Volume 3 Chapter 2
Reunion with him
I was surprised, but he also looked surprised. This was too much for a coincidence to meet like that.
We called each other with a mutual astonishment in a going up elevator. He was once working at the private military company in the same time as me, being one of the few Japanese there.
“Why are you in such a place?”
“I can ask you the same.” – Kishimoto said, as always ironically smiling. He looks at me. His eyes seem surprised, nostalgic and probing.
From that expression I knew he’s still working in this business. Perhaps tomorrow we’re going to be enemies, so he can’t just simply look at me. I at the other hand knew on which floor he stays, so we have a draw.
Kishimoto said with a friendly coworker tone:
“I’ve heard you quit the company and got independent.”
“I was fired, while being captured.” – I said honestly. Kishimoto raised both hands and express his surprise.
“So why are you unharmed? I can’t think that the company paid the ransom.”
“A lot of things happened and well… as a result I’m unharmed.”
“You couldn’t go back to Japan?”
“I got obligations here.”
Kishimoto stayed on a lower floor than me. Getting out of the elevator first, he looked at me.
“I see. Laters.”
“Yeah, if we have luck and will still be alive.”
Saying that, we separated.
Staying alone in the elevator I think about what happened until just a moment go. Judging by the situation, the chance that I will be attacked is probably small, but it’s pathetic to count on enemy’s stupidity. For now just in case I decide to contact the reception desk with the phone at the elevator entrance and change my room. On the floor I got off at there is no one besides me, so it’s very convenient for me. I stressed to tell no one about my room.
Praying that Ms. Lee won’t turn out to be a stupid customer, I remember about what Omar rightly pointed out. I’m a little afraid. If Ms. Lee inadvertently released information, I can’t predict what the enemy will do.
Besides, this business sets people against each other. Enmity becomes money and there’s enough possibility that money will make Kishimoto move.
After I changed the room I took additional security measures and decided to sleep in yet another room. I think about taking a guard just in case.
I think about many scenarios, for example if Kishimoto is an enemy then he wouldn’t meet me directly to talk. However mumbling to myself that there is no use counting on enemy’s stupidity I decided to adopt all precautionary measures.
If the enemy was to attack, he won’t burn the hotel down after all.
According to the words of Ms. Lee, this one is a class of hotels, which are protected by the police. It’s forbidden to rely too much on the possibility that the enemy is a fool, but it’s always a start. I also thought that the mobilized criminal organization would have problems to attack immediately today. From what I’ve seen and learnt in Japan, criminal organizations are finance organizations. It’s far too ineffective to maintain an active unit capable of using military force.
Even mobilized in emergency, they won’t be larger than a tactical unit S. Meaning it would be several people. Several people can’t do much, maybe enough just to assassinate me.
The conclusion is, that for now it should be enough if I just guarantee my own safety. Ah, if only I could use stairs without problems. I go down one floor. I don’t want the elevator to show where I’m going.
It was enough that I met a co-worker and my behavior is that fearful – I think, but you can’t do this job if you are not a coward. Those that aren’t very careful don’t live long. It’s literally a matter of life and death.
One bullet and a human is dead. Heroes and great adventurers in this business lead a short life.
What to do with a guard now. For guarding there are Djibril and Omar. Djibril has a good nose, so when she sniffs out an odor of alcohol from me there could be a fight, even though I didn’t drink. But if I ask Omar, there’s a guarantee that he will scold me, saying something like “I told you so”. At worst case I could listen to his lecture until morning.
I seriously thought that Ms. Lee’s case was a failure. When there’s no mutual trust with a client the costs of safety skyrocket. Ah, it’s exactly like Omar said.
Imaging myself apologizing to Omar, I realize that I can’t do it that easily. Not because I have some grievance, but the first thing on my mind is that it’s not the best idea now, when he is tired. I will apologize to him tomorrow morning, today I still want to do something.
I went to Sophie then with social goals. She isn’t a Muslim and she won’t preach to me. The problem is her gender. I wouldn’t have a problem if she were a man.
I remember the room numbers of everyone not only Sophie’s. I stood before her room and wonder whether to knock.
It lasts 10 seconds, after which I remember that she has romantic feelings toward me. No, I knew this all the time. I just didn’t want to realize it.
I ponder for additional 5 seconds. I shall go to Hakim after all. It doesn’t matter how much cornered I am, there was however something wrong with asking her for help.
Behind my back doors are opening. There stands a surprised Sophie in a bathrobe at the doors. On her wet blond hair were glistening drops of water.
Sophie, Sophia Greenwood. Putting aside her appearance, she was a crazy person who remodeled her ears, went bankrupt and became a mercenary. Maybe because she lacks common sense, even normal conversation with her is impossible. She only talks about herself. She entirely ignores another person.
That’s why not only me, but everyone in base was avoiding her. Because it seems that just talking with her causes one to become weird himself.
Therefore even in a 100% all male private military company nobody flirted with her. Despite that it was a workplace, where any woman would be highly popular.
It’s indeed beyond any imagination that she’s with someone.
And she likes me. Apparently, because she hasn’t told me that directly, but that’s what it looks like to me. It’s so unrealistic that it’s funny.
But meanwhile… I was highly disturbed. I felt like I saw something I wasn’t supposed to. Although it’s Sophie, women in bathrobes who are not even your lover is something that shouldn’t be seen. I guess. Even my guilty consciousness awakens, when I recall that those hair became short because of me. Well actually the guilty consciousness has been awake all the time.
“H… Hi Sophie. What’s up? You’ll get a cold. Hurry, go back to your room.”
I don’t think she said it loud, but still I payed attention to the surroundings. I decided to stealthily evacuate, placing a finger on my lips and saying in a quiet voice that it’s nothing and we will talk later.
It didn’t work, because she grabbed me by my suits cuff.
“I can shout.”
Normally I wouldn’t have a problem if she shouted, or rather I would understand if she would have done that, but today raising voice would be worrying. What’s more Sophie was completely clueless about that.
“Alright, okay, I’m not going anywhere, just not that loud” – I say quietly.
I’m old enough, so I said to her: What was your age?
I’ve became 21 recently. You think I’m still a young girl, don’t you? – she answered me back, lowering her voice and pulling me to her room.
It became weird. Terribly nervous only now did I think about the alternative of spending time till morning with Mr. Shuwa.
Not good. Omitting the case with Ms. Lee, today in general I’m not feeling good. I noticed that Sophie sits in a seiza position, wrapping her head in a towel and pulling the bathrobe to carefully cover her chest.
To not watch her flushed by her breasts and hot bath face, I focused my sight on her knees. That’s a rather safe place.
“I practiced it.”
“Why did you practice it?”
As usual she says surprising things. I move my sight to her face and notice, that she looks as if she was terribly embarrassed of herself. Worried that I’m doing something wrong I fell silent. It’s a worry completely different than the one with Djibril.
Sophie looks as if she was just about to start crying. Panicked I turned my head.
“Alright then I’m…”
Running away from here.
“I had a friend in high-school. Japanese descent. Younger than me.” – said Sophie. Now I can’t escape. She’s serious. I felt that it would be bad to run away in the middle of her story.
