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Our second stay was at the hotel in Shinjuku. I decided to stay here as it’s close to the station with mainly foreigners as guests and also a cheap fee.
There’s no large room, but instead it’s divided into twin and single rooms, so I deemed it as acceptable.
For evening dinner we went on a short walk to a Turkish restaurant nearby the JR Shinjuku South Exit. It’s called Uskudar. n.o.body knew what it meant, but Djibril talked with the owner and it looked like she immediately got it.
“It’s Üsküdar. East side of Istanbul.”
After listening to the explanation I thought that’s probably a name of a place.
When I was making a telephone reservation, the restaurant didn’t have any more bookings, so I had it all for myself.
Except me, they are all Muslims, but since Turkey is also a country with lot of Muslims, there’s no problem with ingredients used in Turkish cuisine for them. I don’t have to worry about this place.
Going around everyone’s tables I was watching as they are eating. In the new hotel I didn’t have the chance to meet with everybody, except for the time during the meals.
“How’s Tokyo?” – I asked.
“It’s that big, I feel dizzy.” – answered Hakim and after thinking further he added:
“It’s like a city, where stars from the night sky has fallen.”
Hearing that I thought it’s a beautiful expression. They are born poets.
“Well, even if it’s beautiful, it doesn’t mean that good people are living here, so you have to be cautious.” – I warn them. After I did, I thought that I should have praised the expression.
Boys and girls nodded and then each of them started to dispute that this city doesn’t have training drills and defense after all.
This city is peaceful, at least that part of it is also thanks to the efforts of those women. – I thought.
National organization, which name I don’t even know. She was saying “our” organization, so shall I call it Ms. Ito and family? – I thought. Or maybe it’s indiscreet or inappropriate?
Anyway this restaurant’s bread Pita is delicious. It’s a thin bread, which is not getting big with the yeast. Between it, they are inserted things like kebab, chickpeas, yogurt and spinach paste. I eat it and while enjoying its great taste I saw that at one table, kids were showing to each other souvenirs they bought today.
Most of them had rollers at the bottom of their sneakers. They’ve bought the roller shoes. From what I’ve heard they were cheap. It’s been already a long time, since they were last popular, so it was probably disposal from the stockpiles – I thought. Surprisingly it seemed even Djibril bought one.
Showing each other shoes at a meal’s place feel a bit like a manner violation, but since we’re the only ones here I thought I will forgive it.
“By the way, I saw an elf.” – said Omar out of the blue.
I got a piece of pita bread in my throat. I look at Omar. He looks intrigued. I moved away from his gaze and looked at Djibril. Omar did the same and I was caught. Seeing the grimace on his face I thought that it serves me right.
“No way, Sophie?”
It’s nothing like “no way”, but I said it for convenience.
“Ah, that’s for sure. There’s no one else with such queer ears.”
“That evil djinn?” – murmured Djibril.
“She was in Akihabara?”
“No, in Shinjuku.”
Suddenly I wanted to stand up and run away. Me and she are friends, but even friendship has it’s limits, and that was it. Mainly her personality is something which rasps my nerves.
“It seems she didn’t notice me. She had a mourning dress. She probably was on someone’s funeral.” – said Omar.
I couldn’t say that it was probably mine and that it’s written on Akiba Blog. There are also things in this world, that you don’t want to believe.
“What are you going to do?”
“Nothing.” – I said with confidence, but reconsidering that it may be a wrong thing to say as a friend I decided to add a few words.
“Actually the organization which is following us made a contact with me. They’ve asked us for a job. If it’s authentic, it’s not Sophie’s place, I would feel sorry for her if she gets involved.”
Perfect play of friendship – I thought.
“If it’s an authentic one. First of all, are they really a government organization?” – said Omar, with face which is saying: We’re not in a movie, right? Djibril gives me a serious look. I hold myself back from answering. I stuffed my mouth with pita bread and then I crossed my arms.
“First time I saw them at the airport and since then they were intermittently contacting me. Even at the police station. Fact that they were waiting there, makes me think that they’re connected to the government.”
I said that it would be different if they were waiting outside the station, but coming up to the police station must mean that they’re a member of a public inst.i.tution.
“Probability that it’s a government organization is 99% I guess.”
“Hmm. What kind of work? – said Omar, sipping his free Turkish coffee.
Muddy water is the perfect name for it. At the bottom there is black powder which looks like sand. So that makes it strong and tasty. That is – only if you don’t drink to the bottom.
“I haven’t seen it yet. I guess later we will check it together and inform everyone.”
“Are you going to accept it?” – interjected Djibril who’s been silent up until now.
I also drank coffee. I recall one scene from a movie with an exchange of insults on coffee – American vs muddy water. From the perspective of muddy water, American is indeed too weak.
“That depends on terms and contents.” – I said with a common sense expression, also thanks to the power of coffee.
I kept working at the private military company as a mercenary selling my life piece by piece, but now it’s about the children’s life. Most of all I want to take care of them.
On the other hand, there is also counting the chickens before they are hatched – if I make this operation a success and make connections with a government inst.i.tution we could get a job from time to time. I thought that the best thing will be to make a condition to get permission to stay for those kids. But I guess it’s too optimistic.
“I don’t know if there’s a sense to hire us.”
Omar was still in half-doubt. I obediently nodded.
I thought that the other party probably doesn’t know about Sophie. In the worst case, she could be a trump card… probably. Let’s leave it at that.
Together with coffee, this restaurant offered a thing called rice pudding. It was surprising considering the name, but I see that everyone normally eats it. I also tried it and it’s not bad. I would say that even tasty. I recall the breakfast with added spoons. I thought that they don’t feel strange about eating rice for dessert.SD contents
We leave the restaurant and walk toward the station, having Kōshū Kaidō on the left hand. I felt it strange that even in the evening the line of cars is long. But it was normal before. It seems I came from very far away.
