Malacca, Japanese Indonesia
Hirano sat on a bench, staring up at the sky cloudwatching. It had been about a week since the incident at Tampin, and he, like most of the Liberation Force, had been put on standby while command figured out how to deal with the rebel situation. There supposedly were talks with the British over the surrender, but that could easily just be hopeful gossip. As Hirano had been taught, British soldiers were bloodthirsty invaders who couldn't be spoken with; the only way to get them out was to kill them all. Of course, the talk was also that the natives of Indonesia had done just that. Some said that there was a pile of British bodies piled outside of Tampin. Some said that the British Stronghold in Port Dickson was painted red with their blood, and that their heads hung from the rooftops like flags. Hirano, however, believed the least exciting story.
The British saw Indonesia as a lost cause, and were pulling out to let the natives and Japanese fight over the broken remains.
With a deep, drawn out sigh, he sat up, adjusting his round spectacles to sit properly on his nose, and stood. There was something he had been hoping to do, and, with the help of a good friend, today it was going to be possible. As he started to walk down the streets of Indonesia, he couldn't help but notice the looks he was getting from the locals. While normally, they avoided his gaze and stared at him in anger, today they were... Smiling. They looked confident. It left Hirano feeling uncomfortable. He tried to ignore it as he made his way to the makeshift prison that had been made out of an old school building. Upon reaching the entrance, he was greeted by a tall, slightly older soldier with a patchy, scraggly beard and dopey face.
“Hirano!” He exclaimed, jogging up to his friend. “I was wondering when you would arrive. Are you ready?”
“Ito! Sorry, I kind of spaced out.” Hirano replied with a sheepish grin. “Yes... I think so. Tell me Ito, have you seen him at all? The Brit?” As he asked his question, Hirano looked a bit upset... Scared, almost. Ito, noticing this, simply laughed at his friend. “Don't worry, Hirano. He's nothing like you're thinking. In fact, he looks weak, like you!” Another laugh escaped Ito, though Hirano didn't quite find the joke funny, giving his friend an elbow between the ribs along with a small “Hey!”
As soon as the laughter stopped, Ito turned and unlocked the building, showing Hirano in. “Alright, we have about ten minutes at this point. Make sure you're back to the door before then. I don't want to shoot my friend for getting caught colluding with the enemy.” Another laugh came from Ito as he turned, closing the door behind him and leaving Hirano alone in the makeshift prison. Silently, he began to walk around the large room, looking between the bard of the various cages. Some held British and Dutch PoW's, some held local insurrectionists, and a couple even held defectors who were caught hiding out, or trying to escape back home. Eventually, Hirano spotted the man he recognized from Tampin, and reached out, tapping the bars.
“I already told you bastards, that's everything I know.” Came the reply in English. “I don't know what my people are planning, nor do I even know what happened in that shithole of a town. I was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Now, can I...” He trailed off, looking up and seeing the confused, yet familiar, face of Hirano. “Oh. It's you.” Came the unamused reply. “What do you want?”
With a furrowed brow, Hirano tried to make sense of what he was saying but, not knowing much English...
“Do you speak Japanese?” He asked, brow still furrowed.
“No, I don't understand you.” The reply came in English again. “If you know any Chinese though, then we can talk.”
With a start, Hirano looked at the Brit, shocked. “Yes, I do. Why does a British soldier know Chinese?”
Looking up again, the soldier gave Hirano a quizzical look. “Because my father was from Hong Kong, and regularly visits China. The real question is why you speak Chinese. I thought you were supposed to hate China.”
This time, Hirano gave the quizzical look as he shook his head. “No, of course not. China and Japan have been on good terms for years. They also want your people out of Asia.” He then starts to take a bit of defensive posture, crossing his arms as he looks down at the Brit. “Why is that so hard for your people to understand? I'm sure if we occupied Ireland, you would want us out too.”
That reply prompted a small laugh from the Brit. “It might, if we still had Ireland. God, they really do have you lot brainwashed, don't they? Do you even know what's going on in the world, or do you only know Japan?” He let out a small sigh, glancing up at Hirano with a look of pity in his eyes. “Look, I don't mind answering your questions, but you need to stop looking at me like a dog. My name is Charlie. What's yours?”
Hirano stayed silent for a long while, prompting another sigh from Charlie. When he finally did move to respond, he stopped himself and stayed silent for a little while longer. Eventually, with a frown, he crouched down in front of the cage. “What do you mean by brainwashed?” He asked, ignoring nearly everything else.
