There is a new routine for the pilots.
Every day, as they have since the war begun, they will conduct calethsetics, or what ever the hell you callit (Diogawa more bounces about in a undignified jiggle most days).
But now, at the Captains insistance, they sing Marshall songs before they begin,and one when they finish.
Tostart, they rang out these songs, but today, Hidaka notices with distatste, they die away, mutely stolen by the wind.
He dismisses them, but followsthembelow decks.
The ready room is too hot, and with the evening meal only some 30 minutes away, most of them gather on the starboard "balcony", seeking the shade of the overhanging flight deck.
Wearily they sit, and contemplate silently the vista of this "tropical paradise"
Uto breaks the silence. "You know, this really is a crap hole, isn't it?'
Most murmer agreement.
"Not like Truk," agrees Diogawa "At least there, there are proper shore facilities. Even Some decent bath houses"
"Buggar the Bath houses" Ogawa's voice is tinged with regret "What of the Brothels of Rabual eh?. When will we be going back to them?"
Hidaka silently shakes his head.
He should not, but he must. It is bursting within him. Like a Father to his children, you can only hide the terrible truths of this world for so long.
"I doubt, my friends, that we will ever see Rabual again"
This brings sharp heads towards him.
And uncomfortable shifts of bodies.
"Please explain flight leader?"
Hidaka carefully considers his words.
When he speaks, he speaks carefully, clearly. A teachers words.
They come from the very depths of his heart, and the men listening will feel the emotion there, will sense the utter essence of Hidaka the man in them.
Some, some who look carefully, will see his hands, his lips tremble.............
'The enemy have invested Lae, they have pounded Rabual, they have closed kavieg. Your Brothels are long gone"
He pauses, stares at this lagoon, the gathering mist, the greying shapes of the ships softening in this dusks light.
'My Father was part of the team that went to the washington treaty negotiations. probably explains a little of why I hate those arrogant bukas so much. When he returned, he bought me a book.
I was struggling to learn English, but I tackled it nevertheless."
He smiles, eyes distant, remembering.
"It was a strange book, what you call science fiction. Something strange to us, but so appealing. I wonder if we will ever adopt it.?. Anyway, it was called War of the Worlds, by HG Wells"
'Ahh, I have heard of this book" Diogawa breaks in " An invasion of England by Martians , set in the early 1900's no?"
'Yes, yes, you are correct."
Silence has fallen now, and the men listen carefully.
About them, Zuiho continues, but here time stands still.
In fact, it goes backwards, back to youth, and innocence.
"I will always remember one scene in the book.. The invaders are unstoppable, impacable. They stride about in giant three legged machines, with ray guns, that melt all in their path. Nothing can stand against them, to do so, is to die.'
The word hangs heavy in the air
"The hero makes his way to the coast, and see's his girl taken to sea on a steamer, into the mist. But standing before them, three of the martian machines..........."
And then, as if he reads the words now, Hidaka carries on.
They are engraved, maybe imperfectly, on his heart. but they live there. And now he gives them voice
"But standing silently, there lay the dreadnought Thunderchild. With a whoosh of steam, a mighty roar, she charges the Martian machines. They release their deadly black smoke, but she charges on, guns blazing. A martian machine is shattered, spinning, splashing to destruction. Thinking luck has changed, fortune has smiled at last, the crowds watching begin to shout 'Come on Thunderchild!'
But then, the Martians raise their heat rays, and melt her valiant heart
Earth is theirs. Man is done."
is there a tear there Hidaka?
I think so. Certainly, we hear your heart now.......
"I find it funny you know. I think. They had no chance. None at all. But they fight anyhow. They fight for family, for home, for loved ones. I never thought I would, me a Japanese, learn what Duty really means from the British".
He takes them in the eye, in the silence, in the gather dusk.
The sun is setting.
"I don't think we will see Japan again, my men. I truly don't. I don't think much about my family, about my beautiful land, of Japan, as it hurts too much.
But when the impacable enemy comes, I will know my duty............"