After arriving at the hotel, I put the coat on the hanger. My new suit was not only washable, but also had shape-memory so it didn’t require ironing. Yes, it’s exactly what I wanted. I also bought 5 neckties. Unfortunately as for shoes I got sneakers, but walking with leather boots through the wilderness is tough.
Looking at today’s spoils of war I picked up the micro SD card from the coat.
I insert the SD card into a cellphone and take a quick look at the contents. One image seemed like a snapshot. Photography of some family.
I think that the data was encrypted or something. No, they probably wouldn’t do this for amateurs like us – I reconsidered. I look at the folder and search if there’s any more data. There’s nothing. Suspiciously I gaze at the list of pictures. After this one photograph with family, there was a text shot by a camera. Guessing it must be it, I open the file, but there are just some trivial information and a map. I got discouraged. No, that must be the objective – I thought.
These are countermeasures in case it was accidentally lost or picked by someone. But that won’t work in case it was stolen.
I unfasten the necktie and fall down on the bed. I decided to patiently look at the image file. Approximately ten minutes later I finally got the aim of the image:
Request: Personal escort
Reward: 7000000 yen (gross)
Gross, that means total sum is seven millions. since it’s the job from the government the amount is high – I thought, but that wasn’t the case. Considering that the day and time of the a.s.sault is unknown it becomes a confusing job, so the pay doesn’t feel so good anymore. Yet, it’s not unprofitable. That gives a budget of a little above 3 millions for operating of 20 soldiers for a month. In that sense it’s even quite profitable if delivery of weapons won’t take too much money. However they understand it’s not 10 or even 5 millions.
I think that it depends on the enemy. I could take this job if the enemy is not much better than an amateur, but if it’s a perfectly armed professional it’s not a job I could take. That’s what I concluded. In the past I took a job of a mercenary for six millions per year. Now I get seven for a short period of time, but I have twenty six lives on stake. I guess I could say it’s a career progress.
I got up from the bed and head to Omar’s room. When I came I saw that Omar was turning the bed upside down, removing and checking the base of an electrical outlet. The room seemed like after a raid. I stood dumbfounded.
“What are you doing?”
“Taking measures for wiretaps.”
“Ah. I see.”
Without doubt Omar and Djibril are more cautious than me. They’re dependable as much as possible. I looked askance at the turned up bed and while standing told about the request for the job. Standing, Omar is listening to me. I think he could have sat down, but this is that honest friendship. He must be paying full attention to me. Or it can be that there’s nowhere to sit.
“Guarding is a police job. Why is an intelligence agency making us do it?” – said Omar.
“Probably it’s something police can’t handle, I guess.” – I answer. Omar seemed dissatisfied with it. He was frankly suspicious.
“Our poor equipment and headcount is better than the police?”
“Or maybe police can’t be trusted” – I stated the possibility.
“Does it mean there’s also a possibility that police can turn into our enemy?”
Omar frowned even more. Somehow I was just looking at the ceiling and said as I have been counting:
“First, let’s take the possibilities. Is it too much for police or is it that police isn’t trustworthy. That’s about it.” – I spoke.
Illumination in the hotel is dim. Lighting in interiors in j.a.pan is too bright comparing to foreign standards. I first noticed that, when I left j.a.pan. They don’t make day at night. Just set the lights to be able to see. It’s like they don’t deny night itself.
“We just don’t want any issues with the police, right? What do you think is more probable?”
“The last one. They don’t want to mobilize the police. In that case I understand it.”
“Who is the object of escorting that mobilizing the police is a problem for him?” – Omar looked displeased after I said that.
“Arata. If you don’t know – no one does.”
I intended to say that I know everyone is saying that to me, but I said smiling:
“Even so, it seems I don’t see well my own feet.”
Omar says, smiling bitterly:
“We’re just a miserable Sinbad who escaped a valley of diamonds, holding to your golden eagle’s wings. Holding them, we just make efforts to watch what’s beneath you.”
“Not golden eagle. It was a roc, which Sinbad met as I recall. Well, without the wind, there’s no bird that can fly. I entrust you my underneath.”
“Are you planning to take this job?”
“To tell you the truth, at the present stage I’m about 50% ready to do this. So there is a fairly high chance that I will take it. Even if everyone is negative about it, the chance to make connections with the government is attractive.”
Omar crossed his arms. They are big – I think. I also need to train.
Without concern he gave me his honest opinion:
“You’re j.a.panese, so it will be okay if you don’t take it.”
“Right. I don’t want my identification with j.a.pan to affect it. But well, I guess it doesn’t. It’s not like I hate j.a.pan, but it’s not as important as kids.” – I said frankly. Omar smiled a bit and pat me on the back.
“…Making large profit, buying a citizenship of some country and living peacefully would be nice.”
“I always dream about it. But if kids die, it’s all for nothing. It’s earning money with steady work and nervously cutting back the danger.”
“It’s a long and tiresome way.”
“Step by step, we will get positive results. Thanks for advice.”
It’s like night illumination for a foreigners, there’s no need to change everything. If it’s dark it’s okay, it’s enough to change it slightly just to be able to see. Day will eventually come. I said about that to Omar.
I’m going to go sleep now. As excepted, standing around talking for a long time make you want to sit or lie down, so I decided to leave the room. At the last minute Omar opens his mouth:
“Do you intend to talk with Djibril?”
“It’s already late, so I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Omar made eyes like he was wondering about something and then looked at me and said:
“Arata, you can just let it go. You don’t have to drag us. “
“Omar. I don’t have any dreams. Seems like I’m not capable of dreaming. I have no idea what things I want to realize. If I think about it, I’ve always been paying to read stories about dreams of other people. Doing so, I was feeling like I had a dream.”
I sneered at my old self. Being unable to admit that you don’t have dreams is also a tragedy. But now it’s different. Just a bit.
“Even now I can’t see my dream, but I think it’s okay now. My dreams are kid’s dreams. I don’t know how it’s different to the light novels and manga, but I’m satisfied with this. Surprisingly satisfied.”