“I see.” – I said, circling my eyes around. For some reason I’ve been also sitting in seiza. Seiza tournament. Sophie said with a muffled voice after a moment of consideration:
“I couldn’t leave him. He hated Japan. I pitied him. That’s why I studied about Japan and taught him about it, saying there’s nothing to hate about it.”
I was surprised that Sophie has been thinking about things with such seriousness. I changed my opinion about her. She was staring at her own knees.
“Uh, well… I see now. Sorry.”
I feel ashamed. It was different than I thought. Strange atmosphere. I participate in a seiza tournament with an American elf, who just got out of the bath. I knew I’m a fool, but now it’s official.
“But that you have 21 years I’m surprised. 10 years of difference between us?” – I ineptly changed the subject.
I quivered from shame to such an extent, I even made a new supposition that she was only bad with expressing herself, but except that she was a good girl. Perhaps I’ve been treating her incorrectly for many years because of my wrong guess.
Sophie glares at me for some reason.
“Isn’t the distance with Djibril even bigger?”
“We are divided by something like 17 years. With Gini and Hakim 20. I feel a little as if I had my own children, so I’m a bit happy about it.”
“You like kids!?” – said the angered Sophie. I don’t quite understand this reaction.
“Well, it’s… I’ve been always thinking that I hate kids, but now when I consider it I think I should have married around 20 and made kids.”
That being said, 2 or 3 probably wouldn’t be enough. There’s one thing I understood seeing 24 kids. It’s that all of them have a different personality. That’s why I don’t get tired of them. That’s why I enjoy looking after them. And then I recall about the fact I made them fight.
Sophie was at ease, but now suddenly it seems like she’s going to cry.
“I didn’t know you are a person, who thinks about marriage.”
Sophie like a stone statue was still without moving staring at her own knees.
“No, no way.” – I said, waving my hands. Looking pissed off, Sophie fiercely scowled at me.
“You’re teasing and playing with me, aren’t you?”
“I care about myself. I wouldn’t do such a dangerous thing.”
“That’s right. I’m a woman from West Virginia. If you tease me I will bite your hand.”
“I’m Japanese. We say that a wise man keeps away from danger. It might have come from China, though.” – I said, unbinding from seiza and standing up. Alright, time to evacuate.
“Ok then, good night.”
“Why did you come here?”
That was a reasonable question. I decided to use Ito’s Japanese government method and mix 90% facts with 10% of lies.
“Well, so there’s a colleague from previous work, I mean private military company. We were in the same training camp. I’ve just met him in the elevator. I wanted to talk about it, but now when I think about it, you’re not acquainted with him anyway.”
“That Chinese is hiring someone else besides us!”
“Ms. Lee? Well, I don’t know. I can ask her tomorrow. For now you be careful too. He may be the enemy.” – I said and realized that Kishimito might as well be an ally. It’s important to talk with people. It was a tough day, but I felt like I’ve recalled and learned few important things. To talk with friends before giving a judgment and to not be swayed by immediate profits.
Oh and last thing I’ve learned is that this day wasn’t so horrible. Thinking about it I smiled and decided to leave Sophie’s room.
She stood up, but her knees seemed numb. She staggers. I helped her. Sophie catches breath and I moved away by a step, supporting her with a hand.
After thinking for a few seconds, she said:
“You like black hair more?”
“I don’t care at all.”
I wonder if I should slowly get angry now?
“Do you really mean that?” – said with a low voice Sophie.
I tilted my head to the side. As always, I don’t really understand this elf.
And I was just thinking she’s not a bad girl…
Yesterday I had a bad day. Today I want to get back on the right track. Apologizing to Ivan and Hakim who slept together I look askance at them washing my face in silence. I decided to face a new day.
First, I’m going to check my room. When I step in nothing happens. Needless fear – I thought. Anyway, I want to be perfectly prepared. I also have to get weapons fast.
In the morning I was called by Ms. Lee for breakfast. I took Omar as a bodyguard and walked toward the elegant hotel. Along the way I apologize to Omar for my yesterday’s judgment.
“As long as you get it, it’s okay. I’m also sorry for the harsh tone.”
I was touched by Omar’s words, he’s serious to the end. Everyone should have a friend.
In any case it’s hot outside since the morning. Temperature is also high.
I’m talking with the reception of the elegant hotel, where I was going to many times yesterday. A guide comes. It seems that’s the farthest place Omar can go.
I escort Omar with my eyes, after which I follow the guide to the 25th floor. In a place resembling a viewing platform the owner’s house was located. Staring at and admiring the elegant furnishings I’m directed to the dining lookout. There is one round table at which sits Ms. Lee.
I sit down and look at the breakfast, which is placed before my eyes. Breakfast consists of congee and lukewarm tea.
“Before eating let’s talk a bit about work.” – said Ms. Lee quietly. Today she looks calm. Perhaps it’s low blood pressure.
“Speaking of which, I have few question about it. Do you have a contract with any other private military company?”
It was a clear answer. I updated my view on Kishimto a bit.
“I see. Can I ask about one more thing? How many people know about our work relations?”
“This mater was my arbitrary decision and I’m doing it with my own money. Few people I trust know about it. One you met yesterday at noon and another two people. And associates from the NGO. However I can’t say it’s completely confidential. Data reported to NGO are often leaked to criminal organizations as well.”
“I see. Thank you.”
I can’t believe that Ms. Lee is lying. If someone were to trace me it would be the NGO. I change the image of the enemy a bit.
“And if everything will go well then there is one other thing, but you don’t have to worry. I guarantee secrecy. Is that all?”
“Yes, that’s all for me. Excuse me for interrupting.”
“No problem. So first, weapons.”
“Where can we obtain them?”
“It’s in a bit of a rural area, but I settled it with the police station.”
What is she talking about? – I thought.
“Yes. With the chief. You can chose whatever weapon you like. Any number.”
“Ok, although I don’t understand what’s going on. What about the bullets?”
“You can also take bullets. If there won’t be enough we will think about it then.” – Ms. Lee said as if she didn’t care about the costs at all. I scratched my head. If I think about it now, it was like Ms. Ito was aiming for reasonable costs, which a nation will understand.
Still I can’t put trust in Ms. Lee, but it’s hard to deal with influential people.
“You look surprised.” – said Ms. Lee not knowing my thoughts.
“I wonder since when did the police became a storage for weapons.”
“And in Japan it’s different? Police is a high class tool. Though it’s not really a good tool.”
Maybe it is that way, nevertheless though in Japanese police scandals happen, I have a feeling that it’s rather not because someone meddled in it.
In any case being far away from Japan it doesn’t matter. If I get weapons that’s enough for me.
Ms. Lee seems a bit surprised when I smile.
“What are you that happy about?”
“Of course that, that I managed to settle the matter of weapons.”
“Ah. You have a specific way of thinking. On the outside you take along a lot of kids, but you’re a mercenary.” – said Ms. Lee placing a hand on her chin.
“I’m talking about the sequence of actions. If first of all you don’t have information or tools then you can’t do anything. Just that.”
“Help yourself to the breakfast. I’m going to eat too.”
The congee is still hot and syrupy. It doesn’t look that way from the outside, but you can feel a slight taste of seafood. Small leaves of coriander stimulate the appetite. With pieces of pork it was delicious. Star anise can be felt.
