Mountains and Moleholes (Revised)

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kirby
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Mountains and Moleholes (Revised)

Post by kirby » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:00 am

I've been playing the KS release and thinking about what lines up with fanfic, and what we got totally wrong. This story came to mind, because it breaks cannon in so many ways, but that was unavoidable with a crazy story like this.

I never posted updates to it, despite writing them. I'm in the process of parsing out the manuscript now (and lamenting at how bad they are). Here are some quick links:

One - Katawaclysm
Two - Medical Disorder
Three - Katawa Soldier
Four - Yamaku Base
Five - Training Wheels and Crutches - To be edited
Six - Katawa mission - To be edited
Seven - A Mole's Hole - To be edited


MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

One - Katawaclysm

-----

The ground shook on an otherwise quiet summer night.

In the morning, my family left the house before I woke. Alone, I didn’t know anything was wrong until I turned on the TV. Of course, the news was on every station. For the next few months, we all watched the coverage with bated breath.

It didn't take long for the details to become clear. Collections of pictures and video saturated every blog and imageboard from the first hours. Within a day, a comprehensive timeline was written on Internet, updating with each development. The crowd’s documentation was impeccable, but a few details were still, apparently, state secrets. That is, until a week after day-zero, when Dr. Shinji Ito appeared live on an evening news program.

As Ito's story began, he remarked, quite famously, that he had been searching for a new job just before the disaster. The anchor quipped how, now, they will never let him resign, and the interview continued. The program lasted another half-hour, but the historic plight of Dr. Ito had been written; he would never live it down.

Dr. Ito recalled during his interview, that the first sign of danger was when he received an SMS from his lab's automatic monitor. He arrived at the Meteorological Agency at 11:00PM and, after examining the data feeds, spent the next forty minutes on the phone with two other seismologists. They confirmed his findings. With each subsequent jolt, the epicenter of the quake would rise.

Just after midnight, alone in his lab, Dr. Ito dialed the Agency Director's personal number. Over the phone, he reported his evaluation: Some heretofore unknown volcanic system was rising below Tokyo. The crust broke at 2:15am. The earth heaved, opening pits and ravines throughout the city. By then, the earthquake could be felt one hundred kilometers around. As any of the survivors will tell you, it was obviously not a volcano. A disaster like this was also, obviously not natural.

Nobody expected what happened next: The Molemen poured out of those fresh holes and began to ravage Japan. By the afternoon of day zero, when I found out what happened, the military had surrounded the city.

Their weapons were vicious and disturbingly effective. Similar breakthroughs appeared in Paris that fall and Santa Cruz just before Christmas. In spite of the war in Japan, they were not the slightest bit prepared for the invasion. It became clear that every place on earth was vulnerable.

Like rot, they spread beneath the surface. Under cities and towns, the ground would suddenly tear away. A coalition was formed to combat them, but it wasn’t defensive, so much as reactionary. Only regions near the front line had garrisons, there was too much ground to cover.

It had been five months since Day Zero and life had slowly settled back towards sanity. School hadn't resumed since the war started, so Iwanako and I were killing time at home. Between programs, I saw the evacuation order on TV.

"Iwanako! There's an emergency order!" I shouted through her door. “We have to go now.”

"What? For Kyoto Prefecture?" she called back. I could hear her trip as she tried to run across her room. She fumbled the knob on the other end and the door opened.

"It just came up on TV." As I finished, the sirens went off outside. "See?"

The wane and rise of the evacuation signal was chilling. Standing in the door frame, Iwanako tilted her head to listen. I knew the sound from the drills, but hearing it in a real emergency made my blood cold.

"Yeah, let's go." Iwanako said finally.

We hurried down the stairs and out the door. Iwanako pulled her bike off the porch, a silver and blue ten-speed, swiftly mounting it. Behind the seat, above the rear wheel, was a cargo rack. She motioned to it.

"Get on Hisao." she said. Her face betraying a lack of expectation.

"I told you, I'm not riding like that." I said bluntly.

