Author Topic: Stories of an Empire (Daitōjin Vignettes)  (Read 232 times)

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Stories of an Empire (Daitōjin Vignettes)
« on: February 19, 2022, 06:48:25 AM »
Stories of an Empire is a thread which will be used to detail various stories from around the Empire of Daitō, stretching from 1860 to the present. While such posts may not be made in any chronological order, they will be put up as links on this post in chronological order, as well as being categorized by their type.
Categories
Imperial Family

Coming Home — 10-19-19
A Night Worth Remembering — 07-14-22
The Transition — 08-03-22
Military

Politics

Spaceflight
The Voyagers, Part One — Moonshot (11-29-21)
The Voyagers, Part Two — Between Worlds (11-30-21)
The Voyagers, Part Three — Go for Undocking (12-01-21)
The Voyagers, Part Four — The Landing (12-01-21)
The Voyagers, Part Five — The First Step (12-01-21)
Shinkyō Calling (12-01-21)
The Voyagers, Part Six — Discovery (12-03-21)
The Voyagers, Part Seven — Final Day on the Moon (12-06-21)
Civilian

Misc.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2022, 05:28:16 AM by Daitō »

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Re: Stories of an Empire (Daitōjin Vignettes)
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2022, 07:32:57 AM »
Shinkyō calling
Imperial Palace, Shinkyō
UTC 1900
December 1, 2021


The room was abuzz with movement, a mere two hours prior, Daitō had joined an illustrious cadre of nations who had landed a man on the moon, after all. However, for all that it was worth, it was only a half-complete job. They still had to return to their capsule, which still about six days away. Nonetheless, as his highness looked up at the moon, listening into the comms loop from mission control, he couldn't help but feel as though the intrepid flight of Ryū M-III had captured his imagination, much as it did many around the world. Even if this was a momentary distraction from his normal duties, sparse as they finally were due to the situation on the homefront settling down, it was worth the time and effort.

He wondered, as he often did, what it was like to soar among the stars, to see an alien world with his own eyes. Indeed, as a child he practically devoured old tapes of his nation's first forays into the great void, those and recordings of the first moon landing in '69 by his southern neighbor. It was such footage that convinced him, much to his parents protests, to join the Air Force, eventually serving as a pilot during the war. Risky business, that, but it made him feel truly alive in such a way few other experiences could. For a minute, he thought he might have caught a glimpse of Kyūden IV, that bygone relic of an age now passed, fly overhead, transiting the lunar surface as it did so, although it was more likely to be a satellite of some sort. Nonetheless, he continued to wait patiently for a chance to speak to the crew in what would be a most important call.
   "Tengu, Shinkyō." CAPCOM, presently being filled by ūchunaut Taichi Yukawa, said over the loop. He was set to fly in late January, by what Eijiro could remember.
   "Go ahead, Control." The mission commander, confusingly also named Eijiro, responded. Maybe he ought to change his actual name, keep it on the downlow, as the kids were saying these days.
   "Well, His Majesty is in his office now and would like to say a few words to you, over." CAPCOM replied.
   "That would be an honour." The commander said, to which His Majesty would snap to attention. It was time. He looked over his notes, something about how important of an undertaking this was, congratulations about achieving this goal... He just needed a minute to breathe. His excitement was almost palpable, but he didn't want to show it too much.
   "Alright, go ahead, your Majesty." Yukawa said, now to him. Go time.

And then, he spoke.

   "Hello, Ebashi-san, Kitamori-san, Akiyama-san. I'm speaking to you from the Imperial Palace over in Shinkyō, and this has to certainly be among the most important calls an Emperor of Daitō has ever had the pleasure to make. I really cannot put into words just how proud we all are of this achievement you have made. For every Daitōjin citizen, this has to be the proudest day of our lives, and for those all around the world, I'm sure they join with us to recognize what an immense achievement this mission has proven— will prove to be. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become more open than ever before, for as the number of nations who make this voyage from Mundus to Luna, the more our future becomes possible. As you speak to us from Shackleton Crater, it helps us to redouble our efforts to keep mankind's presence beyond our world permanent, as well as to bring peace and tranquility to Mundus. For one moment in our long and storied history as a species, we are one in their pride in this accomplishment, and one in our prayers that you will return safely home."
   "Thank you, your Majesty. I believe I speak for all of us in saying that it is a great honour and privilege for us to be here representing not only our nation, but all the children of Mundus with the curiosity to seek out what's out there... the children of Mundus with a vision for the future where we go forth, united in purpose, not divided by race, sex, or creed." The commander responded.
   "And thank you, Commander, for the opportunity to speak. I and everyone back home look forwards to see you return safely home, and we will watch your time on the surface with great interest. May the Kami be at your back."

