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23 December 2009 @ 05:12 am
Log: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments]  
Location: A Sakusenjo Estate, Japan
Characters: Zaiden Mallory and Kisho Sakusenjo
Purpose: The first meeting of the two characters; Kisho to decide if she wishes to recruit Zaiden to assist her towards her ends.



The courtyard within the Japanese estate was spacious, its layout making it impossible to see clearly across the expanse. It was populated by a minimalistic collection of stones and vegetation, but the trees and rocks had been positioned in a manner that shielded some areas of the garden from the others. Zaiden entered through the north-facing doorway, emerging into the pale sunlight and looking around. It was dreadfully early in the morning, but Zaiden was a punctual man, and had agreed to schedule the meeting at an early hour out of the belief that it would be his host's preference.

Zaiden had been instructed to wait in the courtyard. He spent a few minutes wandering up and down the pebbled paths traversing the area, the sound of water rippling gently over stone audible the entire time. Zaiden attempted to track the source of the sound, but was unable to locate any sort of man-made stream, somewhat to his frustration. He ended up returning to the northward entrance – there were openings onto the courtyard from all four of its sides – and seating himself on a spare stone bench surely placed there for the exact purpose of providing a resting place for guests.

As wonderful as the surroundings were, and as lavish as his personal accommodations at his hotel seemed to be, and as much as Zaiden did enjoy doing business on his father's dollar, the situation wasn't entirely to Zaiden's liking. He hated being relegated to the position of glorified messenger boy. And yet being assigned this job, this task, was in some ways proof that Alexander Mallory trusted his son enough to allow Zaiden to make diplomatic arrangements on his behalf.

The problem was, Zaiden hadn't brushed up on current events in the area of Japanese-American relations during his recent political studies.

Zaiden was a voracious reader, however, and frequently took almost obsessive interest in studying some topic or another. He had investigated Japan to a degree. He remembered something about how social interaction was a delicate balancing act designed to protect the honor of all involved, actions and words veiled in polite demurring when a level of intimacy was not yet established. He had therefore made a point of arriving just slightly earlier than he had agreed to, hoping the gesture would be interpreted as a nod of respect to his host, indicating that he was willing to wait peacefully for the other man's time.

And so when a certain Sakusenjo-san approached, Zaiden rose smoothly from his seat to greet the other man. His father had given him so little advanced warning about this potential piece of real world experience that Zaiden had been left with almost no time to investigate the political climate as it was. It turned out that a large portion of the information he wanted to know about was highly classified, the option of having his contacts work on teasing it free impossible with the time constraints. Zaiden could only deduce that there was something going on in Japan that the United States was not meant to know about at the present time. There was slight bristling between the countries, and this meeting was one of many small attempts to smooth down any ruffled feathers. As a result Zaiden would be cautious, not revealing his knowledge of the few details he had gathered.

"Sakusenjo-san," he said. The honorific felt as strange on his tongue as it had in his head, Zaiden not being used to the nuances of such things seeing as he was a foreigner. Nevertheless, it had felt like the most prudent greeting. "Thank you for having me here. Your garden is lovely."

Zaiden was calm, controlled, but he had the feeling that they were not alone.
 
 
 
perpetualchkmte on January 20th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments (VI)]
“Honesty my arse, you’re politicians for cryin’ out loud!”

A rather animated yet one-sided conversation was unfolding in the back room, comprised of the supercomputer and the not-so-honest daughter of the Sakusenjo diplomats. Kisho was continually brushing aside a longer bang, which she was beginning to contemplate cutting off. Not much— at least nothing interesting— had happened between Uncle Yamoto and the Mallory kid.

Not yet.

She was listening to Zaiden go on about this “political discourse” and she scoffed. Kid’s got a point, though. He understands masking and unmasking truths, at least. Kisho made mental note of that. It could potentially be a very strong asset of this young man, but could also be the tear that caused her carefully woven tapestry to dissolve.

“Is not reputation that makes politicians, politicians? Those with honesty do not become successful?”

