Chapter One: Bushido - the Samurai code

4 Cherry Blossom Road

Yokohama, Japan

2:32 am, January 17, 1936

 “Will there be anything else, master?”

Lieutenant Commander Toshio Miyazaki looked up from his seated position on the mat.  “No, Mitsu. You have been a faithful servant to my family for decades.  Go to my mother’s house.  However, do not deliver my death poem until after the cock crows.”

Mitsu dropped to the floor prostrate. He looked up and spoke “Master, I implore you! Let me get a second. I will be swift.”

Miyazaki exploded upward in a flurry of anger and white robes. He crossed to where Mitsu lay quivering on the floor. His tantō knife flashed to the servant’s neck, but at the last instant he stayed his hand.  The blade depressed the skin of Mitsu’s throat but did not yet draw blood. In a cold voice that barely contained his anger, Miyazaki whispered into Mitsu’s ear. “I do not need a kaishakunin!  If you say another word, I will cut your throat from ear to ear. Do you understand me?”

Mitsu nodded.

“Fool!  I have chosen jumonji giri.  If I wanted a second, I would have arranged it.” Gradually, Miyazaki’s voice rose.  “Do you think that I will cry out?  Do you think that the pain will overcome my will to end this shame?”

Mitsu shook his head.  His whole body trembled.

Miyazaki's rage was palatable as he released Mitsu.  “Were your mission not so important, you would join me in death this evening for your insult! Now get out!”

Mitsu stood, bowed deeply and backed out of the room.  At the sliding paper panel that served as the door, he bowed again, turned and fled into the darkness clutching the death poem to his chest.

Miyazaki walked to the door and looked out over his snow covered garden.  Like all traditional Japanese homes, the walls were made of wax impregnated rice paper. The walls allowed softly filtered light to provide a gentle illumination.  The cherry trees would not bloom until April and he was sorry that he would miss them. He regretted that he could not settle the score with Nick Grant even more.

How could a mere teenage boy have bested me? I am a Black Dragon, a Ninja! A proud member of Section Nine, Naval Intelligence! And yet, Grant has brought me to this.  

The shame was unbearable. He hung his head grateful that he was alone and did not need to mask his emotions. He closed the screen and returned to his mat. He knelt and started to bring his body and mind back into control. He must be calm for what lay ahead.

Miyazaki replaced his ceremonial tantō on the ornate stand that also held his samurai sword.  Like the sword, the tantō had been in the Miyazaki family for centuries.  Miyazaki’s father has used it for his own seppuku almost twenty years ago.  Now it was his turn to commit ritual suicide by disembowelment and release his spirit. Seppuku was a key part of bushido, the code of the samurai warriors.  It was used by warriors to avoid falling into enemy hands, and to attenuate shame.

Shame.  That is what I feel.  I failed my class, my country, my admiral and, most importantly, my Emperor. 

His mission had been to stop the American’s China Clipper route, or Skyway to Asia. But because of that meddling Grant boy, American money and critical airplane parts were reaching Shanghai in days instead of weeks.  The Chinese air force was back in the skies. Their re-emergence had tipped the balance to the Chinese who had recently thrown back Imperial Marines outside Nanking.  Admiral Shiozawa was most displeased.

Shiozawa had handpicked Miyazaki for the mission over senior Black Dragons expecting success.  However, Miyazaki’s failure was total.  He had also failed to capture the secret American Radio Direction Finding equipment. The American RDF was ten years ahead of the Japanese or German equipment.  The Empire needed a lightweight and highly accurate RDF if the carrier planes were ever to find their way back from Pearl Harbor. It would take three or four raids to completely destroy the American Fleet. Our planes need to re-fuel and rearm to accomplish that much destruction. Without the RDF, many planes would be lost a sea.

He let his hate for Nick Grant wash over him. Grant had also been responsible for the death of four Black Dragon operatives and his apprentice, Roger Tanaka. Worse, Tanaka had turned on him. All his work developing the West Coast agent network lay in shambles.  The Neishi community would never trust him again.  Even the most radical pro Japanese Empire members were afraid after the FBI raids. Damn that Grant boy!

Miyazaki tried to calm his mind. This was not an appropriate way to face death.  He took several deep cleansing breaths and started the calming routine he had learned as a child.  He had to clear his mind of all thoughts of this world and prepare himself for the next.  He thought of the white robes he wore.  Mitsu had bathed him, dressed in him, and fed him his favorite meal.  When Miyazaki was finished, Mitsu placed the tantō on his empty plate. With his sword in the ornate stand front of him, and seated on special cloths, Miyazaki prepared for death.