"You can't be serious Hisao. At a time like this?" she yelled back, frustrated. "Just get on!"

"Not a chance. I'll ride there myself." I said and walked past her. On the porch, I took my father's bicycle and rolled it down to the grassy lawn.

"You can't Hisao! What about your heart?" Now she was pleading. It was only a minor heart condition, so I should be able to handle this much. Besides, It wasn’t like I hadn't ridden a bike before.

"Just go Iwanako. I'll be right behind you." I mounted and Iwanako frowned harder. Conceding, she turned towards the road.

Our shelter, the high school, was seven blocks away. I’d barely turned onto the road when a car passed uncomfortably close to me. Our neighborhood wasn't as cramped as others, but it still didn’t have a lot of room. I stuck to the shoulder, dodging pedestrians as I rode. Iwanako was always ahead of me but she would slow down to let me catch up.

When we got close, the crowd became even more packed. More cars and more people were cramming together in the narrow street. It seemed impossible for any more to fit, but somehow we were squeezing through.

I nearly fell over when a panicked woman bumped into me. When I recovered, Iwanako was out of sight. She should have been just ahead, so I continued alone. Eventually, the crowd was too dense to ride at all and the only thing I could do was straddle my bike and shuffle forward.

The high school gates which were just ahead. It was only a few more paces, when I felt the group motion changing. Chaos erupted, I couldn’t see anything anymore. Over the din, I heard sprays of automatic gunfire.

Face after frightened face pushed past me, as I stood, trying to see over their heads. If it wasn't for my fathers bike bracing me, I would have been shoved over by now. I still couldn’t see Iwanako. She was still ahead, possibly past the gate by now.

Everything was falling apart, but my fears possessed me to continue. Once it began to thin, I walked against the crowd. On the road outside the school, a few bodies were sprawled. They seemed to be shot at first, when I got close, I saw they were only trampled.

“Only trampled.” That thought stuck with me for a moment. “Sorry, nothing special... Only trampled.” I wanted to vomit.

The road in front of the school was almost barren by now. Just inside the school gate, two more bodies were still dying. A soldier was peeking around the concrete gate, firing into the school building. I saw the tracer rounds fly into a second story window where the glass shattered with each impact.

All I could do was move forward. When I got to the gate, I saw two more bodies. The closest was a girl near her overturned bike. It was a silver-blue bicycle, familiar. The school entryway was on a slight grade and the second body was uphill from her. Dark expansions flowed from beneath them and trickled downhill. They mingled in a pool beneath the school gate. When I looked down, I was standing in it.

Gunfire started again, snapping me back to reality. I was scarred, so much that I couldn’t move. Though they didn’t sound loud a moment ago, every bullet was deafening.

An arm grabbed me, pulling me backwards. It was a man yelling at me. I stared at him a little more. He kept yelling. Oh. Isn't he a soldier?

He was dragging me to safety, but I realized I had been fighting him. I let go and he pulled me behind the cement arch.

I looked back through school gates one more time and saw Iwanako move. It was followed by a moment where I wished she hadn’t. Iwanako was still alive, but I didn't even kid myself. She would be gone forever in a few moments.
Last edited by kirby on Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:31 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by kirby » Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:01 am

MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Two - Medical Disorder

-----

Aiming for a massacre, the Molemen had attacked the high school just as civilians arrived. As I walked away, more soldiers ran past me, towards the battle. I watched as they went by. A beat later, one of the new soldiers was on the ground, shot. He was screaming and the other soldiers scattered. I turned away from the scene and started running.

A few blocks down the road, a car stopped and they asked if I needed a ride. I got in. The radio was directing people to the town middle school, a backup shelter. It was on the other side of town, but we crossed it quickly. When the road was too full to drive, we abandoned the car and walked to the entrance.

The middle school was crowded. With barely enough room to sit down, I found a nook where I could lay against the wall. The noise was awful, but after a while, people settled down and it became a somber scene. Only the mellow hum of whispered conversation and sobbing remained.

