"You lying bastard!"

Suzuki Kantaro, the Prime Minister of Japan, stopped abruptly in the doorway of his office, as he found a razor-sharp katana tip at his throat. The hilt of the katana was in the trembling hand of Honda Kiku. Japan's face was white with rage.

"What?"

"You told me the unit at Pingfang was an animal-testing laboratory!"

"Well-"

"If you imply anything about my brothers' people being no better than animals I can't be held responsible for my actions. If they truly were as worthless and uncivilised as my people say, I would have no brothers in the first place."

"That's not what I was going to-" Suzuki had recovered his composure, and sighed. "Look, Honda-san, why don't you put the sword down? We both know you could no more harm me than you could fly without a plane."

Japan's hand shook as he tried to place the blade tip against the minister's neck, and failed. A nation cannot disobey or personally bring harm to their leader, however much they may want to. It had taken Japan a tremendous effort just to swear at the man. He scowled and hurled the blade down in frustration; since the office was carpeted, there wasn't even a satisfying clatter. "Why did you lie, then?"

"Because if we told you the truth you'd get upset," Suzuki said, as if this was all the explanation needed.

"Upset? Upset? They tortured my baby brother! Why, sir, was it necessary to put him through that? Battles are one thing, but even we aren't meant to deal with this! He's barely more than a child in every way that matters, and they killed him every way a man can die. I asked Dr Ishii what they'd done, and he told me every detail as if he'd done nothing wrong!"

"He didn't know it was your brother!"

"So it's okay to do this to a human?"

The Prime Minister struggled to find something to say which would not make the situation worse. "I... You never cared before! Doesn't this happen to your kind all the time?"

"We die all the time, once at a time. Not like this."

"Now, Honda-san, I know it's a shock, but he's alive, isn't he? Your people have centuries to heal, and you've forgiven each other for horrors a human couldn't face before! He'll heal up, and there's no need for you to worry about a few foreign humans. Really, my predecessor said you didn't make this much fuss last time, remember?"

... last time, remember? ...

Again, the figurative was interpreted literally. Japan remembered.

Suzuki watched as his nation crumpled, one hand on his head and the other clutching his stomach, white in the face, as if he'd been shot. Instinctively, he took a step towards the door. He knew logically that Japan could not harm him, but still he felt the urge to run. He watched Japan's lips move, forming his brother's names.

Japan picked up his sword, turned to face the window and straightened up, staring out at the city. He said nothing, but Suzuki could hear his breathing hitch. He reached out and let his fingers brush Japan's jacket, then thought better of it and dropped his hand back to his side.

"I'm sorry," he said, awkwardly. "I am sorry, but there's no way we can stop it now-"

"I don't want to stop." Japan clenched his hand around the handle of his katana. "If we try to stop now, my brothers will have suffered for nothing at all. I can't do that to them. Kill their mortals. Kill as many as you have to, just leave enough to keep my brothers alive."

"What?"

"Your kind are the ones who raped my brothers. You forget I am not human. I am closer to my family than I ever was to you. I don't care what happens to the rabble anymore and I doubt they do either. Just leave Yong-Soo and Yao alone. They'll have gone to ground somewhere, don't have anyone go looking. I can find them myself later. If anyone does find them, have them brought here unharmed - if I hear anyone has hurt them again I'll have that man gutted. I swore I wouldn't let it lie, and I'll keep that promise. I need to protect them. If I have to kill every mortal in their lands and bring them to Tokyo in chains to keep them safe, I will. Nobody is going to hurt my family again! Nobody will touch what is mine!"

He sighed and looked out of the window, remembering his time with England, back when they were friends, translating each others' literature together. His English pronunciation unsure but the emotion true, he spoke one line.

"'I am in blood stepp'd in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er.'"