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History of the Kurotokage
The Kurotokage trace their origins back to Nakahara Takatoshi, born in Kyoto in 1502. He spent his early years as a samurai in the service of the Lord of Tanba (near Kyoto), and in 1523 was dispatched for special training to an unknown and never-disclosed destination, thought to have been one of the ninja communities. He took the secret of his training with him to his grave (it is not included in the Nakahara Diary).
He did mention that his lord had expected him to continue to serve him for undercover missions after his training, but events intervened: in 1524 his training group encountered a byakhee, and the majority was killed. [When we actually write it up, we'll probably want to avoid specifically identifying it as a Byakhee, describing it instead to let the reader figure it out.] Nakahara himself was severely wounded, and was nursed back to health and sanity by a passing monk (name and sect unknown; probably Tainin Hodo). From that time, he devoted himself entirely to eradicating the byakhee (and related Mythos creatures) from Japan, gradually attracting a number of like souls to his side.
The first and foremost of these assistants was Momooka Shintaro, a wandering rowdy from Higo (present-day Saga, Kyushu). Momooka's experiences had been a bit different: he had been exiled from his homeland after various escapades involving gambling and less savory activities: he was given a choice of exile or death. In spite of his rather coarse nature and violent attitude, however, he genuinely cared for the peasants, and as he wandered Japan, deliberately evading all attempts to prevent free passage, he also helped the lower classes in many ways. One of these was his single-handed extermination of a community of *** (some kind of baddies) [Best would be to tie it in with something else, like the DO community, a nest of Ithaqua worshippers, etc, to provide foreshadowing.] on the island of Nashijima, in the Seto Inland Sea. He is thought to have been about ten years older than Nakahara.
By that time, Nakahara had a pass issued by the Ashikaga authorities, which was sufficient to allow him free passage almost anywhere in Japan. This was a delightful change for Momooka, of course.
Over the next two decades, the pair of them successfully cleansed many groups of "devil worshippers" from Japan, earning the private thanks of both the Emperor and the Ashikaga Shogunate. The Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiharu, was especially appreciative, and after Nakahara lost an arm in battle and was forced to retire in 1543, offered him a position as the leader of a group of warriors trained to carry on his battle. This group had no official name, and was generally referred to as the "kasumi gundan," which could be translated as "mist corps," recognizing their somewhat hidden and transient existence. While mentioned in various historical records of the time in passing, it is generally thought to have been a bodyguard group.
With the death of Ashikaga Yoshiharu in 1546, the kasumi gundan moved even farther into the shadows as Nakahara's sons, recognizing the potential for conflict with the Shogunate itself, began accumulating and applying some of the various treasures gained from their adventures. The kasumi gundan became, in other words, a secret society which funded itself outside of government channels. Perhaps because of their need for a "good god" to stand against all the evil they fought, the Imperial family of Japan was worshipped, and there was often communication between the two groups. The Emperor, however, was extremely poor and powerless during much of this period, making it difficult for the Imperial family to have much effect on the activities of the kasumi gundan.
This transformation into a secret society had two immediate effects on the group. The first was that it became possible to disassociate itself from the Shogunate, thereby assuring the survival of the secret group even when the Ashikaga Shogunate fell, and again in future years as the government changed numerous times. The other effect was that the kasumi gundan began to adopt a philosophy that what they took by force was theirs, "for the good of Japan."
The kasumi gundan continued until the late 16th century as a combination of secret police and robbers. While most of their members were still actively anti-Mythos, a large number were merely armed ruffians, who often used the accusation of witchcraft as an excuse to rape and pillage. They continued to enjoy a channel of communication with the highest levels of government, however, always to the Emperor and usually to the Shogun or ranking officials, which made it possible for them to avoid scattered, regional efforts by police forces to capture or kill them. Since the entire nation was engaged in a succession of wars as power blocs vied to unify Japan and take the reins as Shogun, in fact they were rarely noticed.
This state of affairs changed abruptly in 1587, when Tokugawa Ieyasu boldly strode into a secret meeting of the highest echelons of the kasumi gundan and said he had come to talk. Appreciating his boldness, and perhaps the mention that the entire meeting place was surrounded by Ieyasu's trusted retainers, they talked for several hours. The agreement boiled down to the provision of intelligence and magical assistance, in return for official support and protection, along with plenty of cash. They agreed, in short, to actively support Ieyasu's bid for power, which finally ended in 1600 with him destroying all remaining opposition and unifying Japan under himself as Shogun.
This had established a new precedent, however… while the upper echelons of the kasumi gundan were aware of the relationship with the Shogun, no-one else was… including the majority of the personnel in the kasumi gundan itself. Under pressure from the Shogunate, the general robbers and cut-throats were gradually weeded out, while those with a genuine mission to protect Japan were supported. Ieyasu was making sincere efforts to ensure peace and stability in Japan, and part of that program included eliminating undesirable elements. He was, however, all in favor of having a group of men who would continue wiping out Mythos creatures and worshippers. A schism had been created between the upper echelons, which were aware of their relationship with the government, and the lower echelons, who knew only of their commitment to protect the people. And the upper echelons had agreed to provide Ieyasu with magical assistance as needed, which it was…
One of Ieyasu's sidekicks, ***, mentions in his diary that the Shogun once described the kasumi gundan as being "like little black lizards, scurrying to do my bidding." This is thought to be the first mention of the name "Kurotokage."
