Michiko Maruyama

Gender: Female
Place of Origin: Farius Prime
Played by: Mel

Physical Appearance

Michiko only sticks out of a crowd because of her lack of size. She is often the smallest person around. Being of pure Japanese descent, her features show the typical signs of that heritage: a delicate build, almond-shaped eyes, dark brown hair.

Personality

Michiko is shy and withdrawn at first, but once she gets to know someone better, she opens up more.
While she knows that she is very intelligent, she does not brag about it or shows off. Quite in the contrary, she is always willing to help others who struggle with course material.

Pre-Service Biography

Maruyama Michiko's ancestors, members of Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, left Earth when general affluence started to spread as a side effect of First Contact. Criminality rates decreased and, with less and less to exploit and less and less corruption, the Yakuza were not happy with the changes and the accompanying loss of power and influence. They were not alone. Members of other criminal organisations like Cosa Nostra, Triad and Organizatsiya felt the same way, fearing that the days of their proud and century-old organisations were numbered. They began to make plans, to count their money (of which there was plenty) and to contact their peers across the planet. Finally, after long discussions, a plan was devised: they would leave Earth and find a more lucrative place to live in. With the Warp drive now in full development, travel time had decreased enormously and targets that used to be dozens of years away might now be attainable in a few months or a year. They ordered a ship with all the latest technology, made sure the stocks and spare parts would suffice for years and paid for everything. Officially, the crime ship was marked as a settlement ship, destined to find a viable colony and to establish a Terran base there, therefore the launch was widely applauded. And it was of course an excellent way for the different world leaders to get rid of an important part of organised crime, making their jobs easier.

The ship launched during the second decade after the establishment of the United Federation of Planets, using charts and maps obtained from the Vulcans and the other founding members, providing the crime families with a good overview of then known space, theoretically ideal to find a suitable colony planet. But that was not their plan. They did not want to found a colony. They wanted to find a planet outside of the then tiny UFP space that still allowed for shady deals, where fortunes could be made, people be threatened and their kind of ideal society be shaped. Of course, that would require a lot of money and effort, but they had the money and they had the patience. Plus, they had certain kinds of expertise that could be useful to some governments. Prime Directive? Pah.

After a couple of years of travelling, the ship reached Farius Prime, a planet where different warp-capable species where already established. Some more strangers would not be a problem there, quite in the contrary. They sent out scouts and learned that the planet was an important place for trading of all kinds - legal and illegal both. They checked with the local government who was quite in favour of the Terrans settling down on the planet, especially after having received a substantial settlement "fee".

Fast-forward two hundred years.

The crime families have very much become part of Farius Prime society and are involved in a vast array of operations and businesses, some very legal and respectable, some on the shadier side. Their influence is wide and they have major tie-ins with the Orion Syndicate, most of the former Terran crime families now being part of that organisation but still keeping to some of their old traditions on the local level.

One of the ancient Yakuza families is the Maruyama clan with Maruyama Hoshu as kumicho or oyabun, the family boss. His oldest son, Maruyama Ichirou, is his highest ranking saiko-komon and widely regarded as his eventual successor. Both are also established members of the Orion Syndicate and even though they do not have their place among the Syndicate Elders (yet), they are well regarded and influential. Ishirou even has good chances to eventually ascending into that highest level of Syndicate hierarchy.

Aside from that, Ishirou is married to Shinju and together they have three sons, Kazuki, Takeo and Mitsuo, with two years between each of their births, who were raised in the best Japanese fashion, their lives full of learning, discipline and obedience that prepared them for their initiation into the Yakuza and Syndicate when they were of age. The boys were intelligent and showed promise even at a young age for any career they would set their minds on, for even if they were members of crime organisations, it was clear from the beginning that they were too valuable to become common thugs.

Mitsuo, the youngest, was eight years old in 2373, the year Michiko was born. She immediately became the pet of the family, much adored by her brothers and parents, but also doted upon lovingly by old Hoshu who until now had a dozen grand-sons but no grand-daughters. And the girl in turn loved her family.

