Japanese to English translations

Volume 2 Chapter 4

Hands and Elf

Elf and Hands

Our reunion took place at the South Exit of Shinjuku Station, close to the store with electronics. We were standing together face to face in the middle of a crossing.

After looking at me like she saw a ghost, Sophia got teary eyes. Being under an escort by Djibril is usually annoying, but in this situation, although a bit too late, I realized the value of it.

Traffic lights are blinking. For now I just brought the weeping Sophia across the intersection. I was already disturbed enough. I haven’t imagined that she would cry. No, wait. Calm down. I was completely disturbed. Even extremely.

I’m sure that she was going to say something like “Hi, how are you Arata?”, but the natural-born American girl Sophia with her remodeled ears who I couldn’t get rid from my memory was only crying. I again realized the importance of guarding. If Djibril was here, she could surely sympathize with her at a time like this as a fellow female. Setting aside the reaction of her puberty minefield.

“I didn’t expect that you will come to Japan.” – I said with shrilled and nervous voice. It was a big lie.

“You’re alive”. – I was agitated by her very frail voice. It wasn’t like her. It was so faint I wouldn’t have heard it, if her head wasn’t on my chest. I get nervous, why it was so thin in the first place.

“Uh, yeah. Somehow.”

I already want to run away.

“You haven’t got in touch with me.”

“I didn’t know any contact information to you. Not even to Lanson. Since I got free my contract expired long time ago anyway. If someone who finished his contract gets in touch with the company, for example asking for your contact number, there’s no way the company would give it to him. You understand this, right?”

Actually there was an awkward period when I became her enemy, but I didn’t tell Sophie about it and kept lying. In work I’m so honest, yet now I tell only lies. I’m getting pathetic.

Well, I’m glad that you are also fine. – I stay, without saying anything.

She lost much weight. I felt bad, seeing her like this after such a long time.

“You’ve became very thin. You overdid your diet.”

“It’s because of you.”

I couldn’t say anything. Standing and talking like that on the street also made me worried about people’s glances.

“So you care about friends. Well, I’m glad that we both live. When did you come to Japan?”

“More than half a year ago.”

“You’ve been staying here?”

“And Lanson too!”

“Why is that?”

“Because of you of course.” – said somewhat loudly Sophie and then raised her hand like she was going to slap me, but she withdrew it and got teary eyes.

“Sorry, but I don’t understand.” – I said honestly.

“You haven’t changed, have you? Like nothing had happened.” – said Sophie, looking up straight at me. I was disturbed. What happened?

“People don’t change that easily.”

“I’m really happy that you didn’t get hurt.” – said Sophie, weeping. I have fully decided to run away. This is beyond what I was expecting. If you’re facing an unforeseen situation the first thing you do is escape. That’s the iron rule of a mercenary.

“Well, not exactly. You see, I’m here because of work. I have to go very soon. I’ll get in touch with you later. I want to greet Lanson as well.” – I said and escaped. It’s best to postpone private problems.

She gave up reaching out a hand to me and said slightly casting her eyes down:

“I’ll keep waiting… As long as it takes.”

I was finally leaving, but after a few steps I turned back.

“This time I won’t keep you waiting so long. What’s the matter? Sophie, it’s like…”

It’s just a beautiful girl. No, “girl” doesn’t fit her age. A beautiful woman? No, that’s not exactly it. – I frowned, thinking about random things.

“Anyway. Cheer up!.” – I said and left.

“… Are you still in this business?” – said Sophie. I said to my back as gently as I could:

“I thought that if I would continue working there I will meet again with my friends or former superiors.” – I answered and went to Tokyu Hands. Well, apart from that, I’m constantly thinking about changing occupation, but this is a complicated story so I remained silent.

Tokyu Hands is inside the Takashimaya department store. I went to the DIY corner and purchased materials, from which it was possible to somehow make crossbow bolts. For wings for stabilization plastic sheets would probably work so I purchased those. If it won’t be enough, then I guess we will have to give up on handmade bolts – I thought. I don’t expect much.

I’m leaving Tokyu Hands, and walk through the wooden decks, running up to the Shinjuku Station. I spotted Ms. Ito sitting on a bench. With hanging bags from the shopping I sat next to her.

From some reason Ms. Ito looked away from me and started talking. She looked fed up.

“You were a real playboy there.”

“Sophie is my former coworker.” – I said the truth. Since she saw us it doesn’t matter.

“I imagined a more unsophisticated person though.”

“I don’t know if she’s simple or not, but she’s a typical American girl. Like those from the movies. At least I remembered her like that.”

“I’m talking about you.”

“Me? Hm… If I were really a playboy, then I could have said a bit more thoughtful things to her.”

Sophie was crying, that’s true. With a bitter feeling I was gazing down on trains stopping on the station. It’s possible to look down on the platform of Shinjuku Station from this wooden decks.

Ms. Ito said, without looking at me.

“If you’re going to make women cry, you’ll end up being stabbed.”

“I’ll change the job before that happens. Well, I still have the desire to send those kids to school.”

“So you’re a playboy as part of the job.”

“No. It’s not like that. Uhh… You are picking a fight today, aren’t you?”

Ms. Ito scowled at me like I were an enemy of half of the nation.

“Because it’s an issue of national defense.”

“Is that so? Why, really? Anyway, we weren’t with Sophie even holding hands.”

“It Certainly looked innocent and inexperienced.”

“You may be right.” – I avouched.

“I’m talking about you.” – she said, glaring at me with narrowed eyes. Without looking at her I think about what to say.

“I’m aware of that.”

“So you knew it.”

“I don’t have any experience in love, so it seems I can’t tell what are the signs of it.”

Awkward silence. Darn, it’s too late to retreat. No lie will help me now. I kept silent and Ms. Ito sighs.

“Give it a go then.”

“If I fail the embarrassment will be too much to endure, so I’ll pass.” – I said honestly, looking at her. Ms. Ito laughed a little.

“I see. I let you off. Did you look for us?”

“Yeah.” – thinking about what is she letting me off from I started talking about the main issue. Wanting help for transportation. Also one illuminator, but it doesn’t need to be right now.

Ms. Ito listens to me and frowns.

“Can’t be done?”

“It’s not impossible. Accidentally we happen to have a driver of a stolen vehicle. It’s a generous person, who can take you, but you’ll have to return with a different vehicle.
“It’s enough. Thank you. By the way…”

“What is it?”

