Final Chapter: New Beginnings
January 22, 2017 – 6:10
Task Force 141
Millennium Village, Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar
It was the last night before the 3 Japanese operators would return to Japan as they made the promise 3 months ago of returning to the Land of the Rising Sun after helping Captain Price to finish the job on Makarov's downfall. At the time of dawn over Qatar, Miyuki woke up when she heard the door of her dormitory room getting closed. She also noticed that Natsumi's bed was empty.
Miyuki then walked towards the door and took a peek in the corridor. Then Miyuki spotted Natsumi already dressed in her uniform and knocking at Shouji's door a few rooms away. Natsumi was asking something inaudible before she walked towards the stairway leading to the roof of the dormitory building. She wanted to talk with Shouji about something.
Then Miyuki quickly got back in her room to get dressed with her uniform while making sure she would not be freezing when going outside considering that temperatures at dawn are quite cold even in Qatar. Once Miyuki was ready, she waited for Shouji to come out of his room before she followed him in distance. A few minutes later, Miyuki arrived on top of the stairway and slightly opened the door leading to the rooftop. She knew that Natsumi wouldn't do anything stupid with Shouji around. So, Miyuki stood by the slightly open door listening to the conversation.
"So, what did you want us to talk about?" Shouji asked.
"Many things. So much has happened in over 3 months that I don't know where to start since it's the first time in a long time that I can enjoy peace, really." Natsumi said.
"It was quite a hell of a ride, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, Shouji. I can't believe it's finally over. For over 3 months, I did many things I didn't think I was able to do. I got through all kinds of emotions and I had to push myself beyond all limits I've learned not to exceed in order to accomplish my mission, but I also got stronger and I always kept my sanity every time thanks to you. Sometimes, I wonder if this life as a Special Forces soldier has already become a second nature for me. Do you ask yourself that same question at times?"
"I ask myself the same question at times, Natsumi. When I volunteered to re-join the SFG in order to fight back the invaders back in Japan, I knew that there was still a soldier in me. Perhaps there is a soldier sleeping within each of us."
"You know, Colonel Takahashi will probably ask us if we can change careers and sign permanently with the SFG. After everything we went through, what do you think about that prospect?"
"What about you, Natsumi?"
"Usually, I never say no to a challenge. However, there were a few times when I thought I was really going to die out there. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to see my family nor my friends waiting for me ever again. If the life of a Special Forces soldier requires me to make that many sacrifices every time I go on a mission in some country and have all my loved ones worrying about my fate, then it's something I don't think I'd be capable of doing for much longer. Besides, I really miss the days when we were working in counter-terrorism for the police force. I also miss the faces of the people who are glad to see us saving them from hostage takers and terrorists."
"To be honest, I was thinking of going back to the SFG permanently after the missions we did together in Japan and overseas. However, the last mission we did in Dubai was borderline terrorism as you said. Although that was a necessary extreme in order to reach Makarov, it reminded me part of the reason why I followed you in the Special Assault Team in the first place. I wanted to stop crazy people from terrorizing innocent civilians. Despite everything we did in the last 3 months, I still feel myself at home in the police force, where I can protect people when they need me most." Shouji said.
"So, you will come back to the SAT?"
"You got that right, Natsumi; I'll remain a SAT officer. And besides, I got you worried too many times already when I left for the mountains in the past and it would only get worse if I joined the SFG only to be deployed in some far away country fighting terrorists or pirates. The last thing I need would be having you worried about me because I'm doing something dangerous away from you."
"I'm really glad to hear you say that. Shouji... About us... Did you have time to think about our relationship? Before this whole thing started, I was wondering if I could someday become more than just your girlfriend." Natsumi asked.
"Natsumi... There is not a single day in which I am not asking that question myself. I love you! I love you more than you could ever imagine. The first time I was starting to fall in love with you, I didn't want to tell you my feelings because I was thinking of how it would have been more difficult for both of us if I told you my true feelings right before I left for the Himalayas. However, something happened: you came to see me at the airport before I left. Then I realized how much you meant for me and vice-versa. Since that day, you give me good reasons to come back every single time no matter how far away I go. Over the years, I realized how good it is to settle myself down in one place and spend more time with you."
