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  • Honor

    Living Quarters, Rising Sun Facility (“Shi No Numa”) , Empire of Japan

    Cpt. Takeo Masaki

    July 24th, 1943


    “When I consider the dead and their families, I cannot repress my mental agony.”

    - Emperor Hirohito


    A cool wind blows, soothing the skin. Calm waters flow, carrying worries away. Takeo Masaki sits alone, at peace, resting on a log beneath Grandfather’s cherry blossom tree, its rich pink petals fluttering against the breeze. In the garden, there are children at play. They are innocent, unburdened by the weight of war, free from guilt. If only they knew the cost of such a life... If only Father were here to see them.


    A stench filled the air around Takeo, one of swamp water and diesel fuel. The children and the tree faded, leaving the meditating Samurai alone in his musty quarters. He was surrounded by rotting wood, the only hint of natural light creeping in through a cracked window at the foot of his cot. 


    Takeo unfolded his legs, rising to his feet and searching the single desk drawer in the room for a match. With it, he lit a row of three candles resting on a metal tray beside his cot. He returned to his previous form, legs crossed, muscles relaxed, and head raised as he breathed in the masking scent of the candles. However, they did little to deter his intrusive thoughts. Weeks had passed since Takeo last received word from his father. Saburō was among the forces who conquered Manchuria, and he later assisted in the occupation of the Philippines. Even with his many great accomplishments in service to the glorious Empire, he was ordered to return home by the Emperor. Since then, he has shared with Takeo many troubling, dangerous ideas about the Emperor. Takeo first felt anger towards his father, resenting his words in their insulting, misguided nature. Now, however, he only feared for Saburō’s life. The Emperor is a merciful leader, and He respects the Masaki family for its continuing service to the Empire, however, Saburō has done the unthinkable in questioning Him.


    Takeo could not return home to clear his father’s name, for his duty is here, in this swamp, overseeing the operations of Division 9 and Group 935. For years, the Rising Sun Facility operated as an extension of the Empire, led by Doctor Okitsu. In 1940, however, Germany’s Group 935 was given control of the entire facility on the goodwill of Japan’s alliance in the war. Since then, Group 935 has influenced the facility’s research, and the scientists stationed here seem to have changed their methods as a result, including Doctor Okitsu. Takeo was still haunted by the screams as mens’ arms were frozen and shattered while they were still alive. He could hear them weeping as they were injected with Element 115 and left to suffer in inhospitable conditions. The incident that caused Takeo to be barred from research areas involved an elderly civilian being forced to ingest 115. Takeo nearly decapitated the German holding the man down, and the scientists begrudgingly agreed to halt the experiment after Takeo’s demands. The elderly man has since disappeared.


    Months prior to now, Takeo was dispatched as an envoy of the Emperor, on a mission to investigate the facility’s operations and report his findings. He had been met with great hostility and resistance from both Group 935 and Division 9 staff ever since. Over a month prior, Takeo sent a message to the Emperor informing him of his mistreatment and the cruel methods of experimentation he had witnessed. He had yet to receive any orders.


    Without orders, nor access to any areas of research in the facility, Takeo could do little but meditate, biding his time. He felt closer to a prisoner than an extension of the Emperor himself, confined to his living quarters during daylight, and his belongings, including his family’s sword, were locked away by the Security Commissioner.

    Before arriving at the swamp, Takeo had performed his own research into Doctor Okitsu’s background. The Emperor, in His wisdom, at one time deemed him a pioneer in Japan’s growing scientific progress. He was known as an honorable, righteous servant to the Empire. However, the man Takeo had met held no such distinction. Okitsu sees little value in the lives of his test subjects, viewing them as beneath an animal. He wields his arrogance and ego like a shield, while lashing out at any who would defy his demands with a sword made up of anger and pettiness. He only saw a warrior like Takeo as a bumbling brute of no use to anyone. With every interaction, Okitsu wore a sneer of contempt for all those he viewed as beneath him. Perhaps due to Group 935’s influence, the Empire’s greatest scientist has succumbed to outside evils.


    Takeo’s eyes re-opened as he heard the shuffling of feet and muttering in English outside. Someone was quickly approaching.


    Before Takeo could rise to his feet, Doctor Russo entered unannounced, a look of disdain on his face.