“I’ll do my best not to involve civilians and cause any disaster, but what do you think about this matter?”

“I entrust it to your common sense.”

“I see.”

Was that a test too? – I thought. Well, even if we’re armed, I want them to understand that we’re not criminals.

Sortie and it’s development

I separated with Ms. Ito and went back to the ryokan thinking about Sophie.

I hand over the materials for crossbow bolts and listen to the report from Djibril.

“There was a sea nearby.”

“Well, it’s Kawasaki.”

“Wind was strong. Bolts might miss.”

“Yeah. I thought about it when I looked at the map. Anything else?”

“I haven’t seen the enemy. It looks like they’re not prepared.”

“They can’t be neglecting the security, can they?” – I said. Are they going to deploy unprepared? If that’s the case then it will be nice and easy. Probably won’t go that well, though.

“I also got transport. There’s also a minimal amount of arms and ammunition. – I said, looking at everyone.

“After you get food tomorrow, we are commencing deployment. Take a good rest while you can.”

“After my instructions, in around ten minutes everyone went asleep.”

The old me would be amazed, but now I also went asleep after around twelve minutes. Remaining two minutes were for commander’s backlog.

I’m loosening the necktie and rolled into the futon. Two minutes before falling asleep I think about Sophie’s tears. Somewhat it hurt me a bit, thought it couldn’t be seen from me.

The next thing I remember is that I woke up at five o’clock. Whoever was first, now everyone is getting out of bed and starts to make preparations. I went shopping to a convenience store.

I buy up the portable food. It’s good, that in Japan it’s easy to get food which is suitable for military movements. Although most of it spoils quickly.

At 6 o’clock we vacate from the hotel and get on the “accidentally present” Toyota Hiace, moving from Tokyo to Kawasaki. It wasn’t a bus, but Hiace in shape is a bit similar to a micro bus. Speaking of Hiace, in Africa, Southeast Asia and Middle East it ranks with a popular vehicle for military use – Mitsubishi Pajero. It’s the most stolen car in Japan – I’ve heard. I think from Kishimoto.

I enter the familiar vehicle and look at the stinking of cigarettes interior. Despite that it’s a peaceful country here, I felt like I went back to the battlefield.

“In the end everything is the same.” - I said to Djibril, who’s sitting next to me.

Djibril looked at me politely , keeping the crossbow on her knees.

“Anywhere is the same. Wherever we are in this world, god is watching us.”

I nodded, thinking about another thing. Someday I will take as many as possible of them to a place, which is not “the same”. I will make it happen so those kids can live and grow up there. I’ll get something good from all of this, as always – bit by bit and step by step.

I’m starting to give instructions in the car. I also contact Omar and the others by phone, who are riding separately. Hiace stopped at the outskirts of the warehouse districts. We thank for the ride and slowly taking the bags we disperse inside the warehouse district.

I walk slowly, holding just a cellphone. Wind is moving exactly as I imagined, when I was looking at the map. In the war imagination is essential. If you can’t imagine the blowing wind by watching a map you can’t become a good OO. Looking back now, when I was new in this business I couldn’t do anything.

Tactical Unit S, A ready – whispered to me Djibril by phone.

Tactical Unit S, C deployment complete – said calmly Omar.

Tactical United S, D in position – said cheerfully Gini.

Tactical unit S, E. Lot of people came out in the morning. Looks like there’s movement in the warehouse – said Ivan.

I leave observation to Gini and give Ivan’s unit a rest. They’re deployed on the roof and put up a tent with a similar color to it. They’ll probably spend that time to sleep there.

Soldier, who gets time to kill is quite a lucky one. Opportunity to save some energy can be considered as such, compared to being always on standby. Everyone gets two packs of chewing gum for that times. When both hands are busy, there’s no other way to kill time.

Although work of an OO is speaking. I can’t chew gum.That’s why I’m killing time by using my imagination or by taking strolls.

I’m not on the field, because I would be only standing in the way. Therefore I’m imagining scenes of the kid’s fights and battlefields in my head from the distance not too far away. It’s all to protect them.

I pick up the phone.

“Omar. I think you’re changing positions with the sunlight, but can you move another 100 meters? I want you to move under the bridge. Your current position is okay, but I feel like it attracts public attention.”

“You’re watching us, Arata?”

“As always. With my imagination”.

“That’s scary then. No, it’s compelling actually. I was worried about it. Understood. I’m going to shift 100 meters and hide.”

“Sorry about that.”

I hang up the phone. Wind is blowing on my back. I look at the sea. I also saw few people angling. One, who was wearing an aloha shirt. He seem like a Japanese. And a young skinhead with a black leather jacket despite the strong sunlight, which is accompanying him.

“Are they biting?” – I asked quietly.

“No, I’m just killing time.” – the man with the aloha shirt despite his looks, replied quietly. He has untanned pattern of sunglasses on his face. It was very characteristic.

“I see. But still would be nice to catch something.” – I said and walked slowly. There’s no bookstore or convenience store nearby. Just vending machines. I buy canned coffee and really started to stroll aimlessly. Keeping a canned coffee in one hand I’m going to the park, which is few kilometers ahead.

I walk to the coastal park and sit alone on the bench. Full of emotions, I sip the coffee and eat the bento I bought at the convenience store. I make a trip to look for a trash can. I throw away the trash and go back to the bench. I gazed at how the color of the sea is changing with time. I recall mountains from Central Asia changing in the same manner.

“Here, there, present, past. In the end everything’s the same.”

Wherever I go I make children fight. Children-user, huh? Fuck you.

I bear in mind, what Djibril whispered to me.

“Anywhere is the same. Wherever we are in this word, god is watching us.”

What shall I do for wherever to not be the same?

The setting sun disappeared, leaving last beams of light. I looked at the warehouse district from the park and checked the clock. It’s almost time.

“Ivan, are you awake?”

“Yes.”

“Good boy. You took the weapons, right?”

“Yes. Everyone has them.”

“Gini hasn’t told me. You can also use a crossbow, right?”

“Not like Djibril’s grandfather.”

“You don’t have to take much aim. Try to deliver the bottle.

Incoming signal. I said to Ivan that I count on him and took the call.

“Gini here.”

“Any movement?”