The ties with the Emperor remained active throughout this period, and the Amaterasu-Emperor noticed the potential usefulness of the kasumi gundan sometime around the mid-17th century [anytime from Ieyasu to Meiji, inclusive, actually…] when they acquired a set of the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan. The Books had been recognized and held by the head of the kasumi gundan, and she promptly arranged to have them transferred to her control… in the process turning the leader of the kasumi gundan into a gibbering idiot. From this time, while Ieyasu tightened the screws on his control of Japan, the Emperor moved to gain complete control of the kasumi gundan, which was most easily achieved by controlling the top echelons, as they had already been turned by Ieyasu from their original "pure" motivations.
The Meiji Restoration is commonly viewed as a revolution that swept the Shogunate from power and reestablished the Emperor. However, it is more accurate to portray it as an internal reorganization of the Kuromaku, the shadowy cabal that truly rules Japan.
At the beginning of the Tokugawa Period, the newly established Shogunate did indeed have a great deal of control within the Kuromaku, and as such was easily able to establish itself as both the visible and invisible ruler of Japan. As time went on, however, other forces, some that had long been players within the Kuromaku, others new to the scene, were able to expand their power bases at the expense of the Shogunate, until after two and a half centuries the visible government was just a shell of its former self, ready to collapse with the right push. That push, the coming of Perry's Black Ships, was not an unforeseen, fortuitous event—the more successful members of the Kuromaku had kept their lines of communication to the outside world open, and knew very well what was going on.
Kurotokage had also suffered during the Tokugawa Period. While it had pledged its loyalty to the Shogun, it had remained secretly loyal to the Imperial Line, a dilemma that forced more than one suicide to avoid disobeying either master. Knowing that Kurotokage could not always be relied upon, the Shoguns choked off their funding more and more, making sure that the Emperors could get little use out of them, either. However, there were occasional missions that were so much in Kurotokage's line of expertise that they still saw some action, often in conjunction with the Shogun's secret police, who served both as support and as spies on Kurotokage. It was during this period that Kurotokage began to develop its system of contacts
throughout other intelligence services, like the secret police, so that it could learn about diabolic events even when the Shogun chose not to pass on the information. Thus, Kurotokage was able to carry out a number of missions that were secret from the Shogun, and even at times secret from the Emperor.
Or so it seemed to the rank-and-file agents of Kurotokage. In actuality, their highest commanders had long been aware of the Kuromaku, and were serving them, essentially pledging loyalty to whomever was in power at the time. For a long time, that was the Shogunate, but as time went on, it shifted among several key players, even though the Shogunate was the visible ruler. Kurotokage would then carry out missions to put down supernatural threats that could weaken their current master. To avoid letting the lower-level agents know that they weren't being steadfast and true servants of the Emperor, information about these threats would be "leaked" to the agents through roundabout paths, so they agents would think they'd gotten the information on their own, clandestinely.
When the Black Ships arrived, the leaders of Kurotokage were ready. It had already been decided decades before that it was time for the tottering Shogunate to go, and that the Emperor would be elevated to apparent power again. Kurotokage would be instrumental in that plan, and in return would become far more powerful and well-funded than it had ever been. But there was a price to pay. The Emperor Komei, father of Prince Mutsuhiro, perversely clung to the status quo, and refused to play the role being prepared for him. He wanted no part of the plot, and indeed preferred to keep the Shogunate in power. He was highly xenophobic, and wanted no opening up to the outside world. He was not the right man to sit on a restored Chrysanthemum Throne.
He had to go.
The leaders of Kurotokage had, over the centuries, learned their own dark arts, at first to fight fire with fire, but later to gain power of their own. Infecting him with a deadly, supernatural disease that resembled smallpox was a simple matter, especially as Amaterasu, the guardian spirit of the Imperial Line, had apparently been asleep for centuries, ignoring her progeny. Komei died, and Mutsuhiro was quickly confirmed as the Emperor Meiji as the Shogunate collapsed.
But a strange thing happened during Meiji's investment ceremonies. For the first time in generations, Amaterasu spoke to a new Emperor.
It was not a spiritual merging, as she had done with Himiko and a very few other Emperors and rulers over the millennia. Meiji did not become a God, despite the propaganda. But the child-Emperor was contacted by her, and she whispered to him in his dreams, testing him, trying to see how well she could control him, if he could contain her. Perhaps it was the transitional period Japan was going through—perhaps that had awakened her. In any case, the boy suffered terribly, reporting awful nightmares to his uncle and mother. With time, he learned not to speak of them, and as he grew older, he drank heavily. Amaterasu soon realized that she could not merge with him, but she never entirely abandoned him, and haunted him all his life, eroding his sanity and turning him into a dissolute, nervous wreck. This suited the reorganized Kuromaku just fine, as it made him easier to control, although some of them (the ones with more knowledge of the Mythos) became aware that something strange was up.
In the meantime, it was a golden era for the Kurotokage. Suddenly they had (comparatively) massive funding, and they expanded their tiny membership by recruiting from the best of the Shogun's now-jobless secret police. In the chaos of the transition, they carried out several missions, all of which were secretly in service to the new rulers of the Kuromaku. Three of the leaders of Kurotokage were even powerful enough to form a minor faction in the Kuromaku itself. But one of those leaders, General Saigo, who was also the head of the armed forces and one of the "Three Heroes", became aware of the Emperor's extraordinary contact with the Sun Goddess. Saigo had become Meiji's confidant, and while he served the Kuromaku first, he held the Emperor in great affection, and longed for the early, "pure" days of Kurotokage serving the Emperor and freely battling evil wherever it reared its head. When he learned that Meiji was a truly "holy" Emperor, he carefully passed on the information to the ranks, so as to engender an even fiercer loyalty to the Emperor. He was hoping to be able to purge Kurotokage of some of its more corrupt leaders and take it back to "the old days." However, he was foiled in this by the Kuromaku, which caught wind of his plans and arranged to have him embarrassed and forced to resign.