Her first years were fairly uneventful, but already from a very early age, she was taught discipline and obedience as well as, in addition to her native Japanese tongue, a few local languages as well as Orion and Federation Standard, ensuring that she would be able to speak most of them fluently. A necessity for success. For her future would also lay within the Yakuza and Syndicate organisations, it being normal for the Yakuza now to accept girls and the Orion Syndicate was very much controlled by women anyway.

It became soon apparent that she was as bright as her brothers if not more so. At three, she could read in the Federation language and had mastered her first Kanji symbols. Her parents, realising that she was advanced beyond her age, employed private tutors to teach her and she quickly made progress. Her first forays into maths came at age four and it was quickly apparent that she was especially gifted in maths and logic. Soon enough, she began to take an interest in computers and when she was five, she managed to hack into the household computer - admittedly not a very secure system -, changing the entry for vegetables on the grocery list for chocolate. When her parents noticed that, she received some extra chocolate and they overhauled the system to make it more secure. Her grand-father also then gave her a better computer to play around with, which she took a lot of pleasure in. Aside from that, the tutors introduced her to a wide array of other subjects, making sure that she received a complete and broad education.

When she was not studying or playing around with computers, she spent time with her brothers or with the neighbourhood children. Though they were not all of Terran origin, they all had an affluent background, for it was one of the nicer neighbourhoods in city. Crime was non-existant, with private security guards patrolling the perimetre and so it was safe for the children to play in the streets. Michiko was more often than not the centre of attention, easily making friends because she did not insist on always being the boss and let others take that role.

A few days after her tenth birthday, old Hoshu called her to his office and gave her her first errand to run for him, an honour and a duty her brothers and other youths had done before her. She was understandably proud as she delivered the small package to a local book store owner and returned his message to her grand-father, proving that she could be relied upon. With time, the packages or messages she delivered became more important and if she was being trailed by two of her grand-father's bodyguards in the beginning, they were eventually taken off that assignment. Even so, Michiko performed each errand perfectly, never straying off her path, never lingering and, most importantly, never intercepted.

In her eleventh year, Michiko also undertook - without first requesting permission - to revamp the estate's security system. She had managed to hack into it undetected on several occasions and judged that it was just not secure enough. She spent a few days on the project and informed her surprised parents and grand-parents only after the fact. She did so reverently, but also knowing that what she had done was right and, more importantly, necessary and efficient. Hoshu had an external security consultant verify the mansion's security system and received confirmation that what the girl had done was in fact an enormous improvement. From then on, Michiko was, in addition to her schooling and running of errands, also made responsible for the security system.

Her days were from then on filled even more, but she never complained, for she loved the responsibility and that she had gained even more trust. The years went by quickly, the girl growing into a young woman. Old Hoshu made sure that she had always the latest computer equipment and resources she needed and inquired from time to time about her progress. In addition to that, he had her dissect other security systems or hack into them. Some of them were nothing more than tests, others were real targets, but Michiko never learned which ones were which. She treated all equally as challenges. Only a few days after her sixteenth birthday, Hoshu sent her on a little errand again, but this time it was a particular one. She was accompanied by some of the oyabun's better men. Men that had no qualms killing anyone who was in their way. They brought her to a small shed on the outskirts of the city that was equipped with a system very similar to the one she had at home and told her to obtain a certain piece of information from a rival clan. Without being detected, of course. As additional difficulty, the computer system in the shed was not yet connected to any network, but that was not even regarded as an obstacle by the young woman. One of the men stayed with her, though he did not show much interest in what she was doing. In less than an hour, Michiko announced that she had the data and that noone had detected her entry. The man nodded, activated his comm device and announced, "Mission successful". The computer system was disconnected and the men brought Michiko home on a very indirect way.

