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RE: Small Ship, Big War

 
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RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/7/2009 9:57:28 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline
November 22, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

“The ship is yours for the next two weeks, Exec,” says Ishii. He lifts his sea bag. “Take good care of her.”

“I will try to keep Hibiki afloat, sir,” says Lieutenant Miharu. “Do not worry about us. Try not to worry about anything, for that matter.” Miharu returned the previous evening and Ishii, after patiently listening to the lieutenant’s enraptured accounts of his baby daughter, told him about the ulcers.

“Hrmph,” says Ishii. “These are worrying times. But I will do my best.”

“We should be safely in port the entire time you are gone,” says the lieutenant. “Not much can happen to us here.”

“With this crew?” Ishii snorts. “You know better than that.” But his tone is not without humor and to his executive officer Ishii seems to have a bit more spring in his step than he has had in a while. The two officers exchange salutes and then Ishii trudges down the gangway to where the taxi waits to take him to the train station.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4021
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/7/2009 9:58:46 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline
November 23, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

Allied troops occupy several small islands in the northern Bonins. Early in the morning, following several days of air attacks and a heavy bombardment, men begin to land at Chichi Jima, the only island in the area with a significant Japanese presence.

The landings are extremely difficult, perhaps the most hazardous conducted during the entire Pacific campaign. In many places U.S. troops must come ashore by swarming up bluffs and steep, rugged cliffs, all the while under unexpectedly strong Japanese fire. Casualties are very heavy. Despite the difficulties, however, several footholds are established on the island.

But these are just footholds and the rugged terrain promises a difficult campaign ahead. In the meantime Allied surface forces and carrier groups hover protectively nearby. The possibility that the Japanese might attack the transports, as they did at Iwo, cannot be discounted.

At Tokyo Bay, however, Hibiki and the other Japanese warships remain at anchor. The fleet is too damaged and needs time to rest and repair before trying to engage the enemy again. It is galling to do nothing while on Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima their countrymen are fighting valiantly to hold off the enemy. Yet more than one sailor feels a sense of relief that they will not be called on again so soon to face the enemy’s firepower. No one says so aloud, of course.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4022
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/8/2009 8:21:28 PM   
Capt. Harlock


Posts: 4258
Joined: 9/15/2001
From: Los Angeles
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quote:

In many places U.S. troops must come ashore by swarming up bluffs and steep, rugged cliffs, all the while under unexpectedly strong Japanese fire. Casualties are very heavy. Despite the difficulties, however, several footholds are established on the island.

But these are just footholds and the rugged terrain promises a difficult campaign ahead.


An interesting time bomb is now ticking. What happens when the U.S. forces find out about the cannibalism of their prisoners? (And what happens when the Americans get an operational airfield on Chichi Jima?)

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4023
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 1:10:15 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline
November 24, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

Riku, Shiro, and Oizuma are walking down a narrow street near the docks. The street is a typical one for a waterfront area, with long low wooden warehouses on one side of the street. Through gaps between building the superstructures and masts of ships can sometimes be seen, and here and there a glimpse of the waters of the bay.

On the other side of the street are shabby storefronts; marine supply companies, second-rate maritime law firms, taverns and bars, and shops selling a wide range of goods, many of dubious value or provenance. A scattering of other pedestrians can be seen up and down the street but no cars are visible; by this stage of the war there are very few private vehicles still running.

The three friends are returning to the ship and passing the time as they walk by talking about women. This is a time-honored occupation among sailors, though these days it mostly means that Shiro and Oizuma are listening patiently to Riku talk about his latest letters from Nanami. The only notice that the three take of the elderly woman in their path is to politely step around her to give her room to pass. The crone, however, does not pass. Instead she plants herself on the sidewalk in front of the three and looks up at them, cocking her head to one side in a bird-like manner as she does so.

“Sailors three!” she says in a voice cracked with age. “Would you purchase my charms?” She is dressed in a worn shapeless black garment and has a shawl around her head. In one hand she is carrying a large covered wooden basket.

