Chapter 15:

A cheap copy version

The Dusk of Revenge

    Everyone took their seats around the table, that’s when we started the meeting…

No members of the first or the fifth squad were joining us. Only the leaders and us. We felt a bit uncomfortable, since while we were having this meeting, the others were putting their lives on the line to push the enemy back…

No one understood the meaning… I mean, they could’ve sent us immediately to do some backup at least. With the power of three squads, I doubt that the enemy can continue playing around while hiding his plan.

As silence reigned the atmosphere in the room, we kept looking at each other hoping that someone would pluck up the courage to ask them. We knew what would happen if we asked such a stupid question that in normal circumstances, we would’ve guessed its answer without breaking a sweat.

The one who was able to, finally, break the silence was Kazuto: “… Sir, may I ask a question?” He said with a perplexed voice. Our eyes became bright as we looked at Kazuto “Our hero” who saved us from that awkward situation.

The commander looked at him with his sharp eyes and then answered with a terrifying calm voice: “…You’d better not ask trivial questions!”

[Aah!! Poor Kazuto he’s gone for it now]

“… Sir, why are you here?” He asked with a terrified voice. The poor guy knew what’s going to happen when he chose to sacrifice his dignity to ask this question and yet he did it. I think he’s the MVP for this day. Not for the physical damage he can sustain which is his specialty but the emotional damage he sustained after that question…

Everyone knows that the commander is a nice caring person who does everything that he can to protect us and ensure everything that we need… But at the same time, he has that bad habit of saying what comes first to his mind immediately. While this habit makes him say sweet encouraging things from time to time, it also makes him say stuff like the answer he said at that time.

We covered our ears waiting for him to answer and yet, even with that we were able to hear his yelling clearly: “… This was the most disgusting thing I have ever heard in my entire life! What do you have for a brain?! You didn’t know that we made this meeting to notify you with the new information we have! Just use your mind a bit and stop asking stuff like that! This isn’t some children's game! This is a freaking fight!”

He looked at us then continued: “… Why are you covering your ears?!”

The leader of the fifth squad laughed at the scene: “… This reminds me of the old days when I was a trainee in the first squad!”

[ This is definitely something I don’t think I want to remember!]

Moving forward, we knew that the police didn’t find any information in their database about the men we took down in the enemy hideout. “… This means that they were recruiting people in the last few years!” I replied to Mr. Mahito, the leader of the fifth squad, who was explaining the new intel.

“… Yeah, I guess you can use the word recruit, but I’m not fond of that word especially in this exact situation” He answered as he looked at the screen before him.

Seconds later, he resumed talking as the files they received from the police department from Setagaya was displayed in holographic mode before us: “… As you can see, this man for example has no criminal record in database of the police department but when we search in the interpole database we found that he was a part of a criminal gang that made some terrorist attacks in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and other countries. The gang’s name and other information is not important since it’s said here that it disappeared totally two years ago. I am surprised why the police have no information about him! Anyway, the point from this example was to tell you that they weren’t simply recruiting new members, they actually integrated whole gangs in their organization. With them staying at the top and the other gangs working under them, it is safe to assume that the Red Claws now have a pyramidic structure. The boss is on the top, then there are the branch leaders, under them we find the old members, and, on the bottom, we’ve got the other gangs who recently became a part of the big organization.”

The commander who was getting bored decided to interrupt and explain the situation in simple words: “… What we want to say here is that the enemies we’re currently fighting against at this very moment aren’t the same that we fought 6 years ago. They are weaker, less organized, and less experienced… We don’t know when the real enemy will appear, that's why you’re going to stay still and not participate in the fight until they appear.”

The leader of the first squad laughed at the scene and said: “… I guess it becomes boring to explain things for the third time. Am I correct, commander?”

He smirked at him as he replied with confidence: "... My squad members are just smarter than yours. They can understand those things easily and quickly, except for Kazuto!"

