Sensou no Tegami

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Megumeru
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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:17 am
Location: Land of the Rising Sun

Sensou no Tegami

Post by Megumeru » Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:36 pm

Based on a certain art in the mishimmie
http://shimmie.katawa-shoujo.com/post/v ... ch=shizune
(this story will take some liberal moves considering the KS universe. Bear with me)

Sensou no Tegami =Letters of War=

Index
Prologue -Forgotten Memories-

Question Arcs
Resonance -Hakamichi no Tegami-
Memento -Ikezawa no Tegami-
Echoes -Satou no Tegami-
Cloudland -Tezuka no Tegami-
The Road Home -Ibarazaki no Tegami-

Answer Arcs
-Coming Soon-


Sensou no Tegami

Prologue
The year was 2040, and once again mankind plunged itself into the fires of war. As the world slowly decay in the collapse of resources and society, nations began its inevitable uprising against one another as they vied for the last few remaining natural treasures left on the planet. Millions upon millions of man and women were conscripted to serve and die for what many would believe as pointless manslaughter as governments from all sides formed alliances, factions, and eventually their own distinctive armaments in a matter of both pride and survival. Three factions stood as the primary aggressors: The Pan-Asian Alliance, The Greater European Union, and the North American Coalition, all represented its territory and its lust for survival. For five years, the world burned itself for its inevitable demise as each faction were proven equal, stubbornly fighting in a never-ending stalemate locked in a struggle for survival. There will be no retreat or surrender; defeat meant the annihilation of one’s country united under one banner. But by the end of 2045 on the eve of New Year, many veterans who served under their respective country banded, revolted, and eventually started a coup that would form a 'dark horse' faction meant to replace the governments of the 'Old World'

This was the beginning of the end.

The new 'World Government', later known as the 'Federation', promised the crumbling world of an everlasting peace through unity and cooperation led by a single governmental entity that would span for a thousand year. By March of 2046, the veteran-led 'Federation' marched victoriously as it recruited billions upon billions of soldiers from each respective sides of the war and eliminated the remains of the 'Old World' and brought the end of the 'Third World War' with the start of a golden promise of cooperation and unification. The 'Federation' eventually organized its government quickly and efficiently to divide resources amongst the continents of the planet as each former countries of the 'Old World' were re-designated as 'states', its leaders appointed from local veterans, all of which would answer directly to the central headquarters located in Geneva.
By April of 2046, historians of the new 'Federation' began compiling the records of war left behind by the 'Old World'. Amongst the many data and statistics of engagements, conflicts, and crimes committed by all sides were letters left by its participants for their family, loved ones, and friends. Upon reading these 'war letters', historians began to realize the need to pursue and interview whom these letters are meant for and its writers if they were to compile a complete record of the 'Last Great War'.

A war that was never meant to be...

Through the eyes of its participants and victims...

The writers, and its audiences...

The perpetrators, puppets, and the collateral...

Secrets never meant to be told...

These were the lost records...

The Letters of War.


Author's Note
This is...probably different from most of the fanfics written here. Anyway, you might've noticed the 'World Government' presented in this fic might've reminded you of a certain government written by Robert A. Heinlein's 'Starship Troopers' which, in fact, is what I attempted to base it from. I took some liberties in the story and hey, this isn't as bad as I thought it would be. This fanfic, from what I planned, would mostly feature alternate timelines for the rest of the main cast of KS so bear in mind each chapter are not to be connected with each other--unless told otherwise (say, Lilly's and Hanako's or Misha's and this one). Please read and review!
Last edited by Megumeru on Fri May 18, 2012 5:22 pm, edited 28 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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griffon8
Posts: 1116
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:47 pm
Location: Southeast Michigan, USA

Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by griffon8 » Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:33 pm

I really enjoy the concept of this. Get someone else to look at it first though; your tenses are all over the place, even in the same sentence.
the air tensed in every second that passed in silence as I fidget, squirmed, and sighs upon the many gazes
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

Griffon8's Writing

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Megumeru
Posts: 1260
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:17 am
Location: Land of the Rising Sun

Resonance

Post by Megumeru » Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:18 pm

Based on a certain art in the mishimmie
http://shimmie.katawa-shoujo.com/post/v ... ch=shizune
(this story will take some liberal moves considering the KS universe. Bear with me)

Index
Prologue -Forgotten Memories-

Question Arcs
Resonance -Hakamichi no Tegami-
Memento -Ikezawa no Tegami-
Echoes -Satou no Tegami-
Cloudland -Tezuka no Tegami-
The Road Home -Ibarazaki no Tegami-

Answer Arcs
-Coming Soon-


Resonance
It was easy for anyone to remember the early days of the war. I know it, you know it—hell, even the blind could recognize it. To many of us, it was...uneventful. The sound that echoed across the world was filled with jubilee and patriotism, followed with excitement and curiosity.

But to me…



To me, it was the sound of automatic rifles, artillery fire, heavy walkers, and my mother’s sniffled cry that truly defined what ‘war’ is.

“NAKAI…! GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE!”

“ARTILLERY…! NAKAI, HURRY UP WITH THOSE AMMO AND GET IN THE TRENCHES!”

“WALKERS…! WE HAVE WALKERS INCOMING!! MAN THOSE AT-RIFLES!”

It was late-May, 2044 up in the Korean Front or—what we servicemen would nick as—the ‘Kimchee Grinder’. After four years of war spanning from the island of the Pacific to the borders of the Korean Peninsula, the end of this godforsaken conflict was nowhere in sight. For years, we, the members of the 55th Mechanized Infantry had fought an enemy we no longer saw as ‘degenerates’ or ‘savages’ as our government had once proclaimed, but as equal humans who were unfortunate enough to be used as pawns for the benefit of the politicians back home. Ironically, I have no right to say that as I am the son of a renowned politician who owns the majority of seats in the Diet. Still, I joined this war for a very different reason than most people—I enlisted, mind you.

“Goddamn you’re crazy,” said one of my fellow squad mates as I jumped into the trench. “You could’ve bought the farm early if spending most of your time lingering out there!”

“We still have to hand it to you, Sergeant.” Said another as I passed him the ammo for the Raiden Anti-Armor Rifle—a new line of portable Anti-Armor rifle made by the Morita Corp. “Your reason for joining this war is similarly insane. Who the hell would join this meat grinder just to search for a lost father?”

Yes. My reason for joining this war was to search for my father, who had been missing since April 22nd 2043. That was not the exact date of his disappearance, but an indication of it. Back then, I had still been home tending to my mother and attending school; that date was the last time we ever heard from my father, his last letter before his complete silence. My mother—broken as she is after my father was conscripted on September 5th of 2042—stayed strong and vigilant for any news concerning him while maintaining the Women’s Home Security Council AND her support within the Diet; her ever-present strict personality and commanding aura ensured that position, to say the least. I do have to say, the government was ‘generous’ enough to provide proper treatment and medication for anyone considered ill and disabled who nonetheless would be conscripted—I guess the phrase ‘desperate times’ call for desperate measures’ is legit in this occasion.

“Alright, less chit-chat and more shooting…! We have GEU Walkers 800m inbound with a number of armor and infantry support!” I said with zest and order, prepping them for the battle. “We hold them off here, and this battle is ours! Our reinforcement of Naginata hover tanks and Shogun walkers are coming, ETA 10 minutes; with it, we can push them from this country and earn ourselves a one-way ticket home!”

The ground shakes, the sky cracks, and the orchestra of cannons and air-to-ground fighter-bombers synched its respective melody, signaling the start of the last battle in the Korean Peninsula. After this, it would be a long march to Siberia, China, and Australia.

“FOR THE ALLIANCE…!”

-------------

That is not too long ago, just two years counting back if I remember correctly. Now, in this dimly-lit auditorium, I am before the audience of the ‘Greys’—military historians, war veterans, and ‘elites’ of the newly appointed Federation; the now-recognized ‘World Government’. In here within this hall, countless others before me have stood, confessed, and replied to the call of the Federation and their need to fill the ‘gaps’ in the history of the ‘Last Great War’. They aren’t specific about it though, nor are they keen on informing most of us about what we are supposed to tell them other than these ‘letters’ we are told to carry when summoned. Why letters?
Because these letters—they said—provide a link between the common people and the servicemen during the war.

These are the ‘missing’ links these ‘Greys’ said hold the answer in their quest to fill the blanks in their history textbook. I, for one, am in possession of such letters—not from the front, but from back home. Another reason why I am called here today is due to the recognition by this ‘Federation’ as one of the living ‘writers of war’, and as such I will receive generous compensation for our participation in this entire ordeal. Of course, any sane man would be stupid to have refused such generous support.

"So, Mr..."

"Nakai," I reply as formally as possible to the emotionless figures.

"Yes, Mr. Nakai…so to get our facts straight, you are a sergeant in the 55th Mechanized Infantry and served in the Korean, Siberian, Chinese, and Australian front for the reason of ‘finding your lost father’. You are familiar with the topic of this interview and its objectives, correct?"

“Yes sir, I am.”

“Excellent,” the lead figure replied, “Then we shall not waste our time on any unnecessary conversations. Now, before we delve into a much deeper topic we would like to hear about your father. When was the first time you received letters from him?”

Well, it is a good start of an interview—or what is made to look like one considering all these lightings, isolation, and ‘hush-hush’ these ‘Greys’ appeal to their candidates.

"December 25th, 2042. It was...a gift, so to say, from my father. He couldn't spend Christmas that year after having been drafted, so it felt more like an apology letter to me personally."

-------------

December 25th, 2042. It was a pretty memorable day for me since it was the first time I got to spend my time alone at home as a student. Tokyo was cold as ever, and the conflict that raged made news like hot cakes to a hungry child. I was just home from school when the letter arrived.

“BOY! There’s a mail from your disgrace-of-a-father! Get over here!”

Scratch that, I was not alone after all. Apparently, my mother had decided to send our grandfather to watch over me while she and her friend took on that debate in the Diet concerning the war and possible talk for peace with the GEU.

On the brink of the war, the world was divided into three different sides all vying for one thing that this planet lacks: resources. Everything, from oil, steel, wood, iron to natural gasses was exhausted and with it, the talk of cooperation and peace. There were plans of expanding our reach into space with the proposed ‘ascension project’, but that too was going nowhere when many nations literally up each other’s throats. Up on the West, there’s the Greater European Union—abbreviated as GEU—which spanned from the coasts of Greenland, the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, and to the Siberian wasteland of Russia. By far, they were the prime aggressors compared to the North American Coalition considering the amount of land they held and annexed. The North American Union—or the NAC for short—was to our East, and they were a combination of North America, Mexico, South America, and Cuba; Canada was included in their alliance, to my surprise. And then there were we, the Pan-Asian Alliance, the PAA, or the ‘Alliance’ as we nicknamed ourselves. Our territory spanned from Japan, Korea, to the South Pacific, and up to the Middle East. Australia was not part of our territory, but instead was part of the GEU after it pledged its loyalty to ‘King and Country’. With this, the background of the war was set. With the failure of peace negotiations later in 2039, the entire world was set for an all-out, two-front free-for-all.

At that time, such worries about politics or war hadn’t set its teeth into me; I was more worried about finishing my homework and reports for the student council than anything happening outside.

“Dad sent us a letter…? Really…?”

“Yes, a letter from that embarrassment,” replied my grandfather, crossing his arms and thumping his chest. “In my days, we men were never to leave our family behind for some petty conflict—even if that meant dodging recruiting officers! We
were to support our family with pride and distinction! Not leave the women and children to fend for themselves; speaking of which, that uncle of yours, too! Disgraceful…!”

“But mother’s story about her high school and how she met father pretty much told me that you ‘left’ her to ‘care for her-self’?”

“YOU DARE TALK BACK TO YOUR GRANDFATHER, BOY!?”

It was never a good idea to bring up such topics to my mother’s old man. He was quite an ass-hat…sometimes.

“Maybe your mother left to fend for herself, but she is different! I did so like a lion who would throw his cub down the cliff so it will be great! Despite marrying that ‘disgrace’, she showed the country what she’s capable of and won herself a secure position in the Diet! She’s a proud member in the line of…”

By this time, my grandfather would ramble on about ‘pride’, ‘honor’, and ‘dedication’, as well as about ‘what it takes to be a man’; I blocked out most of it as I was too excited over my old man’s letter. Still, his ass-hat of an attitude was just a cover for the all-caring, all-loving, high expectations father he was—my mother and father’s wedding photo proves it. Seeing my grandfather toasting my old man, tears running in his eyes, and his moist cheeks in the photos that chronicled the wedding gave me that sense of satisfaction knowing what he really was.

“…and that is why YOU shall not be a disappointment!”

“E-excuse me…?” Like I said, I had blocked out the rest of it. And so it ended with another lengthy lecture…

“DISGRACEFUL! All this advice and you are spacing out?? Where did you inherit that trait? -From your father!? DISGRACEFUL…!”

We won’t get into that part—his lecture, I mean. Truth be told, my family owes my grandfather quite a debt considering how he managed to kept us away from government hands for a hefty two years before he lost it. I am not sure what he did exactly, but I believe his connections helped him to maintain that distance between ‘us’ and the ‘old government’—I was too young and stupid at that time to realize this, but now I know. My uncle was the first to be drafted on August 2041, then my dad later on September 5th of 2042.

“Now, I suppose you wish to read that letter your old man sent you. I shall bother you no further and—before I forget—Merry Christmas.”

A smile crept up my face. Thank God he decided not to take this any further. “Thanks grandfather…and Merry Christmas to you too!”