“What do you usually give the children to eat?” – asked me Ms. Lee while eating the congee.
I wonder if this seafood maybe isn’t shijimi. While wondering I say:
“What we eat. For educational purposes I want them to try many different things. I think that it’s better if they won’t be picky. Omitting religious issues.”
“Educational purposes? For child soldiers?”
“The process is still ongoing. It doesn’t matter what someone says or thinks. I don’t mean for them to end like that. Something more than this is waiting for them”
“If you have no objections I want you to tell me: what is waiting for them?”
“Their dreams. Gini wants to keep a lizard and learn to ride a horse, Ivan is good in arithmetics. Hakim likes cellphones.”
Ms. Lee stops eating and is staring at me.
“And if the children say, that they want to continue holding guns?”
“Then it will probably be a fight.” – I answered drinking the lukewarm tea. In Japan you serve it hot and here is lukewarm. I don’t know if it’s a tradition in this country or maybe personal preferences of Ms. Lee.
“It’s my selfish notion, but I hope that I introduce the kids to a path without war.”
“And you are saying that, using them to keep fighting, Mr. Children-user.”
“Yes. This time though we will get enough to have some savings.”
“I hope, that there is a country somewhere, in which your children can live in peace.” – Ms. Lee’s words seemed sincere.
“If you get any info let me know please.” – I too said sincerely.
“Understood. I’ll certainly do.” – Ms. Lee nodded.
Contact with weapons
Guns and ammo for about 30 people would be a sufficient amount. I asked for a car. I thought that one truck would come, but here unexpectedly a few compact Mitsubishis arrived, which surprised me a bit.
Me, Omar, Djibril and Mr. Shuwa drive separately with a different driver to the police station.
The cars actually stopped in front of the police station, which caused me to feel quite uncomfortable. In Japan there are some banners about road safety, slogans on a signboard, but here nothing. Maybe just a peculiarity of Japanese police.
The police chief is greeting us personally. With a radiant smile he guides us inside and takes us to the storage of impounded items.
“Alright, take whatever you want.” – I’m a bit shocked by his words. Then why did they even confiscate them? Such places as this one in this country make an impression.
I look at the arranged weapons. Though I’m not really knowledgeable about them. It’s unbecoming for a mercenary, that’s why I want to learn how to use at least one gun, but it isn’t really going quite well for me because of the surroundings, that is Djibril is opposed to this.
The weapons are arranged on a metal rack. Confiscated are mainly pistols, but there are also machine guns, rocket launchers or grenade launchers. I’m dizzy. What kind of country is it?
The chief asked with a smile if we wouldn’t want to buy some bulletproof jackets from the police inventory for 100 dollars a piece. I think I know now what kind of country it is. When I show 2000 dollars from my suit’s chest pocket, the chief prepared jackets for several people with a face of a mountain climber looking at a beautiful landscape of valleys.
Walking out of the police station I looked to the side at Omar.
“I had an impression that they might derive income from many sources aside from what we have seen.” – answered Omar, looking angrily due to my admiration. It seems he has different, not really good feelings.
Station employees are loading weapons for us. For 10 dollars per head. At once five of them gathered.
I noticed, that Mr. Shuwa was also smiling bitterly.
“Pretty good. I even have a feeling that they are trying. They work hard to live.”
I thought that in Japan there isn’t such enthusiasm, that is to immediately take off the uniform when you get money. If there was then it would be a serious matter, but I had a feeling that maybe it has a connection with the rapid development in this country.
In any case, even if Ms. Lee is behind this the fact that you can control the police with money was convenient for me. Next time I will use it.
After gun loading finished I decided to together with Mr. Shuwa meet with the person from the NGO. I advised Djibril to stay and take care of everything here. Usually in such situations I take Omar, but with Djibril and Mr. Shuwa it could have been hard during giving directions to the driver, so it somehow became like this. I also thought if it wouldn’t be better to take Sophie, but after yesterday I didn’t know how she would react, so I gave up the idea.
Getting on those cars caused in me a disquieting mood. After an hour of riding on a shaking vehicle through narrow, too narrow streets, we arrive at a main street. I heard that this are the outskirts of the slums, but I didn’t see slums here anywhere.
The person from the NGO is waiting after the next lights. I order to stop the vehicle and make a call. A middle-aged woman, in a slight proximity answers. I’m guessing that it’s their representative.
“The situation underwent a small change. Maybe we can talk in the car?”
“What is this about?”
“There are few suspicious movements. There probably was a leak.”
Ending the call at that I opened the car window and lean out my head.
The woman hesitated a bit, but in the end got inside sitting beside me on the back seat.
“I hope I won’t be kidnapped.”
“It’s alright. I’m on your side.” – I said, thinking that she probably won’t trust me anyway, and the woman sighed and mumbled that she hopes so. I had a feeling that from her entire body oozed tiredness. Agewise she could be Sophie’s mother, but in reality she could be younger.
“Start the car for now. Ah, I wouldn’t mind if you give an address.” – I said, on what the woman nodded and gave the driver the name of a place. The vehicle moves.
“Now, when we actually see each other… I’m Arata, nice to meet you. This is Mr. Shuwa, but he doesn’t speak English.”
Mr. Shuwa looked behind from the passenger seats next to the driver and nodded slightly, apparently guessing what is being told. The woman held out her hand to me.
“Melanie Grace. I hope that this meeting will be advantageous for the kids.”
“And not ‘I’m praying’?” – saying that I squeeze her hand. I’m still not used to squeezing hands.
“Seven years I’m the representative for the NGO and it seems to me that in this country the god is in the middle of a ten thousand years vacation.”
It’s not too happy of a story. Ms. Grace also doesn’t look happy.
Scratching my head I look at Ms. Grace. It seemed to me that she looks not only tired but first of all resigned. And I assumed that NGO gathers people with more zeal.
“I see from each of your word that you’re troubled.”
Ms. Grace also looks at me smiling from top to bottom.
“You are mercenaries? You don’t look like ones.”
“I’m often told that, but you have to take my word for it. I can fight for money, but I’m not going to do it to prove something to someone.”
“You are a mercenary after all. And if I said to show me a sample of your abilities?”
“No way. Violence is our commodity. Of course we prefer not to use it. Even if it takes time, you should talk.”
The woman not saying anything looked at me and smiled slightly. Her expression looked as if she looked at a sunshine in the sewers.
“If I say that children-user turned out to have common sense they will surely laugh at me.”
What, then they know about us? On my face a bitter smile appears.
Advices from Mr. Sei went to waste.
“I think that I don’t have to tell you, that it would be disadvantageous for yourself.”
“And it isn’t the case because of the current rumors?”
“I don’t know. I’m just thinking. Since you knew about us, you should have took the children.”
“Children, what for?”
“As long as something isn’t bad for their education then I want them to expand their knowledge as far as possible.”
“What is worse than war for education?”
“Now I know, that many things.”
Ms. Grace turned. She looks out the window.
“You are right. I’m sorry. I also think so. After all we hire mercenaries for something.”
“Well. Everyone who hire us exceed beyond the stage of talks. And we didn’t yet. Let’s talk then.”
