❯ KNIGHT OF THE STAR LEAGUE – The calm before the storm ( Chapter 3 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
KNIGHT OF THE STAR LEAGUE
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything except Yoko Hachiman.
Notes: Why choose the setup of the beginning of “Turn A Gundam”? Because it’s a perfect example of the situation prior to the Fourth Succession War. Most planets have a technological level equal or less than Earth 20th Century. And suddenly, mighty war machines in the form of giant humanoid robots appeared and waged war.
Chap 3: The calm before the storm.
“The first time I realized that I was completely cut off of everything I knew, I broke down. Yes, I know that everyone speak of the “unshakable Silver Lady” but everyone seem to forget that I was and I am still human first.”
Extract from a letter of Yoko Hachiman to Melissa Steiner.
Yoko Hachiman grunted as the G-forces tried to press down her lithe body in the cockpit seat. The other pilot had a very good machine indeed, but better material didn’t always mean better skill.
Her biplane climbed into a Himmelman maneuver and slipped behind the monoplane. Her adversary piloted an experimental plane with mono-wings, forward canard wings and the propeller was situated at the back, making the front of the plane free for the spinal weaponry.
She aligned the gun-sight and then swore as the pilot used the only advantage left: his plane had a better motor and he simply cranked up the speed to escape her attack. A flash of colored light caught her attention: a red flare had been launched from the ground.
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The black-eyed Japanese girl finished to park the Militia biplane in the hangar of Nocis Airport. She liberated her long black mane of hair from the constraint of her leather helmet and sighed in relief. She smiled as mechanics and militaries waved to the other plane parking near her.
Ernest Kaplan was a very successful engineer that was finalizing the last touches on his radical design for the new Militia fighter plane. Through the Heim family, he had recruited the help of Yoko Hachiman, because she was simply one of the best aircraft pilots around here.
He was also very determined to test out all his creations to the dismay of his daughter who was supposed to be the test pilot. The tanned blonde girl was now tearing a long strip of the back of her father under the teasing of the people present.
Eileen Kaplan threw up her hands in frustration and turned to Yoko. “So? What do you think of our “Ugly Duck”?”
“An excellent concept: Better weapons, improved maneuverability and armor, a more powerful motor and so a better payload and speed.” She smirked. “It just needs a proper pilot to change into a beautiful swan.”
The girl frowned as the spectators laughed at the gentle jab. “HEY! Blame that on Pops.” She turned to the locker room muttering. “Not my fault he is so stubborn…”
As she began to change in the locker room, Yoko reflected on the past. It had been now one full year since her arrival on Butterfly and what a year. She had managed to fight out the depression brought out by being stranded in another universe with the help of the two Heim daughters. Her two friends had assumed that it had been a case of severe homesickness. She shook her head. If only they knew…
After that, she had simply relied on her education. She quickly found out that she had an equal, and in many cases, a superior education to most of the inhabitants of the planet who after high school relied on apprenticeship to carry on the knowledge. That reinforced her image to be the only daughter from a former wealthy Samurai family that originated from the Draconis Combine.
She internally groaned at that thought. The first months, she had simply eaten up every scrap of book she could obtain in order to know about this planet and this universe: Five great interstellar realms locked into constant warfare for centuries since the end of the golden age of the Star League. Wars spearheaded by giant robots as if they were into a Gundam show. A feudal culture that was based on the fabled MechWarrior, who was the only one who could pilot the mighty Battlemechs. The loss of almost any advanced technologies which forced everyone to rely on older tech and cannibalized their destroyed machines to obtain spare parts and maintained other machines to continue the war or simply to survive. Her carbon-fiber cross-country bicycle was regarded as almost Lost Tech.
It was especially the enormity of the Inner Sphere that baffled the displaced Japanese. She was now located spinward at approximately 700 light years from Terra between the Federated Suns and the Draconis Combine. Butterfly was a lone planet in an obscure stellar system that was really glad to be forgotten by the neighboring Outworlds Alliance and the rest of the universe. Such a planet with sufficient mineral resources and ample water supply were treasures among the stars for human settlements.