    In a vaguely Italian accent, Russo declared his purpose, “You’re needed in the labs, Samurai.”


    Takeo replied, fluent in the English language from his travels, “What sort of emergency?”


    “A test subject has locked himself inside the laboratory... We believe you may be of some assistance in coaxing him out.”


    Takeo strode to the door after putting out the candles near his cot. “Hm, and why have you not broken into the room and shot him like a dog? Perhaps that would be too quick and painless for your taste?”


    Doctor Russo grinned, chuckling to himself, “Were it so easy… Come now, we must get back to work.”


    Russo motioned for Takeo to follow, turning and pacing out of the room into the cramped hallway separating the living quarters. They stepped through an open archway onto a wooden path leading towards the facility’s main building. The air was unbearably warm and muggy, and sweat began to build beneath Takeo’s officer uniform. Mosquitos pestered the pair as they approached a staircase leading to the second floor of the main building. The building was made primarily of wood, with a rounded thatch roof. The duo passed into a room lined with shelves holding ration shipments from the mainland. Nearby was a prototype for one of Group 935’s Perk-a-Cola machines. It was a completely silver, box-like design with an indentation near the top, and in this indentation a circular port where the drink inside would be retrieved. An electronic, glowing sign was meant to be sat on top, but was currently on a nearby shelf, detached. Group 935 had begun sending these prototypes to every facility under their care, using their staff as willing test subjects for the elixirs, meant to assist in various duties. Takeo did not trust the Colas just as he did not trust the Germans.


    As Takeo and Doctor Russo passed through another doorway, Takeo noticed two SS soldiers towing behind, both unarmed. They all exited a doorway that led to an outer balcony of the building, where a gondola waited for their arrival. As the four men entered, Takeo took another look at the soldiers’ weapons and their stone-faced expressions, gazing into nothingness. Takeo asked Russo aloud, “Is the subject armed?”


    Russo shrugged, not looking Takeo in his eyes, “Possibly. We can’t be certain as of yet.”


    Takeo waited for the men to start the gondola, but they only stared blankly outside, waiting for something. Takeo then realized that something was Doctor Okitsu.


    Okitsu arrived, smiling and chatting with his assistant, a journal under his arm. He stepped into the elevator, bowing his head as he saw Takeo. He stood as tall as the soldiers in their army boots, looking down upon everyone else. As he found his place standing next to Takeo, his assistant shut the door and sent them towards the labs. The generator outside began to rumble, and the gondola began to rock back and forth before finally departing.


    Doctor Okitsu glanced at Takeo, “The elusive Takeo Masaki bears his face once more. We are honored you would help us in our dire situation given your busy schedule… ”


    Takeo replied bluntly, avoiding eye contact with the Doctor, “Actually, I was meditating. As I have been barred from all research areas, there is little else to occupy my time.”


    “With all due respect… there is little use for a warrior such as yourself in a place of science. Perhaps the Emperor was mistaken in sending you here.”


    Takeo locked eyes with Okitsu, “It was no mistake, I can assure you, Doctor.”


    Okitsu smirked, “You may be right. You will certainly be of great use to us today… ”


    The gondola came to an abrupt halt, nearly knocking the men inside off their feet. The assistant opened the door to reveal the concrete inner walls of the laboratories.


    Takeo allowed the rest of the men to step out first, following as they passed through a corridor into an open foyer. Near a metal door stood another Group 935 scientist and an armed soldier.


    Russo approached them, “Has the subject made any attempt to escape?”


    The soldier replied, “Nein, he has just been muttering und crying in the corner. I don’t understand why we cannot break down the door and get on with it.”


    Okitsu shook his head, “Now, now, we should not be too hasty. Replacing these electronic doors is quite costly, certainly more than the subject is worth. You could learn a thing or two about patience from our friend Takeo.”


    Takeo approached the door, peering in through the glass view port. Lab tools were scattered all over the ground, and an operating table had a thick pool of blood dripping off the side. He could hear someone mutter to the side of the door in Cantonese, but was barely able to make out the words.


    Takeo asked Okitsu, “What is his name?”


    Okitsu shrugged, “We would not know such things.”