Saigo's samurai rebellion was hopeless from the start, but Saigo went ahead for two reasons: it would allow him and the many disaffected samurai who didn't fit into the modern world to die with honor, and it gave him a shot at taking down a couple of his enemies in the process. But one night, sleeping on the battlefield, he had a strange dream. In that dream, he entered a Buddhist temple, and spoke with the priests there. Then he was introduced to the Taira, the true, untainted heir of the throne. He was shown things that left him convinced of the dangerous nature of Amaterasu, and he awoke bathed in sweat, his entire worldview shaken to pieces.
Several of the samurai who had flocked to his banner were also Kurotokage agents who had remained loyal to him. He ordered them to desert him and return to the service of Kurotokage, to beg forgiveness and hope that they would be accepted back. Three of them, the ones he most trusted, received a special benediction from him. Dipping his finger in a cup of sake, Saigo drew on their foreheads a complex Buddhist symbol, as he had been instructed to do by the priests of the dream-temple. Then he bade them farewell.
The next day, Saigo made his last stand. Mortally wounded, he had his lieutenant behead him, and his head was sent to the opposing general. Saigo's civil war was over, but the secret civil war within Kurotokage was just beginning.
Most of the Kurotokage agents sent back by Saigo were re-accepted into the ranks, for despite his rebellion, Saigo was well-liked and his final gesture had won him great respect. However, some of the Kuromaku suspected that something was up, and nearly all of those returnees were weeded out through being sent on hopeless, rigged missions as quickly as possible. But the three who had been marked by Saigo received their own visits from the dream-priests, although they were brought in on the secrets more slowly than Saigo had been, so that they would not suffer too great a blow to their sanity, and so they could not reveal too much if they betrayed the priests or were tortured. And although all three of those men soon died in the line of duty, they had been able to tell the priests of those who would make good candidates for contact. Thus was born the conspiracy within Kurotokage, one that sought to serve the Taira.
By this time, the other two of the Three Heroes were dead, and they had been replaced in the Kuromaku by the Genro. The two primary members, Generals Ito and Yamagata, both knew of the Kuromaku and played a role as leaders, although usually very indirectly. Ito was not really temperamentally suited to all this "secret agent business," however, and soon, Yamagata had muscled Ito aside. Yamagata, the same general who had defeated Saigo, was a master of creating and running secret societies, and while he kept his management of Kurotokage indirect, he was soon in almost complete control. He also expanded the Genro's power base and influence in the Kuromaku, sometimes using Kurotokage, among other agencies, as weapons. He even created the Black Dragon Society as a sort of parody of one of the Kuromaku's most ancient members, and used it against them at times in delicious irony.
Yamagata's power derived not only from his conspiratorial dealings, but also from more overt actions. He had considerable control over the military, and was largely behind the invasion and annexation of Korea, Manchuria, and Taiwan. He arranged for his old rival Ito to become Viceroy of Korea, and then set him up for assassination by the Korean resistance, with the help of his Black Dragons.
The death of Ito, who had taken the place of Saigo as the Emperor's closest companion, affected Meiji badly, and he declined rapidly, dying three years later.
Obviously, the Kurotokage was involved in a number of two-edged activities: eliminating Mythos activities (while at the same time either stepping on Allied toes, or just picking up tomes and items for Amaterasu/Emperor), and toward the end, probably under pressure to apply Mythos magic to "save Nippon." Most of the history can go in the timeline, but the actions and development of Kurotokage should go here.
Losing because they are being swamped in a rising flood of mediocre administrators who are more interested in feathering their nests or decrying others than in actually getting important things done. The Kurotokage lower ranks fear the Mythos, but they fear the audit and prosecutor's office more: too many skeletons in the closet, and too many people searching for rugs to overturn. [Dave: I think this is also where they can get some definite cross-contact with Delta Green, through the Occupation Forces.]
The Kurotokage had been fiercely loyal to the Emperor for centuries, and when Japan lost World War Two it was a serious blow to many operatives. Following closely on the heels of the massive losses incurred during the War itself, this further reduced their ranks, and almost resulted in the destruction of the organization through sheer depopulation. [Dave: Let's see if we can have one or two Kurotokage members get hanged as war criminals. Following the common pattern, they would be relatively innocent, while the truly evil men who framed them walk away free.]
Two factors were involved in assuring the continued existence of the Kurotokage: unofficial action by the Japanese government, and unofficial action by the American government. The Japanese government acted in the form of the Kuromaku, specifically the Imperial Household Agency, with financial support from the various zaibatsu members of the Kuromaku. While the American forces were totally unaware of their support, they in fact demonstrated to a Kurotokage operative that anti-Mythos activities were world-wide, and that perhaps there was hope for the future after all (as described in "Yuki Onna").
