Volume 1 Chapter 4
Village and angel
The one calling me golden eagle
Now I will do what is in my power.
It turned out, that it was to drag on in silence along a mountain road. I wondered if there isn’t something more I could do. Well, my role will start when we reach the village – I think.
I walked in the middle of the squad. On every side march alert soldiers, and I in silence in their midst. I wanted to say something funny, but they are escorting me because probably that’s their mission orders, so I resigned.
“Mister you look like you don’t feel too good. Everything alright?” – said looking at me, walking next to me short soldier with a headgear. He had a voice change. Under the headgear you can see his beautiful eye color, but not mentioning that I focused on my condition.
“Alright. No, sorry, but I’m not used to it.”
For sure looking around with curiosity was suspicious and it seemed that I have a poor condition.
One soldier is surprised by my words. “Not used to?”
Probably for a soldier that was a really surprising word. After I considered what contractors could think about me, something unpleasant came to my mind. 30 year old princess in a suit and guarding her youngsters. That’s practically how it looks. That’s not something that I find amusing.
“So it’s the first time you are marching like that.”
“Indeed. It’s weird for a golden eagle to walk on the ground.”
I remember those words about golden eagle. Once again I looked at the soldier with a headgear. He noticed that and as if in shame moved away a bit. Specifically speaking for around 50 cm. It seemed that he doesn’t want to move away for a greater distance.
“Oh yes, you are that golden eagle guy?”
“It was you who said, that I am like a golden eagle.”
“Ah, yes. That’s right, that’s right…”
I wonder why he is embarrassed. It’s me who is feeling uncomfortable thanks to my lack of experience. Wait a minute, did I get something wrong?
“I am OO. Usually I don’t go for strolls.”
“I know. Everyone says you are observing the situation like a supple golden eagle flying in the sky.”
“Well sure. Map has a view from the sky so it fits. As if I was flying in the sky, quite a poetic phrase… What?”
“No, nothing.” – said the soldier, looking around from side to side. With a shrill and stressed out voice. Borrowing terminology from Tokyo: as if he saw something too moe or embarrassing.
Adorable – I thought, but then I got worried. No matter how nerdy I was, new hobby in the form of boys even for me was a bit worrying. I think about walking next to walking at the front Omar. I will probably be in the way, but before I get worse… even if my behavior will look suspicious it can’t be helped.
And that’s what I did.
Mountain roads and armored cars
The camp is located on a mountain slope, that’s why it’s obvious that road is also on a slope. In the distance you can also see mountain slopes, so it won’t be an exaggeration to say, that in this region there is nothing beside mountains and slopes. If you went like that, then behind few mountains there is a long slope and after getting down from it when you walk all the way to the plains, there stretches an enormous cotton field.
In this area there aren’t even any forests and on mountain tops there lay a pitiful amount of snow. The only thing that covers the mountains is the color of earth.
From what they are speaking it’s caused by altitude. When it’s too high, then microbes won’t multiply and in result many living in symbiosis with them trees and plants don’t grow. Compared to mount Fuji they aren’t too tall, but it’s known that if there is no water, life won’t bloom. The mere existence of life is a miracle – I thought.
Compared to the size of the mountains, living beings are small like ants. Meaning, that you can see that with a naked eye. If you go even further, then even a human hides before mountains presence. Air is clear, though today you can see everything in distance anyway.
Saying, that there is no plant life at all is an exaggeration, but this is a place where it is very hard to find grass. And trees, I didn’t see at all. That’s why when it blows it’s known what is the wind’s shape, because the sand is rolled up. Nonetheless though, you can’t say that this is a desert. On mountain peaks in the distance there is snow.
Looking at the mountains in the distance I wondered about the size of the scale of what I saw on the map displayed on the OO’s monitor. Maybe it’s an occupational disease, but I thought that it’s precisely thanks to imagination that I will reduce accidents like those in that village. Kind of an excuse, but not entirely. Lack of imagination easily changes human into an aggressor. Now I understand that very well.
I walk along the road.
How much more will I walk like that?
It would be simpler by car, though this area is outside the patrolled zone. I conceived this plan myself, but it turned out that to the village I will go on foot, serving also as a patrol. It’s comfortable by car, but field of view and defense capabilities are limited.
In this case going on foot is indisputably better. In case of the car one rocket is enough, and even fire from rifles would kill everyone inside. While walking that won’t happen. Even if everyone would die, they will do so individually.
That’s why we are going on foot in the danger zone. Basic rule is that during a fight you don’t go inside a vehicle.
I remembered American armored cars, with which I arrived in this country. If we had those we could move much more quickly than on foot and much more safely than in a car. I don’t know what about rockets, but without doubt bullets from an automatic rifle would be stopped. Immediately mobility of infantry would increase. Reason why American forces carried in armored cars as far as such a place is understandable.
Though size of roads in this area was wide enough for a truck, driver would surely drive the vehicle in fear.
Driving down winding mountain road stretching infinitely seems interesting.
Though we don’t have armored cars, there is donkey with us.
Donkey means donkey, for its small size it’s a strong animal used from a long time ago for moving luggage. Nevertheless due to its small size it doesn’t work too well for riding like a horse. With such pride I talk about it but it was Omar who told me that.
Contemporary donkeys are mini-car robots. Width and length 1.5 m , height 1m. To a naked chassis 6 self-supporting wheels are attached. Vehicle moving in zigzag. Highest speed per hour is 10 km. At the top of the chassis there is nothing aside from a luggage platform. On the luggage platform there are loaded and thrown on ammo, food and gear of tactical unit S, that is one squad, which is stored for later use. In this aspect it really is a donkey.
Squad leader was holding a remote controller, usually for following, that is from a remote control it moved all the time to be at a distance of 1m. Official name was Special Car for Transporting Unit Gear, but diminutive in honor of its four-legged senpai it was a donkey. Donkey is not using armor, but is very useful for infantry. Since I couldn’t hold a gun, donkey had on him all the equipment. If not for him I would probably be out of breath, even before I would get to the other side of one mountain.
Donkey is following the squad leader, Omar. If Omar stops so does he, if Omar runs, he increases his speed. If he walks backwards then of course donkey also starts going backwards. In this area he is moving in a funny way. To be more precise, since I’m in this company not once did I thought about this word, but he moved adorably. I like this donkey.
As far as I recall, from up close I’m seeing donkey for the second time in my life. First time was in the training camp, on the day when I learned that those weren’t exercises.When Omar saw, that I’m looking with curiosity at donkey’s movements he said seriously:
“You didn’t have donkeys in Japan?”
“There weren’t… probably were, but I didn’t see. Even on TV.”
Omar stiffly said that indeed outside American forces he heard, that their practical use is doubted.
I don’t know how is Omar from the point of view of an elf, but from the point of view of a man, or Japanese, or human, against expectations he looked like someone who you could respect. Marching at the front he is teaching his subordinates when we are in safe zones.
After he asks someone what he would do in his place, he instructs that here you should do that. Lanson did the same with me. Additionally he acts amicably without sarcasm.
He makes a positive impression, or maybe he just doesn’t hide with his honesty. In this regard Lanson is different. Maybe sometime something bad happened to him, but the part for which you could respect him is thoroughly hidden.
We are still marching along mountains. I can still go, but return would be boring – I thought. Donkey still faithfully follows behind Omar.
“I think that asking about such things is very rude, but…” – said Omar, ordering a short stop to his subordinates.
I nodded. If he is putting it that way, then he probably wants to ask about something personal.
“Did you really not work in the army before?”
And yet, you can feel from a kilometer that elf girl – I thought, before I considered the answer. Not only in our company, but probably in every business, butting in into others affairs is a taboo. Smiling for another reason after a while I answered:
“Certainly not. As you can see.”
Omar makes a surprised face. He looks calm, though he widened his eyes slightly. He looked so surprised, that I felt the need for additional explanations. I thought that with this nice guy everyone would want to have rather good relations.
