Part 1

I do not own Patlabor; it's characters, and etc.

Greetings esteemed readers! I'm back with the second chapter to 'We Who Live', which I hope will be satisfactory. So after writing four different story arcs on how it may go and liberal amounts of coffee. I am proud present the second chapter, 'Blessed Are The Peacemakers' Part 1.

Also I have question to ask people. Is it me or is the color scheme for Patlabor movies and TV show different? I mean in the TV Patlabor episodes Shinobu has brown hair and blue eyes! But in the movie she has black hair and black eyes (which probably more accurate but still). So should I stick to black hair and black eyes or brown hair and blue eyes? It's not really important at all for this fanfic since I assume everyone knows how Shinobu and Goto look like.

The omiai described within is as accurate as possible, especially for traditional family. I've sprinkled some personal experience in the story.

Giri - duty, obligation, duty
Gojo - Five virtues of the samurai. Bushido. Chi, gi, jin, rei and shin (wisdom, justice, benevolence, propriety and fidelity)

Complete Patlabor 2 - The movie script at http://www.animanga.com/scripts/textesgb/pat2.html

ASDF - Air Self-Defense Force (Air sector of JSDF - Japanese Self-Defense Force)

A beautiful day prevailed throughout the day in Tokyo. Birds sang, the sun shone, the grass was green and the sky was blue. A perfect day that drives people up the wall as they stare out from their windows as they wish for work or school to be over. At the SV2 it was no different for work crew 119 and 468 as they once again took their customary fishing spot on the wharves at the docks facing Tokyo Bay. They didn't want to fish, they wanted to play softball like the others in the empty labor-training field but it was impossible. They needed food and they were going to get food. Today was the day when the new captain for Division 2 was supposed to arrive and the said captain was all ready late.

Goto did not smoke a cigarette as he waited for the new captain. In fact he had amazingly not light up a cigarette in two weeks. Today was June 5 and Goto just didn't feel like smoking. It shocked the entire base with disbelief. Goto not smoking? Impossible! For two entire weeks? Inconceivable! He must be an alien; the real Captain must have been abducted! Or so the entire base thought when they began to notice that he had the same pack of Marlboro lights in his pocket for the past two weeks. The pack itself had not been open and was still in it's plastic covering.

But wait that was not all that was seemingly out of place at the base. The former Captain, now Division Chief, Nagumo Shinobu had not been on base for the last five days. Today she had just returned to base to greet the new captain of Division 2. Wait a second... Five days?! That too must be a genuine mistake! Nagumo, not on base for over a stretch of five days?! She has been busy working at the main Tokyo Police Headquarters' or she has important meetings to attend with the other Chiefs of police during that time! She wasn't? Then what was she doing during that time?

The little mysteries swirled around the base and added to the burgeoning rumours flying around on base. Even the normally calm and quiet Hiromi couldn't help but wonder about it. What amazed most people was how the situation between Captain Goto and Chief Nagumo was not resolved after such a long time. Both seemed distant but they were both doing their job well. Paperwork was passed in time, meetings kept, quotas filled, PR and Internal Security kept from bugging the SV2. In fact it was impossibly normal and calm. No off the wall antics, unique happenings like alligators in the sewers or strange terrorist demands. Normality seemed to settle into the SV2 base except for the ongoing feud between Goto and Nagumo. The people on base soon discovered that normality was very boring, not the boredom you get because you got nothing to do but rather the boredom you get when realize that nothing is happening.

Goto sighed and sat around for the Captain Rigaku to arrive. He was all ready an hour overdue and Goto idly wondered if he got caught in traffic. The base was quiet as most of the crew was outside playing softball or working on this and that. He had actually bothered to finish his paperwork early for the first time in almost five years and realized that he was out of alcohol to drink in his private stash. Goto was bored to tears and his anger had been long ago spent. He couldn't remain angry with Shinobu forever and he doubted she could be angry with him forever but somehow it all became a limbo of silence and professionalism above everything. In five days she would see Tsuge and somehow Goto felt somewhat resigned but angry over that fact. He would let her see Tsuge and anything from the fallout would be her burden only, not his.

Goto absentmindedly ran his hand over his hair and stared up at the sunny sky. Pale white clouds floated in the upper atmosphere like giant fluffy marshmallows. He could see an airplane fly overhead from Narita International Airport and slowly make its ascent up into the clouds until it disappeared from sight. Today was a lazy sunny day and he could not get himself to enjoy a minute of the beautiful weather. He leaned further back into the sun chair that was brought outside by the engineers who wanted to take advantage of some sun. He, currently, was the only person enjoying the seats and looking up into the sky to look at clouds. The engineers were busy fishing or playing softball.

Shinobu walked out of the SV2 base to get a breath of fresh air, she was tired of waiting for the new Captain to arrive and needed a break, and saw Goto who was waiting for the new Captain of Division 2. She was dressed in the Division Chief's uniform rather than the regular blue and orange uniforms that all the regular officers wore. It was really nothing more than a technicality because Shinobu could care less if she was wearing her new uniform or not but she decided to wear the new uniform due to her new rank. Somehow the entire thing made her look even more different from the regular crew; the entirely blue uniform contrasted greatly with the others colours and marked her as the new Division Chief. Luckily Shinobu was not alienated from the reality of the base, as the former Division Chief Fukushima was when he was in charge of the SV2. If anything the efficient way she ran thing greatly improved the respectability of the entire Division, Shinobu could not help but bang her head in frustration when she became the new Chief and discovered the quiet mess that Fukushima had left the SV2 in. The position of Division Chief of the Special Vehicle Section 2 was the laughing stock of the entire Special Vehicle Sections around Japan. In fact the only reason why the problems with the Division Chief's position was ignored was because Division 1 had a great reputation and because Division 2 was so notorious. In other words Fukushima buried his own failings by pointing out the effectiveness of the Division and capitalized on the notoriety of Section 2 to deflect blame that might of landed on him.

Shinobu took a deep breath of air. The scent of summer and cut grass hung heavily in the air. She stood a little away from Goto debating whether she should walk away or stay on. The falling out they had almost two weeks ago hung heavily in her mind, she felt guilty over it and yet she found she was not really bothered by it as much as she thought she would be. There was a wall between her and Goto now and she was now adapting to it. Shinobu looked up into the sky and stared the blue expanse and white clouds. Or perhaps she was simply getting over the fact and giving up. The feeling felt wrong and right at the same time, perhaps it was simply because she didn't care and she despised Goto. That felt completely wrong. Shinobu tied her mind into knots as she attempted to categorize her feelings towards Goto.

Goto sat in the chair looking upwards in the sky lost in thought but he managed to sense that someone was behind him. He didn't turn around to see who it was and continued to look up in the sky. He took three guesses as to which it might be; one of the new officers in Division 2, a passing engineer relaxing or Shinobu. He turned around and saw the blue uniformed Division Chief Nagumo Shinobu standing straight with her head tilted up into the sky. She looked at the clouds passing by like him; she was waiting for the new Captain to arrive as well and probably got bored waiting. Shinobu lowered her gaze from the sky and saw Goto staring at her. Their eyes meet and they both found themselves in familiar territory, utter annoying silence where they wanted to say something but found that didn't have words to say.

"Hello Chief Nagumo..." Goto managed to say. He ticked off a point to victory versus the eighteen points ticked off to defeat. He had just started their first almost normal conversation in two weeks. Shinobu looked somewhat startled by Goto's words, she clearly did not expect Goto to say anything.

"... I trust everything is all right Captain Goto?" Shinobu asked in a neutral voice. She wondered why of all times Goto decided to start a conversation with her. Was he going to apologize? Shinobu doubted that was the reason but it was infinitely more welcomed than any of the events or conversations she had for the last five days.

"... I think we need to talk Shinobu," Goto said. He turned his head away from her eyes and stared forward towards the gates the base. No cars were in sight and that meant Captain Rigaku was no where close by. Shinobu sighed unable to really think as to what to say. She walked up next to Goto and sat down in one of the chairs set up. She didn't look at Goto and stared forward at the gate waiting for the first sign of the new captain. Goto took a peek at Shinobu and noted that she looked very different in her Division Chief's uniform. Freshly pressed, new and gleaming to the point she looked like one of those police officers you see on recruitment posters and such. Her face told a different story, a sort numb emotionless look yet harried by something. Goto could read her emotions, tired and unsure, and felt a bit better. He could at the least tell how she felt by how she looked again.