“Alright. You won’t see the slums first?”
Thinking about slums I had in mind an image of ruin, but the current slums were separated according to the city plan by a simple street.
Looking from the outside it didn’t look like slums at all. The dwellings of the poor from afar also looked like normal homes.
Before I tell about my impressions, Ms. Grace begins to walk slowly.
“You are Japanese?”
“You know Japanese?”
“In that case from now one please speak Japanese” – she said with a beautiful intonation.
We exchanged glances with Mr. Shuwa.
You shouldn’t judge people by how they look.
“I was in Japan a lot of times. There are a lot of homeless.”
“In Tokyo yes, indeed.”
“It seems that those were the bad times of America. You could say that in developed countries it’s even worse, I tried. First time I got married also in Japan.”
“I understand. I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything. It’s just that a tired older woman also has her own experiences”
I strayed with my sight to not refer to the ‘tired older woman’. I met the sight of Mr. Shuwa who did the same. It looks like we had made similar observations. We smiled bitterly though a half-smile came out.
“In these area there are people who know English, so it will be good to speak in Japanese.”
I considered the possibility of a spy, but quickly realized that it’s not about that. Explaining the circumstances of the slums could appear to the locals as an insult. At the same time I wondered to what degree the English has spread.
We didn’t make 100m and there at the ground lay a broken window from some house. From the sewage shining from the broken glass it became clear that this area is outside the zone where trash is collected.
“This area is a plain. Formerly in the sewage there were small crabs.”
“When people didn’t have jobs, many of them ate those small crabs. Many also destroyed their health on that. Now it’s not so.”
“Not good. Thank to the vanity and the desire to please developed countries you already can’t eat leftovers or small crabs of unknown origin. If those people here didn’t receive any actual support then they wouldn’t have how to live.”
In the words of Ms. Grace there is a quiet anger. Acceding to her anger I turn my head away from the waste channel.
I saw a huge amount of thrown away syringes with needles. Walking she starts to explain what it is about because she probably found out from the movement of my eyes.
“Drugs or more precisely – stimulants are popular. Same as in Japan. In Japan drugs are associated with stimulants. Excluding China it relates rather to all countries in Asia.”
“Unfortunately I’m not really knowledgeable in those matters.”
“You think it’s a good thing that you didn’t came here with children?”
“I don’t know. It depends on the child. I wouldn’t be worried about Gini and Djibril, but I would rather not come here with Hasan and Hakim.”
“It sounds like they’re not disposable for you.”
“That’s why I’m here. Because I couldn’t do such a thing. But I don’t care if someone doesn’t believe it.”
“Right, but living like that must be very hard every time a child dies.”
I frowned on Ms. Grace’s words. At this moment I don’t have any losses. My experiences with the children is only a sequence of memories without casualties. And if any appear? I don’t want to think about it.
Mr. Shuwa kicked me lightly. Thanks to that I returned with my thoughts to the conversation with Ms. Grace.
“Ah. Well… I don’t want to take any losses.”
I said it with a business smile, but I don’t have confidence that it was a nice smile.
Despite that, Ms Grace gave me a friendly smile.
“You are more reliable than I thought.”
“Although I’m a mercenary.”
“There are scums among volunteers too. Perhaps there are good people among mercenaries.”
“Although I haven’t seen either.”
Ms. Grace laughed as if she recovered some youth. I think that 10 years ago she could have been a beautiful woman.
“If you live then soon you will be able to meet. Of course both.”
Wall of children
On the street sits down a half naked dumbfounded man, nervously looking around. I wonder if it’s heavy drug user. The collected water from the channel creates a puddle.
Behind him in stinking from urine bushes were remains of a newborn. So those are slums. No other words came into my head.
I see that Mr. Shuwa makes an intense expression. Wondering how’s mine, I rubbed my cheek and chin. I think I’m not laughing, but there’s no anger too. If this was concerning Djibril and the children I would be ready to destroy the world, but apparently because of my bias I lack imagination. I didn’t feel anything special.
“Soon there will be a wall of children. Hide yourself.”
“Wall of children?”
Walking I looked at a wall she told me about where the slums ended. It was rather a fence than a wall. A huge fence separating the outside world and the slums.
On the wall were leaning children in the age from Hakim to Gini. Teens younger than 15 years. I didn’t see older.
On my question, which I inadvertently asked in English, Ms. Grace answered in Japanese:
“Child gangs. Some are good-natured and some are not.”
Japanese, Japanese – remember to use Japanese! Close to 30 years of using Japanese and here from my mouth comes out English. When I came back to Japan it wasn’t that way, so it’s probably because the interlocutor has a non-Japanese face.
Converting again the words in my head into Japanese I looked from afar at the standing next to each other children.
“Why in such a hot place? A bit further away from here there is a shadow after all.”
“They won’t sell anything there.”
“But I don’t see them selling any goods”
Ms. Grace laughed at me as if I said the joke of the year.
“You are a good man, but I have doubts about your abilities. The goods are standing there after all. It is those children.”
I was going to say “uh-huh”, but I think nothing came out of my mouth. Mr. Shuwa kicked me again.
Ms. Grace look at me worried.
“But what is it?”
“You had an angry expression as if you were about to destroy everything.”
I stayed silent for a while. I knew, that because of my bias I’m a bastard with no imagination, but it looks like everything has it’s limits.
“Don’t be, I consider it a humane reaction.”
“But there aren’t too many girls. In such cases it’s usually them …”
“In places such as this differences between the existence of boys and girls come out. The girls have it harder. That’s why even such place is trying to care for them. There are children that are standing near the wall for their own sisters or girlfriends.”
“What sort of countermeasures are taken?”
“Periodically condoms are given out.”
Ms. Grace looked at me as if criticizing my ignorance.
“You want to tell those children to not live?”
So the same situation as with the small crab. As if she read my mind, she says:
“If the small crabs disappear, so will the mountains of garbage and that is an inseparable component of the economy of this place. Food you can buy only with money and with money they buy stimulants.”
Listening to those explanations I started wondering what I was supposed to guard and from whom.
Surely there are worse things in this world from becoming a mercenary. Including the village and everything like parents abandoning their kids. From my point of view it seems that it was better to become a mercenary. Some would think that rather than ending as someone’s plaything, it’s more humane to fire a gun.
“You understood the situation?”
“Yes, but I stopped understanding with who I am to fight with.” – I answered honestly.
Steady supply of mercenaries
Ms. Grace came out of the slums and got on the car with us. It looks like further conversation will take place in the car. I imagined Djibril and the rest of the kids standing under the wall. Just the thought about that unnerves me.
“I think that in such situation it’s hard to prohibit them from becoming a mercenary.” – I said straightly when the car started to move. I was going to give back the money to Ms. Lee.
“That’s right.” – said rashly the representative. I didn’t think she would agree with me, so I rubbed my eyes in amazement.
“Don’t make such a face. After all I told you that there are scums among the NGO and fine people among the mercenaries.”
“Yes, I heard.”
“This mercenary, who chooses child soldiers for himself is one of those scums. I wonder if you understand.”
Ms. Grace smiled a bit. I couldn’t understand what is the meaning of this deep smile.
