It was a peaceful day on the Planet of New Japan. Due to an oddity of space, time passed much faster in this star system than elsewhere in the galaxy, making it exceptionally difficult to both enter and leave, or plan communications between it and the rest of the galaxy. As such, the galaxy at large generally ignored it. New Japan, on the other hand, hungered for every bit of news it could get of the galaxy at large.
The most recent events of note that had reached New Japan were the events of the Chorus rebellion, and the heroic exploits of the misfit warriors known only as the Reds and the Blues. Those stories had reached there and set fire to the imaginations of the residents. Everyone was eager to learn everything they could about the team.
So it would come as no surprise that when one of them requested crashing clearance for his ship because he didn't know how to fly, the spaceport was cleared completely and the government jumped at the chance to take care of the arriving warrior until his ship could be repaired. As a result, a warrior in bright blue armor clutching a completely defunct rifle in his arms walked down the street, followed closely by a large Mantis-class military assault droid, its two legs shaking the streets of the 20th century suburban town they walked through.
As the blue armored warrior made a left, the Mantis spoke up in a synthesized voice, "Captain Caboose, our assigned residence is to the right."
"Oh, yes, I knew that Freckles!" Caboose responded enthusiastically. "…no I didn't. I am terrible with directions." Turning to the proper path, Caboose followed the road until they reached a perfectly ordinary house and yard…except the house was painted blue and the yard included a massive repair bay. "Is this it?" Caboose asked carefully.
"Confirmed," Freckles responded robotically. "This is the correct address."
"It was nice of them to put you back in a full size body and give you a proper dog house!" Caboose spoke up happily. "Now…how do I open this?" He tilted back and forth as he carefully examined the plain wooden door.
"The knob, Captain Caboose," Freckles suggested.
"Oh, yes!" Caboose agreed, releasing his rifle with one hand to take hold of the door, only to accidentally rip it off its hinges. "…Tucker did it! Oh wait, he's not here. Freckles, please tell me that's supposed to happen."
"Order accepted: that is supposed to happen."
"Oh, that's a relief!" Caboose exclaimed in relief as he set the door aside. As Freckles stepped into the repair bay and hunkered down, Caboose began exploring the new residence. It seemed rather large for a single person, but he was used to large residences. "This is a nice base…" he murmured happily. "I should get the milk Tucker sent me for."
"The milk would spoil by the time the ship is repaired," Freckles informed Caboose through the communications channel. "It would be better to wait to purchase until end of year, when the ship is repaired."
"But I can't keep Tucker waiting on milk for a year!" Caboose declared in despair.
"It will only be two weeks outside the star system," Freckles reminded him.
"Oh, right…he can wait that long." Caboose took a seat in a comfortable easy chair. "…this is a nice base…" he repeated idly to himself.
It didn't take long for Caboose to fall into a routine at his new place of residence. He would wake up, have breakfast, run around until he ran out of energy, return home, have dinner, check Freckles for any damage, and then sleep. Without anyone to give him orders, he wasn't entirely certain what to do with himself…and he didn't do well with so many of the locals hero worshipping him. This was not because he didn't enjoy the hero worship when he realized that was what it was. The problem was that more often than not, he didn't understand it…and Freckles would interpret his panic to mean that he was under attack. He felt very sorry about that.
However, today that routine would be shaken up. As he was out watering the flowers – with mech fuel, unfortunately, since he'd grabbed the wrong hose, much to Freckles' frustration even if he didn't say anything – a black limo drove up to the door and a woman stepped out. The woman was about as tall as Caboose, with long black hair and somewhat pale skin, wearing a tight fitting black skirt suit, dark nylons, low black heels and dark sunglasses. She smiled as she approached. "Do you have a moment, Captain Caboose?" she asked carefully.
"I have lots of moments," Caboose responded happily. "Some good. Some bad." Silence reigned for a time. "Who are you?"
The woman smiled a somewhat frightening smile. "I am Agent Kuroko Smith, a Cultural Exchange Coordinator."
"What's that?" Caboose asked curiously.
Ms. Smith blinked for a time. "Captain, how much do you know about the situation on this world?"
"Uh…which situation?" Caboose pressed delicately. "I don't really know much. Freckles, do you know anything?"
