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Family Honor

A Kinetic Force Vignette

Daniel R. Robichaud


We Fight at Home and Abroad to Defend These United States . . .


The unit known as KINETIC FORCE is publically acknowledged as the best of the best America has to offer, taking candidates from all branches of the Armed Forces as well as other disciplines, but the work it performs is classified and therefore not yet public record.

In fact, Kinetic Force performs specialized operations for the United States government, guaranteeing freedom and hope for all members of the United Nations in these terrifying days of the twenty first century. Once upon a time, before politics got muddled, the US was considered the world's peace keeper and policeman. Kinetic Force upholds that noble heritage. Their keystone mission is to identify and neutralize threats against these United States and her allies.

At present, Kinetic Force is primary focused on the villainous SKORPION, a ruthless terrorist organization with operations across the globe and dreams of conquest.

Chapter 1


Some men took a tone when they said "Douglass S. Kurosawa," as though they could not believe that such a name combination could have been hung on a man of obvious Asian origin. There were few things guaranteed to bring Fast Strike from a state of calm to high dudgeon as quickly as that tone. Prosecuting attorney Captain Montgomery Alfred Scout had that tone and more: he had the glare to go with it. Captain Scout's glare was a practiced accusation, one that lawmen used when they silently demanded to know just how guilty the man they were speaking to really was. "Talk," that glare said, "and maybe this will go easy on you."

Of course, the glare was just as much horse hockey as the tone. It had been refined and refracted over years of gritty, grotty crime pictures following World War II through the Korean War, which was a sort of spectacular coincidence as America's enemies from those two wars, Japan and Korea had conspired to form the man now receiving Captain Scout's scrutiny. This was not a detail the Captain would have overlooked. But racial profiling, so Fast Strike had been assured, was no longer an issue with the United States military. Certainly not in the courts-martial, where every soldier was given the fair shake coming to them as a citizen of the great United States of America. Certainly not.

"Douglass S. Kurosawa," Captain Scout announced, making the situation crystal clear, "has been formally charged with revealing state secrets to enemies of this nation, directly leading to multiple terror attacks on American soil."

Fast Strike neither flinched at this accusation nor did he yield to the urge to hop up from his uncomfortable wooden seat, scamper away from the woman in fancy dress who had been appointed as his legal voice, perform a kung-fu leap over the goddamn table, pound his feet across the floor and deliver a chop to the Captain's face that would break his nose and possibly send bone splinters into the main's brain killing him on the spot. Fast Strike was no enemy of the United States. He was no agent of those enemies.

"These attacks," Captain Scout continued, "have yielded millions of dollars in property damages and forty six civilian and military personnel lives lost."

Fast Strike could not keep the water from his eyes, as this announcement. He knew the numbers of the dead. He knew the cost of the war he had been involved in. That all this violence and horror had occurred while he was in recovery from a bad turn in Koln, Germany1 made the whole affair even worse. Drugs he had received had rendered him comatose, and when he recovered . . . The news.

Captain Scout concluded: "The purpose of this general court-martial is to consider all available evidence to determine the depth of Douglass S. Kurosawa's culpability and involvement in enemy operations and suspected ties not only to the attacks perform on American soil on the 9th and 10th days of this month, but to the New York incident2 of April, this year."

The New York incident? Fast Strike's jaw dropped as the extent of Captain Scout's allegations sank in. They were trying to implicate him in the destruction of the World Marketplace skyscraper? In the murder of all those American civilians caught in the building and the shopping mall beneath it?

The air had turned suddenly sour in the court room. These people did not just want to drum him out of the Kinetic Force operatives or the military. They wanted him executed. They wanted to make him the public face of evils perpetrated against the United States. Dear Lord in Heaven, this was a witch hunt. It was a race to find a convenient scapegoat to give the public.

Look ma, the gesture would say, all this paranoia and regulations are valuable! We're fighting the good fight, rooting out enemies both domestic and abroad and punishing them to the extent of the law!

"How does the defendant plead to the charges against him?" This came from a sandy haired fellow with a Sicilian complexion sitting in the place of honor, the judge's seat. He did not wear the robes of public office, but the colonel bars on his sleeves and the cluster of medals on his lapel declared him to be a man well acquainted with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When he had come to take his seat, the name Colonel Giuseppe Harmon had been announced, draped over him like laurels.

The eyes of the men and women sitting on the jury were hard as flint. Seven officers and five enlisted personnel studied the defense bench's occupants waiting for the reply. Fast Strike's attorney, Captain Meghan Spelling, replied for her client: "We plead not guilty to all charges presented."

The Judge nodded at this and said, "Then let's begin the proceedings." He turned toward the Prosecutor and said, "Your first witness, Captain?"


Chapter 2


"Dad," ten-year-old Douglass asked, while his father applied a gauze bandage to his son's bloodied nostril, "why did Rizalino and his creeps call me all those rotten names? I just wanted to play basketball."

Rizalino had been held back a grade, and so he was the biggest kid in the school. He attracted trouble like honey attracted flies, and the two homeboys who buzzed around him were there for the action. The names they had come up with spanned numerous hot button topics, including but not limiting themselves to his short size, the straightness and shininess of his hair and the way his epicanthic folds made his eyes look like "face vaginas". That Rizalino was a Pilipino boy and his creeps were a couple of black kids did nothing to stem the racism underlying their names.

