Volume 1 Chapter 3
Something-stan and elf
I have a feeling that it was shaking for whole 3 hours of flight. I didn’t feel bad, but I was in transit the whole day and that completely drained me.
We got off in a place where there was also a civilian airport, though I don’t know if it was as large as Japanese regional airports.
It surprised me, but in all sometime there was something in the news that in Japan there is also such place.
Passengers are transported by bus, but we went to the terminal on foot.
I walked next to the armored cars, which were to be released from cables securing them. To keep them in my memory I touched those co-passengers.
Paint seems thick.
I got off and in a hurry caught up with the rest.
In the terminal it was dark, which reminded me Tokyo. I looked at a guidance board and managed to determine that I am in one of the countries of Central Asia. It was written in English and probably Russian. Once again I was in a country with something-stan in its name.
There is one advantage in traveling with American military airplane. Of course beside lack of customs control. You can get away with exporting and bringing in whole groups of people.
Though I knew that I might have illegal goods, those dry fruits pseudo blackberries from Shawii crossed the border with me anyway.
From there once again a car ride. This time a SUV. I don’t know which maker.
Again a ride. I’m starting to have enough. If this is to be a sightseeing trip, that’s not how it’s supposed to look like. Well, apparently in the company there is a lack of short and long stops. At least for me there wasn’t enough of them.
Country in which the training center was located was lowland and this “Something-stan” is mountainous. Anyway that’s how I felt it by vehicle shaking.
Road full of curves, hidden behind a shadow of stretching out dry mountains. Unhardened with asphalt one lane road. There wasn’t even anything to admire, because you can’t see any lowlands. Soon only another mountain could be seen.
Is this the place, in which that village was located?
I’m riding between two vehicles. That’s probably an escort. It was hard to believe that the company assigned only two S units to it. Probably at the front there are two more. Surely they will be alert even while getting off. Such long road is an ideal place to install bombs or mines.
Vehicle in front leaves behind it a thick cloud of dust. This country apparently have dry climate. I think that for Shawii it wouldn’t be better.
Another 2 hours of travel passed. When I arrived at the destination it was already completely dark. I was hungry and wasn’t feeling good. Next time I will hide something to eat on me – I thought. I couldn’t somehow start working on those would-be blackberries.
In mountains night comes fast. I didn’t check that personally, but it was obvious to me that simply the setting sun disappears quickly behind mountains. It doesn’t appear to me that this knowledge was needed for me in work, but life is not only work.
When I reached the base it was already evening, but it was such a time that without light a face couldn’t be seen.
On mountain slopes there were few buildings. A lot of them looked like traditional private housing for this country, but there were also a few in western style built quickly. In any case they look more durable than prefabs.
There is one concrete building and some others, but since it was dark I couldn’t tell. Anyway the scale of this place was at a glance smaller than the training camp, so looser regulations could also be expected.
I don’t know if I’m here because of good results or physical state. Charlie said that this is a hot area. From what I know fierce fights take place here, but I don’t know if exactly at present.
There is one more certain thing. I understood the reason, as to why I was assigned here. In the mountains radio waves pass poorly. So it’s hard to give orders from a distance. OO like me also have to go to the next level and adapt to do their job. That’s probably why. Or maybe they were afraid of wiretaps?
One way or another I was the only person that got off here. Curious where the rest 200 went. There isn’t even a guide, so I have a problem. It would be good if I had at least anyone to ask in English. But who? After all in the job offer it was written that English isn’t necessary.
I decided to find main quarters.
When I started to walk in the direction of a building where lights were shining the brightest, suddenly in another building a door opened.
In the passage stood a woman. From it light emitted so you could see silhouette clearly.
“Hey Arata, come on!” She called me by name.
I turned around and went in her direction.
Silhouette and voice were that of a woman, but since I’m in the company, I never saw a woman in it. If I were to tell Charlie that, he would buy me a beer out of pity.
Confused, I approach her. I was really looking at a woman. She had blond hair and beautiful green irises, but the most eye-catching thing were her ears. Pointy.
Did I suddenly find myself in a fantasy world? I was speechless.
Her ponytail showed her white nape. She smiled and said: “The party is starting.”
The place I was guided to looked like a private apartment, but it’s interior was empty. There was no furniture. They told me that usually this place serves as a conference room for OO.
Venue of the party was made ad hoc from folded chairs and tables. There is no pizza, but there are chips and jerky. No matter what might not be here, I’m grateful that there is some food.
“Official admission to new position will be tomorrow. Welcome to Camp Morrison. I’m Lanson, manager of tactical unit C.”
Lanson as for his age was holding quite well. He welcomed me with a handshake. Patted me on my shoulders for a bit and directed me to the others.
“There is a few more people coming, but for now we have 12 people.” He says.
So I am 13th. I was just about to make a face that it’s unlucky, but apparently only me – Japanese – is so superstitious. I have a feeling that I watched too many movies.
In this OO camp personnel consist of 15 people, but there is a large demand for OO and it seems that there is lack of them everywhere. Apparently there are even cases where they are recruited to other companies.
“And anyway if yearly pay would be good, then I could also be transferred.” – said Lanson, laughing with everyone.
I’m introduced as a long expected member of a toilet shift group. Everyone laughs. Apparently toilet problems are common for all OO after all. I fully agree.
Everyone makes a toast and drink alcohol. Some of them considering their work tomorrow limit themselves in drinking.
Regulations were adhered to strictly after all – I thought. Well yes, after all if it was too slack then the number of casualties would increase, so in all it’s probably good as it is.