It had been decades since the last merchant dropship landed at the spaceport of Bostonia, the capital implanted on the coast. The current government was quite happy to let things as they were since everybody was content. Another perplexing thing about this universe was the almost feudal-type of government everywhere. Butterfly was a conglomerate of four separate kingdoms under the leadership of an emperor. First, there was the empire of Bostonia on the western continent that controlled the spaceport and most of the rich arable lands. The people there were a melting pot of all races and commerce bloomed due to a big merchant blimp fleet.
Then two rival kingdoms disputed themselves the Eastern continent: Kaze and Borjarnon. Both were more military oriented with a very strong Asian feature with Kaze which she used as her home-kingdom. Borjarnon was more known for its strong armored vehicles branch. A state of cold war seemed to constantly exist between the two kingdoms.
Finally, the ocean between the two main continents was festooned by myriads of small islands that support the striving kingdom of Merindia. The society here was based on a nomad culture that lived primarily in their ships.
After learning how difficult and expensive it was to travel among the stars, Yoko had resigned herself to build her life on Butterfly. She smiled. Well, resigned wasn’t quite the term here. She had rapidly fall in love with the people here and she was now considered as a valuable member of the society.
The apprenticeship-type of education and the `whole-family-participate’ type of work called strongly to the young girl who had wanted nothing than work hard for all the sacrifices her family had done for her future. Even if she was separated from them she could honor her parents by proving her worth.
It had been a good surprise but a surprise nonetheless to discover how easily she had learnt absolutely everything her mentors could teach. With the Heim family, she had learnt how to work in a farm without all the modern appliances of her native Earth: getting up with the sun, nourishing the livestock, helping in the harvest and haggling for a good price on the market.
Being proud to know that the bread and butter of the breakfast were here because you milked the cows and ground the wheat, feeling the wind on your face as you ride a horse in the green hills, swimming in the river which would furnish your lunch in the form of fresh fish or cooking for those you loved.
In fact, her life was axed on three main activities: She lived on the Heim land and was almost considered as family by them and she repaid her hosts by working on their lands. She had been taken in apprenticeship by the Kaplan family of engineers and was on the path to being their most gifted student and finally, she had used her knowledge of piloting to help the agrarian community of Nocis by being an accomplished crop-duster and helped to maintain the small fleet of planes.
Yes, it was a good life.
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She was currently driving the family car of the Heim into Nocis. Alea Heim was preparing her daughters for the summer party at Bostonia castle and requested Yoko to serve as a private driver for them. That meant new dresses, jewelry and much more many things to buy, prepare and so on. In the back seat, Sochie was frowning at the coming hassle of doing all this.
The brown-haired girl was a veritable tomboy and disliked being prettied. She was especially irritated by the boys that were surely going to pester her and her sister at the party. At her side, her older sister Kihel was quietly giggling at the pout of her sibling. She had a quiet inner strength that her mother lacked and while she also wanted to take her future into her own hands, she was still behaving like a high-noble lady.
The big car passed several sport cars, stopped at a railway bridge to let pass a train that remind Yoko of the Orient-Express and entered the town of Nocis with its white one or two-story houses.
The Japanese was feeling a little guilty to have left Eileen alone to begin the formation of the Militia pilots for the new “Ugly Duck” planes. But she knew the blond girl was headstrong and she had met the Colonel responsible of the future Militia air-squadron. She `knew’ that the powerful-built brown-bearded man will be a good officer and would have no problem working with the Kaplan family.
It had been, in fact, something curious: since her arrival, she was more and more relaying on her `gut feelings’ than before. Many things were downright almost precognitions of some sort, especially in her recent bout of apprenticeship. For example, she could almost always tell who was behind a door before the person announced herself and her mentors were sometimes taken aback when she showed knowledge of things she didn’t know before. She didn’t count the number of times she had been able to discern the emotional state of her interlocutor. And recently, for having testing it in mock aerial battles, she had discovered that she really had a `sixth sense’. Her spatial awareness was almost frighteningly clear in details and range, as if she had a tri-dimensional radar in the head.