Gini’s tactical unit is at the opposite side to Ivan’s. It’s redeploying under the cover of the night and repositioning to look for sniping spots.

“No snipers.”

“That’s a surprise.”

I wondered if the enemy feels so safe in Japan. I was worried about them. Everything is on a plate.

“Maybe it’s a trap?”

“I can’t think of so far reaching obvious trap. Stand ready, just in case.”

Incoming signal. It’s Omar and Djibril. I switched the phone in a hurry, thinking that cell phones are inconvenient.

“Wait a bit Omar.”

“What is it Djibril?”

“It’s like the data said. The truck has arrived. A single one.”

“Okay. Contact everyone we’re proceeding with plan 1-1. Don’t get hurt.”

“Understood.”

I hang up the phone and called Omar.

“Omar here.”

“It’s about time. Which plan?”

“Surprisingly 1-1. The enemy are criminals with a delusion that nobody will attack them.”

“Is it okay for criminals to have such attitude?”

“Yeah, I know. Maybe they’ll learn a bit from us.” – I said like I was really worried about them. Well, let’s pray that they will learn and hire a private military company in the future.

Omar makes a stifled laugh.

“Criminals, moreover our enemy and you’re worried about them? Don’t you think it’s stupid?”

“It’s not like they’re criminals because they like it. In that way they’re like us, Omar. Anyway we’re here on a job too. We have to fight for a living. Let’s do it with no hard feelings.”

“Roger.”

I hang up the phone. I look from the park at the warehouse district, which got dark now.

I saw a light. It was an explosion. I was looking at the beginning of our operation.

War in Japan

In a place nobody knows about, a war in Japan has begun. First goes unconventional warfare.

Looking at the flames and lights from the distance, I draw a picture of the situation in my mind.

Ok, Ivan’s group has formed on the warehouse roof and their six is shooting in succession porcelain hand-made grenades, bound to the crossbow bolts.

Crossbows are superior to guns in few ways. One of it is that you can bind a grenade to the bolts and use it like an quasi-grenade launcher.

Just in that moment the wind is blowing from the land to the sea. I deployed Ivan’s unit so that bolts won’t be blown away by the wind. It’s like I’ve learned in school, wind blows toward the sea.

Impact. It’s blazing up. There’s hardly any explosions. The small porcelain bottles are cocktails which burn, rather than explode. When they break up on the surface they create high heat like white flames.

It makes great havoc. Criminals are screaming, transaction is interrupted. They escape, promising revenge.

There are only three places, where cars can escape. Two of those spots are already blocked by Omar. Cars lie parked.

There is a loud sound in another place. At the third spot Gini and Djibril set a trap on the road.

All at once, they fired from the crossbows at the runaway car. Outer plates have been penetrated and immediately after that, the screaming criminals finally see the small bottles on arrows.

Second explosion. Probably the car has been overturned. The ones who survived are promptly beheaded by Djibril’s yanagiba kitchen knife, her substitute for a combat knife.

Gini’s unit with cheerful expressions starts to gather fallen weapons.

Djibril’s unit gathers corpses and squeeze them into the perforated car. They throw dozen of hand-made grenades and shut the door.

Third large explosion. There’s not much time left until police and fire brigade come. I give detailed instructions, stressing to withdraw fast.

Who’s left now, Omar or Ivan? I think a bit. Incoming call.

“Ivan here. They’re back. Half of them.”

“Engage at once. Direct unit SC at them immediately.”

“Understood.”

Flames are ominously illuminating the warehouse district. When I was calling Omar, I become worried about Djibril and Gini. That’s why cell phones are no good for this.

“Omar.”

“I’m departing now.”

It seems like Omar and his child soldiers fired all at once, but I didn’t hear any sound. What I heard were the explosion and sounds of flames.

Omar’s tactical unit role is to finish off the enemy directly from close distance.

“Nice aiming.” – said leisurely Omar.

“There’s no time to be relaxed. Be sure to gain control of the entire situation.”

“Gotcha. I threw empty bottles to the car. During escape I was going to pick them again.”

After moment of silence I hear Omar’s voice again:

“I got all.”

“There’s possibility that there are weapons there. Check it.”

“Or money.”

“Which one?”

“White powder.”

“A miss, huh? I haven’t thought that there will be bartering.”

“So shall I take it and return?”

“We will pass. It’s bad for education. We don’t have options to cash it. After blowing it with the corpses, escape to the end of the seaward side. From there go on foot past the fence. Camera is checked during the day, so destroy it beforehand.”

“Okay.”

I put the cellphone in the pocket and waited for contact from Djibril and Gini.

I’m sweating when I think that something happens to those kids. I want to quickly quit from this work. Isn’t there a peaceful job with income allowing to feed 26 people?

Incoming call. I pick up the phone.

“Are you safe?”

“Gini here. I’m safe. Djibril too of course.”

“Other kids?”

“Everyone is alright.”

“Great.”

“Our unit packed quite a number of weapons to the backpacks. We didn’t have enough space, so Djibril’s unit helped too.”

“Yeah, okay. Would be nice if there were also adequate bullets for it. Good job, Djibril too. Tell that to her. You are already in the car?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, we will meet later at the hotel.”

I hang up. I wanted to hear Djibril’s voice, but I had to be patient. I walked up to the station and went by train toward today’s lodge. At this time of day, I should probably arrive there faster by train.

Return and the evening meal

Going back I observe people inside the train and when I see that everyone is looking at their cell phones I recall I’m still in Japan.

Woman sitting before me is looking at me. It was Ms. Ito.

“Something happened?” – when I ask her, she says with a smiling face:

“I’ve heard that there were explosions in Kawasaki.”

“Oh. That’s why everyone’s looking at their cellphones?”

“Yes, probably. But everything about it is still unknown.”

I was about to say that it’s better that way, but remained silent. You don’t know who might listen. I change the subject.

“Did I pass the test?”

“Not yet. Have you found the white powder?”

“Ah, I’m sorry. I did, but disposed of it.”

Ms. Ito is staring hard at me. I froze in fear.

“I’m sorry, but I thought it will be bad for education so I burnt everything.”

Ms. Ito smiled.

“Haven’t you appropriated it?”

“Omar and my subordinates don’t do such things. That’s why I’m afraid they certainly burnt it according to my instructions. I’m extremely sorry.”

Ms. Ito seems to be in a good mood. She looks like she’s going to even hum.