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Re: Stories of an Empire (Daitōjin Vignettes)
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2022, 01:24:06 AM »
Coming Home
Shinkyō
UTC 1530
October 19, 2019


It was a mild day in Shinkyō, one of the three pearls of the Rokkenjiman Sea. The day's temperatures were expected to get as high as twenty-one degrees, about average for this time of year, and the skies were partly obscured by clouds. All along the roads, the flags of the Empire, that rising sun with rays of blue, hung from lampposts and swayed gently in the wind on account of the recent victory over Skalvia. As the Imperial Motorcade passed through the once busy streets of the city, Eijiro, the Crown Prince of Daitō and heir to the throne, could see many people who had lined up for the chance, however brief, to see their future leader in person. It had been nearly three years since he had personally seen such a display, on account of having been in Lechia as part of his service with the IDAF. The medals pinned to his uniform spoke of deeds that, were he born three hundred years prior, would've been worthy of song. But for him, nothing mattered more than that he was home.

Sitting next to him was the Crown Princess-to-be, Mayumi Tachibana, with whom he had reunited on the day he had arrived back home. The two had spent much time together, and found themselves discussing the recent events in their lives, catching up, as it were. Which family members were sick, had a kid, became engaged, that sort of thing. At the end of the day, what mattered most was that they were together, finally. As the scenery changed from the busy streets to the traditionally-built Komoda ward, with the vibrant green hues of plants taking up more and more of the area, it was clear they were nearly at their destination.

Today was a big day, after all. Although his father was too ill to attend on account of having caught the seasonal flu from a servant, the Crown Prince and his partner were attending a small gala at the historic Clan Heishi villa, which had, prior to 1879, been the leader of the clan's biennial residence as part of the archaic practice of sankin-kōtai, and since then was best known as the primary residence of Chancellor Eiji Himekawa from 1899 until his death in 1937. Ever since then, it was a matter of tradition for the heads of the clan to live there, including the current leader and his great uncle, Sachio Himekawa, who was also their host. As for why this gala was being hosted, it was in Eijiro's honour, having returned but recently from the war.

As the motorcade came to a stop in front of the villa, an officer of the Imperial Guard would open the door for the Crown Prince, allowing for him and his bride-to-be to exit the vehicle. As they did this, the honour-guard, comprising members of the Imperial Guard in their resplendent dark blue uniforms, came to attention, presenting their arms as Eijiro emerged from the state car. The couple were immediately met by a senior Kannushi, or priest of the Teidō faith native to the empire, who would bow in reverence to him. After that, he would beckon the two to follow him, accompanied by members of the Imperial Family, notably the Captain of the Imperial Guard, the Crown Prince's valet and the future Crown Princess' ladies-in-waiting. As they walked through the cordon, the other guests, mostly members of the cabinet and other important people in the city, would also bow, as was protocol for such events.

As the entourage passed through the villa, they would cross a small stream via stepping stones, arranged so as to both allow passage across and to not disrupt the flow of water through the garden. Eventually, however, they would come to a shrine, not to a major kami like the goddess of the sun, but to a once mortal man. It was a shrine to the former chancellor, to Eiji Himekawa. Following his death, for his service to the nation, he was enshrined as a kami, in a similar manner to how his contemporary, Emperor Keiyo was, as well as the more ancient Sugawara no Michizane as the patron kami of learning, Tenjin. He would present a branch of evergreen in the ritual of Tamagushi, after which he would offer a prayer. With this important task done, the entourage would disperse, allowing Eijiro and Mayumi a moment of privacy, even if it was sure to be interrupted at any moment.