“Many OOs didn’t work in the army before. Not only me. I didn’t hear the details, but manager Lanson was from military.” – when I said that, Omar nodded shortly.
“Yeah, that I know.”
If he knows, why is he asking – I thought, but it seemed that he has something else on mind and he continued.
“It’s about you. I’m very surprised, that you didn’t work in the military earlier.”
“I think, that I don’t look like military personnel…” I took out the collar from the suit and fluttered it.
Omar smiles bitterly. I know, that he speaks when he chooses appropriate words.
“Command was like a professional. Actually it was even ideal, in which many commanders and soldiers aims. That’s why I was surprised.”
Maybe he was surprised, but I also was surprised on those words.
I wonder deeply.
When appropriate word doesn’t come to me I shake my head. I can’t think of anything, so I say:
“Enough for my respect” – a short reply. He looks at me with a look as if he just saw some miracle.
“I’m very happy, that you hold me in such high esteem, but what I said is the truth. Until this moment I didn’t even hold a weapon.”
“Too bad” – he said with actual conviction, that it was too bad.
Before I managed to apologize, Omar spoke further:
“If you came here earlier… If we weren’t a squad of a private military company … you would have a medal a long time ago and could have any rank you want. Terrible shame, that this didn’t happen.” Omar concluded the stop.
Once again I’m surprised.
What ability am I supposed to have?
Mountain road makes me think of a walk in a dense and rampant wilderness, but in this country the region doesn’t fit this image at all.
Mountain roads in this country are on slopes, build almost horizontal they stretch across many mountains, so you can go anywhere with them. Comparing to Japanese mountain roads, it’s a shame there are no negative ions, but it’s a plus that there are no mosquitoes. I think, that the landscape is beautiful in both cases.
High in the sky with stretched wings, predatory birds are flying. Maybe they are golden eagles – I thought to myself.
Before we reached the village I wondered all the time about what Omar told me. Luckily without complaining I managed to get to it. Or maybe it’s thanks to Omar’s caution, who made many stops.
In any event I couldn’t come up about what ability I have. From NEET, through small designing company, up to unemployment. Honestly speaking, I thought my life is taking a nosedive, and here against expectations I’m praised just like that. Though speaking honestly it’s not like I wouldn’t be happy if someone told me I’m good in pressing a blue button, it’s just that I have a feeling that anyone could do something like that.
Normally thinking, telling someone that he is good in pressing a blue button is an euphemism for making fun of him. But since it’s Omar that said that and in a completely different context, as a praise especially from him I think it makes me happy.
I smiled bitterly at a thought, that it actually was like that. It seems that I like this Omar quite a lot.
Visit in the village
Village to which I’m going to is in a valley. There was no need to build it on a slope like the camp due to radio waves. It seems to me that people want to live on planes, so that was probably normal.
One more important thing. On the bottom of the valley there is water. There is no visible river, but there are groundwaters. You just have to dig a well and water will appear. If you look, at the bottom of this valley you can see a bit of rarely encountered elsewhere greenery.
On the mountainside on the slopes, rocks are accumulated, surrounding something in a shape of a field, so that the wind will not blow away the soil.
On the thought of agricultural terraces, I had a feeling I saw something in common with Japan and smiled involuntarily.
Everywhere you make houses from flat stones the same way. There are also many of them in the camp, but here every one of them gave off the same feeling.
“Why are you smiling?”
“I remembered Japan a little.”
“Japan was such a place?” – said Omar. In Japan he probably was stationed in some American base. Or like Lanson took part in the friendly plan.
“We have fields like that.” – saying only that I moved keeping myself next to Omar.
Many of Omar subordinates took off their headgear and are rejoicing at their reunion with the villagers, which came to greet them. I was surprised at this picture. That were women. This not small amount of soldiers were women. I’m repeating myself to highlight the weight of this discovery.
“What’s so surprising?” – said Omar opening his eyes widely. I thought, that I can’t say after all, that I didn’t notice walking all the time next to them. I decided to say something that would sound believable:
“Ah no, I thought that Muslims don’t take off their headgears.”
Omar nods laughing.
“True, but… we are no longer in medieval times. Moreover I also don’t wear a turban. Not only Christianity modernized itself.”
“Ah yes? I apologize.” – when I apologized, Omar shook his head.
“No need. In your words no malice can be heard.”
“Thanks. To tell the truth your words are nice too.”
Omar was laughing, showing his white teeth. I also smiled.
When I looked, I saw a village chief or maybe a village elder, who had a goatee. He came to us with the help of two people. Me and Omar lowered our heads.
Instead of introducing himself first, the old man with a goatee said while watching us closely with a glint in his eyes:
“What were you laughing about?”
I was a bit surprised that his eyes were blue. And also, that additionally he speaks in English just like that. There is nothing strange that he used English, since this language still existed long before my birth, but surprising is that someone from older people omitting Americans speaks normally in English.
I pointed at the field.
“That field. It reminded me of a similar place from the place I’m from. Very distant place.”
“Is that so?” – he said, whereupon he greeted us and started walking
One of the helping him people, who looked like a respected individual said:
“Welcome in the tribe.”
That was probably an official greeting in the village.
Tribe in English is tribe. In Japanese you translate tribe sometimes as an ethnic group. At that time I thought that tribe is a proper noun.
Proper name for the tribe leader isn’t a village chief but tribe chief or probably more precisely, a patriarch. Though all the time I thought about him as a village chief. Differences between a patriarch and a village chief I realized a bit later.
I enter the largest building in the village. It can’t be said that it’s big, but the room is large enough that inside it 10 adult males could sit cross-legged in a circle. Me and Omar were also invited to it.
I sat closest to the exit at the lowest seat in the house. In Japan to guests you usually grant the highest seat. So it seemed weird to me then, that here it was the lowest.
On the floor a gorgeous carpet was spread out, on which everyone was sitting. There was nothing that resembled a table. Perhaps a skylight? From the ceiling protruded a shining plastic bottle. Bright like a lamp, but it was a plastic bottle.
Sitting cross-legged on the highest seat patriarch speaks:
“You are messengers from America?”
When I look at Omar I see that he is silent. This is probably my turn.
“I’m from the camp. Indeed employed by Americans.” – to be precise I explained.
“Did we not give you enough soldiers. What else do you want from us?”
Not only the patriarch, but many of the people are a bit startled. Before he said for what did we come in that case, he said simply if it is maybe to become friends. Exactly that, so there is now nothing that I should say. Patriarch spoke.
“What next when we become friends?”
“Nothing. If there is something then it’s only so you won’t attack us.”
“We send soldiers. Do you think we would attack our people? There is nothing to worry about.” – said someone else. Ah yes – I say with understanding in my mind.
Only for Omar English is his native language, but he stayed silent all the time. Remembering for what I came here, but also partially because silence was starting to become awkward, I spoke:
“Of course. I’m not worried about that. Probably some sufficient reason would be needed, that’s why I said that.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“That’s why I’m saying, that beside friendship I don’t have any other intentions, or reasons, or orders.”
Watching me closely man with a piercing gaze exchanged glances with his colleagues and then looked at me and said:
“In that case it can be said, that you came here for fun.”
“I came to make a greeting.”
“So in Japan it’s done like that?”
“I’m not sure if only in Japan, but when someone moves to a new place then he goes to say hello. If he changes his job then he does the same.” – when I said that, patriarch laughed a bit. Atmosphere immediately changed. Everyone was smiling. That was the difference between a village chief and a patriarch. Completely different authority.
“I understand. It seems that in Japan there is ustari.”
“What is that? I don’t understand the word.” – I honestly asked. If you pretend that you understand something in a foreign language then later it can result in unpleasantness. Once when not understanding I nodded, Shawii started to take off my pants.
“Common sense”- said patriarch with a friendly voice.
“Common sense, right?” – after I nodded, everyone aside from Omar was laughing.