“Charms?” says Riku, looking dubious.

“Charms!” says the old woman, and cackles. From somewhere she brings out a trio of colorful omamori, traditional Japanese good luck charms. “I have charms for luck, charms for success in business or love, charms to keep a sailor safe from harm.”

The three men do not immediately dismiss her as a crackpot or charlatan. Theirs is a culture that is familiar and comfortable with charms and unseen forces. It has not been that long, for instance, since the three of them helped fashion an omamori for the luckless Shoji in an effort to stop his string of near-fatal accidents. The fact that it seems to have worked might be due to chance, to an increase in confidence on Shoji’s part, or just perhaps to some virtue within the charm. None of the three are prepared to say for sure one way or another. And of course many of the crew faithfully wear senninbari made for them by wives, sweethearts, and mothers.

“Perhaps you need a maneki neko?” says the old woman. The “beckoning cat” charms are frequently found in shop windows. The woman rummages in her basket and pulls out a colorful carved image of a smiling cat with one paw upraised. “Or maybe,” she says, replacing it and rummaging through the basket once again, “a real cat!” Out of the basket she suddenly draws a small black kitten, which she thrusts out towards Oizuma. The kitten yowls and Oizuma steps back in surprise. The woman cackles.

“Um, thank you, but I don’t think having a cat aboard Hibiki is a good idea,” says Oizuma.

“Why not?” says the woman. She pets the kitten with one bony hand and puts it back in the basket, then peers closely at Oizuma. “All ships should have a cat, everyone knows they bring luck. But…hmm…” She sets down the basket. “Give me your hand,” she demands suddenly.

“My hand?” says Oizuma. The woman just stares at him, her eyes bright in her wrinkled face. Reluctantly Oizuma extends his left hand. The woman seizes it and examines it closely. Then she reaches up and passes her hand across his forehead.

“Oh ho!” she cackles, releasing him. “No charms for you boys today! You belong to her. But she calls to you, have you not heard her?”

“Calls?” says Riku. Shiro shakes his head.

“Go to Enoshima,” says the woman. She picks up her basket and totters past the three sailors. When she is a short distance away she calls “Enoshima!” one more time, then says nothing more as she vanishes up the street. The three sailors just stand there for a moment and look at one another.

“That was…odd,” says Shiro. The other two agree, and the three of them resume their course back towards the ship.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4024
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 2:39:32 AM   
Alikchi

 

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From: Edmond, Oklahoma, US
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Well, that was ominous. And well-written, as always. A good portrait of the city (which sounds depressingly flammable).

Don't look up Enoshima unless you want spoilers, but I will say this much - I'm excited..

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- Sarah Vowell


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Post #: 4025
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 2:19:36 PM   
Feinder


Posts: 6587
Joined: 9/4/2002
From: Land o' Lakes, FL
Status: offline
Sounds cool to me!

-F-

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Post #: 4026
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 2:50:50 PM   
kaleun

 

Posts: 4760
Joined: 5/29/2002
From: Colorado
Status: offline
Must resist urge.....Must resist urge....



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Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

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Post #: 4027
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 3:20:16 PM   
Terminus


Posts: 41377
Joined: 4/23/2005
From: Denmark
Status: offline
I couldn't help myself. Very clever, CF...

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We are all dreams of the Giant Space Butterfly.

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Post #: 4028
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 3:38:50 PM   
Lecivius


Posts: 1570
Joined: 8/5/2007
From: Denver
Status: online
Agreed, a well woven sub plot.

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Post #: 4029
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 7:40:22 PM   
mdiehl

 

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Joined: 10/21/2000
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Isn't Enoshima the island where these guys live?



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Show me a fellow who rejects statistical analysis a priori and I'll show you a fellow who has no knowledge of statistics.

Didn't we have this conversation already?

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Post #: 4030
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 7:50:47 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

Isn't Enoshima the island where these guys live?