Kisho found her Uncle’s question interesting. She noticed his grammatical mistakes, particularly with his lack of demonstrative and direct object pronouns, but that the Mallory kid would still be able to comprehend. Both Sakusenjos knew that his response would be a definition that would determine how Japan would handle the American public.

“Is a frightening thought.” Yamoto-san replied, sitting up straighter.

“Terribly frightening,” Kisho told herself. “An honest politician is an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.”

Zaiden continued on a roll, talking about fear. Fear is a powerful thing, Kisho had to agree. But how can you be honest when fear bars you back? Honesty is disregarded when the mind is in danger.

“Negotiations are the reason, yes. Japan and America must both open to change and teamwork. To be honest, trust. Trust is made in small steps.”

Economic bolsters were the items mainly on Yamoto-san’s mind. Exports, imports, free trade... that meant money. Every country liked money. Military aid from Japan would be practically nonexistent, and no other particular issue seemed to be at the forefront of America’s agenda. If Japan helped America make money, America would likely do the same. It was purely business there, but nevertheless was an effective start.

“Trust between honest politicians. Ha, that’s a laugh.” Kisho reclined again in her chair, glad to finally be getting to the meat of the conversation.
Zaiden Malloryunluckycharisma on January 20th, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments (I ate your numbers)]
"A good reputation makes a politician, yes," Zaiden agreed. He didn't even have to think on that one, because his beliefs were very well laid out on the subject. Or at least, they were in his head. "But dishonesty is the exact thing that often destroys those same politicians. Trying to hide one's deviance, lying about who you're not sleeping with and lying about where you're not spending money... Once your dirty secrets are unearthed, that pretty reputation, that reputation your career depends on, it's tarnished beyond repair."

Another unsolicited spewing of personal opinion. But it was relevant, and therefore mostly justified.

He wasn't saying politicians should be honest to the point of foolishness. It was merely a skill, to know when to politely obfuscate and when to state the facts as they were.

Zaiden didn't comment on that "frightening thought." There was nothing else to be said.

"Small steps," he echoed, after a short pause. His little smile then was only part artifice. "Here is another question – which is more important, change or teamwork?"

It was historically true that both of their countries could be resistant towards change. It could be forced on them, yes, but why change things when, on the surface, they did not even appear to be broken? He did believe that teamwork was possible without vast changes. Vast changes the American public would not easily accept. Cattle they might be, in some regards, but that also meant they trampled things disastrously when spooked.

Zaiden didn't actually think one was more important than the other. He just wanted to know what Yamoto-san's reaction would be. His personal opinion was that such changes to the country's workings had to be integrated delicately, for the American public often didn't know what was good for it. Beyond the facade of teamwork and progress, behind the propaganda that would surely surface, true change could be spoon-fed to the people in measured mouthfuls.
perpetualchkmte on January 22nd, 2010 01:10 am (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments (VIII, I noticed)
“People will do anything for their reputation,” Kisho said to herself, rubbing the body of her black chess queen between her thumb and index finger. That even includes myself, to an extent...

Kisho cut the introspection short and cracked a cynical smile. “Admirable ideas. You make valid point— to the extent that you’ve probably experienced this first hand...”

Yamoto-san slowly nodded, trying to comprehend the superfluous additions to Zaiden’s rather straightforward message. Obviously the American actually valued honesty and wasn’t just spewing fluff to be politically correct. This the Sakusenjo realized when he was asked yet another good question.

“Others say change,” Yamoto-san replied. “I am here for teamwork. Teamwork will make all change we need.”

Kisho had been listening to only the audio for a bit, reclining again with her eyes shut, when her uncle gave his response.

T-t-teamwork!?” A-are you...!?”

While it was her family that she was dealing with, Kisho had been raised to form and defend her own opinions.

“You... you... Yamoto-san! How could you!?”

Kisho spun around halfway, her back now to the screen. The voices of the two became fuzzy in her mind as she clawed at her scalp.

