From: Oregon, USA
April 20, 1945
Attached to: TF 21
Mission: Surface combat
System Damage: 0
Float Damage: 0
Orders: Proceed south and raid enemy shipping
“I cannot stay long,” Riku tells Ensign Mark Turnby “I must be back in Ominato by morning.” The two men are sitting together just outside Kawasaki camp number 2-B.
“I appreciate you coming by at all,” Turnby says. The men are speaking English.
“It is not a trouble,” says Riku. He smiles a little. “My backer and I have much money invested in you by now,” he says. “I wished to make sure my investment was safe.”
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’ve done for us,” Turnby says. “Me and Jack and everyone here. A lot more of us would have died if it wasn’t for you.”
“I heard about deaths from the commander here,” Riku says. “I truly am very sorry.”
“Hell, it wasn’t your fault,” Turnby says. He laughs shortly. “Our own guys, who’d have thought it?” He looks across the street where a large chemical plant formerly stood. The factory is now nothing but a few brick walls, twisted metal beams, and smokestacks poking up out of a field of rubble. Bomb craters are everywhere, including one only a few yards from where the two men sit. That the main building of the POW camp is still standing seems like a miracle.
“I cannot do anything about bombers,” says Riku. “But money will continue to be paid even if something happens to me. So you should still be treated well.” Turnby nods. He looks around at the ruined buildings nearby and then back at Riku.
“Look, Ariga,” he says. “Maybe you can tell me something. We’ve heard that Germany is all but finished. You say we have the Marianas, we have Iwo Jima, and we’re working on the Rickyous, or whatever those islands are just south of the mainland. It’s obvious that Japan’s nuts are in a vise. How long do you think your people will keep fighting?”
Riku says nothing at first, mostly because he is trying to work out the meaning of the phrase “nuts in a vise” and failing. Finally he asks. Turnby elaborates.
“Ah,” says Riku, brightening, “kintama! In a crusher. Well, certainly this is true.” He sighs. “My friend, I do not know. We Japanese do not think as your people do about many things. There are many who say that the war is over and all there can be done is to make peace. But if Prime Minister Yonai seems to lean in that way there are those in the Army who will force him out, if they do not first kill him.”
“The ones who started this war,” he continues, “I think maybe they will never surrender. Or not unless the Emperor tells them to, very directly. But this would be against tradition.”
“See, that’s one thing I don’t get,” says Turnby. “He’s your Emperor! Your people think he’s some kind of god. How can he have so much power but still have so little?”
Riku tries to explain, to tell the young American officer about the Emperor’s peculiar status in Japanese politics. In the end he is not sure if he succeeds. Turnby still looks a bit confused.
“I think I might be willing to get a little untraditional,” the American says, “if it would save so many lives. I guess you’re right, I don’t think the way you people do. Just try not to be one of the casualties, okay? I want a chance to repay you and your friend some day for everything you’ve done.”
“I will do best I can,” Riku assures him. “But it will not be easy. Your navy and air force – their power is very great now.”
“I can see that,” says Turnby, looking out over the wreckage of the Kawasaki waterfront. “I surely can.”