“There are children-users like you and children-users unlike you. Ones, which treat children like tools to avoid bullets, to use like a tool, tool which you can dispose of from a safe place away from battle. Tools for tortures without getting one’s hands dirty. A private military company, that could exist only here. That kind of people hire children here.”
“It seems to me that in this matter there is no difference since you use children as mercenaries anyway. Though it’s true that I don’t treat them in any of the above ways.”
“Right? After all you are seriously pissed off now.”
I thought if maybe I shouldn’t scream with all my might in Japanese from anger, but Mr. Shuwa looked as if he was about to kick me, so I somehow managed to stay silent. It was quite a difficult task.
“I’m sorry. I consider myself to be quite calm but… it’s not like I’m angry at you.”
“Not at all. I consider you trustworthy. This is exactly why we can talk like that. So if something had happened then…”
I’m guessing she considers me a bad person, but in this case I find it hard to understand what she is talking about. Ms. Grace speaks to me quietly:
“You would recruit those children as mercenaries instead of your evil business rival.”
I didn’t have such intentions. They proposed to me a business on a large scale. It seems that they want me to take part in their plan of creating a system, which exports from the poor region child soldiers with the support of the rich and NGO. Getting rid of the military power of my evil business rival.
Even now I managed to get convicted to damnation about a hundred times and they are saying to me to incriminate myself even more?
“It’s a quite large expansion of the activity.”
In the end I only said that much. I hope that I correctly conveyed my negative opinion about this subject.
“I understand the anger, but that’s how things are.”
“It’s not for me to say, but what about this country, administration? We are not in the desert in Central Asia, it’s rather possible to find them some other job.”
“Thinking the same I fought for long years with the government and international community. But lately inspiration by the way of fighting of the mercenary, children-user, lead to the creation of a private military company here. I hated him for that.”
So it’s my fault.
“But you see yourself. You understand that prohibiting becoming a mercenary from such conditions will be hard. I just want to chose a lesser evil for them.”
So this is my fault too?
After the talk
I fell in the mood, in which the world is unacceptable while sober.
We separated from Ms. Grace which said that she can get off here and I went with Mr. Shuwa to the hotel. The compact car drives through the small streets, that’s why traffic jams aren’t a problem for it. In the morning, when it arrived I was surprised, but now I see that such small cars are much more useful than cargo ones.
Though there could be a problem with the service and daily usage, but for a moment I thought that I would want to learn someday using such a car. When there won’t be combat, we would be able to take packed lunch boxes and go to a picnic.
Mr. Shuwa looks at me from the side.
“Have you cooled down?”
“No, I can’t. I thought that I must have a drink, because I can’t go further.”
“Isn’t this inappropriate for children’s education?”
“I’m just saying that. I’m not going to drink. I would probably go insane if in the time I would be drunk any of the children died.”
Mr. Shuwa narrowed his eyes in half and said “uh-huh”. I didn’t answer. Mr. Shuwa looks at the brilliant view behind the window. The night in this country is stunningly beautiful.
“But you know. Such job. Someday someone will die.”
“Probably not. As a commander you can’t say that you will go insane.”
“The death of one person will unnerve you and what will you do when two, three people die? You will only make trouble. You will go mad then more people will die.”
A harsh judgment from a day before yesterday’s enemy. I couldn’t say anything more than “sorry”. Those are the times in which I’m thinking that I’m useless.
Mr. Shuwa opens an eye and sighs.
“You have to prepare for that, that someone will die.”
Mr. Shuwa said that religion is preparing yourself for death. Not only for the one dying. Even if he tells me to prepare, just the thought about the children’s death caused me to cower. After that, not saying anything we just drove in the car.
Returning to the hotel, I realize that I almost forgot I can’t go back to my own room. I still don’t know what about Kishimoto. Or maybe a completely different enemy might make some moves.
I was walking around the hotel feeling somehow wounded. I can’t recall the number of the room, which I certainly remembered.
No, in such state I won’t think up any strategy – I thought. In the past I thought that due to the lack of imagination killing people comes easily, but apparently someone with too large imagination also can kill.
I hear a voice from behind. Surprised I look behind my back. It’s Djibril, she looked remarkably calm.
Pampering and being pampered
Djibril looked at me with hers carefully put on headgear. Eyes which could be seen from the headgear looked calm, looking objectively without parental bias.
“You look pale.”
I tried to force a smile, but even that didn’t work out for me.
Djibril stretched both her hands and jumped lightly and landed holding my head. My back released a mute scream, surprised by the force that was put on it. I opened my eyes widely from surprise. Djibril embraced my head.
“Arata has too many secrets.”
“That’s not true!”
“What I have in mind is that usually you don’t allow that much.” – said mysteriously Djibril. Mysteriously and very calmly.
I almost carelessly fawned on her. In the sense of listening to my complaints and crying to her. It seemed entrancing.
It seemed, but I couldn’t do it. What would happen to me then? It would disqualify me as a guardian.
I smiled in an actor’s way.
“I consider a possibility, that you would jump on me again.”
“I would like you to trust me more.”
“I trust you. I think it’s obvious.”
I wanted very much to hug her, but stopped myself with all my might. I just stroked her head. Her headgear slipped down and her eyes couldn’t be seen. That’s how much I stroked her.
“Arata treats me like a child too much.”
I didn’t say anything. I didn’t have the strength to go back again to this discussion.
“Thank you.” – saying only that I went to Mr. Shuwa.
I recalled the room number. Maybe it’s Djibril’s embrace. And now quickly to the ex-monk. I felt as if I had to take lessons from him.
I have nothing else left after I felt sexual attraction towards Djibril.
I decided to learn how to use guns secretly. I already wanted to do it from some time ago, but Djibril, my guardian angel, was firmly against it. Well it is the human nature that you want to do things that are forbidden, so taking care so she won’t feel sad I waited for a good opportunity. That opportunity is just now.
“Mr. Shuwa, can you teach me how to use guns?” – I asked earnestly the former mysterious monk, who was smoking a cigarette at the hotel’s smoking corner.
“The commander will use guns? I don’t really support this idea.” – he says, sending up a curl of tobacco smoke.
“I’m an operator.”
“True, but… well maybe even a bit of this skill might be useful.” – I say on what Mr. Shuwa scowled at me with a single eye.
“If you really think that way I don’t recommend learning how to use it.”
After thinking for 10 seconds, I spoke about my true intentions. I won’t worry about complaints from this newcomer.
“…I already have enough, that I order the children to hold weapons and I myself am not using them.”
The single eye which was scowling at me has been shut. The face turns toward me. Mr. Shuwa’s eyes are opening.
“I see. Okay then. But know it’s only because of my generous sentiment.”
“Do you really? And you don’t think you need more research or lessons on commanding? It would save children more than a gun.”
Mr. Shuwa sighs.
“But you want to do it anyway, right?”
“Yes.” – I said frankly. Really it hurts me more and more that it’s the children that have to hold the weapons. It pesters me to such a degree that I’m afraid that the feeling of guilt will soon paralyze me.
That’s why I want to learn how to use guns. Lessen my suffering even a little. Though having 31 years old the training might not have any meaning, I’m still only thinking that I would have wanted to use guns instead of the children.