A few days later, she was called to her grand-father's office yet again. But this time, her parents and brothers were there as well, all looking very serious. Her brothers, now in their mid-twenties, had finished their studies and had begun working in their professions but keeping very much in touch with the clan. Kazuki, 28, was a tax laywer and associate in one of the more prestigious law firms on the planet. Takeo, 26, with a degree in interplanetary commerce, was rising through the ranks of the Farian merchant marine. Mitsuo, 24, was an intern in the planet's most well-regarded hospital and working towards a career as surgeon. "Michiko," the oyabun said very seriously, "You said that your obtaining the data went completely undetected." "Hai, oyabun-sama," Michiko replied, certain of that fact, but still surprised by the presence of most of her immediate family who all looked at her but left Hoshu do the talking. "You are wrong. Your action was detected and traced back to us," the old man replied with a frown. "But...," Michiko began but was cut off with a sign of the elder's hand. "It does not matter how it happened. It is only important /that/ it happened. I have met with my rival and he has agreed that if you turn yourself in to the police, he will speak with the judge and agree to a minor sentence." All blood left Michiko's face at that moment. It was not the prospect of a sentence that frightened her, not only, at least. It was more the sudden realisation that she would not be protected by her family. She looked at each of them, and they all held her gaze, even if she could see that the eyes of her mother were moist. No, they would not protect her. They all expected her to go through with this. And so, after long moments of silence, Michiko nodded. "I will turn myself in." Hoshu's expression was unreadable as he nodded. "You will present yourself to the police station in the morning."

Then, things happened quickly. She arrived at the police station on her own, unable to even bid farewell to her family, all of whom were unavailable. She felt frightened and alone as she had never felt before when she stated in a low voice to the not unfriendly looking officer that she was here to turn herself in. Moments later, she was led further into the building where she was processed and eventually led to a tiny, bare, dirty cell with only a bodywaste unit and bars on all four sides. It was empty, but over the course of the day, three other youths of roughly her age were brought in. Unlike her, they looked as if they had had a rough life on the streets and she did her best to at least look tough even if her clothes betrayed that she came from an affluent background. Thankfully, after a glance at her, they settled down, leaving her alone and she was grateful for it. After a few hours, she was taken out of the cell and brought before a judge who, after a glance at her record and without further ado, pronounced her sentence: one year in a youth prison facility. She was too shocked by that to react and let herself be led away, back to the cell.

The next morning, she was cuffed and, together with a dozen other youths of different origins, taken to the prison facility. Once more they were processed without any distinction in treatment between girls and boys. Files were created, they were implanted with a tiny microchip in the back of their hands, hair cut to leave a stubble of a few millimetres only, had to shower - cold - and were issued the prison uniform: boxer briefs, tank tops, socks, cargo pants, t-shirts and jacket and black utility boots. In addition to the microchip, they also received a sturdy, colour-coded bracelet around their left wrists with their names and serial numbers on it. Then, each carrying a large seasack with issued items, they were hurried across an open place and, based on their colours, distributed into one of the dozens of different three-story buildings without windows and only two doors. A prison guard led Michiko's group to one of the buildings, to one of the cells and assigned each of the twelve a space on the bunk beds and a locker. They had just time to throw their bags onto their beds before the guard chased them out of the cell again and into the open place between buildings. There, he made them line up, four next to each other, three deep and introduced them to the reality of their new lives: this was no cushy prison where they would hang out in their cells or common areas all day long. This was boot camp. Designed to teach them some skills so they would not fall back into the criminal life upon their release.

It was hell. The training regimen was harsh, the food a joke. In the first few weeks, they all lost several pounds and fell into their beds at lights out and immediately asleep until their bodies got more used to the work-out. Michiko was the only upper class youth in her cell, a fact the others quickly learned and used to team up on her to make her life even more miserable. She was also the smallest and even though she wasn't in a bad physical shape, boot camp was almost too much for her. But she knew that if she showed too much weakness, things would only get worse. And so she gritted her teeth and endured. Soon enough, the mixed-gender-living added another factor to the terrible days: terrible nights. For some of the youths, Michiko included, the nights brought their first sexual encounters which weren't particularly pleasant for the victims. But somehow, she made it through that as well.

After six months of mindless drill, they were subjected to aptitude tests and fielded into vocational trainings according to their results. That meant that only a few hours of the day were occupied by drill now while most of it was spent in training facilities. By now, even the toughest youths were capable of obeying orders without mouthing back and ready to learn something useful. Michiko was put into the computer lab where she was supposed to learn programming with the other kids, but after only a couple of weeks, she was teaching them. That earned her some respect in her squad and her life improved a little. If only she did not miss her family so much. She had never been separated from them before, but visits were strictly forbidden.