“What I mean is... Your knowledge of the world seems outdated, and just wrong. You think you're buddy buddy with China. You think the King still has control over Ireland. You think the people of Indonesia want to be Japanese, for God's sake! Well let me tell you friend, the people who chased me out of Tampin weren't just burning British flags. They were burning Japanese flags, too. They don't like either of us, and if you lot aren't careful, Malacca is going to be the next Tampin. Just a hundred times more brutal.”
Hirano, again, stays quiet for a long while, Charlie's words echoing in his mind. After the looks he was getting earlier, the last thing Charlie said actually made some sense. Was everyone in the city at risk? Did Charlie tell this to his superiors? The other things were clearly propaganda, but this... This was something that might be real. Looking back to Charlie, Hirano gave a small bow of his head. “Hirano. Nice to meet you, and goodbye. I need to go.”
With the small sound of protest behind him as he got up, Charlie headed for the door, giving the small knock to let Ito know that he was ready to come out. After a small wait without any reply, he knocked again. Maybe Ito just didn't hear. However, yet again there was no reply. Curious, he moved over to one of the boarded up windows, peering through the cracks to try to spot his friend. Finally, his eyes focused, and he saw Ito sitting down in front of the door, lazily lounging.
“Ito, you bastard! Come on, let me out!” He jeered through the door with another series of knocks. However, Ito still wasn't letting him out. “What happened to not wanting to put me on the firing line? Ito, this joke isn't funny!” Actually annoyed now, Hirano peered through the window again. As he did, he heard the distant sound of a crowd. Knocking on the wood, he looked down to Ito again, and noticed exactly why his friend wasn't responding. Barely visible, in Ito's stomach, sat a knife buried in his gut. Staggering away from the window, Hirano stared at the door, eyes wide. Here he was, locked in a prison, while his friend with the keys was bleeding out on the other side. He started to bang loudly on the door, shouting in hopes that somebody would come to help.
“HEY! HEY, WE NEED HELP! HEY!” He shouted, hoping somebody might hear. He glanced back to the prison where, having taken note of his distress, some of the prisoners started making a ruckus, cheering and jeering. Trying his best to ignore them, Hirano kept pounding on the door, until he heard a key click in the lock. Stepping back, he readied to explain himself, and urge whoever came to help Ito. However, when the door opened, his eyes widened, and the cheering behind him turned into an excited howl.
In the door, with Ito's gun pointed at Hirano's chest, was an Indonesian woman sporting a cocky grin. Hirano could only look at her in shock and confusion, muttering something about saving Ito, that she shouldn't be at the door, that...
Before he could finish his thoughts, or even form a proper sentence, she cracked the back of the gun against his temple, causing him to crumple and start to pass out. Before everything faded, he heard her shout, in her language, and then in surprisingly good Japanese, and then English, and Dutch.
“Death to the invaders! We take back our home!”
The call was immediately echoed by the Indonesians in the cages, before to woman grabbed the back of Hirano's collar, and moved to the cages.
The sun sat high over the city of Suwon-si in Korea, where the Japanese military presence was much more lax than in Seoul to the North, but not quite as lax as Daejeon to the South. Despite that, for a select few in Korea, life continued on as it always had. A group of old ladies in particular, whether Japanese soldiers were around or not, sat in a park chatting around a radio. The only difference for them was, when the soldiers moved on, they would tune in to a rebel radio signal, rather than the folk music they let the Japanese overhear. The conversation however, stayed the same. It didn't matter. The soldiers didn't know Korean, and even if they did, they weren't going to bother eavesdropping on the latest gossip of a group of old women.
“...down in Indonesia, tension is still on the rise. Earlier today, the rebels pulled off their most successful attack against the Japanese yet, killing hundreds of soldiers in the city of Malacca, and taking many officers captive. News of this has yet to reach the Japanese mainland, where they are still celebrating the false victory in Tampin.”
“Heh. Serves them right.” One of the grannies scoffed at the radio, as she looked around to make sure they were still in the clear. “Hopefully they send more soldiers down South, so we can start doing the same.”
“Oh, I wouldn't worry, Seung.” The second woman chimed in. “My son, the one working with the resistance in Busan, told me that they're ready to strike at a moments notice. They're just waiting for the news of the Japanese Emperor.”
“Oh, that's right.” Said the third with a snicker. “The old man seems like he's finally ready to follow his brother to the grave, right? This is the fourth attack he's survived. He should really just keel over already. If not for us, at least for his family's sake.”