Omar looked down.
“Sorry. Since you came to j.a.pan, you always looked troubled.”
So it’s that apparent – I thought, but from my mouth came out a lie.
“It’s because of Sophie. In fact I knew about it.”
“You won’t meet her?”
“Well, you see, everyone take it wrongly. It’s not like that.” – I sighed, with a troubled face.
“It must be hard.”
It really is. I added in my mind and left the room.Request for Hakim
When I return to my room, before it I saw Djibril, sitting while holding her knees.
“What are you doing?” – when I ask, Djibril looks up at my face. She had teary eyes.
“I called and called and there was no answer, so I thought I’m hated.”
“Hated? By who?”
“By you, Arata.”
“But today we had a fight.”
“We had?” – I said frankly, but Djibril scowled at me. Because of that I felt I did something horribly wrong. However I’m not sure where I was wrong.
“Well, anyway, there’s no way I could hate you, right?”
I said smiling, thinking how could I hate such a cute kid.
But Djibril’s expression didn’t get better. After hesitating for a moment, she said timidly:
“Because I’m a poor kid from a third world country?
“Of course not. Now I’m mad.” – I said. Now that hit where it hurts. I think that I controlled my voice and timing well for an attack I received.
I brushed her head gently, smiling. Adolescence is difficult.
“Even if you were j.a.panese it would be the same.”
Although, because of her country conflicts, she was trained as a mercenary just like a hostage and because of that I was able to meet the angel Djibril. I can’t think that meeting her in j.a.pan would be very likely.
I ignored that thought.
“You don’t have to worry about that. Go back to your room and sleep. Tomorrow will also be tough.”
“You need a guard.”
“I’ll ask Hakim for that.” – I said, what came to my mind at this moment.
“Hakim is still small.”
“You didn’t sleep much yesterday Djibril. I won’t make Hakim do this alone. It’s okay, go sleep. Do you want to make me worry?”
Djibril looked away.
“If that happens, what will you do?”
“I’ll get angry. But after I hear the reason.” – I said that, after recalling that I was told it’s bad to decide with prejudice.
“Reason… I don’t know well. Please get angry.”
Djibril said that, horribly tormenting herself. She catches her breath and is looking at me. I wiped the bottom of her eyes, with a handkerchief I’ve just bought.
“I won’t be angry if you make that face. It’s okay, go rest. Tomorrow will be a good day.” – I said and gently pat her head.
I chase away Djibril and call Hakim. He accepts his task with a stern pose.
“I shall watch the hallway, right!”
“No, inside the room, because other guests would be startled.”
“Roger!” – saying that, Hakim rolled up with a blanket on the sofa and went to sleep before me. Judging from his sleep-talk it seemed that he had a dream about the whale.
It’s like I predicted, so satisfied I also decided to sleep. Well, Ms. Ito and family are watching, so even if someone is going to attack me they will call me – I thought. If they think about employing me, I can at least expect such concern.
I lie down on the bed next to the innocently breathing Hakim and think. I wonder why I lied to Omar.
I’m indeed worried. About 24 kids and Omar. I have to think about a plan for the future of – including me – 26 people.
As a mercenary, when you don’t know what tomorrow brings, there is nothing from planning future. There is also a short-term job for seven million yens, temporary issue of setting up a private military company in j.a.pan, children entering p.u.b.erty, securing financially their lives. There is no end to problems.
Because I’m a poor kid from a third world country – I recall Djibril words. I drove away this thought deeper into the sphere of my thoughts. Indeed I thought like that, that’s a fact. That’s also a part of my atonement for destroying the village. But that’s not everything and this feeling is driving those thoughts away.
I have trouble with my resolve. Formerly when I was doing a job alone without being concerned about other people I could act without any worries. I was desperate. But now, I grew up and my sight has extended. I started to pay attention to others. It won’t be like before.
I think about kids. I also thought about countries. You don’t choose a country where you are born, but you can choose your motherland. It’s okay even if it’s a stepmother. I imagined that j.a.pan could be their step motherland, but completely lost confidence, thinking whether j.a.pan is good for kids with people like Ms. Ito. The problem is with differences in jurisdiction.
I think about what mother I would want. Rich, quiet and refined woman like j.a.pan, or one with remodeled ears into an elf… a woman tolerating even pointed ears like America. Or maybe there is some other, better motherland?
I smiled bitterly, thinking that it seems like searching for a marriage partner. I feel like I want to talk with someone about my troubles.
Suddenly I recalled my former superior Lanson. I wonder what he is doing now. Maybe he’s in his quiet office in Central Asia, holding a coffee in one hand and giving instruction to mercenaries.Arms and supplies
Hakim was blushing apologizing eagerly, but I laughed and forgave him. Good thing about Hakim is that he doesn’t fake it. If it was Gini she would squint and tell a bunch of lies I couldn’t have even imagined, like a merchant on a bazaar praising his articles.
Gini’s lies are amusing so it’s okay, but I think that honesty is also good. Concretely speaking, everyone is adorable.
When I say that Djibril will get mad, so let’s keep it between us, Hakim completely flushed and nodded. I’m content. And so for now I decided to send everyone for a walk like the previous day.
This time also while testing cell phones. On the occasion, my purpose will be to make them grab a sense of movement with a map.
I quietly wait in the lobby. There was not much time needed, until a person with beautiful black hair appeared. This also went as expected.
“Have you decided?” – said Ms Ito, sitting next to me. I don’t know what’s so funny, but she’s looking at me smiling. It didn’t look like a courtesy smile at all, so I thought that women are scary.
“Yes. I’m going to decide after hearing some more information.”
“So you’re positive about it. That’s good.”
“That depends on conditions.”
I told her to not raise false hopes. Actually I’m ready to give up anytime if conditions will be bad.
“Right. You were concerned about kids after all.”
I didn’t know how to answer. I agree it’s that, but it feels like she takes advantage of me with it.
“What’s the matter?”