“Is that so? I see. Then I believe you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, you’ve passed.” – Ms. Ito, a little embarrassed made a small circle with both hands.

“What?”

“That means you’ve passed. You suit to serve national interest.”

What’s the national interest? – thinking, I get off the train. Does it mean that we won’t became a new criminal organization at a convenient time?

I smiled bitterly. We won’t only because it’s bad for kid’s education. But that’s all. My heart is going to crush by making children use violence, but the day when I make their hands turn on drugs is the day of my demise. I would certainly die because of self-disgust. I’m not that strong. I can’t be insensitive to such extent.

I arrive at the hotel. Today we stay at ryokan near – a bit away from a Nippori-Toneri Liner – Minumadaishinsui Park Station.

I enter alone and talk a bit with the hotel staff about the evening meal. I wait for everyone. There wasn’t reports about victims or injured, but I can’t relax when I don’t see their faces.

I sit on an antic massage chair placed in the foyer and wait. It was a long hour. Djibril and Gini’s tactical units S appeared first.

“Welcome back.” – I said and look at everyone face. They all looked energetic. What a relief.

“I’ve brought it!”

“You don’t have to show it here.” – I said to Gini and then looked at Djibril, smiling at her.

“Good work. Thank you.”

It seemed like she was smiling under her headgear. I felt like she’s saying to me that she forgives me, but I don’t know why I thought that.

“Are you tired Arata?”

“I want to say that compared with you it’s nothing, but in fact I’m exhausted. I walked in a way as to not arouse suspicion. Meal will be soon. Get ready.”

“Understood.”

After they’ve returned, now I’ve been waiting for Ivan and Omar. It didn’t take long. They are back after around ten minutes.

“Why are you in the foyer?”

Omar is in high spirits.

“I was worried about you!”

“I would call you if something has happened.”

“Yeah, but still.” – I said to Omar, while patting Ivan and Hakim’s heads. Omar smiled and says:

“However it’s a shame that extra income didn’t work out.”

“It’s okay. We get what we wanted. Besides…”

I think about this year and added:

“I hate drugs.”

Omar pat me on the back, saying that’s not my fault we didn’t get extra income and suggests to go eat.

“Very soon. I didn’t have time to even change my clothes.”

By the way, today as an experiment I set up sashimi. Kids didn’t have a custom to eat raw fish, in fact even fish was something rare for them, so it made quite an uproar.

The bravest and most curious in the world in my opinion Gini, first made move on tuna sashimi. She eats properly, dipping it in soy sauce, tasting it. Claiming it’s not bad, everyone started eating.

From what I’ve heard Gini’s ancestors were Italians, which has its remnants in her surname. Furthermore she was a descendant of the Copts, a christian minority quite common in Egypt. Near the village those girls come from, there was an abandoned christian settlement, so most likely they came from there.

Hakim started to eat gum, during eating the sashimi, so I rebuked him about it. He said that by chewing frequently parasites die, showing me by this the difference in our cultures.

After the meal, everyone gathered in a big room and secretly organized the spoils of war.

I winced seeing that most of it were pistols, which are almost not used in our industry, but I was glad that we’ve found few real hand grenades, sub-machine guns, number of assault and sniper rifles. We got an unexpected amount of ammunition. That’s great.

Most of weapons were all made in China. Recalling that China is a world’s factory I racked my brain what to do with those pistols. Well, before leaving the country maybe I shall secretly deliver them to the police with other weapons?

Tomorrow we will do a test firing. I have to accustom everyone to weapons.

It’s good that we had ammunition, which we can use for few trainings. While it’s still not enough, each one can use around hundred shots. In that case at least somehow minimum adjustments and getting used to weapon can be done.

Problem is that there’s not enough cleaning tools to maintain them, so it seems I’m going tomorrow to home center for supplies.

Shooting practice

Next day, we were headed to Tochigi. There’s no place in Tokyo to conduct test firing with guns, but it’s also impossible to use them without any preparation. There wasn’t any option other than going to the mountains. I hesitated between Gunma and Tochigi, but in Gunma is our enemy religious organization, so to avoid them I chose Tochigi.

Leaving Ueno, we’re heading to Utsunomiya by Utsunomiya line.

The old, refined woman asked me smiling where we are going. I said that we’re going for training to mountains in Tochigi. She said that Kataoka will be good and I decided to take her advice.

Maybe Ms. Ito and family have prepared something there for us.

Even so, with 26 people, cost of train is pretty high. I was a bit worried whether we are going to have any surplus with 7500000 yens.

It took around 2 hours to get to Utsunomiya. When I think about it, that’s pretty close. I’ll have to change trains along the way to Kataoka. I get on train I’ve never ridden before. It goes to Kuroiso. It was a first time I saw a train with opening doors by a button.

Another 30 minutes in shaking train and I thought it’s already a rural area, but there were too many houses to conduct a shooting practice. I’ve arrived at the appointed station in Kataoka.

I’m surprised by the prepared bus. Moreover a sightseeing bus.

“Please.”

Ms. Ito came out with the appearance of a bus guide. I wanted to turn right away and go back. I feel as if I saw a friend that I wouldn’t suspect of being an otaku in cosplay.

Tips of Ms. Ito’s ears are red and she is hiding them with her hands.

“Well, you don’t like it?”

“Oh, no. How should I put it?”

Djibril broke into the bus.

“Arata. This bus has a smell of danger.”

While Ms. Ito was troubled what to say, I pulled myself together. I started to think that she must have a difficult job.

“Everything’s alright. I’ll take you to the practice ground right away.”

Leading by hand the dissatisfied Djibril we got into the bus. Djibril follows in silence. It seemed like a good thing, but you never know where it explodes on the adolescence minefield. Let’s be careful.

Another 30 minutes in a shaking vehicle. Place, where we’ve arrived was a regular shooting range.

In Japan you can’t legally possess and use a gun, but places for competitive shooting are one of the gray zones for firing. We were brought to practice grounds for such competitions.

Definitely the sound of gunshots won’t be a problem here. I see, now I understand.

Thinking that this place also must be cooperating with Ms. Ito and family, we’ve turned up at the shooting range and began training.

Because firearms are made in China, it doesn’t mean they’re unreliable. Central Asia was overflowing with Chinese weapons and it seems Japan wasn’t different. From my experience of using them, the problem lies in utilization.

