USS Ticonderoga, Off the Coast of Japan
[The naval crews are in a state of high alert right now, as a large unidentified 'creature' has made its way onto the ship's sonar. Around fifty five fathoms down, Yamazaki explains to me, the men believe it to be a living creature, and the captain has already ordered the ship to prepare their depth charges. The shape on the screen did not resemble any known marine animal in the area, then again, no whales or any other sea life have been sighted on the coast of Japan all week. The state of alarm was lifted when the 'creature', for lack of a better word, simply vanished off the screen without a trace. Visibly shaken, Yamazaki continues the interview.]
The western world has called the twelve years of conflict in China the second period of the Warring States. That is not far from the truth. In reality, the war Japan fought against the Chinese was not against China as a country, but a collection of fiefdoms and small kingdoms that allied with each other. A federation if you will. Before, China could have claimed to be a nation, but the death of the Generalissimo saw the fragmentation of his forces into a number of smaller states and factions. There were the communists, the nationalists, even the liberation fronts for regions such as Tibet and Formosa. For the Imperial Government of Japan, the death of the Generalissimo was a mixed blessing. We were no longer fighting a united enemy, and were free to pick the Chinese apart piecemeal. But at the same time, your American president was forced into dealing with the situation in China, lest our country grew too strong. More supplies and arms were flowing into China, and the Prime Minister was seriously considering war with your country.
The emperor however, was aware of the American advancements in Technology, such as your Manhattan project. The testing off Alaska had convinced our government that there were more subtle ways to avert American help.
And that is?
For one thing, our timetable of conquest for China was spread out. The Emperor and his cabinet can afford patience. He plans his campaigns and sees them in decades, your American presidents, with their four year terms, think only in years. A puppet state of Manchuria was created, and slowly, but surely, our forces advanced, making sure to take our time consolidating the land behind. It was a compromise between the hawks who wanted to immediately attack America, and the more cautious politicians who saw the power of your Manhattan project. Our forces would pursue a plan of deliberately slow action, to not create huge disturbances that would be caught by the international community, and at the same time, we would take our time snuffing out the Guerrilla forces that opposed us.
That is what gave birth to the warring states. Our presence in China, in time, became routine. Our advances, and the war itself, became routine, a part that was quickly integrated into people's thoughts and lives. With no reports of huge battles and massacres on the scale of Shanghai, the American public and politicians slowly adopted to the routine, and got used to our presence. The Chinese began fighting against each other, seeking our help or sometimes even allying against each other, or even against us. The situation was fragmented, both politically and socially. And we took advantage of it. The Prime Minister estimated that another decade would see us conquer the whole of China.
Were there any warning signs of the coming of the Chimera?
At first, the empire had received slight warnings about the situation in Russia. Our diplomat in St. Petersburg had failed to report back following the disappearance of the Romanov family. We also received other reports of skirmishes and wild animal attacks along the border in Manchuria forced us to keep the area in a state of high alert. The newly approaching cold front didn't help either. By winter, all of Manchuria and Korea was covered in snow, heavy rains, and hail.
At the time, I was stationed with an infantry regiment in Manchukuo, under orders from the provisional government of the Manchurian emperor. It was one of our great strongholds, the springing point for all our operations into China. It was there that the first disturbances in the North occurred.
First of all, we noticed a small trickle of refugees coming across the border. These weren't Russian, but Tartars, Siberians, and Mongolians. They arrived in a weakened and ragged state, and almost all of them died from the cold on arrival. The few that we managed to interrogate could barely utter any words at all. Just something incomprehensible about approaching 'demons' and monsters.
This went on for several months, up until we received reports of the invasion of Europe. We've heard all the fantastic reports coming from your theatre, about the fall of the Polish front, the failure of Winter Storm and stories of mass panic in the cities of Danzig and Vienna. Tales of an unknown enemy that barely resemble anything human.
Stories of this kind were quickly snuffed out by the Imperial Military Police. Prime Minister Tojo would hear none of it, saying it was all Western propaganda designed to distract us from our goals in China. Still, I noticed a quick build up of security in the North, and also that the flow of refugees and animals coming from the north had stopped completely. For the next few weeks, our men looked out into the cold, foggy plains of Russia and saw literally nothing. Not a single bird, or man. Just cold, dense fog.
Then it happened.
It wasn't some grand invasion that the Europeans experienced, but it was steadily approaching wave nonetheless. One by one, central command had received reports of divisions disappearing along the border, vanishing without a trace. We are talking about fully manned and experienced formations, thousands of men, gone just like that.