I look at the girl with pointy ears. She looks younger than Shawii, but only because of skin. At the start I thought that I walked into a fantasy world, but luckily it wasn’t a wonderland. Only she had such ears and also she was the only woman here.
“Are you interested by my ears?”
“Because they look elven.”
“As expected from a Jap, you do get it.” Blond haired girl smiles broadly. There was no doubt that they were elf ears.
She was one of those American women which loved to modify their body. She got into debt to change her ears, but when the recession came and she couldn’t pay off her loan, she ran to Canada. There she enlisted in our company. She says that only for ear modifications, a student loan is the best. In America it’s normal that everyone pays their tuition by themselves, so there are also a lot of student loans. However she was with debts when the crisis began. That’s when she lost her part-time job and couldn’t find another. Subsequent requests for payment and penalty interest came, and that’s how she found herself here. There are a lot of such cases and student escapes to Canada. In America it’s also not easy.
Nonetheless hearing about those body modification enthusiasts is making my head hurt. Unthinkable in Japan. It seemed to me that even if a 3D elf walks out it won’t be too moe.
Toilet shift employee
First days in the camp I spent on getting used to work and remembering camp layout. That day I even took part in live combat.
Lanson really made me a toilet shift employee. I didn’t have any problems with it, it even amused me a bit.
I haven’t laughed in a long time, but when I realized that I immediately stopped. It was already too late for such a mood.
Elf girl is looking at me strangely.
In this camp contractors are route that means they secure and guard transport routes.
I recalled second half of the training and at once thoughts couldn’t leave me, if then it wasn’t maybe a training. In such mountains sending orders is hard. And there is also a delay.
I’m trying to calm down, but it doesn’t go well.
I eat dried fruits that in no way resemble blackberries and try to calm down. Still don’t know.
This camp is for securing transport routes. It takes a very similar supplying position to enemy village from training camp. It’s function is to patrol ceaselessly assigned route, or escort a squad transporting some materials. It seems more humane than attacking a village to not lose points. Pretty normal for subcontractors in war.
Every day I’m assigned a place next to Lanson and look through documents. I don’t know for which unit exactly I’m responsible, but from the point of view of a toilet shift employee it’s natural that for every tactical P unit under unit C. That’s why I must carefully handle a squad. That’s not all. Occasionally I had to answer sounding like a monologue questions from Lanson: Jap, if you were a commander would you send soldiers on that road? Or: Jap, in the evening this area becomes dangerous. How would you organize defense?
Maybe he spoke to me, because I looked bored, but for me it was really annoying. There is also a possibility that he is paying attention to my health problems from the second half of the training camp and that’s why he acts that way in my regard.
I’m trying to not think about such possibility. I don’t want to be treated indulgently by people from the company.
If there is no attack from enemy side, it’s better for it to stay that way.
Opportunities to gain point during this type of missions on this kind of roads are limited. Even if you defeat an enemy, there is few points. On the other hand if cargo is damaged, losses in points are enormous.
In this kind of missions losing points is inevitable. Question is how many points will you lose, or how close to 0 will you approach. It resembles par in golf. Though personally I never played golf.
That day I changed with my co-worker, who went to a restroom, and took control.
Changing shifts for restroom also isn’t so simple. First 10 minutes before you have to call it. Then I take a position behind such person and for 10 minutes observe the situation, how units are placed etc., and then we change. During combat it’s impossible. Change of policy during combat only causes chaos on the battlefield.
Attack began few minutes after the change. A sign shows that undergoing patrol tactical unit S was attacked. Getting off the car and inspecting the area unit found itself under fire.
I immediately conduct a limited counteroffensive in the direction from which attack came, giving an order to relocate to a suitable place for defense at the same time. I distance them from the road and deploy on a looking like it’s full of rocks slope.
I still don’t know from where enemy will fire. I decided that for now I will carefully look around the area and determine where is the opponent. At the same time I notify Lanson and every tactical unit P about the situation. I designate the name of the attacked unit S as S1 and direct reinforcements from another unit.
I had an impression, that moving quickly with a vehicle is dangerous, so excluding located at the back unit S, I ordered everyone to get out of vehicle and while being vigilant, move quickly. As you could expect, the enemy formed ad hoc a separate squad (flying column) and began an attack on unit S2. I joined S2 with S3 and ordered still being in motion unit S4 to relocate quickly, which I also joined with the rest.
What could be enemy’s goal. There isn’t a military one especially. I should be able to see a reason for this attack.
I think for 2 seconds.
It’s not about the cargo, but only about the attack on tactical unit S – I think. Otherwise it doesn’t have sense. Could it be that his goal is a massacre? But it seemed that he is not concentrating fire.
I wonder yet another 5 seconds.
I deducted that he wants to capture unit S1. Attack on S2 is only a play for time to confine them.
Transmitting verbally my opinion about the situation to Lanson, I issued a command to unit S2 to respond with fire and S3 and S4 to bypass somehow the attack and move forward. During this detour enemy can take them into crossfire, so maybe withdraw them? It didn’t look like the enemy would go with captive exchange. I think about waiting and seeing what he’s up to.
S1 is sending one report after another that it’s attacked from every side. I want to withdraw them, but the enemy is flanking and moving really carefully, surrounding the units. While they shoot themselves, the enemy responds with intensive fire. I have no way of withdrawing them.
I decide to establish a direct contact with S1 on an open line.
“Do you hear me? OO here. Calm down and listen. Your unit S will be captured.”
