Director Betty sighed; she could not believe that she was at the manor yet again. There was actually nothing wrong with her being there, but it bothered her all the same that she was there yet again. There was something about her having to come and recruit someone for a job when she had so many people at her disposal. It was just that those people were not the same because they just were not this person. Even though she was not so certain that the person she was looking for would even be able to do what she needed her to do, but she had to chance it.
She also did not like coming to the manor because the family that lived there was…well…for lack of a better term, strange. Now, she was used to eccentric people. She came from an eccentric clan herself, but she believed that they paled in comparison to this clan. She would rather not think about it, but it was kind of hard not think about it when she entered the manor.
She always expected to see the twins in the front yard when she entered the gates, getting into some kind of trouble, but they were not there that time. The grass was probably appreciative of their absence considering some of the things that the boys enjoyed doing in their spare time. Sometimes, the pair would be out there, seeming almost normal, like playing with a ball. But, most of the time, they would be out there, showing that they had been born into the proper clan and injuring the grass, along with themselves a great deal of the time. She supposed that it was a good thing that their mother was a doctor.
The boys seemed to take after their father. Though their father had been born into the samurai class, he was more into doing engineering projects than anything else, making him very useful and therefore liked by the Shogun. The boys were into building too and often made chahakobi-ningyou (1) or other toys for the elite classes to play with. But, their real passion seemed to lie in fireworks and that was how they tended to hurt the front yard more often than not. She had heard that they were great to have around for festivals and celebrations, if not a little dangerous to have around too. She was actually surprised that they had not burned down the villa yet.
The boys got the fireworks passion from their father, who also designed fireworks in his spare time. He was a very educated gentleman and the things that he built were nothing short of amazing. He was still an odd fellow, though. She thought that it was peculiar that out of everyone in such a well known samurai family, there was only one real, practicing samurai among them. And that one warrior was unbelievable, to a disturbing extent.
She supposed it was unfair of her to consider the warrior disturbing. After all, she was certain that there were whispers about her when she left a room that she was equally disturbing for many of the same reasons, even though she did not think that she was so strange. Still, she thought it was telling for her to consider someone creepy considering who she was, not to mention the people that she dealt with on a daily basis.
She was drawn out of her thoughts as she was greeted by the mistress of the manor. Another weird thing about the family was that they were samurai nobles, but they did not have any servants. It was not that they could not afford any, but they did not seem to want any.
“Ohayo gozaimasu (2), Possible-sensei (3),” she greeted the mistress of the manner.
“Ohayo gozaimasu, Director-sama (4),” the redhead replied with a bright smile.
Betty returned the smile, but it was a forced expression. She did not have anything against Mika, also known as Possible-sensei. There was just something about the woman that was a little, well, off. Betty was not sure if that was due to the family that Mika had married into or if she had always been like that. She suspected that Mika just seemed odd because of the family that she married into because Betty doubted that anyone could measure up to the Possible strangeness without already being in the clan or having spent a lot of time around them.
“Please, come in,” Mika said to Betty, motioning into the front room of the dwelling.
Betty obliged and removed her zori (5) to enter the Possible home. They went through the standard things done by a host with Mika offering her food, drink, and the redhead being hospitable toward her guest by asking if there was anything at all that the one-eyed woman wanted. Betty declined because she was not there for a social call. It was business as usual, as it always was. She would never come to the Possible villa for anything other than business. Not many people would go to the Possible home for anything more than business, even though they were all rather friendly people.
She had always heard the entire Possible clan was rather strange, but she had not met the whole clan to pass any judgments. She had met enough to know that they were…different; she was being kind by putting it that way in many people’s opinions. Mika was in that category of “different,” even though she seemed like a nice enough woman.
There were rumors going around that Mika was either the daughter of a fox spirit or she was a fox spirit. Betty would like to say that she did not believe in such nonsense, but it would explain some things if she was the child of a fox spirit or a fox herself. If Mika was either of those things, then it would clear up why she was decidedly different. Still some of things said about the redheaded doctor were a little outlandish.