“I felt like my weakness has been found.” – when I said it frankly, Ms. Ito took a long hard look at me and then amused, put her hand on her mouth and laughed. It was a kind laugh.
“Well, I wonder. I feel like it’s really a weakness, but my boss doesn’t seem to believe so. That private military matter is far from commonly accepted things after all.”
I had mixed feelings. Is that the way it is?
“I always think about if there is something I can do, something beside this job.”
“I feel uncomfortable requesting this from such person, but…”
“No, don’t be. When you don’t work you can’t eat. But, well, honestly speaking I didn’t think I will get an offer in j.a.pan.”
“It’s not like it’s the first, or last outsourcing.” – said Ms. Ito.
“That might be right, but still. It looks like a spy movie.”
“It’s nothing that exaggerated. We don’t normally put wiretaps or something. We also don’t have a right to arrest.”
“So you have different jurisdiction. Then I have two things I want to ask about. First – I can operate in j.a.pan, but what about weapons? And second: degree of risk. I don’t care if you can’t provide such information like degree of danger you estimate, but in that case it becomes hard for me to undertake it.”
Ms. Ito nodded and said with serious face:
“I can provide to some degree information concerning the degree of risk. However, that means your monitoring will be more tight.”
“In that case I will gladly take the information about the risk. I can’t be more pleased for more strict surveillance. I will think about it as if I have hired a guard.”
“You really haven’t been thinking about founding a business or illegal stay, have you?”
“Well I have, but that’s it. It depends on whether the kids will be happy. At this point I don’t think j.a.pan is the best choice. Of course it’s still good for traveling purposes.”
“I’m glad that private military companies don’t spread in this country.”
“Yeah, but there’s one I’ve been to, an American one.”
“Oh, there’s also an English one. In any case it’s our ally.”
“Well, thank you for information.”
So that’s it. They just don’t like when some shady organizations establish private military companies – I thought.
“By the way, have you considered asking my former company? They don’t have anything more than a recruiting branch in j.a.pan, but they have their own combat unit and j.a.panese staff as well.”
“I’ll give you free information. Currently j.a.pan also deploys their own combat unit. Weapons are restricted by law, so there are only batons and bow guns, though.”
“I see. As expected from a big player.”
So there are people who were thinking similar to me. Although they have connections to actually do it. – I think. Military also needs political strength. And politics also needs military strength. Leaving aside pacifistic ideas which want to separate them, both coexist entangled in mutual love.
Pacifism in that case is like an illicit love. What’s worse, even for me standing in the middle of my fall in life as a former NEET, reality is that if you have at least some military strength, politics comes lured by its sweet scent.
Even for me reality is like that I’m drawn by the sweet scent of politics, so I have to be careful. Anyhow it’s a bad example for the kids.
“Let’s leave it. Shall I tell you more about the job?”
Ms. Ito smiled, raised from the seat and led me by the hand. I blushed, on what Ms. Ito said that she has an eye on me here. It was like a start of a tryst of a man and a woman early in the morning in the hotel room. In that case, my room. I was extremely nervous.
I entered the room first. When I saw that sheet was disheveled I started to tidy it up in a hurry and then I saw sofa’s blanket. Hakim has been tidily folding it. I thought I have to properly praise him for that. He’s more admirable than me.
“Forgive me for the disorder.”
“No, I am the one who intrudes.”
I offered a chair and sat on the bed. Ms. Ito sat next to me on the bed. She was smiling and I was in total disorder. I stand up.
“So about the degree of risk.” – what she said was sensible. I rearrange my posture. Well, of course it’s about it.
“Do you know the enemy?”
“Yes. It’s a religious group.”
“Supposing I take this, who am I going to protect?”
“Leader of a sect. That religious group’s one.”
I think my eyes had to look surprised and it seems my face looked very funny, since Ms. Ito loudly laughed.
“Forgive me. It was cute. What you’ve just did Mr. Arata.”
“Ah no, it’s just that j.a.panese normally are not interested in religion. But, still… why do believers hunt down their leader?”
“It was our informant.”
I looked away. So it’s not about G.o.d – I thought. In short it leaked out to the followers that their guru was coaxed with money or something for provision of information. And if the leader gets caught it will also influence Ms. Ito and family, so they want to help , well… just let the leader go away somewhere. Or maybe they want to eradicate the anti-guru group and make the current one continuously rule.
What’s worse, it could be that the Ms. Ito and family provided them arms in the first place. What a scary world.
“Setting aside personal feelings, as professional, speaking purely about military affairs, in the first place I want to know how many are there and what equipment have those believers, who turned into a foe.”
“Yes, some of them have illegal arms. It’s the group who first became hostile. In other words it’s an armed group. Their size is around 40 people. For the equipment they are obtaining, there are weapons remodeled for smuggling and to a certain degree – grenades. It seems they don’t have machine guns or other things like that.”
“Is there any organization which trained them? It’s essential.”
“There’s no instructor. However it’s certain that they’re learning from books and there is a small training facility in Gunma. They call it… a center for ascetic training.”
“Is there any data about that armed group, like year of founding?.”
“Year of founding is more than 20 years ago. As for records: few abductions, imprisonments and tortures. They also have been noted for their ability of hiding corpses.”
“I see. In my area there are just secular Muslims, so I think there’s not any relationship with those people.”
“Yes, you came from abroad, so I’m relaxed. Besides the other side is related to Buddhism.”
I see. So you diligently selected us? – I thought.
“You can just say yes or no – is there any other factor which can influence the enemy’s military potential?”
“Not yet I think.” – Ms. Ito reply was prompt, like it was good news.
“It’s been two days since the armed group disappeared from the training facility in Gunma. There’s possibility that they obtained something else during that period.”
“So if we go with fitting equipment there’s possibility it will be a belated effort.”
I said that I don’t indent to hurry. Otherwise there will be extra costs.
Ms. Ito adorably bend her head slightly and smiled.