She shook her head and concentrated on her driving as they entered Bostonia. The city counted some sky-scrappers and electric tramways among the white residential houses and the green merchant quarters. Yoko had the impression to enter the old city of Tokyo at the beginning of the Meiji era. It was a blend of modernism and traditional. The ICE-powered cars functioned alongside electric-powered vehicles and horse-tracked chariots. A fusion-powered electric central, the only one of the continent, gave energy to the capital as opposed to the smaller towns which used solar and hydroelectric energy. In fact, even the ICE-motors here used alcohol instead of an oil-derivative.
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Sochie sighed, face in her hands, as she waited in the car with Yoko. The black-haired girl lifted an eyebrow. “You could have gone with your sister you know.”
The chocolate-eyed girl snorted. “I’m not that good to choose new jewelry for party.” She looked to her older sister through the storefront. “Beside, I don’t like the style of this shop.”
Yoko shrugged. “Well, I’ve always find Kihel’s taste to be very good.”
Sochie turned half-lidded eyes to her. “You would. You let Mother or Sister dresses you every time we have a party.” She muttered under her breath. “In fact, you always praise Sister.”
Yoko chuckled. “You must admit that although I prefer to dress into practical clothes like you, being prettied once a few times is a good thing, especially by someone as good-looking as your sister.”
Sochie sighed again. It was rather irritating to find that the Asian girl was as much as a tomboy like her and still gladly accepted the help of her older sibling in regard to fashion and social tips. Kihel was the heir of their father and was educated in that sense. She felt rather lucky to not being forced in that cramped role although she suspected her sister to be more ambitious than simply taking the wake of her father.
“By the way, Sochie. Do you two still want me to drive you to your college this week?”
Sochie blinked at the change of subject. “Yes, why?”
Yoko nodded to herself. “Well, it’s just that I have a few things to do at the capital. I might be a little late at picking you, but…”
Sochie leaned to Yoko. “Oh? Your mysterious dates in the capital, right?” She smirked. “So, who is the chosen one? Is he handsome? Rich?”
Yoko blinked, pulled out of her thoughts. “Nanni…?” She reddened. “No! It’s not that! I told you before…”
The two girls finished in stereo. “…I don’t like boys like that!” Sochie dissolved into giggling as Yoko scowled and crossed her arms. It was something curious for her that the beautiful black-haired young girl refused any suitors that came to her. Even her mother had tried to present some boys and young men to her only to bump into a steel wall.
Sochie sighed mentally. She was somewhat envious of the freedom of the seventeen years old girl: She could find work she likes and she could choose her future husband. She was also a peer: The Daisho she wore sometimes was proof enough. Tarnished and small nobility probably but still noble.
Yoko finally relented. “All right, you can come with me next Friday…”
This perked up the brown-haired girl. “Really!”
“Yes, really. I will present you…” Yoko had a little smile dancing on her lips and her black eyes shone with a mischievous light. “…to the man I found.”
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Sochie was waiting with impatience that her private lesson was finished. She was feeling very lucky that she didn’t have to take so many lessons like her sister. Right now, Kihel was probably torturing some poor ears during her musical lesson.
As soon as the bell was heard, she was already outside. Her teacher asked himself if the young girl had a micro Kearny-Fuchida Jumpdrive to be able to teleport like that.
As she ran, Sochie was curious about the place she had to go to meet, at last, the paramour of her friend. “Really now. Why choosing such a secluded park?” She smirked. “She wants perhaps a chaperone to control her boyfriend.” She giggled as she imaged the normally strong and level-headed girl shyly blushing as a featureless man took her in his arms to kiss her.
She entered a heavily wooden park. At such an hour, there was almost nobody on the trimmed and clean trails. She quickly found the fountain with a dolphin that Yoko had spoken about and entered the forest directly behind like the Asian had instructed her.
She finally found a small glade and smiled as she saw Yoko in the middle. She stopped and blinked as she considered how was clothed the young girl.
Yoko Hachiman was kneeling in `seiza’ position. She was clothed in a black hakama and a navy-blue keikogi. Two boken, one shorter than the other, were resting into her obi. She had her eyes closed and seemed to meditate tranquilly.
