Ina stepped out into the garden of the Tokugawa stronghold in which she had been stationed. The daughter of the legendary Honda Tadakatsu took a deep breath and took in the delicious spring air. Although she was the definitive warrior princess striving to live up to her father's example, Ina relished quiet time, when the sounds of steel and rifles and cavalry clashing seemed like a distant memory.
She surveyed the garden and took in the beauty of the environment. Whomever it was that maintained the garden certainly had a keen eye for aesthetics, having selected only the most striking of flowers and distributed them into perfect arrangements throughout the garden. In particular, Ina noticed a beautiful patch of large pink flowers, possibly a type of rose, a few feet from where she now stood.
She was standing over them in mere seconds, gently pushing a few of the flowers aside to clear herself a space to sit without trampling the now legendary gardener's work, Ina assumed a seiza position amidst the beautiful plants. Taking one tenderly by the bulb, Ina caught a whiff of the fragrance the silken pinkness exuded. Rarely had such a soft and inviting scent tickled her nostrils.
Her mind was soon filled with visions of her marriage to Sanada Nobuyuki; of how he had smiled more warmly and invitingly than anyone had ever smiled before, how he had embraced her and held her close, and how his proclamation of love had caressed her ears so gently.
Ina returned to the present as a large, dark shadow spread from behind her, tinting the flowers in an ominous black. Before she could move a muscle in response, a massive metallic hand slowly moved from just outside her field of vision to the left, each outstretched mail-coated digit almost as thick as the archeress' wrists and the palm they extended from as wide as her entire skull.
The hand slowly moved past Ina, who sat on bated breath, waiting for the hand to attempt to harm her. As she waited, distracted by her presumptuous suspicions, Ina's preoccupied mind barely registered the actual movements of the hand: it slowly and calculatingly wrapped one finger and thumb around the stem of a tiny, seemingly out-of-place violet lily hidden amidst the larger pink petals.
With a small, yet seemingly effortless tug, the flower's roots gave in and it allowed itself to be removed from its shaded patch of soil. The hand then moved back outside of her vision before brushing up against her hair and delicately placing the flower over her ear.
Ina reached out with her own hand onto the giant's iron-plated hand. The hand was cold, yes, but there was a strange warmth to it. Not a physical warmth, but a comforting and caring warmth. She flashed a smile and glanced back at the "man" behind her. Ina was sure that she could have recognised him even without the antler horns adorning his iron helm or the Buddhist prayer beads wrapped around his breastplate.
This giant of a man was her father's mechanical counterpart from another world. He was not a human as far as Ina could tell. Not a single word had ever escaped his lips (though Ina wasn't sure his mouth even could move if he wanted it to). She could still picture clearly how the other Ieyasu had reacted to seeing a Tadakatsu who was not only human, but had also produced a beautiful daughter.
Ina wondered if this Tadakatsu had felt lonely upon meeting her and her father; wondered if, indeed, he could feel anything at all. Was there a beating heart buried somewhere within his cold, resilient exterior? Could he think for himself or did he simply obey his master's commands? Again caught up in her thoughts, Ina barely noticed as Tadakatsu moved his hand away from her ear and gently stroked her hair.
Her mind again fell back into memory, this time reliving the day her father had taught her to tie her long hair into a ponytail to keep it safe in battle. As not only Tadakatsu's daughter but her lord Ieyasu's adopted daughter as well, it was important for a woman in her position to keep her silky black hair long, a detail the enemy could easily exploit in battle. After he had tied her hair up, she recalled having proudly proclaimed that she would simply not let the enemy get close enough to try, holding her bladed bow high. He had lowered his stern manner just long enough to let out a rare amused chuckled before returning to his usual stone-faced demeanour to tell her to not allow herself to become too overconfident in her marksmanship.
Ina smiled, though if it was more from the pleasant memory she was reliving or the surprisingly delicate touch of the iron giant behind her, she couldn't tell. Ina couldn't help but wonder if the machine thought of her as his own daughter. Either way, if she was sure of one thing, it was that to her, he was just as much her father as her own Tadakatsu.