“Jessie, there’s a senior officer at the door in a dress although he is a man. I do not know him. He wants to talk with you.”
Elder groaned He had been through a hard day at Base Operations. It seemed the closer the BALKANS got to being ready to patrol,, the more the Base and / or the crew wanted to find something wrong Almost as if no one wanted the BALANS to ship out. Old hands said this was normal.
“Is he in uniform?”
“No, but he’s obviously a senior officer.”
“Did he give his name?”
“Just his surname, Mizutani.”
“Mizutani? Oh God! My new Captain!”
Panic-stricken, Elder wondered about his uniform – he had taken most of it off when he got home and only wore his trousers now. However, some part of him remembered he was off duty and his uniform could be in pieces while at home. He went to the door. There was a short man, almost as short as Elder, but much more handsome. It took Elder a moment to realize that he was not wearing a dress but a kimono That drove any remaining sense from Elder’s mind.
“Please, we’re off duty and I’m here unofficially. I do not take command of the BALKANS until next week. May I come in?”
“Certainly sir, uh, I mean certainly Mr. Mizutani, uh Captain Mizutani.”
“You know, I was probably just as panic-stricken the first time I met my Captain unofficially. And that was, oh, maybe forty years ago.” Captain Mizutani laughed a laugh completely out of sync with his appearance. He was small but his laugh was full and roaring.
Elder moved out of his way as the Captain entered his home. Constance was already bringing refreshments to the living room
“Junior officers’ quarters aren’t much, at least compared to commanding officers’ quarters but you’re done well here. Thank you Mrs. Elder, I am surprised you have sake available. Most people not brought up in a Japanese-style culture would not have it available. Nor would they serve it at the right temperature.” He made this last comment after he took a sip. “I am glad of your welcome.”
“Sit down Captain and relax. I’m not sure why you’re here but you are welcome.” Elder blanched inwardly, that sounded far too impolite to his ears.
“Thank you. I am making my rounds, meeting as many of my officers before I take command of the BALKANS as I can. Naturally I cannot spend hours meeting everyone while on duty, so I am trying to meet as many as I can off duty and before I take command. I like to have a ‘feel’ as it were for any names mentioned to me In addition, I am now in a position, or will be when I take command, that any recommendations I make about people will be Battalion, Company and Platoon commanders and staff as well So, give me the short description of Graduated Cadet Elder, I’ve already read your file so don’t duplicate what’s in there.”
So Elder spent an hour covering his youth and experiences in the Navy up to now, his goals and dreams, his desires, his hobbies and his loves. Captain Hideaki Benjiro Joji Akihto Dai Mizutani listened with extreme attention Elder could barely see him breathe, although he did drink quite a bit of sake.
:interesting life young man. Mrs. Elder, I presume you have had just as much fun in your life.” Fun? Elder thought very little of his youth was fun. Captain Mizutani turned his attention to Constance “However, since you aren’t part of the crew, except as you affect your husband, I need not go into that. I appreciate your respect for my cultural background and most surely, I enjoy your decorating taste, at least what I see here and saw in your landscaping outside. If you are smart young man,” here he returned his attention to Elder, “you’ll do some research on me. You might find it fascinating I think I can trump your murder charge from the Academy. However, I have many people yet to see and I must dash. Do not consider this a reflection on your wonderful hospitality.”
Captain Mizutani rose from his chair, bowed slightly to the couple and began to leave. Constance quickly rose and went to the door for him. Elder sat and thought about what had just happened. When Constance returned, he had a small cup of sake in his hand, just holding it.
“Why so pensive Jessie?”
Downing his sake, Elder said, “Rice beer Not bad really I did not want to try it while he was here, that might look like I was seeking favor. Tell me Connie, most of the people on Krasgia are of European stock, right?” At her nor he continued. “Ever see anyone wearing doublets and hose? Outside of a play I mean.” Constance thought for a second and then shook her head “Right. In addition, folks whose ancestors were from North America do not wear cowboy hats and spurs either. So, why the kimono? Completely contrary to the fashion presently current throughout the Empire. What message was he giving me?”
Elder quickly rose and went to the data terminal Using his official password, he quickly reached the file of Captain Mizutani. Constance stayed away while he was going through the official files. Elder carefully read what was in the file, and then using a password ha had accidently acquired, he got into the personal files as well
Once he was done, and the terminal was shut down, he almost cussed in front of his wife Catching himself, he merely said, “What a mess.”
“What do you mean Jessie?”
“Captain Mizutani is from Nihon. There are a few planets that act differently from the rest of the Empire, Sharnalt for example with their swords and Concar with their genetic engineering Nihon makes them look tame. When the Federation was formed centuries ago, the Emperor of Japan resented the loss of his position, As did many of the Japanese of Granted, the Emperor of Japan had not had much power for decades, or for most of Japanese history, but he was a symbol. Therefore, they fled and founded a Japanese colony. Once the Empire found them, a hundred and fifty years ago, they had a real traditional society going strong. Since the Empire forced them into it, they have always kept apart. Well, not apart really, but never really part of the Empire socially Thus, the kimono. I am a bit surprised he was not wearing the traditional two swords of a samurai. Although, since the Empire forces everyone to take the Academy entrance exam, maybe he is of the wrong birth rank to do so. This, again, is contrary to Imperial society Yet another difference between Nihon and standard Imperial society is that all the local people from the Duchy use only Japanese-culture names. No one who is not ethnic Japanese and wants to settle there can feel welcome although that really is not legal either. That is something that I am surprised that the Emperor lets happen Nihon has sent out several colonies and all follow the same pattern of Nihon. Even the colonies parsec away look back to Nihon for guidance in many ways.”
“So, what does this mean?”
“I’m not sure. I am going to have to start looking up people who have served under hi and see. I might have to learn to wear a kimono and fight with swords. Wait a second! He said the Marine regiment was being replaced! I wonder if he’s bringing a regiment that is to his liking” Turning back to the terminal, he soon had the orders for the transfer of the Marines, and the history of the new regiment “Previous station, Nihon, My new Captain has some pull to bring them from there to his command. I doubt this is a coincidence”
“Is this normal Jessie?”
“Probably. Remember that Captain Quinn specifically asked for me because his great-nephew recommended me based upon our experiences during the entrance exam. From other people’s comments, I gather that a certain amount of such favoritism is normal. Nevertheless, on this scale! Half of Captain Quinn’s family is in the Navy, I might expect it from him. Captain Mizutani must have a lot of friends in high places or something”