Oh, don't tempt me like that. I loved those movies when I was a kid. I can see the scene all too clearly:

Lookout: Sir, there's a disturbance in the sea on the port side!

Lieutenant Miharu: My god, what is that!?

Captain Ishii: Aieee! Gojira! Gojira!

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Post #: 4031
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 8:16:42 PM   
Shark7


Posts: 7148
Joined: 7/24/2007
From: The Big Nowhere
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: Cuttlefish


quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

Isn't Enoshima the island where these guys live?




Oh, don't tempt me like that. I loved those movies when I was a kid. I can see the scene all too clearly:

Lookout: Sir, there's a disturbance in the sea on the port side!

Lieutenant Miharu: My god, what is that!?

Captain Ishii: Aieee! Gojira! Gojira!


ROFL! What a mental image. You just had me laughing like I haven't laughed in a long time. I actually laughed until tears were flowing.

Small Ship, HUGE Godzilla!


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Distant Worlds Fan

'When in doubt...attack!'

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Post #: 4032
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 8:20:32 PM   
Capt. Harlock


Posts: 4258
Joined: 9/15/2001
From: Los Angeles
Status: offline
quote:

“Um, thank you, but I don’t think having a cat aboard Hibiki is a good idea,” says Oizuma.

“Why not?” says the woman.


Because it's likely to end up in the belly of a python?

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

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Post #: 4033
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 8:21:51 PM   
Mike Solli


Posts: 14016
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From: the flight deck of the Zuikaku
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I wouldn't look at the picture when mdiehl posted it.  I thought it would give away something.

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Created by the amazing Dixie

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Post #: 4034
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 9:14:31 PM   
mdiehl

 

Posts: 5998
Joined: 10/21/2000
Status: offline
quote:

I thought it would give away something.


Only that we're all a bunch of nerds!

I watched all these sorts of movies when I was a kid too. On "Creature Feature" hosted by Dale Dorman. I even thought Reptilicus was cool; I still do, even though it clearly needs hand puppets and Mike Nelson commentary.

Anyhow, thanks Cuttlefish for tolerating this brief thread hijack!

_____________________________

Show me a fellow who rejects statistical analysis a priori and I'll show you a fellow who has no knowledge of statistics.

Didn't we have this conversation already?

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Post #: 4035
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 10:10:32 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline
November 25, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

“She sounds like quite a character,” says Yoshitake. Oizuma, Riku, and Shiro have been telling Yoshitake and Shoji about their encounter with the old woman the previous day.

“I think she was a little mad,” says Riku.

“Why do you say that?” says Shoji curiously. Of all of them he has the most faith in charms and magic.

“She had the chance to sell us something and then stopped,” says Riku. “Who does that?” Riku, by contrast, tends to place his faith in the forces of commerce and profit.

“I think maybe we should take her seriously,” says Oizuma. “Maybe we really should go to Enoshima. It’s only forty kilometers or so from here, after all.” Enoshima is a small island in Sagami Bay.

“You go if you like, Snake Man,” says Riku. “But if we start listening to every half-crazed mystic in Tokyo we are going to end up running around in circles.” He begins pulling on his shoes. “I have to go, I’m on duty in a couple of minutes.”

“What do you think, Shiro?” Oizuma asks. Shiro shrugs.

“It was a rather strange encounter,” he says, then turns more thoughtful. “Still, the thought of visiting the shrine there actually has crossed my mind once or twice. It would hard for all of us to get leave at the same time, though, and I somehow have the feeling that that is what is supposed to happen.”

“You’ve spent too much time firing that twenty-five, Kuramata,” Riku tells Shiro. “It’s rattled your brain. I’ll see you guys.” He departs quickly.

---

“Ah, there you are, Ariga,” says Paymaster Lieutenant JG Kataoka. “Come with me for a moment, would you?” Riku tucks his clipboard under his arm and follows the slightly rotund officer down a companionway to the storeroom where Kataoka keeps his desk.

“I have a job for you,” Kataoka says. He kneels and begins to dial the combination to the safe beside his desk.