After a little while together with noise comes a sound like a paper popper and I hear a voice.
“Say what!? Shit, what now…”
I take a deep breath trying so it won’t be heard in the microphone. I form a sentence in English in my head. I start speaking.
“At present a rescue squad is rushing to help, but is held back. It will still take them a while.” Saying that I looked at the monitor.
Enemy fighting with the rescue squad is small in number. S4 is almost not attacked at all and fire blocking S3 from moving is weak, because it is focused on S2.
I hurry S4 in direction of S1 ignoring the enemy that is fighting with S2 and S3, being aware that there exist a possibility that they themselves can fall into a trap.
“Listen to me calmly. One squad is rushing here. It’s 2 km away from here.”
“Despite hopeless situation you send reinforcements. Thanks. From army of which country are you? Germany?
“I was not a part of any army. If it’s about country then Japan. In worst case do you have any procedures in case of becoming a captive?”
“That won’t work. Subordinates will die.” He said that as if he was sure of it, but I don’t have time or language capabilities to make sure.
“Understood.When our squads will begin the attack I’ll let you know. Try to run away somehow.”
With conviction I press a blue button.
I inform S4 about enemy location, giving a command to begin suppression fire. Irrelevant if they use up their ammo, for now I order them to fire nonstop.
Waste of ammunition, but such a hail of bullets can confuse the enemy about the numbers of foes. More important is that due to flying bullets that may cause losses, enemy hides behind cover. Thanks to that a gap is made.
I wait 20 seconds and give a signal to S1 to withdraw.
S1 begins their retreat. The rest is luck. S2 and S3 repel the enemy and begin to move.
It looks like luck is with S1. They didn’t suffer any special damage.
Scolding from Lanson
After I withdrew unit P and changed one other, I handed over control to original person and returned to a seat next to Lanson.
I felt enormous stress when in such a tense situation I had to speak in English, but aside that everything was as always.
It seemed though that Lanson had other opinion about this subject. After he half-closed his eyes, he opened them and shouted at me. I couldn’t sit still. Lanson like a teacher points out my mistake.
“I would like to say that you directed them excellently but you risked too much and had a load of luck. Control like a brave second lieutenant who got a posthumous gold medal of congress. You understand what I mean, don’t you?
“Yes.” After I said that Lanson raised his eyebrow.
“That’s good.” – He said and continued further. At the start I thought he was mad, but it seems it wasn’t so. What he said was rather a reprimand.
Raising an eyebrow he says as if joking: “We do a job here. From the perspective of national defence force those orders were almost ideal, but… as war contractors that is nothing worth praise.”
“I’m sorry.” When I said that Lanson made a sour face.
“You Japs always apologize and think that everything will pass. You are sorely mistaken. But you did good. You only have to improve your defense plan.”
I wanted to retort with a frivolous joke at least once, but my English wasn’t good enough. For a brothel the teacher was good, but unfortunately learning time was not long enough.
Eventually I said something awfully stupid: “What should I do then?”
Lanson says as though disgusted: “If you want to return to the army I won’t stop you, but it’s better if you return there with better physical condition. Of course even as an OO it wouldn’t hurt to take care of your health. In free time, weekly, train by yourself for 12 hours. You can treat it as an order, I don’t care.”
“I understand. Thank you very much.” When I said that Lanson for the first time smiled broadly. I don’t understand why he did it at this moment. Probably it’s something that a real soldier would understand.
“Good answer. If you were in the service of stars I would recommend you joining green berets.” – said Lanson while laughing. I don’t understand what he meant at the end but in any case he allowed me to leave. It seems that I can rest.
Immediately I searched for a gym and started exercises with weights for arms for stiff shoulders. On the occasion I also trained on an aerobic step. I wondered if I shouldn’t by the way lift some barbells, but I felt I would have awfully sore muscles, so I decided to climb a vertically hanged rope to develop my dorsal muscles.
At the moment I could only jump on the height of one meter. Curious if it will improve one day.
Not only in this camp, but in the whole company, people call Japanese – Japs.
I understand what it is about, that a person from Japan so Jap. But I didn’t understand why not Japanese, but Jap. Which reminds me that only Shawii said as it should be – Japanese. I don’t know if “Jap” is in our company some local term . By the way in this camp Jap became my nickname. Only I am Japanese here.
Quite a cruel nick. I had a feeling that if I made a mistake they would treat me as if it was because I was Japanese. Screw this.
I no longer inquired into what Jap meant nor did I ask for nickname change. I didn’t have enough leeway to care about that.
Slowly thoughts about the village were returning less frequently, but from time to time I had nightmares.
My consciousness is dragged back.
“What are you doing Jap?” – watching me said the elf girl. I was after a bath, going back from the gym.
“I was reflecting on my bad control.” – I said, wiping my face with a towel. In this country there is also a lot of sand, so if you don’t wipe carefully, it will stick.
Elf opens eyes widely and thinks what to say. It’s curious that despite language differences gestures are common for the whole world. All in all in Japan we don’t look as much in the eyes between ourselves. Anyway despite her body modifications to become an elf, reactions of this elf girl were 100% American.
No well, after all she was American so it’s obvious.
“I think your control was incredible. Even manager probably praised you.”
“Hmm… Or maybe it’s not like that? You are not native, so maybe you didn’t fully understand…”
“As a contractor I made a mistake, right?”
“No, As a soldier that was correct. For them a soldier’s answer is the correct answer. Do you understand? Mentally they are still from the army.”