“America doesn’t have common sense, but now I saw that Japan has. It pleases me immensely.”
Patriarch really said it with satisfaction so I involuntarily smiled.
“I’m sorry about the late greeting.”
“True. Late. Too late, but much better than none.” – said sensibly the man with a piercing gaze.
Though in this village everyone had such gaze. In other words I couldn’t determine who said that.
“Well much better. It would be good if you ate something. Tastier than those pseudo spaghetti.” – said another person.
They know more about us than I though. Laughing I said my thanks. Immediate return would be to speak honestly tiring. I want rest.
Patriarch was in a good mood.
“It was you that lately saved my grandchild’s squad, right?” – he asked.
Omar from the side whispered to me , that it’s about his squad.
Me… oh – I nodded.
“No. Alone I couldn’t make a correct decision. I sent help, but I said that depending on the situation it’s better to surrender. That was bad judgment. Thanks to him, Omar, it somehow worked out.” – when I said that, patriarch smiled broadly.
“I know. Also sergeant deserves thanks. Decision about not surrendering was without doubt wise. I heard thought, that it was you who decided to send help despite the danger. Heroic feat.”
While I wondered that you don’t often use such statement, though not to the level of an elf, I saw that Omar nods strongly.
“That’s right. I’m indebted to this Jap, but he is also a very decent guy.” – said Omar, making me embarrassed.
Patriarch looks pleased. He is looking alternately once at Omar, once at me.
“You don’t look like military.”
“You have abilities for military affairs.”
“That’s why English isn’t beautiful. A hero. Maybe not a warrior or soldier, but you have something significant in you.” – said cheerfully patriarch, after which he instantly turned serious.
“But mister guest. I don’t know how it is in Japan, but here there is a custom that when you greet someone you bring a gift.”
“We brought large amounts of food.” – I said and patriarch nodded lightly.
“No. Enough of that pseudo spaghetti. In this month, at 25th in the evening come again with a welcome visit. Then we will tie our friendship. I’m not saying to go as far as bringing vodka, but Budweiser would be welcome.”
Omar makes a very confused expression, so I say:
“Only, that well… religion allows drinking alcohol?”
“It’s not middle ages. My tribe are simple people. Until the fall of USSR they didn’t allow beliefs, and mosque served for storing materials. It’s hard to say that everything already returned to old times and it probably won’t. Listen, necessarily bring that Budweiser, alright? And if you can, bring Omar with you.”
“I understand. I will surely do that.”
I already wanted to say, that if he wants I can bring also vodka, but I wasn’t sure that they have it in the camp, so I limited myself to nodding. It was sad that the patriarch knew more about the camp than me.
After Omar straightened his back, I said:
“Can I ask about one thing? Why 25th?”
“New moon festival.” – immediately answered the patriarch.
I nod and say that I understand that they need the alcohol for the festival. Patriarch and the rest laughed with satisfaction.
Rest in the village
After the conversation and a meal with the patriarch, I found some spare time and walked for a bit outside. As a guide naturally there walked with me a typical for this village man with a piercing gaze, turban on a head and held in a belt dagger. On his shoulder he keeps American, though with a different shape, rifle. He sat next to the patriarch and was the one that assisted him during greeting, so I thought he had to have quite a high position, though I didn’t have any particular clue about it.
I didn’t realize this, but according to Lanson, Japanese don’t have a nose for social hierarchy. I thought that we just don’t distinguish, but maybe it actually could be like he says.
During descent into the valley, the village at a glance seems to have more or less around 100 buildings. On its edge private houses and agricultural terraces can be seen. More concretely not rice fields, but fields. They really resembled Japan, or maybe I wanted them to resemble. One way or another my sight is drifting in their direction. I don’t know what are those covered with lush green leaves vegetables, but they look tasty.
When sun started to set, the border between shadow and lighted places was much more clearly reflected on the earth’s surface than in Japan.
“Why are you constantly looking at the fields?” – asked directly accompanying me man. His English was probably more or less on my level.
I answered, that because I feel a bond with them.
“Ah yes.” – he said, after which he sat on a nearby rock.
“Since you are performing a reconnaissance of the village, then maybe it’s better to go more into its central parts?”
“Today I came here with a hope that I wouldn’t have to do that.”
After this exchange I leaned my back against the rock he sat on.
When I looked in front of me I saw a person from the company that was approaching. It was the one calling me golden eagle.
She took off the fabric covering her face and hair, and watched me. Skin color resembled Shawii. She was a woman, so she didn’t have a piercing gaze. She looked rather very young. Sophia, that elf, also had a childish face, but this one looked even younger. I wondered if regulations pertaining to age in our company are all right, but all in all it’s a black company, so I had a feeling that pointing it out won’t do anything.
Anyway, person in front of my eyes didn’t in any way look like a hardened in combat soldier. Even leaving aside OOs, it looked like it was rare in our company’s policy to hire people that have experience in military. Maybe there was something in this, or maybe not.
Soldier with a childish face looked at me with a slight embarrassment.
“You saved my daughter.” – although the boatman is on the rock, he threw me a lifeboat.
Hesitantly I nodded and still being in shock asked if he is a parent.
Golden eagle nodded. Cut short hair was lovely, but at the same time they had in them something cold. Inevitably I am looking at her with pain.
“Your orders saved me.” – said the golden eagle.
I smile bitterly.
I spoke, thinking about how many times today I used those words:
“It’s thanks to Omar.”
“Everyone says you fit to the post of OO. Other squads too.”
I thought that today I’m praised often. Thought while I understand the reason I don’t know the cause. I don’t understand what makes me better.
Child-faced soldier watches me with widely opened eyes.
“You are not happy?”
“I’m not happy when I think that children took part in the operation.” – I answered.
I remembered my order to shoot at the running villagers. What is different now?
“Japan is a decent nation.” – said the boatman from the rock, golden eagle’s father.
Ignoring those words, I couldn’t look directly at golden eagle’s face, and covered my eyes with my hands, embracing my whole head. I recall the village. It occurred to me that nothing is different. In my ignorance I still conduct an operation and then have a good mood. That I am outstanding? Idiotic mistake.
“Why does the company hire even such children?”
I thought, that maybe because of cheaper hiring costs. Stingy company, but you have to admit that certainly they operate with money very accurately. Sometimes I worry, thinking about the circumstances of my employment, but in the end surely I also was chosen from several dozen people. Now I understand the necessity of that test, which I experienced and on which most failed, thinking whether to pull the trigger of the blue button.
“Politics.” – said the soldier’s father.
I moved my hands a bit and looking at him asked:
“Military company meddles with politics?”
Soldier’s father isn’t responsible for this, but not hiding my anger I said:
“That is in many ways an aberration.”
I’m angry at myself. I’m criticizing political actions of the company, yet I myself clearly do that, throwing an idea to visit a village with an objective to establish friendly relations.
I thought, that it’s not the first time. Understanding superior and his idea man. That’s enough. And so a lovely girl in front of my eyes becomes a soldier. If the situation was a bit different then also I, sitting next to Lanson could say that I’m not responsible for others.
Imagining that I could say that, from nervousness I felt my mind go blank. Cheating my own stupidity, I can’t resist the feeling of turning the whole world around into an enemy. From Tokyo I traveled a long road up to here, but now I am considering leaving this company. It’s already much too late, but it’s good that at least now I realized that. I’m leaving immediately.
Everyone’s fucked up. Me, this company, this village, this country, America. Everyone irresponsibly thinks, that it will go well and in that way they create problems, which later they deepen even more. Soldier in front of my eyes is a result of that.
Enough! – I think.
I realized that I myself am taking part in this. I have a feeling, that lack of imagination causes unconsciously evil and this evil, which cumulates, makes the world.
I won’t take part in this anymore. Since the attack on that village staying in this company was a mistake. I unnecessarily searched then for evidence that I am innocent.
Someone grabbed me by my shoulders. I returned to my senses. I noticed that the man from the rock is holding me.