"What do you want to talk about Captain Goto?" Shinobu asked. She continued to sit and stare hard the gates.

"Many things... Specifically between us..."

"... You're not that angry any more are you?"

"... I'm still angry I suppose but it doesn't bother me as much any more."

"... But you won't admit you were wrong."

Goto noted the less than subtle push for an apology. He was not wrong.

"I was not wrong... Seeing Tsuge is a mistake..."

'Open mouth, insert foot,' Goto's conscience chided. Shinobu seemed to frown but her voice sounded the same.

"I see... So tell me how is seeing Tsuge a mistake? Did it ever occur to you why I might want to see him?" Shinobu said as she looked at Goto with a look of restrained anger.

"... You haven't changed have you? Even after all this you haven't changed a single bit."

"There you go again. Answering a question with a question of your own."

Goto sighed and became silent but Shinobu pursued it. She was sick and tired of him avoiding the subject, and he was the one who started the conversation.

"Why do you think I want to see him Captain Goto?"

".... Because you love him still... It's obvious... That's what hasn't changed about you, you can't let go of him."

Shinobu seemed genuinely surprised by Goto's answer and it was completely wrong. That was not the reason why she was going to see Tsuge.

"That is not why I'm going to see Tsuge, Goto. Yes I still love him but I have let go and it's not the reason why I'm going to see him..."

Goto blinked not understanding, not comprehending and Shinobu continued.

"You think I haven't changed in the slightest bit... But I'm not so sure any more, I want to see Tsuge to see if anything has remained the same and... You're not really helping."

"...."

"You are wrong Goto... And you are still wrong... You won't say you are and you think that things will return to normal... That I'll become the same woman I was before, before I tried to kill myself, before the "Tsuge Incident", before you even let the thought of Tsuge entered your mind.... That's what you want and you know damn well that it can't be that way any more."

Goto looked at Shinobu squarely. The straight blunt lucidity of her words was like acid and he brushed off again. Anger was stoked again within him yet he contained so well that it didn't register on his face or his words. Shinobu could tell however by the look in his eyes, the same dark maniacal look that he gave her two weeks ago.

"We will see in the end who was right and who was wrong..."

".... The truth hurts doesn't it..."

"There is no truth in those words."

Shinobu lost her temper finally.

"If that's the case then there is also no truth in your words either!"

In the distance a few engineers watched Shinobu and Goto. They couldn't hear what the conversation that was going on but they could tell that something just hit the wall and it wasn't going to be pretty.

Goto screwed his eyes on her. The same dark look was there and he opened his mouth to say something but he never had the opportunity to say anything. From the corner of his eye he saw a patrol car pull up through the gate and he stood up. Shinobu turned to see that a car was approaching and also stood up straight. The situation had been luckily deflected by the timely arrival of the new Captain of Division 2. The car pulled up close to the two and stopped. The door opened and out came a relatively young looking man in regular uniform, his grey eyes shined with youth behind his glasses and had thick black hair was slicked back. He looked no older than thirty and that surprised Goto and Shinobu. They were expecting an older officer and realized that this was not Captain Rigaku at all.

The young man enthusiastically saluted the two captains.

"Greetings Chief Nagumo and Captain Goto. I am Captain Hoguwa Kego;" Kego enthusiastically introduced himself to the two nonplussed looking officers.

"Captain.... Hoguwa Kego? But... we were expecting Captain Rigaku Makoto," Shinobu said. She read the young newly made captain's profile up in the files that were sent to her from headquarters' but they confirmed that the new captain of Division 2 would be Captain Rigaku not the newly made Captain Hoguwa Kego. It made no sense unless this was another bureaucratic bungle on the part of headquarters'.

"I have no idea what happened to Captain Rigaku ma'am... From what I heard in rumour the moment Captain Rigaku learned that he was going to posted at the SV2 Division 2, he took the worst duty in Shinjuku instead," Kego explained. He wondered what was exactly so terrible about Division 2. They were famous around the world and their reputation was shining example of great police work. If one could ignore the property damage, embarrassment and insults that everyone threw at them. Kego was sure that nothing unusual would happen when he became captain of Division 2. It wasn't as if the post was cursed or anything like the rumours said it was.

Shinobu cringed in embarrassment and fumed internally. It seemed the terrible and infamous rumour that the Captain post of Division 2 was jinxed was still alive and well. People in the police seemed to believe that the post was cursed because of the incredibly bad and strange situations that the division found itself in more than once. It was like being an officer in the traffic police in the Bokuto area or being an officer in the Juuban area. You know you're going to go through strange things like monsters attacking, warriors that are running around in fukus, crazy drivers and in some case even crazier fellow officers.

Goto looked somewhat impressed by what Captain Hoguwa told him. He never really imagined the extent of how everyone thought his old post was jinxed. Goto clearly underestimated the superstition and infamy of Division 2, though he couldn't really blame them. He had seen and experienced enough weird things during his captaincy in Division 2 that he could write a book on it.

"So you're now the new captain?" Goto asked to make sure that his conclusion was correct.

"Yes sir! I am the new captain of Division 2. It's an honor to be here and I'm looking forward to getting used to my post," Kego said enthusiastically and smiled broadly with pride. It didn't take much effort for Shinobu and Goto to peg Kego as a rookie captain. They couldn't help but wonder if they were once like this when they first joined the police.

"Ah... well yes Captain Hoguwa, Captain Goto here will guide you to your new office. I will be contacting HQ in the mean time," Shinobu said. She was not impressed by the turn of events but in any case they had their new captain. She doubted that HQ would accept Captain Hoguwa back and let another captain take the post of Division 2. She got up and walked away from the two men and headed towards her office.

"Please come with me Captain Hoguwa, I'll show you around the base," Goto said as he got up from his seat.

*****

"This is the Metropolitan Tokyo Police officer's assignment office... Officer Wakajima speaking..." A slightly bored female voice answered the phone. It was a slow and tedious day and just outside, it happened to be the perfect spring day as well. It was driving her up the walls and she constantly wished she had a more exciting job other than waiting around the damn phone, answering it and filing away folders and paperwork. This was not why she joined the police. And so Officer Wakajima took a sip of her coffee and wondered what sort of male chauvinist she would be talking to today over the phone. She silently prayed that the man would demand politely to speak with the quartermaster and not yell in her ear in anger. The young female officer prepared for the shouting to begin, cynically predicting that she was going to receive an earful.

"Hello, this Division Chief Nagumo Shinobu speaking," Shinobu said as she spoke through the phone. Shinobu was busy poring over the files that the quartermaster had sent her. The files were in order but the officer was the wrong person. She was not amused at the oversight, or deliberate error, the slightest bit.

Officer Wakajima actually choked on her coffee and accidentally spilt it on her lap. She was surprised to even hear of a female Division Chief at all. Despite her best efforts Wakajima found herself quite interested in Shinobu's call.

"How may I help you Division Chief Nagumo?" Wakajima asked. She made a mental note to investigate a certain Division Chief named Nagumo Shinobu and try to find out how exactly she dragged herself up the police hierarchy. There was no way Wakajima was going to be stuck in the quartermaster's office for the rest of her police career.

"I would like to speak to Quartermaster Fuyashi about the Special Vehicle Section 2; Division 2's captain posting. We apparently didn't get the promised captain for our division," Shinobu explained. Shinobu put the file she had on Captain Rigaku and Hoguwa down on her desk.

"I'm afraid the Quartermaster isn't here at the moment," Wakajima explained apologetically. Division 2 of the Special Vehicle Section 2... The infamous Gargoyles of the Gate. Wakajima now realized why Division 2 didn't receive the right captain for the post they had opened. No one in the police wanted to anywhere near the Patlabor section. Rumour had it that Division 2's original Patlabor team had banded together and arrested the criminal Yukihito Tsuge, the one who initiated the "Tsuge Incident", and they all had an infamous reputation of handling incredibly strange cases and breaking police procedures. Wakajima scratched off her mental notes to check on how Chief Nagumo managed to get her position. A position in the Patlabor division was a dead end job in term of career opportunities.

"When will he be in?" Shinobu asked politely. Inwardly she dreaded the answer. It was unspoken rule that if a officer was sent to a division by mistake but that officer sent doesn't complain about his placement, the Quartermaster office would simply forget about it and move on. Shinobu had every intention of getting an experienced officer for Division 2 at the very least.