Betty was not sure what started the rumor, but she guessed that it either had to do with the fact that Mika’s hair was the color of a fox’s fur or because people could not figure out what the woman was doing married to her husband. It was suspicious that a woman like Mika was with a guy like James, so people thought that maybe she was a fox playing a trick. If she was playing a trick, it had the longest punch line of all time considering they had been together for seventeen years now. Was any prank worth that much time, even if one was an immortal?
If the marriage was not a trick, it was still used to support the fact that she might be a fox. Many people seemed to think that she was toodevoted to her husband, which was not something that Betty could understand. She was not sure what “too devoted” meant, especially when it was between a husband and wife that cared about each other. When people started saying things like that, it just showed her that they had too much time on their hands and they needed to go do something with their lives.
Betty did silently admit that she was curious how Mika was still sane living with a man like James. Yes, he was brilliant man, but he did not seem to be quite right in his head. Betty was not sure what it was, but something just did not seem right about him and she thought that prolonged exposure to him should lead to madness. His children were quite mad, after all. Well, the twins were anyway.
“So, how is everything, Possible-sensei?” Betty inquired. She did not want to come right out and say why she was there for some reason, even though they both knew why she was there.
“Everything is fine,” Mika answered.
“I notice that your husband isn’t around,” Betty commented to make conversation.
“He took the boys out. How’s everything with you?” Mika asked courteously. She knew that she was not going to get the true answer. She often suspected that she did not want to know what went on in Betty’s life. She actually did not even know what Betty truly did. She just had a vague idea, which was all the brown-haired woman wanted her to have.
“Fine,” Betty lied, as expected.
“She’s where she always is when you come by. Creature of habit and all,” Mika remarked with a fond smile.
“She’s a creature of habit?” Betty inquired incredulously.
Mika only laughed. She supposed it was a bit misleading to call her a creature of habit. She guessed that it was actually just wrong to label her at all. There was no accurate label for her, except maybe “Possible.”
Betty did not say anything after that question. There was no need to pretend, especially since Mika knew why she was there. So, she left to go find the only practicing samurai left in what had been a rather famous samurai line. She went out to the back of the manor and found Kim where she always was for some reason, working out on plum flower poles.
Kim had a collection of over a dozen plum flower poles, which were usually found at training schools on the continent, but Kim had some right in her home. They were set up in a space in the garden of the manor. There was actually a whole area in the garden just for her to do her exercises. She worked out on her plum flower poles everyday, which was also odd. She was a samurai, so most people would expect her to train with her katana everyday rather, but Kim had to be a strange sort of samurai. Betty suspected that it was because Kim was a Possible.
Kim was a samurai that acted like a ninja, some of the teen’s friends said. They were not too sure what kind of warrior to label her as, so they just threw anything at her. They probably only referred to her as a samurai because she carried around the necessary swords of her class. If there was no class code, they would have no idea what Kim was when it came to combat.
Betty watched the young lady for a moment. Kim was moving easily from pole to pole while working with a jian (6) of all swords. Leave it to Kim to combine training that she should not even be doing. It was all right for the redhead to be working on the plum flower poles because at least it worked on her balance, but Betty could not see the point of the girl working with the jian.
Now, Kim was the reason that Betty was willing to believe that Mika might be a fox or at least the offspring of a fox. Kim was an incredible person, even for the family that she came from. She could do some extraordinary things, more so than almost anyone that Betty had ever met. Something had to be in that girl’s blood aside for what was in most regular humans, so it would make sense that her mother was a fox spirit.
There was the rumor going around among younger people that Kim herself was the fox of the family. They even claimed that she turned into a fox a few times right in front of them. Betty had never seen such a thing and she really did not want to if it was the truth. She knew enough about the girl to last a couple of lifetimes.
“Kim-dono (7),” Betty called to get the teen’s attention. She addressed the younger female with respect because she did respect the girl and she also required Kim’s help, so she was going to be as polite as possible. Kim was probably the only person that got her polite side when she required assistance. Others were just ordered around.