Before Sochie gathered her wits, a black blur suddenly materialized in the back of the kneeling girl. A scream leapt into the throat of the brown-haired girl as she saw a boken slashing at the head of her friend.
Yoko rolled on the right, dodging the deadly slash and drew her long boken in the same time as she jumped in standing position. Her eyes were still closed as she took a low guard position.
The black blur revealed itself to be a short Asian man of indeterminate age clad in a black kendo outfit with a boken in a middle guard position. He uttered a kiai that paralyzed Sochie where she was and charged Yoko like a lightning bolt. Sochie observed with awe as the two fighters exchanged dozens of strike that didn’t seem to hit anything but air or hardened wood. And Yoko was still closing her eyes.
Suddenly, Yoko jumped back and drew her shorter boken in her left hand. She then charged her adversary and weaved a complex combo with her two weapons. The Asian man was unperturbed as he methodically blocked each strike with graceful minimal movements of his boken. It was as if the two had rehearsed the pattern of strikes beforehand.
Finally, Yoko overextended herself slightly and her left boken fly into the air on a flicker from the enemy’s boken. She immediately jumped over the slash at her exposed belly and soared over the man in an amazing display of acrobatics.
For the first time during the duel, Yoko opened her eyes as she took a middle guard position. Sochie gasped as even from where she was, she was feeling the sheer intensity behind the black gaze. Her beautiful face had the tranquil and quiet unyielding strength of the granite, the sure and merciless silent glide of a glacier. It was as if she was screaming `I AM DEATH!’
Before the fact registered in the brain of Sochie, Yoko was already jumping in the air at a fantastic height and bringing down her boken in an oblique cut to the man who was assuming a high guard position. “FIRE AND STONE CUT!”
The scene seemed to freeze as Yoko landed behind the Asian man, both boken extended after their mutual strike. She then promptly fall on her knee and winced as she pressed her right side. This decided Sochie who rushed to her calling her name.
The Asian man calmly turned around to face the two girls. Sochie was almost wailing in dismay as she considered the bruise blackening the skin on the right side of Yoko. “Well done, my student. Well done indeed!”
Sochie blinked and considered the man. “Student?”
Yoko chuckled as she managed to stand up with her help. “Sochie, permit me to present you Master Kenishiro Oyama of the Kashima Shinryu, my sensei. Sensei, allow me to present you my friend, Lady Sochie Heim of the Heim family.”
The man bowed to the flabbergasted brown-haired girl. “It’s an honor to meet you, my Lady.”
Yoko shook her head. “I was damn sure that I nailed you this time, Sensei.”
Kenishiro smirked. “You have.” His boken suddenly exploded into splinters under the widening eyes of the Japanese girl.
Later on, the two friends ate a welcome ice cream in a café. Sochie considered the Japanese girl clad into a summer dress.
“So, this is what you were doing during all this time.” Sochie sighed. “I should have known that it couldn’t have been a boyfriend.”
Yoko giggled. “Well, you were right on one point: I was meeting a man.” She contemplated something at the horizon. “You know I met him entirely by pure luck and he wasn’t very keen on taking me as student.”
Sochie was skeptical. “Really?”
Yoko nodded. “Really. Master Oyama is a retired instructor from the Draconis Combine. He exiled himself here, apparently because of the shame brought by one of his students that abused of his art.” She frowned. “It had been very difficult to finally make him accept my petition to be his student.” She shook her head. “I don’t have all the details, but the student has too much political power to be brought down. But…” Once again she gazed into nothingness. “Something tells me that I will face him on the field of honor, one day… One day…”
Sochie shook her head and continue to eat her frozen confection. “Yoko, you’re really weird sometimes.”
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Notes: it’s not too bad for now. I have discovered that my forced vacation has actually degraded my skills in writing in English.
Oh well, I can only call on your indulgence.
I’m still waiting on comment on the story. I know there’s still no Battlemechs but I appreciate any helpful comments.
Read and review, thanks.
KNIGHT OF THE STAR LEAGUE – Where the hell i am?
KNIGHT OF THE STAR LEAGUE -…can mean only one thing: Invasion.