The shelter was locked-down for twenty hours. I zoned-out for most of it, too shocked to do anything. Silently, I relived the high school over and over. That scene from just inside the gates, just after the crowd dispersed.

In my mind, when that soldier tried to pull me back, I broke from his grip. I imagined, Instead of freezing and starring in shock, running towards Iwanako as she lay on the ground. And when I finally reached my sister, I knelt beside her dying body.

It was incredibly real. Taking my sleeve, I brushed the fleshy spatter out of her tired eyes. Her face was a pale mess, hair sticking to sweaty skin. I repeated it again and again until I’d convinced myself that those were the things I had done.

Iwanako’s face... She looked so beautiful, with tears down her cheek. I took her hand, bloody, in mine. While whispering comforts, I held her until it was over. But no matter how I lied to myself, the truth kept finding me. And each time it did, I cried again. I had let her die alone. I didn’t even call to her, she didn’t know I was nearby.

The “All clear” woke me up; everybody stood and slowly left the building. The room emptied, but I sat there, still and alone. For the first time, I noticed I was in a classroom. It had been unrecognisable with all the people in it. And then, I noticed something else: The image scratched into the desk I was leaning against.

“This was Iwanako’s.”

Iwanako and I had gone to this school, even sharing a class one year. And now the Memories began to flood in: Talking to her in the hallway... Laughing with our friends... Looking around, I confirmed it. This was our old homeroom.

Warmth came back into me, and some of the hurt went away. My eyes, red and sore, watered again but it wasn’t in grief.

Stepping into the morning air, I began to feel a little better. Perhaps just a little stronger, or maybe less weak. I’d decided to join the fight against the Molemen and, by the time I arrived at the recruitment center, I nearly felt normal.

The closest recruitment center was in the shopping district. Before the invasion, it had been a furniture store but the lettering on the window was painted over with black. A new sign hung by the door frame. It said: "United Nations Coalition: Japanese recruitment office".

In the lobby, Several people, applicants it seemed, were waiting. Mostly young men, like myself. A few older ones seemed to be joining too. There were even two woman applying. It seemed that volunteers really do increase after an attack. I thought about Iwanako again, and wondered who these people lost to the war.

A receptionist handed me a form. There were only two pages: A formal application for service, and a release of medical records. Immediately after submitting them, I was ushered down a hallway to see the staff nurse.

The nurse’s office was completely unremarkable, a bland sterile place you would expect to find in a hospital. When I met the Nurse, he smiled broadly and cracked a joke. I wasn't in the mood for his friendliness, but I didn’t complain.

When he started listening to my lungs, his smile disappeared. He repeated most of the heart and lung checks, then left the room for about twenty-five minutes. When the Nurse returned, closed the door behind him and sighed.

"I'm sorry Hisao...” his mid-sentence pause grated me. “...I can't qualify you.”

I took another moment before reacting.

"Why not?” I said, suppressing my anger. “I'm volunteering. I'm fit."

"Well, to qualify for service, there are medical requirements. We can only send physically fit soldiers into combat. Anything less would put many other lives in danger."

I frowned. "I am fit." But he already knew that.

The nurse was trying to find his words. Eventually, he did.

"You seem to have a condition called 'Arrhythmia of the heart'. It's life threatening under too much stress. I'm actually surprised nothing has happened to you yet."

It took a moment to sink in. The term was familiar, I did have that kind of defect. The family doctor always insisted that I could live a normal life though.

"It's not a major condition. I had a physical last year, they said it was getting better." I tried to reason. Clearly, this nurse wasn't very familiar with Arrhythmia.

"It may have been before but... The kind of stress the whole country is under is killing people on its own." The nurse said, trying to be gentle. "I'm recommending you go to a hospital for treatment. There’s a good chance it will become worse if you aren’t careful. You really could die if you have an attack."

I stared back at him. We didn't have anything else to say to each other. Silently, he walked out of the examination room. Once my clothes were back on, I met the nurse again in the hallway. He offered to walk with me back to the lobby.