"I'm not sure ma'am. I believe he'll be back in five days at least," Wakajima explained, noting that was a lie. Quartermaster Fuyashi almost never came to the office, he went directly to the main Tokyo Police office in Kamara but that hardly mattered. In any case whatever the SV2 was being bothered with was not Wakajima's problem. She just wanted a ticket out of her boring post.

"I see... Could you please call me if the Quartermaster comes in?" Shinobu asked politely, while inwardly cursing her luck.

"I will Chief Nagumo," Wakajima lied cheerily.

Shinobu wondered why she felt as though she had been given the raw deal again.

*****

Goto lead the rookie captain around the base in a slow languid way that he always seemed to treat things. He was sizing up the new Captain with a critical eye in truth though it seemed that he just wanted to see what type of trouble the engineers would get themselves into. Officer Godai watched the new Captain of division 2 look around the base. During this time work crew 119 and 468 came in from the docks with their catch of fish and hurried to the kitchen to clean it and cook it for dinner. Today had been a good day of fishing and Captain Hoguwa felt a bit overwhelmed. It was the first time that he had ever come to such a dilapidated and rusty place that was called a base. It didn't even feel like he were anywhere near Tokyo and the surprising lack of police procedural saluting and such was absent. In short Captain Hoguwa felt very comfortable, it reminded him of his hometown of Tabina.

In the main hangar area, the three Peacemakers were lined up for the Chief Engineer Shige's critical eye. The spotless white humanoid labors were standing at attention with the transports parked along side. The Peacemakers made an impressive sight to behold on the catwalk which Captain Hoguwa and Goto was on. Goto was used to the sight and didn't gaggle at it but to Captain Hoguwa it was a wonder of technology to remember. Goto's Division 1 had the same model Peacemakers but had one noticeable difference to Division 2's line up. In Division 1 was the lone sentinel of technology that outstripped all the other labors in terms of power, speed and sophistication.

"So that's the new model?" Captain Hoguwa asked in awe. The labor almost looked like a Peacemaker but had a softer visage and shorter compared to the sharp defining lines that made the Peacemaker. It had an impressive sensory head with a streamlined body that made it lighter that any of the other labors. It's fully articulated hands were slightly curled and in resting place with a protective arm covering that hide two long wicked looking blades that were fully sheathed within but were currently exposed. The 48mm auto-cannon was carelessly left on the ground as a full team of engineers cleaned it.

"Yes... Some people nickname them 'Beati Pacifici' but their referred most often as the 'Neo Pacifici' AV-03 or just simply the 'Neo'," Goto answered.

"Neo Pacifici? What does that mean?" Captain Hoguwa asked. Goto spoke very little during the entire tour allowing Captain Hoguwa to tarry along some areas of the base and skip past at other places. It gave Goto an opportunity to see which things Captain Hoguwa paid attention too more and such.

"Shinohara industry wanted to create a new type of police labor based on the success of the Peacemakers. So they came out with Neo Pacifici, it means the 'new Peacemakers' in Italian or something. Supposedly some Italian guy made the designs and put the name on it. Latter on he thought it appropriate to call them 'beati pacifici' in honor of police officers who pilot them."

"Beati pacifici? That means what?"

"Blessed are the Peacemakers or something like that." Goto answered with little emotion. But even Goto let his eyes wander on the labor with an appreciative eye.

"Fibre reinforced material aluminums/steel with titanium and carbon fibre reinforced material, improved to over the past labors making it lighter and tougher than what the Peacemakers are. Can fitted with heavier composite armour for serious anti-labor action.
Height: 8.09 m.... Width: 4.37 m .... Standard weight: 6.12 tonnes... Fully equipped: 6.62 tonnes... Maximum weight lifting capacity: 3.6 tonnes... Minimum revolving radius: 3.4 m.
Comes equipped with a stun baton, 48 mm semi-auto cannon, 2 smoke dischargers on the shoulders and a electrified claw in the right arm cavity... Complete with the world's most sophisticated sensory and electronic jamming system."

Captain Hoguwa listed off the facts that he knew about the police labor. But he had to question why a police labor would need a twin blade weapon in its right arm. The claws could be electrified to make a short burst of electricity run through the entire length that would make most labors short circuit but the labor all ready had a stun baton why add the same redundant feature?

Goto was impressed. So far from what Goto could really gather about Captain Hoguwa was he was quite knowledgeable labors which was good but he was eager to for action and looked ready to launch his division at the slightest hint of trouble which was also good but at the same time bad. Goto also noted that a lot of the people on base seemed to like him very well and was fairly charismatic but seemed to have a hard time enforcing the necessary feeling of authority to get people to take him seriously.

Shinobu exited her office looking a bit annoyed and approached the two male Captains standing around on the catwalk. Captain Hoguwa was busy staring at the labors but Goto saw her approach and saluted. Most people who saw Goto salute Shinobu were shocked and swore that they would never drink again it wasn't because Goto just saluted but the fact that he saluted Shinobu for the first time since she had become Division Chief really turned heads. More over it wasn't his usually sloppy salute either but a firm almost proper police salute recognizing her rank above Goto's. Shinobu looked a bit disconcerted by Goto's salute but saluted back. Goto was mocking her by doing the proper police salute, he only saluted in a firm way when he didn't particularly care about his superiors which got on her nerves.

"At ease Captain Goto," Shinobu answered after her salute. At the sound of her voice Captain Hoguwa turned around and saluted enthusiastically back.

"Hello Chief Nagumo, has HQ answered your call?" Captain Hoguwa asked. He knew that she had in truth called the Quartermaster's office but didn't seem the least bit concerned that another Chief had tried to kick him out of a commanding post again. It seemed to happen all the time; a good Division Chief wants an 'experienced' captain not a rookie.

"Yes, I believe that everything is in order. Congratulations Captain Hoguwa Kego, you are now officially Captain of the Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2. You will go on duty in about two hours, I suggest you acquaint yourself with your new subordinates," Shinobu answered. She didn't like this at all but every Captain needed a place to start their experience, mind as well be Division 2 since they never seemed to get any sort of luck.

"YES!" Captain Hoguwa said happily. He stopped himself from doing anything else remembering that his superior was watching him. It wouldn't be good if Chief Nagumo decided that he was too immature for his new post and kick him out. He tried to make himself look serious but only ended up looking even more foolish.

".... Congratulations, I'll be in my office while..." Goto began but was cut off immediately. The sirens went off around the place and the PA system went on-line. A riot of activity happened below and on the catwalk as engineers and police officers ran to their stations to prep them up.

"This is a 707 in Jippon-Niigata! Mobilize Division 1's labors and prepare for action! Labor 2 is needed! Come on get your act together!" The announcer on the PA system shouted but the effect was lost on the people. Everyone knew what to do, the announcer was just simply telling specifically what. Chief Shige shouted and cussed like Sakaki ordering the engineers to load up the Neo Pacifici. Goto casually walked down the stairs and headed towards his assembled officers down below. Officer Godai ran up to Goto and provided the necessary information that Goto needed.

"Not to worry, Division 1 can handle this. I suggest you get to your office and start setting up Captain Hoguwa," Shinobu said breaking Hoguwa's trance. Standing straight and at attention he smiled.

"Yes sir... I mean ma'am... Thank you!" Hoguwa fumbled and immediately walked towards his new office.

Shinobu was left on the catwalk to stare down at Goto who was busy sorting out what was going on. His officers were punctual, neatly arranged and most of all normal. He didn't have a bright energetic pack of 'high school kids' shouting questions and such at him. Goto had inherited her crew, the one she had spent so much time working on to get it right. Shinobu felt like laughing as a familiar urge came over her. Shinobu despised paperwork and wanted to go out in the field and do something. Most she could do really was fish with work crews and occasionally attend an important meeting. There were no suitable excuses that Shinobu could think of to not go back to her 'home' and take a break. Shinobu had been stuck on base for an entire month and quite frankly she had no more paperwork to do until the fall audit.

Goto seemed satisfied with his subordinates and left them to their task. It was a very simple situation it seemed the classic drunken disgruntled labor pilot who high jacked a labor but instead got stuck in a self-collapsed construction grid work. Nothing that needed Goto's personal attention or attendance yet.