And then Shouji pulled a small box out of his pocket. From the moment Natsumi saw the small box in Shouji's hand, her cheeks turned red as she was anticipating the moment she waited for a long time. "Is that... Is that what I think it is?" Natsumi asked.
"I bought this in Doha yesterday."
"For a long time, I wasn't sure about what to say to you... mostly because you were so dedicated in your job just like me. I didn't want you to quit the force because of how far I wanted to push our relationship. But after we went through all those adventures, after I saw how our friends from the JASDF are great partners both at work and in life after their marriage, I'm now ready for this."
Shouji opened the box and showed Natsumi the engagement ring destined to her. At the same time, the early morning rays of sunshine flashed on the diamond. Natsumi was now holding her breath anticipating the next words as she saw the sincerity of Shouji's feelings in his gaze.
"Natsumi... Will you marry me?"
When Shouji's words of proposal came to Natsumi, the brunette took a few seconds which seemed like an eternity before she gave her answer. "I was afraid you'd never ask me those words… Yes, I want to marry you! I've dreamed of this day for years and I'd be honoured to become Mrs. Natsumi Toukairin."
Natsumi showed her most radiant smile before she let Shouji put the engagement ring on her left ring finger. Then Natsumi and Shouji gave each other a kiss which lasted for a few minutes and neither one wanted to let go of each other. It could have lasted an eternity if they wanted to do so. At last, the 2 lovers finally broke the kiss before they turned their heads towards the East; the warming sun was rising on the horizon.
"This is going to be a beautiful day. In many ways, sunrise also symbolizes a new beginning. I promise you that I'll never leave you again for as long as I will live and beyond." Shouji said while he was still wrapping his arms around Natsumi and watching the sunrise.
"I know you will. In my eyes, I'm blessed because you always find a way to be good at doing anything. Nobody does it better than you."
Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best.
Hiding behind the door leading to the stairway, Miyuki was smiling at the thought of everything she just witnessed and the whole atmosphere surrounding the special moment. 'A marriage proposal at sunrise... Is there anything more romantic?' Miyuki thought.
January 22, 2017 – 9:00 (15:00 Japan time)
US Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) FWD
Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji joined Colonel Takahashi in a live satellite conference. As expected, the heart of the talk was about what was accomplished and about the future of the 3 police officers loaned to the SFG. As the conversation was done in Japanese, Sergeant Newcastle was translating the conversation in English for Captain Price who wanted to know what decisions his Japanese colleagues would take for their careers.
"Well, Lieutenant Toukairin. The Prime Minister was really happy when he learned this morning about the astonishing results of your final mission: over 60 mercenaries and terrorists dead, one dead Ultranationalist leader and only a few civilians sustaining minor gunshot wounds. I must admit I was surprised when Captain Price told me that Sergeant Kobayakawa unwillingly sparked the brilliant idea of using full armour suits to draw enemy fire with enough protection for the attackers to move forward. Considering how your mission in Dubai had a high level of difficulty for you and high risks for civilian casualties, you all did a near perfect job out there. Congratulations!" Colonal Takahashi began.
"Thank you, Sir! We really appreciate your words of praise." Shouji replied.
"As you probably heard, the Diet recently approved a new constitutional amendment which says that our Special Forces can now be deployed for anti-terrorism missions all over Asia alongside other units from other countries in joint operations. This also means you're no longer disavowed in the official record. With the success of the international cooperation embodied by Task Force 141, Japan will send SFG soldiers to work under the flag of the 141's newly formed Asian branch."
"That's very good news, Sir. With new allies and a new structure in the chain of command, the 141 will be more effective than ever."
"The Prime Minister is giving all 3 of you the opportunity to make your choice of duty. Anything, anywhere. But to be honest, many people in the JSDF are hoping that all of you would stay with the SFG while Lieutenant Toukairin would lead the Japanese operators who will join this new version of Task Force 141. So Lieutenant Toukairin, where do you think you want to go?"