“Okay, I’ll teach you.” – said Mr. Shuwa as if my thoughts were transparent to him.
“But you will get commanding study too. That’s my thoughtfulness towards the children.”
“All right. Sure.”
I bowed. I have to put effort all along to decrease casualties among the kids. From now on all the time. I learned the fear of losing someone. It can’t be like how it was till now.
Next day I’m once again eating breakfast with Ms. Lee.
Once again on the table appeared congee. Probably not because she likes it, but because of the eating habits. I don’t know from where those habits are, but I know they are congee on breakfast.
“You already learned about the other matter? How is it?”
“I did. I was surprised, that’s not how I imagined it.”
Ms. Lee looks at me as if it was an employment interview. Well yes, probably I was evaluated from the start. I mean my soft-heartedness or affection towards kids was.
I put down the spoon.
“I was disgusted to be honest. I was wondering if this is the only way.”
Ms. Lee smiled slightly. To my surprise it was a warm smile.
“I know, but it’s hard. Finding jobs for those kids is hard even in this country and though they are children, they will starve to death if they don’t work.”
“How many more or less becomes mercenaries annually from the slums I saw?”
“I don’t know the statistics, moreover there are also children kidnapped for organs or prostitution. It’s hard to tell, but per year there would be about five hundred, maybe more.”
Unbelievable scale of the venture – I thought. In 10 years 5000. Not taking into account casualties, thinking about withdrawing from the business, household costs increase rapidly compared to my current 24. What’s more we are talking only about the kids themselves.
With the increased household and scale of operation, commissions on a bigger scale could be accepted, even if it didn’t bother me that I’m hiring kids as soldiers, but facts are that there are not too many wars. Ms. Lee maybe thinks it’s that simple, but it’s not that easy.
“I don’t think there are a lot of conflicts.”
“But they are.” – said Ms. Lee sipping the congee.
“The vicinity of this country is teeming with conflicts! China is breaching the border of Myanmar, even here there is guerrilla warfare.”
“In case of commissions a lot larger than until now a supply network is needed.”
“That’s right. Well if you would want, I think that I might be able to get you support.”
I felt as if she wanted to cleverly use me. Or she tried to drag me with everyone into some big scam.
“It seems that the rival is my evil colleague, but without any information there is no way I will fight.”
“Every day he gathers willing soldiers in the slums. I can’t check anything more.”
“Such is the unwritten law of this social class. You don’t really meddle in their affairs. This is the method for coexistence.”
“What will happen if I interfere?”
“You will do it of your own will.”
“Oh and another thing. After this I’m cutting all contact with you. Our corespondence would be confidential then. Relax. I won’t make the sisters lose their face.”
I wanted to know how much is the Japanese government involved in this, but all the more it seemed impossible for me to have a chance to find out. I’m feeling as if I’m becoming a chess piece. The problem is that even a pawn has it’s will.
“Even Mr. Sei seemed to not know everything at the moment. I think that keeping this a secret is enough.”
“That’s right. Until the time you will make a move.”
“And that’s when the confidential correspondence will begin. I got it.”
Ms. Lee looks slightly satisfied. I shrugged my shoulders.
“I’d want to practice shooting, though…”
“I’ll make you use the police station.”
“Police in this country…”
“Tools for those who have privileges. However they are not too good tools.”
“I see. I’ll be careful.” – I replied, not even being surprised. I went with the flow in this before I knew it. It’s not bad to go with the flow, but going with the flow alone itself is not very appealing. Once I obliterated one village because of it.
I thought about how to control the flow. Not to be washed away, but to ride on it. Without it there will be damages among children.
Few heads are better than one
The breakfast ended and I returned to the hotel without giving an answer.
I tell everyone about yesterday’s and today’s events. Omar, Sophie and even the oldest of the kids Djibril and Ivan. The meeting is in English, but Mr. Shuwa is also participating in it.
When I finish explaining how things are nobody’s saying anything, everyone is thinking.
I scratched my head and broke the silence.
“I know what everyone is thinking about. You didn’t expect that we are that popular. Also myself having this in mind, I stay vigilant.”
Excluding Sophie everyone is staring at me with doubt.
“Well, the boss is saying that, but…” – spoke Omar as if I wasn’t there.
“It was expected that Arata’s might is big enough that they will know his name. Already in Japan we had to be quite vigilant” – says Djibril.
“Arata was famous?”
It’s sad, that the only words of support come from Sophie. I tried to say something, but I was forestalled by Omar.
“They call him children-user.”
“No way…” – surprised Sophie covered her mouth with both her hands. Hey, weren’t you supposed to be my ally?
“I’ve heard that.”
“I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it’s all lies.” – I quickly expressed my opinion. Once again Omar ignored me.
“You’re not so inhuman as gossips say. I just think your activity is more than that.”
“Arata’s commanding is like a golden eagle.”
Djibril slightly nods. Even Ivan did so.
Thereupon I strongly waved both my hands denying.
“I don’t know who you are talking about, but I didn’t see such man.”
“Arata is valuing himself too low.”
Ivan in silence nodded to Djibril’s and Omar’s words.
Mr. Shuwa stays silent and is watching with interest the whole situation.
When it comes to Sophie she was looking at me, still covering her mouth with both hands.
“No, you really shouldn’t trust rumors.”
Quick guard. After a while of consideration Sophie said with admiration in the eyes:
“As I thought you are amazing. So this is how it is…”
“I’m not amazing. But anyway. What should we do? I guess everyone is against?”
Everyone simultaneously folded their arms. I don’t feel well. Their reaction was different than I predicted.
“How far did you come with the talks?” – interjected the not knowing English Mr. Shuwa. When I answered that everything was explained and I’m waiting for everyone’s opinion, Mr. Shuwa asked me if he can voice his opinion. He said to listen to him as a reference opinion.
I agree, I relay to everyone his idea.
Crossing his arms he spoke:
“I have a feeling, that I can join the discussion.”
I forgot to translate.
“Mr. Shuwa says that he can probably debate with us.”
“It sounded rather as if he stated himself that he can.”
“Oh, Omar, you know Japanese?”
“No, I simply understood it that way from your expression.”
In the meantime when I didn’t know what to do with my expression Ivan nodded his head.
“The patriarch said that the more concrete the proposition in important matters the less lies in it.”
I was just about to say that exactly that kind of people are dragged into pyramid schemes, but I noticed that someone is pulling my sleeve. It’s Djibril.
“What is it?”
“I… agree a little.”
“It’s obvious that Arata will command many.”
“And why ‘a little’?”
“Because that Lee has black hair.”
I don’t know if my expression was that funny, that even Omar and Mr. Shuwa laughed at the same time. They laughed after which they even shook hands. It seems that national borders don’t apply to amusing faces, but it wasn’t an amusing talk.
“I’m serious here.” – I reminded those flippant two.
I noticed that Sophie at the other side from Djibril grabs my arm and pulls in her direction. Her originally white face is completely red.
“Sophie, I don’t know what’s going on.”
“Should I be surprised? Angry? Embarrassed?”
“But I thought you should do it like this.”
My sleeve is strongly pulled. Djibril is looking at me with a heavy gaze.
It’s a trap.