As Eijiro looked out upon those who had assembled here to celebrate his return, he couldn't help but feel disgusted. It troubled him how they acted, now that the war was over. Sure, festivities were inevitable, but after all that had happened, this should've been a solemn affair. But no, instead they treated this as though it were just another party held by a member of the elite, unaware of the cost of peace. Why would they care? They hadn't been in Lechia as it was under attack, they weren't in its capital as it was being shelled. No, they were probably holding another party, some even profiting off of the killing as an opportunity to line their pockets. He sighed.
   "I suppose that's just how it is." He muttered as he watched one group of people, a cup of sake in his hand.
   "How what is?" Mayumi asked, turning to look at Eijiro.
   "Just look at them. They celebrate my return, not an end to the bodies sent home to grieving families, not an 'end' to the killing, however fleeting that may be." The Crown Prince said, pointing to one of the groups. "For them, it isn't personal, the price of peace."
   "You said that strangely. Are you trying to say this isn't the end?"
   "...Yes, actually." Eijiro admitted, looking at Mayumi, his face indicating his concern. "I fear that this ceasefire, this no fly zone over Lechia... It won't end the war. It'll only be the catalyst for another."
   "Surely it can't be nearly that-"
   "It is... Which is why my father ordering a drawdown of our forces in the region feels like a mistake." He sighed before saying "If they attack now, then we risk the destruction of Lechia. We'd be seen as weak on the international stage, and there are already many who would seek to take advantage of that weakness."
   "Well, I'm sure your father has a plan in that event." Mayumi said, placing her arm around him. "And in time, so will you."
   "I'm just not sure I'm ready... To lead, I mean."
   "Maybe, but nobody asks to lead, they are called to. Or so my grandfather used to say." Mayumi responded before adding "He may have been quoting someone else though."
   "He was a wise man."
   "Indeed he was."

In time, day would turn to evening and then to night, and eventually, those who had assembled at the old villa would return home. A good day, even if the reason for gathering was questionable at best.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2022, 06:17:32 AM by Daitō »

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Re: Stories of an Empire (Daitōjin Vignettes)
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2022, 10:21:11 AM »
A night worth remembering
Imperial Palace, Tenkyō, Daitō
UTC 2030
July 14, 2022


Another feast had come, supposedly in honor of the Gion Matsuri festival, though almost everyone knew it was just an excuse for an audience with the Emperor and to gather in one place. Eijiro knew that of course, after all, he had been in the court practically his entire life, but even so, he felt that it shouldn't diminish the experience whatsoever. Truthfully, he could never quite get used to these sorts of affairs, at least, within his position as Emperor anyways. As a child, he had enjoyed it, having the chance to spend time with friends from all across the Empire, but now? Now it was always "Your Majesty" and constant formality, as though they saw him less as a human and more of a god, which in all fairness many practically did, or at least as semi-divine. In time, he was sure he would get used to it, after all, it was just a change in terminology and people being even more polite than before, but it was nonetheless strange.

As he sat at a his table, overlooking the great hall, he counted at least fifty others present, likely more but he couldn't see them at that point. "Why did I ever agree to this?", he thought, as he listened to the musicians play their songs and watched the show which their music accompanied. He took a sip of sake from his cup as he listened to a conversation with Lord Muneyori Tomoshige, a Kakushaku[1] under the Kazoku system and a shō san-mi[2] within the court. While only a formal title, he was a senior counselor within the court, so his presence was usually welcome, and certainly Eijiro had to admit he enjoyed speaking to him.
   "Its almost hard to believe, Heika. Nearly two years and we're already out of it." Muneyori said from across the ways; he was seated just across from Eijiro, off to the right by a bit.
   "I only hope it was the right move, but if the people wanted it, then that's what we have to do." Eijiro replied; he admittedly wasn't too bothered by Daitō leaving the CSTO, but even so he was still cautious about what should be done.
   "The people?" Muneyori asked, an eyebrow raised. "The people, while important, don't drive the engine of the state. Besides, we all know you've grown disillusioned by the alliance, given that business last month."
With a sigh, Eijiro said "I suppose you're right, that did rub me the wrong way, so to speak." as he continued to watch the show, the fire from one of the braziers outside reflecting in his eyes. "But even so, lets be clear, the Empire-"
   "'the Empire cannot remained shackled to a corpse.' Yes, I know. Lord Tachibana said as much a few weeks back, when we had the chance to get together." Muneyori said, stretching his arms for a moment. "You're lucky to call him family, y'know."
   "In law, yes, but I suppose you're right." Eijiro admitted; yes, Eikichi spent his days as a painter, but he was certainly no slouch when it came to politics, having formerly served as State Minister of Foreign Affairs prior to his retirement. "He is certainly a wise man."
   "Aye. That he is." Muneyori said as he looked around the room. Someone was approaching, a servant or perhaps a lady-in-waiting, he could see that much, but for what he wasn't sure. Probably just to bring more drinks, if he were to guess. "Come to think of it, Heika, I haven't seen Her Majesty for a while. You have any idea what-" He said before cutting himself off as the servant spoke to the Emperor, her words hard for him to to hear simply due to the distance and the noise around himself.