Some possibilities for ops during WW2 (August 7, 2002, by Lipsett):
- Britain: In Indochina, almost obviously. Another possibility is the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and other British colonies. Burma (tcho-tcho etc) is a prime target, especially since the Imphal Campaign there resulted in massive Japanese losses to the jungle rather than enermy action. See http://themanipurpage.tripod.com/history/wwII.html
- Australia: Various collisions in New Guinea, which should be a ripe hunting group for all sorts of bloodthirsty Mythos creatures and ancient ruins.
- Russia. Nomonhan, Mongolia in the summer of 1939. Massive casualties to the Japanese forces, emasculating their Chinese Army and destroying a good part of their continential air force. Later, in the islands north of Japan, such as the capture of the Kuriles by the Russians, the slave labor camps for Japanese POWs in Siberia, and later expatriation of Japanese citizens from Siberia and the Kuriles. Many references, but curiously few offer any degree of detail. See, for example http://world.std.com/~Ted7/altcamp5.htm#cNomonhan
- Germany. Unquestionably, submarine I-52 (1944). See http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1044.htm
- China. This is getting a bit out of the ODH realm and onto Charles Ripple's turf, but the Chinese more than likely had lots and lots of nifty books and artifacts lying around. I'm sure there was quite a race to grab them, any number of times and paces. Flying Tigers, maybe?
- America. Curiously enough, I can't think of any good candidates, except possibly random encounters on vague Pacific islands. Maybe Dutch Harbor? http://www.vfw.org/magazine/jun02/attackonamerica.htm
In 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympics and the height of the Japanese boom economy, the Kurotokage got a home. Mitsue, Mitsuboshi and MITI (via the Aozora-kai) cooperated in establishing the Fukuzawa Yukichi Institute (FYI). The Institute takes its name from famous Meiji-era Japanese educator Fukuzawa Yukichi, the founder of the prestigious Keio University and a strong supporter for universal education He is perhaps most famous in Japan for his belief in equality, which he expressed as "heaven created no man above another, and no man below." The goals of the Institute are to "promote education for the people of the earth, through a better understanding of each other's cultural heritages and respect for our fellow men." The large, college-like facility is located in Yamanakako, Yamanashi Prefecture, on the shore of Lake Yamanaka at the foot of Mt. Fuji, about a 10-minute ride from Fuji-Yoshida Station on the Fuji Kyuko Line. It includes facilities and equipment normally associated with a mid-level university, such as a large computer room, massive library, many research and meeting rooms, dormitories (although most employees live off-site) and cafeteria. It employs about 120 full-time people and about 50 part-timers of various types. The majority of the staff cycles through, often on sabattical from other educational institutions in Japan or overseas, although the core management personnel are rarely changed. Operational expenses come from the initial "nest egg" provided by Mitsue and Mitsuboshi, plus massive research grants and subsidies from METI or other Japanese government agencies manipulated by the Aozora-kai, and donations from general corporations.
The majority of research performed at the facility is published in their glossy "Journal of the Fukuzawa Yukichi Institute" in bilingual (English and Japanese) format, as a quarterly. Articles are generally extremely dense and difficult to read, covering a variety of obscure topics such as achieving world peace through Buddhism, the utilization of foreign-language teaching in kindergarten, current folk beliefs in eastern Hokkaido, surveys of educational quality in the Philippines, and what have you. In short, it is a highly-successful, internationally-recognized research institute much like dozens of similar institutes around the world. The Honorary Director of the Institute is her Imperial Highness the Empress of Japan, and she makes public appearances at times.
About a dozen of the full-time permanent staff, and a dozen of the part-time staff, however, handle the daily operations of Kurotokage, and a special Ethnology Research Team concentrates on the collection, analysis and evaluation of Mythos tomes. In theory the tomes are destroyed after evaluation; in fact, they end up in the Special Artifacts Room, a controlled-environmental vault under the Main Administration Building. This vault is the largest single collection of Mythos material in Japan (the Taininhodo collection is probably the second-largest, but much of their material is stored in the DLs instead).
This operations center is tied into a secure and independent optical fiber network running the length of Japan, from Sapporo to Okinawa. It was laid simultaneously with the corporate network run by Mitsue, and while it often uses the same physical conduits, the two networks are entirely independent. The communications system is protected by a sophisticated but relatively conventional encryption system, and run out of a network operations center located in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, as a leased operation from a firm specializing in network operations. The network operation firm believes it is maintaining one of several Mitsue networks, and in fact Mitsue pays for maintenance and repair.
Communications with agents are handled through cellphones. The system is perhaps a bit clumsy, but it works. The cellphone is a perfectly normal cellphone, and can be used normally to call anyone, but the volatile memory has been loaded with a Java program to handle encryption. When the agent launches the application by calling up an innocuous-looking user-defined function, and then inputs a unique 8-character string, encryption is enabled. When encrypted the cellphone can communicate safely only with other encrypted terminals, producing only static even if the call is tapped. The encryption function is a trapdoor function, and unique to each cellphone, so even if one code is known it is impossible to determine the password scheme, or use it to gain access through any other cellphone. It is common for agents to use disposable cellphones. When encryption is on, the NTT national telephone network will ignore the call entirely, not logging it in various activity or billing registers. In this state, the cellphone can only communicate with other cellphones also in encrypted mode, and with the Kurotokage HQ (by pressing "0"). This is handled by a special backdoor built into the NTT system by Kurotokage when the system was originally created, and maintained since. In the unlikely event that the backdoor should be traced, pressing "0" will be found to lead to a transfer box which automatically routes calls to a preset number, using a modified "Blue Box" to avoid logging - and the preset number will have been deleted (the transfer box is already in place, and the transfer number was never input, so it can be used at any time). Since Kurotokage has people on the inside at NTT, this is unlikely to happen. Note that this backdoor makes it possible for Kurokotage to monitor, in theory, any telephone or datacom call processed through NTT facilities, which account for essentially all voice traffic and the majority of datacom traffic in Japan.