“Dear God, this useless jabber!” Kisho leapt up from the chair and pressed her hand forcefully against the opposing wall. With a rather frustrated grumble, she felt around for a handle. Grasping it, Kisho threw the makeshift door open. What appeared to be a bookcase in a rather small and simple room—her room— was shoved tightly back into its place after she paced through. She made her way over to a set of sliding double-doors, still on her rant.

“And now, talking to a country about ‘world peace’ and ‘teamwork’ who has wanted to rip our guts out over...”

Kisho rested her head on the door of her closet and muttered. Her speech was in Japanese, but was laced with curse words and other derogatory things in English. She flung the panels aside and violently combed through the hangers.

“... Over a little scuttle with Britain.”

Kisho yanked out a red knee-length skirt, pleated like a schoolgirl’s uniform would be. She tossed it on a tatami mat that served as her bed, and went straight to her chest of drawers. Hidden in the pocket of a perfectly folded and awfully buried dress shirt were a lipstick case and a small red headband. Emergencies only, she told herself, absolutely hating the moments when she had to use them.

She fluffed her dark bangs after setting the hair band in place, and ruffled her skirt after she’d put the lipstick on. She smiled at her reflection. Paired with her height and overall small build, Kisho felt like she was a twelve-year-old trying to be seventeen. She hated the skirt she’d put on now, hated this whole idea of looking like a little lady and being cute and keeping her mouth shut—but it was effective.

Americans are suckers for cute.
Zaiden Mallory: Intriguedunluckycharisma on February 1st, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments (LJ has its own numbers)
Yamoto-san's answer was more or less what Zaiden had expected to hear. He could tell by that point that Yamoto-san did not share his love for euphemism and metaphor. The man's speech was simple, direct, although that might be in part his limited command of the English language. And a simple, direct message could be easy to respond to – or it could be very, very difficult.

Zaiden didn't feel this was a latter case. It sounded as if they had, in fact, made some sort of progress.

"I agree," he said crisply, keeping his reservations to himself. He remembered enough from his studies to know that the Japanese were classified as a collectivist culture. As a whole, the people were willing to put the needs of the many before the needs of the few. Socially, at least. It was a good mindset for teamwork. He only wished the American viewpoint was similarly compatible.

"The important question now," he continued. "Is what effort we should put our combined resources towards."

As forward as he had been, up to that point, he had no desire to put himself out there with this. It was bolstering to the economy that America needed, a market the Japanese had cornered. Zaiden could see the exchange, a historical trade. Economic assistance for military protection. The difficult part was pitching it to the people. Hell, even pitching it to the politicians, the lawmakers or negotiators, would be a sizable struggle.

"What is worth the benefit of our teamwork?"
perpetualchkmte on February 16th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments X] (It's for my organization)
Miss Sakusenjo had been wondering what the best way to deal with the American was. His personality when it came to politics was already evident. But she needed to figure out what made him tick—and without any direct way to butt into the conversation, doing so was difficult.

She had to poke and prod. But if she pushed him the wrong way, Kisho had to make sure that she’d be protected. She couldn’t rely on her status as a Sakusenjo to protect her entirely— later in the game; even her family could switch over and become her opposition.

Kisho told her maid Kazuko that this was an important meeting and she needed to stay out of the way, but she doubted the twelve-year-old would fully understand. Kisho personally only kept her around because she was Aiko’s daughter, and Aiko was an invaluable family secretary. Ninety-five percent of the time Kazuko was incredibly annoying and just got in the way, but the other five percent of the time...

Well, Kisho had plans for her.

That afternoon, the black queen would masquerade as a white... well, Kisho didn’t know just what. Pawn, probably. Letting me borrow her identity and trash her at chess is about all Kazuko is good for.

Kisho flew silently through the hallways, hoping to not been seen. Rather awkward situation that’d be... Kisho thought, shuddering at the impression she must be giving off. She managed to slip through the kitchen and throw on Kazuko’s favorite frilly apron, wincing as she attempted to tie it behind her back. My error, Kazuko is good for tying knots and picking out ridiculous fashions as well...

