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Auroras Dancing Amongst a Sea of Clouds

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Second president of New Japan, Shoko Ozora, was missing, and her staff was in a fever pitch trying to find her. It could hardly be called anything close to a state of panic, though; the extent of most members' reactions amounted to annoyed sighs as the search endured.

None were more annoyed than her First Secretary, Kira. He was no stranger to her whims to travel to New Japan itself and admire its beauty, but it was hardly as if they could afford to waste time searching the whole country for their president. Instead, the aged politician exited the control room of the Battleship Nagata and started to patrol its grounds for a certain man who could help.

He soon found him in the form of Kiyoto Kaido, who was at that moment exiting the garden Madame President had insisted be installed onto the Nagata. He walked by Kira, blissfully unaware of any sort of frenzy, but the First Secretary seized him by the shoulder and turned him back around. Although initially surprised, Kiyoto's expression returned to an indecipherable one soon after, and he simply asked, "Yes?"

"Madame President is missing," Kira told him, in the process having to resist commanding him to get his hair out of his eyes. "As loathe as I am to ask you of all people for help, did she tell you anything about where she might have gone?"

A small smile formed on Kiyoto's lips, and as he turned away from Kira, he asked, "If you hate asking me for help so much, why are you?"

"You know why!" Kira snapped. He caught himself before continuing, and he closed his eyes and sighed. When he looked back at Kiyoto, his features were ever so slightly more relaxed. "Madame President is expected to give an address tonight to welcome the new year; what will the people think if she not only doesn't do so, but is totally absent when the clock strikes midnight?"

"That doesn't sound like it's my problem; I'm only expected to serve Madame President herself, after all, and I'm sure she's safe." Kiyoto shrugged as he replied, and though he was facing away from Kira, Kira could tell from his voice that the chief aide's smile was growing wider. "Though if you must know, she did mention something about going to see the snow to welcome in the new year."

The frankness of the response took Kira off guard, and so a silence descended between the two of them. It only lasted a few seconds before Kiyoto turned back to his senior, a bewildered expression awash over what of his face was visible. Once more, the secretary had to resist yelling at him to style his hair more properly.

Instead, Kira cleared his throat, and with a nod of acknowledgement he left Kiyoto to his own devices, moving back toward the control room. Once he was an adequate distance away from the chief aide, he ran a hand through his slicked hair, in particular running two fingers over the white stripe in his hair. He muttered to nobody in particular, "I swear, that girl's going to make my whole head go white."

Second president of New Japan, Shoko Ozora, was standing atop a mountain ridge nestled amidst the snowy and vast mountains of Hokkaido. Near her stood her method of arriving in the snowy prefecture, as well as the hope of her nation, the Liberator Kamui. Despite her battle-oriented means of transport, however, her combat suit was nowhere to be found. Instead, her outfit primarily consisted of a long-sleeved white winter coat, which reached half-way down her thighs, and a long purple skirt, which covered the rest of her legs.

The president did little to occupy herself while ankle-deep in the snow; she simply stared to a patch of lush flora in the distance, surrounded by the frigid winds yet utterly unaffected by then, and she smiled. A small shiver escaped from her, snapping out of her reverie, and she breathed into her gloved hands, a plume of icy air escaping from her lips. She stared at her hands, then back at Kamui, and she smiled once more, though her new smile was more subdued.

The sound of a ship in the distance broke her reverie anew. She turned in the direction of the sound, and with one hand, she swept some hair out of her face. She held the other over her eyes, in an attempt to keep snow out and look further into the distance.

Sure enough, as she expected, the familiar silhouette of the Nagata loomed in the distance. Her eyes widened for a second, but her look of surprise quickly gave way to a resigned smile, and she signaled her position to the distant shadow. It fast approached her, though stopped a short distance away and descended to be adjacent to the mountain. A single silhouette made a short hop from the deck of the Nagata to the mountain ridge, and from the frame of the silhouette, the president was pretty sure she knew who it was.

"I'm surprised you all found me so quickly, Kira," she told the approaching silhouette, turning back in the direction of the greenery.

"Nevermind that. Madame President, how many times must I tell you that you cannot use the Kamui for your own personal joyrides?" Kira's reply was punctuated by the occasional gasp for breath, as he hunched over with his hands on his knees. With a deep breath, he stood straight once more, and he pursued, "Furthermore, you didn't answer any calls from the Nagata, and you actually decide to land on the ground below. Do you realize how risky this entire idea was?"

The president swept her hair out of her face once more, and she let the winter air fill the silence between them. She eventually answered, "I do, and I apologize for that." She gestured to the greenery in the distance. "But I couldn't miss a sight like that, much less on such a special occasion."

Kira followed her gesture with his gaze, and a look of bewilderment washed over him. "If admiring that lone patch was your sole goal, Madame President, why aren't you closer to it? You'd be less likely to fall ill."

Shoko shook her head and indicated the entire area around them: the snowy peaks and ridges, as well as the freezing air which carried more snow to them. "That patch of nature is beautiful by itself, but there's so much more to it. That small area of greenery, persevering despite everything around it? I think that's the most beautiful part of it all."

She turned back to the greenery, though she looked down to the ground, a sad smile on her face. She took some notice of Kira being taken aback, but she continued despite that, "That thought is helping me calm down a bit."

Kira's surprise dissipated rather quickly, his eyebrows rising slightly in realization. Though his expression was still stern, it softened slightly as he smiled. He asked Shoko, "Are you nervous about your address in a few hours?"

Shoko's expression brightened ever so slightly, and she looked back up at the greenery, then at her First Secretary. She nodded and told him in a low voice, "I was kind of thrust into the role of president. Of course I'm grateful to serve my country, and I gave a couple speeches when my presidency was up for debate, but all I've really done since my inauguration is blow up Dominion weaponry. This will be my first major address as acting president."

Shoko's voice trailed off as she started to look wistfully past Kira, toward the Nagata. As such, she made a small gasp of surprise when Kira clapped a hand on her shoulder. Her gaze snapped back to his face, and through the heavy winds, she saw his warm smile and thought of her father for but a second.

"You have no need to worry, Madame President. You have me and every other member of your staff backing you."

Kira's words hung in the air as Shoko stood there, trying to process the weight of his reassurance. Her smile returned soon after, brighter than ever, and she buried her face in his chest, hugging him tightly. "Thank you, Kira," she said simply.

Kira returned the hug, gently stroking her back. Utter silence descended upon them; even the winds gave way, as if to leave the two alone, even if only for a moment.

After what seemed like an eternity, Shoko pulled herself away from Kira, and she approached the Kamui. "I'm ready, Kira," she told him, as she mounted the mech. She looked to him, her smile still shining, and said, "I suppose I'll see you after the address."

The soft hum of the Kamui starting up interrupted his verbal answer, so he instead nodded his agreement, adopting a professional stance once more. The hum grew louder as the Kamui ascended slightly off the ground. The ascent continued until she was multiple feet above the mountain ridge, and from her vantage point, Shoko looked down upon Kira.

"Well, until then," she called down, her hair whipping in the wind behind her, "happy new year, Kira."

Kira's gaze followed her as the Kamui approached the Nagata. His smile grew wider as he replied after her, "Happy new year, Madame President." He slicked his hair back with his hand, taking notice of the abundance of snow that somehow accumulated atop his head. He realized how his hair must have looked, and he let out a low laugh. With renewed vigor, he called after the president once more:

"Happy new year, Shoko."