Shinobu looked down from the catwalk and turned away from Goto to go to her office. She didn't want to have the officers' clamour over to her to find out what was going on between her and Goto. She didn't have the patience or the will to explain it. Goto looked up and saw Shinobu walk away but couldn't leave the dispatch zone until the carrier left. It was his duty and so he waited until Labor 2 was fully loaded and the officers sped off to the scene. It took less than three minutes to get everything going but apparently Shige was not satisfied by the speed of the launch.

"I want all you lazy maggots to get your asses over here or I'll throw you all into the Bay! It looks like someone's been slacking off! My mother can move faster than you!" Shige shouted. A gaggle of engineers lined up in front of Shige and Goto went back into his office. He decided they could talk latter, preferably much latter so they could both calm down.

'After all... We both have all the time in the world,' Goto thought to himself.

'All the time in the world to become embittered with each other,' his conscience added.

*****

Shinobu put everything its place. The files were neatly compiled in their folders waiting to be put into the file cabinets; the computer was turned off and such. The neatness of the desk in an equally neat office always surprised Shinobu every time she entered. She half expected to see a cluttered mess of a file cabinet in one corner like the one in the Captain's office. Or a primitive propane heater that warmed the SV2's kettle and the room in winter. Or at the very least some garbage or dust piling up in one corner of the room. Instead she had perfectly organized file cabinet that didn't hide nasty surprises like half-eaten Cup ramens, a properly working heater and air conditioner compared to other places in the base and the place was completely spotless. It felt sterile and Shinobu looked over her desk and saw there absolutely nothing to catch the eye of the observer. There were no pictures, flowers or half-read books over the top. Just a lamp, computer and penholder and some blank pieces paper in one corner.

"... I'm still a neat freak... I never realized that until I moved out of the Captain's office. With Goto around I thought I was being reasonable," Shinobu muttered. She put the final folder into the cabinet in alphabetical order and closed it. She had packed up her clothing and other articles. Shinobu went out the door and looked back into the office. The clean orderly room serenely presented itself to Shinobu. Shinobu could only frown and turn off the lights and close the door.

It was time to go home again and Shinobu didn't look forward to it. She had no idea what horrors her mother had planned today and quite frankly she didn't want to find out. Chances were Keiko had laid an ambush at the front door of the house and was waiting for Shinobu to pass through. Then it was simple matter of bundling Shinobu up into a kimono and sending her off to meet some man she's never heard off and hope that they hit it off.

'Maybe I should go and crash at Fuwa's place like last time or go find a motel to sleep in until my mother gives up,' Shinobu debated in her head. The word omiai became a grating word and Keiko seemed unwilling to give up on the idea. An arranged marriage meeting was not something that Shinobu enjoyed the prospects of. The men she was always introduced to were either very boring and stupid or very intimidated by her because she was a police officer. She had spent a five-day break staying at Fuwa's place hoping her mother would give up and let her come home to a sane household without the pressures of marriage on her. Unfortunately it seemed that Nagumo family was getting involved and was constantly calling her about it. What Shinobu meant by family, was her cousins, aunts and uncles who heard about this and was quite determined to 'marry Shinobu to a respectable man, equal to the family's and her honor'. Or at least that was what that old hag, Shinobu's great aunt Fushio claimed.

'Damn you Fushio! I don't need your meddling!' Shinobu thought annoyed. Her great aunt was probably the most intimidating and meddlesome ancient hag of a woman who was so bound up with samurai honor that Shinobu felt like strangling her at times.

Shinobu walked out the office and down the empty catwalk towards her car. Outside in the field Captain Hoguwa was getting used to his new command post and Goto was around to give advice when needed. A practice labor battle was going on in the distance and Shinobu could see in the distance the silhouette of two old AV-0 'Peacemaker'. Those labors would be replaced in a year or so but it seemed like yesterday when Division 1 received them during her tenure as Captain. She was so proud about them, actually in truth Shinobu had a soft spot about the old 'Peacemakers' though they were now becoming obsolete. She was still proud to have them and wondered if this was how Officer Izumi felt about the old patlabors that got discharged and disassembled. Old machines from a past that only comes once and was gone in an instant. Shinobu couldn't help but smile and shake her head lightly; at least she wasn't as obsessed with labors as Izumi was. Being married to Shinohara Asuma and working at Shinohara Heavy Industries pretty much meant that Noa would have 'Alphonse' around for the rest of her life. Shinobu opened the door of her car and threw in her duffel bag full of clothing and such.

'Maybe I can bribe a few officials and convince of a few members of my family in the police to let me buy a used 'Peacemaker' with my inheritance money...' Shinobu thought amusedly and then heard her cellular phone ring causing her to sigh. Shinobu took the phone out of her pocket and checked to see who was calling. On the window of the cellular phone was a name, Nagumo Keiko. Shinobu reluctantly answered the call and patiently waited for an earful, Shinobu predicted that it was actually her great aunt Fushio calling from her house.

"Hello, this is Chief Nagumo speaking," Shinobu said in a neutral. She braced herself for her aunt's words.

"Well at least it seems that you're still polite when it comes to answering the phone," an old female voice answered. Shinobu resisted the urge of throwing her cell phone into the Tokyo Bay. Why did she always have to be right when it concerned her aunt?

"Greetings Fushio-sama. How may I help you?" Shinobu said trying to keep the venom from coming on to her words but it gave a person the feeling of loathing still.

"You could start by coming back home. We are waiting for you at home, so you best come back here," Fushio said over the phone with a warning tone.

"And if I don't want to?" Shinobu asked sweetly.

"You'll be disowned and you can forget about your inheritance. This is not a joke Shinobu;" Fushio said and then hung the phone up. Shinobu could hear the dial tone and was tempted to phone her aunt and give her a piece of her mind. She wrestled with urge and buried it under. Shinobu put her cellular phone away and looked up to watch the 'Peacemakers' a bit longer before going into her car. It was time to go home and see her family. A prospect that Shinobu did not look forward to.

*****

Fushio stood in the hallway of Shinobu's house and glared at the telephone as if blaming it for something. It was apparent by looking at her that she had aged gracefully over the years. Her silvery gray hair was neatly arranged and face bore a few wrinkles that denoted her age but her skin did not sag with age or yellow. To be truthful she carried herself as if she was sixty years old rather than a woman who was entering her ninetieth year of life. What was so impressive about Fushio was how she seemed to be perceived. She had a sort ancient primal aura that radiated from her blue eyes like an impervious shield from a bygone era. A samurai with all the required self-control and honor that was unheard of in modern times but also with a sort of stubborn fire to preserve the past gone by. Her kimono was sombre black with no ornamentations and plain with a red obi around her waist.

"Your daughter is still the disrespectful child she is despite all these years," Fushio said out loud. Her voice carried very well in the house and Keiko heard it clearly in the main room. As did everyone else sitting around a Japanese style low table. Everyone sat according to his or her age and there were five others with Keiko in the room. Four men and a woman. Great uncles and aunts, they were. All dressed in black kimonos denoting their place in the Nagumo family as the elders.

"Threatening her is not a good way to get her cooperating Fushio-sama," the youngest man amongst them said. He was only forty years old but looked as though he was still thirty. He crossed his hands across his lap and looked at Fushio who sat down adjacent to him.

"She's been having her way for too long Jiro. It is time we've placed a firm hand on her life;" Fushio answered as she made herself comfortable. Keiko took a warm pot of tea and poured some into an ancient glazed teacup.

"She is over thirty years old, I agree it is time to get her married but you know what happened last time we had her on an omiai. You remember don't you Misako?" Another man spoke up. He was looked positively ancient, his skin sagged in places and was completely bald but even he was younger than Fushio. He was only eighty, a full decade younger than Fushio but did not have the blessing of aging as gracefully as her.

"I remember what happened well Hiroshi... What a disaster! Her and her friends completely offended the Nishihara family and ruined the entire thing," Misako spoke up. She was sixty years old and had gracefully aged over the years. The old woman shook her head in disbelief at the memory. Alcohol spiked in the prospective husband's drink making him a drunken fool, hot peppers lacing the man's parents' food so that they gagged and the tires of the man's car slashed beyond repair to name a few things. How Shinobu's friends managed to infiltrate the kitchen staff of the restaurant that they were in was beyond Misako.

"It could have been worse I suppose. But I have to remind you that she was only twenty at the time and quite immature and headstrong. She's older now, so I'm quite sure she won't go so far to get out of the omiai," the last male elder spoke. He wore glasses and sighed as he picked up his teacup for a drink.

