Chapter 1:

A Hero's Return


November, 1998.


We were in HQ, which was this makeshift camp that was crudely made about a week ago. It had dirty pots all over the ground from our meals with the rebels. the tents always had slack, a bad storm would be sure to bring down the poor piece of fabric. We always had to move to get closer to the fight. The cities were a constant target from attacks from the Yankees, so we made camp in the dense jungles to keep the clueless Americans off our backs. 

I was smoking by myself. The other soldiers had made a fire and were chatting and laughing, keeping themselves busy and distracted. The dirty men knew the war had just about run its course. We haven't seen an American in weeks. The rebels haven't said a peep in any of the cities. It seems that all military presence in Uganda is basically gone. Of course, this could be a trap. We always had our rifles at the ready, as per training. Kanto walked up to me and sat on the dirt next to me. "You've always been alone, Sergeant. Come share some stories!"

I blew smoke and chuckled. "That isn't true. They discharged Gisei for some reason. I'm just waiting for my turn."

"You think the war is gonna be over?"

I shrug. "Haven't seen a Yankee in weeks. No new orders came in. What's the point of us even being here anymore?"

Kanto looked at the ground for a bit. "Maybe they're gonna launch a huge surprise attack or something!" He made an explosion sound effect with his mouth, using his hands to empathize the effect. "What if they took our nuke?! It could be 45' all over again!"

I shake my head, wiping the sweat from my forehead while I had the cigarette in my mouth.  "Think, Kanto. They blew the damn nuke up already. Even if they had a surprise attack, intel would've sniff that out already."

Kanto smiled and nodded. "You got a point there...Thanks, Ito! I assume you're not gonna join us?"

 "My head hurts. Sorry, Kanto."

"It's ok. I hope you get better sir!" Kanto stands and goes back to the fire to laugh with his comrades again. I wouldn't ruin the mood they had. I'd remain there and went to bed early. 

At 1100 hours the next day, we were all standing in attendance for a special announcement from the General. He walked in. We saluted and stood at ease. 

"Soldiers, as you know for the past 6 years we have been in heated war with the Americans. They have done horrors to us and we have done worse to them. With the help of the Ugandan Rebel Force, we have made sure the American occupation of this great country has been completely eradicated. One thing we have avenged with this great victory is the loss of Ekio Island. May those warriors be missed, and their names honored. Now, I am happy to say the war is over. The Americans have come to make a truce with us, and we can now return home."

The soldiers cheered and celebrated. I was one of them. I hugged my fellow men, the guys I've been shedding blood for years now. It's finally over. That's a reason to smile. 

Next thing you know, I'm on a ship, leaving Africa. The rebels had given me an old bullet casing as a gift. One of them told me something I would never forget. "If you ever find yourself in need of help, hand us this casing. We will do whatever you ask of us, ok?"

I play with the rifle casing in my hands, looking out into the ocean as we move at a hurried pace. Kanto leaned next to me, hopping in place happily "We did it, sir! What are ya gonna do once you get home?"

I haven't thought of it. I groan a bit. "Hm. Good question."

"Where do ya stay? I live in Kagoshima."


"Osaka? Oh, I heard that it's quiet over there!" 

"You could say that. Not too large like the other cities. The only thing people would do in Osaka is just play jazz or listen to jazz. Maybe I can just find a nice little shack and-"

Kanto tapped my shoulder heavily. Once he got my attention he pointed in the direction of a large city skyline. I've never seen this city before.  The lights were so bright, It could be seen for miles. "I thought we were going to O-Osaka..."

Kanto moved forward. "We are..."

We soon were put into dock, and we walked out of the ship. I said my goodbyes to Kanto as he took the shuttle to his next destination. I had a crowd of patriots to weed through, shaking hands and smiling with them, even taking a few pictures. Once I got through the masses, I take some time to fully explore the city. 

I had to get used to how bigger everything got. The trip from the docks to downtown would be impossible without a bus. I got a free trip due to my veteran status. Lord knows how long that would last. I walked downtown, seeing the neon lights, the bumping beats of the new nightclubs put in town, and the citizens in flashy clothes. Years ago, I'd see old people in simple business suits walk downtown after a long day at work. I eventually make my way to one of the only parks that even lasted the whole facelift. I sit on the bench to soak in everything, and that's when I heard it.


I open my eyes to see Giesi, looking as fancy as can be. 

He's been busy this month.

Joe Gold