"I'm sorry Hisao..." He tried to break the silence after a few steps.

I didn't respond. We were about half way back when a deep droning started to grow around us. The walls hummed, and the floor began to shake. The building itself seemed to be moving below us. I turned to the Nurse, looking for an explanation, but found none.

"Earthquake!" A woman shouting from the lobby ahead..

And it was, as the shaking picked up.

“Duck and Cover Hisao!” The nurse said, pushing me into an empty office. “Get under that desk!”

I dove to the floor, pushed the chair out of the way and crawled under the desk. During the quake, everything that wasn't attached eventually fell off the desk. The computer monitor went first, an old CRT, shattering on impact and scaring the shit out of me. Its carcass continued to rattle around for the rest of the quake.

Eventually, the shaking found a lull. That's when I noticed the yellow pocket folder which had fallen at my fingertips. When I read the label on it, I knew this would be my only chance. I emptied it on the floor in front of me.

It was stuffed with about thirty sets of service applications. They weren't the forms I had filled out, they were internal copies printed from a database. A number of papers were clipped to each form. I got even more excited. Paging through, I found what I was looking for. In my hands were medical evaluation forms.

I plucked a pen as it slid by and, examining each form, began looking for my name.

"Shit." I muttered, after awhile.

I couldn't tell which record was mine. They didn't have the volunteer name on the sheets. Instead, a thirty digit "Applicant ID" sat at the top of each page. With no alternative, I decided to approve them all. I marked the little box next to "Satisfactory" on each page and put the forms back in the folder.

Climbing out from under the desk, I stepped into the hallway. There was a lump of brown flesh blocking the path to the examination room. Its smell hit me just after seeing it. The odor was new, but I’d never forget it.

A mass of flesh, its hair colored like rust where it bled. It was a Moleman. Three soldiers appeared in the hallway behind it, carrying a fourth who had been shot in the arm.

When I got to the lobby, I saw other human casualties spread on the floor. Among them was that nurse. He was sprawled out, his white lab coat stained red. Somebody was trying to resuscitate him. I didn't stay to see if he lived or died.

Three days later, my entire family stood together at Iwanako's funeral. All one of us. The service didn't last long, and she was buried with several other people. Mother and Father didn't have a burial, their airplane had been shot down over the Pacific on their return trip the day before.

I walked alone towards the airfield, sat and waited. The only thing I held was a letter congratulating me on my choice to serve. My orders were to board the midnight flight to Australia, boot camp would begin immediately.
Last edited by kirby on Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:47 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by scott1and » Thu Apr 14, 2011 6:51 am

I'm speechless...that was pretty good. Molemen always make everything more interesting
Image

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:37 pm

Nice writing. I wonder if "sealing" an artery means dropping a nuke down there...
Anyway, I thought the most ludicrous thing about the story was Emi introducing herself as "Ibarazaki".
Am I strange?
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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by griffon8 » Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:23 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Am I strange?
Well… yeah!
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

Completed: 100%, including bonus picture. Shizune>Emi>Lilly>Hanako>Rin

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by PasterOfMuppets » Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:31 am

That... was... amazing... O.o
shit was intense

Picturing Hanako with a gun turns me on....
Good joke... Everybody laugh... Roll on snare drum... Curtains...

Hanako = Shizune = Lilly = Rin > Kenji > Placeholder > Emi

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by Nero5150 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 1:22 am

PasterOfMuppets wrote:Picturing Hanako with a gun turns me on....
Agreed.