Shouji paused for a moment before he turned his gaze towards Natsumi. The Japanese brunette made a nod to Shouji before he started speaking. "Well, I'm thinking of returning to the MPD's Special Assault Team, becoming an instructor and a mission coordinator for the SAT. At some point, I thought of signing permanently with the SFG. However, I realized that my place is with the police force. My life is about saving people and teaching others on how to do it."
A pause followed for a few seconds before Shouji continued to explain his decision. "Colonel, I am proud of all the people on my team in the way we fought our way under pressure. We met many brothers in arms in our journey from Japan to Dubai. Despite living almost in exile, having little contact with our friends and family, we still managed to go this far to destroy the root of the evil that sparked the war. However, I don't think I would be able to repeat something like that again. Since the SAT and the SFG train together in Narashino, I can also train SFG recruits part-time and share my unique experience from the last 100 days or so with recruits from both units."
"What about you, Tsujimoto?"
"After discussing about it this morning with Lieutenant Toukairin, I've decided that I will stay in the SAT as well. I'm also thinking of sharing my own experience with SAT/SFG recruits as an instructor and/or become Lieutenant Toukairin's executive officer in coordinating SAT missions." Natsumi said.
Colonel Takahashi took a few seconds to catch everything Shouji and Natsumi just said before giving his reply. "Well... Captain Nakamura already told me to expect such possible answer from you, Lieutenant. Some of my superiors will certainly be disappointed. However, I'm glad you made your choice so that your unique experience won't go to waste after all. I know your combined experience will greatly help people to be just as good as you either as Special Forces soldiers or as civilian counter-terrorism officers."
Natsumi and Shouji looked at each other as their eyes lit up at the positive response being the best thing they hoped to hear from the colonel. "Thank you, Sir. We'll make sure our part in training SFG recruits will help in providing you the best men you can have for future missions." Shouji said.
"And finally... Where do you want to go, Sergeant Kobayakawa?"
"Besides returning to Bokuto and becoming an apprentice to the chief of my department, I was thinking of something a little complementary and linked with technology and electronics. I read about a new virtual reality training system being developed at the Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) and I would like to work part-time as a prototype tester in that program. In the police, I already worked part-time testing and improving parameters on prototypes at the National Research Institute of Police Science. I can help the TRDI in getting this and a few other prototypes to work better, and perhaps find civilian applications for some prototypes."
"That would need some paperwork, but I think it's feasible considering your high level of skills with technology, programming and electronics. I honestly think all 3 of you made pretty good choices following your hearts. We'll have everything sorted out after your return to Japan." Colonal Takahashi said.
"Thank you, Colonel. About Captain Nakamura, I told Captain Price about his qualities as a soldier and about how he led men effectively when this war began. Captain Price will probably take a step back from field operations and get promoted soon. So, he looked at a list of candidates to lead the different branches of the 141 and Captain Nakamura's name comes on top of his list to become the first head of field operations of the Asian branch after the recovery process is complete." Shouji said.
"I will tell him the news myself, Lieutenant. I'm sure everyone here will appreciate it. By the way, Colonel Morshower has a flight plan with the Grey Ghost ready for your return to Japan starting in the afternoon, Qatar time. We'll see all of you in Japan by tomorrow morning." Colonel Takahashi finished before the live satellite conference ended after a few mutual salutes.
"You took the right decision, lad." Price said.
"I'm surprised you're the one to say that, old man. I honestly thought you would be disappointed when I gave Colonel Takahashi my decision of returning in the police force." Shouji replied.
"It's all right. I think you and Tsujimoto are made for a better life than following the path of an old warrior like me. I always have a great amount of respect for instructors involved in training counter-terrorism units; I also did that for a while. Now that you are engaged to each other, this decision was the best one you could make."
Suddenly, Natsumi and Shouji got perplexed for a moment after Captain Price mentioned the word "engaged", meaning that he knew about Shouji's marriage proposal. "What? He just asked me this morning." Natsumi said.