His soldier-daughter watches me with worry and moved her face closer.
“You have an expression as if you would destroy everything from anger.”
“Everything alright?” – asked the father.
“I’m sorry” – I answered.
They were in a much worse situation than me, so there was nothing left for me other than to apologize that I am making them worry.
“I was angry.”
“About what?” – asked calmly golden eagle’s father.
I bit my lips to not let my voice shake and said:
“About the fact, that a child becomes a soldier.”
“Japanese are really decent. Or maybe it’s you that is decent?”
I stay silent. The father shifted his position, jumped from the rock and said:
“What’s your name?”
“Can I tell father?” – said with her girly face with genuine enthusiasm golden eagle
I nodded. The girl stretching, whispered my name to her father.
I didn’t understand what would be the difference if I said my own name, and this carefree childish impulse needlessly upset me.
“In this country that means dawn.” – he said.
I wanted to say that Nitta – you write as 新田 read as Arata, but I didn’t know how to say that in English, so I stayed silent.
Our return journey has passed a bit faster. We hurried not because, we wanted to be back before dinner, but because with the darkness it becomes dangerous.
Lately, there were few enemy attacks during the night, but we had night-vision goggles, which were transported by the donkey. Despite that there weren’t enough of them, and hence moving speed in the dark falls and chance of tripping or falling rise.
That’s why it’s good, that we dealt with it quickly. Even if we don’t make it back to the camp before dark, it’s enough to reach the camp area, which is known better.
I moved according to OO’s instructions. Taking into account shifts, this tactical unit S was probably operated by Sophia. Imagining what expression she has relative to given instructions, the trip passed much more pleasantly than I thought.
I wonder about whether to apologize to her next time for my harsh stance. Maybe talk about anime – I was thinking. I feel a bit of regret about all that, what I left in Tokyo. Good, that I still paid the rent.
Walking next to me Omar was silent for a longer time, but in the end he stealthily glanced at me, after which he honestly said:
“Patriarch and the rest were praising you.”
I thanked him for his kindness. Even if I would return to Tokyo, I will remember him.
“I’m glad that you were also judged fairly Omar.” He laughed a bit and said “If I could be your friend..” which moved me.
“I would be really happy, if in such place we can become friends.” – I answered. Omar, very happy, laughed and nodded.
We didn’t shake hands.
We are watched by golden eagle, who just returned to child-faced soldiers. I gulped. I wondered why, and then Omar’s kindness calmed me.
Friends are a good thing.
In the next second I was thrown onto the ground.
Golden eagle was pressing me down.
Before I managed to react, I noticed lying face down on the ground Omar.
I heard a popgun. It was a sound I heard earlier in the headphones. A few seconds passed before I realized that this is a sound of real shots.
“Enemy is attacking.” – said someone. Maybe Omar. Or maybe they were my words.
I heard an unpleasant sound of a bullet hitting the donkey. I look at Omar. He is making some signals with his hands, but I don’t understand what it is about. He looks at me and waves his hands. I see only the golden eagle who looks at me and says to me to run up to Omar. She runs across the road and comes up the summit. I run out in a hurry after her.
Donkey was following Omar, but now it fell from the slope. I thought that it can thereby give away Omar’s position, but the donkey after getting hit by a bullet overturned and in vain moved it’s legs from right to left. It scatters ammunition, food and helmets down the valley.
It seems to me, that the enemy focuses for now on firing at targets that stand out, which rather isn’t too smart. Thinking that I wouldn’t do that, together with the girl I managed to jump behind another rock.
I see Omar, but the enemy doesn’t see him.
I assumed that he must be attacking against the setting sun, from relatively high situated place.
Omar clings to the rock and press the wireless call button attached to his chest. Surely OO starts to issue orders. If right now there isn’t a restroom break, it must still be Sophia.
I was afraid to lean out, but thought about her orders were even more frightening. As a OO Sophia doesn’t have a bigger imagination than me. And for that reason there was a chance, that she will force something that despite looking reasonable according to the map, on site wouldn’t make sense. That’s why I ran.
I jump behind the same rock as Omar.
Omar in silence nodded and gave me a short-wave radio. I put on an earpiece on my ear and call out:
“Sophia, how is the situation!?”
On the other side of the receiver I heard a gulp. Today it’s contagious.
“Arata! What are you doing there…”
“Please take a good look at the deployment on the table. Today I’m in the vicinity of the village. Though I was only in one place. Okay, forget it, what’s the situation?”
I felt that for a while she stared at the monitor. The fire stops. The enemy probably is searching for us with a sniper scope.
“It seems that they are attacking you. Enemy numbers unknown. How are you feeling?”
I was disappointed by Sophia’s answer. After all I already know that. I think for a while and answer.
“It’s a sniper fire. There are no casualties.”
“Good that the opponent is so poor at shooting.”
“Praise be to them for that. How much time will it take for reinforcements to arrive?”
“If they will move cautiously then about 2 hours, but if they would hurry then 30 minutes, though probably Lanson won’t allow that. He is watching out for traps.”
That was understandable. The enemy learned from my previous actions and he can use that against me. In any case 2 hours is too long. I came to the conclusion that reinforcements aren’t an option. This time a lone tactical unit S must somehow fend for itself.
“Okay, thanks. What is the map code of the location I’m at?”
“Upper right corner of the screen you are looking at. Map code of the map.
“Map code M24E7.”
I turned off the transmission and passed the short-wave radio to Omar. I’m incredibly nervous and I’m fully aware of that. I’m completely trembling in fear. I feel that sweat is trickling from me. I had to do what always, however the feeling is completely different than in an air-conditioned office.
Omar looks at me.
“OO’s instructions are a defensive fight, but…”
“Reinforcements will arrive in 2 hours.” – I answered.
Omar humbly nodded and said:
When it gets dark we will be able to use that. Then OO will give us pointers. Until sunset there are 52 minutes left.”
I nodded. Rule number one in case of a sniper is to not lean out, which I learned in the camp. Sophia makes textbook decisions.
I look at Omar.
“We already saw this somewhere, right?”
“Yeah , I remember.”
Omar checks his weapon and I continue:
“I think that now it will be the same.”
Omar nodded. We both smiled a bit.
I’m getting nervous. I lost the feelings in my lower half. I probably wet my pants – I thought. Waiting for Omar’s move, a desire to check if my testicles are still attached overcame me. This time I’m in it up to my ears. Not as an OO now.
Every second drags on. Every may have a value of golden eagle’s life.
“Arata I want you to start acting as an OO.”
“I don’t have equipment!” – I said quickly, but in my head I already was drawing myself the surroundings based on the map code. From the previous conversation Omar too deduced as much and said quietly:
“It’s not the equipment that gives orders. Besides I only mean this squad. You don’t need a computer. Do what you always do.”
I exhaled. I know myself that I’m getting tense to the limits of absurdity.
“First time I am working in a place where I can get a bullet. Don’t expect miracles.”
When I wanted to wipe sweat with my sleeve, I realized that it’s awfully dirty.
I wipe sweat with my sleeve and rise my sight. I have in front of me an image of pressing the blue button. Every time it was the same. The difference was in whether I actually saw it or if I tried to not look at it. I said how I see the current situation as an OO:
“Enemy’s goal is doubtlessly to grab captives. I think that while snipers are holding fire, a separate squad will get behind us.”
Omar nodded. He seemed to not be as nervous as me and said about their situation:
“For them it would be better if they lured us and then attacked.”
I nod. Luckily the enemy made a mistake.
“Luckily they aren’t used to combat. Maybe they don’t have a sufficient amount of weapons or people. It must be assumed that they are avoiding exchanging fire from up close.”
Omar looks only at me. Child-faced soldier also looks at me. Apparently everyone looks at me. Omar said:
“What’s the OO’s decision?”
I immediately answered:
“Though the enemy is few, without doubt they hold advantage over us. We will retreat in the direction of the village. Our target will be the bottom of the valley without crossing the road.”