"I do not have information on 'Cultural Exchange Coordinator', Captain Caboose," Freckles responded robotically. "Captain, your stress levels are rising. Is the subject unfriendly?"
"I dunno," Caboose responded awkwardly. "Are you unfriendly?"
Ms. Smith sighed ruefully. "Can we talk inside? There's someone I want you to meet."
"Oh! Is it a new friend?" Caboose asked eagerly. "I love making new friends!"
Smiling, Ms. Smith opened the back of the limo. A young woman with long red hair, amber eyes, long sharply pointed ears, and a heart shaped face moved nervously out of the limo. She wore a yellow blouse and a blue skirt, and had odd red scale patterns on her face.
"Hello!" Caboose greeted the woman happily. "My name is Michael J. Caboose! I don't know how to talk to pretty girls! Please don't judge me too harshly!" He then noticed a surprising oddity about the girl. "…why do you have a super long snake tail? Is that normal?"
As the woman huddled against Ms. Smith, the Agent brought her hand to her face. "This is going to be difficult…"
Once inside, Caboose provided both Ms. Smith and the snake woman with a cup of tea. Ms. Smith sipped hers, surprised to find it tasted quite delicious. "Captain Caboose, I'm going to give you a short summary of our planet's history so you can understand the present situation, and what I'm asking of you. I need you to pay attention for that, understand?"
"Okay," Caboose responded immediately. "I will do my best. I'm not very good at paying attention, though."
"I'll try to be brief," Ms. Smith growled out. "New Japan was colonized about 20 years ago by the galactic clock, several hundred years ago by local time, by Earth citizens from Japan seeking to build a new home to carry on our culture. Everything went well until about 100 years ago locally, when we discovered that the planet was already inhabited by several races of humanoid beings, whom we've come to call demi-humans." She gestured to the young woman. "Miia here is an example of such, being a Lamia."
"Hi Miia!" Caboose greeted warmly. "I'm Caboose!"
"You said that already," Miia murmured softly.
"…I did?" Caboose asked in surprise. Miia giggled softly.
Ms. Smith smiled at that, then continued. "At first, it looked like it might be war, since most technology didn't function well on this world, limiting us – save for the spaceport – to late 20th century, early 21st century tech by the old Earth calendar. This put us on an even footing with the demi-humans, whose physical capabilities vastly eclipsed our own. Recently, a shaky peace has been formed, and the Cultural Exchange Between Species Bill was passed in hopes of forming a more steady peace between humans and demi-humans."
Caboose nodded as Ms. Smith. "I understood…none of that."
Ms. Smith's eyes narrowed. She clenched her fists, then took a calming breath. "How about I skip straight to how this applies to you?"
"I would like that," Caboose responded eagerly. "I am very confused."
"Simply put, I would like you to let Miia here homestay with you for the duration of your stay on New Japan," Ms. Smith concluded.
"What's a homestay?" Caboose asked in confusion.
"…it means she lives with you and you get to know each other," Ms. Smith translated.
"Like at Blue Base?" Caboose asked curiously. "We all lived in the same place, and we got to know each other, and we became friends!"
"Exactly!" Ms. Smith confirmed. "That's what we want to happen here. By having humans and demi-humans live together and become friends, we hope to enable a lasting peace between our races, erasing some…old prejudice-"
"You want Miia and me to be friends?" Caboose gasped in shock. "Why didn't you just say so? I'll be right back!" With that, he turned and rushed off into the house.
Miia lowered her gaze. She'd seen several humans react negatively to her form. She'd hoped this Caboose would be different – he was a hero, after all – but if he ran off at the idea of being friends with her-
Caboose rushed back in, laying out a large pillow and putting a large blanket around Miia's shoulders. "I read in the rules of hospitality that I'm supposed to offer new friends cushions to sit on," he explained, "but you have lots of sitting with your tail, so you need the big cushion! Also, you were shivering, so I thought you must be cold. So I brought you the big blanket, too!"
Miia looked up at Caboose in surprise, her eyes lighting up happily.
Though it couldn't be seen through his helmet, Caboose grinned eagerly. "This is the start of a beautiful friendship," he stated firmly.