“Don’t forget to tell your mother; I believe she’ll be happy to hear this.”

-------------

The letter was—as I said before—more of an apology. In it he wrote what he was doing, his well-being, the people he served with, as well as how he missed us dearly. My mother smiled that day and made yakiniku for us to celebrate Christmas; an empty seat with a complete set of utensils was present at the table acting as a spot for my father, almost as if we were waiting for him to be back home. My grandfather disagreed with the general idea, but my mother insisted and—with the help of her friend—convinced him to take his seat at the dining table, all four of us including my old man. Of course, my old man was never there that day.’

“Concerning your father’s conscription in late-2042, Mr. Nakai,” interrupts one of the ‘Greys’. It seems he’s translating what the other guy beside him is saying in what appear to be…sign language?

Hey…that IS sign language.

“What were you and your family’s general response when he was conscripted?”



“Excuse me?”

“We asked about your family’s general response to his conscription.”

“Ah…” I click my tongue, swallow a ball of spit, and turn away from their gazes. “Right...”

If there is a question I wish to avoid, that would be it. The initial response of our family was mostly negative—my mother and I can’t blame them, and for once my grandfather stood on our side in this matter. There was a lot of screaming, crying, a lot of pushing and hitting, and when it was all over it felt as if you just lost a piece of yourself somewhere in Okinawa, where then a local, westerner or tourists took it and spat on it. It felt like life was a big joke that God decided to play on you. But really, should I tell them that? Should I tell them that my strong and proud mother had fallen on her knees to beg the officials not to take him away? Should I even tell them that these men didn’t even hesitate to hit my mother AND father when he jumped in to protect her? I don’t know; I just don’t know…

There are things in this world that men are not allowed to dwell upon; this is one of them.

“I…do not wish to talk about it…”

Slowly, my mind slips back to that time.

-------------

The news of his conscription came on September 5th of 2042. That was a given a fact. But his ‘pickup’ came two days later in the form of a green truck escorted by two men in uniform—lightly armed. It was a sunny day; the clouds didn’t even obstruct the rays of Earth’s longest running light company when I gazed at the usual parade of military fighters across the sky of Tokyo. The air, however, was a lot heavier at home than in the city...
I noticed them, men wearing the distinctive green-grey uniform from the PAA headquarters knocking on the door of my house. My heart was pumping, my foot drawn to a halt, and I began to take short, heavy breaths in between my observations as they waited for someone to open the door. I resented going over there; like hell I’m greeting them! Next thing I knew, I’d be dragged along with them like what happened to my uncle back in ’41!

“This is the PAA Recruitment Services! Is anyone home at the moment?” one of the men started pressing on the doorbell. The other banged his fist to the door. “If there is anyone here, answer the door or we will use force!”
It didn’t take long until someone answered it, and by the second someone did the door swung open with force from the men in uniform. I started my walk to the door—both curious and worried on what was going on, hugged the wall as I moved closer, peaked around the corner, and listened to the conversation between the two men and the person who had answered the door—my dad.

“Good evening, sir. We assume you know the reasons why we are here to make this visit?”

“Please, just a little longer! I am still in the middle of packing and right now my—“

“We can’t afford any more delays, Mr. Nakai!” one of them interrupted with gust. “The PAA has called you to serve your country in this time of need, and you dare to turn your back?”

“No, I mean there’s this and…”

His conversation was cut short when he heard the footsteps of someone else close behind him—my mother. I couldn’t quite make out what they said to each other—probably due to the distance—but when the men began barging in, asking him where his luggage were, then dragging him from his house I realized where this was all headed for. My mother didn’t hesitate to leap directly to my father and hug him tight, crying and tugging him not to leave her as they were engaged in a one-sided tug-of-war. Immediately, I built up my courage to charge right into the conflict and take side with my mother as the men began to raise their fists.

“YOU DARE OPPOSE THE CALL OF DUTY??”

“There will be repercussions for this act under Article 12 of the Pan-Asian Alliance! Cease and Desist!”
Even so, my mother was persistent on clinging to him; my father, too, was desperately protecting my mother from the men. For a short moment, he stared me right in the eyes with the determination and authority I assumed he’d learned from my mother’s side of the family.

“Go tell your mother everything will be alright.”

“Dad…?”

“Tell her that I will be okay, and that I will write often. I’ll try to make it back home once it is all over, but if I can’t do so then you will have to take responsibility for this family.”
My throat dried up and my lips were frozen speechless.

“So please, don’t wait for me.”

I hesitated. Doing so would meant saying ‘goodbye’ to my old man who had raised me for eighteen years, not knowing for certain when I would be able to see him again. But disobeying his orders meant exposing my family and me to repercussions by the PAA; that often led to further complications and dire consequences. The more I hesitated, the longer this continued. For the first time in my life, I was held responsible for the lives of others I care about—a decision that would forever position us on the black list of the PAA or the absence of my old man. My mother often told me that in life, ‘sometimes the right decision is not the most popular one’. This was one of those times.

I tapped my mother’s shoulder once, twice, then three times to finally get her attention and stopped the struggle between my family and the men in uniform. I took deep breaths, sighs, and started telling my mother what dad had said earlier. She stared at me intently, probably wanting to lecture me until my ears bled for taking a side against her, but she was soon taken by my father’s word when she looked at him worriedly and distraught.

“[Don’t worry,]” he said. “[I will be okay. The time I have spent with you is precious, and I will try to make it back here in one piece—for you and our son.]”

Abruptly, my father stood between my mother and the two men, his hand stretched wide as if protecting her from anymore abuses they might have pulled. I kneel beside her, my hand resting on her shoulder before I hugged her as both officers proceeded to escort father into the truck. Before he left the house, he turned to us and—with a smile and confidence—proclaimed. “[I’ll write! So don’t worry about me!]”

That was the last time I saw my father eye to eye. My mother, with her tear-swollen eyes and her resolve nodded at him and finally waved goodbye one last time before dashing forward and landing a soft kiss as his parting gift.



I felt terrible to have omitted my father’s last message to ‘not wait for him’ from my mother’s attention.

-------------

“Mr. Nakai?”

I snap back in attention, reminded by the voice of the ‘Greys’ that trails off in the auditorium after their last question. Of course, all that has happened are just memories of my past which forever haunt me in my sleep. That was the first time I’d seen my mother break down in tears and collapse, a mirror of what her character is—strong, determined, vigilant, and disciplined. The next time I’d see her like that was when I decided to enlist in the military with for reason I was not keen to explain to my mother—even to this day, she never understood the reason ‘why’ I joined.

Nor does she know whether I am alive or not, although that was partly my fault.

“Sir…?”

“We asked you about your family’s general response before you spaced out. Do you, or do you not have anything to tell us about this?”

“Well, sir…as patriotism was considered subjective at that time,” I take a deep breath and sigh. If my grandfather sees this, he’ll call out what a disgrace I am for ‘showing weaknesses. “I’ll say that we weren’t exactly thrilled about the news.”

“So what made you decide to enlist?”

“Well, there’s….”

I pause for a second, letting the atmosphere and the thick smoke of the cigar sink right in to get my composure. ‘This is just an interview’, I say to myself almost a thousand times as a constant reminder that I am not in particular trouble to have been called here. Meanwhile, the guy in the back and his sign-language fluent partner continuously discuss whatever is provided to them by their colleagues; my first guess was that he too is a veteran of the war, but upon further inspection his physic and build are far too frail for that which led me to believe that he is a ‘deaf-mute’. I have little to no interest in the guy himself, but more in what they are talking about—I too am fluent in sign-language.
Of course, this is no time to be translating what they are saying—I understand it clearly, but now is not the time. I still have a story to tell about home, my mother, and my leave…

-------------

It was late at night, about two to three hour past midnight. The thunderstorm an hour ago had kept me awake for much of the night and forced me to listen to the maddening rhythm of the clock accompanied by the drizzle outside. Just outside my door, the dimmed corridor that had lasted for the past hour was as quiet as the solemn night as every member had laid to rest. It was raining. Having been woken up an hour ago, I couldn’t go back to sleep and was instead staring at the white ceiling of my room—sometimes, the words my father had spoken to me before he left us echoed in my dreams; the thought of taking full responsibility for the family as a man had never crossed my mind. I was still a first year college student, and most of the things that were on my mind were either passing my classes with a top rank or getting a good job after it was all over.

The thought of joining the PAA Military never even once crossed my mind.

After being sick and tired of watching the ceiling for another ten minutes, I stood up and decided to head downstairs to the kitchen for a glass of water—that was my initial plan in hopes of getting some sleep. But as I walked past my parents’ bedroom, I noticed the dim light that came from within and with it, a short, sniffled voice of someone crying. I was rather hesitant to check who it was; the other day, my mother asked her friend to stay with us for both company and convenience considering their job. Curiosity did get the better of me, and slowly I crept to the door and pushed it open intending to see who it really was.

The date was April 22nd, 2043. I would forever remember that date as the day where he was officially ‘spirited away’.

There on her reading table, with her glasses neatly tucked beside her was my mother with a letter in her hand, sobbing quietly. I didn’t have the chance to read the letter we received this morning, but judging from my mother’s reaction I believed it was more bad news relating to my old man up at the front. For a minute I stood there unfazed, my eyes trained at her unusual behavior—in the 19 years I had spent with her, this was the second time I saw her to be so different from her usual demeanor. Sadly, it wouldn’t be the last. I took a step forward, wanting to ask her what was wrong or to comfort her in any way possible, but digressed at the thought of being powerless over the entire ordeal. I never had control of the situation when my father was taken away, nor was I able to comfort her. But it was always my mother’s sharp intuition that surprised me, when at that last second before I slipped through the door, she noticed me and faced me; her eyes were swollen with tears.

She wiped her tears, took deep breaths, and fixed her glasses.

[Why aren’t you in bed,] she asked. [You still have classes tomorrow; you shouldn’t be up this late.]

[I’m sorry…]

[But since you’re here, is there something you would like to know?]

[Well…] I stop myself, my lips trembled and my hand shook. I was unable to bring myself to ask her about the reason ‘why’ she was crying or ‘what’ was in the letter. But as quiet as I was, she always managed to read my mind—said she learned it through her experience with dad.

[Thank you for your concerns.] She smiled, stood up, walked towards me, and embraced me for a long minute. I cried for as long as I could, knowing how much of a fool I was for not understanding the pain she went through when he was taken away.

That night, I went back to bed feeling dejected and powerless.

I read the letter my old man sent me the next morning. Unlike his previous, it was filled with apologies and resentment for his fate out there in the front. It was filled with dejection, remorse, and most importantly despair of his situation and the war that had no end in sight. I was furious, angry and more or less disappointed of my old man for bringing such words into the family. This is the man I looked up to? The man who, from that letter, was left in despair and dejected? Did he even realize how much pain mother had to endure as she waited for him day by day? I couldn’t bring myself to finish that letter and decided to slip it back into the envelope; mother might have understood him a little better than I did, but that didn’t grant him the right to give up life just like that! Hell, if he wished for it so much, why not just drop down and die so we wouldn’t have to fret over it any longer?



I really, really should have been careful of what I wished for.

A month passed, two months, then three. After that, an entire year passed with no word from my father. During that time, the PAA proudly announced its progress in the Korean Peninsula with the deployment of what they call the ‘Nova’-class warhead that managed to break the stalemate that had been in place since 2042; I was in my twenties, second year of college when I heard of the news. My mother was increasingly becoming more and more worried about my father’s whereabouts, hoping that he would write back as soon as possible, hoping that her letters would reach him, and hoping that this delay was just a fault caused by the affairs abroad. Then, on May 5th of 2044, two men in PAA uniform came and gave us the news concerning my father. My mother read the letter and collapsed to the floor, as if her soul had been taken away right before us right there and then. I helped her up to the sofa, and when I read what was in that letter I realized what was going on.

My father had been declared missing, along with the entire Japanese 22nd Infantry Division on the Korean Peninsula.

There were no specific reasons, exact time and location, nor what had brought such catastrophe to an entire Division which consisted of hundreds, if not thousands of men. And then it sparked on me. It was something that runs in the family—our determination, persistence, and stubbornness about swallowing facts as a whole. Maybe ‘dense’ should be included in that list too. As I gazed at my mother and her friend, my cursing grandfather who had caught wind of the news, and the two men in uniform as they left our dwelling, I was determined to see this to an end.

I would search for him. Alive or dead, I swore on my own grave that I would not return until I found his whereabouts.

And thus, on May 10th of 2044, I enlisted with the Japanese 55th Mechanized Infantry Division.

It wasn’t easy to tell my mother of this decision—honestly I wished to keep it from her. I secretly began packing my luggage, clothes and memorabilia of my family to carry with me as a ‘charm’—the cat-doll my mother gave to me when I was still a child was also included. But on the night before my leave, my mother caught me off-guard and asked me what I was up to. I had no other options, and so I told her of my decision without telling her the full extent of my plan. She was furious, confused, and yet at the same time felt rejected for being left in the dark and disappointed with my action. I couldn’t back out anymore, however; what chance I had had been washed away the day I stepped into the recruiting office. The next morning, my mother’s friend was waiting by the door, arms crossed and looking extremely displeased. I didn’t waste my time to say goodbye to my family, in fear of never wanting to leave. And so, I stepped out the door with haste.

“Hii-chan,” she called out. “Are you sure you’re just going to ‘leave’? Your dear mother is still in bed, you’re not going to say goodbye to her?”

“No…” I replied, feeling slightly guilty. “If I do, I might never step outside.”