“Crazy, but I understand.” – said Omar showing his white teeth.
I already heard it many times as one of the terms, with which I was gossiped about, but in Omar’s mouth strangely enough it sounded like flattery.
I smiled, and the child-faced soldier made a serious expression and said to Omar:
“Arata is like a golden eagle. He isn’t crazy.”
Laughing Omar says:
“That is brave and reckless.”
Child-faced soldier made a pouting expression and withdrawn, but I wondered about something else. Maybe gossiping about me that I am crazy was a flattery. Maybe it had a meaning, that in Japanese the word yabai was responsible for. If it was like that then it’s my fault – I thought, though now I’m not in a situation in which I could apologize. So I limited myself to a bitter smile.
Omar looked at the slope, considered my instructions and said:
“If we will be careless there exist a possibility that we will fall. At the bottom of the valley it gets dark fast.”
“That’s right, fast. Instead of calmly waiting an hour until the night comes, it’s better to go ahead and invite it ourselves.”
“You are a poet. Okay. I want to gather night-vision goggles. They make a big difference. I don’t want them to capture the donkey. Team B you will be support.”
I grabbed Omar’s shoulder, who was just about to run out.
“No, Omar! We don’t know where the snipers are. Even with suppression fire it won’t do anything. Let’s get rid of luggage.”
“Good idea.” – says Omar gently sliding from under my arms. I didn’t release him.
“But I don’t plan on getting rid of people.”
“I understand.” – saying that he took out a grenade and started giving out orders to his subordinates using the microphone. He throws the grenades. They fall in front of the donkey. Grenades around the donkey explode. Explosion rapidly changes the pressure. My ears hurt. I can’t hear anything, but relying on my sight I run out with a wobbly step. Everyone in one moment go out from behind the rock and run towards the valley. For now the next target is another rock.
Here we are for some time fired upon.
If we returned fire then the enemy could succeed in cutting our road off, but in this case there is no sign of that.
Escape and retreat
During an escape attempt there exist a danger that allies will disperse, but Omar instructed the subordinates so wonderfully, that there was not even one deserter or a person that would stop running.
It occurred to me, that I only gave small advice and that my reputation is a result of Omar and his care about people. I’m not worried about that at all. When this is over I have the intention to resign anyway.
Omar looks too occupied, so I checked if my ear already receives sounds normally and decided to help him. Of course while fleeing the whole time.
“I will take care of a part of the squad.”
“Take care of C only.”
After this exchange I took command over 1/4th of Omar’s teams. There are 4 teams, so over one. Recalling team C we run from one rock to another. Golden eagle – a lovely girl, followed next to me.
“I am the leader of team C.”
“Djibril.” – said the child soldier embarrassed for some reason.
“Like Gabriel, that angel?” – I said remembering anime. It probably irritated her, because with a childish face with a lovely girl’s expression she said:
“Djibril in our religion.”
“Sorry. Djibril. If you go from the village in the direction of the valley, according to the map on the slope there is a hollowed out place, something like a plane. We will retreat there. Omar with the rest also plan on going there.
“That area was a playground when I was a child, but a hollowed out place… ah!”
Djibril calling even a younger than her soldier, made a face as if she remembered.
“What sort of place is it?” – I asked.
After she wondered with a reddened face what to say, she said as if confessing:
“According to the patriarch that is a place in which an evil djinn lives. That’s why we didn’t go there even once.”
“I understand. Only, people with rifles are much worse than an evil djinn. We will borrow from that djinn some of his space.”
“Alright. Only…” Djibril with care hugs from behind looking at her child and thinks.
I thought that I should buy better sneakers. My legs hurt. Maybe I even have some bloody blisters. I really should spend money on a watch and shoes. No no, what am I thinking, after all I plan to quit. I wonder if even once in Tokyo while purchasing shoes I cared about anything else beside their price?
“Go to invite the night – I think that they are very poetic, wonderful words.”
Djibril’s words upset me, but I involuntarily laughed. Omar is good, this child is good. Amongst good people it’s easy to lie.
“Thanks, but for now our priority is survival, okay?” – I said falsely.
Gathered team C of children and Djibril nodded. Heading in the direction of the night I ordered them to run.
I myself also started to move.
I ran, swearing profusely at my lack of exercise.
I breathe heavily and think that tomorrow I will probably be sore. In contrast to me, the children held up good, and they even had with them rifles weighing more than 5 kg. They looked at me and were laughing. I also laughed a bit.
Though I’m not Omar, I thought that this probably means that they can’t become captives. Omar’s squad didn’t show itself yet. He takes custody over three times the amount of people, so I guessed, that managing them takes some time.
Giving out instructions to Djibril, who tries to call through the radio I stared at the completely dark djinn’s dwelling.
The place they guided me to looked like ancient or medieval ruins. A group of buildings looked much bigger than presently found in the village. They were more well-built from stone than them, but a part of them were collapsed, maybe serving as a building material for the buildings in the village. I noticed an overturned cross, so I’m guessing that here was a Christian church.
In any case there are many old buildings here, and though they look solid, it can’t be told when they will collapse. I thought that I understand why the patriarch forbid the children from entering here.
I saw that the children from team C gathered and had restless expressions. Especially Djibril seemed to look at me.
“Try to not go too far inside. How is Omar?”
“It seems that, they will be here soon.”
Djibril is shaking, so I smile. Of course pretending. Actually I am afraid too.
“Are you afraid of the djinn?”
“It’s an old superstition. I have God beside me.”
I exhale vapor. While we both mindlessly stared into exhaled by us vapor, I saw rushing here Omar’s group.
Instead of a greeting, he quickly checks the number of people, after what he approaches me. There is no light. Light can serve as a target. Everything takes place in the dark.
“How are you?”
Hearing that on Omar’s face appeared a slight smile. He looks at the ruins and says to me:
“That you remembered from the map even such a place.”
“Because I looked at it many times.”
In my opinion, half of the OO’s work is reading maps. It is enough for me to hear a map code, and I easily remembered and imagined it. That reminds me when in a small designing company they told me, that I at least have good memory.
I have a feeling that this is an effect of a lack of tasks due to Lanson, who usually made me a toilet shift employee. When I remember it, we also often talked about such withdrawal battles. It seems that I refined myself thanks to many scenarios from Lanson, which I had to predict.
I smile bitterly. Maybe I already am 30, but I don’t understand anything. I’m not even young enough to be able to excuse myself with my age. Life that I led until this moment had to be a mistake.
“I wonder in what way the enemy will attack.”
I answered Omar with a bitter smile.
“I think that he won’t attack. He doesn’t know that we got rid of night-vision goggles, or about this place. If he thinks we are expecting them, then it doesn’t matter how inexperienced we are, he probably won’t attack anyway.”
“True. Like always a wonderful judgment of the situation.” – Omar nods. In this moment I remembered about the real OO.
“Right, Sophia. Could you inform the OO, that we retreated to this place?”
“I’m informing in real-time. Also about your plans.”
“And what did she say about it?”
“She asks why at the bottom of the valley night falls quickly.”
We laughed loudly. Her lack of imagination was really dyed-in-the-wool.
“Alright, so we wait for a rescue squad?”
I see how Omar orders a longer break.
It seems that dinner will be a bit late.
Large scale transport
Leaving aside the situation in which I found myself, from today a large-scale transport operation conducted by American army was starting.
Until this moment I didn’t see that many columns of vehicles, transport consisting of trucks and armored vehicles. I wanted to see that, but after Lanson ordered me to rest, I ate a meal with Omar and threw myself on the bed. I didn’t even dream about anything.
Next day I was so sore, that I couldn’t even walk normally. Beside buying new shoes, ultimately I thought only about giving my all on my training.
My wobbly gait must have looked very funny, because Sophia’s eyes lighted up and she started to walk next to me. It seems that today she has a day off.
“You walk funny Arata.”
“Great, I am aware of that.”
