would see the Meiji Government's untimely end. This is the last time you will be brought before us in court. Do you have any last words?" The voice asked.





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Re: Chapter 1: Tranquility's End

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