Eventually, the year came to an end and the young woman who stepped out of the police station and onto the streets of her hometown was a different one than the girl who had turned herself in here. She walked differently, held herself differently and, most importantly, she had proved that she could survive even in difficult conditions. With slow paces she walked the streets she had grown up in, making her way to her family's estate. She was seventeen years old.

That same night, the sakazuki ceremony was performed with which she became an officially inducted member of the Yakuza and, additionally, the Orion Syndicate. It was a third rite of passage. The first had been her delivering errands. The second, the stay in prison. Michiko was proud, though noone was prouder than old Hoshu. At that moment, she also received a complete false identity with perfect papers and official records as well as the instruction to use only that information from now on when treating with outsiders. To make sure that she would not forget anything of the forged biography, the data was imprinted directly into her brain. She could now, whenever she wanted, use information from the life of Fay Lynch, Terran but spacer, born on a trader ship and never at home on planets for long. Another rite of passage. As was the applying of the first in a presumably long series of tattoos. In a long, painful procedure, the sign of the Maruyama clan was applied to her skin. A round symbol, about one inch in diametre and located just low enough on her spinal column to be concealed when wearing clothes with a low collar. The artist was skillful and had learned the technique of his ancestors, using needles instead of more modern methods, which somehow gave the procedure a more solemn and earnest tone. Laying on the tatami floor in her grand-father's mansion, Michiko suffered through it with hardly a sound, though she did not hide her relief when the tattoo was done. A purely ornamental decoration for anyone not capable of reading it. A sign for her affiliation with the Maruyama clan and the Orion Syndicate for those understanding it.

Michiko's first task after her return to society was to study up on new developments in the field of computer system security that she missed while in prison, but after only a few weeks, she was given real assignments from her father who was also her superior in the Syndicate. They were almost routine tasks, nothing too out of the ordinary, and Michiko realised that she was being tested again. And so she gave her best. For a year, she worked solely for the Syndicate, receiving small payments for her services. When she did not work, she studied, keeping herself up to date technology-wise. Aside from that, she kept to herself and she never talked about what happened in prison.

But the memories never left her. Her parents, especially her mother, realised that the girl they had watched grow up did not exist anymore. "Michiko," Shinju said to her one day when she brought her daughter a cup of tea as incentive for a break in her studies, "Talk to me." It was said with love and tenderness and Michiko knew at once that there was no way to avoid this conversation. She had known for quite some time already. "I want to leave, Mother." Shinju settled down on the tatami next to her only daughter and nodded once. "I know. Where would you like to go?" Michiko looked up in surprise but her mother merely offered her a sad smile. "You are my daughter. I know you." It was impossible to argue with that and so it was up to Michiko to nod. "I was considering... to apply to Starfleet Academy." This time, Shinju could not hide her surprise. "Join the Federation? But why?" Michiko sighed. "I read about them. I think I need to live a different life than what awaits me here." After a pause, she added, "At least for some time."

Once again, and much to Michiko's surprise, everything happened quickly after that and, more importantly, with her parents' and grand-father's blessing and help. Honshu had her criminal record expunged and found her a member of Starfleet as sponsor. She applied to Starfleet Academy, was invited to sit the entrance exam and passed.

When she left home this time, all came to bid her farewell, knowing that they would not see her again for several years at least.

***

When Michiko stepped out of the shuttle that had brought her down to Earth and saw the huge Academy complex for the first time, she strangely felt like coming home. Even though everything was different, from the sunlight to the architecture to the people and their attire, she felt that she belonged more to them than, at least in recent months, to her own clan.

She took to the Academy training like a fish to water, easily excelling in all academic subjects. They were not easy and she did have to work, but it never became a chore. While the physical subjects were more of a challenge for her and she was not among the top of her class there, she excercised with joy and dedication.

During her third year of study - she had chosen operations as major and helm as minor - she realised that despite the learning environment, she wanted to see more and not wait another year for a shipboard assignment. She applied for a field-based training position for her senior year and was assigned to the USS Elysium.

Author Mel
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