Personal log of Kowalski, Roger
Roughly they shook us awake in the morning. Babsies clothes were still a bit wet and she didn’t dared to get up. The others were already awake, they cut us lose and cut the restraints on the legs, so we were able to move.
I sat up, looked around. The two male Japanese were sitting at the table with the two woman. The Oni was guarding us, while the table was filled with weapons. Each one of them had a Ceska Black Scorpion machine pistol, the two males additional katana swords, which they checked, cleaned and oiled up. A heavy Remington hunting rifle with scope. I supposed the swords had been hidden in their backpacks. The tasers which they had used to know both Babsie and me out were ready for use at their sides.
This was an extraction team, armed to the teeth, professionals.
Tiffany looked up and smiled. “Ah, Mister Kowalski. You had a good night?” “Under the circumstances.” “Fine. How did you decide?” “We stay here. I give you the coordinates.” “I thought about that option, and I came to a decision myself. You come with us. You could just give us a wrong coordinate, hide yourself in the woods after that. And I neither have the intention to make sure you give us the correct coordinates nor insure that you are not able to run away. So it’s in our both best interest you come with us.”
I wasn’t happy about that and everybody could see it. “Great.” “So, how is your companion? Is she ready to come with us?” “I don’t know. Ask her yourself. She was in wet clothes all night and you tortured her yesterday. So we are not exactly friends, you and me. We could have solved that without that.”
She ignored me. “Miss Babsie. I will order Kinji to cut your restraints. Don’t try anything stupid and get yourself dry clothes. We start, after we all had a good breakfast.” Without an answer still hiding in the bed she grabbed the clothes that Kinji had dropped into her reach and pulled fresh underwear from her backpack. She was shaking and didn’t say a word, while the rest just watched her. Tadoyo was looking indifferent, polishing his weapons, Yōhei smiled. “You can say what you want, Tadayo. But some of these kawaruhito are kawaii.” Tadayo looked up: “Your ninjo is confused, Yōhei-san. The kawaruhito are not men or women. To feel sympathetic is wrong if it is more than you feel for a dog or some other pet. I am a modern man, but you could get in trouble. If the wrong people hear what you just said.” “Hai, Tadayo-san. Thank you. I am deeply sorry. A pet can be kawaii. This I wanted to say.” “I prepare some tea, if you like?”
They had assembled their weapons and put them into their holsters, somewhere inside their jackets. “Kinji, the meals. Please”, Tiffany said. She didn’t give direct orders, but she was in command and she didn’t let anyone doubt that for a second.
Babsie got out of the bed, in her clothes and the Oni briefly checked both of us for hidden weapon or other stuff. Then he let us go to the breakfast table. She was keeping herself behind me and didn’t say a word, fearful and big eyes. “We gonna die, do we?”, she whispered. “No. Just don’t do something stupid. We get out of this.” She was looking up to me, all but optimistic about that.
“Sit.” We sat and we didn’t talk. It was some Japanese stuff that I didn’t know. A few sushi pieces I was able to identify. Eating sticks, no knifes or forks. I wondered how it came, that a white-colored non-Japanese woman was the leader of this extraction team. Japano-zaibatsu hit-team? Yakuza? Shadow-runners? Like in the movies?
Kinji served the dishes and put them away after that. “Have you called the chopper?” “Hai”, Shy answered in a military tone. “ETA in a few minutes, Tif.” They had completely given up the semblance of being tourists.
A helicopter that was looking like a Search And Rescue landed a bit away from the shelter, in a nearby clearing. Our hands were tied again and we were allowed to take our backpacks with us, stripped from any weapons. The snow crytals bit in our faces when we got near the opened side-door of the helicopter. “Get in!”, the Oni shouted and pushed Babsie forward. She had not said a word the whole morning long. Sitting there, feeling the lifting of the copter beneath our seat, the noise from the rotors and the shelter quickly getting smaller and smaller.
The faces of our captors had tighten up, they all looked focused and they didn’t talk. I looked at Babsie. And I could see the certainty in her face that I had myself. That it was not likely that we would survive this trip. The Oni with his devil-face leaned over to us. And more to Babsie than to me, he simply said: “Sorry.” And the ice froze in our vains. “I execute orders. I didn’t like to do that. It’s not personal.”
Babsie started at him and rage was starting to win over her fear, which would be a very bad idea. I touched her shoulder to calm her down. She looked at me, then her shoulders folded and tears were running down her cheeks without any noise to hear but the flapping of the rotor.
It was a short flight. The trip needed two days on foot but it was just a few minutes with the copter. In a wide arc the pilot swung over the coordinates I had told him, to look for the people. Richard had run into view, throwing up his arms and the chopper started his landing approach. Snow was eddying up and Richard tried to protect his face, then the people jumped out and before Richard could say or do something, he was pushed to the ground by the one man, the other was running toward the makeshift shelter under the branches of the fir.
He raised his hand with thumb up, then the copter finally touched ground and the motor was getting slower. The women get out, just the Oni was left to guard us. But we couldn’t see what was going on. They carried Dan between them, the woman escorted Skylar and Mark, who looked stunned and disorientated. But they did what they were told, facing the weapons. “You two. Out. Now.” “What? But we can’t move our feet?” He just pushed me and I fell outside, Babsie was pushed outside right behind me. Face in the snow. Our gear was flying over us. The Oni tossed our weapons to the other side of the copter, into the snow where we would have to search them.