“Headquarters of the religious group itself is protected. Besides the armed group dispersed in order to escape our eyes. It takes them some time to be able to attack together. I believe they don’t have military potential to attack with small numbers.”
“I see. Okay.”
The bed has greatly sank under the weight of two people. I thought it isn’t fit for sitting. I asked, thinking that if Ms. Ito wasn’t using it I should have sat on chair:
“What about the matter of weapons?”
“For direct things, you have to arrange it yourself.”
“Indirect weapons depends on negotiations and let’s see… as for direct I don’t have connections for that.”
“I present you the data. You can take them from there.”
“I hope they stand for average international prices.”
“It presents criminal organizations from Asia. I think it would be better if you restrain from smuggled weapons.”
“It seems that you need a weapon to get one.”
Ms. Ito grinned. It felt like she was saying: some way or another you have to do something about that weapons.
“You can give me your answer today in the afternoon. I’ll call you.” – said Ms. Ito, making a shape of the phone with fingers.
“Thank you very much. I think reward is in cash, but taking it out of j.a.pan would be troublesome.”
“I will take care of that. You want it in dollars, right?”
“Absolutely, what about the price negotiations?”
“Maximum I can offer is 500000.” – she said smiling. I see. They can draw up to half a million. – I think. Well, I’ll believe that they won’t shirk the payment as it often happens in the business world. I made a smile.
“Okay. I’ll accept it for 7500000. If this decision will benefit j.a.pan, let it be then.”
It was a big lie. Well, such lip service won’t do any harm.
“At least that I can guarantee.” – said Ms. Ito with a serious look. It seems at least that was the truth.
“Not only j.a.pan. I believe it’s also for the sake of my family.”
“So Mr. children-lover was also worried about parents?”
“Because it’s my weakness, please don’t tell anyone.” – I said. This was the truth. It’s better to moderately blend lies and truth. I’ve learned that while talking to Ms. Ito and family.Commencing action
I gave the kids, who returned to the hotel a smile and listened to their impressions of today’s walk. Everyone is amused, looking at each other.
Gini came out to the front after she glided and swiveled around through the hallway.
“I’ve become pretty good at this.”
It seems she was practicing how to handle the roller shoes. Bitterly smiling I said “yeah, sure” and then sent them directly the data via the infrared data communication, which only mobile cell phones in present j.a.pan have. That mysterious function is enough to believe that all j.a.panese are spies.
“Have you decided to accept it?” – said quietly Omar, dressing in the room. Djibril and Ivan are also there.
I nodded and then looked at Djibril and Ivan. They listen to our conversation in silence. I gently brushed the heads of those two.
“I can find many excuses, but what do you want to hear: official story, true story or something between?”
“Everything except the official one.” – said Omar, neatly folding clothes.
I made a face, which was saying: I wanted you to actually listen to that official story and then opened my mouth:
“The sad truth is that, we are being watched more strictly than I thought, so establishing a business in j.a.pan and illegal stay here seems to be a great problem. Because of that, as a plan B I thought to get money.”
“So that’s how things are.”
“Yeah, so between true and official story I thought that instead of founding a company in j.a.pan hiding, maybe it’s better to make achievements and aim in the future for a legal business.”
“Is there such possibility?”
“It looks like it. Seems like they’ve made a number of violent subcontractors. Like religious organizations. Well, rather than using fanatics and antisocial religious groups, we are more reasonable and a clean choice.”
“That’s like a game between two worst teams.” – said Omar, smiling bitterly and holding a bag. Seems like he has finished the preparations. I also smiled bitterly.
“I won’t deny that more than returning empty handed, for one thing I feel we can get better outcome than before. What do you think?”
“OK. By the way, I ask just out of curiosity. What’s the official story?”
“If we would be lucky enough to get money for travel cost + α, I thought we could go next time on a trip to America.”
Omar said nothing, but his face eloquently was telling that’s the first-cla.s.s answer and the best joke he has heard this year. Ivan spontaneously laughed. Djibril looked gloomy.
I looked at Djibril. Djibril is looking at me too. Her eyes are shaking.
“Is something troubling you?”
“That women with long hair is dodgy.”
“We would be a bad client if we had trusted them.” – I replied honestly. Ivan laughed again, but after he saw that Djibril and I are looking at him, he concealed his month with both hands. Omar was looking up at the ceiling.
I don’t understand why everybody’s acting like that.
“Well, that’s why I plan to get along without trusting them.”
Djibril seemed dissatisfied. Must be tough, adolescence.
When I looked toward Omar, I saw he sighed and opened his mouth. Looks like he decided to provide some covering fire.
“What about putting Djibril on the negotiating table as an escort?”
Djibril holds her breath and makes a hurt face on my prompt rejection.
Brushing gently Djibril’s head that her headgear concealed her eyes, I said somewhat loudly:
“It’s bad for education. There’s no way I can let a kid see how adults do stupid things.”
“In that case, am I good then?”
“Of course.” – I said, doubting if that really is covering fire.
From some reason Omar laughed. I look at Djibril. She has eyes, like her mood got better. Though I see only her eyes, so I don’t know.
“If Omar is going to be an escort, I don’t have any problem with that.”
“So it’s settled.” – said Omar.
I nodded, though I didn’t know well how it was settled.
What kind of magic he used? I’m going to ask him that later.Acquisition of weapons
I sent kids led by Omar to the Toshimaen amus.e.m.e.nt park. Speaking of which I heard that it went bankrupt, but I don’t know how’s the real situation. Now I’m going to obtain the weapons myself.
I informed everyone about that and walked off alone from the lobby.
“I’m going too.”
Djibril chased after me immediately. Well, that’s not a surprise. I patted her head.
“I want you to have fun at the amus.e.m.e.nt park. The work starts tomorrow.”
“Saying that you mean you’re going to meet with that person, right?”
“I’m going to obtain the weapons. For now at least.”
“So it’s not about adults doing stupid things. Then there’s no problem going with you.”
“Yes, but still…”
I looked at Djibril. She fixed her headgear.
