Crossover Fan Fiction ❯ Missile Truck ❯ Okinawan Cat Girls ( Chapter 2 )

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TWO Okinawan Cat Girls

“You see the news?” Hachiouji asked me. He was sipping tea over breakfast. The cook had gotten better ingredients recently, so the food had improved.

“What news?” I asked him.

“Some kind of altercation at the American Air Force base on Okinawa. They called the Captain in to headquarters.”

“We still going to that training mission with the American Marines down there?” I asked him. I had been looking forward to it. Without an organized China to threaten Taiwan, the US-Japan alliance was a lot more relaxed and training missions could be fun rather than misery.

“We won’t know until the Captain gives us our orders,” Hachiouji answered. The mural on the back wall of the mess was his work. Meshida allowed it. We weren’t allowed to put door art on the missile trucks. It would mess with the camouflage, and the paint was heat reflective and radar damping stealth, an upgrade from the ordinary green we found them rusting through. Rust control continued. The slightest mistake during the restoration process and you’d leave a rust pit in the metal behind, and that would bubble up the paint later.

I noted our cold-eyed security officer settle down beside Sagara. He was from Sapporo and knew Higashida because they both used to work at the same family restaurant, apparently. They started talking in brief sentences while eating. Sagara knew a lot of techniques and technology for base security and hand to hand combat, as well as having the badge for CQC and Demolitions. It wasn’t often you found someone with expert pistol marksman and six purple hearts. A glutton for heroism, probably. Why he’d ended up with us I did not know.

Other than basic rifle qualifications, we were only issued pistols. Anything serious we ran into would probably be shooting a Chinese antitank rocket at us, and having a service rifle wasn’t going to help much. The basic population was on our side, and we were back to mostly-peacetime activities, which came down to training missions and maintenance.

It was high summer, August. I was wishing I could visit Chiba City, borrow my son and take him to obon. He was only two, and talking a bit, mostly to say no. Yui’s efforts to run a bakery while being a single mother with the help of Yukino… I couldn’t tell. I cared about my boy, but he wasn’t starving or unhappy or being neglected. Haruno’s messages had tapered off after our time together in that love hotel, but I couldn’t tell if she’d want to see me again or was just busy with work.

A news story came on announcing the discovery of an alien spaceship being lifted out of the water by a ship-crane.

“We are a research vessel. Do not interfere with us,” said a voice and then the ship burned through the netting, zipped left and right in defiance of inertia laws and into the sky.

“I believe I just won our bet, Sagara. Pay up,” announced Higashida. Sagara looked thoughtful but dug out his wallet and passed over a 10,000 yen note.

I finished up my breakfast and returned the tray, then exited the mess hall into the heat of the morning sun, and the interminable Chiba humidity. While still in the same prefecture as home, I was 40 km and at least an hour’s travel away. The pleasant breeze which blew into Chiba City and across Tokyo bay was absent here, and the air force planes running sorties pretty much ignored perimeter security forces, of which we are technically a part.

Our trucks made us mobile, and it was getting time to visit our positions with weed eaters again. Our whole operation was based on sliding into prepared positions dug into ambush spots, hooking up the cables and readying to fire our missiles at approaching landing craft vehicles, or tanks if they got ashore. Japan’s many curving bays were constantly hammered by the Pacific ocean waves. The local volcanic basalt rock did not produce much sand, so beaches weren’t common or consistent, and where you found them you often found people living there. This made protecting them harder, but that is how our country worked. The rest of the coast was cliffs or even swampy salt marsh. Some were reclaimed into rice paddies, which was good, and elevated roadways were easy to disable against invaders without much effort. And the cliffs were impassible to vehicles and offered no safe way up for invaders that the shore defenders could attack with machineguns or mortars. And considering China was a mass grave and its ambitions drowned under many millions of tons of mud and bad debt and communist idealism hanging from light poles… well, this was an exercise. Good practice if the real thing ever happened.

The upside of driving a missile truck is I got to see a lot of Japan’s coastline and mountain roads I’d likely never have known about from my comfy and self-satisfied life in Chiba City. I never would have imagined army life when I was a smug high school student, enjoying the certainty of a high ranking high school and a fast track to college and the employment pipeline as some paper-pushing salaryman with a mortgage, a cheating wife, and 1.4 kids who probably weren’t even mine in the first place. What every salaryman has today, if he’s unlucky.