At my previous workplace I also met with people that complained and immediately sighted how it was not like in a previous company. Only complaints, but I’m curious if in our foreign company there are also such people. Worldwide problem – I thought.
Elf girl smiled. “That’s why I’m telling you that you were highly praised.”
Pretending that I’m carefully wiping my hair I covered my embarrassed face. Not that I’m super glad or anything, but it was a better filling than not being praised.
“I was told to work on my body in a gym.”- when I say that, elf girl smiles lightly and tries to look me in the eyes. I can’t get used to behavior of people from our company, or rather Americans, which on every opportunity try to look into eyes of a person they are speaking with.
Elf girl says: “It’s a good punishment. They are macho you know.”
“Macho? What’s that?”- I asked.
Elf girl opened her mouth from amazement.
“Those that believe in an ideology, that the longer and thicker a penis, the better” – said the elf girl casually without any embarrassment.
Before I understood that it’s about manhood, I thought that if she blushed now, she would look lovely. I was thinking that I left my otaku soul in my room in Tokyo, but I felt as though it wandered up to here from there. Maybe they were fake, but when I’m near such an elf girl, I’m remembering various things from the period I was an otaku.
What am I thinking about?
Elf girl smiled. It was a rather ominous smile.
“And that’s why a command to work out in a gym is a good punishment. And because you without delay answered YES that makes you an excellent macho. Like an exchange from a movie.”
“Ah I understand, unknowingly I became a part of their group?”
“Dissatisfied?” Elf girl seems surprised. It’s me who is surprised.
“No. If I can do my job then I’m happy. Do you understand what I want to say?
“So you like war.”
“I was also unemployed, you weren’t the only one with problems.” Conversation with her was tiring. I don’t know if it’s my English, or if she all the time more and more strayed from the subject, or if she has such character. That I like war? There are many reasons, but there is probably nobody who at a question “do you like war” would answer “yes”. Even Lanson. I Hated war, because without my knowledge I became an aggressor.
Elf girl opened her eyes widely and watches me. “Nor war, nor can I also say that I like this job.”
“That’s how Japs are. At least that’s how we understand it in the States.”
“… Something happened and that’s why I don’t like this job.”
“Because Lanson scolded you?”
“No” – Having said that I fell silent. Her way of asking wasn’t typical for someone from this line of work. No matter how you look at it, me and my coworkers were stripped from this kind of feelings in the training camp.
This girl is weird and it’s not only about her ears.
Elf girl wondering with half-opened eyes says: “You are not an ordinary Jap, right?.”
“…Why, thank you….”
“Exactly, this way of talking like from a movie. Can I call you Arata?”
“OK. How should I call you?”
I immediately ask: “I thought your name would start from E.”
“Could you perhaps mean a continuation of what was in the training camp? Or maybe you thought all the time about a female name starting from E? Just between us Jap, name Eva you spell as Ava.”
I immediately remember the training camp. Unbelievable but it seems she went through the same training program like me.
I was surprised, but from my mouth came entirely different words. My body, but mouth as though another persons: “Why Eva?”
“Evangelion is Japanese, right?
She resembled the past me more than I thought.
Camp on a slope
From the camp where I work there is quite good visibility. That is obvious, after all radio waves have to flow well. You can see that our company treats OO as a really important persons. Is it a trend in this trade? Or maybe only this company? I don’t know.
From what I heard, at the opposite side of the mountains there is also a camp and we share control area with them.
I walk along the slope. Soil is not prepared, buildings on the slope stand sloppily. It’s not a permanent camp so everything is prepared anyhow. Limiting themselves to as small costs as possible is probably natural for a private military company like ours. Not only ground preparation is half-assed, but it seems that cleaning is also done anyhow. To the edges of walls that look as though wind stopped at them, stuck are lumps of dry sand. If you shake your hand they crumble and fall.
Despite that this camp wasn’t in the desert it made that impression. And it’s not so that there is a lack of water.
Thinking about that I look at a shining white snowy mountain peak. This side of mountains can’t be seen during sunset, but then during dawn there was wonderful view.
Dawn after night shift is incredibly blinding.
Mountains are sparkling.
Lately there are almost no attacks conducted at dawn or at night. In most of cases the enemy is limited to attacking during the day. We have gear with night-vision so it doesn’t make much difference but it seems the enemy doesn’t have enough of them so that’s the reason. And though he had terrain advantage, night attack was for him tantamount to suicide.
… As a result of which compared to remuneration for night shift, work is light. Cool that it’s much easier than in the training camp.
I was contemplating rotation. When I thought that I could relax that way for another 3 days, a tactical unit S passed by. They are probably going on patrol. I let them pass moving to the side of the road. Pretending that I’m escorting them with my sight, I watched them closely.
I am their partner from the other side of the computer, but I didn’t have an opportunity to see what people are in the tactical unit I manage. I was curious.
Omitting one person everyone looked young. State of skin would indicate thirties, appearance – teens. And speaking about countenance, they appeared to be people from this country.
It looks really weird when on a civilian clothes you put on tactical or bulletproof vest. As if you put a vest to rolled-up skirt. Half of them covered their faces. It looked really creepy.
Clearly one person was from another race. Apparently the leader of this tactical unit.
Black man stopped the squad and approached me by himself.
Crap. Did I behave improperly?
“You are this Jap from OO, no?”
“Three days ago it was you that had a shift right before the battle and issued us commands?”
Black man reached out with his hand on which he had a black glove. He is smiling, that’s good.