“I think the amus.e.m.e.nt park will be fun.”
“It will end in a quarrel, so I’m not going to say anything more.”
I scratched my head.
“Okay, I’ll take you. But you know, I think you don’t have to grow up so fast.”
I can’t read Djibril’s expression, as I can only see her eyes, but she turned them away.
“I’m already grown up. It’s just that Arata doesn’t accept it.”
“Kids always say that.”
“Last year Arata said the same.”
I left the hotel in silence. Djibril trotted and matched pace with me. She looks up at me. I said that I’m not angry. She nodded and looked a bit happy.
We enter the train from JR Shinjuku West Entrance. To Yamanote line.
While standing in a shaking train, the old woman sitting in front of my eyes, handed over to me a paper bag.
“Are you going shopping?”
The old woman laughs. I got off at the Ikebukuro.
“What have you received?”
“Probably a book. And also – if they were nice – information.”
I closed one eye and looked at the contents of the bag. I saw the spine of a book with the t.i.tle “Facing the growing up child” on it. This is it.
Djibril stretched out and peeked into the bag, but she can’t read j.a.panese, so she asked me about it. I smiled.”
“Educational book about how to deal with children.”
“Please throw it away right now.”
“All kids say that.” – I said it, walking.
Djibril walks next to me and looks up. I get a strange feeling when I think that only I know that girl’s face, so I walked with long steps, but after that I slowed down a little so she could equally walk with me.
“What are you going to buy?”
“Lots of small porcelain bottles and fireworks. And a crossbow.”
“I know crossbows. Grandfathers used it for killing stray dogs.”
“Really? Not a gun?”
“He said that guns are loud.”
“Well, they are.”
Although it’s a bow gun, it’s a word which is used only in j.a.pan. That’s a wasei-eigo. In English it’s called a crossbow. It’s like a weapon made of laid on the side strung bow with a place for a base and a trigger. Comparing to a gun, it’s very unfitting for a weapon, but thankfully even in full of limits j.a.panese stores you can normally buy it. Although according to law you can’t buy it if you’re not at least eighteen years old.
I went to the archery and crossbow store. It was very small, but not a hidden shop at the first floor in the building. I told Djibril about law regulations and make her wait, then entered the store.
Despite that it was an ordinary day in the morning, there was a person with a suit, which was conspicuous. Well, I’m the same. I asked if I can make a large order of crossbows. The shop owner answered at once that it can take time depending on things and asked if they are for a sport use. Of course – I replied and told him that I need around two dozens.
I don’t say I’m in hurry. I pick a model, but I can’t make a proper choice, because although it’s a provisional weapon I entrust lives with it. That being said, I also haven’t used guns enough. I couldn’t judge which will be good.
I decide to consult with Djibril and simply ask about the usual time of delivery, then leave the store. I just bought a lot of targets and left the shop, saying that I’ll come again.
“Those crossbows seem to have low performance, so since they are cheap time of delivery is short or it’s just the entry models must probably have been selling well. There’s not much ones, which are at a level to be good for military use. In the worst case we will have to get them from different places. Can you tell me what kind of crossbow will be good?”
I walked to the store with military goods and self-protection tools. There are also crossbows lying here. I purchased one. I take some time to adjust it and shoot at the store’s joint firing range. There is also several types of bolts. It’s made from aluminum, so it’s light and has enough strength. Size is equal to the a.s.sault rifle.
Unlike the ones for sport use, there were also crossbows with rapid-fire specification. Like revolver it has nocked bolts on the axis which fires next projectile after rotating. The bolt was drawn using gas. I thought that gas cylinder will be an obstruction, but it just looks like it.
I also bought 10 tactical vests. I’ll make them send it to the hotel, where we’re staying today.
Every store has small stock. I have to go to different places, but gathering crossbows for everybody will be hard – I thought. I was thinking about online delivery, but I don’t have currently any address. It would be suspicious to send it to the hotel, so I gave up that idea. I could have used a house of an acquaintance, but I don’t want to do this.
I can’t give a crossbow to Djibril in front of people. I decided to go into a love hotel, called City Hotel. Luckily Djibril didn’t seem to know anything. If she did I couldn’t of course enter such place.
“Strange hotel.” – said Djibril suddenly, when we entered the room. I nodded and just pulled out the crossbow. It even has a scope. Although only with triple zoom. I think it’s not a significant range.
“Give me your opinion.”
I checked the material of the tactical vests. Seemed similar to the real one, or I should say that it was real. Okay, it’s fine.
Djibril makes serious look.
“Trigger pull is heavy. Lighter would be better.”
“Does it look like it can be regulated?”
I pile up the targets at the edge of the room, put cardboard boards behind them and make the targets.
In instruction it’s said that range is 200m with 45 angle. Taking 45 angle would make aiming uncertain, so it’s probably not very lethal. I thought about how to make use of that weapon.
Djibril stood up and pulled the string with legs. I say there’s no need to use force while there is a gear wheel.
She draws up her knees and peeks through the scope. She took a test shot. It hit the mark, penetrating the cardboard and struck the wall behind, making unpleasant sound. I panic. Fortunately there was no hole in the wall. Seems like from 30m it surely could hurt someone.
“It’s single-shot, so verification of the accuracy might be difficult.”
Djibril gave me her impressions. I nodded and sat on the chair. I didn’t have the courage to sit on the bed.
“The influence of the wind is also big, so you don’t have to worry about accuracy too much. However, it’s not very functional. It’s too much for fighting against guns. Opponents with rifles will outrange it and with submachine guns will outfire it.”
“It’s better than nothing.”
Djibril’s opinion was reasonable. I sigh.
“I’ll try to gather them for everybody. The same one will be good?”
“I think there’s no need to especially get the same one. Generally the same force of bowstring will fire at the same range.”
“I got it. Anything else?”
“I think it would be better to remodel the bolts. If it just pierces like that, it won’t kill.”