There was a brief silence. The transport truck that had been sent to pick me up honked its horn once.

“…will you be ok?”

“Yeah…”

“You will write back home, will you?”

“Y-yeah…” I noticed at this point that I began to stifle the tears I had been holding.

“You’ll return home for dinner, will you?”

“Y-yeah…!”

“Then…” Her voice was stifled. My eyes began to swell. “Stay safe!”

I never saw or heard from my mother since. As her friend often act as her ‘Hermes’, I considered her presence by the front gate to be my mother’s ‘goodbye’. I tried not to look back since.

-------------

The ‘Greys’ who are facing me begin to discuss with one another. Their eyes constantly shift from one guy to the next, then to me. What they are discussing is almost inaudible, their voice brilliantly suppressed by the whisper and the tapping of their shoes and pens. Of all the ‘Greys’ present, probably the ‘loudest’ one I single out is the deaf-mute who uses sign language and his interpreter—he’s too skinny to be a veteran, so I’m guessing he is born as one. Their discussion is short, but brief. They might be obscured by the dark lighting of this room, but it’s enough for me to read what he is saying to his translator.

[The Marshall is getting impatient,] He states. [We aren’t getting enough information from him regarding the ‘weapon’; it’s a long shot to find details of it from recounts.]

Weapon, he said? Is there another purpose of this interview? I couldn’t catch what his friend said—oh, wait of course; his translator will translate that too.

[His records indicate his involvement on multiple fronts—Australia’s one of them; maybe we could ask him about it.]

[What we are looking for are the effects—not survivor stories! The two Nova detonations in 44’ happened for a reason, and they’re not showing results; we need evidence—testimonies, data, statistics, everything!]


Two detonations…? Is it about the ‘Nova-class’ warhead? Was there another two aside from Korea and Australia? But in the war, there had been more than two detonations happening all across the globe. What are they talking about?

[We might have to be a little forward about this—we need the information soon, the Marshall is getting more impatient by the minute.]

[Agreed, but caution is advised; we can’t afford to leak this to the public.]


They nod in unison, their attention returns to me with haste, and their eyes trained on my next move. “Mr. Nakai, we would like to ask about your experience in the war—will that be okay?”
So there is something going on behind this interview—an ‘original purpose’… Who is this ‘Marshall’ guy? What makes the ‘Nova-class’ warhead so important to them? More importantly, what is the ‘Nova-class’ warhead? The military never gave us any specific details about the weapon and, to be honest, I have never seen anything like it! The light generated from the explosion is hot, but not exactly ‘fire-hot’; it was also blinding too, like the glare of the sun on a crisp day. The yield of the explosion is uncertain, but if I were to estimate it by mere guest and observation it could possibly total up to two-three Hiroshima bombs—maybe more. And more importantly, what was left of the impact is…

“Would it be okay for you to describe your experience in the war—particularly, your involvement in Australia?”

Well, whatever it is these guys are looking for, it doesn’t concern the initial objective of ‘filling the blanks in the last Great War’. I’ll cooperate, and see how much I can dig out from them—for now.

“It’s alright with me, sir. That’s why I am here…”

-------------

The ‘land of the great outback’, the ‘great outdoors’, or simply ‘Australia’; it was the last frontier for many of us as personnel of the PAA 55th Mechanized Infantry Division, but the first as soldiers of the recently established ‘Federation’. By this time, I had served the PAA for nearly a year until the disastrous ‘Battle of Trans-Siberia’ which nearly claimed the lives of most members of the 55th Mechanized Infantry Division—I was among the lucky few who survived. The operation was supposed to be a simple search and destroy—locate any GEU POW camps, liberate the prisoners, find any intel, then rinse and repeat. This is one operation I couldn’t afford to miss, knowing the possibility of finding my father amongst the POWs. The operation went smoothly for the first few weeks, with our division liberating up to eight different POW camps scattered across Siberia—some of them were marked by the GEU as ‘abandoned’. The men and women we found on these ‘abandoned’ and ‘forgotten’ camps were exhausted, some were barely alive, while others had resorted to cannibalism—they were often put out of their misery by orders of our officers.

But by January 29th of 2045, we hit a snag.

The Siberian front was expansive—too expansive. Logistics became problematic, and slowly our offensives were grounded to a halt with GEU winter units striking deep through our lines and successfully disrupting any hope for resupply. By February, we were on full retreat to China carrying whatever we could as the GEU staged its ‘Winter Offensive’.

“AMBUSH…! GET TO COVER!!”

“SOMEONE GET THE LIEUTENANT! WE’RE GETTING—AUGH…!”

“MAN DOWN!”

The distinctive echo of the GEU’s Tungsten Rifles cracked the blizzard sky, successfully disoriented the men and women of the 55th Mechanized Infantry who were unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire. We were in the center of their kill-zone, armed with our standard-issue Smart Rifle and escorting IFVs and halftracks full of wounded, food, and munitions. The GEU assault was relentless, spared nothing in their advance, and eliminated the bulk of our underequipped division into scraps and bodies. We were outgunned, outmaneuvered, and outnumbered—with such combination at our hands, it was a sure disaster.

“Sergeant…! What are we supposed to do…!? We need orders!”

“The Lieutenant is dead, sir! His IFV just blew up!”

“Sir, we have GEU L5 Walkers moving in, 500m! Orders…?”

I was confronted by my men. Our commanding officer bought the farm when the forward GEU ambush element destroyed his IFV with their portable rail-gun, our munitions were almost exhausted, and we had little chance of victory to fight back. Surrender was our only option.

Of course, such actions were considered a disgrace in my family.

“Grab what you can, and hump it!” I replied with haste. Like the rest of them, I too was afraid. “There’s only a small window of opportunity; when that time comes, we’ll fight our way out of this and link up with the rest of the division at the rendezvous point. Everyone have their maps with them?”

“SIR…!”

I loaded a new magazine, cocked the rifle, and quickly calibrated my helmet visors—Smart Rifles worked in conjunction with it to identify friend or foe, measure distances, and calculate weaknesses on hard targets. “Good.”

“What about the POWs?”

“This blizzard and our luck prevented us from evacuating them earlier, so take them with us if you can but leave them if they became a hindrance. We’re stretched thin as it is, and like it or not it is our only chance of survival! Do you get me?”

“YES SIR!”

We were trapped under fire, our vehicles were disabled, and we were outnumbered and outgunned ten to one. As much as I hated doing this routine, I couldn’t help sometimes seeing this entire ordeal as a ‘competition’, ‘challenge’, or a ‘game’ in the ‘survival’ category; it’s not the right attitude to take upon matters of life and death, but it often did give me that courage and motivation.

I would bring my men out of this alive, and that was a pretty clear goal if you ask me. “COVERING FIRE…!”

When the cold wind hit our faces, our rifles barked with ferocity and signaled the men to run as fast as they could with what they could carry. The GEU realized this, returned fire, and cut-down the first three runners before the scum were gibed by our grenades. The next group of runners began to move after we laid another barrage of cover fire—both from the first runner group and our staging position. Next the third, the fourth, the fifth along with the POWS in tow, and then came me and my squad, the last few survivors of the rear guard. We ran through ankle deep snow with whatever we could carry, under fire from GEU snow troopers and their L5 walkers. Thankfully, the snow storm concealed us from their barrage—my cat-doll which I hung on the back of my gear nearly lost its leg when a tungsten round grazed it. The POWs and some of my men weren’t so lucky, and perished either during the retreat or due to the extreme weather. We barely escaped with our lives that day.

Later on in China, we were engaged by the GEU for another year before their offensive was ground to a halt—we were 10km from Beijing. From what I heard after our extraction earlier that year, only 1/3 of the entire 55th Mechanized Infantry Division were accounted for, with many more considered ‘missing in action’. The prisoners we liberated on our offensive didn’t fare any better than us; most were returned to the frontline by the PAA, recaptured, and or executed on sight by the GEU. The operation was a disaster for the PAA, but for me it served as a short breather and relief—knowing that my father wasn’t among the prisoners we’d rescued or in one of the ‘forgotten’ camps should have had discouraged me, but the fact that he didn’t have to go through that entire ordeal reassured me. He was still out there, somewhere in one of the hundreds of POW camps in Siberia we never had the chance to liberate, and that I am sure of.

My other form of relief came in form of letters; particularly from my mother.

Her letters were always filled with worries and concerns, but they always glittered with words of comfort and love. I regretted leaving her each time I a letter; her words were strong, commanding, but fair and comforting at the same time. It was sufficient to break my resolve. Her friend had been staying with her throughout her ordeal, and she would often replaced my mother’s hand writing and tell me how the situation was at home. She had been in constant debate with the members of the PAA in pursue of a peace negotiation with the GEU and the NAC; much to my dismay, she had lost quite a number of seats in the Diet for reasons she was never keen to elaborate on. Most of the time, I was worried about her well-being after I heard about the two fire-bombings that happened in Sendai and Saitama. But nevertheless, we managed to stay in touch for a year until…

…until Australia.

“Hey Sarge,” called one of my men. “Why are you carrying that old cat-doll with you? It’s purple and it sticks out like a sore thumb to our uniform.”

“The only thing that sticks out in here is your head, Private. Now keep your mouth shut or you’ll bite your tongue; we’re landing in 30 seconds.”

Our final assignment with the PAA came on January 17th of 2046, destination: Australia. With the offensive in China stalled earlier that year, the GEU decided that the best way to ‘win’ this war was to strike the ‘soft belly of the dragon’, and that meant attacking our southern territories of South East Asia. Thankfully, our intelligence caught wind of this operation and soon enough decided to launch a major offensive on the Australian continent—this was done despite the fact the NACs were harassing us on Midway, Wake, and Hawaii. When the orders were given, the PAA devoted five army groups to the operation, each assigned to take over and control certain territories in Australia. Our objective was the city of Darwin in the Northern Territories. Another simple ‘search and destroy’ mission—or so HQ had told us.

They were never simple in my book.

“CLEAR THE HOVERCRAFT! GO! GO! GO!”

When you’re in the thick of the action, there’s always that short moment of doubt whether you will make it out alive. When our captain ordered us to disembark, a bullet whizzed past me and immediately killed the guy beside me. Another came, then another, and before long we were greeted with a hail of tungsten rounds which tore through our men like a hot knife through butter. Most of us that managed to disembark were quickly pinned under whatever cover we could find, it be the wreckage of our hovercraft, beach obstacles, or rocks that littered across our landing zone. I ordered my men to stay put, using wreckage as cover while we waited for orders and reinforcements. Just two minutes after our first touchdown, our walkers came ashore and tore through the defenses as our airborne troopers with their gunships deploy behind the lines and push inland.

“Get up! On your feet!” screamed the Lieutenant, prompting us to follow his lead. “We still have a city to take and a war to win!”

The Lieutenant, along with the majority of the 55th Mechanized Infantry, was vaporized in what happened in Australia a week later.

The close quarter fights that happened in Darwin were short, vicious, and brutal. Often we were forced to use our wrist blades to gut the GEU trooper up close, other times our anti-armor rifles were improvised as heavy sniper rifles to flush out snipers from their spot. The walkers we deployed didn’t have much effect on the battle as they were exposed to GEU magnetic anti-armor grenades and grenadiers stationed in the buildings. Nonetheless, we secured the city in one week and set up a forward headquarters at the city’s airfield. Everything was looking good, and for once the PAA seemed to have regained its footing and was on the offensive.

“Listen up; we have a new task at hand.” The NCOs and squad leaders of the remnants of the 55th Mechanized gathered around the Captain as he started his briefing. “We have orders to join an offensive down south.”

“Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do anyway?”

“The order came a little earlier than anticipated, Lieutenant. Apparently, intelligence wants us to finish dealing with the GEU here in Australia to handle a ‘dark horse’ faction.”

“Dark horse…?” I asked. “You mean the faction led by the veterans? They are negligible; they’re still guerilla size last I heard.”

“Then you’ve been missing a lot of news, Sergeant.”

The Captain paced to the right and picked up a remote for the monitor. The monitor played the all-too-familiar PAA News, a government-owned agency, and showed us the first ‘face’ of the ‘Federation’; the faces of men, women, and child who banded together in arms under one flag determined to stop the war. The fact that this was happening all around the world in different countries was frightening—the thought of having to return home to kill what I stood for was chilling.

“In recent months, these ‘rebels’ have gained significant power and support. We are to finish this operation quick; High Command wants us to return home and quell these dissidents.”

“But sir, they’re our…”

“Our enemy, Sergeant. Get your facts straight.”

There never was a clear confirmation on whose side was ‘right’ in the war; whether it was the PAA, the GEU, or the NAC, they all had different reasons to fight for—primarily, survival. When the ‘Federation’ first appeared in the middle of the war, it had the clearest objective of all the factions: to end the meaningless bloodshed and unite under one common flag, and as such all other factions declared this ‘dark horse’ as an enemy.

We commenced the operation at 0500 hours, launching a full-scale push from Darwin down towards neighboring towns and cities, up towards the desert of Australia. My squad was aboard an attack gunship nicknamed the ‘Tengu’, part of Attack Group Alpha, the tip of the spear into Australia. We were to be the first to expand as army groups two, three, and four prepared to leave at 0530. We were airborne, about 300 feet above the ground when I felt a slight chill down my spine—it’s that feeling you get when something was off, misplaced, or awkward. In fact, the entire operation felt awkward; everything went a little too smooth, High Command even gathered its officers in Darwin for a meeting.

But then, at 0515 hours a flash erupted from behind us at Darwin.