It’s a good thing that I asked Asahi to notify me whenever there’s a change in the battlefield. If waiting was all that it takes so that the enemy appears, then I would be more than happy to do so. But I don’t mind jumping from time to time to help the other two squads. Even If the enemy they were facing wasn’t my target for revenge, I would enjoy hunting them down and making them regret the idea of joining hands with my mortal enemy…

Asking the commander to let me join the fight was out of the question so I had to wait without doing anything. Asahi and Ai are working hard in silence. I thought that I could hear some funny conversations like the previous ones, but I guess that we were the only ones who had nothing to do for the next couple of hours…

Even the commander started acting like a supreme leader of all the squads. He was abusing the respect the other two leaders had for him. but it seems that they hadn’t any problem with that situation. On the contrary, they seemed to be happy having some nostalgic moments that reminded them of the times they were under his command.

As I watched them how they were acting before him asking him to give them orders and advice, I remembered the first day when we decided to create this squad and it was only the two of us. Our first goal was to gather members. I was 16 years old at that time. I remember the quarrels we had when we chose different people to add to the squad.

He used to bring a list of names to the dinner table where, after finishing dinner we go through it name by name, reading all of their skills records and academic achievement. He always chooses people based on their personality and social skills while I choose people based on their ability.

The first one who joined this squad was Shuna. The first time I saw her was when she came to the house where I lived under the commander’s control since I was a trainee in the first squad. That girl has always been cheerful and funny. The first we met she started calling me “Uncle Shinji!” out of the blue. I got angry quickly and closed the door leaving her out. She was a persistent girl! She had the nerve to keep ringing the bell even after what happened.

“If my grandpa is treating you like a son then you’re my uncle!” That was what she first said after I reopened the door to tell her to leave.

A large smile was on her face as she leaned a bit trying to look at me in the eyes: “So, Uncle Shinji, Can I join?”

She tried to stick her nose in everything even in the choice of the next members. She insisted on having the right to pick someone to join us saying: “It's taking you like forever to decide!”

Rin was the person Shuna picked. She was very shy at the beginning to the point where she couldn’t even reply to any question. All of that disappeared one day and all of a sudden, she gained confidence to talk and act naturally around everyone, even the commander.

She has a cute vibe especially when she gets embarrassed. It has always been a funny scene to watch when she blushes as she loses all the confidence she had. Unlike Shuna, Rin didn’t have any special abilities to begin with, but she was able to quickly catch up with the both of us. She had a secret motive that made her always push further.

Akira, Rintaro, and Kazuto were childhood friends. They used to go to the same school and lived in the same orphanage. The orphanage that got blown up in Saitama. The same one that I tried to protect and failed 6 years ago…

After the first sessions of training Rintaro shined in physical short-range attack while Kazuto in defense. They were a powerful combo. Imagine someone who can hit like a cannonball while the other one, when using his special shield, can block a shot from a missile. You definitely do not want to mess with them when they are together!

This powerful combo becomes technically invincible when Akira or Rin join them. If we add the equipment to the skills they gained through training, they will definitely become the perfect assassins.

With Shuna on the long-range attack, Rintaro on the short range, Kazuto defense, Rin and Akira assassins, and Asahi, the new member, responsible for the intel, this team becomes invincible.

A formation that doesn’t include me… That’s great! At least when I leave them alone, they can defeat anyone and anything that appears in their way.

Everyone in this squad has a field in which they excelled above anyone else, while I lived in their shadows. I couldn’t stand out in any field…

When I got interested in artificial intelligence, I tried helping my father who, obviously, had all the spotlight and I was pathetically trying to imitate him exactly like everyone thought that I would do.

Later, when I tried learning martial arts and became fond of using the sword, I copied every move and technique my master had but couldn’t bring something new to the field…

Even when we created this squad, I became the second in every domain. There is always someone who can beat me in each domain. The arrival of Asahi gave the final blow to the image of a leader who at least shines in something.

I wasn't jealous of them! On the contrary, I was happy for them since they found something that binds them into this world. All that is left for me is the revenge that continues to drive me to push forward.

This might be for the best! At least, If anything happens, no one will miss a leader who can only copy others.

At least I have a thing in common with the new enemies: being a “cheap copy version”!

With that conclusion that came to my mind I decided to stop thinking for a while and since I was a bit tired from all the things that happened during that day, I fell asleep quickly and without even realizing it…