Tiffany, in the noise of the rotor, leaned down to my ear, her machine pistol in her hand, right on my neck. “You have never seen us, Mister Kowalski. We know who you are. We will find you, if you or your companion start to talk. So ka?” The only thing I could do was to nod. “I… understand.” “Good. Get them inside. Let’s go!”
The body of Richards was lying in the snow just twenty meters away, face down. Then the rotors roared and the icy wind was cutting into our unprotected flesh. Then they were gone. As quickly as they had come.
After a minute of just lying there, I tried to move. “Babsie? Babsie? Are you still alive?” She moaned. “Trying to get out of this shit.” She wiggled besides me, then she rolled herself up, jumping to the snow where they had tossed our weapons. “I try to find a knife. Just don’t go away.”
“Ha ha. Funny.” But I smiled. To be alive after you had already seen your life pass bye was a hell of a happy feeling. My face got cold, but I didn’t dare to turn around, for my fingers were more important than my face. A part of my body that could not be underestimated.
It took some minutes, then she rejoiced. “The fucking morons called me ‘kawaii’. I almost had them killed for that”, she said while she cut the restraints from her feet. “We could have all of them killed”, she snipped with her fingers, “just like that. But I guess you didn’t dare, because of me, right? We really could have snuffed them all. When… when…” Then she collapsed beside me, after having cut my hands free and sobbed.
I put my arm around her. “Come on. Come on, Bunny. You did a hell of a job out there. I’m so proud of you.” But she didn’t listen, she was just crying, so I carried her to the shelter and left her there, pulled Richard inside too and went to get our gear.
Half an hour later we could hear an other helicopter. I got out, but he was not flying near our position. I used one of the emergency signal rockets we had found in our gear. First the chopper didn’t turn, even if I did jump, scream and wave, that was about the moment when Richard and Babsie were running outside too.
The chopper turned. Slowly and I was not sure if he was searching or what had happened, but he came straight to our position. “Here we are! Here!”, Babsie screamed.
It turned to our position and darted directly towards us. It circled our position, one of those tilt-rotor hybrid of plane and helicopter, that was used by DocWagon. But this was not an Osprey II, that I was used to see in the times of my patrols. This was a military vehicle with gun turrets on the sides, with people in snow camo jackets and assault rifles sticking their heads out. We stopped jumping. “Yay”, Babsie commented. “Fuck me sideways.”
Five minutes later, we were on the knees again, hands behind our heads. “This holiday trip is shit”, I said. “Gee”, Babsie acknowledged without any emphasis.
It was an Ares Search and Rescue Unit, that was what they told us. “Where are the other three members of this group?” I pointed west, where we had last seen the copter. “That way.” “Hands behind the head!”
“What the hell is going on? We really need help”, Richard said. “Three of our group were abducted and we are out here for days, without food and shelter. Are you fucking help us or not?! Fuck you!” One of the soldiers hit him with the butt of his rifle, so that Richard fell over, face down in the snow. Blood was trickling down into the snow from his head. But he still moved.
“We know nothing, Sir. What the hell is going on?” “We intercepted an emergency call from some Rangers, that said they were attacked by something from the woods. And that there is a group outside under the lead of a man with the name Richard, who needs help. Who of you is Richard?” “The one you just have beaten unconscious, Sir”, I answered with even less joy in it than the ‘Gee’ of Babsie a few minutes earlier.
“Are you here to rescue us or what?” “You answer my questions.” “With respect, I have played that already, Sir. And the game sucks big balls.” Babsie giggled, but the Major or General or what the fuck he was didn’t move a muscle in his face. “This is no fucking game, son. We have something out there in the woods that killed one of the Rangers, ripped his horse apart and sucked bullets as if it was not a hunting rifle but a BB gun, which the surviving ranger used. You fuck around with me and we just take off and you are alone with that problem. You tell me, what happend. Now.”
I told him. While I left out that we didn’t get any tea from them. “Copy that. Jennings, call the cavalry. We can still get them, if we are fast enough. But not with this slow fucking thing.” He stomped into the snow, frustrated. “They shall try to get them with some interceptors, just put up everything we have. That was an extraction team.”
“What do we do now? Sir?”, one of the soldiers asked. “Secure the perimeter, we take these civilians in. At least we can play the good Samaritan if we can’t come and shoot someone. Get some of our recon drones up, we try to find that thing. Hunting time.”
I looked worried, but before I could say something, Babsie asked: “There are wolves around. Maybe the Rangers…” “Littel girl. This were no fucking wolves. This was something heavy. Something worth killing.” “But…” I stepped in before she could say something that might have resulted in the loss of our ticket back. “We have another one of our group out there. Sir”, I said. “What?” “A boy. He flipped out and did something stupid. But maybe he’s still alive.” “When was that?” “Just a few days ago.” “Then he’s dead. Or we watch a miracle at work. And I fucking do not believe in miracles, that don’t come out of something less than .50 caliber rotary machine cannons. But you tell us the position and we take a look. Maybe the thing is feeding of his carcass.”
The soldiers helped to put our stuff inside, Richard got a quick fix of his head wound.
“Everyone in!” He made a rotary movement with his arm. “Like in a flick”, Babsie said. “I didn’t think that was for real.”
And we lifted into the sky.