I was surprised to find out that the fiction apparently resolving the GAMA storyline pick determining who would stand as Kaneka's staunchest ally between the Khan , Ikoma Otemi , Kaukatsu and Doji Tanitsu was already online but Goju Kaze posted it on Ryoko Owari and I trust it must be legit
Store owners that carry L5R voted at GAMA and chose Moto Chagatai to back Kaneka's ambition to become Shogun with the Unicorn armies. There's already suspicion on the Unicorn forums that people did this to stab the Unicorn in the back but the fiction didn't really give me that impression .
I'll leave Jade Hand members to decide however
WHAT IS LOYALTY?
By Rich Wulf
The Shogun watched his armies move across the training grounds with a frown of intense displeasure. The ashigaru were gaining skill, but it was not enough. Not enough by far. If he was to truly step forward and embrace his destiny as the defender of Rokugan, then nothing less than perfection would suffice. What he sought was difficult. Already some denounced him as a usurper, but they did not understand. It was the Empire’s safety that he valued most, and he would allow none to interfere with that.
Not even his brother. Not even the Emperor.
But Naseru was powerful, and did not share power easily. Kaneka could afford no mistakes. He needed allies. Samurai who were willing to aid him were plentiful… those he could truly trust were not. But that was a problem for another time. He stroked his chin as he contemplated ways to improve his soldiers’ technique. It was several moments before he noticed the herald kneeling on the earth nearby, waiting for his attention.
Kaneka gestured sharply for the man to rise. He quickly complied, bowing his head and offering a sealed scroll across his forearm. The Shogun accepted it then dismissed the man with a wave. His eyes widened when he saw the seal upon the scroll. He opened it quickly, reading its contents with a confused expression.
“Lord Shogun,” the letter began, “Prepare for the coming of the Khan.”
That was all it said.
Kaneka looked at the letter for a long, stunned moment, then tossed it in a nearby fire. It had been many years since he rode beside Moto Chagatai, the brilliant if erratic leader of the Unicorn Clan. Any alliance between them had been forbidden by the Emperor. Was the Khan mad in making such a move? Or was there more at work here than there seemed? He had no idea what Chagatai planned, but he had no doubt that the results would surprise him.
Much like the old days.
The Shogun laughed, a loud long laugh. The ashigaru looked at their leader fearfully for a brief instant, then quickly returned to their practice kata with redoubled efforts.
The Unicorn called structures such as these “chomchogs.” From the outside they resembled elaborate tents constructed of leather and canvas. Within, they were as luxurious and well-appointed as the proudest Doji palace. Silken cushions covered the soft felt floor. Rich incense hung in the air and, from behind a curtain, drifted the gentle sound of a samisen. Though the harsh, biting winds of the plains howled just outside, the interior was calm and serene.
The Shogun let the tent flap fall closed behind him as he surveyed his surroundings. Though many Unicorn soldiers patrolled outside, only two samurai were within – Chagatai and his bride, Rumiko. The Khan was a short, powerfully built man with the blunt features characteristic of a Moto. Moto Rumiko was tall and lean. Her regal features bespoke a more traditional Rokugani ancestry, but she wore the furs and leathers of a Unicorn. They rose from their seats as Kaneka approached. Chagatai offered his right hand without a word, watching the Shogun with careful scrutiny. Kaneka did not hesitate, but grasped Chagatai’s hand and shook it firmly.
Chagatai’s wide mouth turned in small grin. “You have not forgotten our ways,” he said, bowing deeply. Rumiko mirrored the gesture.
“How could I forget?” Kaneka asked, returning the Khan’s bow. “The culture of the Unicorn is a unique and rare treasure of this Empire.” He gestured at the inside of the tent around him. “Take this, for instance. Who else has the ability to travel with such speed, in such comfort?”
The Khan chuckled. “Some days I think the chomchog is the finest invention of my clan,” he said. “Warm, portable, and secure.”
“If the Emperor knew its comforts he might forsake his own palace,” Rumiko added.
“Unlikely,” the Shogun answered. “The nomad’s life is not for my brother. He needs his court, where the delicate flowers can watch and worship him as the shadows twist his path.”
“A pity,” Chagatai said. “The Shinjo believe that the true hero is a man who seeks no credit for his great deeds. I have heard tales of your brother’s accomplishments before he took the throne, tales that few know. He is a great man. Great men should not allow small minds to usurp their power.”
“Is this why you have come to Toshi Ranbo, Chagatai?” Kaneka asked. “To help my brother?”
“He would not accept any offer I made, I think,” Chagatai answered. “To him I am a monster. I am the Khan, the outrageous western warlord who runs wild across the plains and ravages the armies of the Right Hand. I think he fears me.”
“Naseru does not frighten easily,” Kaneka said.
“Are you so sure?” the Khan asked. “Tell me, Shogun. Was it you or he who decided not to dispatch your armies to end the war I began in Kaeru Toshi?”
“What difference does that make?” Kaneka asked.
