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29 Kei's Blended Beauty



Pink and white cherry blossoms fell about their feet as they entered the remote outskirts of a small neighbourhood.

Eiji noticed that Tyne and Hans had adjusted the weight of their strides as soon as they entered suburbia. He figured they had been training to be Germans for a very long time.

They travelled down two gravel streets between a tight-knit of traditional minka houses with triangular thatched roofs, modern day cabins and a two-story western built store at the streets' end.

Cherry blossom petals continued their delicate downfall over their procession towards the open bus station. Beyond the station was the sights of green mountains and a dirt road leading out to an unknown highway.

"Beautiful! These are the famous Sakura I've heard so much about." Hans gasped with awe as he giddily allowed the soft, cool petals to drop onto his outstretched hand.

"And you heard about these from who?" Eiji frowned, wondering why this man knew a lot about his country.

"Say, don't you guys have some sort of viewing festival around this time?" Hans cheerfully ignored the probing question, which made Eiji's frown deepen. "I have it on good authority that the picnic days are particularly amazing."

"Not here to smell the roses, Hans." Tyne sternly reminded his corporal. "Our instructions are to reach the bus depot and a man named Ito, Kei. He'll take us to our check point in the Hiroshima region."

"Right. Work. War. Of course." Hans dropped his chirpiness with a groan.

"So, this Ito-san, will escort us on a bus?" Eiji asked Tyne.

"Don't know. I figure so." Tyne answered.

"Do we even know what he looks like?" Eiji faced Tyne with raised brows.

"On a need to know basis. "Tyne answered with a grin.

Eiji closed his eyes with a sigh and realisation. Well, whatever, he was back in his country now. What's the worse that could happen?

They eventually arrived to the depot, which was one clear space for two mini-buses to park and a squarish single story modern hardwood building that was becoming common place for a lot of the new transport depots.

"Gentlemen, you're a bit far from the tourist locations," said a young station master as he hurried towards them. He greeted them with a polite voice and bow.

Eiji noticed the man's all black uniform, stiff peak cap and white gloved hands was spanking new. His youthful face (probably of twenty years) and cool almost black eyes behind round spectacles was lifted with a customer service smile. His eyes widened when he saw the man's name tag pinned to his shirt.

"Guten Tag! Good day young master. Could you please inform us of the next transport to Hiroshima?" Tyne asked the man with German tones to his voice.

"Aah, you must be the men from the Wiesmen Company!" The young station master acknowledged them with a chirpy voice. "Certainly, come this way please."


They followed the young station master into the hardwood building and to the two-man counter that had pamphlets neatly displayed on the counter and large map of the Shimane and Hiroshima road routes on the wall behind it.

The other station master was no where to be seen.

The young station master closed the solid door behind them and removed his station master hat, so they could see his short black hair. No one moved or said a word until the young man did.

"Americans. Germans. Japanese." The man sighed with bitterness. "All the same."

He dropped his customer service smile and faced the men with an honest expression.

"Let me tell you a story about a young man who was separated from his family because of Pearl Harbor. This man was forced to watch from hiding, his baby sister and mother taken by their own kind for labour camps to god knows where. Just because they had Japanese blood in them." The young man's voice became bitter every word he spat out to them.

"I know who you are. Yes, for the love of my family, I'll help you." The young man eyeballed Tyne. "Know this. My orders don't dictate my feelings of hate for you Yankee bastards!"

His eyeballing turned to Eiji. "Nor for the brutal Japanese. You can all go burn in hell!"

Eiji slowed his breathing to control his surprised reaction. He didn't pick the young station master for a Nisei at all, which was probably why he was chosen by the American's as an informant.

"Ito, Kei." Eiji tested the man's name.

"That's what I'm to be called. Pitiful name isn't it." Kei scoffed. "Ah, well, this job does come with perks."

They followed Kei out of the building towards the back of the depot where civilian pushbikes were parked. At the far end was a black beauty Eiji had only seen once in his lifetime.

"A Buick Roadmaster!" Eiji gasped, wonderstruck by the sight of the black Toyota sedan.

"Do my eyes deceive? A charcoal fuel tank with mahogany dash, leather upholstery and a front drivetrain pulling speeds of 49.7mph..." His voice carried dreamily around the car body he closely inspected. It trailed off at the strange and curious looks he received from the other men.

Kei rolled his eyes with a bitter groan.
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"This is mine. You men so much as scratch this blended beauty, I'll kill you." Kei warned the men who looked less than impressed than intimidated.

He frowned at the sight of a black kitten poking its head out of the wicker basket bag that Eiji was carrying. "What's with the cat? Saving it for dinner?"

Eiji glared at Kei. "Tama is not dinner!"

"It's not coming in the car." Kei declared with a filthy look given to the kitten.

"Unfortunate. I'll inform my superiors that our Informant failed to fulfil duty. This will ensure whatever gratuitous the Navy has provided or in lieu of gifting you forfeit." Tyne levelly said to Kei with a customer service smile.

"I'm not surprised you Americans will resort to extortion or other cowardly threats." Kei accused Tyne.

They held each other's eyes in a stand off before Kei broke contact first.

"Fine. I'm not responsible for any problems this flea bag causes. You better compensate me for damage it does to my car!"

Tyne took the front passenger seat next to Kei, holding back the smile at Eiji's goofy giddiness next to Han's wistful expression that he saw from the rear vision mirror.

"We're not all monsters Kei. I hope I can show you that." Tyne soberly said to Kei, who responded with a scoff filled with disbelief.

"Let me ask you this, Sir, are you a good man or a good monster?" Kei said as he started up the engine and let it hum for a moment to warm up.

Tyne chose not to answer and accepted Kei's huff.

"As I thought." Kei answered for him. "Patriotic bastard. I'm inclined to stab you in your sleep when we reach Hiroshima. No one said I couldn't."

Once the engine had warmed up, Kei slowly pulled the car out of the depot's parking lot and moved it out onto open road for Hiroshima.