Djibril removed her headgear. I feel her hair has grown after all. She’s standing and looking at me in some way embarra.s.sed.
I ignored it.
“Well, so I know it can’t be used as a weapon. Thanks. Let’s get the small porcelain bottles next. Then to the hardware store. And then to the gas station. We’ll also get the crossbows. We’ll have a busy day.”
I looked at Djibril who called me by my name once again. She looks anxious. Poor girl. I brought her to the far foreign country and took her to the love hotel for testing fire. I’m going to treat her kindly. As much as I can.
“What is it?”
“You said it so fast.”
“Oh… my bad. It seems I’m excitable.”
“Do you want to do this job so much?”
“No, not at all. I’m just happy that we’ll be able to earn money for our living expenses.”
I thought about the headgear. When it’s just two of us, I become strangely nervous when she removes it.
Djibril is looking at her feet.
“Are you doing this for that person?”
“One with the same hair color as me.”
“Most j.a.panese have the same color. Um, you mean Ms. Ito? No, not at all.”
“In that case it’s okay.” – said Djibril, toying with her hair. I looked away.
“Don’t become like Ms. Ito.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t want you to serve in an intelligence agency or army when you grow up.” – when I said that, Djibril fixed her eyes on me. What beautiful eyes – I thought.
“I go where Arata goes. Wherever it is.”
“In that case I want to immediately go somewhere out from this business. Unfortunately I’m not good at anything, except my military abilities. I don’t know any other method to feed you… No, I don’t have confidence even in my military abilities.”
For some reason Djibril smiled. I look sideways at her face and then wondered why she smiles.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve last heard Arata making complaints.”
“Oh, is that so… d.a.m.n. I didn’t want you all to hear such things.”
“I think you don’t have to hide it.”
“I don’t want to make you worry.”
“I’m more anxious when I don’t hear Arata’s complaints.”
“… Okay, then I’m going to tell you if I’ll have one.”
At that moment Djibril smiling face was… d.a.m.n it, It seemed like I’ve definitely must have said something wrong. I understood that that’s how a shining smile looks like.Confluence
Then my condition got a bit worse. I can’t get myself together. At the other side, Djibril seemed better and like her usual self, she was pulling me with restrain while doing shopping. She was making sounds that were something between humming and whistling.
Our shopping didn’t end at Ikebukuro, we walked to Otsuka Station and even further to Nakano. I was p.i.s.sed off that crossbows were expensive, on the same price level as a.s.sault rifles. Although I didn’t want to skimp on the equipment, comforting myself that it’s my love toward the children. Somehow it ended that I spent around 800000 yen. Ah, it’s no good.
Sending lot of packages to the hotel, we decided to go back with just a can of gasoline. Our destination is the hotel, or I should rather say ryokan. The place is in Bunkyo ward. Close to the Todai or more accurately – to the Todai’s Akamon. Student’s preparing for entrance exams to Todai probably stay in that old inn with a long history.
“You must be hungry.” – I said.
For lunch we went to the an eel restaurant, but I can’t say there’s much of them. Although I said eel restaurant, we ate at the conger one. j.a.panese were fishing and eating eels and most of them are extinct, so eel restaurants became conger restaurants. There are still few genuine eels, but they’re treated as a legendary fish.
“By the way, the amus.e.m.e.nt park is next to the Tokyo Dome.” – I was saying, looking at the outside from the subway’s window. It’s an underground train, but it goes through the area outside, so that’s why outside scenery can be seen from it. The views haven’t changed much since I left j.a.pan before.
“What do you see?”
Djibril looks outside the window. Looking at her small hands, which were touching the gla.s.s I was full of regrets. Especially today, that I took her around.
“I wanted Djibril to go to the amus.e.m.e.nt park.”
“You still dwell on it.”
“If you are not an adult you can’t understand it. The true worth of an amus.e.m.e.nt park.” – I said, taking a look back at my own life. I disliked amus.e.m.e.nt parks when I was a kid, but later I had precious memories. I looked at Djibril. Her eyes were saying that she forgives my foolish reflection. Even with her headgear I knew it. That’s for sure the face with great compa.s.sion.
“That amus.e.m.e.nt park is running till night.” – said a voice in English from behind.
I wonder if Ms. Ito and family also have a rule to talk to me in trains.
“How was the shopping?”
Ms. Ito looked like an OL going back from work. With thin makeup, her face doesn’t look tired. That was the only difference from a real office lady. My eyes are focused on her tight skirt. Djibril pulled my sleeve.
“What is it?”
“It’s dangerous. Please step away.”
“I don’t have a weapon.” – said Ms. Ito, laughing.
“All adults say that.” – said Djibril, standing in the way of Ms. Ito.
I laughed, because I noticed that Djibril imitated my expression.
She scowled at me with protesting eyes. I patted her head.
“Don’t start any troublesome talks. We’re in front of a child.”
“Oh, you are trying to be a playboy.”
“I don’t understand.” – I said, switching to j.a.panese. It’s bad for Djibril’s education and there are a lot of people, whose character changes when speaking English. I supposed that Ms. Ito is one of them.
She smiles. It looks malicious.
“I asked if she is also going to do a job?”
She kept talking in English. Djibril grabs my sleeve and stays on alert.
“I put doc.u.ments in the book. See you later.”
She left suddenly and got off the same way like the time she came. She skillfully blended with the crowd and immediately disappeared from my eyes. I looked at Djibril. She nervously or perhaps reluctantly let go off me.
“But I’ve already seen those doc.u.ments.”
“It wasn’t the textbook?”
“Those are for job.”
“You should say it from the beginning.” – Djibril was troubled a bit and then firmly grabbed my sleeve. It seemed like my sleeves were going to be creased on the next day of shopping. I put my hope in the shape memory function and got off on the next station. Djibril hasn’t released my hand till we came before the inn.
We arrive to the ryokan. It was a very complicated structure with lot of extensions build over extensions.
If I was a kid I would be very excited. I’m surprised that such building was in Tokyo. We are guided to a large room.