We couldn’t tell what it was—hell, within that chaos alone it’s a miracle anyone could tell what just hit us at a short notice. The ground below erupted, the gunship spun out of control, and from within Darwin a ball of light expanded and engulfed the city, the army, and all its surroundings. My gunship plummeted, crashed and tumbled across the dirt a few clicks from Darwin along with forty-fifty others of the first wave. I crawled out of the wreckage and hid under the shade of the wreck as a deafening white noise echoed in my head when we—or what was left of my squad—was engulfed in the light.

I closed my eyes.

The radio crackled, and died.

There was a brief silence.

And then there were none.

-------------

“So, how did you manage to survive?”

“I’m not sure…” I reply, eyes avoiding contact. “I honestly thought I was a goner. When that light hit me, my surroundings were instantly lit—the gunship’s structure may have saved me from certain death, but that’s all I can think of.”

“Then, what happened?”

“When I had come to, I was standing in a barren wasteland. A few clicks from my position were what used to be Darwin, now flattened without a trace.”

The ‘Greys’ murmur to one another, then turn their attention back to me. “How did you survive?”

My seat shifted, and I uncomfortably readjust my position. “A ‘Federation’ trooper found me a week later. I had been conscious for a week or so after the crash, surviving with just the water in my canteen and the rations that had been distributed while I wandered the desert hoping to find a living commanding officer or at least a familiar face. I had no means of communication, the radio operator was killed in action, the radio he carried was shorted, and even if I do have a working one, I don’t know who I should contact. I passed out after I ran out of food and water.”

“After that,” I continue. “I woke up in a ‘Federation’ controlled field hospital tent, interrogated by a military officer and presented with the option to join the fight as a new soldier; he also mentioned the guarantee of food, water, and bedding. Of course, I couldn’t refuse.”

I sigh. “I was tired. I was sick AND tired; sick and tired of the war and the entire ordeal of the foolish two-front, free-for-all exchange between the three factions. I simply gave up on trusting the ‘old government’ and joined the ‘Federation’ which promised unity and an end to the war.”

“Did you manage to keep in touch with your family? Any letters you sent to them considering your survival?”

I pause. It is probably a mistake in my part—for all I know, my family back home assumed me to be ‘killed in action’ in Australia. I didn’t bother sending any more letters after that—another reason was me joining the ‘Federation’ on a whim; such cowardice would have been an embarrassment in my family, and to them I am already dead. Add to it, the fear of safety towards my family—if the PAA figured I defected to the ‘Federation’, chances are they will be branded as ‘traitors’, interrogated, tortured, and possibly, executed. I don’t want that. It is better if they believe that I’m dead than having them to suffer any further.

“No.”

After my reply, I focus my attention on the pair sitting on the far right corner of the rows of ‘Greys’—the deaf-mute and his translator. The entire hall is currently discussing on what they should do next, thus I have all the time in the world to read what they are saying. As swift as his hands are, it is easy to read his movements when you are raised in similar background.

[He doesn’t show any symptoms of the weapon unlike any of the subjects we interviewed earlier,] He said to his colleague. Symptoms…? Isn’t the ‘Nova-class’ warhead a heat-based weapon? [His conditions are stable, and there are no indications of PTSD or hallucinations]

Is there supposed to be in the first place?

[This interview is fruitless—it’s the same thing we heard over and over again. Prepare the next subject.]

Wait, so what are they looking for? What is the purpose?

[He should consider himself lucky. What was his name again?]

[Nakai.]

[Ah, yes. So he is that Nakai; I knew I’ve heard the name a week before.]

Wait…there was another ‘Nakai’ before me? Could it be…?

[He’s pitiful, but he did provide sufficient data. If only this ‘Nakai’—if only he could learn the fate of his father after Korea, he’d realize what a fool he is.]

Son of a…

They knew. So they knew all along what happened to him, my objective for participating in the war, what happened in Korea, Siberia, and Australia—all of it even before I stepped my foot into this installation? Not to mention, they knew the whereabouts of my old man! And here they never bothered to tell me about it…?

“So you guys knew…”

Their discussions are brought to a halt. My interruption successfully gained their attention. “So you guys knew all along even before I stepped into this facility?”

“Excuse me Mr. Nakai, we don’t understand what you…”

“SHUT UP!” I snap. Their eyes tenses and their hand motion the guards on the perimeter to be at the ready. “Watch me.”

I raise my hands; my eyes scan the petrified audience as I begin to ‘speak’.

[Do you understand what I’m saying, you bunch of sick degenerate f***s?]

The ‘Grey’ sitting on the top right corner freeze on contact. I grin victoriously, showing a slight dominance over these men.

“Mr. Nakai, how did you understand…”

“[I AM THE PROUD SON OF SHIZUNE HAKAMICHI AND HISAO NAKAI,]” I continue, this time accompanied with a voice as I give into my rage. “[And I demand an answer from the lot of you!]”

“You’re the son of that fervent politician…!” reply one of them. “The ‘Silent Tiger’ of the Diet…!”

“[This isn’t an interview to 'find the missing link’ in history, is it?]” I conclude. “[You’re looking for something else—that WEAPON! And I believe my father has a hand in this!]”

“Mr. Nakai, we assured you that...”

“[WHERE IS HE!?]”

The ‘Greys’ exchange gazes, their eyes signaling the guards to surround me as a precaution; I sense fear and distress—funny thing is I take pleasure in this. “Please Mr. Nakai, if you maintain this rage any further we will have to...”

“[You know where my father is. And I demand an answer RIGHT NOW!]”

“We assure you, we know no other ‘Nakai’ that is related to…”

“[“LIES…!]”

I spring forward from my seat, my arms stretch far in an attempt to strangle the closest ‘Grey’ I can get my hands on. My lust for information becomes my drive to attack these so-called ‘historians’ and ‘veterans’ regardless of the consequences that will befall me. My action, however, is cut short with a snap of a finger from the furthest ‘Grey’ to the left. It irritates me that I am so close to finding my father, yet he is so far from my reach.

“Guards!”

Two armed men march from each side of the stage and make a mad dash towards me. They are insignificant. With the experience I gained at the front it is easy for me to quickly shake them off, disarm one of them, and use his rifle to hold a combat-ready stance at the other. Quickly refocusing my attention to my surroundings—realizing I am surrounded with armed guards—I ease myself and give the longest stare I have ever give to another man.

The 'Greys' are terrified. Probably not by the fact that I had managed to disarm one of their guards and held the other at gunpoint, but by what I possibly can do to them if their escorts aren’t around to save them.

"Mr. Nakai, if you could please leave this installation and..."

“[Hitsuda,]” my breath is steady, my arms are aching, and my nerves relax as I look no further than the end of this discussion.

"Pardon?"

“[Hitsuda Nakai,]” I reply with the last of my strength and my dry throat. “[This won’t be the last time you’ll hear from a Nakai—or a Hakamichi.]”

I took a deep sigh one last time, my back faced towards them. “[I'll take my leave now; good day.]”

With a swift bow, I raise my chest up high, toss the rifle back to the other guard, and march towards the exit of the facility.

-------------

Maybe it was wrong of me to accuse my father to have taken part in this entire ordeal. Maybe it was wrong of me to search for him in an impulse, leaving my deaf-mute mother, her friend, and my grandfather at home to fend for themselves for the past two years. I haven’t even written anything to them since their last letter in 45’! How am I supposed to face them? To tell them that I have been alive all this time, when in the ‘official’ records of the PAA I am assumed to be ‘Killed in Action’? Not to mention, the last few letters sent by my mother’s friend—Aunt Mikado—before my absence detailed my mother’s slow decline from reality when she learned that I was ‘dead’, and I foolishly decided to postpone my reply to those letters too.

Now it’s all too late.

I am a disgrace, a reject in the Hakamichi bloodline after what I had done for the past two years—my grandfather would gladly behead me or hang me upside down on a flagpole if he ever saw me face to face.
For what I have done to my mother, my family, I am as good as dead to them.



God, I’m an idiot…

“Hicchan…!”

Tell me, do you believe in redemption? I don’t, or I stopped believing it after my experience in the war.

I guess now is a good time to start believing it again…

“Hicchan, what are you doing standing there? Come over here!”

‘Hicchan’. I haven’t heard it for a very long time; my mother told me it was originally my father’s nickname given by Aunt Mikado—or ‘Misha’ as she liked to call her.

“Stop standing there like a statue, boy! Who do you think you are to have the right to feel so ‘high and mighty’ above your elders? Is this what the Hakamichi bloodline has come to? What a disgrace! Get down from there!”

Then there’s grandfather Jigoro, still carrying his katana and being quite an ass-hat. I’m a little relieved to know that he’s using the katana more as his ‘third leg’ than a weapon nowadays.
And then there’s my mother, the once determined, proud, and strict Shizune Hakamichi, standing between my grandfather and Misha with a blank stare in her eyes. Aunt Mikado told me how depressed she had become over the past year in her last few letters I never had chance—or courage to that matter—to reply. I assume that when the PAA officers came to her door, informing her of my status as ‘presumed KIA’ that became the catalyst that destroyed my mother’s resolve; her last letter, written by Misha, was more of a prayer and wish that I would still be alive to read it—I never received the letter until the day I planted my boots back in Japanese soil in March of 2046, just three months after the end of the war. Slowly, I make my way down the steps of the installation to come to terms with my family.

“How did you…”

“The Federation tipped us,” Misha replies. Her huge grin feels so familiar after so long. “They said that a ‘family member’ has been called for the interview. We weren’t exactly sure who it is since…well…”

“I was reported ‘killed’…?”

Misha frowns, her hand stop signing. “Well…yeah.”

“But you’re alive, right?” she continue. “And you’re back just in time for dinner, too!”

I chuckle, releasing the last few bit of pressure in my mind. “Yeah...”

Next, I turn to my grandfather. Even after two years of absence, his demeanor and slightly intimidating presence never change. “Grandfather I…”

“Are you a man, boy?”

His question fazes me for a minute. Again, he repeats the question. “I say again, are you a man?”

“Y-yes…”

“Then lift your chin and look ahead. In my days, men weren’t supposed to watch the floor when walking straight! It’s an embarrassment; a disgrace!”

Still, despite his personality, his odd ways of showing care for his family never cease to amaze me. “Now go and talk to your mother.”

I grit my teeth as I stand face to face with my mother. Her eyes stare at me blankly, as if she had lost herself in a maze made by her own mind. I can’t blame her; the people she cared about, the ones she loved, her life, everything was taken away from her three years ago. Even as I stand before her, she fails to recognize me and keeps her long, dark gaze towards the horizon. Even when Misha attempts to capture her attention, her only response is a short gaze towards her before falling back into the abyss of her mind. I have no one else to blame but myself for putting her through this ordeal. There’s almost nothing left of her old personality, her vigor, her demanding character that bosses the Nakai household around despite her inability to speak; now my mother feels like a shell of her former self. I can’t stand it anymore—my old man and my grandfather told me that it is a ‘disgrace’ for a man to cry, but at times like this I believe it is okay to do so. Slowly I lean forward crying, embracing her, and call out to her ears in vain over and over again.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

Then I feel her hand reach up to me, tapping me once, then twice, and three times which causes me to pull away. She stares me right in the eye; her blank gaze slowly vanishes as tears build up in her eyes. Her hand begins to trace the contours of my face, my hair, and finally lands her palm on my chest, feeling the steady heartbeat. Her hand soon finds its way to the purple cat doll that is firmly attached to my side, feeling its rough texture and shape left by two years of exposure, causing her to recoil in surprise. She twitches, gasps, and recoils before retracing her previous steps. Then, she pulls away and signs.

[Hitsuda…you’re alive!] She signs. [You came back!]

A smile forms on my face, although it is more of a ‘tragic’ smile than a happy one. [Mother, I’m sorry for…]

SNAP!

Her dexterous finger catches me off-guard for a second—a trademark of her to shut us up. Quickly, she clasps my hand together as a way to tell me not to ‘say another word’. [Is that what you’d say to me after all these years? An apology…?]

I slip my hand from her and signs back. [No, but I believe it is the right thing to do.]

[Don’t,] she replies, signing back. [You remind me of your father sometimes, Hitsu-chan.]

‘Hitsu-chan’; I never thought I would hear that name ever again.

[You are an echo of what I was; a resonance of both your father and I, the greatest gift Hisao has left in this world.]

I shy away from her gaze, wanting to hide the fog that slowly builds up in my eyes. She quickly prevents that from happening. [I appreciate your effort to look for him, Hitsu-chan. But I don’t think that is what he wanted.]

She took a step forward. [I believe he wanted you to be safe. That is what he would wish for more than ever.]

She smiles softly. She smiles!

[Welcome home, Hitsuda.]

I break down in tears, and with whatever strength is left in my tired hands, I use them to sign her back before diving into her deep embrace.

[I’m home.]



Fin - Hakamichi no Tegami
Last edited by Megumeru on Sun May 13, 2012 3:05 pm, edited 7 times in total.
Image
They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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trekki859
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by trekki859 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:50 am

depsite being just.. wow. and odd.. this was really really moving. amazing man. nice fic.
in the wise words of Jack O'neill ..."what?"

Lothbrok
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by Lothbrok » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:20 am

I like the emotions displayed here they really bring out the characters.
I find my self most interested in the details of war though i know it was intentionally vague.
Good Job, Great Write up.

