From: Oregon, USA
May 23, 1945
Attached to: TF 21
Mission: Surface combat
System Damage: 3
Float Damage: 0
Orders: Await further orders
At 1000 hours a boat from shore comes alongside Hibiki. Up the ladder comes a slender, neatly dressed captain in the Tokubetsu Koto Keisatsu. The name is usually shortened to Tokko, though they sometimes call themselves “Peace Police.” “Thought Police” is the term used by many other Japanese, as their job is to seek out subversives and members of dangerous ideologies and arrest them. With the Tokko officer are two guards. Bringing up the rear is a lieutenant of the Tokkeitai.
Lieutenant Kuwaki, the officer of the deck, is there to meet them. He greets them courteously enough, though he is obviously not thrilled to see them. The Tokko captain announces that he wishes to see Leading Seaman Hikaru Shoji. It is also desirable that the ship’s captain join them, he says.
Kuwaki wastes no time in sending for both. He then stands there in an at ease posture and offers no further comment.
Ishii gets there first. He strides up and exchanges salutes with the Tokkeitai officer, then speaks.
“I am Lieutenant Commander Ishii, captain of this ship,” he says in a slightly terse voice. “To what do I owe the honor of this visit?”
“I am Captain Hisoka Karubo,” replies the Tokko officer. “With me is Lieutenant Inaba.” He does not introduce the two pieces of muscle. Lieutenant Inaba bows slightly but offers no comment. Ishii notes that Inaba has positioned himself a little apart from the Tokko.
“We are here,” continues Karubo crisply, “to investigate a case of subversion and defeatism regarding one of your men, Captain. One Hikaru Shoji, to be precise.”
“Subversion?” asks Ishii in a low voice. He can feel anger begin to build and forces it down for the moment. Karubo nods but is spared reply by the arrival of Shoji himself. The sailor is still buttoning his jacket and approaches the group with obvious trepidation. Despite his nerves he comes quickly forward and offers a crisp salute.
"Leading Seaman Shoji reporting as ordered, sir,” says Shoji.
“Ah, Shoji,” says Captain Karubo. He reaches into his jacket and pulls out a letter, then hands it to the sailor. “Are you the one who wrote this letter?” Shoji takes the letter and looks at it.
“Yes sir,” he says in obvious confusion. “I wrote this to my sister last month. What is…” He is interrupted by Karubo reaching out and taking the letter back. Karubo reads from the letter.
“’I don’t think the fighting can last much longer,’” he reads. “’We are doing our best but the enemy is too strong. It is bitter to say but I think that we will be defeated before the year is over.’” The Tokko officer lowers the letter. “Captain Ishii, this kind of talk is defeatism at its worst. Left unchecked it can spread throughout a crew like a cancer. Wisdom dictates that we take this young man and assess his activities at length.”
Now the anger within Ishii is pulsing redly behind his eyes. He takes a long breath before replying.
“The course of wisdom,” he says, “is to leave this valuable crewman where he is so that he can continue to do what he has done for three and a half years, which is battle the enemy.” Shoji, who looks scared half to death, manages to notice his captain’s reference to him as “valuable.” He straightens slightly and squares his shoulders.
“In any event,” Ishii continues, “the Tokko is a civilian agency. You have no authority here.”
“You would be surprised where we have authority these days, Captain,” says Karubo silkily. “But just to make sure the niceties are observed we have Lieutenant Inaba, who does have authority here.” Lieutenant Inaba inclines his head slightly, though again he says nothing and shows no expression.
A small group of onlookers has gathered, though they keep a polite distance. Ishii sees that Shun, unobserved by the Tokko men, has come up along the rail and is standing quietly close by. His demeanor is casual but Ishii notes that he is just within arm’s reach of the two guards.
Ishii glances at Inaba. He knows that the Tokkeitai was formed in part to guard the Navy from interference by the Tokko and the Kempeitai, among others. He wonders what is actually going on to bring such an alliance aboard his ship. There are possibly deep waters here, waters he knows he would do well to understand better before doing something rash. The best course would be to turn Shoji over to these men and then secure his release as quickly as possible. He opens his mouth to give assent.
“I will see myself in hell before I let you take a loyal crewman off this ship on such a charge,” he finds himself saying instead. Kuwaki, standing nearby, twitches an eyebrow. Shun spreads his feet slightly apart and shifts his weight forward. Ishii is not sure, but he thinks Lieutenant Inaba smiles slightly. Captain Karubo’s mouth tightens into a thin line.
“Do not force me to arrest you as well, Ishii,” he says. Ishii folds his arms but says nothing. Karubo looks around. Hibiki’s men stand silently, watching. Karubo assesses the situation, then shrugs.
“So?” he says. “It is your funeral, Captain. Come,” he orders his men, then turns and climbs back down the ladder. Inaba salutes, his face impassive once again, and follows them. Below the boat’s engine roars into life and heads back towards shore. Ishii sees that Karubo is haranguing Inaba as they pull away.
Ishii lets out a long breath. The crew disperses without needing to be told, though there is much conversation among them.
“Sir…” begins Shoji. Ishii turns to him.
“You have nothing to apologize for, Seaman Shoji,” Ishii says to him, not unkindly. “Resume your duties.”
“Sir!” says Shoji, and salutes. He turns and trots away. Behind him Ishii walks to the rail and looks out towards shore.