Mr. Shuwa and Omar for the second time shake hands with a full smile on their faces.
I thought that I should consult with everyone, but I had a feeling that it was however a mistake.
Thinking alone, thinking together
Thus I decided to sort out my thoughts myself. Everyone is so cheerful and yet they are risking their lives. I don’t get that.
I send Omar and the rest to the police station and I remain by myself in the hotel. I have a bit of free time. I think about the opponent. Well, no matter what he would be doing, he must have allies similar to those that have a person in Ms. Lee’s position. This country have it’s own rules and people play by them. One of them is that influential people don’t fight with each other directly. In that sense the enemy on the top can’t be targeted, which results in a situation in which we will fight with our pawns, knowing that it’s impossible for us to suffer a fatal wound.
Nothing bad can happen, but in the meantime casualties on the battlefield will grow. It won’t help anyone, so when the casualties will be too big someone will withdraw. That will mean the end of the game for that someone.
I thought hard about how to not join this game. Bad flow. I want to get on a good current. But what is a good current?
I’m alone in the room, though it’s Hakim’s room. I cross my arms and think, isolating myself. In the hotel’s equipment is a small notebook. I think holding a pen in one hand. In the past, working in the small designer company I gathered my thoughts using a sheet of paper.
I have a feeling that from that time so much has changed and at the same time so little.
Though I think that the paper sheet surface area is smaller. Sigh.
Unable to come up with anything I write in the notebook the names of the children. Not wanting to skip anyone I read the notes again. Even if they pertain such a job I would feel bad forgetting about anyone and that’s it. After grumbling like a child for a moment I lifted up my head. By just grumbling I’m more childish than those kids. I can’t be like that. If an adult won’t fulfill the role of an adult, then the kids will have to quickly grow up.
I think. I have something. Increasing the scale of the business? I was open to increasing the number of children. I felt that even 500 wouldn’t be a problem. I realize, that I’m not right in the head thinking that, but the more children there are then it’s probably merrier.
In that sense I should naturally welcome the proposition which Ms. Lee gave me.
In the notebook i made a circle that didn’t have any meaning, after what I tore it up and threw it away. What should I do to not get taken away by the current and get on it myself?
I looked again at the list of the 24 names. I followed the names one by one.
I can have more children, but for now I want to reduce damages.
That’s the thing I want to focus on above everything else. Tapping into the correct flow is for me equal with reducing the damages.
But what to do to achieve that?
For me it was a very easy question. Just don’t fight. Unfortunately in this business it’s the most difficult thing.
To reduce casualties shall I aim for a great victory, or not fight at all? This time a crushing victory will be hard. In Japan after the fight when the enemy achieved his goal, I won by using a surprise attack. Achieving his goal the enemy thought it’s the end, until the very end thinking he is an attacking side. This time that’s not the case. A surprise attack is also hard to carry out. It would result in a stalemate. Crushing victory has a high possibility of increasing casualties.
In conditions when it’s difficult to get a certain victory, to drastically reduce casualties I have to avoid combat. For this purpose I must reach a mutual understanding. War starts with a difference of opinion and ends with an agreement. This agreement is mutual understanding.
With what compromise should I go with the enemy? In any case I have to think who is this enemy. I made a note. Enemy. According to the NGO that’s a corrupted private military company. I think that they are criminals. It’s much the same, but being at the side of a private military company I want to emphasize they are different.
The goal is the same. Money. It’s just the methods that are different. It’s wrong morally, but as much as possible we don’t break the law. And because the criminals break it that is a crime. A venture with recruiting and training children from the slums and then sending them to the battlefield is too big of a risk for a private military company. Falling into a conflict with the international law is something that turned against me and I had problems myself. Even omitting the fact, that I cannot get rid myself of children, legitimately recruiting experienced personnel would be much cheaper. And it’s not just a matter of training.
Thinking up to this point made me sigh. No, the company where I was did hire locals, where conflicts took place. And it were kids.
That’s it, avoiding bullets. It’s not that all commanders are good-natured like Omar. There were probably ones, who were mistreating the children.
And so, as it is called by the NGO, that makes them a corrupted private military company. From my perspective, as someone that treats children with love, that makes them criminals. Determining at that, that we are different, I want to believe in that, but maybe both sides are the same.
Placing a hand on my mouth I remember Kishimoto. I wonder if he is still in the company. I take a breath. The company, huh? Is it the company? If so, then it’s an outrageous black company. No, I knew it’s a black company, but it’s even worse. Like double black, I guess.
Catching a general outline of the enemy, I spun the pen. It didn’t go well and the pen fell down. I pick it up. I felt as if I picked up thinking with it.
The enemy is my old nest. They keep close with the American army, performing contracts for them. It puzzled me if Ms. Lee and Grace know about this. There is a big chance they don’t know, since they think about it like a military adventure.
I think about Ms. Lee. Why do they don’t know the enemy? If they have information about the children-user then they surely know the biggest companies in the business. That’s what’s bothering me.
When I lived in Japan, that means when I didn’t know that this risking of life is changed into money, I thought that I’m surrounded by idiots.
Absurd delusion. Exactly because it seemed to me that there are no victims I could indulge in illusions. Facts are different. Even Ms. Lee slapping me on the first meeting is far from a true idiot. Looking at how they are arranging weapons to the selection of personnel it became obvious. Someone who thinks everyone is an idiot because they made one mistake won’t live long in this business.
I think. Why did Ms. Lee make a mistake?
I found the answer without thinking deeply. It’s not a subcontractor of a subcontractor, but maybe the company, in which I was in the past is throwing dirt onto subsidiary companies, preparing for emergency.
Everything fits now. Only checking the answer is left. I thought whether to postpone the offensive and talk to Lanson. Later also with Ms. Ito. I also have to check facts with Ms. Lee and the NGO.
It’s more troublesome to arrange avoiding fights than fight. And what’s more, there won’t be much money from that. Nonetheless I’m going to try to do that. I still remember the touch of the finger with which I followed the names. It’s not the time to laze around.
I left the room with the intention of sharing with everyone my thoughts. I have to talk with Ms. Lee and people from NGO. With that thought I get into the elevator and there ironically a familiar face. Kishimoto.
“Dear me, and I thought you changed your lodging.”
Kishimoto raised his eyebrow.
“I thought the same about you.” – when I answered, Kishimoto laughed cynically.
“Seriously. I thought maybe you suddenly wanted to die or something.”
“I don’t want to die.”
“Me too, you know. I just like eagerness to die, that’s it. Not really dying.”
I look at Kishimoto’s face. He wilted a bit since I last saw him in our job.
“You look worn out. Everything alright?”
“A question you don’t ask at all in this business. Or maybe if you’re the children-user everyone looks stupid, huh?”
“It’s not like that. Ah..”
The elevator reached its destination.
“So what, let’s drink coffee or something? It sounded as if I made fun of you, but it’s an apology.” – I said. Kishimoto looked at me after which he shrugged his shoulders and laughed.
“Sure. Isn’t it a bit careless?”
“It is, but I think nothing is going to happen in this hotel.” – I said and we walked together. I asked for coffee in the lounge. We sit face to face. Me, with the suit and Kishimoto at the opposite side with the same appearance. He just didn’t have a necktie, looking because of that like unemployed.
