[Colonel of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force]
The loud alarm tone echoed throughout the dark room. Colonel Kawashima's eyes slowly opened, rousing from her slumber. She inhaled through her nose, rolling over before slapping the snooze button on her alarm clock. Her eyes focused on the blue LED display, which read 4:45. The woman rubbed at her eyes before sliding out of bed. Kawashima walked into her personal bathroom, flipping the lights on before turning the sink, letting warm water flow from the faucet. Kawashima's eyes listlessly drifted down to her hands as she gently rinsed her hands underneath of the running water. The colonel cupped her hands together, allowing the water to pool in her palms. With that, she splashed the warm water upon her face, rubbing at her eyes a bit before turning the water off. The woman reached for an unmarked prescription bottle, twisting the top off and extracting a single white pill. The colonel briefly examined it before shoving it into her mouth, swallowing moments later. She switched off the lights as she vacated the bathroom. With that, she walked to her closet, dressing herself in one of her work uniforms, rolling up her sleeves before pulling her watch on. Kawashima then exited her bedroom, making her way into the dark kitchen before slowly adjusting the dimmers, making it light enough to see. With that, the woman began to brew a pot of coffee. As the coffee percolated, the colonel made her way down a small hallway, reaching a door. She could hear the quiet reverb of a fan emanating from the other side of the door. Kawashima quietly opened the door, peering into the dark room to see a sleeping form nestled underneath of the covers, laying on a twin-sized bed. The form was that of a teenage girl, around sixteen or seventeen. She had short black hair and appeared to be five foot, seven inches tall. The colonel made her way to the sleeping girl, gently placing her hand upon her shoulder, giving her a soft shake.
Kawashima's blue-gray eyes watched as the girl shifted in her bed, letting out a grunt before falling still once again. The colonel once again shook her shoulder.
"Sayuri, time to get out of bed. It's five o'clock."
A halfway incoherent grumble came from Sayuri, who rubbed at her eyes. She slapped her hands over her face, her voice muffled as she answered the colonel.
"The sun's not even up yet, mom."
"I know it isn't. Come on. Up." Kawashima tapped her daughter's arm with her palm.
Saiyuri let out a growl before sitting up in bed, holding her head in her hands. Kawashima watched as her daughter lowered her hands, resting her arms upon her knees. The girl peered up at her mother. She shared the same eye color with the woman. Sayuri was born on October 3rd, 2016 to Akira and Ai Kawashima. Since the divorce of her parents, she had been living on base with her mother. Sayuri's relationship with her mother was standoffish. She believed that her mother was overbearing, whereas Ai thought her daughter to be recalcitrant. It greatly frustrated Ai. Sayuri resembled her father in that regard. She was in her second year of high school, upper secondary education. Her mother was pushing for her to attend the National Defense Academy after school, to become an officer like she was. Sayuri on the other hand, held little interest in the military. In Sayuri's opinion, it was the military that drove a wedge between her parents.
The girl stood up from the side of the bed, walking over to her dresser before digging out a change of clothes. She glanced back to her mother, raising an eyebrow.
"Do you mind, mom? I need to get dressed."
Kawashima lightly grunted, giving a slight nod before vacating the room. She made her way back to the kitchen, pouring herself a cup of coffee before sitting at the bar. Sipping at her beverage, many thoughts poured into Kawashima's mind. Public Security was scoping out her residence, looking for any evidence against her. It infuriated her, to say the least. Despite the fact that the courts ruled in her favor, Section 1 continued to watch her. Therefore, they must have had undercover agents infiltrating her staff. She would have to have Kurosawa or Sonoda uncover the moles. Then there was the question of the Ministry of Finance sending hired guns after her. There had been an assassination attempt against her at the hospital, only two days ago. Because of the supposed embezzlement of funds, even though no one had any proof. Last but not least was the matter of Kaneren Tonbogiri. The rogue AI was still at large and no one had seen her for eight months. Was she watching Kawashima as well? What was her next move? The Colonel distinctly remembered what Kaneren had told her last November.
"I look forward to seeing what you and Aramaki plan on doing next."
That was just it. What was she planning on doing next? She wasn't sure where to start. Even with Kurosawa and Sonoda combing through the Net, the only information they found on Kaneren Tobogiri were rumors and whispers. People were scared to talk about the AI. They were afraid that if they opened their mouths, Kaneren would silence them. They were afraid that she was watching their every action, every word, every thought. It was no wonder that there were so few chat rooms dedicated to the AI. Could she be watching? Kawashima sipped her coffee before switching on the television, keeping the volume low. There wasn't much that was news worthy this early morning, save for the weather forecast. Police were still investigating the explosion at the Newport Hotel. She knew that it would be ruled as a potential terrorist threat. Therefore, Public Security Section 9 would step in. That didn't concern her. What had her attention was the assassination attempt at the hospital. Even though she didn't want Public Security getting involved, she knew for a fact that they would. Section 9 would jump at anything that even whispered terrorism. She didn't need them snooping around, interfering with her work.