The attacks began shortly after. We've received aerial footage of a herd of what you called Goliath and stalker tanks. Huge mechanical constructions that punched a hole into every part of our line. We lost our first major city within twenty four hours. Despite us having fortified it with every soldier in the area. It fell without a fight. High command was deeply disturbed by this. Were our men surrendering?
We've also received reports of deserters. Something I never expected to hear about in the Imperial army. Each Japanese soldier is taught to never be captured, never break down, and never surrender. To be a coward or to be captured was a disgrace to one's family, community, and country. Each soldier was trained to fight to the death and was expected to die before suffering dishonor. Honor, we were taught, was everything. The only thing important to our soldiers. Our men had fulfilled that expectation in all their battles.
Now, for some reason, we've begun receiving reports of men breaking down at the front. Sometimes they would shoot themselves in the head, other times they would simply freeze in the face of the enemy. The men had begun referring to the invader as 'Oni', meaning humanoid demon. We were also receiving reports of other types of Oni. Four legged beasts the size of a Siberian tiger, swarms of scorpion like creatures that would overwhelm a man and devour him alive.
The higher ups were infuriated at the 'weak-kneed' men and did the only thing they knew. Mass beheadings of any cowards became common place among all regiments. Our own regiment lost twelve men in succession to these 'coward' beheadings. The 'Oni', our commander told us, were inferior to us. They were but a test from the gods to challenge our meddle, and we were failing in our duty and honor.
The Army gathered itself temporarily, and soon our men were rushing headlong into the Oni like demons themselves. All along the front, battles began breaking out between us and the Oni, who also revel in hand to hand combat. They were strong beasts, tearing and biting off limbs of many brave men. Our men braved it, and countered with their own ferocity and fervor. I've seen firsthand, an officer trying to choke an Oni by jamming his katana down the creature's throat, or even soldiers taking the pins off their grenades and rushing them head on. It eventually became common for soldiers to attach themselves with satchel charges as they rushed an Oni. Because if they were unable to kill it themselves, then they would detonate their explosives with their last dying breath, taking the enemy with them. This was an effective method when used in small groups, but it was disastrous when we started attaching bombs to whole regiments of men. A single artillery shell or a misfired rifle usually did more damage than an entire battalion of Oni's.
Did this have any effect on the morale of the troops?
I must give credit to the heroes of the Imperial army. After the fall of Harbin in Northern Manchukuo, the army regathered their efforts. Our soldiers were able for the moment, to focus their minds despite the tragedies. Launching counterattacks with a ferocity that equaled the Oni. Morale was high as soldiers once again rediscovered the glory of serving the emperor. More and more soldiers volunteered to lead their banzai charges against the walking machines. Latching onto a part and crippling it with their bomb vests.
Soon, the men became known as the great Kamikaze, or 'Divine Wind'. We took down many of their legions of stalkers and goliaths with these charges and our own tanks and artillery.
However, my commander was a wise man, and he too saw that our own army's strength was dwindling day by day, and that we too, were losing ground despite the ferocity of the men.
Of morale, I cannot say much. Though the cases of mental breakdowns were growing less, my friend, an old army doctor, simply told me that we were suffering mental breakdowns on a vast scale. The army, in a sense, was breaking down mentally as a whole.
"How can you say that my friend? When you see how bravely our men fight the Oni? They fight like Tigers!" I told him. There were no breakdowns here! The Japanese soldier was the perfect fighting specimen.
The old doctor simply shook his head, telling me that the ferocity of my men comes not from discipline, but from desperation. The men charging the Oni are like a mouse charging a cat. He told me. Therein lies the breakdown. He said. Because the mouse has every impulse to run from the cat.
"A cornered mouse can still attack a cat." I remember myself saying, quite offended.
The doctor nodded in agreement with me, and he continued.
"That is because the mouse itself is seeking death, in order to escape of pain of having to live in a situation where it knows it has no hope. No future."
I remember him telling that to me, just as my regiment received orders to move to the front with my men. It was the last time I saw the doctor, but I could not help but remember his words as I saw my own men gripping their rifles with anticipation, as the trucks took us up to the frontlines…..
[The Invasion of Asia took place several weeks after Europe. Allied commanders are still uncertain as to the full extent of the numbers of battles between the IJA and the Chimera that had invaded Manchuria. The IJA and its casualties, regarded as the highest fatality ratio of all the allied forces, remains a hotly debated topic today in Military circles.]
NEXT UPDATE: The Coast of Italy, Mysterious sightings in the Mediteranean