“Certainly, sir,” says Riku.

“This is a little out of the ordinary,” says Kataoka. “It’s a personal matter, actually. I need a package delivered to a man in Fujisawa. I can’t get away myself, and there isn’t anyone other than yourself that I know I can trust to do it.” He finishes dialing and opens the door of the safe.

“Fujisawa, sir?” says Riku.

“Yes,” says Kataoka. “To the southwest. You know, where that island is, Enoshima.”

“I’ve heard of it,” says Riku faintly.

Kataoka withdraws a small wrapped parcel from the safe and sets it on the desk between them. “This is rather valuable,” he says. “Take a couple of friends with you, just in case, men you can trust. I’ll arrange passes for whoever you select.”

“Yes sir,” says Riku automatically. He stares at the package as if it were a scorpion. The paymaster misinterprets his look.

“Do not worry,” he says. “There is nothing illegal about this. But it is a sensitive matter and I would prefer to keep it personal. Will you do it?”

With an effort Riku looks up. “Of course, sir,” he says. He takes a breath. “The passes will be for Senior Seamen Kuramata and Oizuma,” he says.

“Very good, I will see to it,” says Kataoka. “You will depart tomorrow morning. Take some time if you like and do some sightseeing down there once this business it taken care of. It will do you good to get out of these stuffy holds.”

“Thank you, sir,” says Riku. “I…I may just do that.”


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Post #: 4036
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/9/2009 10:28:15 PM   
kaleun

 

Posts: 4760
Joined: 5/29/2002
From: Colorado
Status: offline
Music from "Jaws"


Aaaaaarghh!
(Sits on edge of seat, chews on nails)


_____________________________

Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

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Post #: 4037
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/11/2009 9:34:10 PM   
ChezDaJez


Posts: 3423
Joined: 11/12/2004
From: Chehalis, WA
Status: offline
bump

_____________________________

Ret Navy AWCS (1972-1998)
VP-5, Jacksonville, Fl 1973-78
ASW Ops Center, Rota, Spain 1978-81
VP-40, Mt View, Ca 1981-87
Patrol Wing 10, Mt View, CA 1987-90
ASW Ops Center, Adak, Ak 1990-92
NRD Seattle 1992-96
VP-46, Whidbey Isl, Wa 1996-98

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Post #: 4038
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/12/2009 2:36:47 AM   
thegreatwent


Posts: 3009
Joined: 8/24/2004
From: Denver, CO
Status: offline
CF, I hear by nominate you as a true master of literary burlesque!

One piece at a time, show just enough to keep them interested. Then when they can't take anymore change perspective and heighten the intrigue. Whether by Sir Conan Doyle, Umberto Eco or other master storyteller the tease keeps the reader riveted.

Thanks again for the effort

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Post #: 4039
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/12/2009 11:14:44 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline
November 26, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

Fog covers Sagami Bay. It shrouds the waters of the bay, flat and gray in the still, cool air. It veils Mount Fuji, which usually dominates the scene. And it renders Enoshima, only a few hundred feet from shore, almost invisible.

Through the murk grope three Japanese sailors, picking their way across the strand towards the unseen island. At low tide one can walk there from the mainland. On pleasant summer days this land bridge is often crowded with people heading towards the island, but as far as Riku, Shiro, and Oizuma can tell they have the crossing to themselves. But with the fog so thick it is hard to really tell.

The only sound they can hear other than their own footsteps scrunching through the sand is a bell, doubtless attached to some buoy, whose sound comes tolling occasionally across the water. The blanket of fog muffles the sound, though, and makes it impossible to tell from which direction the sound is actually coming.

Soon the three reach the island. They ascend a flight of worn stone steps and pass through a small village, then start up a steep path winding upwards. Trees overhang the path on either side, and fog condensing on the needles and bare branches forms drops that patter steadily down onto the loam to either side of the path. As they approach the top of the small island the three men can discern a new sound coming eerily through the fog. Though it seems a little uncanny in the thick fog it is unmistakably the sound of someone playing a lute.

