I swear, I really do, that I wanted to do a series of pico-stories: less than 1k words each day for a few days…. And that lasted as long as a politician’s promise.
This takes place just before the curtain rises of my next commercial novel. It’s still free, there in the sidebar or in the pulldown menu, as “Defiant.” Should have taken it down months ago. Old and lazy. Whatever the Empress has to say, she’d going to say it in the next installment, and then I’m moving onto something else!
I swear! Hey…. hey! Why doesn’t anyone believe – !
Nichole5 stood halfway across the pedestrian overpass looking down at the endless flow of cars in each direxion. Bright white lights on her right, cool red on her left.
Tokyo is bigger than I imagined! I want to see the new tower before I go back!
She had arrived from Osaka via a Shinkansen that morning with the commuter traffic. Tomorrow morning she was to be escorted to the Yokohama Naval Base to board IJN Kongo for her trip across the Pacific. As she and Ha-kun walked out of the train station, he nattering on about her schedule, she abruptly turned left and vanished into the crowd.
I never heard him call out, she thought. It must have been several minutes before my poor friend noticed I was gone!
She did not see herself as disobedient; she thought of it as exercising her creativity.
The entire day she walked about the city. Quite a few people would stop and stare. That was understandable: in racially homogeneous Japan she’d been built to look like a poster-child for Irish Tourism: light skin with a splay of freckles across her nose, bright, emerald eyes, framed by strawberry-blonde hair just past her shoulders. A few had – in broken English – asked to have their picture taken with the cute gaijin. They were startled when she replied in perfect Japanese, even with her Kansai dialect.
Walking out of the Akihabara Station subway had led to so many camera and phone pictures that she quickly retreated back underground.
Late morning became afternoon. Nichole5 window shopped in Ginza, fingering the inexpensive clothes she wore while looking at elegant dresses and kimonos. She let go a little sigh and moved on.
Entering the New Tower District fascinated her: so much activity! Before China had crushed the KFR in then-North Korea, that government died in a flurry of missiles all about northeast Asia. A few had atomic warheads. The one that hit here did, but did not detonate. Still, the impact had been in and onto one of the legs of old Tokyo Tower. Safety concerns necessitated it be torn down but nothing had been done to replace it.
Until her… friend… did.
Nichole5 could not suppress her tiny smile.
One of the first decrees of the newly enthroned Empress Togame was the construction of a new tower. Not something to replace Tokyo Tower but to succeed it.
She paused, looking from the base, up. Way up. The sun was just setting but most of it was still illuminated.
Narrow. Three sided. The base covered several acres. It had to, for stability. She leaned back. The apex was exactly one kilometer above her. Using the most advanced materials in the world. Many in the Diet had criticized the expense; a vanity project, they called it. Breaking yet another tradition, the Empress herself appeared before the MPs and threatened to dissolve them. The opposition backed down. For then.
Nichole5 was aware of a few other people about her, also admiring the view. Officially, it was still Tokyo Tower.
Everyone called it Togame Tower.
“Isn’t it supposed to be done in a week or so?” Some man to her right asked the evening air.
“I’d heard it is done, but Miss Fancy Pants has some surprise,” a rougher male voice from behind her.
That’s not nice!
“I do not wear ‘fancy pants,’” said the young woman just at Nichole’s left. That voice!
Nichole looked left just as the young woman turned to the one behind them. She wore an elegant yellow and white yukata. Her hair, just a little shorter than Nichole’s in a few tiny complex braids that was all the rage right now. Sunglasses occluded her eyes.
“And who are you, little missy?” The man challenged.
She pushed her glassed up onto her forehead.
Now recognized, everyone about them bowed deeply. Except him.
“It’s a waste of money. And, you shouldn’t be on the throne!”
Nichole was amazed at her friend’s composure.
“Perhaps one of those statements is true.” A small roll of her shoulders. “Perhaps both? Or, neither. Time will tell.”
Togame turned to face Nichole, looking up the few inches that separated them.
“We are happy to see you again, friend.” She waved with her left at the Tower. “Walk with me. We’ve things to discuss before your departure.”
“Of course, Your M – ”
Such a glare!
“M… my friend, Togame-chan!”