"I somehow doubt that Junchiro," Fushio said evenly. She waited patiently for Keiko to fill everyone's drink up.

"It doesn't matter. It's a good thing we managed to convince the Mirota family to help arrange this. I highly doubt Shinobu would go to such extreme efforts to sabotage the omiai, against someone she knows, so maliciously," Keiko finally spoke up as she finished pouring everyone tea.

"A stroke of genius on our part. Her friends won't go to the effort of making the potential groom's meeting a living hell since their friends with him," Fushio said in a slightly amused voice. It took a lot of talking between the families but they got everything arranged. Perhaps now Shinobu would settle down and have children like she should had thirteen years ago.

"When is the omiai?" Junchiro asked as he finished drinking his tea.

"It'll take place on June 8," Fushio answered.

"I'm not too sure if Shinobu's friends won't make the potential fiance's life a complete hell... They are quite... strange."

*****

"Okay Subaru! Stand straight now! Just a few more things and the suit's done!"

"I can't believe I'm doing this!"

"Tell me about it. My twin brother is getting married to one of his friends."

"Yes... A very good friend whom he still, secretly, has the hots for."

"Looks like Goto has competition then."

"Who the hell is Goto?"

"Stand still! I'm not done with your tie!"

"Just a male prostitute that Shinobu hires occasionally."

"AKIRA! THAT IS NOT FUNNY! AND IN FRONT OF YOUR OWN DAUGHTER YET!"

"I SAID HOLD STILL!!!"

Smack...

Thud...

"... Remind me to never get a pregnant woman angry Maya."

"... Yeah... He's unconscious now... What should we do? Pour water on him?"

"Never mind that! I pity you Makoto; you have to deal with her every single day!"

"Are you stupid or are you just crazy to ask that out loud?"

"... Papa? Isn't uncle Subaru going to have a big bruise on his face when he wakes up?"

".... She's right you know..."

"Does it matter? At least we know the suit fits."

*****

Shinobu sneezed and blinked.

'Looks like someone is talking about me behind my back,' Shinobu thought to herself and rested her head on the car seat. She was stuck in a traffic jam and it was slow going. Ironically she was stuck in the exact place where she first witnessed the Bay bridge explosion, prelude to the 'Tsuge incident'. Shinobu had a wonderful view of the Bay and Tokyo. She could see a few repair crews fixing an antennae tower off in the distance but the city didn't seem to change the slightest bit. Out of habit Shinobu turned on her traffic map which immediately materialized on the car's windshield, a wonder of modern technology. It however did not change the fact that there was a traffic jam on the Yokohane highway and Shinobu was stuck in the middle of it, in the exact same place where she witnessed the beginning of the 'Tsuge Incident'. She was right here on the highway waiting patiently to cross the Yokohama Bay Bridge. It was so frighteningly similar that Shinobu physically pinched to herself. The bridge was blocked at both ends.

'Great just to complete the feeling of deja-vu, all I need is traffic labor to overhead and spout off warnings,' Shinobu thought sarcastically. As if on cue for dramatic presentation the sound of a siren could be heard and in the overhead mirror Shinobu could see a traffic labor.

"...A labor is passing overhead. Please do not open your doors or leave your vehicles. This is the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Highway Patrol."

Shinobu gagged and lightly hit her head on the steering wheel. It was almost exactly how the Bay Bridge blew up on the first day when Tsuge declared 'war'. Shinobu felt like an actress in a bad disaster flick and accessed the police radio uplink like she did on that day.

"Calling the Roadrunner, this is Chief Nagumo of Metro Police SV2. Please respond," Shinobu asked into the radio and waited for an answer.

"This is Highway Patrol 201. How may we help you Chief Nagumo?" The radio answered expectantly. The voice that answered was a pleasant sounding male voice that seemed rather harried.

"Sorry to bother you, but you seem to have blocked the bridge at both ends. What's up?"

"An idiot has parked his car on the Bay Bridge and is dancing around it. I thought this was going to be a damn repeat of the "Tsuge Incident" but luckily it's just some crazy guy who wants to commit suicide with a bang... Christ there is hundreds of reporters on this."

"... Good grief... I thought we were going to go through the same thing as well."

"It's a suicide attempt but HQ wants us to take this slow and easy because the guy might actually have a bomb. We've stopped all traffic from using the bridge. We're currently heading there to assess the situation."

"Roger that, over and out. Thank you."

If Shinobu had been standing up, rather than sitting down in her car seat, she would have collapsed onto the ground with relief. She placed her head on the car seat's headrest and tried to relax her frayed nerves. She picked up her arms and put her hands up to see that they were completely white, bloodless and trembling. With a bit more effort Shinobu managed to turn on the radio to the nearest news station and listen.

"Today at 4:23 p.m. at the newly rebuilt Bay Bridge, in an apparent suicide, a man has driven his car to the middle of the bridge and threatens to blow it up with a bomb. Details are not known but the police believe the suspect to be Kinmyu Edoto, a recently fired officer of the ASDF who was relieved from his position in connection with the 'Tsuge incident'."

Shinobu changed the channel, she didn't want to listen to it and furthermore she had a sneaking suspicion that the man was probably innocent of all accusations. Shinobu laid back and opened the window of her car to let some air in. She looked towards the bridge and soft classical music played from the radio.

The incident took three hours to resolve. It ended with the suicide of Kinmyu Edoto, died jumping off the Bay Bridge and left behind a wife and two children. Tokyo's news agency had a field day because the similarity of it and the Bay Bridge bombing. The people moved on without caring truly a great example of Tokyo's compassion. A life tragically lost due to suicide, is nothing more than a statistic in the eyes of jaded civilians.

******

Goto watched in subtle amusement as Captain Hoguwa Kego struggled under the weight of his first paperwork marathon, as many police officers dubbed it. It was the time honored, bureaucratic waste of paper and nightmare to all newly made officers of divisions to fill out their 'this is what I do and how' report. Technically speaking it was called a 'Command, Procedural and Methodology Essay' or some such crap but Goto couldn't help but chuckle. He remembered taking such a thing when he first became Captain of Division 2. He had to write twenty pages, filled out sixty forms, and got his fellow senior officer to write one report on him and get it all done within a week. Captain Hoguwa was all ready hard at work on it and sweating under the pressure of the deadline. The truth was it was impossible to post and finalize the entire thing within a week. Goto mostly BSed on the majority of forms, not that the upper brass would believe it anyways, and got a little award for having an 'outstanding' view on leadership, procedure and personal principle. Goto hung the little award in his bathroom at his apartment as a perpetual reminder of how stupid life can be and not sweat over the small stuff.

Lazily stretching Goto looked down at his blank piece of paper where he was supposed to write his own little 'senior' officer report and such. Goto had no idea what Shinobu wrote or how she managed to write a report and still manage to sound 'unbiased'. In fact what did Shinobu think of him when they first met and worked together.

"Argh," Hoguwa grimaced and began to crumple a form and throw into the garbage. To only realize that there was only a single copy of that form in the entire pile. Since each set had a separate number and must be written in black ink, Captain Hoguwa Kego had to replace the entire set of the forms and rewrite them. Hoguwa hit his head on the desk in realization and got up to take an entirely new set of forms to write out.

Goto almost chuckled at the sight of it all. He remembered the sheer utter frustration of the filling out the forms. His wife with child had just died a few years ago and here he was posted in the same base with a beautiful woman that was obviously unattached. It distracted him constantly and he couldn't help but make sneak peeks at her when working. Some how Goto knew it wasn't exactly all too respectful to look at another woman when your wife died a few scant years ago. But that hardly matter to Goto at that day when they first met. It wasn't exactly a smashing success of a meeting either.

***1997***

Lieutenant Goto Kiichi was bored and his decaffeinated coffee was cold. These were two combinations of events that Goto particularly disliked and he didn't have the opportunity to take a drink from the coffee yet. Not only did he had to sit around in a room full of similarly bored fellow officers but he had to listen to three over the top enthusiastic guest speakers extolling the virtue of leadership and the future of labor policing. Also his business suit was threadbare in desperate need of replacing but ever since his wife died a little less than a year ago from one of the first labor crime recorded, Goto had fallen into his habits from his university student days. Which was that of a complete slob. It wasn't his fault really; he had been brought up like a traditional Japanese boy. His mother did all the cleaning and cooking while he just went to school, so it was no surprise when Goto began to live away from home that he had no clue as to how to cook or clean. His apartment was a mess and he had a sneaking suspicion that his dirty laundry had now taken a life of their own due to all the dirt on them.

