By Daidoji Gisei
"Rekai-sama," the spymaster said, "I am so pleased that you have come."
The Daimyo of the Daidoji family looked him over and hid a sigh. The last time she had seen him, he had been disguised as a Shinjo groomsman. Today he was a peasant kite seller. Rekai wanted to believe that his constant changes came from a desire to demonstrate his skill, but sometimes she worried that he had forgotten who he really was and simply going through all the possibilities.
"I have been hearing some extravagant claims for the operations your section is working on," she told him. "I want to see some evidence that you can do what you say."
"You will not be disappointed, Rekai-sama." He bowed and motioned for the guards to open the door. "Please, enter."
The room he showed her into was bare save for two desks, each with a stack of paper upon it. Next to each was a young man with the Daidoji mon on his kimono, but without the tattoos that signified a graduate of the Yojimbo school. They bowed low to Rekai as she entered but did not speak.
After Rekai was seated the spymaster waved a hand at the two younger men. "These are two of the agents we have trained for ROADMAP. With your permission, we will proceed with the demonstration." Rekai nodded, and the spymaster pointed at the man on the left. "Begin."
The agent turned to his desk and went to work. In less time than Rekai thought possible the pile of paper hand been transformed into a crane, two different boats, a swan, a butterfly, a bouquet of flowers, a snail, a mother duck and three ducklings, and a kabuto.
"Amazing," Rekai murmured. The spymaster pointed to the second agent. "Begin."
This time the first sheet of paper was folded into a deep tray and the other items placed within it. When the last paper sheet was folded the agent picked up the tray, carried it over to Rekai and set it before her. Rekai looked at it and gasped. It was a perfect model of the #2 Combo Tray at Eat Me Raw, her favorite sushi shop at Ryoko Owari. Just looking at it made her hungry.
"Even as we speak our agents are infiltrating key Crab strongholds," the spymaster said. "Soon the Crab will discover that all of their battle plans have been reduced to elegant and whimsical three-dimensional art forms."
"It will not delay them long," Rekai said.
"Longer than you might expect, Rekai-sama," the spymaster said. He picked up a duckling and handed it to her. "Try to unfold it."
Rekai did her best but no matter how delicately she picked at it the paper buckled and tore. "The Crabs will tear their topknots out in frustration."
"Exactly." The spymaster sounded smug. "And then BLONDIE goes into effect."
"BLONDIE?" Rekai said. The spymaster didn't explain immediately, but instead dismissed the two agents. While she waited for them to leave Rekai picked up a nori roll with trout and daikon and pensively took a nibble. The texture was a little odd but the flavor was perfect, with just the right amount of wasabi to balance the sweet creaminess of the fish. She finished off the roll in two bites and picked up another.
The spymaster politely waited for her to finish before continuing. "For BLONDIE we recruited the top students from the Kakita Hairstyling Academy and inserted them into the support staff of the Crab armies. Every Crab bushi who goes in for a trim from one of our people will go out with a trendy, fashion-forward hairstyle."
Rekai frowned and picked up a turnip chrysanthemum. "But surely the Crab will notice immediately."
"The Kakita are masters of their art, and can set a hairstyle to go off days or even weeks after the original appointment. Once they start activating the Crab forces will live in terror, never knowing who will be the next to wake up coiffed."
Too much vinegar in the chrysanthemum, Rekai thought, and tried the inari-zushi. Much better. "I am impressed by your efforts. Was there anything else you wish to show me?"
For the first time the spymaster looked uncertain.
"Rekai-sama, my staff has been developing a new plan, but it goes far beyond anything we are currently doing to the Crab, and I am reluctant to act on it without your approval."
Rekai kept her face still, but her heart sank. If it bothered her spymaster she really didn't want to have to consider it, but…she was a Daidoji. She would do what she had to, for the good of the clan. "What is it?"
The man leaned forward and dropped his voice to a whisper, so that she had to strain to hear the word.