"We haven't told anybody about it yet." Shouji added before he turned his gaze towards Newcastle with a frown. "Francis…"
"Don't look at me, mate! I didn't tell anything to anybody and I didn't know you already proposed to her."
Everyone knew the English sergeant was sincere in his reply, which got Shouji and Natsumi smiling in amazement at Captain Price's apparent deductive skills. "How could you possibly know?" Shouji asked.
Captain Price simply smiled and shrugged before giving his answer. "Who knows? I had the feeling it would happen. By the way, before you take the plane in the afternoon, we'll all have a pint of ale to celebrate this."
As Captain Price reciprocated the salute shown by the 3 Japanese operators, the British officer looked over Natsumi's shoulder and at Miyuki who made a quick wink back at him. It was Miyuki who told about the engagement. It was, in some way, Miyuki's little friendly payback for all the times when Natsumi teased her about her relationship with Ken Nakajima. From this moment forward, Natsumi was not hiding her engagement ring any longer.
January 22, 2017 – 13:50 (19:50 Japan time)
Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar
After spending some time in the morning packing their stuff ready for departure, Natsumi, Shouji and Miyuki joined Captain Price, Nikolai and Sergeant Newcastle for a pint of brown ale as promised the day before. During that time, the 6 TF141 operators talked about a few anecdotes related to past missions and about what's coming in everyone's future before they finished with a toast to the bright future. In the early afternoon, the 3 Japanese operators walked their way on the tarmac to get on board of the C-37A Grey Ghost, the USMC version of the civilian Gulfstream V business jet designed for VIP transport. Captain Price and Sergeant Newcastle came to have one last talk with Natsumi, Shouji and Miyuki.
"You're not coming with us, Francis?" Shouji asked.
"With so many names put in the clock tower in Hereford during the last war, I have to go back to England for a while and train new recruits. However, I promise to come back to Japan someday. Natsumi, please say hello to Miss Hasegawa for me when you'll see her."
"You can count on me!" Natsumi replied to Newcastle.
"Toukairin, Tsujimoto, I have something for both of you before you go." Captain Price pulled out a rectangular box out of his pocket and gave it to Shouji. "I don't know what kind of awards you will receive in Japan for your accomplishments, but the 2 of you deserve to receive this from me."
On the box was the coat of arms of the United Kingdom. Shouji opened the box and saw the contents inside: it was a silver medal with a cross pattée shape, a laurel wreath pattern arranged behind the cross and a crown design in the centre. The medal was suspended by a white ribbon with 2 narrow dark blue stripes on the edges and a crimson stripe in the middle. Shouji couldn't believe what he saw.
"What is this?" Natsumi asked.
"It's the British Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. It's awarded to soldiers in recognition of acts of valor during active operations against the enemy." Shouji answered Natsumi's question before he turned to Captain Price. "I don't know what to say, really. Is this right for you to give us something this prestigious?"
"In some way, this is my gift for your engagement. It's also my way to acknowledge your accomplishment and my gratitude for having both of you on the team for over the last 100 days or so. Whatever you'll do in life, this is the proof that both of you fought this entire war with exceptional bravery. If Soap was still here, he would also be proud of both of you." Price replied.
"Thank you, Captain Price. We will always honour this precious gift." Shouji said.
"Kobayakawa, you fought your way in this war very well too and you also helped changing this world with your ingenuity. I hope you'll do well in whatever comes next for you."
"Thank you, Captain Price." Miyuki said.
"Well, I guess this is when we go our separate ways. Always remember that the one who dares is the one who will always win." Price said before he bowed to the 3 Japanese operators in front of him as a way to say goodbye in a traditional Japanese way. Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji then bowed back in acknowledgement of that mark of respect.
"Godspeed to all of you." Price finished.
Finally, Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji embarked on the Grey Ghost jet and started a 13-hour flight towards Hyakuri Air Base. For them, their war took longer than what most people worldwide had to endure. However, none of them complained too much about the last 101 days considering all the adventures they lived through and all the bonds they made with people fighting for the same peace.