The room was plain and small. Officers sat in the uncomfortable, university style chairs while listening to Captain Baruge, current speaker at the pulpit. Goto was lucky enough to sit by the open window and occasionally look out into the outside world. The soft warm wind caressed his face in an even breeze and he could hear some interesting, if not enlightening, conversation away from the window about labor tactics and design possibilities. It sounded quite far since Goto was up on the third floor. Tuning out the dribble coming out of Captain Baruge was quite easy and the conversation he could hear from below was far more informative of the field he wanted to enter rather than this lecture. The sun was out and the sky clear. A perfect spring day and he was stuck inside. Goto looked distastefully at his now cold coffee and lamented that they only served decaf. He missed the caffeine buzz that he usually got in the morning quite a bit. He often found himself actually eating the coffee grind raw because he woke up so late and didn't have time to prepare breakfast. Yet he could not afford to be late for this lecture on labors, without attending these there was no chance of him getting an officer posting to the place he wanted to go. Goto was absolutely convinced, after witnessing the destructive and constructive ability of labors, that the labor crime was the next big problem that Tokyo was going to face next. And he wanted to be where he could at least control some of the damage it could cause. Not to mention that some of the upper brass had pretty much screwed Goto's chances of having a progressive career so he had better make what was left count.

"So the labor in itself must at least have fully articulated hands, dextrous enough to handle sensitive and complicated equipment. Opposable thumbs in the design perhaps? Much like a human's more likely," a feminine voice from somewhere floated faintly into Goto's ear.

"I heard that Shinohara Heavy Industry is trying to create a labor like that. They've been at it for at least a year and they've been making incredible progress," a male voice added in.

"It must be because of that rumor about adding another labor division under the SV2 and about a possible contract to make a labor specifically made for policing," the feminine voice mused.

"In any case the rapid pace of labor innovation has all ready made the 96's obsolete, not too mention that the Pythons are becoming obsolete as well even though it's only been half a year. This is the problem with the upper brass, they always think that expensive equipment will last for at least a decade."

"God help us all if the SV2 still have to use the 96's for another ten years. Every single construction labor in the market is more advanced and better than they are. You have to use swarm tactics to try and take down a single Hishii Industry labor with 96's. The Pythons are better but we only have two of them, it's such a headache. The property damage was enormous last time. It probably convinced the higher ups to get more units and newer equipment."

"Goto pay attention," Lieutenant Akaraba whispered to Goto. Goto concentration on the conversation outside was completely interrupted. Akaraba sat next to Goto while desperately trying to not fall asleep from the exceedingly boring presentation. He wasn't a friend of Goto's but he would be damned if he were blamed for letting the unusual man get away with day dreaming. Goto looked rundown and poor with his suit on. Akaraba couldn't help but wrinkle his nose in disgust. What was wrong with Goto? Didn't he have a wife? Oh well, it didn't matter he supposed. The future of the police program was not something he was interested in. Quite frankly it sounded like a waste of time and money. One unit in the SV2 was doing marvellously at the job so why add more units?

Sighing Goto reluctantly pulled his gaze away from the window and actually attempted to pay attention to the presentation. Unfortunately Goto took another swig from his cold decaffeinated coffee and soon discovered that it had the most rancid and terrible taste imaginable. Trying not to gag desperately Goto made a face and put the cup down. He looked at the coffee debating as to what do with it. It wasn't even fit for animal consumption and it was sitting on his desk. Goto looked around the room and saw that everyone was ignoring him. Taking the cup into his hand, he quickly dumped the contents of the cup outside the open window that he sat next to.

"AHHH!!!" A female shriek of surprise came through the window. Everyone in the room blinked in surprise and stared at Goto who sat next to the only open window in the room. The coffee cup on his desk was empty and Goto looked surprised. He looked out the window and stared down to the ground where he saw two people standing directly below. A male officer was getting out a handkerchief while another female officer was currently shaking her arms to get cold coffee off of her. The woman looked up and glared at Goto angrily. The two below seemed to be walking to the entrance of the building but managed to pass under the window Goto was at when he dumped his coffee out.

Goto didn't however notice her angry face. He noticed her attractive figure and such. She was slim and long brown hair tied back into a ponytail that flowed down her back. Her eyes were that of an intense blue that Goto couldn't help but notice. Her face was unmarked by any sort of cosmetics but then again if anyone looked at her they would have known that makeup would have just detracted from the natural beauty she possessed. In Goto's mind, the woman reminded him of one of those magazine models he saw except she was quite real and seemed more intelligent then some ditzy model.

Then a gaggle of officers immediately opened the windows to see what had happened. They looked down and saw the attractive woman. They too noticed the finer details of the female specimen down below. The woman however didn't bother staying in one spot for the crowd to admire her and stormed into the building with her fellow male officer close behind.

"Lieutenant Goto, care to explain what had just happened?" Captain Baruge asked in a less than amused voice. Some of the other officers began to snicker and some began to quietly talk to each other about the woman. Almost everyone had their eyes on Goto however.

"Ah... Coffee jumped out my hands?" Goto answered lamely with a slight smile. He really didn't mean to hit anyone with the coffee but the fact he got to see a very attractive woman in the process somewhat made it a bit more bearable. Captain Baruge rolled his eyes.

"We will continue with the lecture gentlemen!" Baruge said in a huff and continued on with exceedingly boring lecture on leadership and on the future of labor policing.

"Nice going," Akaraba whispered to Goto smiling rather widely. Goto slouched into his chair a bit dazed. He had to agree with Akaraba, whoever she was, she was attractive. Goto smiled slightly and looked out the window one more time before paying attention to Captain Baruge.

Within an hour the entire lecture was over and Goto got up from his seat to leave. His back was stiff and he was desperate for a smoke. He reached for his cigarettes in his breast pocket and walked out the entrance of the Hirona Police Academy. He light the cigarette up, ignoring the do not smoke outside sign posted on the entrance door right beside him. The sky, which was clear, a few moments ago was now clouding over. It looked like it was going to rain soon and the temperature had dropped compared to what it was this morning. Goto looked outside deep in thought while smoking his cigarette.

The door of the entrance opened and out walked out the woman he had just dumped his cold coffee on by accident. He didn't have any time to turn around and hide his face from her. She noticed him standing right beside the no smoking sign and frowned. Goto noted that she looked even more attractive up close and found him was staring at her.

"You do realize that you are not supposed to smoke outside the building's entrance?" The woman said in a crisp professional voice. Goto fumbled with his cigarette and put it out.

"Um... Sorry about the coffee," Goto apologized sheepishly. He noted that she was wearing a clean new shirt with a bag in her hand. She stood tall and frowned at Goto annoyed. She seemed to be critically eyeing what Goto was wearing. Goto felt somewhat uncomfortable in his worn out business suit and wished that he had something a bit more stylish or at the very least a bit cleaner.

"Captain Nagumo! Wait up please!" A man's voice from within the Hirona Police Academy called out and exited. He stood right beside the woman. Goto recognized the man as Captain Kinora, a mildly handsome man who smiled as he caught up with her. The light brown hair and face caused one of the secretaries at the front desk to linger on him, not that Kinora noticed.

'Captain Nagumo?... She must be one of those recruitment poster captains that are supposed to attract more female recruits to the police,' Goto thought to himself. Then he realized that he should have saluted her rather than talk to her in such an informal tone.

"What is it Captain Kinora?" Captain Nagumo asked the other man. She ignored Goto and turned face Kinora.

"Captain Baruge is wondering whether or not, you'll be doing a lecture for labors? He's finally admitted that he has absolutely no idea as to what he is talking about," Captain Kinora said smiling.

"So he's finally admitted he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about?" Captain Nagumo asked Captain Kinora in a surprised voice. She raised one of eyebrows curiously.

"Actually no, officers were complaining how boring his lecture and how uninformative it was. So do you have any time to spare?" Captain Kinora asked.

"I have some time this afternoon to do another lecture... But why do I have a feeling that the only reason the officers want me to do the lecture is because they want look at me like a piece of meat?" Captain Nagumo asked in a defeated voice.