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by Wren » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:49 am

Nero5150 wrote:
PasterOfMuppets wrote:Picturing Hanako with a gun turns me on....
Agreed.
Enjoy courtesy of the Shimmie

http://shimmie.katawa-shoujo.com/post/view/861
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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by Sid Vicious » Fri Apr 15, 2011 7:34 pm

Wren wrote:
Nero5150 wrote:
PasterOfMuppets wrote:Picturing Hanako with a gun turns me on....
Agreed.
Enjoy courtesy of the Shimmie

http://shimmie.katawa-shoujo.com/post/view/861
That was realy sexy
I'll die before I'm 25, and when I do I'll have lived the way I wanted to-RIP Sid Vicious

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by PasterOfMuppets » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:28 pm

Wren wrote:
Nero5150 wrote:
PasterOfMuppets wrote:Picturing Hanako with a gun turns me on....
Agreed.
Enjoy courtesy of the Shimmie

http://shimmie.katawa-shoujo.com/post/view/861
My life....
It is now complete....
Good joke... Everybody laugh... Roll on snare drum... Curtains...

Hanako = Shizune = Lilly = Rin > Kenji > Placeholder > Emi

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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by Leotrak » Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:00 pm

This is the stuff of Legends 8-)
"ice-cream-flavoured ice-cream" -Rin
"oh moe is me" -me
Numbered Days, my first piece of fanfic
Leotrak's Library, my other depository of written stuffs
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Re: MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Post by kirby » Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:44 pm

Sorry for the long delay. Sorry for being a bum and ignoring writing commitments. Re: long delay - It was longer than I ever thought.

Edit: Part three posted below.

MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Three - Katawa Soldier

-----

Somewhere in my mind a blurry image floated out of reach. Faces with forgotten names, brief feelings of camaraderie... Trying to find details brings more distance. Or perhaps it’s more like loneliness.

But the last time that image appeared, it was accompanied by an odor of sweat and blood. Then everything cleared, like opening the window in a smoky kitchen. I saw the sign in front of me again.

“9326 Training and Proving Centre”

A familiar man stood next to me, what was his name again?

“Julian”

No, that’s not it.

“Staff Sergent Julian Monroe”

He’s speaking, but it doesn’t resolve. They’ve discharged him since; I wonder what he’s doing.

It’s morning, so cold I can see my breath. Julian was across the road. Our eyes met, he grimaced at me.

It’s funny what moments stick with you. That one played a lot.
-----

My pulse weakened before my other muscles were at their limit. That feeling wasn't new to me, I had pushed myself far before, but it was even more terrifying that time. Everybody around me would tire or pass out, but if I wasn't careful, I could actually die. The conversation I had with the Nurse, weeks before, sunk in completely. He warned me this would happen, but I ignored it. He was probably dead now.

I’ve hated my heart condition since I was diagnosed, but it used to be for the wrong reasons. All my resentment was aimed at special treatment. It was so pitiful, the things people would do to accommodate you. All those memories seemed pointless now; I hated my lemons with the shallow angst of a child.

Since training, when the heart attacks started, I hated the facts of my condition. Being a tier below the others is a stark change from just being treated a tier below. One is because you were told to believe in a limitation.

But when you see it... Feel it... So clearly in front of you... What recourse could you have?

The worst one happened early in. During a hand-to-hand drill, I felt the familiar pains shoot through my chest. My breathing was controlled at first, but then I took blow to the chest.

All my limbs became numb and I flopped onto the floor, powerless. When it didn't hurt anymore, I realized I was in trouble. The dizziness was making me sick, the room wouldn’t stop spinning. Finally I blacked out.
-----

What did I expect from the army? There was no time to think back then, so I’m not sure I had a reason. A good guess would be self-destruction; after they took Iwanako I was ready to ditch. Somebody like me fighting would be futile, but it made my senses focus and my muscles tighten. And when your body steels, death doesn’t seem so foreign.

After a week of training the dreams started. On those glowing landscapes, I killed hundreds of molemen. They came out of the ground one at a time. I squeezed the trigger rhythmically. Often, I’d wake up believing I was holding my rifle was in a firing position. Though once I tried to point it, I’d realize my arms were at my sides under the blankets and my eyes were actually shut.

The dreams continued through training and until my first combat. I didn’t dream about combat for a long time. They surfaced again, eventually, but as nightmares.
-----

When I came to, I was being driven to a hospital outside the base. The doctor examining me seemed to suspect a cardiac event, he was asking about family history. I was discharged the next day so he must not have reported it.