Amused, Sophia placed her hand on her mouth and laughed not making any sounds. I thought that she is from another fairytale, because I don’t have other words for that. According to Omar this elf girl is a typical liberal from a democratic party.
“Good that the enemy turned out to be stupid. Normally they would have shot you like sitting ducks.”- says Sophia walking next to me down the corridor and pretending as if she was holding a rifle. In Japan a gun barrel is imitated with the index finger, but in America the same finger is responsible for imitating pulling the trigger. Realizing that small difference I decided to accompany Sophia today.
In any case I feel bad about it, that I gave orders to ignore all Sophia’s orders. Though I don’t know how much of that is reaching her. Maybe nothing.
“Really good that the opponent turned out to be stupid.” – said Sophia one time standing in front of me, and another walking behind me. She is watching me and is laughing.
I wonder if she doesn’t hold a grudge and isn’t saying that sarcastically, but no. Fact, that the enemy was stupid was undeniable. When I looked at her, she stopped in front of me with a half crying face, looking at the miserable me.
“But it’s really good that nothing happened to you.”
Covering my mouth with my hand I look at Sophia’s teary eyes and contemplate my cruel character. I thought that I should train not only my body. In other words I’m lacking everything.
“When instead of defending the squad started running, I thought that you wouldn’t make it and would stay behind.”
After those words I understood why she recommended a defensive. There is no doubt, that she recommended defense, because she thought I wouldn’t manage to run away. That was probably the reason. Completely not taking soldiers into account, children, or rather because of the lack of imagination, the only plan she was capable of thinking of had only one factor in regard – me.
I was ashamed, that I so proudly recommended my plan. Looking at my present state, Sophia’s decision seems more appropriate. And who said I am outstanding?
With a hunched back I looked at Sophia. She smiles kindly.
“Hmm?” She smiled pleasantly
“You called me Sophie.”
“You prefer Sophia?”
“No, that works” – she said and we entered the mess-hall.
We will be eating together. Only, today I will have to watch out for things other than food.
Due to excrements the toilet in this camp is in another building. So it was a makeshift toilet, that’s why I always thought that it would be nice if they built something better.
Daily amount of waste, which isn’t small, is sprinkled with medicine and finally buried on the spot. Once in a while the smell reaches even up to the office and then not only Sophia, but even Lanson frowns.
So with a wobbly step I head in the direction of this toilet. Some soldier approaches quickly. Short, with a headgear. I guess that it’s Djibril.
Indeed it was Djibril. Pupils which I saw through the slit in the headgear were very large. Looking very serious like never before. With seriousness they resemble the patriarch or the father on the rock.
Lips under the head wrap are moving.
“Be careful Arata.”
“Something happened?” – on this question Djibril looked from side to side, stretched, and whispered in my ear:
“The person you were with is an incarnation of an evil djinn.”
“You mean Sophie?”
“Yes. Probably.” – she said with seriousness, like never before. I accepted her words, thinking that rather than evil djinn it’s simply a liberal elf.
Stretching her ears above the head wrap she says:
“She has pointy ears.”
On this cute sentence I smiled bitterly.
“Okay. I will tell her to be very careful.” – I answered.
Progress of the battle and transport
Next day I couldn’t move my legs.
When I returned to work, Lanson scolded me to nevertheless work on my condition. After I answered that I understand, holding a resignation letter in my pocket, I sat down. I had to consider seriously when will be an appropriate time, so as to not create a problem in the workplace. That I had terrible difficulties writing it in English is my secret.
As always sitting on a pipe-chair I was serving as a toilet shift employee. Or maybe I was here as an adjutant, but I don’t know how much truth is in what Omar is saying.
In any case it was silent in the office. After I finished staring at a decorative plant, I looked around the whole office.
Such offices are actually also in Japan. In part it looked like a normal office. Manager and his 11 subordinates. Usually two had a day off. That’s why in total the number of subordinates is 13.
On a handheld screen of a tablet I check how it goes with the transport and its defense. The plan of the main and the most important project of our company is a transport of a not small number of America’s army materials conducted in this region. I thought that since during the transport on the front there is so much troops, then I am responsible for a military operation on a scale larger than I was told.
Southern Iraq? Northern Russia? Or maybe they are feigning going to Iran and in fact they are going to Afghanistan? Suddenly Lanson talks to me:
“You are probably thinking, that enemy prepared a trap.”
“Yes.” – I answered. I’m treating this as a next educational course from Lanson. Though I still want to quit, I go along with Lanson. I understand his expectations and kindness.
Looking satisfied from my swift reply, Lanson changed his position on the chair.
“It seems to me that it’s better to cut off supply lines, rather than fight directly with American army.”
“Yes, exactly. The question is, when it will happen.” – wonders Lanson.
I wonder about my own problems. If I am to submit a resignation then probably after the whole operation. The problem is, when will that be.
“I saw how the enemy already wanted to grab captives a few times.”
“I know. The day before yesterday you also came to that conclusion.”
“Yes, though they probably weren’t the same…”
“What do you think they want captives for?”
“For money? Intelligence? For political negotiations? I think it’s something from that.”
It seemed that it wasn’t a bad answer. Lanson smiled.
“True. The enemy probably before us came to the conclusion, that in the American army there will be some large maneuvers.”
Lanson is thinking. It seemed that he came up with something. He aimlessly stares at the monitor at subsequent rows of the train. I also looked at the handheld monitor.
“And the transport operation truly started. They moved. I wonder what the enemy will do now.”
I wonder. First day of the transport is enormous. Over 1000 4-ton trucks. Thinking about tactical unit C, which will be en route for the whole day with more or less 2-ton material, I was able to imagine the scale of the operation. During such transport you can immediately see what’s going on. I speak.
“Information gathering ended. I think… I think, that they will attack now. They will probably want to interrupt the transport.”
“Situation is clear. I wonder when they will attack.”
I looked at Lanson.
“I think when they are ready. Lanson. As soon as possible.”
“Probably. Since they have a small squad then from the start, from the military point of view, they didn’t have a choice. It’s better to mess it up already at the start.” – after he said that, he smiled and got up from his seat.
“Not a bad judgment. I think you will become a manager.”
Answering in my mind that I have no such intention, I look at Lanson. After he got up from the chair he started walking. I followed him with my sight.
“Where are you going?”
“The enemy will attack when he will be ready, right? For now I’m going to get some sleep. The rest I leave to you. Arata, you are a temporary manager.” He waved his hand and left.
After I escorted him with my gaze, I crossed my arms while sitting on a pipe chair.
He probably didn’t sense that I want to quit.
Again in the village
We were wrong.
3 days pass, 4 days pass, and nothing is happening. Transport gradually moves forward. There wasn’t even a single accident like vehicle overturning into the valley. For now our work was managing the route, so on one lane there won’t be any jams.
It can be said that it’s easy and pleasant. It would be nice if until my resignation that won’t change. Soon 10 days will pass anyway. It’s 24th on the calendar. Delivery probably went according to the plan, at least according to what I know American army started acting at last.
Regarding me, until present day, I seriously took up gym in my spare time. Days passed me on work and exercises. Additionally lately for some reason, being in a bad mood Sophia reproached me about being macho. On another hand Djibril says that it’s good for my health.
Angel, elf, and now ruins… here really is some sort of fantasy – I came across this kind of nonsensical thought. So nonsensical that I didn’t touch this subject.
Tomorrow will be 25th. Festival day, to which invited me the patriarch
When I informed Lanson about it, he instantly gave permission. Except that due to the lack of hands to help, there won’t be an escorting squad. I understood that.
To the village I was supposed to go with Omar, Djibril and the kids from team C. At night, with night-vision goggles. To date there were no night attacks, that’s why we are going at night.
For the first time I had night-vision goggles on me. Pretty light. Aside from the stupid look as if my eyes popped out, it was bearable. It wasn’t infrared, it only amplified the light of stars and moon, so you could see better. That’s why it is also called starlight goggle. By the way I have a feeling that I already saw this explanation in some manga.