In addition to visible funding, funds are also provided by METI in the form of skim off of nationally-operated horse- and boat-racing operations. This is always cash income, and therefore untraceable.
The Kurotokage have no directly opposing group, and are therefore organized a bit differently from similar organizations in the United States or Europe. Japan is essentially a nation at peace, and in spite of soaring defense expenditures, the general citizenry is strongly committed to avoiding war and even most military action at essentially all cost. The government is exceedingly top-heavy, and the recent decline to deficit spending has nurtured a new breed of investigators (taxation, corruption, medical, pollution etc.) sincerely motivated to root out people and corporations violating Japanese law. As in any "advanced" nation, many of these investigators are motivated more by politics than by any sense of justice, but once an offender is found, the hounds bay nonetheless.
The Kurotokage does not officially exist, and in fact it does not even exist unofficially to the point that various other "black" Japanese organizations do: It receives no budget, it is not mentioned anywhere, and few people even at the highest levels have any idea of its existence. What it does have is an English conversation class.
It is very common for Japanese of all occupations and ages to study English, either during schooling or less formally evenings or on weekends. The "English Speaking Society" (ESS) was established in the early 1950s, primarily for professional people with tight schedules, offering the opportunity to meet informally with other people interested in English, at times and places convenient to all, and with frequent English-speaking teachers. At that time, the only English conversation schools available were tightly-structured, quite expensive private schools, most rigidly scheduled, and it the ESS proved very successful at attracting employed students.
The ESS was planned and initiated by **Kazuo, and worked perfectly. There is at least one ESS contact in all major and most intermediate-size Japanese cities, providing instant information on when and where meetings are held. Students pay for the meetings they attend, usually by having one person at each meeting send the total collected by postal transfer to the local office (the cheapest way to do it). In fact, a reasonable amount of money is generated through these efforts, and the vast majority of it is spent on rooms, English teachers, texts and similar things. Since there is no legal organization, any profits made are made by the local office, which runs very close to zero profit, zero loss, year after year, as a simple single-owner company paying the owner's salary (and a modest salary at that). The local "office" is usually in that person's home.
In addition to providing English conversation classes for students, however, the local office also provides special classes for Kurotokage ops. Since there are no fixed schedules, places or participants, any set of people can be brought together easily, and since native teachers are needed at times, it is a simple matter to meet with visitors from overseas as well. It provides a perfectly acceptable reason to meet with people from other ministries, other agencies, other companies, at any time and at the drop of a hat.
Clips from old Japan Notes.doc (Just stuck it here to keep track of it; doesn't mean anything in particular yet).
The technical arm is the Meteorological Agency, Seismological and Volcanological Department, Office of the Director-General, Seismological and Volcanological Disaster-Prevention Measures Committee, Emerging Technology Evaluation Sub-Committee.
According to several books, the Monk Jofuku (pronounced Xifu in Chinese; dispatched by the Emperor of the Xin Dynasty to search for the secret of immortality in Japan) said that the underground palace was located under Asama Shrine, Yoshida City. Yoshida City is on the other side of Mt. Fuji, but it might be interesting to have this Institute built on top of the entrance to Amaterasu's tunnels which lead down into the DLs and her "bottled Azathoth" laboratory…
It has several types of agents. (a) people who know the anti-Mythos mission of Kurotokage, and work with it, (b) friendlies, who don't really know who they are working for but don't like the Mythos anyway, (c) people who think they are working for some ultra-right-wing group dedicated to putting the Emperor back in power, (d) dupes, who have no idea of what is going on at all, but cooperate because they think they have been asked by some official government agency.
To accomplish (4), they have established a number of front organizations which exist solely on paper - no matter how they are investigated, they don't exist, and will never be found. One is the right-wingers, the other is the ultra-secret government agency. Once in a while they do something to indicate that the organization actually exists, say, blow up an anti-emperor group's offices and issue a statement claiming responsibility, but no matter how hard the police search, the group doesn't exist.
As can be seen from the diagram, the Kurotokage accepts a range of information from various groups (the four shown underneath). When additional investigation or action is required, it assigns personnel via the English Speaking Society (ESS) to the right, also drawing on special personnel or resources from the four groups as needed. Results are passed directly back to the Kurotokage. Note that while the Shoka have information sources within the Kurotokage and the four groups, they do not monitor or control any of them entirely. Further, they have essentially no monitor or control over the ESS, and do not normally access op result information until after it is received by the Kurotokage.
Kurotokage agents are issued a standard PDA, which appears to be identical to the extremely-popular Zaurus from Sharp. There are a few major differences, however. First, all software and data in the PDA are stored on battery-driven volatile RAM; there is no hard disk drive, but the RAM has a multi-gigabyte capacity. If the battery fails, the RAM is wiped. Second, the circuit boards mounting the electronic components have a layer of thermite inside them, and the electronic ignition circuit is electrically prevented from activation. If the battery fails, the ignitor activates, and the whole things melts down very thoroughly, starting with the RAM chips. The Zaurus can be connected to any cellphone to enabled encrypted communication; without the Zaurus most cellphones function merely as normal phones (note that agents are issued special cellphones with encryption chips, so that the PDA is not required for secure communication). The PDA is provided with SmartCard implementations for GPS location-sensing, inertial tracking of motion, digital camera and various other features, any two of which can be installed at once. All of the SmartCards are standard commercial implementations.