The white symbolized the purification right he had performed. He had last worn the novice white twenty years ago.  After his father’s seppuku, Admiral Shiozawa had taken him in and trained him in the ways of the Ninja.  He was an eager student and had won the kudan, a ninth dan black belt. His thoughts strayed again. How had that boy bested me? Feeling his anger rise again, he re-started the calming routine determined to gain control over his mind and his emotions.

Normally, a kaishakunin would stand behind Miyazaki - sword drawn. Miyazaki would open his kimono, take up his tantō and plunge it into his abdomen, making a left-to-right cut. The kaishakunin would then perform dakikubi, the cut that usually decapitated the participant.  Because of the precision necessary for such a maneuver, the second must be a skilled swordsman. Had Miyazaki chosen a public seppuku, the kaishakunin would make the cut as soon as he plunged the dagger into his abdomen.

Such was the depth of Miyazaki’s shame that he could not bear a public ceremony and he would forgo the second. Once he had the honor to serve as kaishakunin and had seen the agony seppuku inflicted. He knew it would take an iron will to complete the cross cut and the final upward thrust into his heart. However, he felt confident and yearned for death’s release.  He feared death less than living with this crushing shame.

Finally ready, Miyazaki opened his kimono, picked his tantō and slowly wrapped the wide white cotton belt around it and his right hand.  This act would insure a firm grip when his intestines spilled out covering his hands and the ritual mat. When he had finished wrapping, he took one last breath and placed the razor sharp blade against the left side of his naked abdomen.

CRASH!  The screen slid open and four uniformed men entered the room. Miyazaki was in the trance like state and only vaguely aware of the commotion. Someone yelled, “Stop, in the name of Admiral Shiozawa!”

Miyazaki opened his eyes and turned to the speaker enraged. Interrupting a samurai’s seppuku was punishable by death.  He recognized Lieutenant Commander Nagasaki, Admiral Shiozawa’s aid-de-camp.

“Nagasaki I will kill you if you are not here by order of the Admiral.”

Nagasaki bowed. “Commander I apologize, but here are the Admiral’s orders.” Nagasaki bowed his head and held the letter out in his white gloved hands.

Miyazaki blinked and felt light headed.  He longed for the deep peace his death would provide. Annoyed, he untied his tantō, and placed it on the stand. Then he tied his kimono and stood. He focused his mind, took the letter and opened it.  He read in disbelief and looked hard at Nagasaki. “Is this some kind of a cruel joke?”

A look of terror crossed Nagasaki’s as he hurriedly shook his head.

"If it is Nagasaki – you’re a dead man!” He glanced at the escort. The three Imperial Marines did not wear the mark of Black Dragon, nor the karate rank.  They would have no more than basic skills. He would kill them first then take his time with Nagasaki.

Nagasaki was from adjutant general corps, more of a clerk than a naval officer.  He swallowed hard.  “Commander, the Admiral said that you are needed for a special mission against the Americans.  One only you can perform.”

Casually, Miyazaki reached down and picked up his tantō. “Is that so, Lieutenant Commander Nagasaki? And what mission would that be?”

“it is multifaceted, sir. Steal the American navel codes, RDF technology, and their flying boat blue prints.”

“I have already stolen the Sikorsky plans.  Our engineers have produced a better version, the H6K1 Flying Boat. It’s faster, lighter and has greater range than the American version.”

“True commander, but the Marin M-130 is yet another technological leap. The Bureau of Aeronautics insists that we must have the American plans.  General Tojo has personally ordered it so.”

Miyazaki shook his head.  "Tojo will ruin this country and bring an end to the Empire. He’s mad.”

Nagasaki glanced at the three implacable Imperial Marines nervously.  “Commander, I must ask you to keep your thoughts to yourself!  The Army is in charge of the government. They would love to hang more naval officers for treason.”

Miyazaki shrugged. “At least I get another chance at Grant.”

Nagasaki frowned, “That is not your mission.  Should Grant get in your way, well, that will be your decision. But you are not to target him deliberately.”

“I can’t see how he could keep away. Do you?”`

Nagasaki smiled, “No Commander, I don’t.”

“We will see, Nagasaki. Now leave me!  I must dress to meet the Admiral.” 

The Epic Struggle for the Pacific Airways

Created on ... February 9, 2007
Updated on ... January 25, 2011

Copyright 2007-2011. Jamie Dodson. All rights reserved.