Excerpts from Cargo Cult

 

Book photoChapter 1

Kyoto 1874

Oda Tanaka paused at the dimly-lit timber teahouse opposite Nijo castle. The fortress was serenely elegant with its heavy stone ramparts and ornately tiled roofs. The oil lamps by the gate flickered in the chill wind and the falling snow. Ah, so much has changed since I was a young man. For he had journeyed days from a battle lost.

Having been absent from Kyoto for two years, Oda stared at the castle, reflecting on the place where he had served since his youth - before and after the last shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa abdicated to the reigning emperor. In the face of increasing foreign intrusion, the resignation ended the shogunate rule of six hundred and fifty years and led to the Meiji restoration, after other feudal lords also relinquished their powers.

Oh, we were all so young and followed the youthful Lord Tokugawa in his noble ideals to modernise our country. But now, the samurai tradition is rapidly fading and so much of our life and culture is changing.

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Chapter 2 

Tanna 

“Crikey! She’s gonna blow! I’m outta here,” Jack shouted.

“Chill, dude. She’s just growling a little,” said Oscar. “A rumble here and there. Wait until the sun goes down and Yassie’ll put on a show like Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve, but with a little more oomph.”

Jack shuffled closer to the edge of the rim, a squat lad with straw hair cascading down his cheeks. Fading sunlight illuminated his copious freckles as his animated eyes darted about. Jack folded his legs slowly and resumed his cross-legged position next to his girlfriend Michelle, beaming his perpetual grin, like someone holding a dirty secret. 

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Chapter 5

Kobe 1946  

“Ha!” gasped Haro Tanaka in a startled, muffled cry as he awoke from a nightmare. Since returning from his post in Sumatra two months before, Haro had experienced this nightmare a number of times. It always ended the same way - the blindfolded victim crouched on the ground in the tropical sun. The sword being slowly raised, then ha and he would wake up trembling. These dreams hadn’t occurred when Haro was in Sumatra, but that was a totally different world.

He sat up, looked outside his window at the disorder in the streets and placed his head in his hands thinking - how did it come to this?

Haro was excited when he signed up for officer training after finishing school. He thought it would be better than national service as a regular soldier and the Imperial Army in the 1930s was appealing for young men yearning for adventure in the way of the warrior. Haro didn’t consider the Navy, knowing how his grandfather Oda Tanaka had died at sea. Haro Tanaka graduated in 1935, aged 21 and was assigned to the 25th Army.

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Chapter 6

Lahaina

Cody Meyer finished lunch at the Kula Restaurant in Maui, picked up his precious binoculars and reflected on his last tour of duty with the United States 10th Mountain Division in Mogadishu.

His last few days there, in October 1993, continued to haunt him. Many a night Cody would wake screaming. He pictured the enemy ahead on the top of buildings, raining bullets at his compatriots below who were scrambling from the burning APCs. Lost communications, confusion, Somalis waiting in ambush, kids constructing roadblocks at every intersection - all slowed their progress towards the Blackhawk crash site.

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Chapter 8

Kobe

Brandishing a bunch of keys, Yoshi Tanaka accompanied by his sidekick Sotan Inoue, sauntered from the lift of a suburban apartment block to a nondescript door at the end of the hallway. Yoshi flicked a key into the lock, and opened the door in one slick motion, before striding into a modest room.

“Konnichiwa, Tanaka-san,” greeted a well-dressed man in his mid thirties who leapt to his feet and bowed quickly as if ducking a missile on course for his head. “We are honoured by your visit.” 

Yoshi acknowledged Shimazu Kobayashi with a slight nod and surveyed the activity in the apartment, while his younger, thickset partner Sotan stood rigid while staring at Shimazu, with a grin bordering on a snarl. Four young men sitting at workstations jabbered noisily into their headsets while entering gambling transactions into their computers. Food packets lay around the room and the air was stale with the smell of Mild Seven cigarettes.

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