"Do you really need to ask that question Shinobu?" Captain Kinora asked teasingly. Goto ignored the conversation since it had nothing to do with him. A nice attractive woman and a handsome man, the two looked like a fairy tale couple together. At least he knew her name but he couldn't help but feel a bit put off by how she acted around him. It reminded him of a rather strict and by the book individual. Goto had a tendency of driving those types of people insane with his unorthodox tactics.

"I'll be back in the afternoon then, right now I have to go home," Shinobu said. Goto took a sneak peek at the attractive woman with an appreciative eye but Shinobu caught him and gave him a slightly dark look. She turned her back on him and walked to away without looking back. Goto realized he got caught and sighed.

"So what do you think my chances with her are?" Goto asked in a droll voice to Captain Kinora. He watched Shinobu walk away in the distance.

"You don't have a chance in hell, I should know," Kinora answered back smiling. He took off his glasses and cleaned them for a bit. Goto couldn't help but ask another question about that comment.

"How do you know?" Goto asked.

"I'm her cousin and I've seen her turn down so many men flat it's not funny. She takes her job being Captain of Division 1 of the SV2 way to seriously," Captain Kinora explained. Goto blinked in surprise and looked at Captain Kinora.

"You mean she's the senior Captain of the SV2?" Goto asked and got a slight sinking feeling in his stomach. He was happy to note that Captain Kinora was in reality a relative of Captain Nagumo rather than a lover.

"Hm? Yes, she is. Why? Thinking of taking the post as Captain of Division 2?" Captain Kinora asked. Kinora put his glasses back on and looked at Goto.

"Eh... I was thinking about it. I think I gave her a bad impression though."

"Oh. So you're the one who dumped the coffee on her. She was rather angry with that."

"I can imagine. I thought she was one of those poster females for the police."

"I suggest you never tell her that in her face. You don't want her to get annoyed at any more than you need to."

Kinora began laughing slightly. In fact, he was quite sure Shinobu would be furious if she learned that another man had thought she was a pretty face fit for a recruitment poster. Perhaps getting blacklisted by the higher ups was a good thing; she was no longer 'poster' quality. He turned around and entered the Hirona Police Academy. Goto took out another cigarette out from his pocket and light it when Shinobu got out of sight. Goto had every intention of attending Captain Nagumo's lecture on labors this afternoon, no doubt about it.

*******

It was a complete, utter smashing success. Shinobu must have kept that grudge about the coffee for at least an entire year after Goto got posted in the SV2. She could hold a grudge for the longest time until she felt it was time to move on. And that was only after she forced Goto to drink only decaf coffee for an entire week because there was nothing else on base at the time.

Perhaps that was what Shinobu doing. She was holding a perceived grudge on Goto and would eventually 'forgive' him. He after all hadn't done anything wrong like dumping cold coffee on her by accident.

"Captain Goto?" Captain Hoguwa asked in a curious voice. The odd captain of Division 1 seemed to have stared off into space but Goto managed to snap out of it.

"Yes?" Goto asked in a bored voice.

"Um... Shouldn't you be working on that senior officer report?" Captain Hoguwa asked in an exasperated voice. He never imagined that he would have to put up with such crap as this. The endless forms seemed to ask question that bordered on the absurd. Why did the form ask for his birthday? Wasn't that all ready registered and recorded at HQ?

"Don't sweat it. You'll be fine. It's not due for a week;" Goto answered back and stretched his back. He really did feel for Captain Hoguwa but he couldn't help but get a slightly sadistic kick out of it. The paperwork seemed to cause a sag of spirit in Hoguwa. Goto got up from his chair and turned on the radio for the daily horse race updates. Despite it all, Goto couldn't help but feel something at the back of his mind that told him, the way he was handling this situation was wrong. He found it excessively annoying and distracting. Looking at the clock he found that it was now 7:14 p.m.

Captain Hoguwa wondered what was with Captain Goto but decided not pursue it. He just had to finish his forms and couldn't be bothered to investigate what was with the laconic man. Goto eventually just picked up his schedule and saw that on June 7, he could have two days off but debated whether that was such a wise idea since Captain Hoguwa just arrived on the job. Then again ever since the 'Tsuge Incident' the number of labor crimes have gone down because courts gotten a lot harsher with penalties. Even if there was a problem with it all they just need to call him by cell phone and get him over to work.

Goto stood up and turned off the radio. His mind was set and all. Time to see what Captain Hoguwa could do without any guidance. It would be an interesting sink or swim experiment.

"Captain Hoguwa," Goto said in a firm captain's voice. Hoguwa looked up from his desk and blinked.

"It's time for the change over now;" Goto said in a formal voice and saluted Hoguwa. Confused but obliging Hoguwa got up and saluted.

"7:15 p.m. Division 1 is turning over duty to Division 2," Goto said while saluting. He couldn't help but feel a bit out of it. He almost thought he was still in Division 2 but corrected himself before he opened his mouth.

"Division 2, accepting and confirming overnight duty shift from Division 1," Hoguwa responded. Captain Goto put his hands down by his side and walked towards the door out of the office. Hoguwa remained standing and watched Goto.

"Oh yes, I almost forgot. On June 7, I'm taking my work leave. You'll be responsible for the base from June 7 to 9. I hope you can handle it, if you have any problem call me on my cell phone. It's on the duty desk," Goto explained as he opened the door out.

"What? But!" Hoguwa began but Goto closed the door, leaving him rather thunderstruck by the odd Captain's actions. More over Goto had not even begun his senior officer report on him. That left him rather angry and annoyed. Then again it was an excellent opportunity to prove the higher ups that he was 'suited' for his rank as Captain was. Grimly smiling to himself Hoguwa saluted again to Goto who was no longer in the room.

"Captain Hoguwa Kego and Division 2, accepts and confirms Captain Goto..... Hey... What is his first name?"

******

Shinobu arrived back 'home' and was greeted by the ancient visage of the house. It's wooden walls and proud garden, now in full bloom, was a heartening sight for Shinobu. Being stuck in a car for the last three hours tend to have an effect on anyone. The sweet smell of wisterias, akimenes and duranta greeted Shinobu. Flowers of white, pink, red and purple were a sight to behold and the cherry tree was now in it's final late spring bloom. Two whispery cedar trees flanked the garden and the small koi pond's fish could be seen coming to surface every now and then. The stone lantern in the garden was light by a single candle place inside and the sky was setting.

Shinobu's stomach grumbled, demanding food rather than standing around to admire the sight of the garden. It was almost eight p.m. and Shinobu's spirits sagged when she realized that Fushio was probably inside the house ready tear off her head for being so late. Shinobu bravely and resolutely walked through the gates, after she parked her car, with her duffel bag and steeled herself for the expected, icy greeting of her great aunt.

"I'm home," Shinobu said in a neutral voice. She stood in the front entrance of the house and stood there with her duffel bag. She didn't remove her shoes yet because is she decided she didn't want to put up with the utter crap her aunt spouted it would be easier to runaway since her shoes were on. Shinobu could smell dinner in the air and the shuffling of fabric. Kimono fabrics, Shinobu inanely realized, and more than one of them. The sliding door to one of the living rooms opened and Shinobu saw the ever so tyrannical Fushio come out and walk down the hall to greet her. Shinobu felt slightly underdressed in Fushio's presence but tried to ignore it.

"You are late," Fushio said in a deliberate and concise tone of voice.

"I was held up by a traffic jam at the Yokohane Highway. That is hardly my fault," Shinobu explained in an equally concise voice. Fushio could only cock her head slightly and look at Shinobu with a penetrating gaze.

"Come in, we have something's to discuss," Fushio ordered and entered the room that she came out of. She didn't bother to see if Shinobu was going to stay or leave. Gritting her teeth, Shinobu put her duffel bag down and took her shoes off to enter her house. The house seemed even more expansive and empty, or maybe it was just Shinobu's imagination. Shinobu stood in the hallway just outside the room where Fushio had just entered and saw the council of the Nagumo family elder's sitting around.

"Sit down Shinobu," Keiko said. A seat had been laid out on one of the ends of the table to denote her position in the family age ladder. Shinobu was the youngest in the room and therefore had the left side of the table. Shinobu composed herself and sat down. She then bowed her head respectfully to the elder circle before lifting her head and waiting for them to say something. Ancient Hiroshi turned around a bit and brought out a small wooden box and opened it to reveal a scroll. Rolling out the ancient paper Hiroshi extended it until it reached Emperor Heisei reign. Almost three centuries of family names, marriages, death and such were written on the scroll. It was only one of many historical artefacts in the Minamigumo family.