For now, refer to the number one guy as Kazuo, 2=Jiro, 3-Saburo, 4-Shiro, 5-Goro. We'll worry about actual names later.
Hoshikawa Kazuo (cover name — real name unimportant)
Director, Kurotokage, Age 66 (born 1935)
Code Name: Oshou ("Monk," or "revered")
Str 12 Con 10 Siz 11 Dex 14 App 7
Int 17 Pow 18 Edu 18 SAN 62 HP 11
Damage Bonus: 0
Education: B.Sc. Archaeology, Waseda University
Basic and Officer Training, Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces
Cover Occupation: Administrative Director, Fukuzawa Yukichi Institute (FYI)
Anthropology 30, Archaeology 55, Art: Japanese Calligraphy 40, Conceal 60, Control 95 (1), Computer Use 20, Credit Rating 80, Cthulhu Mythos 20, Dodge 30, Dreaming 50 (2), Dream Lore 25, First Aid 45, Forensics 35, Gaming: Go 50, History 40, Law 45, Library Use 40, Martial Arts 35 (3), Occult 20, Persuade 55, Psychology 60, Scowl Forbiddingly 60, Sneak 30
Languages: Japanese (native) 90, English 50, Chinese (traditional, written) 60, Chinese (spoken) 30 (4)
Combat: Handgun 50, Fist 60, Kick 40, Grapple 75, Katana (bokken, shinai) 50 (5), Knife 60, Iron Fan (small club) 50 (6)
Hoshikawa-san was a child during the Pacific War. He came from family background steeped in Japanese tradition. His father was a nationalist and a martial artist, and was about as close to a 20th-century samurai as could be had. Kazuo had these values drilled into him from an early age, and, like Japan itself, saw them stripped away with his nation's defeat during WWII. He was born in Japan-occupied China, but as the war neared its end, he went with his mother and siblings back to their home town of Nagasaki, while his father remained in China working for an undisclosed "dirty tricks" organization within the Army. Kazuo discovered later that in fact his father had worked for Kurotokage. Bare weeks before the end, he was sent to stay with some cousins in the countryside, and was near enough to see the flash and glow of the atomic weapon used on Nagasaki.
Of his immediate family, only he and his father survived the war, mad and broken, forcing the child to support them both any way he could. The black market was often the only market, and he quickly found ways to exploit it for survival, which brought him into contact with organized crime, not only the Yakuza, but gangs of White Russians, Americans, Koreans, and Chinese. He and his father drifted up to Tokyo, and by the time he was 16, Kazuo was a successful, and tough, "businessman." He displayed a flair for brokering deals and acting as a go-between. But that life disgusted him, and, lying about his age, he joined the new 75,000-strong National Police Reserve, a paramilitary force in charge of internal security (this later became the JSDF) under command of the US Occupation Forces, becoming a military policeman. He left his father in the care of some other relatives, and he immediately shed his old skin and started a new life, rousting many of the same people he used to work with. Unknown to him, the group that had pulled his father's strings was watching him as
His success led to promotions, and soon he was an officer, eventually moving into intelligence. His first direct encounter with the Mythos came during the Korean War, when he cooperated with the US military in hunting down a psychopathic (and horribly changed) US soldier who had been on medical leave in Okinawa. He was left with a strong impression that his US counterparts knew a lot more than they let on about the whole matter. Soon after that, he was contacted by, and joined, Kurotokage.
His new sponsors decided to cultivate what they recognized as a brilliant, resourceful mind, so he resigned from the Self-Defense Forces and, with their help, enrolled in Waseda University, studying Archaeology (at their suggestion). This provided a framework that allowed him to accept the true nature of the world, which his new masters slowly revealed to him. Again shedding his old skin, he became a consummate student of the unknown, and a fanatic devotee of the Emperor. He also began to realize that the insane mumblings of his war-shattered father held far greater meaning than he had previously realized. At some early point, Kazuo became conservative. He became a paragon of New Japan the way his father had been a paragon of Nationalist Japan. Like his father, he became a man of authority, took upon himself the responsibilities of authority, and *defined himself by those responsibilities*.
All went well for several years, and Hoshikawa rose in the ranks, but he began to have doubts and suspicions about the true goals of Kurotokage. It was while he was on a mission in the mountains of Kyushu that he encountered the Taininhodo and learned the truth about Amaterasu. Yet again, he shed his skin, but this time did not discard it, for he knew he needed a mask. Almost fortuitously, he was wounded on that mission, and during his recovery, he threw himself into Zen training, focusing on the development of his already formidable talent for self-control. By the time he was ready to return to duty, he had developed almost a split personality, remaining a devoted supporter of the Emperor, while below he plotted against Amaterasu.
He became the head of Kurotokage in 1991, answering only to those secret masters above him. Because his position requires some knowledge of Kurotokage's dirty secrets, he is watched very closely for any sign of betrayal, and his life is constantly on the knife's edge. He deals with the extreme stress of his situation in a variety of ways. In addition to daily meditation, he engages in brush calligraphy (his work is not bad, for an amateur) and trains irregularly at the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu dojo near his workplace. The latter has kept him in
good condition, although he wishes he could devote more time to it. He also works out in kendo with other Kurotokage agents, who cringe at the thought of fighting him. It is not that he is skillful at kendo—in fact, he is very bad at the sport, often striking illegal zones, ignoring the referee's calls to stop, and committing other fouls. He has even been known to fly into a blind rage during kendo bouts, and is called "Broken-Shinai" behind his back. What his underlings do not realize is that this instability is all part of his mask, and a way of getting his opponents to underestimate him in the case of a real battle in the future.