    Takeo placed his head near the view port, uttering in Cantonese, “Can you hear me? I am not here to harm you.


    The subject’s voice raised, “Leave me in peace! I’ll kill you if you enter this room, I swear!


    Takeo whispered to the men surrounding him, “I believe he is armed.”


    The German soldier standing by asked mockingly, “So, what are you going to do about it?”


    Takeo spoke to the subject again, “I mean you no harm. I am not a scientist, my duty is to help these men return to their work, nothing more.


    You… you are lying! You will tear me apart! I cannot die here… I need to find my wife… she is here somewhere…


    If you approach the window to let me look at you, I can help you find her.


    That’s not true! You will shoot me through the glass!


    Russo asked, “What is he saying?”


    Takeo replied, “He believes he will be shot if he stands within view of the window.”


    The soldier behind Takeo muttered under his breath, “Not a bad idea… “


    Takeo turned to him, pointing a finger in his face, “We will do no such thing. Lower your weapons and step away from the door. Now!”


    The soldier stood his ground, looking to Doctor Okitsu for approval. Okitsu nodded, and the three soldiers present lowered their weapons, stepping aside. Russo motioned to the German scientist present when they arrived to follow him, telling Doctor Okitsu, “We have some other business to attend to, and this may take longer than necessary.”


    Okitsu said, “That’s alright. I will enjoy the show on your behalf.”


    Irritated by Okitsu, Takeo spoke once more to the subject, “I have told the guards to lower their weapons and to step away. I am the only one standing before the door, and I will not harm you.


    I do not believe you!


    Believe this: I value your life and my own honor over their research. I promise you, on behalf of my own life… on the life of my family… you are safe.


    Takeo waited in silence for a reply, uncertain if Doctor Okitsu would willingly comply with his demands should the subject come forward.


    From the corner of the port, Takeo could see a man coming into view. He slowly shambled across the floor, one of his legs dragging and his face expressing a great deal of pain through the tears. He wore a simple white shirt and tan pants each soaked in blood that emanated from a large gash in the side of his chest. The wound exposed his organs which reflected a bright ruby red under the light on the ceiling. The man appeared to be aged in his 40’s, but his head was completely bald and there were scars all along his arms.


    Furious, Takeo stepped away from the window, approaching Okitsu, “What have you done to this man? What has he done to be forced to endure such suffering?”


    “If you must know, we were testing different concentrations of Element 115 to be used as a healing agent for battle wounds. Since he has been walking around and losing so much blood, the test is no longer viable. I can assure you the experiment was sanctioned as it is.”


    Takeo shook his head, “You have taken this too far. You must mend his wound and send him to a prison on the mainland with his wife.”


    Okitsu chuckled, “His wife? So many have passed through here, that could be anyone.”


    “You treat this subject lightly. I, however, do not. This is unacceptable, and I have informed the Emperor as such. You will cease your work here until orders return from the mainland, and you will pray that He does not punish you in the manner I would find most fitting. This subject will leave this facility unharmed, Doctor, if I am to believe you are an honorable man.”


    Okitsu stood silent for a moment, his assistant looking perplexedly between him and Takeo. Okitsu raised his arms, smiling. “Fine. You win, Samurai.”


    Takeo replied before returning to the door, “I see no victory here. Only needless suffering and dishonor.”


    Through the door he spoke to the subject, “I have spoken with the Doctor. He will heal you, and you will be sent somewhere far safer. You will suffer no more.


    The man shut his eyes, nodding and crying for a few moments. He shuffled towards the door, deactivating the locks and stepping backwards into the center of the room.


    Takeo slowly turned the handle, opening the door and stepping forward, his hands raised.


    You see, I am unarmed.


    He noticed the subject had been gripping a large surgical tool in his left hand, and he began to loosen it as Takeo calmed him down.


    Takeo reached out with one hand as an offer of peace, and the subject locked eyes with him before averting his gaze behind Takeo. His eyes lit up with fury, and he charged forward, the sharp tool in his hand. In an instant, three beams of green light shot forth from behind Takeo into the subject’s upper chest, piercing through and placing him on his back. Green smoke shot forth from the holes in his chest and from the impact the beams had made on the wall behind him. His eyes were filled with tears, but he was most certainly dead.