The redheaded teenager turned at the sound of her name, but she made sure to stay on the one plum flower pole that she was standing on. She was holding the jian pointing forward and standing on one leg, as if she was still in the motions of her practice. And then she noticed who it was that had come to pay her a visit.
“Director-sama,” Kim greeted the older woman.
“Spare a minute?” Betty requested, even though it was more an order. It was just that Kim would never think to turn her down, so she made it sound like she was requesting something of the girl.
Kim leaped off of the plum flower pole that she had been standing on. She landed with ease on the ground. She also sheathed her jian in its scabbard, which was on her back. She then bowed slightly to greet Betty properly. Betty bowed slightly too.
“Since when do you work with a straight sword?” the one-eyed woman inquired curiously.
“For a while now. I’m trying to get a better feel for it, just in case I ever run into an opponent that wields on. I want to understand the sword enough to be able to hold my ground against it,” Kim explained.
“That is a good plan. You’re always thinking about ways to improve,” Betty commented and from what she could tell, that was the truth all around. Whatever Kim did, no matter how well she did it, the teen seemed to always want to get better.
“Well, I do want to make it home from any mission that I get, so I need to improve,” the younger female replied.
Betty nodded to show that she understood that line of reasoning. Kim was always thinking ahead, which was what made her a fantastic warrior and which more than likely assured why she did make it home from every mission that she had. Kim was rather like a manuscript of fighting and weapons techniques as well as strategies, which was why her friends were not sure what to call her when it came to combat.
“So, are you here to give me a new mission or checking on your nephew’s betrothed?” Kim asked with a smile.
The one-eyed woman did not bother to answer because Kim knew the answer. Kim was set to marry Betty’s nephew, Will. He was the son of Betty’s younger sister. While Betty cared about Will a great deal, she never went to the Possible home to check on the woman that he was supposed to marry. It was not that she did not care about the setup, but that she was too busy and she knew that there was no need to check on Kim.
While Kim was strange girl, possibly the daughter of a fox spirit, she was still quite the proper young woman. She knew how to handle herself as a lady when the time called for it, just like she knew how to handle herself as a warrior when the time called for that. It was going to be a grand thing when their families united under the marriage between Kim and Will. She just hoped that Will could handle being married to a girl that he looked at more as a rival than as a woman. Betty would actually be surprised if Will knew that Kim was female.
Kim and Will, they were almost funny to think about as a couple; funny in an almost tragic sense. Whenever they were near each other, they seemed out to prove something. Will was trying to prove that Kim was inferior to him and he was not even looking to do it because she was woman. He was just looking to do it because whenever she was around, he perceived that she was trying to do his job better than he could. He disliked being shown up by anyone, but now especially by Kim because she did it time and time again.
The teenage redhead always seemed out to prove that she was either Will’s equal or better than he was. She wanted him to respect her because she felt that she deserved respect from any and everyone. She could do anything that he could do and he needed to learn that as far as she was concerned. He was not special in her eyes.
When the teens finally did get married, they would surely be quite a couple to watch. They might actually need some serious supervision considering the fact that they had gotten into sword fights a few times through out their lives and if they were not getting into sword fights, it was fists fights. They fought with each other as if they were enemies more than anything else. Betty would not be surprised if one of them died and that was how the marriage would be ended. All she could wonder was how long it would take for things to come to that.
In fact, one of the reasons Kim and Will had not been married yet was because their families were scared to leave them alone in a room. Really, who knew what might happen. They figured that they would wait for Kim and Will to grow out of their “petty” differences and then have them get married. Will and Kim did not see their differences as “petty.” Their differences were massive as far as they were concerned and could only be conquered by Will acknowledging Kim as an equal in the redhead’s opinion. For Will, the only way things could be worked out was if Kim yielded that she was inferior to him and that she would cease her pretense of being a warrior. Either of those options might take a while…like several lifetimes.