He is also obsessed with Go, and although he is a skilled player, he will never be a master. He realizes this, and has developed a quirk of obsessively trying to teach the game to people when the opportunity arises. It is another annoyance of working under him, but many agents find this eccentric behavior rather endearing.
In 1993, while researching a particular piece of lore in the records, he discovered a report from a Kurotokage agent written in 1945, mere weeks before the end of the war. It described how the agent had, at the request of his superiors, contacted the Deep Ones near Gray Dragon Island in the China Sea and requested assistance in destroying American vessels throughout the Pacific. Their "fee" was unrestricted license on an island community near Kagoshima, and the agent had granted their request as being "within assigned scope of duty," condemning about 8,400 Japanese citizens to a horrible death. The end of the war came before the Deep Ones were able to have much effect on the American fleet, although they were responsible for a number of sinkings including the infamous sinking of three unarmed Japanese ferries evacuating Japanese from Sakhalin on August 22, 1945, with a reported death toll of over 1700 people. The agent who had written the report was his father.
At home, he cares for his father, who sometimes raves of things he could not possibly know, things that the son learned only through great effort. His father, now in his ninth decade, has recently fallen too ill even to tend his beloved garden, and is likely to die soon. Hoshikawa has hired a professional live-in nurse (a 43-year old man) to care for the father when Hoshikawa is busy, which is most of the time.
Description: A short, somewhat fat, but powerfully built Japanese man, mostly bald, with a dark complexion, liver spots, and a big black wart aside his nose. His remaining hair is black shot with gray, and trimmed short. He is surprisingly light on his feet , but he rarely reveals this, moving slowly and deliberately. Thin eyes, impossible to tell if he is looking at you, thinking or sleeping. In the office, he wears conservative suits, although he generally removes his dress shoes in favor of slippers while in his inner sanctum. At home, he likes to dress in traditional Japanese clothes, wearing a kimono or yukata indoors, or traditional farming clothes when outside, hacking ineffectually at his father's now-neglected garden. He carries a fan with him wherever he goes, usually in an inside jacket pocket; while painted to look like an ordinary bamboo fan, anyone picking it up will notice that it is very heavy, and that the ribs and covers are made of solid iron, making it a useful weapon.
- The Control skill represents Hoshikawa's ability to mask his thoughts, even from himself. With some effort, he can bury any thoughts he needs to, making it virtually impossible for them to be uncovered even by telepathy or torture. The skill also represents his ability to enter a deep Zen meditative state.
- His Dreaming skill is not the result of natural talent or even training, but of a direct-transmission gift from the Taininhodo. It is something they do very rarely, but they recognized Hoshikawa's potential, and knew they needed him.
- His martial art school is Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, which includes training in a variety of weapons and unarmed techniques. The unarmed styles are primarily jiu-jitsu, with some atemi strikes.
- He has had little opportunity to speak Chinese over the years, and mainly knows the language only in its written form. Still, he can get by if he has to.
- The katana skill also applies to the practice weapons meant to simulate the katana. These weapons can all parry at the listed skill value. The iron fan is basically a small truncheon; although some fans also have extendable knife blades, Hoshikawa's does not. (Using the knife blades would use either iron fan skill or knife skill, whichever is higher.) The iron fan can also be used against pressure points in grappling. This allows the user to first make a grappling attack; if he succeeds, he can then make an iron fan attack in the same round, with the iron fan's damage being in the form of subduing pain or blood/air constriction.
A glimpse into the psyche of Kazuo:
No matter how much Kazuo might wish otherwise, life will never be as simple as it was for his father. For he lives in the modern world, and…
… though he loves and serves the Emperor, he knows the truth and must fight against that…
… though he lives by his honor, he must lie and cheat and steal and conspire…
… though he is a man of duty, he must betray his duty to Kurotokage to lead the anti-Amaterasu faction.
Kazuo knows the danger of Amaterasu and despises the Shoka. But that doesn't ease the very deep pain from the fact that he wishes he could be everything his father wanted him to be but must fight to destroy everything his father worked for. All day, Kazuo navigates through the corridors of power. He wears Western suits, utilizes the latest technology, and plays power games with the relativist morals required by the modern world. In his heart, he idealizes the past and his ancestors. He wishes nothing more than to live up their expectations.
He returns to his home, which within looks like it could be a set from a Kurosawa film. He exchanges his London-tailored suits for a kimono, and sits to drink tea with his invalid father. The father who taught Kazuo everything it meant to be a man. The father who Kazuo realized was in league with monsters. The father Kazuo could not bring himself to kill even when he discovered his betrayal of the Emperor. Kazuo had him rendered mentally incapable and condemned him to a pampered hell, consigned to a steady diet of drugs that keep the old man from falling into the deep sleep where he could contact Amaterasu and reveal the betrayal of his only son. In the prison of Kazuo's home, the father has every comfort available except peace, condemned to this fate because, though he believes that he has betrayed every other value he was raised to believe, he will not betray that final value and commit patricide.
