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24 March 16th A Day for Ceasefire

Tyne returned to Eiji occasionally and briefly to give him updates of America's winnings; nothing that would be considered meaningful intelligence, but it was enough to show Eiji his place in the war.

Another form of psychological warfare Eiji had presumed. Especially when it was clear that his country had no recourse for success.

The foreign forces relentlessly attacked the island with greater firepower, rolling in reinforcements day in and day out. Eiji's fellow soldiers were being forced deeper into the tunnels and caves towards the north-west. He cringed as he recalled his brief experience in them; those tunnels were dry, stuffy and unforgiving terrain. He was worried his people wouldn't be able to survive a siege.

He was finally let out of the office prison by two young US soldiers who threatened to harm Tama if he so much as tried to escape. For Tama's sake, he complied.

"Stay with me Tama." He pleaded to the cat in his own language when she was secured within his shirt.

He held her tight as they stepped outside and headed down a dirt slop towards enemy tents pitched on cleared ground next to their landed planes. Hot gusty winds whipped their skin as they trudged through ash-soil to enter the military camp. The soldier escorts pressed the muzzle of their rifles hard into his sides as he walked their pace towards a large tent set farthest from the air strip.

He kept his face expressionless and posture strong as he copped vehement and filthy stares from all the foreign soldiers he passed.

"Bloody Jap! Rot in hell you bastard!" A solider shouted and spat at his face.

This outburst initiated a frenzy of cat calls and abusive attention that his escorts were not bothering to protect him from. Eiji kept his cool and protection over Tama as the men shoved and punched him, allowing their emotions to override their composure. His only thought was to make sure the innocent kitten wasn't being hurt.

"STAND DOWN SOLDIERS! STAND DOWN NOW!" Tyne's voice bellowed over the frenzied crowd as he pushed his way towards Eiji and dragged him away from the excited mob.

"ALL OF YOU ARE ON DUTY RIGHT NOW! YOU HAVE TEN MINUTES TO GEAR UP OR FACE DISCIPLINARY ACTION!" He shouted to the men again that dispersed the crowd with a heavy grumble and crude accusations of Tyne being a 'yellow loving bastard'.

Eiji checked on Tama and sighed when he saw her wide eyes looking back at him from within his shirt. Her body was trembling unharmed. The experience had left her too scared to move.

"Is Tama okay?" Tyne whispered.

Eiji nodded.

Tyne sighed with relief and offered his apologises.

"What do you expect when dangle bait before sharks?" Eiji growled at Tyne as he reclaimed some of his strength with a few deep breaths.

He dropped his annoyance with a sigh, ignoring his fresh pains and focused his attention on Tama who was gradually relaxing.

The men walked in silence to the tent flapping in the acrid winds. Distant sounds of sporadic explosions and rapid firing surrounded them. A stench of gasoline from the roaming G503 off-road jeeps, fresh iron fillings and sweat wafted up Eiji's nose as he neared the tent's opening. His heart raced with longing as he looked toward the flashing lights and smoke rising from the high terrain in the distance.

"This is the POW?" An firm voice intruded on his thoughts.

"Major Schmidt." Tyne saluted a hardened middle-aged soldier of rank.

The man's stiff peak cap bore the insignia of a US army major. He stood out with his pristine khaki uniform button tight over his lean torso. His boots looked way too clean to have suffered some heavy ground. Eiji suspected the man was a recent arrival from a reinforcement convoy.

"We've taken control of the bases, but General Kuribayashi continues to hold out underground. Even with their surprise attacks on us, they're not able to gain ground. They're running out of firepower. I don't see them holding out much longer. Now is the time for a ceasefire negotiation." Tyne soberly reported.

Major Schimdt coolly sized up Eiji to determine what type of threat he would end up being to them. "I'm taking a risk here Lieutenant. You think these Japs will surrender?"

He's conversation was directed to Tyne, but his eyes were dead-set on Eiji. No doubt assessing his reaction.

"Major, sir, they've lost a lot of men and firepower to us. The Japanese are outnumbered and outgunned. They know this. I think it's worth the shot. We don't have anything to loose by trying it." Tyne carefully reassured his superior.

Eiji sighed realising what they wanted from him. Of course terms of surrender were better fed from one of your own. If they didn't like the message there was no harm in shooting down the messenger for effect.

"You have ten minutes to gain your general's surrender." Major Schimdt directed his final words to Eiji. He left the tent to attend other military business.

Tyne and his armed escorts led Eiji into a jeep, where he was driven to the front-lines. Tama was taken from him by Tyne with his promises of keeping her safe.

The armed escorts nudged Eiji through the barricades, past medics making do with supplies to bandage damaged soldiers and armed squads fighting his people from sandbag and barbwire barricades. It was a strange feeling watching your own men being fired on from behind enemy lines.

All eyes cautiously watched Tyne and Eiji's procession with looks of confusion, vehemence and concern. Neither stopped their approach towards the barbwire blockade and secured entrance to the central tunnels where Eiji suspected a squad of marines from Okinawa were defending with all their might.

"Ittōhei Takai Eiji reporting!" Eiji clearly shouted out his name and rank through the smoke and blaring gunfire. "I'm forced to carry a message for our general!"

A moment of miraculous silence and stilled gunfire occurred on both sides as Eiji slowly stepped before his comrades, holding back his emotions. He made his presence obvious, so they could see he was a prisoner of war under a pretence of delivering a message from the enemy.

"What is the meaning of this Takaki?!" Questioned the highest ranking officer on the field.

Eiji relayed the message to the young sergeant. "The Americans have claimed the bases and secured the outer areas of the island. They have complete control except here. They propose a ceasefire under conditions for our surrender."

Tears slipped from his eyes as he soberly finished relaying the message. He smiled when every single one of his countrymen raised their guns to resume their fight. If he was shot down at this moment, he felt his honour was restored. At least he told the truth of the situation, so his general could adapt his strategies.

"Takaki. A prisoner of war can no longer speak for our country. But, you can tell these Americans this, we will never surrender! I speak for our good general and country. JAPAN WILL NEVER SURRENDER!" The young sergeant valiantly answered in place of their general.

Eiji smiled proudly, knowing this was the answer they were going to give. He bowed low then moved out of the path of fire that had resumed.

"That's disappointing." Tyne heaved with a weary sigh.
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"What do you expect from the country with kamikaze? Japan will valiantly hold out to the end." Eiji reaffirmed.

"Right now, you should be worried about yourself," Tyne solemnly said. "As of now, I'm no longer responsible for you."

Eiji laughed. "Yeah, I figured as much. Take me to the POW camp, but I'll selfishly demand one thing Lieutenant America."

He surprised Tyne when he bowed low and spoke to him in Japanese. "Please protect Tama and make sure she's safe as the lone civilian on this island."

"I'm not a monster Takaki-san. You can count on it.' Tyne promised.

Eiji was escorted back to the jeep. It kicked up clouds of ash soil as it drove off for the POW camp near Mount Suribachi.