“Oh, you're awful!” Laughed the fourth. “Why would you care what happens to a family like that? I hope they're so distraught, they follow him to an early grave.”
“Oh, that reminds me. My granddaughter, the one with the resistance in Seoul, said she might get sent to ask China for aid when the Emperor dies.” The second woman adds again. “Imagine the look on their faces, if the Chinese invaded them.”
“It would serve them right!” Laughed Seung. “By the way, Kyung-Hee.” She said, turning to the first woman. “What's your bet? Sung-Min thinks the old bag will kick it sometime this week.” She says, pointing to the third woman. “Eun-Yeong thinks it will be tomorrow.” She says, pointing to the fourth. “I already lost. I thought he was going to be announced dead this morning.”
At that, all the women laughed, before Kyung-Hee spoke. “I think we'll be stuck with him a while yet. He's like a cockroach. No matter how many times you try to kill him, he still hangs on, determined to make a mess of everything, bother everyone, and live uselessly.”
That prompted another laugh from the group, who stayed silent for a moment afterwards, to continue listening to the radio.
“...Meanwhile, we have received word that the people of Taiwan managed to catch one of the islands major officers off guard. He was found with multiple knife wounds in his back, curled in a ditch on the side of the road. He was announced dead this morning, though it was officially reported as a hiking accident. More and more, we see the Empire falling apart, piece by piece. Day after day, our odds of success only increase. And now, word is that the Emperor's family has gathered at his hospital bed. None of the previous attacks prompted a familial visit, leading us to believe that the end of our sorrows will soon be upon us. Tune in again tomorrow at this time for the most important update to date.”
Again, the group started to howl, their laughter heard across the park, promoting a Japanese soldier to approach them, and demand they quiet down.
“Oh, quiet, invader.” Kyung-Hee said, soliciting shocked expressions from the rest of the group. “I've grown tired of you all walking around, bossing us around, and acting like you own the place! This is my country, and it's about time you got out! Now leave us alone, before I make you regret it!”
With a slacked jaw, the soldier stood in stunned silence, before eventually running off. As he did, the group looked to Kyung-Hee in silence, before eventually cheering her on for her outburst. Eventually, Eun-Yeong gave her a pat on the back. “You know he's likely getting help. We should probably get out of here.”
“No!” Shouted Kyung-Hee. “You heard them! This is it. We don't have to take it any more! By the end of the week, the Japanese flag won't be flying over Suwon anymore! What are they going to do to a little old lady, anyways? They have more important things to worry about.”
However, as Kyung-Hee celebrated, a group of six soldiers approached the group, whistles blowing and weapons out. The old women held their hands up, one by one, Kyung-Hee going last with a pained look on her face. Soon, they couldn't do this anymore. Soon...
“Damnit!” Came an angry shout from the Japanese Headquarters in Kirun, Taiwan. “First Hidaka gets stabbed, now we're being asked to find a missing plane? Since when is it my job to search the oceans? What do we even have a navy for?” An old, grizzled looking man shouts to a young woman in military dress, before sighing, and slapping his hands on the desk, doubling over a bit. “Sorry, Sakiko.” He corrected himself. “This island is a curse. Everyone who gets assigned her goes to an early retirement, and I'm starting to see why.”
“Of course, sir.” The woman replied. “Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee?”
“Yes... Maybe a cup of tea, thank you.” the old man replied.
“Right away, General Mogami.” She said before disappearing from the room. Once she is gone, he moves to his chair, and collapses in it, making a call. “Yes. This is Mogami. I need you to scour the coast for an aircraft. It should be somewhere along the Northeastern coast. Yes. The sooner the better. Oh, and if you find anybody, alive or dead, bring them here.”
With a sigh, the general leans back, resting his head against the back of the plush European chair. “Damn Dutch... They're like rats. I was supposed to get a break, and then they go and pull something like this.” He then picks up the phone again, making another call. “Yes. This is Mogami. Yes. I need you to spread word to towns in the North. When you're ready then. Yes, of course.” He waits a moment. “Have the locals be on the lookout for an injured European. Tell them that if they turn him in to me, I will make them the richest person on this island. Yes. Make sure to emphasize the reward. Once they have something to gain, we'll see how loyal to their rebellion they are. Yes. Yes, of course.” Another sigh escapes his lips as he ends the call.
“That's somebody handling Hidaka's funeral, somebody searching the coast for the crash, and somebody spreading the message about the bounty. Maybe I can finally relax a bit.” As he speaks, he slides down in his chair some, before furrowing his brow, and calling out into the building. “Sakiko, is the tea ready?”