The format of guns haven’t changed for years now, so it also has impact on it. That’s mature technology.

Guns from times long before my birth, before even my grandfather was born, even now are being reproduced. I don’t know if that’s good, but oh well. Omar explained that for small arms used by infantry, the limits are made by the human rather than technological development.

I picked up the remaining stack of pistols. They were clones of government. Official name M1911, from the year of adoption. It was 110 years ago, even before the Great Kanto earthquake. During those years it has been improved, but fact it’s used even today is probably proof of limits in humans themselves.

And yet, comparing to the past, infantry burden has increased even more. Now there’s more equipment and it’s heavier. It must be hard for Gini and Djibril to carry all of it. Walking with over 30 kg is tough. After all we need a robot car donkey.

After experiencing the weight of guns myself I sniffed my palms. They smelted of guns and oil.

Djibril is looking at me. I laughed reflexively, which embarrassed me a bit.

“Arata doesn’t have to touch guns.”

“Well, I don’t, but that’s the work. It might come helpful someday if I learn how to use them at least a little.”

“No.”

Djibril took the guns from me.

“If you have free time, please go to sleep.” – she got me with that. I thought if she perhaps isn’t thinking about me as a clumsy guy.

Well, indeed as someone who likes 3D figurines and buy them all the time I didn’t become a modeler, but when I think about it I was working in a design company, so I’m not that clumsy. However I don’t have such assertiveness to talk about it, so I decided to watch their training from the resting room, which was annexed to the shooting range.

Next to me sits Ms. Ito. I saw that she was dressed differently now. Her clothes were easy to move, suited for mountain climbing or hiking.

“Excuse me for before.”- said Ms. Ito bashfully with completely red ears.

“Oh, no. Your work must be hard.” – I couldn’t say anything else. Silence comes, but disappears soon along with the sounds of firing.

Ms. Ito shyly pulled her hat and concealing her ears, said:

“You’ve seen the pistols.”

I remember about Sophie and thought that I have to get in touch with her.

“Yeah. Unusual.”

“Is that so?”

“It is. In military pistols are not used very often. Of course during particular situations or indoor battle it’s different, but 80 percent of our work is guarding, so…” – I said. I didn’t explain that young soldiers don’t undertake advanced jobs.

“That’s why we hardly use pistols, which have short range.”

“I see. You must have been surprised by all those government clones.”

“Yes, I was. Although they’re Chinese, all of them were from Russia.” – I said. Ms. Ito nodded, while watching outside the window. Hakim holds a government.

“Patent for government expired, so through this years, share of .45 caliber guns has been extremely growing on international market.”

“It looks hard to use for kids, doesn’t it?” – I said and frowned, seeing that Ivan got angry at Hakim, who was almost blown away by the gun’s recoil.”  I must tell them later to not do any dangerous things. Putting aside that I make them fight.

“That’s because of improvements in defensive strength. Even in a fight between criminals there are more who’re wearing new models of bullet-proof vests. Resulting in recompense in the form of large guns. Even a lot of law enforcement agencies finds 10mm not enough and urgently seek for an upgrade. For the last 20 years, after each decade, 9, 10 and 11mm calibers have been increasing in powder charge.”

Now I understand. Even policemen and criminals have hard times with those things in their world. Not to mention that they can be attacked by militarized people.

“I see.”

Ms. Ito is looking at me with an interesting expression. Her eyes are not sharp enough to call that observation, but they also lack passion to call that staring.

“You’re not interested?”

“I don’t intend to make my children criminals, nor do I plan to to do something like engaging with crime.”

“I see. By the way, I’m curious…”

“Feel free to ask.”

Ms. Ito unexpectedly looked at me with a serious face.

“Why don’t you make use of adults?”

“It’s the opposite! I wouldn’t care about adults. It would probably end on cursing and on that, that I would allow them to kill just about anyone.”

“You couldn’t order them to kill just about anyone, right?”

“There were only young soldier boys and girls around me. That’s all.”

Ms. Ito doesn’t have any sense of keeping distance, putting her face close to me and speaking like that. She had eyes like she was dreaming.

“You’re angry, aren’t you?”

“…Forgive me. It’s not like I’m angry at you.”

“I know.” – I was embarrassed when she said that to me at a point-blank range.

“By the way Ms. Ito, do you have bad eyesight?”

“Oh, yes. I do. Especially since I’ve forgotten contact lens today.”

“Right, I’ve thought so.” – I said, thinking if she and the family are okay.

Ms. Ito looks embarrassed.

“Pros see such things?”

“No, it’s not like that. It’s just the discussion was too prosaic for such dreamy eyes.”

“But we’re at work far away from dreams, though.”

“Tell me about it.”

We laughed a little.

Ms. Ito looked at me.

“Do you know about honey trapping?”

“No, not at all.”

Ms. Ito is toying with her own hair, which were sticking out a bit from her hat.

“It’s seducing to attain one’s end. I’ve heard it’s very effective.”

“You’ve heard it from an intelligence agency? No wonder I haven’t heard about it.”

“Well… won’t you fall for honey trapping?”

I’ve stopped moving, but in my head Djibril was intensively scowling at me, so I came to my senses.

“Isn’t it too audacious to explain a trap?”

“Ah, is it? Excuse me. I’m not used to it.”

I look at the embarassed Ms. Ito and felt like I was looking at kids. Company, tribe and country. Despite good intentions, the unconscious evil just like that keep ripping out from this kids important things.

“It’s okay. Even without doing it, I’ll fulfill my contract.”

Before starting feeling awkward, I raised from my seat.

I return to the shooting range, joining with Djibril and the rest. I’ve been slowly starting to get angry. Is it unconscious evil again? It’s spreading in every country. It’s probably my enemy.

Djibril pulled my sleeve. I looked back at her. Her eyes seemed troubled.

“Is something wrong, Djibril?”

“Your face looks angry like you were going to destroy the world.”

“…There’s no way I would destroy a world, in which you live.” – I said seriously and then laughed.

Nostalgic battlefield

Guns, the spoils of last battle are lined up on the shooting range. Three groups altogether. Whether they can be used or not is a complicated matter. It seemed the three groups were lined by the difference in ammunition. Originally they were destined for market, so it can’t be helped. Such a broad range and small commonality is unacceptable. In recent years, a regular army had heavy supplies, which they’ve been using to increase fire power at least a little, so I can see why the ammunition is so disparate, but in our broken supply it’s not a very good situation.