“Battle in the hotel, huh? Indeed, if I were your enemy I wouldn’t do anything. A smart opponent wouldn’t do that, right Arata?”
“After gathering various data I think that my enemy is smart.”
Kishimoto shrugs his shoulders. I think that it wouldn’t suit me, but when he does that it somehow weirdly harmonizes with him. Maybe in that some sadness floats – I thought. We had relations, in which we didn’t pry into each other life, but I heard he had a wife and a kid. Although I don’t know if it’s true.
“Since the camp you also became expressive.”
“But it isn’t as hard as in the camp, right?”
Kishimoto studies me with his eyes as if he saw a rare bug. Pretending that I’m enjoying the coffee’s steam I continue:
“It looks as if you got some muscles. And in the past at every occasion, when it was day off, you only slept.”
Kishimoto smiled broadly. As if he said that with him a lie will not pass.
“In the company you weren’t that capable, you’re another person now.”
“I wasn’t capable after all?” – I answered, thinking that at the next opportunity I’ll make everyone hear it.
Kishimoto is drinking the coffee tastefully.
“Yeah. Weren’t you the 4th Japanese to join real combat?”
“You disappeared first. So that meant joining real combat. It was very quick.”
“Well, later I couldn’t compare to the children-user anyway.” – he said smiling broadly. I felt that his stance was disturbingly provocative. I didn’t intend to incur his enmity, but even if there is some hostility in it, there is nothing strange in that. Especially since it’s a business where money decide about life and death.
“So, what is this about?” – Kishimoto changed his expression and said coldly. The dramatic change of his expression looked dangerous, but I ignored that and said:
“I want to talk. I would be grateful if you conveyed appropriately my story.”
“Hey, hey. What do you want to achieve with diplomacy with mercenaries?”
“Mercenaries also have their own rules, right? For example they don’t arrange firefights in places like this.”
“Because it’s not profitable.”
“It’s not, I separated with my old nest over fighting and I feel sorry for breaking into someone’s else territory.”
Kishimoto made a face as if he finally understand.
“Oh, I guess you’re right. You’re strangely expressive, so I thought you’d go mad before I notice. Warmonger has no choice but to be expressive. Now I understand. So there’s still common sense left in you. I’m relieved.”
“It’s not that I like it. Well, I guess everyone is the same.” – saying that I thought that Kishimoto wants to only interpret things for his own convenience anyway. When talking with him it seems that it’s best to go along with his world view.
“Got it. Although no hard feelings if I won’t be able to properly convey your message.
“It’s enough if you deliver it and I will be grateful.”
“You’re going to give me money?”
“As a completion bonus if you’re okay with it.”
It’s a world where money comes after life. Kishimoto’s face looked like he understood my intentions and said “2000 dollars”, after which he got up and left.
The most important thing for me is family. Kishimoto gets a false idea about that.
I don’t intend to clear that misunderstanding.
I waited until noon and decided to call Lanson and Ms. Ito. I don’t have a contract to herm but I had an outline on how to get it.
I take out a cellphone and called my home in Akita. A mercenary commander, the boss of a private military company does 70% of the work by negotiating.
The voice from the phone belonged to my younger sister.
“Eh, brother!? Wait, I will give you mom.”
“No, no need. How is it in school?”
“Today there is no school. There really isn’t!”
“Where are you? What are you doing? Everyone is worried!”
“Well, I was deceived by an evil woman, Ms. Ito”
“Ito! Woman! Evil!”
“Yuki, I don’t understand what you are saying. You just said everything in reverse order.”
“What are you doing! Eh, wait. Mom! Mom!”
“I’ll call again.”
I disconnected. I wait. After three minutes the phone rings.
“What does it mean ‘evil woman’?”
Ms. Ito. She had a voice as if she had a sleepless night behind her, or she was simply pissed off.
“No, I just thought that maybe I would be able to establish contact if I said that.”
I smiled because I imagined Ms. Ito wrinkling her forehead.
“So you didn’t call thinking about the family. You could contact me using a slightly better method. Just in case we are checking you, but we are not the only ones with a wiretap.”
“You seem sleepy.”
“Low blood pressure.”
“I see. Ok, I came here and accepted the job, but.”
“Thailand is a friendly country. But?”
“I think America is also a friendly country.”
Ms. Ito stayed silent for a moment. It seemed that she is composing sentences in her head. Maybe at the same time she is biting, munching a few candies to deliver an amount of sugar to the brain. Such noises are reaching me.
“Of course it’s a friendly country. I’m not allowed to give you the name of the American company, which you are dealing with.”
“Surely it’s nothing much.”
“We also don’t have any relations with you.”
“I see. That was a good thing to hear.”
A few seconds of silence. I realize that Ms. Ito takes a breath. I have a feeling that she ties up her hair.
“I think that worse is someone who calls after two days the girl with which he broke up. How do you think?
“We broke up?”
So we were dating? – I thought, but only thought.
“…. We will talk about this in peace the next time you will be able to come to Japan.”
“Is it okay for me to win?”
“Well enough. We aren’t taking into account your loss.”
The talk ended at that. I managed to understand that Ms. Ito and family and Japanese intelligence sent us out knowing about the situation. Also that there is a subtle difference in temperature between America and this place.
This time only, comparing America and Thailand, I pick Thailand. That means those, which are far from humanitarianism. In short seems like it will be in Japan’s national interest.
Next I called Lanson. My ex-superior and ex-soldier.
“Howdy. I didn’t think you will contact me again.”
Calm and didn’t seem sleepy. There is no doubt that he trains regularly in the morning.
Smiling I said:
“Sophie… I mean Sophia Greenwood turned up unexpectedly, so I thought to report about it…”
“Right. Well, as a subordinate she was troublesome to deal with, but in her own way she is a good girl. If you can make her happy.”
“I will try. Though in this job…”
“Alright. So, what’s the real issue?”
He saw through me. Scratching my head I continue:
“Speaking truthfully I probably got entangled in something with a subcontractor of your company…”
“You mean you’re going to fight?”
“Yes. That’s right. I mean if it continues this way. I received Illuminator from the company myself and I don’t want to create trouble, but I can’t agree to not accepting the task.”
“So the alternative is that there’s a high possibility that at some point you will attack our subsidiary company. Hmm…”
“What scenario are you assuming?”
“If your company would order them to improve to a degree the treatment and recruitment I feel that it won’t become rough.”
“There are always problems with you.”
“No, it’s a compliment. Got it. It’s a different section so it will take some time. Can you refrain from attacking for a few days?”
“I can contact with you via this number, right?”
“Okay. I will try, so nothing bad comes out of it.”
Considering he’s a manager of a private military company, there’s still good sense in him. I thought that the next few days of waiting will be a challenge.
What will the enemy do now?
I was going to stop the enemy with an invisible bullet in the form of gathering information through Kishimoto as a messenger to gain time until Lanson settles everything, but if the enemy doesn’t turn out to be smart then this bullet won’t come through and here is the problem.
Kishimoto is that sort of man, but I hoped that the enemy is clever.
With a smart enemy you can talk. It’s easy to find a point of compromise.
In that sense the best enemy is a smart enemy.