Thur Mar 1 2012

Thur Mar 1 2072

"… You are California." These are the words that Governor Theodor Gill uses to end his daily radio address to the people of the California Free State. Every day, from the Bears Lair, hidden underneath South Butte in the central valley of California, he addresses his people both inside his territory and those still under occupation. Every day he exhorts them to rise above their differences and work together for the common goal of pushing the Japanese back to the sea. Every day, across California, from isolated Bakersfield to apathetic Eureka, from the nexus of Redding to Occupied Sacramento, the people of California listen in. But do they hear him?

In Fairfield California, just outside Travis Air Force Base, Sgt. Junjiro Ioshi of the Imperial Marines was traveling third in a line of several APC's as they rolled back in to base. They had just come back from pacification of a 'terrorist cell' in Vacaville, some 20 miles to the south. His features were furrowed, brow drawn low in thought at what he saw in that house. No terrorists. Just.. a Kawaru 'family'. The way the father threw himself in the path of the bullets to spare his son only a moment longer. It weighed on Ioshi. It weighed heavily and the rest of his squad could see it.

"Sgt. Junjiro." Said Sgt. Major Hiro Tanaka, a man of classically hard features and a demeanor that spoke of gravitas. Tanaka, called 'tank' by his men, was not easy to serve under, but when the chips were down, Tanaka was who you wanted calling the shots. His unit had a lower casualty rate than any other in the 5th Division, while simultaneously having an above-average kill rate. No one could claim they hung back in the fight or they were cowards. "What is troubling you? You should be joyous! We have won a great victory for the Emperor today. There will be extra rations tonight. Combat bonus for all."

"Was it?" Asked Ioshi, shaking his head. "Was it really a great victory, or did we just do Internment's dirty work?"

Sgt. Major Tanaka never got a chance to answer that question as the IED embedded in the roadside K-rail detonated. The K-Rails kept the masses off the roads, but they made great amplifiers for concussive force, rebounding it back and forth with such graceful ease. The APC slammed into the other wall, driven sideways by the blast. The lead vehicles came to a halt, marines jumping out and assuming combat positions, but there was nothing to be done for vehicle three.

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