Prologue

In the seventeenth century, the small island nation of Japan made a choice. Instead of adopting a policy of isolationism, Japan chose to expand their contact with the rest of the world. Certain alliances they made, and certain crucial technological developments allowed the country to expand fast and wide. In the modern day, the Empire of Japan rules the Pacific Rim.

The Empire's influence extends throughout Southeast Asia, down the Chinese coast and up through the Russian steppes. Indonesia and Australia are its protectorates, and each major city on the western coastline of North America has a governmental pagoda. The Rocky Mountains and the deserts beyond are a natural border between the Empire and the rest of the Americas. The only area in which this is not the case is in the south - the Empire discovered large oil and mineral deposits further inland, and expanded their borders to protect it. That's the north and west of the Texan territories. Though the eastern coast of the area is dominated by the Caribbean Republic, most of the flat, arid, oil-rich lands which abut the desert are controlled by the Empire. There has been a strict border guard there since 1803, treaties have been signed, and conflict is almost non-existent.

It is not unknown for non-Japanese to find a place in the Empire. Some have risen so high as to become recognized as ministers, businessmen - there are even some that have completed the samurai training and become one of the Empire's respected knights.

Now, in the last twenty years, there is one such man - a Japanese citizen, born in Tokyo - who has risen past his peers, straight through the ranks. He is known for his honor above all, his devout loyalty to his Shogun. It is said, in whispers between the towers of Tokyo, that if you wanted to point to the most Japanese of all the mainlanders in the world, you would point to him. His sword can cut one hair on your head and leave all others untouched. His aim with a pistol is unsurpassed. When he strikes with his fist, it's like watching the wind blow. In Japan, he is called Daiki Nihonjiro, samurai-sama, and there is not a soul who does not bow to him, save Emperor Kurosawa himself.

In Dallas, where his parents raised him, his name was Jensen Ackles.

The sound of the Gion Shôja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sâla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.

The Tale of the Heiki, Kakuichi

next