Omar told me to not look through night-vision goggles at the bright camp. I turned around and looked at him with a naked eye. If you look at such a bright light through night-vision goggles, then supposedly circuit breaker cuts off the power.
If you think about it today is an eve of the new moon. The moon is so small.
I turn away from the camp and hit the road.
Walking, I ask Djibril if she isn’t sleepy. Satisfied hearing her quiet voice of criticism, that she isn’t a child and everything is alright, I went ahead.
Before I noticed, I had a friend in Omar. Also a small friend in the form of Djibril. When I think about it, that’s the first time when I managed to build a decent relationship with someone in this business. In the case of Sophia… it wasn’t such a relationship. She was twisted, weird for both sides.
I wonder about that. It was me that reluctantly associating with her, had a feeling of superiority over Sophie. I think about, who the heck am I, that I look down on her like that. Poor Sophie.
Wait, It’s this term that is looking down on her. She is strong. Maybe I don’t know that, because I didn’t notice. In some ways she is much stronger than me. Feeling sorry for her must be probably inappropriate coming from me.
I thought, that probably she managed to get a friend for the first time. I would want to look her in the eyes without feeling superior and feeling sorry. Not only her, but in relation to everyone. That’s why I have to someday repair my relationship with Sophie.
In any case I wonder how my classmates from my school times and coworkers from the small designer company would react, if they heard that I have a big and brave black guy in the military for a friend.
I laughed a bit thinking about it.
New moon festival
With a calm pace we reached the village when the sun rose. We said our greetings, I gave to the patriarch and Djibril’s father 48 Budweisers and received a room, to which I was guided.
I slept like dead almost until the evening. Too bad, it was a festival after all, but lately I can feel my age catching up to me. I have to train.
Experience and prudence of a young man, but the body is falling apart. Simply a tragedy.
I am woken up by shining through the window yellow sunrays. I straighten my tie, put on my suit and pull up my collar. As there wasn’t any mirror I couldn’t check clearly, but probably everything was normal. I go outside. Sunrays fall directly on me and I can’t see anything. I go under the shadow of a building and look around the village.
A normal peaceful day. Laughing children are helping with work in the fields. Only no festival could be seen.
Damn, I missed it. I was surprised by that, because I just realized that I looked forward to it. If you think about it, then for the first time since I’m working I had in my plans something resembling sightseeing – I thought with regret. Though I slept very well. Appropriate exercises and adequate amount of sleep probably make a person happy. Anyway it’s a shame.
When I shrugged my shoulders from disappointment, Omar stood next to me. Facing the building with his back he crossed his arms.
“You look somewhat disappointed.”
“You will probably say it’s childish but I was looking forward to this festival.”
“You are looking forward somewhat regretful.” – said surprised Omar.
While I was wondering about the meaning of those words, Omar is stretching.
“It will start soon.”
“It’s a new moon festival after all, so it’s obvious that it takes place at night.”
I hadn’t thought about that. In any case I was glad. Unexpected delight.
Omar made a sullen face and said that the way in which Japanese enjoy something is complicated.
And that’s how evening came. I was cheerful, but the whole village was in such mood. You could feel the excitement in the air. Everywhere there are cressets burning, with guarding them people. If the fire spreads it would be a catastrophe, that’s why under every one of them there are meticulously placed buckets with water.
Flames of the huge bonfire are strong. It’s enough if you get your face closer for it to be covered in soot, that’s why Djibril’s father said not to get close. Exactly as if he rebuked an unruly child, which embarrassed me a bit.
The festival starts. Under the moonless night, but under the starry sky, on the ground many cressets are burning.
Though there isn’t any cheerful music, cheerful people are starting to pounce food at once. Festival is a festival.
I look around. Though without music, there is a rhythm. Rhythm is created by poem recitation. I don’t understand anything from it, but someone was reciting and I decided to treat is as music.
It was a simple village, but now everything is colorful. Especially villager’s clothes. Everyone had on them colorful costumes with detailed patterns.
Seeing that I’m enjoying myself, Djibril’s father weakened his penetrating gaze and looked at me. He is laughing.
He is offering me a drink from goat milk mixed with blood. I’m immediately energized. There rather wasn’t any alcohol in that, but maybe because of the blood, my cheeks got hot. I drank without frowning probably only because it was dark and I didn’t see what was inside the vessel.
“You are really a straightforward man.” – says amused Djibril’s father.
Not waiting for my response, he brought a beautiful young girl. On her head and shoulders she had beautiful lace. Clearly a beautiful girl.
My surprise caused the indignation of the beautiful girl – Djibril, and loud laughter of her father.
At Djibril’s words that I allowed myself to be deceived by the evil djinn too much, the father was still laughing, and I looking at both of them didn’t know what is happening.
It’s being said that women are fickle, though that’s only an excuse.
“Ah, well I was surprised by such a different appearance. You look very pretty.”
Knowing that I’m only trying to somehow get out of this situation however, I still said that as part of an excuse.
Djibril’s father laughed without rest. The girl turned her back to me.
The festival is starting to get lively.
In this moment Sophia is working, but I wonder what she would say seeing this party – I thought looking at people, whose movement resembled swaying movement of bonfire flames. And it’s curious what about Shawii. Maybe it would be good to make a stop at that country and visit that brothel when I finish working here.
I thought that I would give her about one dress and return to Japan.
“Nice if there would be a dance.” – I said
Djibril’s father was writhing with laughter.
I said to Djibril that it’s probably enough. She looked at me, lowering her sight for some reason, and said that dancing takes place inside.
I nodded as a sign that I understand. Djibril’s father is still laughing. For some reason he has terrible fun.
“Arata, won’t you take my daughter for a wife?”
At those unexpected words I widely opened my eyes. Suddenly it occurs to me. Ah yes, he is joking. If it’s a joke then I want to retort, but sadly I’m lacking ability in English.
“I’m too old. Too big age difference.” – I said with seriousness.
I don’t have the courage to glance at Djibril. Especially since honestly speaking I didn’t really have any attachment to real girls. Well even if I had, it still wasn’t an option. For many reasons.
“Why? If the girl is young then children will be healthy. Don’t worry,” – says Djibril’s father.
I wasn’t very amused. Shiver ran up my back. For some reason other than goat blood my face is getting red. I have a feeling that if I look at Djibril that will be the end.
I tried to look at other things and saw a running Omar.
“What is it Omar?”
“We got done in. The camp is being attacked.”
I wanted to retort if it wasn’t maybe a joke, but I know his character well.
I nodded with my eyes in the direction of Djibril’s father, that everything will be alright with his daughter.
I said for them to enjoy their festival and in a hurry went with Omar to a secluded place.
In the festival’s shadow
We moved away from the festival and cressets. We stood still and me and Omar very seriously talked to each other. Actually there aren’t many more serious conversations than this one.
“How many of them are there?”
“I don’t know. It started 20 minutes ago. Arata, what do you think about it?”
I wonder while the night wind is blowing at me. After moving away from cressets it immediately becomes cold. Luckily it doesn’t affect my thinking, so there wasn’t a problem.
“It’s not an ordinary provocation. I think that it’s a serious offensive. There are many of them, like never before. It seems that they carefully prepared the whole operation.”
Omar exhaled. He looked surprised, but all in all I don’t really know.
“You say that as if you saw that. You saved me earlier so I believe you, but from where you got such conclusions?”
“Until now the enemy didn’t attack at night. He had to gather intelligence, so that he had enough of it to break this habit.”
Don’t look in the direction of the camp – I remembered Omar’s warning when I put on night-vision goggles while moving away from the camp. Even at night it’s bright in the camp. Their OO conducts the operation after gathering detailed intelligence. To the point that the danger is serious. I speak:
“We also don’t have any idiots. If we have someone at the front row then they immediately take some preventive actions . That’s why from the enemy perspective a surprise attack can succeed only once. Hence why for the first time he gathered forces as big as possible. Probably because he had to focus most of his forces on this attack he took so much time and attacked just now.”