“You saved us. My subordinates survived. Earlier on the radio I forgot to thank you. I’m grateful.”
Shaking hands (to which I’m not used to), I thought that it’s probably the commander of unit S1. How much younger than me could he be? He made a good impression. I just remembered that on the radio he was saying that his subordinates will die. I asked him what it was about. He answered me that as a captive only him, sole American has some value, therefore everyone beside him would be killed.
Oh yes. I nodded and, in 90% theatrically like in the movies, tried to laugh. He is probably also from those machos. And in fact it was so, because the black commander smiled pleased, saying that next time he would buy me something to eat, whereupon he left.
Everyone begins their march.
One with a covered face is staring at me, but soon returns to the rest. That’s how it seemed to me, but after a while he returned and told me I was like a golden eagle, and then he left.
Before I pondered what is a golden eagle, I flinched when I realized that he clearly was having a voice change. He was also relatively small.
In every country there is different common sense, but in mine it is not something that would be approved.
I shook my head and returned to reality.
Saying nothing about that, it seems that both the elf girl and the commander of this squad didn’t lose their human reflexes. Or maybe it’s just us in the training camp that were stripped of them? Or it was me that was so cold from the start. I had a feeling that I lost something, but I didn’t worry about that. I simply sympathized with them a bit, because I know that they too have it hard.
No nonetheless buying me food or drinks was apparently a form of communication common to the western world, and eastern as well. Or maybe age-groups younger than me didn’t like that? Or maybe that are some exercises? Or maybe that’s what being that macho is about?
This guy is crazy – I hear such things about me and they are not individual cases. Anyway everything within coworkers from OO.
Translating this into Japanese it means that I am insane. I think.
In any case Sophia, like all of us, reluctantly work for the sake of wars for money. I don’t think they are crazy at all, but when they see me they stealthily leave immediately. Well, even if I thought such things about someone, to immediately run away… – I thought.
Anyway since I understood English, listening to it bothered me enough that it became annoying.
One day when I indifferently told Sophia about that, she said: “Stupid, that they call you crazy mean that you are outstanding.”
Indeed. I thought that happy are those that can take things that way. By the way I won’t say how they called Sophia behind her back, because I feel sick just thinking about it. In fact she was crazy enough to play with her body that way, but in my opinion gossiping isn’t good.
When I asked what she thinks about me, she smiled gently.
Talking behind somebody’s back, one way or another, is bad.
I’m worried about monthly rent in Tokyo. I got into this business to be able to keep my modest hobbies like figurines, anime or LN, but in such circumstances I completely don’t have a mood for all that.
Maybe that’s divine punishment for such nonchalant stance. Nevertheless I feel resistance to giving it up.
I stopped thinking about it since the time of the training camp. I abandoned this hobby, because I asked myself what was left for me from life.
There was no answer, but I at least abandoned the view of saying goodbye to this business and military affairs.
Defense plan draft
That day, when instead of a lunch break I had a longer free time, Lanson informed me that our company got a contract for a mission with a large transport. In it protection was also included. It’s about subcontracting a specific war task. In our company that was an order on an unprecedented till now scale – transport is expected to take 2 months. If he dropped the subject at that the conversation would break, but for some reason Lanson told me that I had to prepare a defense plan for the area our camp is responsible for. The rest I have to do as always so far.
So I just got overtime.
Apparently Lanson from goodwill will be coming to check how am I doing in this unexpected overtime.
Involuntarily on my face a bitter smile appeared.
This didn’t look like being macho, which was in itself supposed to be a reward for work, of which spoke Sophie, the elf girl. Rather it looked like frequently encountered mistaken expression of love from superiors.
I love work. You too, right. So I can probably say, you don’t have any doubts? – only words are different, but everywhere it’s the same.
But if I do well, then maybe I can use that for acquiring information.
I began drafting a defense plan. Though I don’t have experience in that, aside from what I did in the training camp, so I realize that it might not turn out the best.
I’m more worried about Lanson.
If my performance will be bad, it’s natural that I would have to do it again. Redoing that will be a pain in the ass. During the time I worked in a small designer company in Tokyo if you had to do amendments one time, then you had to do them all the time after that. If a customer falls into this state, where suddenly nothing pleases him, that’s the end.
Another line of work, but system is the same. Even more than common to every corner of the world twisted expression of superiors love during drinkcommunication – I thought.
Conclusion – It will be very hard.
As a toilet shift employee I sat next to Lanson and pondered about the defense plan.
At present already 3rd day passed, since I started. And it was at this point when I saw tactical unit P, which I managed during the fight. They were getting on onto separate vehicles to patrol.
Main duty of this camp is securing a transport route and maintaining it. More specifically, our main job was patrolling while ensuring and maintaining security as a goal. Hardly ever tactical unit P had to temporarily increase their escort potential to help transport units.
95% of work is patrol. The reason for such an exaggerated patrol is simply not giving a chance for the enemy to set a trap. When trap or ambush is hard to set up, then the enemy won’t even pick up a fight.
And that’s what it’s about. No combat, no negative points. And there are no costs for ammo or funerals. That’s the mission this camp fulfill. Not combat, but realization of the mission is its objective. In this aspect our company is clearly set on profit.
Despite having the same goal, meticulously conducting patrols to negate enemy attacks is more reasonable than attacking a village.
That in the training camp that didn’t cross my mind – I smiled bitterly.
I thought that the village and its inhabitants weren’t real. Fact that they weren’t real and lack of imagination easily change a man into mass murderer. I thought about the commander of P unit, who twice made sure about the order to attack the village. I wanted to apologize.