The path emerges into a small plaza floored with gray stones, cracked with age. Ahead, dimly glimpsed, is the oddly angled roof of a small shrine. On a bench just beyond the orange archway in front of them sits a Shinto priestess, dressed in the traditional white blouse and red skirt of her office. She is the one playing the lute, and as the three men slowly approach she finishes what she is playing and looks up at them. The last notes of the music seem to hang for a moment in the heavy air.

The three men bow respectfully. The priestess, not a young woman but not an old one either, smiles at them.

“Three sailors,” she comments. “You are the first people I have seen here in several hours. It has been a quiet afternoon. What brings you to our little island this day?”

“I’m not really sure,” says Riku, at the same time Oizuma says “We are here to pray at the shrine of Benzaiten.” The priestess tilts her head to one side and looks at Shiro as if asking him to break the deadlock.

“Forgive us, we are a little confused,” says Shiro. “You see, it all started when we were in Borneo and Sn…um, Oizuma here bought this snake…” He ends up telling her about how Benzaiten the snake came on board and the ship’s uncanny luck ever since. Riku and Shiro chime in from time to time and they conclude with their strange encounter with the crone selling charms and the coincidence that sent them to this area the very next day.

“And so here we are,” concludes Shiro. The other two nod. The woman seems to consider things for a moment.

“Luck is a strange thing,” she says at last. “We may throw a pair of dice down onto a table, and call it good luck or bad depending on which way they fall. Yet the faces they show when they land are in fact determined the instant they leave the thrower’s hand. Simple physics tells us this. Yet the fact that no human can calculate all the forces involved that quickly does not mean that how they fall is guided by some unknown agency.”

“Or,” she continues, “take another example, one perhaps closer to the matter at hand. A torpedo strikes your ship, yet does not explode. Your crewmates might talk about how lucky you were. But if you knew the history of the failed weapon it is certain you would find a reason it failed. Perhaps there was some flaw in the design. Perhaps whoever assembled the warhead in some distant American city had a fight with his wife the previous day and was not paying sufficient attention to the work his hands were doing.”

“But,” says Oizuma, “would it not be good fortune that the defective torpedo is the one that struck us, and not one that would explode?”

“Again,” she says, “if one knew everything, one would see why things happened as they did. The chain of events that lead to that particular torpedo being the one that struck you would be long, but if you could follow it back every link in the chain would make perfect sense.”

“It is a little unusual,” comments Shiro, “to listen to a priestess speaking of a perfectly rational, deterministic universe.” The woman smiles.

“We may admit,” she says, “that the outcome of every event is determined by many, many factors. Men cannot see all these factors and so they talk about luck. But perhaps a god – or a goddess – might be able to perceive such a chain entire, not only the links that stretch into the past but those that stretch into the future. If so, then they could tell just what effect a slight push or tug on a certain point of the chain could produce.”

“It sounds like what you are saying,” says Riku slowly, “is that the gods know how to cheat.” Shiro raises an eyebrow and Oizuma looks scandalized.

The priestess laughs, decorously covering her mouth as she does so. It occurs to all three men that she is uncommonly attractive. “Oh, there is no doubt of that,” she says. “The trick, I think, is knowing when to cheat, and why.

“But forgive me. You wish to know why you are here. I am sorry that I cannot tell you. It may all truly be coincidence. Or perhaps your keeping the snake and naming it so has tickled her fancy and it amuses her to protect you. Or perhaps even she sees beyond the end of the war and wishes to preserve some of you for some greater purpose. I cannot say. But, since you are here, go into the shrine. Pray to her. It cannot hurt, and perhaps some wisdom might come to you.”

“Thank you,” says Oizuma. “We will do as you suggest.” The three men bow, then walk to the shrine and step inside. In a niche in the back wall is a small statue of the goddess, a very old one with eight arms, each holding some weapon or household implement. This image harkens back to the goddess’s roots as Sarasvati, a Hindu goddess, though the three men do not know this. Each of the three kneels to pray while outside the lute begins to play once again.