Having coffee at a tiny roadside coastal café with our small platoon of men, enjoying the wildlife is a lot like paid vacation. Yes, we had to work pretty often, but the views were great when we stopped, and my horizons had broadened from the small world of Chiba City. We were out in the sticks, as the Americans said. We had permission to stop our column for Nara deer on the road, and I’d gotten pictures of them and bears and feral pigs and foxes. Our countryside may hate foreigners even as the towns bleed population to the cities, but they didn’t hate our JSDF trucks. I even saw school kids walking along rice paddies to school in farming villages as we slowly motored through with our column of vehicles. Honestly, it was quite beautiful. Like being a truck driver without all the urgency.

It wasn’t all work and training missions. In my off hours I still read, of course. I was more into full novels and literature than light novels. I’d read Dune and a couple of its sequels, Foundation, which I found really dry, and tried Apothecary Diaries. I wanted to like it, but there just wasn’t enough description in the text to get into what reviewers say is a fascinating story of science and politics in Ming China, sort of. I’d read Neuromancer, of course, and its two sequels, and then the series after that, then tried Banks. The Culture is weird and placed the author as a self-hating liberal fascist hawk obsessed with destruction and violence, and coming from a Japanese male that is really saying something. The endless remakes of Space Battleship Yamato, a thinly veiled fascist restoration of the actual battleship sunk by two American dive bombers in 45 minutes, drowning all 5000 crewmen is a fine metaphor for the misguided and drug-fueled government we had back then. Few Japanese are willing to admit we were in the wrong during World War 2. I’d quit reading Gate when I got to the line “Of course they’ll welcome the JSDF invading their country!” Fascist twat wrote that. I was glad that guy was fiction. Article 9 of the Japanese constitution prohibits use of force outside our borders and territorial waters, by law. Turns out that Ghost In the Shell’s anti-terror response team is named specifically for that law, section 9.

The Yuru Camp manga was a funny read, if light on plot. I learned a few tricks from it, though Sagara was in charge of our survival training and knew every trick and technique, something about Afghanistan worked into his classified backstory. I don’t know his service record, but he sure knows a lot about life outdoors and the happiest I ever saw him was when he was fishing. Shoreline or rivers, it never mattered to him. He carried both types of rods and lures in his personal kit, with Meshida’s permission, and provided fresh fish to our meals more than a few times.

Was all this even relevant? All this shoot and scoot and digging positions and clearing them for use? Thanks to China’s war drums last year, Japan was heavily invested in drone technology. Including small ones with grenades on the front. They were the same type as the ones blowing up the insides of trench bunkers in Ukraine. The Russians and the Ukraine troops both used them, and there was no Geneva Convention about drones yet. All that Asimov 3-laws nonsense is fiction.

I cleaned out the interior of my truck, reorganizing my map box, and fixing the interior light bulb that had burned out. I added a voltage regulator circuit to prevent surges in the dashboard electrics, which will probably help. Losing dash lights or the controls for the firing system is not okay, and the upgrade came from Narashino as an approved fix that has leaked out of Kawasaki and motorpool. We also had made slit covers for the truck headlights and kill switches for the tail lights, so pressing the brakes wouldn’t highlight us to enemy drones. Not that we needed them in peacetime, but the Red Scare was a wake-up call.

My phone pinged. It was a text from Haruno. Her pregnancy is progressing. She sends me a picture of her swollen belly, and herself in lingerie and one of those faces I’d need privacy to enjoy properly. We aren’t married, and she’s refused to tell her parents or sister I’m the father of our child. This is not to say they don’t know, she just refuses to tell them. The initial silence after our night of fun in a love hotel had suggested I’d disappointed her, but in the last week she’d reconnected with news of the positive test, and willingness to get the DNA tests to prove the baby is mine, something you won’t hear from many Japanese women. They would much rather cheat and get away with it.

My son by Yui is getting spoiled by Yukino, and Komachi sends me pictures when she visits my ex. Mother keeps up the usual tear-filled cries about me neglecting my family, but she didn’t exactly offer much parenting when I was raising Komachi. Yui is getting child support, a serious chunk from my paycheck, which is then covered by the government rather than me. She gets her money, and I can save towards a future of my own. Yui has had to learn how to cook from Yukino, who is still better at it. If I’d picked Yukino to marry she would have probably been annoyed at my cooking ability. I’m better at it than she is, though she has probably been forced to get better. Never trust a skinny cook. There are downsides to being a latchkey kid, and the biggest one is developing the crucial life skills that makes much of what a wife is supposed to offer considerably less valuable.