“Nevertheless, there are only old guns here.” – I said, disgusted a bit. Omar nodded.

“Well, those are smuggled guns after all.”

“Chinese production, but they seem like from America and Germany.” – I said, looking at a few of the antique pistols. There were stars on the grips, so they must be Chinese or Russian.

“That one is a copy of Chinese Tokarev. There isn’t any safety lock, so we won’t use it. But this one is specific for export that’s why it has safety lock, so we can use it.”

“And this gun?”

“This have too many safety locks, so it’s no good.”

“That’s dangerous.”

Lack of any safety locks is out of the question, even putting aside horrible outcome if the gun explodes. Too complicated one takes time until it can shoot and that’s risky as well. Removing safety lock can’t take much time in situations when you’re going to use a gun.

I wonder what Omar thought looking at my face.

“Russian design for pistols is unpopular. Tokarev is one of the few exceptions. If they still have easy safety locks we can use them. If you have ones, use them.”

“Got it. By the way, why Russian pistols are unpopular?”

“It can’t keep up with trends.” – said Omar and put a clone of Tokarev beside, taking in his hand a Mauser pistol, like one which appear in manga. Magazine and grip separately feel terribly old-fashioned. This isn’t even a gun from 1911, it’s from 18xx. That means mankind has been exchanging gunfire with this weapon for three centuries.

“So because of the trends, we have this reproduced rally of classic guns?” - I said, gazing at the guns. It’s not that I didn’t understand it, just couldn’t find it anything but strange. Why is it like that?

Toying with the gun, Omar said:

“Bulletproof equipment is enhanced every year.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard about that. Even civilians have them now.” - I answer, without saying what I heard a little while ago. Omar nodded with agreement.

“I got it. Any maker of civilian firearms also made countermeasures, so in a problematic state where weapons are spreading and their improvements in efficiency, naturally latest guns for military use had to get an approval for being produced.”

“Yes. That’s why the old and big guns are…”

“Originally M1911 was popular in America, but it also spread abroad.”

“I see. By the way, why that Mauser and Tokarev lie together?”

“Same ammunition.”

“Right!”

“In China Mauser was popular since a long time ago. From the beginning of World War 2 there were many manufacturing facilities for bullets. That’s why even now they’re re-using them. Sub-machine guns, which were using this bullets also have long active duty. Look.”

Omar handed me a sub-machine gun. As for weapons gathered here it had normal design, which didn’t attract any interest. Well, I guess it must be a handy weapon. After all unusual designs are the losers of history, which didn’t become popular. I’ve learned this year, that guns familiar in design are usually the most useful.

“I see. Common ammunition is reassuring. Are we going to settle the equipment around this?”

“That’s right. It’s a shame we lack assault rifles, but Mausers will do for them. For short distance we have submachine guns. Each one should properly use both of them. This Chinese sub-machine guns have the same ammunition as Tokarev. That is, same as Mausers.”

“Wait. Pistols as substitute for rifles?”

“This is how you use it.” – Omar installed a plastic stock to the Mauser. I see. It looks like a rifle.

“I feel I saw something like this in a manga. I think there was a wooden stock, though.”

“Wood is bending by temperature and humidity.”

“Oh, right. Sorry for meddling. With the stock recoil won’t be a problem for the kids, even with large pistols.”

“Yep.”

Standing in a line Ivan and others are shooting guns. Ivan is a skilled sniper, but above all he’s successful when it comes to teaching things. I looked over the shooting range, holding up in arms Hakim and telling him to not do dangerous things.

Kids are using over 100 years old weapons and kill each other. I couldn’t find it anything but foolish and obnoxious.

“Humans are stupid. By trying to pretend to be clever all the time, they become even more stupid.”

“Socrates, isn’t it?”

I was just mumbling without thinking when Hakim said it, surprising me. Unexpected name comes from him. Unfortunately I didn’t hear anything about him, except his name, but I think he was a Greek philosopher.

“You know a lot.”

“He was popular in the village.”

I let off Hakim, being impressed by him. I was thinking what kind of village that was, but it could be just only Japanese people that don’t know about Socrates. Anyway, if in the ancient times there were a man, who was saying same things as me, that means world hasn’t made any progress.

I felt strange, looking at the reproduced guns. Despite lack of progress, having to survive is painful. It’s disappointing as much as inevitable.

When I held Hakim, children gathered around, saying things like: “me too, me too”. I decided to hold everyone in turns. For some reason Gini broke in and made it impossible.

“It’s unfair. Arata.”

“Gini, you’re big.”

“I wanted to get taller.” – said Gini, extremely serious. Such freewheeling expression was like her.

“Then next time I’ll give you a ladder.”

Gini has scowled at me and gone somewhere. I wouldn’t know what to do if even Gini had reached adolescence. I don’t have time to even think about guns. I imagine that such lack of mankind progress, made master Socrates postpone philosophical issues many times by everyday hardships such as looking after kids.

Djibril’s lecture

I took a casual look at the shooting range at how everyone practices removing the safety device and head toward convenience store to buy them lunch. Apparently one way is 4 kilometers. As expected from a rural area.

I walk down the road, where even cars don’t show up before noon. Maybe this area isn’t good for cultivation, because neither paddy fields nor plantations can be found here. Just trees, growing thickly on both sides of the road, overgrown even. I feel it’s hot here. Central Asia was also hot, but here it’s tough, because heat is uncomfortable. I saw that Djibril came along.

“Escort.” – said Djibril from the diagonal distance of 50 cm, pulling her headgear. She was completely hiding her face.

“Ah, Ok. Sorry to bother you.”

Since the tears of the elf, I haven’t felt reluctance in escort. It’s not like I didn’t have doubts, but for some reason crying Sophie makes me feel bad. That’s what’s affecting my judgment.

Muddling about Sophie, I told:

“After all I need to train shooting, I have to be able to at least protect myself.”

“There’s no need.”

Djibril is point-blank. After all she probably thinks I’m clumsy. I made a bitter smile.

“No, I mean it’s okay. Maybe I look like that, but I’m not that clumsy.”

Djibril removed her headgear. She shook her head, swinging her a bit wet hair from sweat.

She examines me with an accusatory look.