   "What is it?" Eijiro asked the servant who had bowed to him, turning to look at her with a gentle smile. He may have been her superior, but that didn't mean he had to be harsh. A servant would take to their job better when given respect than when treated poorly, after all.
   "I wish to report that Her Majesty requests your presence, Heika." She said, looking up, though she dared not make eye-contact as it was still deemed disrespectful.
   "Where is she, come to think of it?" Asked Eijiro before adding "Actually... Let me guess, the Oikeniwa[3]?", knowing well it was her favorite place within the grounds.
   "Yes, Heika." The servant replied. "I humbly request that your Lordship follows."
   "Very well, thank you, Yuriko." Eijiro said before turning back to Muneyori. "My apologies, Muneyori-san, but I fear we will have to finish this conversation later."
   "That's fine, take as much time as you need." Muneyori said before continuing another conversation with someone else.

Eijiro then stood from his table before following the lady-in-waiting, first leaving the great hall before walking north then east towards the garden; the moon hung on the horizon, appearing full and brightening the sky as fireflies danced in the air. Truly a most wondrous sight, that much he certainly couldn't deny. As the two walked, they occasionally passed a few guests or servants; it mattered little, for whether rich or poor they bowed in reverence for the Emperor. Up some steps and a dozen more meters to go, they were close. Eventually, he reached the garden, the servant waiting by the palace walls as he continued his approach. There she stood, looking out on the reflecting pool, her vibrantly-coloured jūnihitoe standing in sharp contrast to the darkness around them.
   "Mayumi?" Eijiro asked gently as he approached the bridge, passing by a wooden lamp. "I... Your presence is sorely missed." He said to no response. Something seemed off about her, though why, he wasn't certain, though it was something he would nonetheless try to figure out. He stepped closer, placing his arm around her shoulder before asking "Is something wrong?"
   "No, Eiji." Mayumi said with a smile; there was certainly nothing wrong, on the contrary. "Nothing's wrong, it's just..." She hesitated with a laugh, albeit subdued. Indeed, she seemed as though she were positively beaming with joy.
   "It's just?" Eijiro said, his expression soft yet indicating, in his own way, his curiosity as to what she had to say. He felt as though perhaps he could just about grasp an inkling of what was on her mind, but only just.
   "I... I'm pregnant."  Mayumi said with a wide grin, her joy palpable within her voice. But for Eijiro, for the Emperor, everything seemed to stop.
He felt as though a wave of emotions submerged him, like the shore at high tide; he felt confusion, worry, but most importantly, joy. He couldn't quite get the words out, his heart seemed to race faster than the swiftest steed as he tried to process what she had said. Was this some sort of prank? No, it couldn't be, he thought, there was no way.
   "A-are you sure?" He asked, his voice shaken even as he struggled to contain a smile. A simple nod was the only reply, but that was all he needed. He ran his hands through his hair as he thought of what more to say, but what could he say? He was simply at a loss for words, he was going to be a father after all, with all of the worries that came with it. Eijiro pondered, although only for a moment, his own father, how he had 'raised' him and how he wished not to be like him. He couldn't bear the thought. Never. Instead, the two embraced in the light of the moon, sharing a tender kiss as they prepared to face this, a new chapter in their lives, together.

Tonight was to be a night they would cherish forever.

 1. "Kakushaku" translates roughly as Count in English
 2. 正三位, Senior Third Rank
 3. 御池庭, Lit. "Honourable Pool Garden"

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Re: Stories of an Empire (Daitōjin Vignettes)
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2022, 11:42:30 PM »
The Transition
Imperial Palace, Tenkyō, Daitō
UTC 1300
August 28, 2020


Silence filled the air as Eijiro, son of Emperor Antei, sat upon the Takamikura throne in the Shishin-den hall of the Imperial Palace in Tenkyō. It had been two month since his father, the Emperor, had formally abdicated the throne, with the period between then and now being one of transition, when one era gave way to another. He had time to reflect on the years passed, on his father's reign and on those who came before. He was not the first Emperor, he knew that well, and he was determined not to be the last. Rather, he had high hopes for his reign, for it to be as though a second Keiyo era had dawned, a time of rejuvenation for Yamato of old. He looked down at his shaku for a moment, that ivory sceptre that made up part of his sokutai dress, and thought of those close to him. Of Mayumi, his bride to be, of his siblings, of the Imperial Family, of his dear friend, Count Tomoshige; they had been there for him for as long as he could remember, and as the Tenshi era began, he knew he would need their counsel, perhaps not politically, but rather as people he may confide in as need be.