Patrol is going according to the plan. They will soon return to the camp. Earlier another tactical unit P left to patrol another route.
You can’t predict the time of regular service. Whole process is complicated, though at first glance it looks as though the patrol was planned randomly.
Looking at their route I concluded that until they receive support from a tactical unit and OO they have to make do with what they have.
Even if you change greatly current rotation it won’t do anything. I decided to do it in a way that won’t mess with this rotation. Instead of that I narrowed down the area of their rounds. Thanks to that the density of patrols will increase. Additionally I decreased rounds of routes not used for transport operations. If they will be needed during normal service then I will temporarily increase security there.
In addition to all that, I attached a proposition for rounds of a nearby village and establishing a friendly relationship with them, and presented everything to Lanson. That last one was probably a result of personal reflections. You can say that for personal satisfaction.
I didn’t care how it would be received.
“Beautifully done Jap, that’s what I expected.” – Lanson looking at the report I gave him said as if with admiration.
“Sorry if the execution is bad.”
He reads my mail that is displayed on the screen and scrolls it.
“Well well, not only rational, It’s still feasible. You did it quickly. I also thought about reconsidering guarded area.”
If that’s so then you should have done it yourself – I thought, but he probably wanted to brush me up. Despite his looks he is a superior who has an unusual in present times enthusiasm inside him. That’s my evaluation of Lanson and it’s probably not wrong.
At least he seems more straightforward than Sophia and her whole machismo.
“As befits a descendant of Imperial Japan, which didn’t wage any wars for a long time. But…”
He didn’t have to say more, I already knew what it’s about. “But” visiting villages isn’t in the scope of duties of armies or private military companies – that’s how I expected our further conversation to go. It was for my own satisfaction anyway, so no hard feelings.
“But establishing friendly relationship with locals? You really fit into green berets. At least you have the disposition. I understand. Permitted.”
I was dumbfounded.
Lanson smiles bitterly. “You didn’t hear? Indeed establishing friendly relationships is necessary. I will plan a visit in the village. I want you to go there too.”
That was the biggest shock I experienced since I joined the company.
Is my face that funny?
Lanson rolling around with laughter repeated: “So you didn’t know?”
Green berets make me think about some elite and powerful American special unit on the level of “A Team” or “Rambo”. Not only me, but generally Japanese had that kind of view.
In reality it was different. Lanson was from green berets, so he told me a bit about it.
Green berets motto is “To liberate the oppressed”. It’s of course about the civilian populace. Their main task is reaching out to people. On military training they devise plans how to free people from oppression. As a part of this policy, they also provide them with medical help.
Of course beside that they also deal with sabotage, infiltration missions, learning languages, but primarily they constantly put emphasis on military training and reaching out to local populace.
The objective is to gain friends on the battlefield – Lanson only the word “friends” said in Japanese.
One time when Japan met with an earthquake, America under a joking name of “friendly plan” conducted a rescue operation on an incredibly huge scale. Lanson says that’s where he learned this word.
I knew America’s army helped then, but I didn’t know it was on such a large scale. Lanson claims that thanks to that America regained trust. And though that earthquake was an unfortunate event, America realized that Japan is important.
Looking at the report I turned in Lanson said OK.
I also have to go to the village. The fact that one must act first upon things he brought to attention seems universal.
“You deny, but you fit quite well to macho. You befriended them.”
Sophia, the fake elf, as for our company, or maybe even this camp, felt really out of place. It wasn’t about the shape of her ears or that she was a woman. To tell the truth I think that this company frequently took such people in.
Looking objectively, setting aside military or ex-military people, there was a serious problem with a lack of OOs, which would operate different computers. That’s why they hired not only twisted women, but even inexperienced Japanese.
You could say that I was hired on similar basis with Sophia, though I want to point out matters in which we differ.
Sophia doesn’t know anything about our company. That the limited time for meals is sacred, or that talking to someone during meals is really rude. She doesn’t understand that.
Disgusted I look at her, thinking “Take that back”. She is surprised.
“Rather than befriended, adapted.”
“And what will you do now, when you adapted?” – asked Sophia with seriousness.
I already had enough of this conversation. During meal I want to just eat. I thought that in Tokyo I was completely different. While surfing the net or watching TV, I ate bento from convenience store. From today’s perspective I was a bit slovenly.
I looked at Sophia. “It’s annoying to oppose every time, you know.”
“Absurd. Rather it’s an infringement of personal rights.”
True, but on another hand I get money for that, besides that, where is there a place for rights of another person in this job, when life itself is being infringed. She really looked like someone from another fairy tale, one with elves.
Not only me, but everyone from the company wondered what she is raving about.
Sophia glares at me. When I looked like this into her pupils I finally understood. I understood why, even though she is the only woman in the camp, she isn’t popular at all.
For many people in the camp this elf was probably an object of contempt rather than a sexual one. I grasped that she could neither give up nor adapt, having no one to talk to, she talked to me, as we had more or less similar interests.
That’s just great. I sigh.
I thought that Sophia is similar to me, when on every day off I went to Shawii. She was me, which couldn’t adapt to conditions in our company.
“Okay, first let’s eat. Canteen is small and time for eating short.” – I said, having in mind how I was in the past.
Sophia nodded lightly. For some reason she looks as if she was about to cry.
I resume eating. Good. Even very good.