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Megumeru
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Location: Land of the Rising Sun

Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by Megumeru » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:13 pm

edited and added some contents. Now that I've pretty much 'awake', I'll get some things done right :D

*Next 'letter' coming in awhile...
Image
They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

User avatar
Megumeru
Posts: 1260
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:17 am
Location: Land of the Rising Sun

Memento

Post by Megumeru » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:51 pm

Based on a certain art in the mishimmie
http://shimmie.katawa-shoujo.com/post/v ... ch=shizune
(this story will take some liberal moves considering the KS universe. Bear with me)

Index
Prologue -Forgotten Memories-

Question Arcs
Resonance -Hakamichi no Tegami-
Memento -Ikezawa no Tegami-
Echoes -Satou no Tegami-
Cloudland -Tezuka no Tegami-
The Road Home -Ibarazaki no Tegami-

Answer Arcs
-Coming Soon-


Memento
The air around me fell to a standstill as seconds passed on what seemed to be an eternity. The cries of agony echoed in and around my head as the world that I once knew collapsed under a flash of light, brighter than what I could have imagined. I stare endlessly at the vast emptiness before me, my clothes lie in tatters and my beloved town was no more than a wasteland of rubble and death as rain--for what it was worth--trickled down on my face, as if Mother Nature herself was overwhelmed with insurmountable grief. For a moment, the world fell into a state of deaf-silent...

“HELP…!” I cried out in vain. For the first time, I felt empty.

I began to feel my surroundings, the dirt, the rubble, and the remains of the place I once called 'home'. I began to shiver; fear started to get the best out of me as the stench of death crept upon my shoulders and spine as the rain continue its merciless downpour. I began to search for whatever was left under the intense cry of agony that surrounded me...

Searching...for what?

“Anyone…! Someone…!” I cried out once more. No response.

My hand dug through the rubble, the concrete, the wood, and the stone that littered the entire zone. At a distance, a child’s cry was audible as it echoed across the vast emptiness of the city; the wail of sirens and the roar of military gunships and helicopters were nothing compared to it. I stopped halfway, eyes attracted to something else in the distance—a person, a figure, waving his hand at me in a distance. My feet trembled as I shift my weight to face the silhouette and took one small step at a time before I finally stumbled over. I look up.

The silhouette had vanished.

...

...and then I found it.

“No…no...No, no, no…”

...What did we ever do to deserve this…?

-------------

"Ms. Ikezawa?"

My consciousness snaps back as fast as it was brought up, as the voice that trails in the background successfully returns my focus. Once again I am reminded of the reality I put myself into; the obscure figures of twenty-twenty five men in grey uniforms, all with varying ages, the dimly lit auditorium, and the single chair conveniently positioned at the stage which I currently occupy. All around me are murmurs of the unknown, the flash from the multitude of strategically positioned stage lights, and the cold stare of my audience.

"Ms. Ikezawa, you're trailing off again. Is everything alright?"

"I-I'm fine," I reply timidly, squeezing my sleeve tightly with my left hand as a constant reminder to myself that I am 'still alive'. "It’s n-nothing..."

The orator of the men in grey gives off a long sigh; his hand quickly proceeds upon reaching for the pen he left on the table earlier and uses it to scratch his forehead. His eyes are firmly fixed on me, feeling me from head to bottom, toe to toe. Conditionally, I shift uncomfortably, and he too seems to have come to that conclusion and, once again, sighs impatiently. I sit in attention, anticipating the next question these 'Greymen' have in store.

‘Greymen’, the name I have decided to call the Federal historians in charge of this interview for the sake of convenience. Just as the ‘name’ suggests, they wear a distinct light grey military uniform complete with its intricate decorations which further signify their status as ‘veterans’. Some of them, however, are complemented with a simple, white lab coat that act as the overalls of their grey uniform—the insignia of the Federation is proudly displayed in a convenient size on the left breast and right shoulder; a symbol of ‘peace’ and ‘unity’ that we have come to accept after the end of the last ‘Great War’.

"You trailed off in our last question, Ms. Ikezawa. Do you have anything you would like to voice to us?"

"n-no..."

"Remember, we are here to collect data and information regarding the lost records of the 'Last Great War'," console one of the Greymen as he shifts his seat uncomfortably, his eyes are constantly trained on me. "Every letter we collect from veterans of the war is invaluable; they uncover a certain portion of history we were unable to acquire from mere military records and documents."

I grip my clothes tighter, feeling overwhelmingly uncomfortable as they attempts to readdress their last question.

"You are amongst many of those who possess such letters, and any information you could give us would prove invaluable; rest assured, the Federation will gladly compensate you."

I nod once as a gesture to continue. It has only been three months since the war that brought the final catastrophe to mankind came to an end with the Federation—a dark horse faction formed under the league of veterans—walked out victorious out of the chaos as a new ‘world government’. Now, with all the records of the war said to have been 'exhausted', historians began to look for other means of acquiring information that would slowly bridge the gaps in the timeline from the start of the war up to the final battle between the Federation and the North American Coalition; these came in form of letters written by servicemen sent to their family, friends, and lovers in each respective nations.

I, for one, am in possession of such letter.

When the call from the ‘Feds’ concerning this interview came to light three days ago, I was very much uncertain whether or not I should respond. A part of me was afraid of revealing the facts, details, and history of me and my family that led to how I am today—an orphan. For two years, I have been living under the care of the Federation in one of the many refugee camps. My relatives were nowhere near reachable, and I do not know any other number or person I can ask for help. All the people I knew, those who loved me and cared for me, had perished in the war and in Saitama; the city I used to call home. I answered the Federation yesterday, just two days after their first call. My father always said to ‘never let your past became your shackles’, and it was spoken with experience and wisdom both he and my mother share; in light of this, I decided to participate in the interview hoping to help the Federation in preventing another war of such scale—and to hopefully move on from my own past.

I was wrong.

The ‘Greymen’, as much as their name reflects their outer appearance, also mirrors their inward personality towards us, the ‘participants’. They are cold, impersonal, often times direct and frontal towards their approach to the volunteers. They say ‘every information counts’, and often times they will try to console you with simple, soulless words like how ‘the Federation will compensate’ and ‘please keep your focuses’. After what I had been through, after what we, survivors and victims had went through, are we nothing more than a ‘broken tape recorder’? I was silent for the first hour, silently observing the observers as they bombarded me with questions with little rest as they made their push towards the last piece of information I withheld concerning the last letter from my father.

A memory I wish not to be revisited.

"Ms. Ikezawa, if you don't mind we would like to start from the beginning. Is that alright with you?"

I nod silently; my left hand constantly presses my right where a scar is left to be.

"Can you tell us about yourself before the war?"

My mind wanders once again, searching for the right answer that nestles deep within the train of painful memories—my memories. I close my eyes, thinking of the time before the outbreak began...

-------------

It was 2038, one year before the outbreak of the war. I was a single child in a family of three comprised of my father, my mother, and myself in the city of Saitama of Saitama prefecture. We were your average working family—my dad was a science teacher at a local high school before the war, while my mother was recognized as a renowned author of a light novel detailing a journey of a young girl. I was only twelve years old at the time, a sixth grader at a local junior school learning the ways of life and was enjoying it to the fullest. There wasn’t anything special with any of us—my father was a teacher, my mother a writer and a novelist, and I am a student. We were your average family.

“Mama, mama…” I called out to her one Monday morning. “Can we go now?”

“Patience or the ‘Great Tengu’ will sweep you off from your feet.”

The ‘Great Tengu’, a character in one of my mother’s earlier light novel which was famous for his cunning, speed, and habit of kidnapping impatient little children. My mother often used some of the characters she created as her method of teaching small, but important moral lessons when I was still a child.

“But I’ll be late for school…”

She smiled softly, patting my head and responded in kind. “Wait for your father, ok?”

“Good morning, loves.” And as always, it only took my father three to five minutes after I was ready to present himself in the kitchen.

“Good morning, dear.”

“Papa, we are going to be late!”

He chuckled and gave me a hug. “We still have time to spare; besides, you don’t want to miss your mother’s breakfast, right?”

That response always brought a smile to me. Papa was always calm and collected, often wise and understanding, though he can get pretty reckless if we—his family—were in a tight situation.

“Morning, love,” He said, planting a kiss to my mother. “You look great today.”

“That’s what you said every morning.”

“Is it wrong for me to do so?”

“It’s not, but…” she raises her index finger and planted it on papa’s lips. “Not in front of her, please.”

“Papa…! Mama…!” I would always come in at the last moment to try to get in between of the two. “I want a kiss and a hug too!”

“But you’re twelve; aren’t you too old for that?”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve any ‘hugs and kisses’!”

I may sound a little spoiled and pestered, but that’s how I was eight years ago—young and innocent. I realized, however, that unlike any other ‘normal’ family, my family shared a ‘special’ trait that made it stand out amongst the rest. Papa, for example, was on constant medication for what he explained to be a ‘heart condition’. I never caught wind of what he said during that time, but I figured it out on my own later on as ‘arrhythmia’; thankfully, it didn’t pass on to me despite the risk of being hereditary. Even if it did, papa would tell me to ‘not let it define you’. My mother on the other hand, had a traceable burn scar that ran from the right half of her face down to her back and abdomen. Just like papa, she refused to let it define her, and taught me how a person was characterized by its character and traits, not by its disability or scar. We were a normal family.

They have hobbies too.

Papa was into fishing. He loves it, and ever since his friend—aunt Hakamichi—invited us for their reunion trip, he couldn’t resist window shopping for new fishing gear such as rods, baits, hooks, and nets. He said that ‘fishing gives you that ‘fresh’ feeling the moment you step outside, cast the rod, and catch something’; it makes you feel ‘alive’ so to speak. Mama loves chess, she enjoyed it as a side hobby from her usual time facing the computer typing and writing for her novel’s next installment—I became pretty good at it too! Sometimes, I would beat her once every three games though most of the time, Papa was there to direct me on what to move.

Thus, we were like any other ‘normal’ Japanese family—nothing more, nothing less.

That was back in 2038.

I never figured nor wonder who fired the first shot, or which country were justified as right or wrong. When the war broke out on November of 2039, the newspaper all around the country operated at a steady pace and covered what it usually did; no wars were mentioned, nor was there any sign of it. Yet the thick air that day betrayed the serene nature of the city upon careful inspection; soldiers began roaming about, tanks rolling across the highways, and recruitment posters posted overnight. Within a single day, the peace that we once knew vanished into thin air as the world stood in silence, waiting for the first cannon fire.

I was thirteen at the time, my last quarter as a middle school freshman.

My father came home late that evening, his eyes droop and his shoulder slumped as he carried his laptop bag to the kitchen where my mother was always patiently waiting. It had been a few months; about three to four since the first time he was late at home consecutively. I had convenience myself earlier that year to commute from school and back using public transportations, as such it became a rarity for me to be dropped off by papa like what he used to do a year ago. Outside of the family, I had Takashi—a childhood friend and a neighbor—who would wait for me every morning before going to school. When papa was home late that evening, I was coincidentally near the kitchen to hear what happened.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, Hanako,” papa said addressing my mother by her first name. “The students were getting radical; even the school board approves the presence of a recruiter!”

“Hisao…” I heard a chair, then the rustle of clothes. I could tell mama probably hugged papa at this point. “I know that you’ve done your best. If there’s anything…”

“But those kids…!”

There was a pause, then a stifled cry from papa. “I can’t believe our government would intentionally corrupt the minds of the young to die for what they call ‘patriotism’!”

“It doesn’t make sense…!” he continued. “It doesn’t make sense at all…”

My father cried on my mother’s arms, feeling extremely dejected and defeated. I felt a slight pang of guilt after I eavesdropped, so I returned to my room to rest.

I learned a few days later from mama about papa after I confronted her on a Saturday evening when she was at her room, working on her latest installment of ‘Hotaru no Monogatari’—her light novel that was partially based on her experience. Initially, she intended to kept the matter away from me so as not to burden our family any further, but my insistence finally convinced her that ‘we are a family’, and such burdens were meant to be shared.

“You’re just like your papa,” she stated, readjusting her reading glasses. “Your compassion for others more than yourself are similar in many ways.”

She took off her glasses and rested it near the keyboard of her computer. “Your father is in a risk of being laid off.”

“But…why?”

“He was in the opposing side of the majority of the school board concerning the implementation of military laws, training, and personnel into the system. It is a standard practice by the PAA government all across its territory.”

She sighed. Her left hand traces her burn scars on her right. “He doesn’t want the future generations—you—to be corrupted by propaganda and government manipulation, even if it costs him his livelihood. He stood by his philosophy as taught by his mentor that ‘a teacher is there to guide his students to the right path’.”

She sighed.

“Mutou would be proud of him,” she continued as she wipe a single tear that ran down her right cheek with her palm. “I am proud of him; proud to have chosen him.”

“I’m sorry, talking about politics to you like this. But that’s why…”

She stood from her seat; her hand rested on my small shoulders as she kneels to meet me in an eye level. “Please don’t worry too much. Your smile is the only thing he—no, we—wish to see every day.”

Mama gave me a gentle hug soon after, effectively shutting me away from forwarding the question any further. When papa returned that evening, I pretended as if nothing had happened—it was wrong, I know, and I should have confronted him with similar question just so I could carry some of his burdens a little; we are a family after all. But I never dared to forward the question when I saw him that day or the day after; the thought of snatching away his smile, laughter, and joy scared me more than my mother’s retribution.

Then it began on January 1st, 2040.

-------------

“Ms. Ikezawa?”

“Yes…?”

“If we are to consider your story, your father was…” The Greymen on the far right of the room flips through the pages of his notes, trailing off on his last word before finally pressing his index finger tightly on the page. “Nakai; Hisao Nakai, was it?”