“It makes an Empire of difference,” Chagatai answered in a low voice. “In the beginning, the War of the Rich Frog was intended to be a swift, brutal affair. I had hoped to quickly retake the city and be done with it not only to prevent the Lion from escalating the conflict – but to end it before you could arrive. The Rain of Blood complicated matters, and the war dragged on, much to the detriment of your brother’s reputation. More than one samurai has asked why the Emperor forbade his own Shogun from bringing peace to his war-torn Empire. Did he fear the fealty I once swore to you? Did he fear that if my armies could challenge even the Lion Clan, that matched with your own troops no force in Rokugan could stop you from retaking your father’s throne?”
“Who can say?” Kaneka replied stiffly. “The Emperor’s mind is touched by the Celestial Heavens. Who can truly know him?”
“Ah, but he is also a man,” Chagatai replied, “and I have killed enough men to know fear when I see it. This is the Righteous Emperor’s greatest weakness – that he cannot share power. That he fears those with the strength to help him most.”
The Khan looked at Kaneka intently, saying nothing for nearly a minute. The delicate music continued through the silence. Not for the first time, Kaneka found it amusing that so many discounted Chagatai as an ignorant barbarian, only to be crushed beneath the hooves of his army.
“So if you did not come to help my brother,” Kaneka asked carefully, “why are you here?”
“To help you, mighty Shogun,” Rumiko answered, surprising Kaneka with her cool, lilting voice. “Surely it is your intent to strike at Naseru’s hidden enemies, the ones who whisper in the courts and steal his strength? Such men are cowards, and after slaying Matsu Nimuro, no man in Rokugan is as feared as my husband.”
“Rumiko speaks truly,” Chagatai added. “Let those who would challenge the Emperor know that they stand against the might of the Shogun – and the savagery of the Khan.”
“All for the glory of the Son of Heaven, of course,” Kaneka said.
“Of course,” Chagatai said, and ambition shone in his eyes.
“Such an alliance would be forbidden,” Kaneka answered. “Remember that the Emperor commanded me to abandon the oaths that you and the others swore to me when he took his throne.”
“And you fulfilled your promise,” Chagatai said. “Now we must fulfill ours. The Unicorn Clan is sworn to protect the Emperor, and to do that efficiently we must combine our strength with your own. With the magic of your Phoenix allies and the strength of my horsemen, what force in Rokugan can stand against us?”
“And what of the Lion Clan?” Kaneka asked.
“The Lion wish only to be the Emperor’s Right Hand,” Rumiko said tersely. “Let them be. Let their wounded armies protect the pride of a hobbled Emperor, his right hand, covered with a silken glove. The Unicorn Clan will be the Shogun’s mailed fist, and know true glory.”
“Pardon my wife’s impetuousness,” Chagatai said, though only admiration resounded in his voice. “Though she is Unicorn now, she still has the fierce pride of a Matsu.”
Kaneka only nodded absently. Within his mind, possibilities were forming. Once, long ago, he had desired his father’s throne. That was in the past. His sister Tsudao’s sacrifice had shown him his limitations. He was at his best with a sharp sword in his hand and an army at his back. He could not inspire the common man as Tsudao and Naseru could. He could not be an Emperor.
Yet only know he saw how weak an Emperor truly was, and through no fault of Naseru’s. The man who sat upon the Steel Throne was weak, vulnerable, reliant on the charity of others for his power. Though Naseru was a cunning and capable man, even he was unable to remain free from manipulation. The Gozoku had subverted his influence on every level. Kaneka joined them at first because he admired their ideals – to leave the flawed Emperor to his throne while they truly ruled the Empire – but at their heart they were corrupt and vile. He had sworn to root them out and destroy them. But what then? Simply back away and wait for the next manipulator to twist his brother’s rule?
Rokugan was a land of samurai, a land of warriors. An Emperor would always sit upon the throne and serve as a shining example, a bright Son of Heaven for all to worship - but only a warrior could bring true security. Was Kaneka without ambition? Perhaps not. Each time he thought of his plan he could feel the old jealousies and resentment for his Imperial brethren boil up within him. He only let them temper his resolve. Whatever his faults may be, he was better than the villains who ruled the Gozoku.
With Chagatai’s aid, it would all be so simple. He could root out the Gozoku masters and destroy them. With that done, he could restore his brother’s good reputation. He could use what remained of the Gozoku – those who were truly honorable if misguided men – to protect the Emperor from future mistakes. The Shogun would stand supreme, with the Khan at his side. Warriors with unchallenged power.
“Will you accept my help, mighty Shogun?” the Khan asked, a hint of eagerness in his voice.
“If I said no,” Kaneka replied, “would that truly turn you away?”
“Is your curiosity worth denying what I offer?” the Khan replied, showing a flash of white teeth. Rumiko smiled as well.
“I think not,” Kaneka said. “I accept. Let the enemies of the Son of Heaven tremble before the Shogun… and the Khan.”
*Edit* It is now on AEG's Story forum