A tray of European biscuits was the closest thing to an “American” tea meal that the chef could think of, which now rested on the unsteady hand of Miss Sakusenjo. God, now I know why the help can be so cranky, if this is what they do all the time... Kisho lightly trotted down the hallway, poking her head into the tearoom that she’d expected her uncle and the man to be sitting in.

Showtime.

Kisho walked into the room quietly, an action Kazuko had yet to master. As she approached her Uncle and the American, she bit her tongue. They were discussing how America should treat Japan— an issue Kisho took a strong stand on.

The young woman hovered at the side of the table, feeling absolutely ridiculous. The tea set was already out and unfortunately in her way. Awkwardly she stood, listening to her Uncle’s proposition.

“Two options we can take, to benefit America and Japan or help others. Maybe not being personal is way to make progress?”

“Er-ah, um...” Kisho tried to pitch her voice up a bit, and pick up Kazuko’s mannerisms. She figured her Uncle might see through her disguise, but she had a plan for that.

“W-where should I put these, Master...sir?”
Her Uncle was getting old- half blind maybe, and his hearing was starting to go. If she was careful...
Zaiden Mallory: Pleasedunluckycharisma on February 28th, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments X] (It's for my organization)
Zaiden was waiting for an answer from Yamoto-san, and he did know how to be patient. But even before the man chose to speak, a young girl entered the room. She was quiet, and it had been possible for Zaiden to ignore her completely. He had to take a moment to assess her dress, though, gaze flicking towards her even as he attempted to appear as if his attention was still riveted on Yamoto-san.

Was this what servants wore in this household?

The girl looked an awful lot like she was trying to be fashionable, but also only managing to underline her estimated low age. Zaiden wasn't sure how low exactly; it wasn't quite the make-up that confused him. In fact, he wasn't certain what was wrong with the picture, and his mind stopped for a moment to think it over. Yamoto-san was giving him some time. But he supposed he could debate the oddity later.

Zaiden opened his mouth, even though he didn't have an answer on the tip of his tongue this time. He was stopped by the assumed servant-girl speaking up. His parents were not big fans of servants, but Zaiden was used to them, and had thought in Japan a person such as this would not interrupt an important discussion in this way. Couldn't she have waited for the answer to the not-quite-question before trying to offer them snacks? Or was she actually trying not to listen to the conversation. Zaiden was used to servants, but he was rather used to nosy servants.

"Perhaps we should let her," he suggested, tone perfectly bland. It kept him from having to choose an option just yet, at the very least. From talking with Yamoto-san, Zaiden might suspect the man to wish to "help others." But Zaiden was enough of a national to want to help his own country first... And he also didn't want to reduce what esteem he had in Yamoto-san's eyes.

This time, he would do the politico waxing poetic if he could, finding some not-answer that would encompass Yamoto-san's desires while also attaining what Zaiden wanted for his country.
perpetualchkmte on March 27th, 2010 11:51 am (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments XII]
Kisho noticed the American looking her over for a moment. His expression didn’t state anything directly to her, but he turned back to Yamoto-san without asking any questions. He looked me over, at least. He’s acknowledged I’m here, which is a positive point. I just have to stay long enough to figure out what will spark a controversy between my Uncle’s opinion and my own. Can I sway him to my side?

“Kazuko” bit her lip and nodded eagerly, trying to be as willing a servant girl as her pride would allow. Kisho mentally was cursing herself for this. She wanted to be in and out as quickly as possible, and she wasn’t getting an open window. Zaiden didn’t seem to approve of her (though he didn’t seem to disapprove yet either), but she couldn’t tarnish Kazuko’s reputation too much. Kisho liked to have masquerade options when she could.