Before long we were "Over the hump", as they say. That's what they told us about halfway through basic training. At that point, most recruits were adjusted enough to do everything that was expected of them. Marches, drills, PT... You didn't have to worry if you could do it anymore, you just did it. It’s a waiting game after that.

I graduated with, surprisingly, an assignment to attend special combat school. Only a handful of people got that one. The continuation of my training would take place back in Japan.
-----

Coming home was a whole new culture shock. I could sense a changed attitude in each conversation. The conflict was still escalating. When I returned everybody had fallen into the rhythm of it. In this new Japan, the mole war was a fact that was calmly dealt with each day.

The special combat training ground, Yamaku base, was just a few months old. To put the timing into perspective, it didn't begin construction until I was in Australia.

Most of the architecture was clearly prefabricated. The administration building, where I checked in, seemed to be a modular steel warehouse with cheap partition walls and a dropped ceiling. The trend of bleak, simple, black and cloudy-silver buildings continued as I walked towards my sleeping assignment.

When I found the barracks, they were short and extruded structures, probably designed to house farm equipment. Several of them ran parallel along the outer edge of Yamaku base. It must have been the west edge, because the sun was setting behind them.

A placard on the door in front of me read CE-7, my quarters were inside. When I opened the door, I was surprised to find that the building had no partitions. It was just a single room running the length of the building. Several metal columns stretched to the ceiling, providing support.
Last edited by kirby on Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Mountains and Moleholes (Revised)

Post by kirby » Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:30 am

Well, here we go. Parts Four is what I had the most trouble with. When I wrote it (some time ago) I wasn't sure if Moleholes was going to be funny or serious or some kind of mix.

MOUNTAINS AND MOLEHOLES

Four - Yamaku Base

-----

The door latched behind me. I was in the Yamaku dorm. The whole room had an artificial glow from cheap lighting. The air’s sound was bright, reverberant. An echo from the other end of the building returned every motion I made.

On the right side of the building there was a row of beds, spaced along the textured metal floor. They were turned with the headboard against the outer wall so that they jutted past the center line. I decided it resembled the inside of a toothpaste tube.

I was surprised by a voice beside me.

"Oh! You must be Private Nakai."

I turned to find the speaker. She was a short brunette, smiling.

“You’re him, right?" she said, tilting her head.

"That means we're all here now." Without waiting for my response she offered a handshake.

"The name’s Emi, Private Ibarazaki. You are Private Nakai, right?" I started shaking her hand before I remembered to answer.

"Um, yeah. Nice to meet you." It was more of a stammer, really.

I glanced around the room and saw a few more people all sitting or reading.

“Let me introduce you to Lilly.” Emi said, turning to the bed behind her. "Hey, Lilly! Nakai is here. Come over and meet him."

"Oh?" The sitting girl replied and then moved off the bed.

I got a better look at her when she stood up. Lilly, as she was called, was quite elegant. Obviously beautiful by anybodies standards. I was so intrigued, that I didn't notice she was about to crash-

"Wait, lookou—"

I tried to warn her, but the blond girl smashed into a support column. She didn’t appear hurt, or even fazed by the impact. In fact, Lilly rebounded as if her tits were elastic.

"Ah~ I'm sorry Emi. I keep bumping into you today."

Sidestepping the column, she continued towards me.

"It's nice to meet you, Private Nakai." The blond girl bowed.

"Thank you. And you are?" I asked.

"Ah~ I'm Private Satou, but you may call me Lilly if you want."

"Alright. And you were... Emi?" I asked.

"Yup, that's me. It's good to meet you, Hisao." She grinned again. "Lilly, lets introduce him to everybody else." Emi looked at me. "Come on, Hisao. We'll show you around."

I followed the two girls deeper into the barracks. As we walked, Lilly drifted closer to me. I tried to move aside but the barracks wasn’t wide enough to maneuver. She breached my personal space, plowing into me.

She gaasped as we tripped over each other. I managed to catch her without losing my own balance. Gently, I tipped her upright.