Haruno knows this, so offered the most important thing of all. We are… something. Outlaw parents? Happily unwedded? A subversive couple? She’ll probably come up with term. I sent Haruno some pictures from the last couple days, various café stops, nothing with the trucks, just locations we visited. I treat it like a long vacation road trip. It is more comfortable than being focused on the work of clearing launch sites and prepping cables for wartime use in what would probably result in incoming ships cannon fire and getting blown to smithereens if I’m very lucky. Far better than burning in a truck, or getting a limb cut off by shrapnel. It used to be the Russians with the worst Artillery, but the Chinese said “Hold my beer” and made bombs that don’t always blow up, or even fly straight. The fuses might be bad. The explosives might be missing or replaced with clay. The rocket motors could have their propellant stolen to cook dinner, something that actually happened to the strategic missiles in northern China. Even the Africans are better organized than the Chinese. And that was before the dam broke and killed all those people. That was when Chinese technology had peaked, a paper tiger of propaganda and faked tests and computer graphics trying to pretend to be demonstrations.

I am careful with my pictures. It is probably possible for computers to track the vehicles via picture IDs so I make sure to blur the signs and leave off names and use no geotags on the images. The service photoapp does this automatically. Decoupling DoCoMo from Chinese spy apps was a fair bit of work by the intelligence service, but they eventually created a whitelist which Military service members could use with family back home.

The other men with families in the platoon were grateful for this. It removed a source of stress. Hachiouji in particular exchanged lots of messages and calls with his family down south. His wife Hayase was remarkably playful, from what I could tell, and did a good job being a mom with so many kids. She was so busy she didn’t put on the pounds like many Japanese mothers did after their first child.

“We’ve been together since high school. She was my first love, and I was hers,” Hachiouji explained once, showing pictures of his wife and kids. “She used to flirt with me in my club room.”

“I used to be in club with my wife. The situation got complicated, and we married despite this and it ended up not working. How did you keep things together? Did her friends help?” I asked him.

“Eh… Hayase is territorial. Anytime one of her friends flirted at me, she’d attack and they’d back off. She’s pushed them to find their own men rather than pretend to babysit and cause trouble. I think it is because they’re all gyaru and martial artists,” he admitted after a while. “They just like competition.”

Considering that Hachiouji was a nervous guy with big thick glasses and built like a clerk who missed too many lunches, this was a strange thing to hear, but I can’t doubt his assessment. It is his life, after all.

The news was blaring about explosions at the US Air Force Base in Okinawa. Of running shootouts that escaped the base security and abandoned vehicles on the island. We did our exercises the next day and moved out when headquarters ordered us to a new deployment area. More of the same, but a different place. More interesting roads to crawl around in the dark, more locations to break out the weedeaters and trim up the grass and brush so we could dig in the trucks behind the berms meant to catch incoming fire, and maybe save our lives. I am getting lots of opportunities to experience what life is like for a landscape gardener. If I learn how to drive a tractor I can become a farmer. Wouldn’t that be hilarious?

I sent Haruno a picture of myself trimming weeds, covered in grasses and wearing my snake-bite boots, which are articulated stovepipes hung by suspenders. Any snake that strikes at the metal makes a bong sound so I know to back up and it can get away. This may be less of a radar avoiding piece of gear, but it is becoming more and more obvious that making the sites more practical is more important that worrying about retaliatory strikes by a dysfunctional and collapsing nation of enemies across the sea.

Sergeant Sagara rarely spoke about his life. He got messages, which he did not check while on duty, and strictly adhered to security protocol. He also knew a great deal about survival and physical security measures. If flares went off in the night, it was because he set them up on the perimeter and a deer blundered into them, or one of the men went for a pee in the dark and got surprised. That these flares were visible for miles and identified where we were to possibly enemies did not stop him from setting up the nuisance, and I am starting to understand why Captain Meshida was such a sarcastic smartass.

Flashing lights in the sky eventually revealed there had been a space battle between alien species that had allies here on earth. The Dogians were allied with the Americans, and the Catians had made an alliance and Embassy at some kid’s house in Okinawa and were negotiating with the Japanese government and some options for trade and technology exchange. Apparently they liked our manga? Is that right? That can’t be right, can it? Does this mean that modern media culture is now a marketable skill?