January 23, 2017 – 6:58
Somewhere over the Philippine Sea
The first part of the flight went from Doha to Thailand before refuelling at Don Muang Air Base. Then the Grey Ghost flew around the Southern coast of Vietnam above international waters and then above Angeles City, Philippines before entering the final phase of the designated flight path. For a few hours, Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji took the opportunity to get a few hours of sleep as they were flying in the middle of the night.
"Natsumi, look! I can see Okinawa down there!" Miyuki said in excitement as she was looking through the window of the jet.
"YES! Finally, we're back in Japan!" a jubilant Natsumi exclaimed before she hugged her best friend.
"I don't think I've ever been so happy to be back!" Shouji added.
"Okinawa would be quite the place for our honeymoon."
"Don't tell me you already thought this out, Natsumi." Shouji asked with a pleasantly surprised look on his face. Then both of them laughed as they were already thinking of their first project as a married couple in the future.
The Grey Ghost finally landed at Kadena Air Base a few minutes later. The USMC's Grey Ghost completed its part of the journey as a JASDF U-4 transport jet was waiting on the tarmac for the last part of the journey from Okinawa to Hyakuri Air Base. The U-4 was the JASDF's designation for a Gulfstream IV transport jet. As Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji made their way with their backpacks towards the U-4, 2 JASDF officers came out of the jet to greet them.
"Welcome back to Japan, Lieutenant Toukairin, Sergeant Tsujimoto and Sergeant Kobayakawa." Captain Miyuki Isurugi greeted.
"Captain Isurugi! Lieutenant Isurugi! I didn't expect us to meet you here." Miyuki said.
"General Tsukamoto and Colonel Takahashi asked for us to accompany you between Kadena Air Base and Hyakuri Air Base. How have you been?" Lieutenant Takuya Isurugi asked.
"Good, but we were really starting feel homesick." Natsumi answered.
"Well, don't worry about that anymore. In less than 2 hours, we'll land at Hyakuri and then you'll go back to Tokyo. Let's get on board!" Captain Miyuki Isurugi said before everyone embarked on the JASDF U-4 as the sun rose over Okinawa.
A little less than 2 hours later after switching planes, the U-4 flew past Mount Fuji. Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji also already got changed into JGSDF winter uniforms. A few minutes later, a group of 3 JASDF fighter jets arrived to escort the U-4 back to Hyakuri. "Vampire 1 to Apollo, Vampire team will now escort you to Castle. All surrounding airspace is cleared." Captain Sakura Saginomiya said.
"Roger that, Vampire 1. Thanks for the tip." the pilot of the U-4 responded.
At the same time, Miyuki was watching carefully through the window at the fighter jets from the 305th T.F.S. escorting the transport jet. The thought of flying in a fighter jet got Miyuki asking a question she wanted to ask for some time. "Captain Isurugi, I'm a big fan of technology and also anything linked with speed. Is it possible for me to fly with you in a fighter jet before I sign my discharge papers? I held my ground very well in a high-speed simulator once, but I would love to experience the thrill of flying at Mach 2.0 in the real thing."
"I'll have to see with the base, but I think I can try to get us one of those 2-seated F-15DJs ready for that."
"You said there is a surprise waiting for us when we'll arrive. What is it?" Shouji asked Takuya.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I tell you. Just wait and see."
January 23, 2017 – 9:12
Hyakuri Air Base, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
The U-4 finally landed on the base's main runway and that meant the end of a long journey for 3 people. Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji disembarked from the transport jet before they saw a few black SUVs and military vehicles arriving towards them on the runway; it was certainly the surprise Takuya was talking about. Watching the vehicles stopping at some distance, the 3 returnees were waiting to see who was in the welcome party. Then, a very familiar figure appeared as he stepped out of one of the black SUVs.
Miyuki's eyes widened when she saw the source of the male voice calling her name. It was the first person she wanted to see after her return to Japan. "KENNY!"