I nod timidly. “…yes.”

The Greymen exchange their look between one another, questions are heard hovering amongst their discussion. Silently, I observe their actions uncomfortably and impatiently, secretly wishing for this interview to wrap itself sooner. I wish they are satisfied with my story, but deep down I knew that more questions about my past, the letter, and myself are bound to come the moment they are finished with their discussion. Ever since that day, these images continuously haunt me both night and day, reminding me that I am now alone in this ‘new’ world. Is it right for someone to take their own life away? Such thoughts have been under my consideration for two years now, yet I cower at every opportunity for an unknown reason. It wasn’t because I don’t want to; I can’t, and it is because of a reason I am uncertain of. Each time I hold a knife to my wrist, when I stare down at the edge of a cliff, or when I fix a rope to the ceilings, a voice within me would echo and stop me. Tell me, am I a coward…?

“If we can have your attention once again, Ms. Ikezawa,” they call out, startling me at the same time.

“We do not have any records considering your father serving in any branches of the PAA Armed Forces. Could you confirm once again who that letter was from?”

“My…father...” I reply. “He was part of the ‘Voluntary Neighborhood Home Guard’, so he wasn’t really considered an ‘official’ member of the Armed Forces.”

The Greymen starts to scribble the bit of information in their notes, stopping a minute later to continue. “And when was the first time he volunteered in the Home Guard?”

“It was around…May, 2041.”

-------------

When the war broke out on January 1st of 2040, my family and I were on our yearly visit to my grandparent’s house in Tokyo. Like any other families, we were entitled to visit the shrine on New Year and send greeting cards to our friends and cousins, and thus the news of the outbreak never reached our ear until three days later when we’re back in Saitama—we never tuned in to the news on our stay, papa said it might ruin the moment between families. When we returned to Saitama, everything felt so…foreign, strange, and unfamiliar. The city was geared and supportive, everyone was celebrating and shouting in approval—even the streets were cordoned for military parades! I was very much impressed at the time, watching the rows of men in uniforms and weapons at the ready, marching through main street with its massive walkers, transports, tanks, and big guns all in perfect unison and in rows. Papa, however, wasn’t moved one bit by the display of military might and told us later how sad it was to see them go.

“It’s saddening,” he stated. “The thought of those men and women marching to their deaths is just…tragic.”

“Hisao…!”

My mother gave Papa a jab with her elbow, then a nod towards my direction.

“I-I’m sorry, Hanako I…never mind.”

I know she meant well, telling my father not to ruin my moment of awe and excitement, but I understood it all too well when he said that.

I could never see the parade the same way again.

A few months passed, and then a year went by. Three months after the ‘official’ firing of the guns, the news frequently broadcasted the situation of the war to home with the government-run PAA News. The situation around us changed rapidly within three months, with the city of Saitama growing more and more supportive of the war with banners and posters hanging all over main street. About twice a month, a military parade would march through the city, flying and wearing the insignia of the PAA with pride and honor before heading for the frontline, while offices and even middle to high school began to implement war-time drills and evacuation, as well as ‘extra’ lessons that were directed exclusively by PAA military officers—I heard high school students had it rough the most in these classes. Nothing seemed to have affected our routine in the first three months, however, but there were signs from my father that it had done so longer than what we knew.

When my birthday came in April 18th of 2041, Papa told us what was going to happen from there onwards.

“Do you know why we gave you the name ‘Sakura’?” He asked after he presented me with a gift. “A few years ago, before you were born, mama and I used to live in Sendai.”

My mother gave my father tug, probably surprised by his sudden reveal of their past. “Something wrong, dear…?”

“N-nothing…”

He brushed them off with a chuckle.

“Back then, we were wondering what we should name you—to be honest, we haven’t thought of it up to the time you were born.”

“I did…!” Interrupt my mother. “But you didn’t approve of it.”

“Well, it’s because it’s more of Lilly’s suggestion than what we could came up with.” He wraps his arm around my mother’s shoulder. She flinched for a second, but came to accept it.

“We came up with the name a few minutes after you were born,” Smiling, he kissed her forehead. My mother blushed and gave a timid pinch on his arm, to which I giggled at their response. “And it was beautiful.”

“Hisao—I mean, your father—decided to open the window after my labor. It was at night around 2AM and at that time, the sakura trees were at full bloom when a petal was blown into our room.”

“So,” he concluded. “We decided to name you Sakura. May you one day bloom with everlasting beauty, my love; Happy birthday.”

They both gave me hug and kisses, then gave me a gift. I was a little curious about my ‘other’ name, so I did manage to ask them what aunt Satou recommended.

“Hana,” answered my mother. “But you would prefer ‘Sakura’ now, would you?”

I chuckled, nod, and gave them a hug with a ‘thank you’. When I opened the gift, I was awarded with a locket the size of an ‘omamori’ with a frame inside. My father told me that, in these times of trouble, the greatest gift we could have asked for was to be with the family you cared for. The locket was simple yet beautiful, with its shiny outline and engravings that decorated the ornament. But what made it special was the picture that was perfectly placed inside the locket; a picture of us, with my father standing on the left, my mother on the right, and me seated in the middle between them. As an added bonus, my father had ordered it custom-made and asked it to be blessed from the shrine as my personal ‘charm’.

I may be too old to believe it, but nonetheless I treasured it.

After the celebration, my father finally brought up the courage to talk to us about the problem he had been facing at school. It was to no surprise to us when he told us that the school board were planning to lay off most of its staff who were disapproval of the radical change in the education system. A few staff members were said to have been expelled earlier last year, a couple more followed soon after their replacement from the military or those approved by to the idea took their places. Although uncertain, Papa was worried he would lose his position as a science faculty that following year, and if he did he proposed the idea to volunteer with the ‘Home Guard’ to avoid having flown overseas. Although my mother was subjective and was against his approach on this matter, she understood his difficult position and forgave him—my father was known to be somewhat dense sometimes. Three weeks later, he was laid off from his position. By May, he was part of the ‘Voluntary Neighborhood Home Guard’.

I was fifteen at the time.

-------------

“So your father joined the ‘Voluntary Neighborhood Home Guard’ as a way to avoid military service,” state one of the Greymen as he completes his notes. “Smart, but cowardly…don’t you think?”

“MY FATHER WASN’T LIKE THAT…!”

I froze on sight, my lips tremble, and my legs shiver the moment I realize how I have reacted. I had snapped; the chair lies upturned in the stage. The Greymen watches in amusement, some surprised by my sudden retaliation towards their response. Silence slowly descends on the auditorium as they begin exchanging gazes towards one another while I shy away from them.

I…I don’t like this. Not like this…

I want to go home…

“We…apologize for our lack of sentiment towards your situation, Ms. Ikezawa,” said one of them. His mid-volume voice pierces through the silence, like a spear. “Please take your seat once again.”

I comply, nodding and slowly retreats back to the chair, raising it in the process before reclaiming the position.

“We never have the intention to outrage you, Ms. Ikezawa,” one of them stated. “Please, forgive us.”

“…ok.”

“Now that we have that settled, we would like to continue with this interview. Do you mind?”

Timidly, I shake my head. “No…”

“Then Ms. Ikezawa, could you tell us how do you end up with a ‘letter’ in possession?”

My hand consciously search for the letter I have neatly tucked in my handbag, wanting to protect it. I knew that somewhere along this interview, these ‘Greymen’ will ask for this letter to further ‘study’ it. I know it was bound to happen sooner or later, but the thought of parting away with it—with the memories of…

…I just can’t.

This letter is the last memory Papa had left for me; the last remnant of Hisao Nakai.

My memento…

I can’t give it away—I won’t.

“My…father…” I reply, words stumbling in my mind after my last blunder. “H-he received an o-order to transfer to Sendai. He mentioned that he w-won’t be back for days and so p-promised us to write back home.”

“Why can’t he just call?”

“Phone services were suspended for strictly m-military use and were m-monitored. He ruled it out of o-option…”

“Would you like to tell us about it…?”

I have to overcome this. It is the only way, right? I can’t let my past became my shackles.

“Y-yes…”

-------------

It was around late April, 2044. Our lives continued normally ever since Papa decided to join the ‘Volunteer Neighborhood Home Guard’ and was since regarded to be ‘in service’ in official PAA records. The ‘VNHG’ or the ‘Home Guard’ was specifically designated for anyone who was regarded to be unfit for service regardless of gender. Thus, members of the ‘Home Guard’ were less compensated than those who served in the front. I learned from mama that, despite papa making less money than what he did as a teacher, she was relieved to know that he would return home every evening for dinner unharmed. Although he missed the opportunity granted by the government for an augmentation, our family agreed that it was an unnecessary risk to be considered ‘fit for service’. We never expected him to be transferred further away from us.

I was eighteen at the time.

It was quite an unusual evening. Unlike any other day, he was home early and was almost hesitant to meet us. I asked mama about it, but she refused to answer the question and avoided the subject almost immediately and intentionally. When night dawned on us and dinner was served on the table, my father had packed some of his lighter gears and was wearing his favorite sweater vest when he presented himself in the dinner table. The atmosphere around the table was heavy, and no conversation was circulated. I was initially thrilled on telling my parents of my recent award as ‘best amateur writer’ for the interschool amateur club, but the air that circulated around the dinner table prevented me from doing so. I never had the chance to tell both of my parents until it was too late.

My father was the first to break the silence.

“So…do you have anything planned for tonight, Sakura?”

I shook my head. He smiled and nod at my mother, and then back at me. “I want to show both of you something I found a few days ago. Do you mind taking a little night stroll together?”

“How far is it?” I asked. “I shouldn’t be up too late—I hate making Takashi wait every morning.”

My father and mother chuckled. I blushed, but I shook it off.

“It’s not too far—just a few blocks to the river and a stroll. We’ll be back before nine.”

He smiled warmly at my mother. “You would love to see this too, Hanako.”

After dinner, we gathered outside our house and made the walk to the river. It was a solemn night, different than what it was in the morning with the march of PAA infantrymen, armor, and walkers heading to war. Right now, under the stars and the blanket of the night were the three of us—Papa, Mama, and I—on our last stroll by the river. Papa commented how the sakura trees were much more beautiful at night, it being more humble and peaceful. He wasn’t wrong, but there was something else he wanted to show my mother and me. He led us pass the row of sakura trees, a little closer to the bridge that connected the city. He stopped a few feet away from the bridge, scanned the surroundings briefly and—with a smile—presented us a view we could never forget.

It was a concert of fireflies.

It was beautiful.

“Did you know,” he started as he took a seat on the slope after offering us a spot. “That the ‘light’ generated by fireflies are bioluminescent?”

I nodded. My mother started to snuggle into him as he continued. He chuckled at mama’s rare initiative and circled his arm around her. “The lights used by the fireflies are used to attract both mates and preys, but is more common on the former.”

We watched the spectacle for minutes with no end, listening to the music of the crickets and the dances of the fireflies. My mother snuggled deep into my father’s embrace while I, too, leaned over to take what space I felt I deserve. Quietly he placed his hand on me and gently caressed my hair while keeping me warm and loved inside. I could never forgotten the scene from my head, our last time together as a whole.

“I…will be going to Sendai for awhile.”

I recoiled, looked at him with surprise, and then to my mother. Mama turned away, she knew about it way before I do.

He sighed depressively and continued. “My group received an order to move to the Sendai branch for awhile. They said they were down on manpower ever since most of its members left and joined the armed forces.”

“When will you be back?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know…they were unsure of that too; they said it might take about a month, but with the situation we are in now it might last until the war is over…whenever that is.”

I was completely resigned from the situation. All this time both of my parents managed to keep me away from the ‘know’, leaving me to learn about it on my own or at a later time at their convenience. I questioned their decision at that time, asking myself over and over on what I did ‘wrong’ to be left in the dark. Mostly, however, I was disappointed with Papa for not sharing it with me at an earlier time and was angry at Mama for keeping it away from my knowledge. I understood their intentions of keeping me safe, but why? Why left me in the dark about all this? I thought we’re supposed to share them together? I love my life, my family…

And I especially love you, Papa.

That’s why; I don’t want to see this happening.

“Do you know, Sakura,” He said, noticing my sudden drop in spirit. “Humans are like fireflies; we have our ‘light’ too.”

He smiled warmly as I looked at him confused. “Do you know where it is?”

“No…”

He raised his hand…

“It’s here.”

…and point it to his heart.

He laughed sheepishly soon after, scratch the back of his forehead as he continued. “It’s cheesy for someone as old as you, I know. But it’s just something Papa came up with at the spur of the moment—I think your mother agrees.”

“N-no… I think it’s pretty romantic.” She replied. Papa chuckled.

“Well, there you go.”

“What Papa is saying is,” he continued. “Even if we were to be separated, we will always be together.”

He comfortably patted my head, which I accepted in silence. “Because our hearts will never forget that ‘glow’ we have between us.”

As cheesy and corny as it sound, his words reassured and stopped me from resisting any further. It’s just how Papa—Hisao Nakai—was. I leaned to Papa and rested on his shoulder, feeling somewhat relieved as we continued to watch the fireflies for another minute until fatigue got the better of us. We walked back together, with Mama bashfully hugging Papa’s left arm while I held on Papa’s right. We separated at our door and called it a night. When I lay under my futon that night, my heart skipped a beat as I recall what happened that evening with Papa, Mama, and the fireflies. I was discouraged to know he would leave us tomorrow to Sendai, but knowing that he would return once it was all over brought peace to my troubled heart. The next morning, we had our last breakfast together before we waved Papa goodbye as he hopped into the transport truck that took him to Sendai.