---

It is some while later when the three emerge. The fog has lifted somewhat but it is growing dark. An old man comes shuffling around the corner, lighting lanterns that hang here and there. Of the priestess there is no sign. All three men have a thoughtful look about them.

“Well,” says Oizuma, “I still do not know why we came here, but somehow I am glad we did.” Shiro nods.

“Pardon me,” Riku asks the caretaker, “but where did the priestess go? I would like to speak to her again before we leave.”

“Priestess?” says the old man. “Many pardons, young sir, but there is no priestess here today. Just me. A couple of miko come up here from the village each morning, but we have no priestess right now.”

“But she was here!” says Riku. “Seated on that bench, right there, playing a lute.” The old man looks at him oddly.

“I have been around all afternoon and seen no one but you three,” he says. The sailors look at each other.

“He is kind of old,” murmurs Oizuma. “And probably not all that observant.” Riku nods. Shiro says nothing. He notices something out of the corner of his eye, a slight movement. He turns his head just in time to catch a glimpse of a small white snake slithering away into the undergrowth. He says nothing to the other two, however.

The three men start off down the path and back towards the mainland.

---

Enoshima as depicted in a woodcut circa 1930:







Attachment (1)

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4040
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/12/2009 11:29:58 PM   
vettim89


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From: Toledo, Ohio
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That, our honored friend, may be your best one yet!

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Post #: 4041
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/12/2009 11:40:55 PM   
kaleun

 

Posts: 4760
Joined: 5/29/2002
From: Colorado
Status: offline
Beautiful; simply beautiful.

_____________________________

Appear at places to which he must hasten; move swiftly where he does not expect you.
Sun Tzu

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Post #: 4042
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/13/2009 5:55:27 AM   
Marc gto

 

Posts: 229
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From: Batavia,ohio,usa
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you do know how to write a great story cf

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Post #: 4043
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/13/2009 9:10:20 AM   
hosho


Posts: 123
Joined: 10/21/2005
From: zagreb, croatia
Status: offline
Hi there,

I have been reading this "AAR novel" for some time now, and I must say that this story MUST BE PUBLISHED! Cuttlefish your writing is simply amazing!

P.S. Don`t keep us addicts waiting for too long, we all need our Hibiki fix

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the first ones are remembered

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Post #: 4044
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/13/2009 7:00:52 PM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
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November 27, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

Hibiki remains anchored in Tokyo Bay. Ensign Izu stands at the stern, watching a convoy of eight large troop ships being shepherded past by a handful of older destroyers. Izu identifies the closest destroyer as a Mutsuki class, probably only seven or so years older than Hibiki but significantly older than that in design. Soldiers line the rails of the troop ships. Izu thinks of his father, whose unit is somewhere in the Philippines.

Ensign Konada, his uniform immaculate as always, comes up beside him and surveys the passing convoy. “Where do you suppose they are going?” he asks. “Could they be reinforcements for Iwo Jima or Chichi Jima?” Izu shrugs.

“There is no way to tell,” he says. “I hope not, for their sake. The chance that any of them would reach shore alive is very small. But I expect they are going to the Ryukyus, or the Philippines, someplace like that. Wherever the enemy is expected to attack after the Bonins.”

“Is it not defeatist to think the enemy will conquer the Bonins?” Konada asks. His tone is of polite inquiry. Izu glances at him.

“It is practical,” says Izu, a trifle shortly. "Wars are won by planning and execution, not by hope or blind faith."

Konada ponders this for a minute. “That makes sense,” he admits. The two men watch the ships for another moment, then Konada departs.