Immediately, Ken Nakajima started running towards her. At the same time, Miyuki dropped her backpack and ran towards Ken. In a matter of a few seconds, Miyuki and Ken fell in each other's arms and started kissing each other. Miyuki was crying tears of joy as the long wait was finally over; nothing was going to stop her and Ken from living their dream anymore. At the same time, a few other friendly faces appeared as they just stepped out of the SUVs. To Natsumi's, Miyuki's and Shouji's surprise, Yoriko, Aoi, Saori, Ayumi, Captain Akira Nakamura and Lieutenant Kaoruko Kinoshita also came to greet them early in that cold morning of January alongside other JSDF personnel. The 5 police officers and the JGSDF captain were giving a good hand of applause at the heart-warming reunion scene between Miyuki and Ken, who had their faces turning a little red in embarrassment.
"Well, you two have quite the sense of theatricality when it comes to romantic moments." Natsumi said with a smile.
"Well… uh. I guess that came out on instinct." Miyuki replied as she wiped her tears.
"That's okay, Miyuki. After all, you waited a long time for this. Live this moment by following your heart." Shouji said.
"Miyuki-senpai! Natsumi-senpai! I'm really glad you survived this long journey!" Saori hugged both Natsumi and Miyuki who both patted her head in return.
"We were afraid we'd not see you again, but you look really good. How was it to travel overseas for a long time to hunt down terrorists?" Yoriko asked.
"We can't tell you all the details. Sometimes it was scary, but it was great at other times. We also made many good friends along the way. By the way, how did you get yourselves free time to be here?" Natsumi asked.
"Lieutenant Kinoshita and the Chief managed to have a day off for all of us today." Yoriko replied. At this very moment, Yoriko and Aoi noticed the engagement ring on Natsumi's left ring finger.
"Wow! Did you and Toukairin get engaged?" Aoi asked.
"Yes! He proposed to me after our last mission."
"That's great, Natsumi! I knew both of you could do it!" SAT Officer Ayumi Hasegawa exclaimed before she realized that someone was missing. "Is Sergeant Newcastle not with you?"
"He said he has to train a few recruits to make up for the SAS guys who died in London, but he said he'll come back to Japan. By the way, he says hi to you." Natsumi answered. The last phrase got Ayumi blushing.
"Congratulations for all your accomplishments out there. Welcome back to all 3 of you." Lieutenant Kinoshita said before Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji saluted back to their superior officer. "For a while there, I didn't think you were going to make it. Now, I request permission to take a bow in expressing my gratitude to the people I know as true Japanese heroes." Kinoshita added.
Although slightly flustered by such request, Natsumi, Miyuki and Shouji accepted the bow from the female MPD lieutenant. "Thank you, Lieutenant Kinoshita." Shouji replied.
Then Captain Nakamura made his way towards the group; he was still walking on crutches as he couldn't put too much weight on his right leg yet. "You finally made your way home, Wolverine!" Nakamura said.
"Thanks, Akira! Captain Price appreciated a lot of the Japanese touch we provided in the missions we were in. He can't wait to have you leading the field operations for the 141's Asian branch." Shouji replied.
"Yeah, I know. With you sharing your experience with the recruits and me leading the men on the field, it should look very good for the SFG in the next few years. After all, teaching others is something you always did very well." Then Nakamura noticed the sword bag that Shouji was carrying as part of his luggage. "Hey, you still have that ninja's sword with you? What are you going to do with it?"
"Probably keep it sealed. This little one has been quite a good luck charm for me."
Suddenly a few meters away, Ken took Miyuki's hand to have them moving a little further from the group of people standing on the runway. Natsumi was the first to spot Miyuki and Ken walking away together. Then she saw Ken kneeling in front of Miyuki. The brunette made a sign for her friends to look at the scene unfolding before them.
"Miyuki... I'm really sorry for making you wait for so many years. I promise to make things right with you from now on." Ken said before he pulled out a small box from his pocket and opened it. Everyone held their breaths in anticipation as they saw the ring Ken was showing to Miyuki. It was not very common to see Ken letting out his feelings in public without losing his words. Ken took off his shades with his free hand and stared at Miyuki, who saw pure love in Ken's eyes.