“I’m really not.”

“Whether you are or not is not the point here.”

“…So what is it?”

I looked at Djibril. After looking back at me head on, she turned away.

“What more do you expect? You can do anything, Arata. By reading a map, you know a lot of things. Despite being from a foreign country you can normally talk with us. You can eat things like chumps of fungus deep fried in oil, raw fish, anything. Arata, it’s really like you would have wings, you came from afar and watch over the world. You see higher and further than anyone else, you read the enemy movements and give commands.”

“You give me far too much credit and stop calling shiitake a chump of fungus, besides I would tell you about other things you got wrong separately, but leaving that aside, how is this all related with me learning to use guns?”

“If you even learn how to use guns, you won’t need us anymore, right?” – said Djibril with low and crying voice.

I was about to say how absurd this is, but I failed. I got annoyed. Very much annoyed.

“Look at your skills, don’t you think we’re at the same level.” – I said as I walked. What Ms. Ito said is like thorn in my chest: Why I don’t fight along with them?. Djibril is sensitive, so it seemed she has realized my real intentions.

And if she know, then what? – I thought. Isn’t the fact that children are fighting strange? Above all I can’t stand that I make them do it. That’s the real issue, which I can’t stand. During each battle I wonder what will happen if this kid die. I was displeased and walked in silence. Hearing a subdued crying I turned around. Djibril was sobbing like a child.

I stand still in silence. I don’t know what to do at a time like this.

Eventually I just said:

“Sorry, Djibril. Sorry. You don’t have to worry about that. I’ll be always beside you. The thing I hate is my helplessness, not circumstances I find myself into.”

“If it’s only about the circumstances I think of myself as happy even.” – I said that very late, still I don’t know if it reached Djibril or not. She was crying.

Bad mood and bad news

I was in an extremely bad mood. Operator of the battlefield, the OO probably should know what to do, but fact that I made Djibril cry and things she must have been accumulating inside, severely hurt me. I thought that both crying Djibril and Sophie are unfair. I also want to cry. I buy a portion of food for 30 people. I thought I was going to personally carry and bring it back, but I couldn’t possibly do it alone, so I decided to get assist from Djibril. I didn’t see her expression, because of her strictly pulled over headgear. So my mood worsened even more. We returned, without speaking a word through all 4 km of the way back.

I handed over the food to everyone and handed out drinks bought in a vending machine. Conclusion – it’s too heavy to go back and forth to the convenience store. Ivan is impressed by vending machines, which are everywhere. He said that it would be nice if they were also on the battlefield.

In order to escape from Djibril, I take bento and tea from the store for two people and look for Ms.Ito. In the resting room, where I was sure she would be I found sitting the elegant old woman.

“Huh? Where has Ms.Ito gone?”

“Who knows.”

“I see. I brought food, though.”

“Don’t bother.”

“Right, I expected that I’ll hear something like that, still I was thinking if we were the only ones eating, without saying anything it would be somehow…”

“So I shall say you’re thoughtful or maybe shy and sensitive?”

“Both will be right.”

The refined woman showed an unrefined malicious smile. I raised an eyebrow and, well, said that I leave it here. I ran from Djibril to take a meal here, but it didn’t go very well. After all I’m in poor condition.

The old woman spoke, looking sideways at the bento:

“Just few moments ago I got a message. I have bad news.”

“Whether it’s bad or not, it depends on contents of the information. Let me hear it.” – I said it reflexively. I’ve learned when I entered this business that our perception and evaluation are very different than others.

“First,  the armed religious group, which is your target, joined forces with the Asian criminal gang you attacked.”

“I think that information didn’t get to our target, then why?”

“I’m sorry. There was insufficient explanation. The place you attacked was originally a transaction site between the religious armed group and the Asian criminal gang.” The old woman said, keeping her sight pointed down.

I see. So that way their target from the leader of the sect will move on us? It’s quite hard to think, when you are in a bad shape. I cruelly drive away Djibril from my mind and exorcise crying Sophie like a devil, and try to think calmly. No, it’s not a thing that I can think about like that.

I don’t know how much ruthless it may be, but the life of children is at stake.

“The target priority changes then?” – I said.

“… At this stage I can’t tell.”

“I see. Can you provide information to the target?”

“What information?”

“About our protection of the guru.”

“… I can’t say we weren’t responsible for this. That’s why we can cooperate on that matter. But are you alright with this? I don’t know if it’s an ambush, but if we spread the information, they will probably expect counterattack and attack.”

“It may be so, but it’s hard to protect when there are two targets at the same time. Speaking of what may be better in this situation, we might as well unite the enemy movement.

“Very well. I think that criminal gang lost their face, so probably they will use large-scale equipment.”

“Like armored vehicles?”

“I don’t think it will be attack helicopters or armored vehicles. It’s impossible if you think about hardships of importing such things. However possibility of machine guns and rockets can’t be ruled out.”

“What about artillery?”

“I think not.”

“Okay. If that’s the case then I think it can be done somehow.”

“We also feel sorry about this. We couldn’t predict enemy moves. It’s inexcusable. There’s nothing else I can say, but…”

I looked at the old woman. I thought that maybe she will rise the reward, but it doesn’t seem like that. The old woman said:

“About the illuminator you requested.”

“Yes.”

“I was able to acquire this. If you don’t mind an American product. Domestic ones haven’t completed valuation tests, so I think it will be hard to get them.”

“It’s sufficient. With this I will finally improve fighting capability to 90%.”

“So much?”

“…So much?”

I thought about differences between people, who are not involved in military affairs. Information is important. It exists exactly because of intelligence agencies. OO like me are the same. They deal with variety of information, the only difference is quality of controlled information. At any rate the old woman nodded. With doubts, but it seems she nodded.

“Well, we’re not specialists in wet job. That’s why we leave it up to you.”

“What is a wet job?”

“Rough stuff.”

“I see. Thank you. When will you get the illuminator?”

“We decided to purchase it from the company you belonged to. There’s already approval from the American government. Do you know manager Claude Lanson from Far East?”

“It’s my former superior.”

“Tomorrow take illuminator from him please. Meeting place is here.”

“Thank you. Tomorrow, so Lanson will…?”

“No, he hasn’t said anything.”

“Alright. Thank you.”

I put the bento on my knees and taking the opportunity look at the paper, I’ve got.”

“I have to get more pistols.”