Izu watches him go. He finds himself having to shake off an irrational dislike of the young officer lately, and it suddenly occurs to him why. It isn’t his spit-and-polish attitude or his relentless reverence of authority. The kid does try hard and he is at least willing to learn. No, the crime of which he is guilty is one over which he has no control. Try to be fair, Izu tells himself. It isn’t Konada’s fault that he isn’t Ensign Handa.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4045
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/13/2009 8:19:44 PM   
Capt. Harlock


Posts: 4258
Joined: 9/15/2001
From: Los Angeles
Status: offline
quote:

“It is a little unusual,” comments Shiro, “to listen to a priestess speaking of a perfectly rational, deterministic universe.” The woman smiles.


Once again, a brilliant twist -- a goddess telling her followers not to trust to blind faith.

_____________________________

Civil war? What does that mean? Is there any foreign war? Isn't every war fought between men, between brothers?

--Victor Hugo

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4046
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/14/2009 1:11:22 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline
November 28, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

Excerpt from “Japanese Destroyer Attack!” by Shiro Kuramata, Ballentine Mori Press, 1963. Translated by Captain Ben Packard, USN (ret.). Original Japanese title: “Small Ship, Big War”:


As I prayed at the shrine on Enoshima a conviction slowly grew in me that I would survive the war. By the time we left I was certain of it, though I could not say how I knew. As this obviously proved to be the case I was left to wonder whether it was chance that I survived or whether some other agency was involved.

To this day I have no answer. These days, when belief in the old ways is waning, it may be easy to scoff at the idea that Benzaiten had her hand hovering protectively over our ship. Even to me it sometimes sounds silly. But it was easier to believe in such things then. Remember that in those days there were many of us who truly believed that the Emperor was the son of Heaven. The war changed many things.

I did not mention my newfound conviction that I would survive to my friends. For one thing, I did not want to tempt fate by speaking about it out loud. But I think the main reason was that I did not know whether anyone else would survive with me.


(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4047
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/14/2009 1:13:43 AM   
Cuttlefish

 

Posts: 2454
Joined: 1/24/2007
From: Oregon, USA
Status: offline
November 29, 1944

Location: Tokyo
Course: None
Attached to: Disbanded in port
Mission: None
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Fires: 0
Fuel: 475

Orders: None

---

Captain Ishii awakens in his home in Hyogo Prefecture and is for a moment disoriented. He does not know where he is. The floor beneath his sleeping mat does not move, and instead of the smell of oil and sea and sweat he smells breakfast being prepared.

Home. That’s right, he is home. The morning sun is coming in strongly through the window. How long has it been since he slept this late? Ishii cannot remember. But to have slept so is a blessing. There is a second mat folded under his head and shoulders, elevating them, and it is the first night in some time that Ishii can recall sleeping soundly.

His wife comes in, carrying a tray, and smiles at him. Ishii smiles back. She is no longer the delicate young woman that he married, it seems like such a little time ago. But her face is no less dear to him for all of that, even if there are lines there now that didn’t used to be there. He starts to get up, but then his wife clucks at him.

“Stay there,” she says. “I do not often get a chance to wait on you the way a good wife should.” She kneels and sets a tray down next to him. There is rice, of course, and miso soup, along with a bit of fish and a few pickled plums. These latter are a real extravagance in these difficult times, and Ishii cocks an eyebrow at his wife.

“Don’t say a word, husband,” she says. “I have been saving these. Just enjoy them.” And Ishii does. He savors his breakfast and then after a while rises, puts on a kimono, and goes out to sit in the garden. After a while his wife comes out and sits beside him. Despite the season it is warm enough in the sunshine and almost against his will Ishii finds he is able to relax a little more with each passing day.

He just wishes he could make himself stop scanning the koi pond for periscopes.

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4048
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/14/2009 4:36:57 AM   
Hornblower


Posts: 1359
Joined: 9/10/2003
From: New York'er relocated to Chicago
Status: offline
excellent

(in reply to Cuttlefish)
Post #: 4049
RE: Small Ship, Big War - 1/14/2009 11:19:42 AM   
veji1

 

Posts: 960
Joined: 7/9/2005
Status: offline
Brilliant as always... I guess everybody reads this story his own way but in my mind I can see the comic book... Brilliant..

(in reply to Hornblower)
Post #: 4050
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