"Miyuki… Before there's another disaster coming our way, will you marry me?"
"Kenny… Yes! Of course I want to marry you, silly!"
"ALL RIGHT! WAY TO GO!" Natsumi yelled. Then everyone cheered and gave a round of applause at the newly engaged couple. Miyuki let Ken put on the engagement ring on her left ring finger and then pushed herself up to kiss Ken one more time. Everything she dreamed of was becoming reality just like Natsumi was living her own dream at the moment.
"Finally, your dreams are becoming reality after you jumped on the second chance that fate has given you. Aren't they?" Captain Miyuki Isurugi said.
"Yes. I still remember what you told me and I'm glad I followed your advice. Thank you, Captain Isurugi." Miyuki said.
"Well… Since you will soon be officially relieved of your duties as a member of the JSDF and since we are friends, just call me Miyuki." the JASDF captain said.
"That's good for me, Miyuki." Miyuki Kobayakawa said.
"All we need now is to find a priest who wants to marry the 4 of us in a few months." Natsumi said as she was contemplating her own engagement ring and Miyuki's at the same time.
"I think I already know who would want to. I'm sure Daimaru will call his friend, the Reverend." Miyuki replied while Ken was still holding to her.
"My biggest wish is to have a bright and peaceful future for all of us and for our children." Shouji said as he was now holding his arm around Natsumi's shoulder.
"And I will see that future with you, Shouji." Natsumi replied.
"I'll see it through as well." Ken added.
"To a bright and peaceful future." Miyuki finished.
Then Natsumi put her arms around Shouji's and Miyuki's shoulders before Miyuki did the same with Natsumi and Ken. A few seconds later, a lone and rare F-22A fighter jet in JASDF colors flew above the runway performing a victory roll to celebrate the heroes' return to Japan. Everyone looked up in the sky and cheered at the sight of the Raptor flying over them.
Natsumi narrating: As I looked up in the sky and walked towards the future, I reflected on how far our journey took all of us. We had to dig deep within ourselves in order to become stronger and find our way through the struggle for survival. We had to push ourselves beyond the limits we all learned not to exceed and we did things that were unorthodox to us in order to accomplish our mission. However, we were better than we thought we would be. We met good friends, brothers in arms who supported us in every single step of the way and helped us to keep our sanity when we could have lost it. We also learned new principles about life and about the world, principles that we will never forget and that we will pass on to future generations with hope that mistakes of the past won't be repeated in the future.
Although we're not allowed to reveal details of our overseas actions during these 102 days, we earned a lot of respect from British, American and Russian soldiers who fought alongside us in our mutual quest to destroy the root of the evil feeding the fires of war. Also, people within the secretive SFG and SAT units already consider us as heroes for all the brave actions we performed during the war in Japan. But beyond all the things we accomplished, beyond all the commendations, the accolades, the promotions and the awards for gallantry, our greatest glory was to survive and see the day when the world becomes a better place to live in as the result of our efforts. Finally, a new chapter is beginning in our lives. But this is another story.
FINAL COMMENTS: So, this saga finally comes to an end. Since English isn't my native language, I had to correct a number of mistakes, rewrite and expand with just a few little details in previous chapters (especially Ch.16) in order to make things right. Enjoy the re-read anytime.
Originally, I was captivated by the thought of Natsumi and Miyuki fighting against an enemy force when I read JagdPanther's fanfic titled The Siege. Since Shouji Toukairin wasn't existent in that story, I wanted to write something in which Shouji would be at the heart of the action alongside Natsumi and Miyuki on every step of the way. With not much indication about Shouji's official past, it was easy to have him as an ex-soldier who turned mountain rescuer and then joined the SAT as his own personal challenge to begin with. After MW3 came out, all the pieces I needed for a main storyline and side missions involving secondary characters fell in place all by themselves.
Thank you for reading MW3: Storm on the Asian Front. I hope you had a great time reading this fanfic as much as I enjoyed working on this crossover story. If you feel like it, please don't be shy to give your impressions.