“Papa,” I called out to him before he boarded the truck. He paused, the suitcase hung idly on his arm. “Before you go…”

I reached the back of my neck and unlatched the link that supported my ‘omamori’ I received three years ago. I reached for the back of his neck and latched it unto him, then kissed him on his cheek. “This is for safety…”

“Sakura…” he replied as he cradles my ‘omamori’. “But this is…”

“I want all of us to be together again after all this, so…” I swallowed my spit to clear my throat and hide my shaken voice. “Please return it to me once you’re back, Papa.”

He smiled and gave me a nod. Mama came rushing to him a minute later and embrace him, feeling a little worried about the entire circumstances and the outcome. We never wanted to part from one another; none of us wished for it. After giving him a kiss, my mother released my father from her embrace and we waved goodbye as he hopped into the truck and drove away. We stayed outside for another minute, watching the truck shrink in size as it travelled further and further. I promised myself that I will wait for his return, no matter how long it will take.

If anyone told me that I have a ‘father complex’, then I would tell them about ‘Hisao Nakai’ and what he meant to me.

We exchanged letters for the next few weeks, up to his last letter on May 22nd, 2044.

-------------

I stop. My lips tremble, my hands are sweating, and my heart races as the thought of revisiting that specific memory could potentially break me. The sounds, the echo, and the sight—they haunt me in my sleep, my dreams, and even when I am awake. The thought of losing my family, Mama, and…no! I don’t want to remember it—I refuse to relive it once again, not like this! Why do I have to go through it again? These are my memories, my past …why do I have to share it with these people I barely know? Why did I decide to participate in the first place? Would I still do so if I knew it will lead to this? I don’t want to remember it…

“Ms. Ikezawa, is something wrong…?”

No…please…go away…

“Ms. Ikezawa do you need any assistance?”

There it is again. That light, that heat…

“If there is nothing of concern, can we please continue with this interview?”

No, don’t take them away from me…no, no!

“NO…!”

I curl into a ball; my hand clasps my head and my nails dig into my scalp as the wave of nightmares return once more to claim its last victim. I bit my lower lip as images after images of that day flashes across my mind that recollects the memories of devastation, the sorrow, and the loss that overwhelmed me. They took everything away from me—my family, the smile we shared, the laughter that greeted me every morning, the joy and the love that stood with us at each passing day, and my life. I should’ve died that day along with my family; it should have ended along with that blinding light that stole everything away from me. I shouldn’t have survived…

A ‘Greymen’ claps his hand and calls the medical staffs that are on standby. Immediately they rush to the stage, hands reaching and restraining me as one of them pulls out a needle.
Again, I am a burden to someone. I should put an end to that and redeem myself…
I open my trembling mouth and draw my tongue. I’ll end it here…

Mama, Papa…

Am I…doing the right thing?



“SAKURA…!”

...

…I couldn’t do it. I can’t…

When the voice echoes across the halls of the institution, I stop abruptly by the familiarity and the sudden intervention of one of the guards who leap onto the stage, disrupts the medical team, and embrace me. I give struggle to resist his attempt, before giving in to his kindness when I realize who it is.

“T-Takashi…”

It was Takashi; a childhood friend whom I thought had perished along with the rest of my world on May 22nd, 2044. Here he wears a distinctive gear of one of the Federation guards relegated in the auditorium; his face is a lot more rugged than what I used to know, and his eyes shows the experience he has gained for the past two years since his disappearance. Now here he is, alive and well posing as one of the guards.

“Hey, hey…it’s ok,” he said as he tries to comfort me. “Everything’s going to be alright.”

“Do you know her, Private?”

“Yes sir, I do,” he replies to the ‘Greyman’. “We’re childhood friends.”

“I see…then get her to tell us about what happened on May 22nd, 2044. If she reacted as such, there must be something we can learn from it.” He clicks his tongue, and rests his hand on my shoulder. I tremble at the feel of his palm. No, not you too…

“Sakura…”

“Please, no…” I quickly reply. “Don’t make me remember it again…”

He kneels, removing his helmet and calls one of his friend from backstage to bring him a chair on-stage. I notice he tries to steal a glance at me as we wait for the other guy to arrive—I am sure he has questions about me, too.

The chair arrives moments later. He takes his seat and rests his hand on mine, clenching it tightly—he has a surprisingly strong grip since the last time I remember him. “I…never thought of meeting you here like this.”

“Well, not on these circumstances at least.” He continues. “You used to tie your hair in a pony-tail, so I apologize for not recognizing you when you went on stage. Is that a new style for you?”

I didn’t answer. I can sense his growing curiosity of me not only because we haven’t met in two years, but also in the way I dress. It is currently in the middle of summer, and I am wearing an overall that covers up to my wrist followed with a complement of gloves. My hair is long and dark, just like my mother’s, and obscures one half of my face—just the way I want it to be. The people from the refugee camps said I look depressing and dark, and I wouldn’t blame them—I decide to look this way not by choice.

“Saku…”

His hand reaches for my face and tries to caress my hair. No, no!

I flinch and try to slap his hand away; I was a second too late.

“…Sakura…” His gaze is fixed on me the moment he realize what he has discovered. His lips tremble, his eyes are open in surprise, and his hand sweats the moment he unraveled my secret. I wear an overall not because I want to, but because I have to, I wear gloves because I need to, and I grew my hair and let it obscure my face because I am forced to. Yes, it is all because of this burn scar I am left with as a memory of that fateful day on May 22nd, 2044. Now even Takashi is afraid of me, his childhood friend. I’m a monster, a ‘thing’ that never meant to survive.

“You’ve been through a lot, huh?”

“Eh...?”

To my surprise, Takeshi didn’t flinch. He chuckles, and then places his hand on mine. “Be it with a scar, or no scar, you’re still ‘Sakura’. That’s why I won’t leave you.”

“Private Nakada, we have no time for this. Do what we asked of you or we will resort for the faster solution!”

He waves the ‘Greymen’ and clenches my hand. “I’ll tell you later what I’ve been up to until now. Right now, let’s get through this together.”

Together, he said…

I never thought I’d hear those words again. All this time, I have been facing them alone…

He clenches his hand tighter. For the first time in awhile, I feel the warmth of others under these leather gloves.

“Sakura, can you tell us what happened on May 22nd, 2044?”

Yes, I can do this.

I am not alone…

-------------

It started like an ordinary evening. We were only a few weeks in after the start of our last school year, and everything was in order. Papa had been exchanging letters with Mama and me for the past few weeks and had been in constant communication despite the termination of public phone lines. As usual, I walked home from school using the same path with Takashi by my side as we discussed about what we were going to do after graduation; he’s even considerate to have asked how Papa was doing in Sendai—outside of my family, he was the only one who knew about Mama and Papa’s condition. We parted by the river, and from then on I would walk home. I emptied the mailbox when I arrived, greeted my mother in the kitchen and head to the living room with the letter at hand. The television was playing the usual PAA News Network, covering our recent victory in China and the capture of Hawaii from NAC hands.

And then it happened…

The ground shook—a tremor, then a blinding flash that lit the windows in our living room. Mama quickly ran out of the kitchen and came to me as the glass shattered, the ceiling cracked, and the floor trembled, sending both of us collapsing on the ground. We couldn’t get up due to the tremor, and in a moment of panic I stole a glance at the window as the light outside expanded and drew closer and closer. A streak of pain stung my right eye seconds after, as if burned by the approaching heat that started to scorch our house. I was scared, fearful, and terrified when the light engulfed both of us—it felt as if my legs, my arm, and my body were set on fire. It was painful, and every second that passed felt like hours. My mother embraced me, a last desperate attempt to protect me.

Only a part of my body was scorched by the heat.

The other, hidden by my mother’s figure, was unharmed.

I couldn’t imagine how much she had to endure; all for my sake.

When the tremor stopped, our house, now engulfed by fire, was on the verge of collapsing. With her dying breadth, she whispered into my ears.

“Stay strong, Sakura…”

An explosion erupted, and with it came the fate of my house. With the last of her mustered strength, my mother pushed me into the hallway as the building collapsed. I saw my mother’s last smile before we were buried under the rubble.

I couldn’t forgive myself that day.

This life…I didn’t deserve it.

I was awoken by the light drizzle of rain on my cheek and the trail of water through my wound. I am uncertain for how long I had passed out, but when I came to I was before an open field of rubble, smoke, and death. The roof of my house was replaced with dark clouds, and what was left of it was barely recognizable. My lower half was trapped under rubbles, but I was lucky enough to be able to slip through. I couldn’t care less about my condition; even when I scraped my burn wound through the rubble and tear my skin in the process, the thought of my mother’s survival came first in my mind. I slipped out, my right leg and thighs were bleeding terribly, and the rain felt like salt as it trace my injuries.

“HELP…!” I cried. I received no response. “SOMEONE, ANYONE…!”

“Anyone, please…” I started to cry. When I listened to my surroundings, others were calling for the same thing.

‘Help’

‘Save me’

‘Help us’

Just like mine, their voices vanished under the cover of the rain.
The dirt and the rubble were charred, while some were warm to the touch. I dug my hand through the rubbles, remembering that I still haven’t found my mother or any signs of her—I was praying for her safety, but deep inside I knew that my mother…



I refused to believe it.

The rain grew harder and more persistent, my body was fatigued and in pain, and my eyes were failing. I saw a silhouette, a figure just a few steps away waving her hand at me—I could tell at first hand it was my mother from the long hair and her slender figure. Maybe I was hallucinating, or maybe my mind played a trick on me—when you are on the verge of death, you began to see things you want to see. I walked forward, following the silhouette before I tripped over and collapsed. When I looked, the silhouette had vanished and in return, I found what I was looking for.

“No…no...No, no, no…”

I crawled to it, hoping it was just another trick my mind played on me.



But reality was as cruel as ever.

“Mama…mama…”

My mother lay motionless; her hair was a mess, her clothes in tatters, and her back was charred. Severe burn wounds covered most of her body, and yet why were you smiling? Why do you have that satisfied look? Was it because you saved me—your daughter—from ‘death’…? I don’t want this! No, not like this! I thought we were supposed to be together again with Papa once it was all over! Mama, don’t leave me…! Mama…

“Mama…! Hey Mama, wake up…! Please…”

I kneeled beside her body and cried.

“Mama…”

I knew it all too well…

“MAMA…!”

That was the longest time I had spent on crying in my entire life. I don’t know for how long I stayed beside her body—hours, maybe. I cried myself to sleep that evening, and when I came to I was in a field hospital run by the PAA Homeland Defense Force. The letter from my father was left forgotten in my hand, wrinkled by the force of my grip but was left unopened. After what had happened, I refused to open it to read its contents not knowing what to do and how to respond. I couldn’t bear the look on Papa’s face if he ever learned about this. After what he did to us, this was what God decided to do to reward him? I couldn’t believe it. Mama was very dear to Papa, often times he would stand up against crowds who would question or insulted her due to her burn scars.

…scars…

I raised my right arm and saw the bandage that neatly wrapped it from the base to the hand. I traced the linings of my right cheeks, my waist, abdomen, and up to my leg and realized the extensive wound I had.

The next day, I asked a paramedic on duty about the extent of my injury. He wasn’t too eager to give me an answer, but when he did he described how it would most likely be a ‘permanent’ scar.

Now I, too, have the same scars as my mother.

Eventually I made up my mind to tell him about the news personally once it was all over once we were reunited with one another. I stayed in the field hospital for another week before being relocated to Hokkaido—since then, I haven’t heard from my father. The government had officially labeled the attack on Saitama to be the ‘first’ attack made on home soil and was determined to increase the efforts of the Self-Defense Force and the Home Guards two-fold from its original setting to prevent another ‘firebombing’. I still had hope that day, praying that once this war was over we would be reunited once again as a family.

It never came true when Sendai was similarly firebombed on June the following year.

Since then, I had given up hope on ever seeing Papa again.

His last letter, wrinkled yet unopened, became my memento.

-------------

I said my piece. It strangely feels more relieving than tormenting as I initially thought it would be; having Takashi beside me probably credited to it. I clench his hand as comfort to allow my overflowing emotions to settle once more.

It is over.

I have said my piece.

“You did well…” reply Takashi as he pats my shoulder. I can slowly find comfort in his smile. “You did well.”

The ‘Greymen’ starts their discussion; eyes are focused between one another as they record my last statement. I’m slowly feeling a little nauseous at them, their eyes and their responses almost compliment their demeanor—cold, uncaring, impersonal. Throughout this interview, the ‘Greymens’ have successfully maintained a distance and status between ‘them’ and ‘us’, the interviewees. To them, we are probably worth nothing more than test subjects who carry possible valuable information; to us, these ‘information’ could worth more than gold or a life. And they don’t give a damn about it. As much as I sound like ‘begging’ for sympathy, it is the least thing I would wish. I never wished for sympathy—all I want is a little respect to my past, something the ‘Greymen’ fails to convey since the beginning; that made me nauseous.

The silent whisper of the ‘Greymen’ ends, and the rain that builds up outside becomes audible.

“Ms. Ikezawa,” starts one of the ‘Greymen’. “We appreciate your cooperation with us, and we would like to wrap this interview.”

“But, if we could,” they continue. “We would like you to hand over that letter to us.”

“Rest assured the Federation will compensate you on your efforts and participation in this interview.”