That were apparently food rations of American army, packed in retort pouch. It’s cool that they have so many types, you don’t have to eat the same thing for a month. I always imagined food in the army to be in cans, and here thanks to retort pouches they gained a lot on weight.
“Just don’t think that now we are friends” – I said while eating something that I can’t exactly determine, but you can probably call it spaghetti.
Sophia eats in silence. I focused on the meal. It seems that if I speak to her now she will cry. I completely lack experience in man-woman relationships, so if she cries here I wouldn’t know what to do, and there will be an even more troublesome situation.
I think about something else.
I can’t exactly determine what I eat because pasta is too short. It’s also not penne, it’s just pasta cut too short.
Too short spaghetti – that expression captures state of things the best.
With tomato sauce.
Regarding personal preferences, I would prefer if it would be a little more salty, but it’s tasty anyway. Good is also a cracker, on which I put a gelatinous jam. You can eat it with virtually anything, that good. You can’t say it’s super crisp, but it’s a little salty, so it manages.
I eat spaghetti in a hurry. Crap, it’s good. So you would want tabasco. It would seem that you would be thirsty after that, but it’s not that way at all.
And finally the main dish – chocolate cookie. It seems twice as large as it should, but it’s because of a large amount of cheap chocolate.
That desert was a main course was caused by calories. In itself it already amounted to almost half of the calories of the whole meal. I don’t know if it’s because of the cheap chocolate or too much oil, but it never happened that I managed to eat everything yet. Although if you are tired, such amount of heavy food is probably good.
Menu consisted of 3 products, but vitamins and minerals were carefully included in that. Striking is that my health is much better than when I was in Tokyo. Maybe my visits in the gym produce results.
I drink powdered coffee. I don’t use sugar. There was already enough calories in this meal, if I still put sugar here it would be too high in calories and I would get fat easily. 500 kilocalories. Even if you skip half of them from the chocolate cookie, it’s not easy for someone having desk job like me. That’s why I deliberately try not to add sugar.
Looking in Sophia’s direction I see that she ends eating her vegetarian menu. Even for a military ration, vegetarian menu is carefully selected. As you would expect from America. All in all in Japan it’s probably that way too.
Sophia eats everything to the end including the chocolate cookie. What an appetite – I thought. Or rather it’s about maintaining her body. She realized that I’m looking at her and watches me. In a hurry I’m trying to look for a conversation topic.
Usually I had a problem to find something quickly, but since I didn’t have any priority subjects, I started a topic I didn’t take up earlier.
“Why do they call Japanese people Japs?”
Sophia thinks, wiping chocolate from her mouth with an index finger. “Hmmm. Jap doesn’t sound too good, right? Because it’s a pejorative word for Japanese from the generation of my parents and grandparents. I try to avoid it so it won’t remind about it … maybe.”
“Well you know, everyone is using it, so I am too.”
You have to admit it’s logical. There aren’t too many people who attach importance to vocabulary, which you are using everyday. I say that I am grateful. Sophia smiled at last.
“Ah I just heard, that you are going to a local village?” – Sophia bent forward with curiosity.
I didn’t move away because that would be annoying, so I took a sip of my coffee. Awful. But still much better than powdered juice, which is usually served with a meal. It also doesn’t have a weird aftertaste.
“It was me that proposed that you know? Lanson told me that I’m like a green beret.”
On those word Sophia wrinkles her nose a bit. She looks clearly unamused.
“Green berets are a lair of machos you know. They train befriended and allied nations in America’s national interest.”
“Well, but they don’t train enemies right?”
“Yeah. They only tell them to kill each other. That’s cruel” – said Sophia looking dissatisfied.
She didn’t look as if she realized that she herself takes part in something like this. Apparently she keeps that somewhere deep in herself. For her everything on the monitors is probably a fiction. That’s also a stance I presented earlier. Liberation from oppression or citizens killing each other? Which expression is better? None of them is false but it seemed that with none of them you could express everything.
I decided to change the subject. Sophia probably also wanted a proposition of a new topic.
I recalled a time, when I lived aimlessly in my rented room in Tokyo and decided to talk with Sophia.
Today it’s hard for me to get along with Sophia.
How Lanson’s killing time
Lanson’s schedule for a day consist of making me a toilet shift employee. That’s his time killing. He rarely takes it out on somebody else.
“If you were the enemy show me on the map where would you set up an ambush?” – from time to time he asks me such questions.
On the map there was a valley. I said that I would order to watch high ground and place units at the bottom of the valley. I wasn’t particularly interested in how he will grade me so I didn’t look at his face. I don’t know if he is pleased. He snorted and crossed his arms.
She is probably interested, because Sophia stares at Lanson.
Accompanying Lanson during his time killing was a pain. It’s hard being asked about obvious things. There are probably some that would be happy about it, but for me it was hard. I thought that I couldn’t be his teacher in elementary school. Though I don’t have such qualifications anyway. Anyway I was dissatisfied, but I accompanied him to gather informations about that village.
Lately I try not to think that I don’t have a job, exactly because this is a job. It’s about this dangerous thought that in this line of work at any time you can become a victim or executioner. All in all not only in this business. Actually in any work it is that way. Just the level of danger is different. In that reasoning NEET is also probably one of the occupations.
If I think about it now, quite a long time I spent doing nothing, which led to emergence of many victims and executioners.
My parents were the executioners, victim was me.
Now I know that I looked for a job because I just noticed that. Only then I couldn’t put it into words that deftly.
“I don’t have work, because it’s my work” means that there is no job for me, in which I can learn anything. Modest, yet for me a significant difference.