    Takeo stood dumbstruck as Okitsu’s assistant pushed him aside, crouching near the body and examining the wounds.


    “Incredible, the rays passed right through. Just as you predicted, Doctor.”


    Takeo turned to see Okitsu with a handheld weapon in the shape of a pistol and similar in design to a Group 935 weapon known as the “Ray Gun,” designed here at the Rising Sun Facility.


    Takeo shoved the assistant aside, sitting near the body and lifting the subject’s head to gaze into the abyss within his eyes. Takeo had promised on his own life, his own honor, and the lives of his family that he would be safe. He had failed to keep this promise.


    Takeo placed his hand over the man’s face, closing his eyes, before resting his head onto the wood floor. He shut his own eyes, returning to his place of meditation under the cherry blossom tree. Its leaves were all gone, and the children were nowhere in sight.


    “Otōsan, yurushite…”


    He could hear the door to the lab being closed, and the whispers of evil men. Takeo glanced back, seeing the assistant, a syringe in his hand, as well as two German soldiers, unarmed. They were approaching him, slowly.


    Thinking swiftly, Takeo noticed a table to his right. In a single motion, he gripped the underside of the table and flung it into one of the soldiers, knocking him to the ground, removing his helmet. The assistant swung his arm with a syringe, trying to reach Takeo’s neck, but Takeo simply shoved it aside with one hand, snapping the arm in half by pulling it over his shoulder. The assistant crumpled, crying out in pain and dropping the syringe to the ground.


    The second helmeted soldier quickly tried to restrain Takeo, wrapping his arms around his neck. Takeo replied with an elbow into his gut and a shove into the concrete wall. The first helmetless soldier has returned to his feet, grappling with him at near equal strength. The helmeted soldier tried to restrain Takeo in the same manner as before, now that his arms were occupied in front of him. Takeo kicked one in the chest, sending him spine-first into a wooden chair as he yelped in pain, before lowering down and tossing the one to his rear over his shoulder onto the ground.


    The soldier he kicked caught his breath, charging head first into Takeo before he could react, pinning him to the wall. Takeo punched him in the jaw, causing him to reel back, before he took a swing back at Takeo. One swing hit Takeo in the cheek, but he responded quickly with three consecutive punches to the man’s jaw.


    Takeo backed away towards a table near the wall, and as the soldier attempted to swing, Takeo dodged and swiveled around him, placing his arms on his back, and while he was winded, Takeo slammed his head into the corner of the table, knocking him completely out, a tooth falling to the floor as blood splotched the table.


    The remaining soldier swung a wooden chair into Takeo, smashing it into pieces and disorienting him. Takeo anticipated an attempt to grab him, charging head first into the soldier’s chest to knock him back. The soldier tried once more to grab him, but Takeo reversed his attempt, wrapping his own arm around his neck and pulling him to the ground. The soldier gasped for breath, flailing his arms and legs trying to harm Takeo, but he maintained his grip, thwarting attempts to escape by rolling side to side on the floor. The soldier’s strength dissipated, and his limbs fell to the wayside. Takeo finally released him, rising to his feet once more, bloodied and bruised.


    It was then he noticed Okitsu standing near the door, the experimental Ray Gun in his hand pointed at Takeo.


    Takeo caught his breath, uttering to the cruel Doctor, “You… are a traitor… The Emperor will have your head for executing one of His personal envoys.”


    Okitsu shook his head, “On the contrary, I do not plan on killing you with this Ray Gun, no. Your insides would be cooked and your body useless to Division 9. However, if you will not cooperate, I will not hesitate to pull the trigger.”


    Takeo began to pace closer, circling the Doctor, “So this is why you have taken away my blade, my family heirloom. You needed me disarmed, helpless in the sights of your unnatural weapons. This was your plan, yes?”


    Okitsu smiled, “How perceptive for someone so blind to his fate.”


    “What do you mean?”


    “You were not sent here to watch over our research, but to become a part of it. As a test subject.”


    “On whose authority?”


    “The orders came from the Emperor himself.”


    Takeo stopped in his tracks, furious, “Watch your tongue! The Emperor would never betray His most loyal servant! My family has served the Empire for generations!”