He glanced around at the three sacred treasures, pondering the meaning of each of them, of the virtues he would need to possess as sovereign. Of the Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, the Heavenly Sword of Gathering Clouds, he knew it represented valour, both in the field and in his leadership. He would be called upon to serve the Empire with great valour when the time may come that he had to defend this ancient land. Of the mirror Yata-no-Kagami, the wisdom to lead the Empire well in daily life, as a symbol of the state and a guide unto his people. And of the Yasakani-no-Magatama beads, which represented benevolence; a ruler who loved his subjects as his own children was one who the people would follow even into death. Sure, he knew he could live up to these three simple things, but as Emperor there was much that would be expected of him. Would he truly be able to live up to the expectations the world had for him and even surpass them, or would he be doomed to be a footnote in history at best and an outright failure at worst?

A gong rung out, and thus he knew that it was time.

As servants dressed in black sokutai furled the curtain which separated him from the outside world, he was certain to hide how he felt from those beyond the veil. He gazed out from the hall, out upon banners and a thousand soldiers, dressed in the traditional garb of the imperial guard, dating back to the Heijō period of old. He then watched as the Prime Minister, one Yoshihiko Koshida, approached the throne and bowed. A servant stepped forward along the throne, turned to Eijiro, then bowed for five seconds. He then stepped inwards and with great care, he took from him the shaku before walking away. The process repeated itself, with another servant bringing him a sheet of paper, folded seven times, which contained the speech which he was to deliver. He took the paper, his eyes forwards, then nodded as the servant bowed. Once the servant had cleared the throne, Eijiro would unfold the paper and at once he began to speak.
   "Having previously succeeded to the imperial throne in accordance with the Constitution of the Empire of Daitō and the Special Measures Provision of the Imperial House Law, I now perform the ceremony of enthronement at the Shishin-den Hall and proclaim my enthronement to those at home and abroad." He spoke in a calm, collected manner, full of poise in how he carried himself. Everyone else was silent, almost deafeningly so; it even seemed as though the natural world had gone quiet, paying homage to the new Emperor. "I deeply reflect that, for more than thirty years, His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor-Emeritus constantly prayed for the happiness of the people and for peace across the world, always sharing in the joys and sorrows of the people, and showing compassion throughout his rule. I pledge hereby to act in accordance with the powers vested in me by the constitution and the divine as leader of the Empire and as heir to the legacy of Yamato of old, always wishing for the happiness of the people and peace around the world, turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them." He continued as he reached the final part of his statement; he couldn't help but smile a bit, even with how nervous he was. It was a day he knew was coming since as long as he could remember, and now that it was happening, he felt as though a huge burden had been lifted from his shoulders. "I sincerely hope, as we enter this new era, that our country, through our people's wisdom and unceasing efforts, achieves further development and contributes to the friendship and peace of the international community and the welfare and prosperity of mankind."

With this complete, the servant returned, taking the paper and handing him back the shaku then leaving the throne once again. Then, the Prime Minister stepped forwards and bowed, before he too spoke, delivering a statement acknowledging his accession to the throne.
   "I have respectfully conveyed, internally and externally, the enthronement of His Imperial Majesty and Emperor on this day and place. It is a great pleasure for the people that the Emperor has held the ceremony of accession to the Imperial throne at the state hall of the Imperial Palace to promulgate his enthronement worldwide. I respect His Imperial Majesty more that he will learn from the example of his predecessor, the Emperor Emeritus, who has shared the joys and sufferings of the Daitōjin people, and that he will follow in his father's footsteps in acting in accordance with the constitution, to lead the Empire and its people. I acknowledge your pledge to ensure that Daitō grows and develops, that it contributes to peace and friendship in the world, and the welfare and prosperity of mankind. The people shall look up to His Imperial Majesty as a symbol and leader of the state and of the country's unity, and I pledge on behalf of the people to achieve a fresh start for Daitō so that it may be more open to the world, more energetic, and more cultured. The Daitōjin people shall strive for peace in the world, and for the welfare of mankind. I shall end my words of congratulation by praying for peace in the Tenshi era and for the wellbeing of the Emperor."

The Prime Minister then bowed before taking three steps backwards and bowing once more, more deeply than the first. He then raised his voice, saying with great vigor,
   "I request those in attendance to face forwards." before, with a power and respect befitting the importance of the ceremony, shouting "Tennōheika Banzai!", the last part thrice, leading those assembled, many in number, in that chant. So loud and numerous it was that perhaps Amaterasu-Ōmikami, the goddess of the Sun, would've heard it and that Ryūjin, dragon god of the seas, would've been startled by its power.

At long last, the new era had dawned.
« Last Edit: Today at 06:06:49 AM by Daitō »