In any case I decided to think about it that way. I am different than before.
I return to reality. Lanson looks dissatisfied.
I want to relax so I stretch my neck and look around. Relaxing during work is very dangerous.
Lanson troubles someone else, asking the same question to another OO, which came to report.
He wipes his sweat, hesitates, points with finger and finally decide to gather all forces on high ground. Lanson looks dissatisfied. He started it himself after all, so he didn’t say anything.
I decided to act like an obedient toilet shift employee and didn’t say anything.
Later I went with Sophia for a meal.
We didn’t have particularly any frivolous talk, because there were other OO with us.
Because of replacements there was more free time.
Beside Sophia and Lanson no one from OO told me that I’m crazy directly. Everything behind my back. Though I don’t want to build relationships with people in this trade anyway. You never know when someone from us will disappear. There is no one that would spend time on building a relationship knowing it will be broken soon.
And that’s how inevitably it came to that, that I ate a lot with Sophia. Also because we were both recluses, but also because Sophia partially shared my interests and had a habit of coming to me to talk.
She had nothing in common with habits in this line of work to not build relationships or to enjoy short time for meal in silence.
In any case it wasn’t a human. It was an elf.
I eat in silence, but Sophia doesn’t like to eat without speaking. I tried to take as big bites as possible before she started talking. Someone having nothing to do with the military won’t understand that feeling. Something can happen, and in the next moment you can be called to work. You never know when you can eat next time.
“You make decisions quickly.”
“What decisions?” She always suddenly blurts something, so at the start I don’t know what she means.
Sophia begins eating awkwardly starting from the chocolate cookie.
“Lanson’s tasks. You solve them quickly.”
“Because the answers are obvious, so there is nothing to think about.”
“Everyone thinks that’s amazing, right? You have some secret?”
Not really – I stop in the middle of the sentence. I noticed that other OO in the vicinity focus their attention on me. They must be bored – I thought, but beside that I have nothing to say, so I ignore the stares. Though I can’t ignore Sophia anyway. This elf openly asks about anything that interests her. She doesn’t let go. That’s why there is a relationship between us. Though if someone asked what kind, then I don’t really know.
I thought a bit while eating and answered. “Secret is that first I think about a plan and make it a makeshift leader. That’s first. Next, one after another I compare it with other plans and if they aren’t better from current leader I reject them, and if they are I make them a leader. And you can do that over and over again.”
“And if you hesitate?”
“It’s enough if the leader wins, right?”
“And pros and cons do you consider them?”
“I don’t think about them. I work intuitively.”
I didn’t like that not only Sophia but also the rest, which I decided to ignore wrinkled their noses.
“Making decisions quickly. That’s the goal right?” – making small stops between words I confirmed.
“Yes. But…” – here when you didn’t have to join words, Sophia joined them. Strictly speaking, she separated words you didn’t have to.
Apart from that I wanted to say, why in that case is she wasting time for comparing, but Sophia spoke first. “Clear distinction is important after all.”
Withdrawing my irritation, to mixed rice with chicken I took bread into my mouth. Weird is that America.
Why does Sophia put her hand on her mouth and laugh. Weird are those Americans. Or maybe it’s just that elf?
“Arata, you are great, but sometimes stupid.”
“That I am stupid I admit, but with this great it’s a mistake.” I replied honestly and Sophia is watching me.
“And not the other way?”
Did I perhaps have a slip of a tongue? I correct myself: “I believe I’m always stupid.”
“Ah. In that case you should probably start looking in the mirror.” – said Sophia with delight, so I immediately wipe my face with my hand. On my cheek I have some rice leftovers. Indeed really stupid.
I was disappointed with myself.
Visit in a village
Like always I was tying a necktie and putting on a suit, when a familiar black guy with a nice smile approached me.
“Before I managed to buy you a meal we will work together. Sorry for the delay.”
He wanted to shake my hand. I respond in kind, trying so that the smile on my face looked good like in a movie.
“You are going dressed like that?”
“It’s work after all” – I replied. If I don’t tie a necktie, I can’t work. I’m also a bit surprised at that. When I was in a small designer company I didn’t do that, but since a job interview for this company, or even when I was already hired and later after the training camp, I put on a suit all the time.
“Just what you’d expect from a Jap. I’m Omar. Don’t eat pork. This troop and me are all Muslim.”
“I’m Arata. Pleased to meet you. Muslims, that is Islam, right? I understand. Something else I have to watch out for?”
“Yes. You are very welcome here with us Arata. I want you to know that.”
I laughed. Indeed it seems I’m becoming intimate with machos – I thought. Omar also laughed.
Omar took me and led to the unit – tactical unit S.
This time two S units circle around the village. At the same time one unit S is being a support in case of emergency.
“Place to which we are going now is the closest located friendly village. Many from the squad comes from there.”
“There it should go the easiest, further away are those we didn’t have contact with before or hostile. You can break your bones.”
“So in English on something hard to do you also say that.”
“No, that’s an expression special for Japan.” – said Omar grinning and laughing. This black guy looked like a human greater than me.
And anyway if you think about it majority of this camp, or exactly squads, I passed daily apparently originated from this country.
So they hire and train locals. So that’s why they established contact before. My stupidity was getting laughable. Well, from the start I didn’t consider myself bright, but I had at least satisfaction when I understood my own stupidity. Or maybe that’s from desperation.
I felt embarrassed, but I decided to save it for my next meeting with Lanson.
Now it’s time to do what is in my power.