So the two old men sit in a setting that idealizes the past, but never facing that past. Kazuo sits quietly, as though in penance, as he listens to the old man moan softly, asking why his son will not love her, why does he spurn her love…
Sakamaki Jiro, Kazuo's second-in-command
Operations Director, Kurotokage (age 56, born 1945)
Code Name: Sensei ("Teacher")
Str x Con x Siz x Dex x App x
Int x Pow x Edu x SAN x HP x
Damage Bonus: x
Education: BA/MA/PhD History, Keio Gijuku University; PhD Cultural Anthropology, Sophia University
Cover Occupation: Manager, Research Department, Fukuzawa Yukichi Institute (FYI)
Skills: Anthropology 65, Archaeology 60, Art: Japanese Calligraphy 30, Conceal 40, Computer Use 40, Cthulhu Mythos 30, Dodge 10, Dreaming 25, History 40, Library Use 60, Occult 50, Psychology 40, Sneak 40, Game Theory 60, Planning 65, Risk Management 70
Languages: Japanese (native) 95; German 50; Chinese (simplified and traditional, written) 80, (spoken) 65; English 20
Combat: No skills
History: Sakamaki Jiro was born in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, into a middle-class family. His father was a professor of Japanese language at Keio Gijuku University (Mita campus) and his mother an elementary school teacher in nearby Yoyogi-Kouen, Shibuya. He was an only child. Due to his upbringing by two education professionals, he was a studious and quiet child, excelling in all aspects of the Japanese language, including writing, classical Japanese and Chinese; playing the piano, winning several minor awards during schooling; and model-building. While his grades showed only mid-level skill in mathematics, he discovered a rare skill at game theory and probability that proved invaluable throughout his career in many ways.
He specialized in the study of history, delving first into the roots of Japanese culture and then into its underlying origins in China, and in the pursuit of his PhD in history spent two years in western China doing field surveys of archaeological digs and researching ancient texts dealing with prehistorical civilizations in the region. Sometime during this period he evidenced a rising interest in cultural anthropology, and rapidly turned his talents to uncovering sources of information revealing the cultural and religious background and origins of the Japanese people. Not surprisingly, his studies led to Amaterasu.
After being noticed by one of the shoka for paying a bit too much attention to certain activities in Hokkaido, he was observed for two years, and then contacted in 1985 officially by a representative of the Imperial Household Agency and asked to cooperate in deciphering ancient Chinese manuscripts in the Imperial collection. He jumped at the chance, naturally, and passed the test with flying colors, demonstrating the proper subservience to the Imperial authority combined with a total lack of human warmth whatsoever. Over the next several years he proved himself again and again, with his expertise in game theory and psyching out the opposition being continually improved and refined until everyone referred to him merely as "Sensei." In 1989 he was officially appointed Operations Director of the Kurotokage.
In this private life, such as it is, he remains a scholar and a bachelor. He has no sexual interests at all, and lives by himself in a FYI dormitory provided on-site. He is infamous for preferring to read over eating or bathing, although he does maintain himself in at least a healthy, clean state. He avoids meeting visitors to the FYI as much as possible, and when he cannot avoid them he is often pre-occupied and distant, apparently thinking of other things to the point that his visitors are happy to leave him alone again. He does, however, write regular articles and one column demanding the "cleansing" of the Japanese language, removing the thousands of katakana words imported from English following World War II, and a return to the "beautiful and culturally deep" Chinese characters of pre-War Japan. The general trend of Japanese culture is away from complex kanji and toward increased use of phonetic kana alphabets, but he remains adamantly against the "degradation of noble Japanese" and expresses his views succinctly if a bit one-sidedly in a number of right-wing publications. If the articles are read more deeply, they reveal his desire to return to a true Imperial rule and his positioning of Amaterasu as the ultimate destiny of Mankind through her chosen people: the Japanese.
He has suspicions about every person in the Kurotokage, including Kazuo, but has not found any hard evidence. Yet. While he has little interest in assuming Kazuo's position himself, he would betray - or even kill - Kazuo in an instant if he discovered the truth.
The two men communicate only when required, on a cold, impersonal basis that suits both just fine. As Operations Director they interact quite frequently, and Sakimaki remains at all times the ultimate in cold efficiency, perfectly willing to sacrifice "human resources" in pursuit of a given objective.
While the Kurotokage itself is hidden from the public eye, it is protected by a number of powerful patrons, including the Kuromaku (the real rulers of Japan, including major industrial conglomerates, METI and others) and the shoka. The very few who discover what the Kurotokage's true purpose is, though, are faced with an even more difficult life.
While fulfilling Kurotokage missions to eliminate Mythos elements that could pose a threat to Amaterasu's plan, they must also find a way to work against her, and at times this means against the Kurotokage. They are faced with the moral dilemma of having to betray comrades within the Kurotokage to protect innocent public citizens, or derail an insidious plot that threatens all of Japan. Naturally, their actions are viewed as treason or worse if discovered by regular Kurotokage members, so extreme security measures are required. With Kurotokage controlling the telephone system, however, they have had no choice but turn to non-electronic means: one-time pads, dream communications, dead drops and other means to communicate while remaining hidden.
To protect themselves a cell structure has been formed, so that even if one agent is turned or broken it is extremely difficult to penetrate other parts of the organizational structure. The weak point, obviously, is Kazuo, who continues his tightrope act under increasing pressure from all sides.
Other possibilities include Mark's ideas of newsgroup-based communications.