From: Oregon, USA
June 11, 1945
Attached to: TF 21
Mission: Surface combat
System Damage: 5
Float Damage: 0
Orders: Return to Wakkanai
Chief Engineer Sakati’s “office” is just a cubby off the forward engine room. Most of the wall space is taken up with blueprints and diagrams, many of them faded and curled at the edges. Along one wall is a truly impressive collection of empty scotch bottles, carefully cradled to guard against breakage in high seas and with their labels prominently displayed. No two are alike. There are several bins filled with fittings and spare parts and a very small desk.
As Constructor Chief Petty Officer Shinoda steps inside Sakati is standing in front of his desk and leaning back against it with his arms folded. Shinoda salutes.
“You asked to see me, sir?” he says. Sakati nods.
“At ease, Chief Shinoda,” he says. Shinoda is one of his most capable and useful men, the acknowledged master of the ship’s machine rooms. He is equally skilled working with wood or metal and welds the neatest, straightest seam Sakati has ever seen. Sakati sighs.
“You are from Yamaguchi city, Shinoda, are you not?” he asks quietly. It is not often possible to speak quietly here, but the ship is at anchor and the engines are silent.
“Yes sir,” says Shinoda, his weathered face impassive.
“I have just come from a briefing given by Captain Ishii,” says Sakati. “It seems the enemy has launched an assault on Yamaguchi. As there are no Imperial troops in the prefecture yet the civilian population has been ordered to defend the city.”
“I see, sir,” says Shinoda. “I have heard different rumors, but it is good to know the truth.” His face remains impassive but Sakati notes that his fists are clenched and that the muscles in his jaw are bunched.
Sakati knows that Shinoda is married and has several children. “Is your family there now, Chief?” he asks gently.
“Yes sir,” says Shinoda. “As far as I know, sir.” He does not add that this includes his parents, two sisters and their families, and his grandfather.
“Then please accept my prayers for their safety,” Sakati says. “Would you like some time, Shinoda?”
“No sir,” says Shinoda decisively. “We are going to be in battle soon, aren’t we, sir?” Sakati nods.
“Then I should like to return to my duties and help prepare,” Shinoda says.
“Very well then, carry on,” says Sakati.
“Yes sir, thank you sir,” says Shinoda, who salutes and leaves. His back is stiff as a board as he walks away. Grim-faced, Sakati stares down at the deck and then up at the rows of bottles.
“Just between you and me, lads,” he says, addressing the bottles, “we should have ended this damned war a year ago.”