Omar and kids are lying exhausted on top of one another. They couldn’t have run around on the combat field in that state.
“Uh, what’s going on?”
“It was… shock.” – said Gini, leaning against another girl, completely exhausted. She doesn’t even have her headgear put on.
“What was it?”
I’m the one shocked here.
“Arata kept telling me that I also should go to the amus.e.m.e.nt park.” – said Djibril. All children lift their heads simultaneously. Their eyes were saying it’s a cruel treatment.
I was astonished. I don’t get it.
“It jumped, sprang up, swinged.” – said Ivan and Hakim with a distant look.
“I guess that amus.e.m.e.nt park is such a place.”
No one listens to my words.
“It may be our new training, but I think something a bit different is appropriate.” – said Omar, holding his face with one hand exhausted.
“In America you also had amus.e.m.e.nt parks, right?”
“It was an uncomfortable place for a black guy. That’s why I haven’t ever been to it. But well, it was good.” – Omar wearily and scornfully laughed.
“It’s a ninja training. Do that everyday and we’ll certainly be able to use a few magic tricks.”
What kind of inst.i.tution Toshimaen has become? – I thought dumbfounded.
Anyway, they looked very tired. Because the free pa.s.s ticket would be wasteful it seems they kept riding different machines without a rest. It makes sense.
Djibril looks at me with accusatory eyes – did you plan to take me to such a place?
I felt injustice.
“Well, anyhow. I know you are tired, but we have to prepare for work.”
“As long as we don’t have to go around without purpose and enter machines I’m okay.” – many children agreed with Omar. Next time I will have to teach them how to have fun properly. Leaving that aside I open my mouth to speak:
“Weapons have been supplied. I mean the crossbows. There are 30 bolts per person. We also have tactical vests.”
Omar looked at me.
“What about illuminators?”
“Yeah, we don’t have them.”
“Without them our military potential drops by fifty percent.”
“Well, the other party also doesn’t use an integrated information displays. – I said, comforting Omar. Fact that before talking about guns, the illuminator came up first shows how present wars look like.
“So, the crossbows as a weapon are not adequate. That’s why we’re going to make few little things.”
“What should we make?”
“I bought all the needed materials for grenades. We’re going to use them and make grenades from detonators and fuses.” – I said and Gini with Djibril nodded.
“When we couldn’t obtain something we were making it, so it’s okay.”
“We made them in the village, together with women. I also had an occasion to help them.”
“Oh, yeah. I was expecting that so that’s why I brought materials. Also we have to revamp the arrows to be able fight against someone. Regulating the trigger is an individual matter. We’re going to carry out a test firing and simulation of hypothetical battlefield at the same time. I will be the leader of tactical unit S. But that’s all after dinner and bath.”
At dinner there was an ocean of food, but sukiyaki also came out in small pots. It seemed that more or less everyone got used to rice, as they are eating with it. I felt a bit of satisfaction. Usually I don’t give it a thought, but I feel honest surprise when I realize that there are places when rice is not used.
Gini is trying to use chopsticks. I smiled.
We were taking turns in the bath and after we finished, leaders gathered in my place. In the corner of the big room. In the middle children are beginning the handicraft tournament.
Now we have to conduct a briefing before the battle.
“The objective are weapons, and if possible taking back the money from the transaction. Required condition is to not let them gather information.”
The war meeting starts from defining an objective. Killing each other is not a war. Achieving the objective through violence is. In our case it’s to say silently to the crime syndicate: please give the money and weapons. It’s already in itself a bad enough education.
“I authorize engaging in battle in order to fulfill the objective and required condition.”
Gini raised her hand. I nodded and she started to work on the scope of the combat zone.
It’s literally a matter of life and death how much authorization they get on the real battlefield. Where and how far to fight – the difference between criminal syndicate and a private military company (overlooking the matter whether it’s illegal or legal) is the existence of regulated violence.
“Does it mean we can kill on sight?” – simply said Gini.
“It means to not take prisoner’s. If you do then you will have to fight when rescue comes. Now we have the specific items – bolts, so I want you to bear in mind that enemy can take information from them. We don’t want to be pursued because of it, so try to pick them up whenever you can.
“Enemy can probably a.n.a.lyze it from wounds on the corpse.” – Djibril said calmly.
“In that case you gather the bodies and blow them up.”
Djibril lowered her head.
No matter how many time I’ll do it I won’t get used to it. It’s not a pleasant briefing – I thought and said:
“Well, I hope that such scenario won’t happen. Expecting things from the enemy is not appropriate though.”
“I’ve just sent you via infrared the image of a map. This is how the location looks like. It’s for you to confirm visuals of the actual place on your cell phones.”
Year by year the map function on cell phones is getting better. Since around the time it became possible to display three dimensions, this function has been actively used in wars.
“The problem is transportation.” – said Ivan with a sidelong glance at the crossbow. It’s big for a kid.
“I want a donkey.” – said Omar, indicating the robot for transportation of military equipment, otherwise – donkey.
Indeed the baggage we take to the battlefield is large. However I don’t think that they’re selling donkeys in j.a.pan. Though if you searched then probably it’s possible to buy it.
“Well, instead of a donkey we’ll use a car. It won’t be an armed truck though.” – I said realistically. Omar nodded and continued:
“Cars are also convenient to transport infantry. I don’t want to ride up to the battlefield on a bus.”
“I feel the same way. We will probably have to ride separately. You can drive, the problem is if we have another driver.”
“Almost half of the kids can drive. Although they don’t have a license.” – said Omar. I nodded.
“I would be surprised if they had j.a.panese license. It will be annoying if we get caught because of traffic violation, so I’ll ask if they can also provide a driver. In the worst case, we’ll go on foot.”
“Can’t we prepare an ambush?”
Gini and Djibril agree with him. Even I can see that. With a smile on my face I said to them to trust me.
“From the present military potential, storming is impossible. Let’s secure a well hidden spot.”