“I’m here for business, Kim-dono,” Betty informed the redhead.
“All right. Do you want tea?” Kim offered, even though she was pretty certain that her mother had already made the same proposal. Her mother always did, after all.
“No, your mother already offered,” the one-eyed woman answered.
“All right. Shall we talk out here or do you want to go inside?” Kim asked.
“Perhaps I should let you get into some drier, cleaner clothes,” Betty replied.
Kim nodded to show that she appreciated that suggestion. Her clothing, a pair of black hakama (8) and a light, white yukata (9), were drenched in sweat. She had been working out since her brothers left, which was hours ago. Since her brothers were gone, it meant that she would not have to worry about them play tricks on her while she was trying to train herself. She wished that her father took those two out everyday.
Betty waited in the garden while Kim went to clean herself up. The redhead trotted off, grabbing her katanas, which were close by as they always were. The teen never let those weapons out of her sight. Kim had an odd habit of carrying three swords instead of the two swords mandatory of someone of her class. She had two long swords and one short sword. One of the long swords, Betty had never seen the girl draw from the scabbard. She was fairly certain that no one had ever witnessed Kim pull that one katana, which was held in a white sheath while the other weapons were kept in red covers.
The one-eyed woman did wonder about the katana that Kim never allowed to leave its case, but she was not the only one that wondered. Anyone that knew Kim, especially fellow warriors, wondered why she had a sword that she never used. People asked her about it on occasion, but Kim never really gave a straight answer. Sometimes, she would just shrug, as if she did not know why she never used the blade.
No one knew what to think about the fact that Kim never used one of her swords. They knew that she could use her katana as well as anyone else; they had seen her fight countless times. But, because of the fact that the sword was always on her hip and never out of the scabbard, rumors sprang up about the blade just like rumors sprang up about the sword’s owner.
Some of the funnier ones claimed that there was no blade in the scabbard. Apparently, some people were ready to believe that Kim was walking around with the hilt and hand guard of a sword for no reason. While she was a strange girl, she took being a samurai very seriously and would never just walk around with an empty saya (10), especially if she knew how ridiculous it looked for her to have the three swords on her small waist.
Judging by the length of the scabbard, the sheathed sword might have just been too long for Kim to wield properly. Betty suspected that was the reason that the weapon was never drawn, but it was probably a family heirloom and Kim carried it around for guidance from her ancestors or something like that. But then again, there was always a chance that the sword in the scabbard was not as long as the cover was, which would blow her theory out of the water.
Now, she would not put it past Kim to have a short sword hidden in the saya of her long sword, but still that did not explain why she never drew the weapon. Some people speculated that the sword had some kind of magic or power or something else. Things like that made people attempt to steal the weapon, but no one had succeeded in doing such a thing yet.
Kim was very protective of that unused sword, which was another reason that Betty suspected that it was a family heirloom. The usually friendly teen often lost her temper if anyone so much as reached for the weapon. She refused to let anyone hold it, or touch it, and she was known to chastise anyone for even looking at the sword, even those who outranked her. Now, Betty understood that a sword was never just a sword to a samurai, but Kim did not act the same with it came to her other swords.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Kim apologized as she returned to the garden, looking refreshed and neat. She now had on red hakama with a pink kimono. She bowed to add to her apology and show that it was genuine.
“It’s quite all right. I’d rather wait than for you to stand here uncomfortably filthy,” Betty commented.
“Well, thank you, ma’am. So, since you’re not here to check on me, I’m guessing I’ve got a mission to uphold,” Kim said.
The older warrior only nodded. She sometimes wondered if Kim thought that she was just using the little redhead since she only came by for missions, even though someday soon they were going to be family. Kim was always polite and full of smiles, like the rest of her family, but she was a little less naïve than the rest of her family, having seen a lot in her short life. So, sometimes, Betty wondered if behind those olive eyes if the girl was actually cursing her for treating her like a tool rather than a future niece.