    “He chose you because you are so loyal, so zealous. Only a fool like you would fall into this trap. You and your family are not as valuable to the Empire as you have been led to think. You and your father have caused enough trouble.”


    “Do not speak of Saburō, traitor!”


    “Your family is a relic of the past, and the Masaki lineage will die with you. Give up your body, and you will be of some actual use to the Empire.”


    Takeo did not believe Okitsu’s words, as they could never be true. He inspected the weapon in his hands, pointed directly at him less than a meter away.


    Takeo shut his eyes, breathing in and then out, saying to Okitsu while pointing to the weapon in his hand, “Would you not fight me as an equal? With honor?”


    Okitsu laughed, shaking his head, “Your Bushido code means nothing to me, Takeo. I hold the weapon, and I hold the power here.”


    Takeo sighed, “So be it.”


    The Samurai ducked to the side, launching his foot into the air directly into Okitsu’s wrist. In a panic, the Doctor fired off a burst of plasma energy which impacted the nearby wall before the weapon was knocked from his hands and onto the floor. Okitsu immediately backed away, slamming his fist into the metal door to the lab, calling out, “Get in here now! He’s managed to- ach!”


    Takeo had retrieved a Doctor’s knife from a nearby table, and now held it in one hand against Okitsu’s face as the other arm was wrapped around his neck. The third German soldier stationed outside the door slammed it open, directing his MP-40 in their direction.


    Okitsu continued to struggle, stopping as Takeo began to pierce the skin of Okitsu’s neck with the knife. He stopped as Takeo made his demands to the German soldier, “You are to escort me to a vehicle so that I may leave this facility with Doctor Okitsu as a prisoner! The Emperor will hear of his treachery!”


    Okitsu muttered as Takeo held his throat tightly, “He would never see you. You would be executed before you even reach the palace, just like Saburō!”


    Takeo’s adrenaline seemed to halt, his mind preoccupied with Okitsu’s claim. “You are lying. What you say is impossible.”


    Okitsu continued raspily, “He ordered his death on the palace steps, and he sent men to execute your mother in your home. Your father questioned his judgement and they paid the price… But you... he has tried to kill you many times before… Every one of your missions has been designed to kill you, and yet you still live! If he could not kill you in battle, he simply wanted you to disappear! You are a remnant of the old ways, Takeo, and a threat to his vision of Japan...”


    Memories flooded Takeo’s mind; Missions of great peril that resulted in the death of many men on either side of the war. Only through his father’s training had he ever stood a chance at survival. Takeo’s life had been built upon service to the Emperor, the one he saw as righteous, the one he saw as honorable, and the one who had sent him to die… The Masaki men were respected throughout Japan for centuries as peacekeepers, but the Emperor, who was divine and perfect, looked down on them with petty jealousy.


    This is the end of the Samurai. Takeo is the last of his kind.


    Takeo began to loosen his grip, his mind drifting and his blood ran cold. His vision began to cloud, his path, built upon a lie, now crumbling before him.


    He felt a sharp prick at his ankles, and only after a moment of clarity did he realize what had happened. To his rear on the ground was Doctor Okitsu’s assistant, a syringe in the hand of his functioning arm, its contents now coursing through Takeo’s veins.


    No … “


    Takeo began to feel light-headed, and his grip on Doctor Okitsu loosened, causing the Doctor to pull himself free. Takeo covered his eyes, the light from above casting a great deal of irritation in his vision. He uncovered them to see the German soldier stepping forward and placing a boot to his chest, knocking Takeo to the ground.


    He felt a sharp pain from the impact in the back of his head, however, he could not attend to it as his arms were too weak to be lifted. His vision swirled and the colors of the room seemed to change. The Doctor’s assistant stood up, peering down at Takeo on the ground, before delivering a swift kick to his lower back, muttering, “Bakayarou!


    The German soldier was circling the room, examining the unconscious men, “The son of a bitch could have killed them… What do we do with him now?”


    As the world began to blur, Okitsu leaned down to get a closer look at Takeo, before wiping away some of the blood at his own neck, “He’s too dangerous to be kept here any longer… And frankly he deserves something far worse than what I had in mind.”


    Okitsu pondered for a moment, before a grin arrived at his face, “We will send him to Der Riese as a ‘gift’... Perhaps they can find a use for him… ”

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