I should have known. This interview is far from over until they wring me dry of any valuables, be it my past or my only memento. I can’t give it away—no, I won’t. It is my father’s last gift, my only memento of him. Parting with it means leaving a part of my life behind—my past. But then again, what was my purpose of participating? Mama and Papa told me once before to ‘never let your past be your shackles’, is that what this memento has become? My ‘shackles’…? But parting from it would mean…

No…

I can’t…

“Sakura…”

I turn to my left and notices Takashi’s eyes pointing down to his hand—which I have unconsciously clutch tightly. He realizes and understands the situation I am in, and he’s here as my support.

“Whatever you choose,” he continues. “I will always be by your side to support you.”

“So that’s why, stay strong.”

‘Stay strong’…yes, Mama said the same thing before.

Yes, I should make my decision now.

“Ms. Ikezawa, can we have your answer…?”

With my newfound courage and confidence, I take a deep breath and give my answer.

“I…”

-------------

The long steps of the institution along with the easing weather greet me as I exit the installation towards the ever-changing world that is happening before me. My body aches as I stretch—spending the duration of two to two and a half hours seated under the intense gazes of the ‘Greymen’ is downright nerve-wrecking and uncomfortable. Seconds later, Takashi walks out of the installation sporting a full combat-ready gear of a Federation Trooper, his rifle slung casually to the right of his body armor while his field grey uniform compliments his sharp looks. I give him a smile which he returns casually as he walks towards me. Catching up by my side, he turns to me and starts.

“Well, this is as far as I can take you. Aren’t you glad it is all over?”

I nod. “Y-yeah…”

“It’s nice of you to be able to walk free after this; I still have to get back in there and babysit those historians and officers until we are permitted to leave!”

We both fall into a light laughter. Free, huh? I guess I have never thought about it that way.

“Still, I never expected it…”

He sighs.

“I never guessed that you will hand over that memento of yours to them.”

Yes. I made up my mind and gave away the letter, my only memento of Papa and decided to move on.
It wasn’t an easy decision—never is.

”I’ll hand over the letter,” I replied. The ‘Greymen’ were pleased, quickly ordering Takashi to deliver them their ‘prize’. Swiftly I tugged the letter away, much to the surprise of the ‘Greymen’ and Takashi himself.

“On a few conditions…”

The ‘Greymen’ exchanged their gaze. After a nod from what I assumed to be the ‘leader’ of the ‘Greymen’, they complied to negotiate. “The Federation will compensate you, Ms. Ikezawa, rest assured that…”

“What kind of ‘compensation’…?”

Again, they exchanged their gaze. After a brief period of silence, one of them gave the answer. “We could have the best medical teams to heal the scar you have and…”

“NO…!”

I stood up from my seat, eyes scanning the ‘Greymen’; as if taken by the flow, Takashi, too, was slightly bewildered by my sudden direct confrontation. I smiled at him momentarily before I continued to face the ‘Greymen’.

“This scar…” I stated as I reveal the scar that was obscured by my long hair. “This scar is what I received that day on May 22nd, 2044. It is the result of the firebombing…”

I paused, took a deep breath and build up my courage. “And it is the gift of life my mother gave me.”

“That day, my mother sacrificed herself to save me—her only daughter—from the fire that took away my home, my family, and my life. It is the proof of her love, her existence…”

“And…” I held my tears and forced myself to continue, swallowing a ball of spit in the process. “It is the proof that I am alive.”

“I will not let my scar define who I am.”

Just like my mother and my father…

“So please, don’t take it away from me.”

The ‘Greymen’ continued to maintain their attention at me for another minute after I finished. Even with all that built-up confidence, my legs were slowly giving away and I was on the verge of tumbling back to my seat. Takashi, on the other hand, smirked and gave a ‘thumbs up’ for what he later said to be a ‘well-delivered speech’. After a few minutes of silence, the ‘head’ of the ‘Greymen’ swiftly moves his hand to his friend and signaled him. “Alright Ms. Ikezawa, what would you like to receive for compensation?”

“First, I would like a home in Sendai—my home town. Second, I would like a considerable Federation support for my university tuition for the next four years. Lastly…”
I smiled. This is my ‘goodbye’ to my ‘old world’. “I would like a memorial to be setup in the epicenter of Sendai to commemorate it by.”

“We understand your requests; Ms. Ikezawa…” replied one of them as quickly as I managed to voice them. “We can arrange a single one to two-story house in Sendai, as well as provide you with future financial support in Federal State University, but for the last request…”

The man cleared his throat. “For your last request, we cannot comply without approval from the Marshall and its board of trustees; this may or may not be the best of…”

“Then don’t do it for me,” I replied. The ‘Greymen’ tuned in once again. “Do it for the casualties of the war.”


The ‘Greymen’ soon return to their routine, and after a brief minute complied with my requests and ordered Takashi to deliver them the letter. I gave him the memento, watched it as it was being passed down from my hand to his, and then to the hands of the ‘Greymen’ who quickly filed it into a brown envelope. I was then excused from the scene and was informed of an arranged transport to pick me up—along with a close relative. However, since I have none left, I assumed it to be aunt Satou or Hakamichi. Takashi offered to escort me out of the installation, which the ‘Greymen’ and I appreciate greatly. I stood up from my seat with him following closely behind me, and left the stage, the ‘Greymen’, and my ‘shackles’ forever.

“It wasn’t easy,” I said to Takashi as I comb my bangs. “But I remembered the words my parents said to me about ‘not letting your past be your shackles’. I guess I kind of understand what they meant by that now…”

“Thanks, Takashi,” I continue, turning my figure towards him. “I appreciate your support back then.”

“It is my pleasure, ‘Ms. Ikezawa’.” He replies jokingly. I give in to his dry humor and chuckle.

“That will be your last time white-knighting me though.”

“Oh, how so…?”

“Because from now on,” I remove my gloves and tie my hair—ponytail seems like a good idea. “I am starting anew.”

I steal a glance at Takashi, who watches me with curiosity and interest in his expression as I tie my hair. With this, my scar is clearly visible for everyone to see; a scar that shows the whole world the gift of life my mother gave me. There is nothing for me to be embarrassed or afraid about as I will not let my scar define who I am. Facing off into the distance, I take a deep breath at my fresh start.

“By the way, Takashi…” I said with a smirk. “You said you’re going to tell me how you survived Sendai; so how did you make it out here?”

He chuckles, impressed by my sharp memory. “I’ll tell you next time once you’re settled. By the way, how’s that other eye?”

“You mean my right?”

“Yeah; you’re partially blind, aren’t you?”

I giggle a little, impressed by his discovery. “You can tell?”

“The slight discoloration of the pupil—yeah, I can tell. Why?”

“Nothing…you seem to know a lot about me.”

“Well, that’s…just that…”

I giggle at the sight of Takashi’s slowly blushing face that turns away the second he realizes how red he has become. Our conversation is cut short by his radio, however, as a call for him to report back into the installation comes to life; besides, my arranged transport arrives at the exact moment. I give him a hug—a ‘thank you’ for staying by my side during the interview and wave goodbye as I head down the steps. The door of the vehicle opens, and a figure steps out.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Despite the wear and tear, I recognize that old fashion sweater vest he wore before he left the house, his ruffled light brown hair, and that locket—the ‘omamori’—that dangles in his chest; it is unmistakable. I know it is not possible and I know that this might be a dream or another trick that is plaguing my mind but…

“Sakura…is that you?”

…but if it is, then let me dream a little longer as I start a new chapter in my story.

“PAPA…!”



Fin – Ikezawa no Tegami
Last edited by Megumeru on Sun May 13, 2012 12:57 pm, edited 12 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

themocaw
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by themocaw » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:02 pm

You know, I wonder how a scientist and a rationalist like Mutou would have reacted to the Federation using schools to teach "Moral Philosophy."

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:21 pm

I'm sorry to say, but again the text needs a lot of reworking.
You jumped between present and past tense more than a dozen times, you confused singular and plural several times and a few prepositions are off as well. I suggest you search for a proofreader if you're not yet comfortable with the English language. There are several people here on the forums who would offer their help.

Regarding the grey men... I don't know if they're supposed to be threatening or something, but to me they seem to be imbeciles. They ask stupid questions, like

"[Let's] start from the beginning... When was the last time you received such 'letters'?"
or
"What was that bright light, Ms. Ikezawa?"

and considering they are supposed to be war veterans they seem to have no idea about the war at all.

Another thing: If Hanako was vaporized by the blast, there's no way, the girl she was shielding would come away with only superficial burns.
And the ending... I like happy endings as much as the next guy, but this is just too far-fetched...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
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boredism
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by boredism » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:02 pm

I agree with what Mirage_GSM said.
Especially about the ending. I thought it would be Lilly and/or Akira who would come pick her up or something.
Hisao coming back just seems far-fetched.
Still, its an interesting read.

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Megumeru
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by Megumeru » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:10 pm

themocaw wrote:You know, I wonder how a scientist and a rationalist like Mutou would have reacted to the Federation using schools to teach "Moral Philosophy."
Oooh I'd actually love to write something about that! Considering how the Federation actually uses them as a thinly-disguised recruitment center, I'd say Mutou would be one of the more vocal individual about it but would often keep it to himself or to the student he trusts with.
Mirage_GSM wrote:Regarding the grey men... I don't know if they're supposed to be threatening or something, but to me they seem to be imbeciles. They ask stupid questions, like

"[Let's] start from the beginning... When was the last time you received such 'letters'?"
or
"What was that bright light, Ms. Ikezawa?"

and considering they are supposed to be war veterans they seem to have no idea about the war at all.
remember when I mentioned that no story in each arc were linked, and that they were all to be treated separately? They technically are not inter-related, but I didn't mention that you cannot link what is going on behind the scenes. There's more to the greymens and what they're really after--the interview is just a cover-up on their purpose.

threatening? nawh. Some of them were war veterans and historians, but they're coming off more as mysterious or faceless. Like I said, they have an agenda not *yet* revealed, so you can't judge them just yet. It's just the icing of the cake; they knew about the war more than anyone, but is practically keeping most of the information to themselves for...reasons. It'll be on later chapters.
Mirage_GSM wrote: Another thing: If Hanako was vaporized by the blast, there's no way, the girl she was shielding would come away with only superficial burns.
And the ending... I like happy endings as much as the next guy, but this is just too far-fetched..
The nature of this 'weapon' is still 'in the dark', and there hasn't been much details given to it other than:

a. it's a weapon of destructive magnitude
b. it's light and heat-based
c. it's non-radioactive
d. it's code-named 'Nova'

There's a lot of ways to survive the weapon considering its nature and how it operates. Hisao survived for a reason--I'll get to that on later chapters (hinted, more or less), and Sakura's survival also has its reason which I'll keep to myself until later chapters when the full-nature of the weapon is uncovered (she doesn't escape with just superficial burns).

For now, I'll just keep you guessing on what it does, how it works, it's deliverance system, etc.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:20 am

Some of them were war veterans and historians, but they're coming off more as mysterious or faceless.
Maybe that's what you intended, but they don't.
They come off as arrogant assholes with no sense of empathy and no clue about what they are doing. At one time I was reminded of preschoolers trying to do an interview.
The nature of this 'weapon' is still 'in the dark', and there hasn't been much details given to it other than:
a. it's a weapon of destructive magnitude
b. it's light and heat-based
c. it's non-radioactive
d. it's code-named 'Nova'
There's a lot of ways to survive the weapon considering its nature and how it operates...
Well, I have no idea about Hisao, but for a heat based weapon to selectively vaporize one person and leave another person cradled by he first one unharmed it would have to be able to shut off convection. Even if that were technically possible (You're writing Sci-Fi after all) you don't usually build something like that into a Weapon of Mass Destruction - kind of defeats the purpose...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Megumeru
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by Megumeru » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:02 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:Maybe that's what you intended, but they don't.
They come off as arrogant assholes with no sense of empathy and no clue about what they are doing. At one time I was reminded of preschoolers trying to do an interview.
if they actually come off as that, I think it did the purpose of what I meant them to be--although mostly, I guess it's a miss-miss too considering they lack that dark and mysterious side and instead came more as a bunch of asshats. They do have an objective--it's just subtly hinted, and as much as I want to write ATM, I haven't even get to the juicy stuff I plan to reveal about them.

Yeah, they do come off as arrogant pricks with seemingly higher social-standing. Don't worry, the time will come to eventually reveal what is really going on :D
Mirage_GSM wrote:Well, I have no idea about Hisao, but for a heat based weapon to selectively vaporize one person and leave another person cradled by he first one unharmed it would have to be able to shut off convection. Even if that were technically possible (You're writing Sci-Fi after all) you don't usually build something like that into a Weapon of Mass Destruction - kind of defeats the purpose...
I only gave some highlights of what it is assumed to be. Is it really a purely heat-based weapon? What is it's purpose? More importantly, why bother detonating one on a small town/city?

hmm...:D

Don't get your hopes up yet, there's more to this weapon than what it is intended or mentioned to be. It'll be revealed in time through a number of different eyewitnesses, each will give minor details about the Federation, the 'Nova warhead', the War, and the 'Greys' or 'Greymen'. I think I've said too much...

EDIT: Lilly's next. Might take awhile, need some sorting to do
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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CarnivalNights
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by CarnivalNights » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:34 pm

That was a pretty badass read.

I like it. I like it a lot. Now all you need is an artist to give us some awesome future war pictures.
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Lothbrok
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Re: Sensou no Tegami (War Letters)

Post by Lothbrok » Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:24 am

Yay more scifi fanfics the last one i read was Wrens it was so good i wish he would continue it :(

But man this is good stuff can't wait for more!

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