“I’ve been led to believe that a daimyo (11) is trying to hatch a scheme to take over the government,” Betty started.
“Another one?” Kim sighed. It seemed like every week someone was trying to overthrow the Shogunate. Were people really that bored?
“Yes, another one. He’s right here in Edo as we speak plotting such a thing.”
Kim nodded for a moment. “Wait a second, if he’s right here in the city, what do you need me for?” the young woman asked curiously.
It seemed to Kim that Betty really had no use for her. The scoundrel attempting to overthrow the government was right in the Shogun’s front yard, which pretty much made the fellow right in Betty’s hands, which should have made him practically crucified already. As far as Kim was concerned, they should not even be having the conversation that they were.
“I need more than hearsay that this plan is going to be executed. It’s a very delicate operation because of the parties involved,” Betty said and she noticed that Kim was going to ask another question, so she stopped the teen. “I need you to gather this information for me to prove that this lord is trying to take over the government,” the one-eyed woman explained.
“Well, I shall do my part. All you need do is tell me,” Kim replied.
“I expected as much from you, Kim-dono,” the elder female said in sort of a praising tone.
Kim was always ready to help, especially if she believed that she was doing the right thing. Betty was glad that the olive-eyed girl was like that since the teen was highly competent. She wished that the redhead would join her staff. But then again, with Kim on her team, Will would blow him top and it would lead to a mess that she did not even want to think about.
“I need you to do some undercover work. Do you think you could handle it?” Betty inquired.
“Anything’s possible for a Possible,” Kim answered in a confident tone. It was the family motto, even present on their family seal.
Kim’s one character flaw in Betty’s opinion was that the helpful teen had no humility. She jumped into anything, even before she knew what it was. She just swore that she could do it, which was something that always put her at odds with Will. He seemed to resent that she could do anything if her track record was any indication of her ability.
Now, Kim was ready to jump into doing undercover work, even though it was something that she had never done before. Usually when Betty enlisted Kim’s aid, it was for her to track, contain, and return someone. The redhead was just about the fastest person with or without a horse and she had yet to let a fugitive escape. She was great for recovering people and goods.
Kim was also good for sending to help people in distress, but that was something the girl did more on her own. Something like that was not Betty’s affair. The point of the matter was that Kim was more an upfront and personal type agent to use and not accustomed to working undercover, especially in the manner that Betty wanted her for.
“All right, Kim-dono. If you think you’re up to this assignment, tell me now,” the one-eyed woman said.
“I am very much up for any assignment,” Kim declared while making a fist as a display of her strength and talent. She could do anything.
“Then I need you to go undercover as a geisha,” Betty stated and Kim’s expression dropped from one of confidence to one of utter disbelief as soon as the words reached her ears.
“Geisha?” the redhead echoed to make sure she heard right.
“Yes,” Betty confirmed. If she was a lesser soul, she certainly would be laughing at the girl’s expression right now. Perhaps Kim had just learned a valuable lesson; never agree to do something without knowing what that something was.
1: Chahakobi-ningyou: tea-serving dolls
2: Ohayo gozaimasu: good morning.
3: -sensei: doctor (M.D), teacher, master, or title used when talking to people in certain professions.
4: -sama: formal Mr., Mrs., Ms. Or addressing someone of high ranking.
5: Zori: sandals.
6: Jian: a straight sword that is meant to pierce and is light and maneuverable. Pretty much like the sword from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
7:-dono: last time I checked it was an honorific title for samurai or to express that you see someone as an equal out of respect. If I’m wrong, let me know.
8: Hakama: wide-legged pants.
9: Yukata: informal summer kimono.
10: Saya: scabbard.
11: Daimyo: samurai lord.
Next time: things get weirder as Yori is recruited for this mission and you get to see who’s going to whip Kim and Yori into form.
A/N: okay, so, if you spotted anything wrong with this, let me know. I want the story to be enjoyable and halfway accurate, even though it’s a strange blend for me with history and the KP universe.