冥府 – Sakura: Cherry Blossom
Named for the Japanese word for cherry blossom, a flowering tree. In Japan, the cherry blossom has multiple symbolic meanings. Cherry blossoms are believed to exemplify the transient nature of life, because of their short blooming times. Cherry blossoms were also a potent symbol of Japanese nationalism during World War II. In its colonial enterprises, imperial Japan often planted cherry trees as a means of "claiming occupied territory as Japanese space". (Ref: Wikipedia) The precise meaning applied to Basement operations is unknown, as is much of the nature of the Japanese project.
Sakura is officially allied with LONG STAIR, with Japanese and U.S. personnel instructed to treat the other as "friendlies" in the Subterrestrial Operations Theater. However "incidents" have occurred, resulting in mutual casualties.
The Japanese government has revealed to allies that their Gate is located at Kaijushima in the Bonin Islands (site of American atomic testing before being returned to Japanese control in 1968). It is suspected however that the Japanese have at least two other Gates. They are also suspected of working with the Hadsen-Kuginari corporation.
RUMINT on Sakura Edit
"You know the Japs have a hole too? Literally, a hole. When we nuked 'em, some fallout musta fallen down a well, and it burned the tiniest little hole into downstairs. Barely big enough for a person. Roomier if that person's a little girl. I hear they finally learned about it when some hybrid chick crawled out and started drowning people, and I don't mean hauled-you-into-a-river drowning, I mean magically-filled-your-lungs-with-water drowning. Yeeugh. Rumor is they tamed her and she runs their ops now.
The Japs? Ah, yes, the Japs. People talk a lot of smack about them, but I'm probably one of the few Yanks to have actually seen some of their program. See, a few years ago, they needed me to consult on an artifact they'd found. Intel even let me see their bottom level brief before I went (they wanted me to keep my eyes open, if you know what I mean). We think the Japs have at least three holes, but you'll never get them to own up to this. Even in our own little circle, they aren't going to admit they built a bomb, much less that they used it on their own soil. Kaijushima is the only one they'll fess up to, and that's only 'cause it's in the Bonin fucking Islands, and we popped it ourselves a few years before we gave 'em back. Officially all the intel they send us comes out of the Kaijushima hole, yeah right.
Anyway, I go out to the Kaijushima base to examine the artifact, right? The base commander is guy called Col. Hanzo, real creep. You'll just be there minding your own business, and suddenly he pops up ready to explain things. Only he never really tells you much, just spouts the party line and, if you press him, starts spouting off cryptic comments that you just know are loaded with double meaning, but are probably just his way of fucking with you. Other creepy thing is that you constantly get the feeling that you are being watched. All The Fucking Time. Sometimes I'd catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. Something big moving real fast, like a rat but way bigger. You'd never get a look at the thing, by the time you turned your head it was too late. I warned Col. Hanzo, thinking it might be a bogey out of the hole, but he just smiled and complimented me on my "strong warrior spirit"... I'm a scientist damn it!.
I never got below ground, but there are two things I noticed. The first is what I call the sects. All sorts of different religious groups. Buddhist monks, Christian priests, these women, girls really, in red parachute pants, these guys dressed in white robes and big pointy hats... I asked Hanzo about it and he said "We have found faith to have a... powerful effect downstairs." I told him that our own experiments in that direction were all flops, mentioned the saying "God rules over Heaven and Earth, but the Dungeon has its own Master." And he smiled and said "maybe you aren't using enough gods."
The second was what really freaked me out; what they call the "robos". These are manned armored robotic suits like you see in Japanese cartoons, but they moved with an almost human grace, clearly some sort of downstairs artifact is incorporated into them. But that's not what freaked me out. What freaked me out was that the pilots of these things were teenagers. None of them could have been out of highschool, some of them had barely hit puberty! And the Japs were sending these kids downstairs! Hanzo had an "explanation" of course. "They blaze with the passion of youth. It takes a young and flexible mind to interface with the Robos" He added that young agents were more flexible and accepting of the Dungeon's reality, and learned faster than older, more experienced (but set in their ways) troops. I asked if this didn't open them up to hybridization, and he just started babbling about how red the cherry blossoms on the island were... WTF?"