"Do you remember your position in the family?" Hiroshi asked in his ancient voice. He waited patiently for Shinobu to recite it.

"I am Division Chief Nagumo Shinobu of the..." Shinobu began but was stopped by Fushio.

"Nagumo?... We are not Nagumo; our actual family name is Minamigumo. You do know that, don't you?" Fushio said annoyed. Shinobu tried not to throttle Fushio.

"Most people have been calling me by Nagumo instead of the full family name. It's easier to remember and faster to say," Shinobu explained.

"Do not take this lightly. Tradition has their place in our family," Fushio said in a voice that pretty much told Shinobu that Fushio didn't like what she did. Shinobu cringed but Hiroshi simply asked again.

"Do you remember your position in the family?" Hiroshi said again.

"I am Division Chief Minamigumo Shinobu of the Metropolitan Police, Special Vehicle Section 2. Born in year 43 of Emperor Showa reign, fourth month fourteenth day. First and only daughter of Colonel Minamigumo Suon of the JSDF, 5th Armor Brigade of the Minamigumo family proper. Third son, and fifth child of the Minamigumo family proper. Born in year 16 of Emperor Showa reign, first month thirteenth day. Deceased in year 63 of Emperor Showa reign, seventh month twenty fifth day. My mother is Minamigumo Keiko, first daughter and second child of the Sawabe family proper. Born in year 21 of Emperor Showa reign, second month twenty first day," Shinobu recited again. She waited for the signal from Hiroshi to nod his consent and for her to continue with the meaningless diatribe of facts that Shinobu didn't really want to repeat. Hiroshi followed his the family line on the scroll and nodded.

"You may stop there... You have recited this same thing almost fourteen years ago. We not need you to repeat what has been spoken;" Hiroshi stated and rolled the scroll away. Shinobu raised an eyebrow in bafflement.

"May I ask, elder, what is going on?" Shinobu asked in a polite voice. No one answered, Shinobu's aunt Misako instead spoke up.

"Let me see your right palm," Misako ordered. Shinobu reluctantly opened the palm of her right hand upwards. Misako looked at the palm and held it for a moment. Here and there the skilful fingers of Misako probed the hands and read them. Eventually Misako let Shinobu's hand go and Shinobu put her hands away.

"Write your name for us on paper," Junchiro said. He pushed his glasses up while Jiro took out a calligraphy brush and inkstone out. Keiko got out some ink and finally Fushio stood up and walked over to Shinobu's side with a piece of white rice paper. Fushio sat by Shinobu's side. Everything was set up in front of Shinobu at the table. The paper was square in front of her. Shinobu poured some ink into the inkstone and picked up the calligraphy brush. Positioning her hand in proper position Shinobu wrote the year 14 of Emperor Heisei reign fluidly, sixth month fifth day and then began writing her last name Minamigumo in kanji and the wrote Shinobu in hiragana. At the sight of the simplistic hiragana characters Fushio frowned. Shinobu was about to dip the brush for some more ink to finish but Fushio grasped Shinobu's wrist.

"Why are you writing in hiragana? Don't you want people to see the meaning of your name?" Fushio asked. Shinobu turned to face Fushio but said nothing. Most of the people in the room realized that there was going to be a nasty fight over this.

"Not in particular..." Shinobu answered back. Fushio face went stone cold and the two women went into a sort of staring contest. Both their blue eyes locked against each other in a contest of will. No words were exchanged but the potential for an argument was enormous. Generation differences and arguments between the two women had always happened even when Shinobu was just a child. This was no different it seemed from other arguments they had.

"You know what you're name means? Your father made a poor choice when he choose the kanji for it. You don't represent it very well. Your name means 'to endure'," Fushio explained while keeping a light grip on Shinobu's wrist. Shinobu broke free of her great aunt's grip.

"To endure what? You, perhaps?" Shinobu shot back. The voice was polite but it became obvious that this little tête-à-tête was going to end badly.

"To endure me? I am looking out for the best interest of the family," Fushio icily explained.

"That's just it. It is always in the 'best interest of the family'," Shinobu imitated Fushio.

"...." Fushio could only remain silent, not understanding. Shinobu continued in an even voice.

"It is never in the best interest of the individual," Shinobu pointed out finally.

"The individual? The individual is the family; the family is the individual. The action of one, is the action of the entire family," Fushio explained. Shinobu turned away and looked hard at the half-finished writing. Shinobu picked up her brush to finish it.

"All right then," Shinobu said coldly. She finished the writing but the kanji was different. The ideograms roughly meant 'happiness without'; Fushio stopped Shinobu's writing again before she could start the last kanji.

"You are mocking me..." Fushio said in a slow and cold voice.

"When did you realize that Fushio-sama?" Shinobu said in a neutral voice. Fushio simply sat there and Shinobu wondered what her great aunt was going to do next.

"Leave Shinobu and I alone," Fushio ordered the elders and Keiko. She pointed to the door for everyone to get out. Reluctantly the elders and Keiko got up from the seat and exited the room quietly. The two were left alone in the room and the silence filled the void like a choking malignant miasma.

"I don't understand you..." Fushio admitted and looked at Shinobu with another hard penetrating gaze. Shinobu looked back with a hard gaze of her own.

"You don't understand? Well, perhaps you would understand if you take into account that you and the family attempted to sabotage my police career or try to marry me off to some man I've never met nor heard of. Oh yes, and I mustn't forget the fact you've tried to use my police connections for the 'betterment' of the family," Shinobu listed off hissing almost. Fushio raised her hands up, which generally meant that Fushio wanted Shinobu to become quiet but Shinobu became livid by the careless gesture. As if that alone could silence the injustice that she had done to her.

"The family is above all. You have a giri to the family, your loyalty was expected," Fushio stated.

"I also had a giri to the law of Japan. The family is not above that," Shinobu retorted.

Fushio and Shinobu remained motionless and unyielding. The clock could be heard in the hallway ticking.

"You still remember gojo and follow it? Now that is amazing," Fushio said sarcastically. Shinobu could only look at her great aunt with disgust.

"And you take advantage of it," Shinobu answered. At that Fushio slapped Shinobu across the face. Fushio was insulted and glared at Shinobu in anger. The force of the blow made Shinobu turn her head slightly.

"Such insolence. I can't believe you would dare accuse me of that," Fushio said in a tense voice. Shinobu moved her head to face Fushio.

"As you have always accused me of impropriety or any number of things such as stupidity," Shinobu answered back.

"That's because you do things that no one would consider. Your insistence on joining the police when you could have been more than that. Prior to that you wanted to be an Olympic athlete but couldn't because you got injured. You could have been a teacher or a professor at a University perhaps. Your studies in physics, mechanical engineering, philosophy and political science were wasted," Fushio explained.

"It is because I wanted to do something for my sake without always having to be mindful of the family. I just wanted for one moment to do something without you or anyone else looking over my shoulder. More over I enjoyed my career in the police," Shinobu bristled.

"Oh yes. You must have enjoyed it. Having an affair with a married man and getting yourself stuck on a piece of reclaimed land in the middle of nowhere and blacklisted from any higher position within the police," Fushio shot back. Shinobu twitched but kept a hard face to her aunt.

"Let's get to the point of this all," Shinobu said changing the subject before something drastic happened between the two of them.

"Very well then as this has turned out to be a fruitless argument, I'll get to the point. It's your omiai," Fushio said curtly. Shinobu sat in silence and listened with a grim look.

"You will go and see this man on June 8. Three days from now," Fushio said as she brought out a picture for Shinobu to look at. Placing the photograph on the table in front of Shinobu, Fushio waited for her reaction.

Shinobu stared at the photo in disbelief. The picture only showed a tall black haired man with intense dark eyes behind a pair of glasses. He was handsome and broad shouldered, with a small smile that tinged his face. Cleanly arranged and standing upright with his arms by his side.

"You have got to be kidding me..." Shinobu muttered.

"I see that you recognize him," Fushio said.

"Of course I recognize him! But why him?" Shinobu said shocked. Fushio simply sighed and looked at Shinobu in disbelief.

"Do I really need to answer that question? Mirota Subaru is one of your best friends... Meaning you won't make his life a living hell like you did to the other last time."