“…I’ll do something about it.”

“Thank you. Where’s the guru?”

“Currently, we’re helping to hide him. As for the location…”

“The guru is likely to chose a location suited for combat.”

“There was a religious organization military camp in Gunma. It will change the objective, but what about it?”

“You have maps of the target, right?. Okay. Let’s do it there. What’s the shortest amount of time it takes?”

“One day.”

“Alright. Assuming our deployment and giving information will be day after tomorrow, then can you deliver information to the target after 3 days?”

“Yes, certainly. But are you sure? You don’t have to hurry.”

“I want to establish the expected range of enemy movement as fast as I can. At the current situation the enemy reaction is unknown. It’s not a good situation.”

Saying that, I quickly ate my lunch and drank tea in plastic bottle in one gulp. That was the fast eating, I couldn’t have done before.

Putting my hand together I say “gochisosamadeshita” and rise from the seat. Striding, I came to the shooting range.  Impulse. I need an impulse to do it in one breath.

“Gini, is there Gini?”

Gini was eating or right after it, because she didn’t wear her headgear. Swinging her red hair she run to me, but her cheeks were pouted.

“Just once.”

I held Gini in my arms and turn around 360 degrees.

“See, it was like before, right?” – I said vigorously and put her down. Gini was joyfully laughing.

“Golden eagle would say that, but I’m a human who walks on the surface. The scenery seen from above was completely different. I was thinking about learning horse-riding.”

I stroke Gini’s head.

“Horse-riding you say. Alright, I’ll put as much effort as I can to make you learn it. Djibril, is there Djibril?”

“I am.”

Djibril was standing beside me like a ghost, wearing firmly her headgear. Her voice is freezing, but head feels heavy. It’s unsteady.

“I’m going to Tokyo now. Are you disposed for escorting?”

“I am. I’ll follow.” – said Djibril, without looking at me. She’s still in a lousy mood. I was starting to lose all my vigor, but somehow manager to gather myself up. You lose your will, if you’re too carefree.

“Come with me.” – I said to Omar, and quickly explained to him the situation. Then we left the shooting range.

Golden eagle and information

Walking to the convenience store, I called a taxi. I could do that directly by cell phone, but enemy’s ability to gather information are unknown for me, so I was cautious just in case.

By taxi I go to the station and from there I get on the train. Tampering with phone, I look for a transfer. If I go up to Shinjuku, then going by Shonan-Shinjuku line won’t take more time than going by shinkansen. I enter the Shonan-Shinjuku from Utsunomiya. Busy day – I thought.

“What’s the rush?”

It’s important to have spirit. Without it I can’t even talk to my daughter Djibril. If I could say that honestly, I wonder if it will be good. Thinking about it I looked at Djibril who sat next to me. I guess she was in a slightly better mood. I could see her eyes from her headgear. She has been glancing at me.

Those eyes were a bit red. I was hurt by it, but didn’t show it.

“I don’t know if I should talk about this…”

“You said to me to talk about complaints.” – said Djibril like it was an important agreement.

Maybe because of religion, but they’re taking agreements extremely seriously. Well, America is also giving much weight to contracts, so perhaps Japan is the exception. After a slight pause I talked about information given from Ms. Ito and family.

Djibril is thinking. She looked up at me.

“Golden eagle wants to come out fast from the cloud of information and see the surface from the sky, but humans don’t know about that.”

“Poetic expression.”

“Humans, they don’t understand. How golden eagle feels.”

“Fortunately I’m a human.” – Djibril stared at me, when I said that.

“Could you really be a human?”

I smiled bitterly.

“However you struggle, I’m a human. You’re giving me too much credit.”

I’m rather fed up with this. Sometimes I think how it would be like if I had things like golden eagle’s wings or military talent, Djibril and children are talking about. In fact as for me I’m always afraid of hurting them. War is a bitter experience.

“Golden eagle always says that.” – Djibril said and again didn’t show her eyes. She has been in low spirits.

I wanted to take Djibril’s headgear and give her an hour lecture that I’m in every way human, but I would lose heart while doing that, so I gave up. Besides if someone will cry again because of me I’m going to cry myself.

I repented myself that I have to keep my spirit for long time. I thought that with vigour I can match with golden eagle, even without being him, and fly like a paper plane.

“Kids always say that.” – I said turning like me and looking out of the window.

“Don’t be peevish.”

“I’m not peevish. I’m not peevish toward kids.”

“Turning one’s face and looking outside the window is something peevish people do.”

“I’m 31.” – saying so much I indeed must have been peevish – I thought.

Being peevish is not reasonable against Djibril, since she’s in puberty. Reluctantly I stopped looking outside the window. Djibril’s looking down.

“Every time you talk about age.”

“Because it’s the only factor you can’t change. Difference in our age will never shrink, it’ll always be my win.” – I looked at Djibril and said.

She raised her head and scowled at me.

“Haven’t you thought that it’s cowardly?” – after she said it to my face, I remained silent.

“In some degree.” – I said and after that I started to explain myself.

“But it can’t be helped. If you don’t really think like that you can’t do this.”

“What can’t you do?”

“Being an adult.”

“You can stop it. Then…” – Djibril took a big breath and said to me.

“We’ll be on equal terms.”

“Kids always say that.”

No good. Reflecting on my own words, I thought it’s going around in circles.

In the end after continuing discussion with no progress, I set foot in Shinjuku.  I thought Djibril might be angry, but it was the opposite. She seemed in a rather good mood. I thought that adolescence is difficult. Ten times more difficult than military issues.

“Where now?”

“To Shinjuku Central Park.” – I said and started to walk.


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^X. Too lazy to bother with notes. WordPress ain’t helping too so I have to edit them in html. So in the end you are forced to use google. Maybe I will do them…. someday. Still didn’t finish some for a chapter in volume 1 anyway.

 

3 responses

  1. Poison Pufferfish

    Yay, thank you for the long awaited chapter.
    The development is interesting as always.

    Like

    April 22, 2016 at 12:26 am

  2. Anonymous

    This chapter is pretty good.
    Can’t wait when Arata meet Larson after a long time.

    Like

    May 10, 2016 at 4:47 pm

  3. Mr. White

    lol, the great general beaten by puberty, yeah every guy has it hard. thx for the chapter

    Like

    May 31, 2016 at 12:47 pm

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