I imagine the enemy. They had to have problems making a plan for such a large number of people. Until now setting aside the general framework, in his movement patterns dispersion could be seen. Both equipment and enemy numbers were dispersed. There is no doubt that this time we are dealing with multiple strongly independent groups
Though since it takes a lot of time, the offensive came late, effect of which is a large surprise attack on the camp. In terms of stopping the American army, strategically the timing of this attack is unsuccessful. Though in tactical terms they managed to fool us. Speaking directly, a futile effort. In the camp there are people I know though, so I can’t really be calm.
I nervously bit my lips thinking about Sophia and Lanson. I barely managed to imagine, that something could happen to Sophie and I was shocked stiff.
Omar is looking at the side of my face. Serious face.
“Do you think that our company has a chance to win?” – asks me Omar.
“I don’t know. Attack on the camp was unexpected, but the reason for that was the gathering of forces for frequent patrols. Taking the camp won’t be easy.”
The problem is, that the enemy took action while knowing about that. That’s why I said that at this point nothing could be told.
I think about Sophia.
If only nothing would happen to you.
“What are you planning to do now Arata?” – after those words from Omar I return to myself. Thinking too much about Sophia, the situation won’t improve. I’m thinking about my position in all this.
“I would want to return, but we wouldn’t make it anyway. In terms of war potential it doesn’t make any sense.”
“I also think that. Though I have precious to me subordinates there.”
“I also have friends.”
“What would you have done as an OO?”
At those words from Omar I recalled the image of a blue button. I thought that this is the second time I am pressing it not as an order, but of my own will. Present situation was also my mistake, that I didn’t predict such stupidity from the enemy. I would want to be able to do something about it.
I raised my head. A worried girl in a folk costume looks at us while hiding under the wall.
“What happened Djibril?”
“Eee… should I change?”
“It’s alright, it’s alright. Entertain your father.” – I replied.
Hiding her face even more, she said:
“Entertaining Arata is more important. Father also believes so.”
“Alright, but we are not going back now. If so, then tomorrow. I will explain everything to fathers later.”
After thinking she says:
“And you won’t go back to the camp without telling anything?”
“Of course not. We will come back soon, wait.” – after answering her I looked at Omar.
“What would I do as an OO? There is only one thing I would do if I was an OO now.” – I said.
“Will you lend me your short-wave radio?”
Attack and escape
Speaking about a battlefield. It’s troublesome how to speak about a place, which probably couldn’t fit this description more.
I think for about a minute before I will use the short-wave radio.
In the end I decided to limit myself to the bare minimum.
“Arata here. I can conduct an operation at any moment. Just say the word.”
Sounds of the firefight in the distance. Other than a popgun. Strong sounds. Probably rapid fire – I think.
“Arata? Is it safe there?”
It was Lanson. I calmed down a bit. There is still a chance to do something.
“I apologize, that at such point in time I’m not in the camp. It’s calm here.”
“Ah yes?” – he said with a surprise, after what he quickly explains the situation:
“Around half the camp is occupied. They holed up in every building and are now firing. They are throwing grenades like mad.”
Assuming that grenades are much more effective than rifles, I replied. There exist a danger that through the window a grenade will fall in.
“Not a good situation, huh?”
“You also understate it.”
After a while of silence Lanson speaks to me:
“What would you do as an OO?”
“Immediately retreat.” – I answered immediately.
I don’t know how the situation looks in the other camp, but it doesn’t seem that reinforcement will come anytime soon.
“This office will be blown up. Possibility of control will be lost.”
“Resistance also won’t do anything. The end will be the same. Additionally there will be casualties.”
“It seems that some of ours already ran away. I don’t know how many forces I can unite.”
“In the end they are people working for money. Though in Japan we call it a blessing in disguise.”
“I don’t understand Japanese, it’s too weird.” – I smile bitterly at those words from Lanson.
It will be alright. It will go well.
“You can still see markers of every soldier, right? If you can see the movement of the deserters you will know the correct escape route. They managed to get away, so the route they are following must be good. Follow them.”
Lanson’s laugh can be heard.
“Arata, you are more outstanding than I thought. You have an excellent military sense.”
“That’s irrelevant now. Sophie. Sophie, can you hear me? You aren’t shaking somewhere in the corner of a room, are you? Get up. You have to run.”
A sound of getting up can be heard. The emitted sound is getting closer. It takes the microphone.
“Don’t make fun of me. I’m not shaking at all. Though I was wondering whether to commit suicide.”
“It doesn’t suit you. When I come back to Japan I will send you anime you told me you want to watch , so come on!”
Sophie’s crying is assaulting my earlobe. I thought that I don’t want this sound to remain in my ears if she died. At any cost I must help her.
With a shaking voice she said quietly:
“Can we go together to Japan?”
“I can guide you around Akihabara.” – I answered.
Silence fell. In the distance shots can be heard. I saw that Omar is looking at heavens, but I didn’t have the time to think about it.
“I will survive somehow and slap you.” – I heard Sophie’s declaration.
I couldn’t even guess why would she want to slap me, but for now I decided to set aside this problem. For today, on a really far side.
“Oh well, okay. Good luck.” – after I replied, I recalled in my head the map of the camp and the area.
Lately I’m only running and withdrawing.
I had the intention to give orders until the battery in my short-wave radio runs out, but I wasn’t given a chance for that much. In the end Djibril’s father and the patriarch came. And even subordinates with guns, I gave the short-wave radio to Omar and went to them.
“I apologize, that I didn’t show myself at the festival. The camp is being attacked.” – when I said that, the patriarch said that he knows.
It seems that Djibril managed to explain the situation.
“That’s why we are now contacting them.”
“I heard that around a hundred of them recovered their weapons and started to withdraw. Capable leadership, even exceptional.”
“Ee, why do you know that?”
Djibril’s father points a weapon in my direction.
I knew that I’m stupid, but that’s probably why I didn’t understand what pointing a gun in my direction means. And because I didn’t know what it means, I also didn’t feel danger. Such were my feelings.
Patriarch similarly to Djibril opened his eyes with admiration and explained slowly.
“What bravery. When I heard about the exceptional command, I remembered the hero about whom I heard from my grandchild. A hero who even if he is somewhere far, commands exactly as if he was in the same place. His name means dawn.”
“Despite, that he was in another place.” – Djibril’s father said, as if he was continuing the patriarch’s tale.
Even an idiot like my finally understood what it was about. Also Lanson’s surprise became clear.
So this village was also an accomplice in attacks against us. I understand, Though I didn’t understand anything more. Luckily I already gave most of the orders.
I thought it would be stupid to raise my hands now in a gesture of surrender so I waited calmly. I have a feeling that it’s once again stupidity.
“Why do I know? Because it was me that said not to attack you.”
“And it isn’t about Djibril?”
“She also isn’t a child from here.”
After Djibril’s father saw my frown he smiled broadly.
“Well that’s how it looks. This village also hates America. Arata. I would want to treat you not as a captive but as a guest. Cooperate with us.”
“What about Omar?” – I asked. He is an American.
Djibril’s father nodded satisfied. As if he was saying I passed.
“If he will be good, we will treat him the same.”
I hesitated whether to raise my hands or not.
In the end I didn’t raise them.
^1. That is moeshinu and hazukashinu which means something along the lines of moe/embarrassing enough to die.
^2. Like earlier bold text usually means things in English (or Engrish if you prefer), but since in this case he uses the English word a lot, the editor (that is me) decided to keep in bold only relevant uses in the story (like when he is explaining the English word)
^3. EN:That’s more or less what it means, maybe some idiom, but I have no idea. So don’t look at me. Well basically he helped him and let’s leave it at that
^4. yabai means something like terrific, amazing, cool, dangerous, or risky. You know you already heard it in anime somewhere.