The sound of a door closing caught Kawashima's attention. She set her coffee down as Sayuri walked out into the kitchen, wearing her school uniform. She opened the refrigerator, searching for something to eat. Kawashima glanced to the girl for a moment before looking to her watch. Sayuri's grunt caught her attention as she glanced at the girl.
"Do we have any other food besides this cyborg stuff?" Sayuri glanced to her mother.
Kawashima pointed towards a rice steamer that was set upon the counter. The colonel picked up her coffee and took a sip, answering her daughter's inquiry.
"There are some eggs and some broiled fish in the fridge, Sayuri."
Sayuri grunted, digging out the appropriate dishes and ingredients. Her mother glanced at her watch, setting down the cup that was in her hand before standing. The woman made her way towards the door, stopping only to scoop up her jacket on the way out. She turned towards Sayuri, who was still in the kitchen.
"Go to school today." Her eyes narrowed at the girl, who had stopped to face the colonel.
"Yeah, yeah." The younger Kawashima scoffed, fixing her breakfast.
The colonel opened the door, glaring at her daughter before vacating the apartment. She peered down at her watch, letting out a small sigh as she made her way across the grounds towards the main facility. The sun was beginning to peek over the horizon, indicating that it was still very early. A column of recruits were marching in front of her, following the cadence set by their drill sergeant. Kawashima watched them pass by, a few of the recruits glancing over at her, only to be scolded by the sergeant.
"Eyes front! You look at her again and I'll cut your damn eyes out!" The sergeant bellowed.
The recruits immediately locked their eyes in front of them as they marched along. Kawashima allowed them to pass before making her way inside, navigating the winding hallways. Personnel all saluted her, allowing her to pass. Truth be told, the woman didn't notice most of them. It was routine for her, almost tiring. Eventually, she found her way to her office. She closed the door and hung up her coat before sitting down behind her desk. Kawashima stared at the flat surface of the furniture, as if she was spacing out. Public Security had her concerned. The fact that they had members infiltrating her base didn't sit well with the woman. What infuriated her the most was the fact that they were watching her child. They had to be found. A knock on her door snapped the woman out of her trance. Kawashima cleared her throat, glancing towards the door.
Entering her office was a man who appeared to be in his late 30s, early 40s. He had short, black hair and brown eyes. His appearance was strikingly handsome. He stood about 6 foot even. His collar tab indicated the rank of Lieutenant General and the name tag on his work uniform matched that of the colonel's. The woman stood from her desk, narrowing her eyes at the man.
"What are you doing here, Akira?"
Lieutenant General Akira Kawashima was the ex-husband of Colonel Ai Kawashima and Sayuri's father. He was considered by many to be the Chief of Ground Staff's adjutant. Many of his policies and his general treatment of enlisted staff caused him to be well liked within the GSDA. Though he and his ex-wife didn't see eye to eye, they were amicable enough to ensure that Sayuri had a smooth upbringing. Akira stepped off to the side, allowing another man to enter the woman's office. This individual was in his mid 40s. He had brown hair in the form of a high and tight. He had steely blue, deep set eyes that seemed to pierce through her. He was a tall man, taller than Akira. The mysterious man was garbed in an Imperial American Marine Corps service uniform with his cover tucked underneath of his arm. Akira cleared his throat, stepping off to the side as he addressed his ex-wife.
"Colonel Kawashima, this is Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Hughes of the Imperial American Marine Corps. He is the commanding officer of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion."
Kawashima gave a slight bow to the man before meeting him with a handshake. She greeted him in her usual icy tone, meeting his gaze with her own.
"A pleasure, Lieutenant Colonel Hughes."
Hughes gave Kawashima a nod before glancing out of the window at a column of recruits undergoing physical training from a drill sergeant. Akira cleared his throat, catching the attention of his ex-wife. She turned her head, facing the man as she folded her arms across her chest. Hughes focused his attention on the Lieutenant General. Akira's brown eyes were focused between the two of them as he offered a booklet to Ai. The colonel accepted the book, opening it before thumbing through its contents as Akira spoke.
"The Ministry of Defense has requested that Special Forces Group 43 partake in joint training and drilling with the Imperial American Marine Special Operations Command. This comes from the top, Colonel."
Colonel Kawashima's eyes shifted up from her orders to Akira, if only for a brief moment. She turned a page, emitting a small grunt. She exhaled from her nose as she closed the booklet, setting the object on her desk before turning back to Akira.
"The Jinrai don't exist, Lieutenant General."
"Not on paper. Your group has as much validity as Public Security Section 9, so I think you'll manage." Akira answered the woman.
Ai glared at the man with hard eyes. Special Forces Group 43, more commonly known as the Jinrai, were considered to be the best that the GSDA had to offer. They did not officially exist. Due to their almost fanatical loyalty to Ai Kawashima, many of the colonel's enemies considered the Jinrai to be Kawashima's personal death squad. They had been described as ultranationalists, almost xenophobic in a way. Ai glanced to Lieutenant Colonel Hughes for a brief moment before returning her attention back to Sayuri's father.