“I like to help!” Kisho replied, setting the tray down. It was at that point that she slapped her hand over her mouth and put on her best face of surprise, which quickly blurred into a head hanging in shame. “Ah, um, gomen nasai, Yamoto-sama...” Kisho-as-Kazuko replied, bowing as far as she possibly could while wearing the skirt. Kazuko’s English wasn’t as good as Kisho’s was, Kisho knew, so she’d be limited in her vocabulary options. She settled on a formal apology in only slightly formal Japanese, which Kisho knew was a mistake Kazuko frequently made. “My lessons have been about diplomacy lately, and I think it is so cool that it is happening in my own house! I know this may not be okay, but could I stay and watch? I find this amazing!” Kisho felt like she was going to be sick on the inside, the way she was sugarcoating things. But it had to be done. She couldn’t show opposition as herself, not yet. But she had to make sure the agreement left her room to maneuver in the future.

The tipping point here would be whether her uncle would allow her to stay and comment. He, of course, would wait for an agreement from his guest before doing so. Yamoto-san liked to have a well-educated staff, and what way to learn was more effective than by doing? Even an American had to acknowledge that...
Zaiden Mallory: Suspiciousunluckycharisma on March 30th, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments XII]
Yamoto-san did not object to letting "Kazuko" serve them, so indeed Zaiden was allowed time without answering a question he found just the slightest bit loaded. He was a little bit surprised to hear the servant girl addressing them in English; he did know that Japanese schools taught the language, but servant girls often weren't supposed to speak, period. Let alone in a second language. As she continued, Zaiden quickly found her enthusiasm to be grating. He was prone to suspicion on a good day, and immediately wondered why a servant girl would be so excited about observing this sort of thing.

She said she found diplomacy amazing, but Zaiden thought maybe someone else wanted her in the room for another reason entirely.

Yamoto-san didn't say anything at all, and Zaiden wondered if perhaps she was asking him. "Whether or not you could stay and watch?" he echoed, the neutral musing a confirmation of her intent and a chance for Yamoto-san to give his opinion on her presence. But if Zaiden was being asked, of course the decision would be left completely to him, with no influence from his host.

"In my opinion, it depends," he said, affecting a bored air. "Do you believe your studies sufficient background to allow you to participate in this event? And do you think you could restrain yourself from blurting anything else out out of turn?" He paused a moment. "I don't really believe in passive observers. If you're in the room, you're part of things, in at least some sense, and I hope we would both like--" He glanced over at Yamoto-san for a moment. "—everyone involved to contribute instead of taking away."

It was an awful lot, but he was still supposed to be the brash American, and he was hoping this way he could figure out her real reason for wanting to observe.
perpetualchkmte on June 26th, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Opening Moves [Diplomatic Developments XII]
"Oh, thank you so much sir, I-" Kisho-as-Kazuko began to lean towards him, in an attempted hug, but caught herself. Not only would that be rude on so many levels, it was starting to make Kisho sick. There was a horrible taste in her mouth, not all that different from the copper of old-time Soris. Miss Sakusenjo had a feeling she'd actually throw up if she had to be so sickly sweet for too long.

She placed a hand over her mouth, and paused for a moment to swallow. As she did this, she stepped backwards, an indication that she respected Zaiden's space. She tried to pass it off as an instance in which she realized a mistake, while she was really buying herself a moment.

Kisho promptly gave the most formal apology she could muster, bowing so low that she almost fell over. As her hair hung in her face, she practically started to cry. These American idiots! They've done nothing but cause myself and my family trouble. Unforgivable heathens! Never, never in my life, will I ever bow to an American...

"Errrrr..." Kisho began, pretending that she had difficulty getting the right words out in English. The sooner Kisho was out of here, the better for her well-being, but she needed to test this Zaiden character. Doing it as herself may have been a better option, she now decided, but if her opinions didn't sit well with him Miss Sakusenjo would have regretted it greatly.

"No. I am sorry... speaking out of turn is not good. Forgive me." She bowed again, deciding to scurry out of the room as quickly as possible. It was evident that Zaiden did not like "Kazuko's" demeanor. Kisho would watch him for a bit, she decided, and then make a decision from there.

Yamoto-san nodded his head deeply in the direction of the American. "Not usually does she behave that way," he replied, still looking at the doorway from which the girl had exited. "Politics to her is not very interesting."

Despite the skepticism, Kisho had not been identified. That was the object of this move.