"My~ I'm sorry Hisao."

Emi brought her mouth to the back of my ear. I was taller than her, so she must have been on her tip-toes.

"Please forgive her, Hisao." Emi whispered. "Lilly can't see very well, so sometimes she walks into stuff."

I turned to see Emi staring. She was pleading, pouting, for my acceptance. I nodded.

The three of us continued to the far end of the building, but my mind was spinning. I couldn't figure out how a girl like Lilly could have ever entered the armed services. A regular metallic clang echoed in the barracks. I searched for it’s source but couldn't find it.

We paused at the next bed down. A bespectacled girl with a short haircut was reading a hardcover, obviously trying to mind her own business.

"This is Private Hakamichi. Shizune," Emi said

Emi picked up a notepad,which was sitting at the foot of the girls bed, and scribbled on it. She handed the paper to the glasses girl, who wrote a reply. Emi passed the notepad to me and I read the message.

>Hello Private Nakai.
>You may call me Private Hakamichi.
>I look forward to working with you.

"Thanks..." I muttered.

"This is Shizune." Lilly's voice came out dry. "She won't do anything unless you write it down first."

"She's hard to deal with sometimes, but she's nice if you don't mind writing a lot." Emi said, looking concerned.

I didn't have a response for this situation. Compared to Lilly and Private Hakamichi, my heart condition could be considered normal.

Shizune was staring at us. She picked up her book, but was waiting for us to leave.

"How come she only talks through notes?" My voice was hesitant.

"Um... I don't know but... we’re pretty sure she's..." Emi started.

"She's what?" I prompted her.

"Well... severely Autistic." Lilly finished for her.

"Oh." I said and the three of us continued again.

Passing three empty beds, we stopped at the back wall. A girl sitting cross-legged watched us approach. There was something strange about her, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

"Rin." Emi greeted her. "Hisao, er, Private Nakai is here. Where did Hanako go?"

"She went to the head the moment your friend walked in," the sitting girl replied, motioning towards me. "I can see why she doesn't like him. He's pretty suspicious."

The sitting girl looked me in the eye, waiting for my reaction. I didn't have a chance to come up with anything. The sitting girl stood up, and when she did, I realized all at once what was off about her.

"You..." I began, but thought better of it.

"I?" the girl standing before me asked.

I didn't say anything. I felt a finger poke me from the side. Emi got my attention.

"You can just say it," Emi said. "She's enjoying playing with you. She takes advantage of people like that."

The other girl frowned at this. I mustered up some courage and stated something quite obvious.

"You don't have any arms."

The girls eyes closed into perfect half-circles.

"Oh really? I didn't notice," she said, her voice feigning ignorance. "When could that have happened? Maybe I left them somewhere."

There was no hint of sarcastic intonation. If it weren't for the look on her face, I may have been convinced she had simply misplaced them.

"Alright, alright. That's enough," Lilly said. I was grateful for her interruption.

"Hisao, this is Rin Tezuka. Rin, Hisao Nakai." Emi formally introduced us.

"Great to meet ya, pal. Excuse me if I don't shake your hand." Rin said mockingly.

"Rin!" Emi interjected.

"Alright, alright. I'm just kidding, you know." Rin said.

"Anyway Hisao, you can sleep there." Emi pointed to the third bed from the back wall. "If you need anything, I'm at the other end." She motioned toward the front wall. "And don't be afraid to ask. Oh, the bathrooms are just out the back door. You can't miss ‘em." And Emi started back towards her bed.

"Thanks,” I muttered, still not sure how to process everything that just happened. I heard the *clang* *clang* *clang* echo off the end walls. When I looked down the aisle, I finally saw its source. Emi was wearing prosthetic running blades. In other words, she had no legs.
-----

I didn't sleep that night due to being in a state of shock. After midnight, I heard the back door open. A dark shape walked into the barracks and climbed into the bed on my left. I guessed it was Private Ikezawa, the only one I hadn't met.

She had been in the bathroom for five hours.

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