Chapter 1: Discharged
Exit interview, my ass, thought Daryl. He sat in civilian clothes across from a man in uniform and he knew well enough that he had been interviewed so frequently over the past year that the UN had all the information it could possibly want out of him. This... this was just formality, and to let him know not to let the door hit him on his way out.
"You are lucky to be leaving with an OTH," said the captain across from him. "If you were any higher ranked you would have faced a court-martial."
Not because he had fought for a GHQ that had deceived the UN regarding where its loyalty lay, but because he had participated in the coup that killed his father, the general in command prior to Shuichiro Keido. But they could not prove how much knowledge he had of the coup beforehand, or that he knew his father would be unlawfully replaced. And they didn't know that he had been the one who killed him.
Daryl said nothing.
The captain sighed. "You probably could have avoided this if you had contacted your superiors back in the States and let them know you suspected something was wrong with the transition in power. You must have had some idea beforehand, seeing as they jailed you for insubordination and disrupting their operation in Loop 7. We don't ask for heroes, Yan. Much of what happened here was preventable, if you or anyone else at GHQ had spoken up."
Daryl had heard this talk before, but now it was with resignation rather than anger. Nothing would change. He supposed the OTH was fair. Other Than Honorable, they called it. The captain tried to sell it, telling him how he would get to keep his veteran's benefits, but that didn't mean anything to him. He was only eighteen, and he wasn't banged up enough to start needing disability. The worst part was that he would be banned from reenlisting in any branch of the armed services.
What was he supposed to do? He'd grown up a military brat. He didn't know anything outside a uniform.
The captain lifted his tablet and said, "Hold up your phone."
Daryl did and the captain tapped a button.
"I sent you a directory with your walking papers."
So that was it. With a press of a button it was over. Daryl tried not to think all that remained of his career was now a set files on his phone.
"There will be one final deposit into your account," said the captain. "All discharged GHQ soldiers are being given enough funds to enable their return to their home countries. I think you know it's not a cheap flight back to the U.S. so it's not a bad deal for you."
Daryl stood and halfheartedly lifted his hand as though to salute, but then he remembered he was no longer military and dropped his hand to his side. He picked up the duffel containing his personal belongings and walked out the office.
On either side of the hallway were offices full of personnel discharging and being discharged. It was finally happening. After being detained for over a year the UN was finally finished with the former members of the Anti Bodies. Civilian personnel from the GHQ had already been released a few months earlier. Only a few of the senior officers remained in custody.
Not that the UN would be able to find many people left to blame. Keido was dead. Segai was dead. Rowan...
Rowan might have been released the same time as him. Why hadn't that man at least attempted to get in the elevator with him? Daryl wasn't worth his life. He wasn't the good kid Rowan thought he was.
How could Rowan ever think someone capable of killing his own father was good?
He started walking, shutting out the hushed conversations of the people he passed. He was not a prisoner anymore. They could see his bag. He had his papers. He was leaving. He could see the glass doors of the lobby only a few steps away.
But what then? Outside was the end. His final instructions were to leave. He'd always had orders to follow, assignments to fulfill. The military was structured. The officer's academy was structured. Even school had been structured.
Beyond those doors was nothing, but though he was now a civilian he could not ignore his final imperative to leave. Daryl stepped up to the glass doors and they rolled aside to let him pass. He did not hesitate as he walked through.
It was only when he walked up to the curb and dropped his bag did he finally allow it to sink in that he really had nowhere to go.
The spring weather was mild, with clouds but no expectation of rain. Daryl managed to find a hotel in walking distance of the detainment center and apparently he was not the only lost soul from the GHQ. The clerk at the counter said he was the fifth that afternoon. The room she assigned him was small, with barely any room to walk between dresser and bed, but it would do. All he needed was place to think, and quite frankly after the cramped quarters that had been a cell in all but name, he was fine with this. At least it had a window.
And a mirror. A real full-sized mirror and not one of those crappy ones just big enough for him to make sure he was brushing his teeth properly.
He didn't know what to make of the haggard person looking back at him. His bleached hair had grown out in detainment, and now there was nothing but the natural black. Every damn Asian person had dark hair. When he first arrived here he found it so easy to get lost in the sea of Japanese, just one more person in a country where everyone looked like everyone else.
He'd bleached it so he wouldn't get lost in the crowd, so that when he did something he would damn well stand out. And it had worked. The other soldiers remembered the blond pilot with the highest kill record in Tokyo. If ever they met the man behind the Endlave, they did not forget Kill-'em-All Daryl.
He took out his phone and switched it to tablet mode as he sat on the bed. Daryl could see the final payment pending on his military bank account. Former military account, he amended. The payment was just enough for a one way ticket back to the United States, as promised.
A swipe of the tablet brought up his probate account. He noticed the amount and let himself fall back against the worn blanket, phone resting on the bed above his head.
He didn't want to look at it. The amount in there dwarfed his earnings as a pilot. He'd only earned two years' worth of pay, and half of that was while sitting in detainment waiting to be discharged. But his father had had decades in the military. He had been a general. He had not been badly off.
While all that Loop 7 madness had been going on in Tokyo, his father's estate had gone through probate, and apparently he'd never changed his will since Daryl was a child. Everything had gone to him. Daryl had been half-afraid that his father might have left everything to that woman he had seen him with in the elevator, that in the end he would have nothing.
He could buy a house with his inheritance, someplace nice with a few rooms in a big city like San Francisco or maybe even New York. But it was blood money, earned by killing his own father. He couldn't live like that, couldn't live in a home he only knew he had because he had taken his inheritance by force.
But he hadn't been employed long enough on his lieutenant's salary to be able to afford anything other than an apartment, and he would have to manage the rent somehow.
Daryl lifted the tablet into the air where he could see it and closed his account information. There was a new directory on the main screen, blinking. Opening it, he could see all the U.S. army had discharged him with. He could see his identification, his canceled security clearances, his passport, and... a work permit.
At first he was not certain why that would be among his papers, but then he remembered that Segai had ordered their issue to all the foreign Anti Bodies when Keido had taken over as the president of Japan. It had been a formality to show that they were legally allowed to be working inside Japan for Japan, never mind that Keido's government and the GHQ were essentially one and the same. But the work permit had not been canceled. It was still good.
Daryl dropped his arm to his side. He relaxed his grip on the phone and heard the tablet side of it shut down. A voice in the back of his mind told him that he really should start looking at flights and decide where he wanted to go.
He had requested his father's house and assets be sold while in detention. There was no going home, and in any case Daryl had left nothing there. He had moved so many times as a child that he had never been allowed to keep more than he could fit inside a couple of boxes, and once he had joined the academy, and then active service itself, there was no place to keep more.
Really, he could go anywhere. He could go to Utah, Minnesota, New Mexico, maybe even a different country; just someplace that would never have heard of Daryl Yan.
But what bothered him the most was the fear that where he went didn't matter, and going there would be no different than staying here.
Thanks for reading the start of this story of mine. I recently finished Guilty Crown and was disappointed the Daryl x Tsugumi ship tease didn't really go anywhere, so I figured I'd write this. Yes, I made Daryl's hair bleached. Even though Daryl is not Japanese, he is obviously of East Asian descent since Tsugumi easily mistakes him for a "fellow" high school student, so he shouldn't have natural blond hair. Yan in particular is a Chinese last name so it makes the most sense to me if Daryl is Chinese American. And I admit I do like the idea that he bleached it to get attention. Don't worry, Tsugumi will show up in the next chapter.