"They wanted to pick a fight," Dad said. He was a Japanese man in his thirties, dark moustache and businessman's short hair. His face was a weary workingman's mask, hiding passion and desires beneath a veneer of exhaustion. He and Mom had been getting their grocery store up off the ground when Douglass was born, and ten years later it was still struggling to make a foothold in the Watts neighborhood they called home.

In later years, when Douglass would become a devoted fan of distant relation Akira Kurosawa's classic noir and samurai pictures, the actor Toshiro Mifune would resonate for him because of the similarities in appearance. When Douglass was about to embark on his first career as stuntman in Hollywood movies, he sheepishly mentioned this to his father, only to learn that Dad had cultivated those similarities on purpose. When asked why, Dad had replied, "Until Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimizu appeared on the world's stage, there were no Japanese tough guys known in the states. When I took her to see Seven Samurai, your mother fixated on Mifune-san's silliness while I appreciated his seriousness. So, here I am." At this, he tugged on the beard he had cultivated in his forties, the way Toshiro Mifune had done in his period medical drama Red Beard. After they both finished laughing about this, Dad said, "I hope yours will be the face and style that the young men of tomorrow will be aping."

However, when Douglass was ten, father and son had not been friends. The roles of parent and child were more distinct, and the responsibilities associated with each were rigid. Stone set.

"Am I a runt?" Douglass asked because he could not bring himself to ask if he really was one of the other names. He had no idea what a face vagina was, but it sounded like something not to ask your respectable father about.

"You are young," Dad said. "And although the men in my family are big in personality, we are not necessarily the tallest. That means we will never be asked to reach for high shelves, which is a plus. However, it means we will have to get used to two things: big people looking down and step ladders."

The fight had been not much of a fight at all. Nothing that would have made the kids cheer in the aisles of the Grauman theatre, anyway. A trio of big, bulky boys had watched the game. It was a pick up on the playground, a single basketball hoop rising just short of regulation height over an asphalt half-court. White painted lines were still mostly visible, though in need of a fresh coat. Rizalino and his creeps had waited for Douglass to receive the ball. The little fellow was fast, and his throws were not accurate but they were zestful. However, the third time he got the ball was also the first time he sank a shot–a three pointer–they broke ranks and rushed him.

"So the answer is: No, you are not a runt," his father concluded. "You are a Kurosawa, and that means you are just the right size. You are also young, and will grow up to probably be bigger than me. Your Uncles are tall men, are they not?" Only Mom had brothers; Dad had a single sister. Douglass's uncles were certainly taller than Dad, but they were still a little too small to play basketball. That particular sport was his dream.

"As I said," Dad added, "they were just trying to pick a fight. And saying anything they could to convince you to join in."

"They were saying those things after the fight started, though."

When boys of ten or eleven battle, it is not the slam bang drop down choreography that motion pictures made of men going toe to toe. Instead, there was a lot of rolling around, a grabbing of hair and a banging of heads and elbows on pavement, and a lot of screaming. Douglass had managed to scratch Rizalino across his ugly fat nose before the three boys rolled him over and showed him how poorly a human head could dribble across the court. Douglass had soon started shrieking "Uncle, Uncle, Uncle!" though as they demanded. They did not let up when he did.

The fight had lasted maybe two minutes tops before a teacher arrived and broke it all up. Douglass and his adversaries had been sent to see the Vice Principal, who had suspended all involved. Douglass's Dad had heard about the incident's details and initiated heated contact with the school official, a gray haired turd who seemed to have an eternal cold he sniffed and sniffled so much. The war turned out to be a short, victorious one that replaced suspension with detentions.

"Dad," Mac asked, "did we get justice?"

"Justice can only be aspired to," Dad had said. "What you got was a commuted sentence." Six detentions instead of three days suspension did not seem too bad, but Dad had been sad anyway. "You did not start this thing, you defended yourself, and you never resorted to the sort of bullshit name-calling these boys did."

Dad did not swear often, but that particular epithet often preceded things like "name-calling" or "quotas". Dad ruffled his son's hair and said, "I am proud of you for not picking fights." Then he boxed his son on the ear and said, "But if you must fight, if you must defend either yourself or something invaluable, never yield. If you have to fight, you do so with honor and a clear knowledge that what you do, you do to win. Ganbare3, son. In all things."

"Yes, Dad."

Father embraced son, then. "I hate to think of you being hurt. Perhaps it is time to enroll you in your uncle's classes. Self-defense is everyone's responsibility."

So had begun a long journey and love for the extremes a body could endure and the marvels one could perform with the proper training.

#

As it turned out, Dad was in the family's restaurant when the first IED4 went off. Forensics people later determined Fast Strike's father had been walking out of the kitchens, heading toward the table where the killers, his customers had only just been sitting with their bowls of bone soup and their bulgogee lettuce wraps and their sides of kimchee. When the explosion went off, Dad caught the worst of it with his front side. Because of the nature of the first device, he had not been vaporized. The first weapon was designed to replicate a claymore antipersonnel mine, peppering the restaurant's dining area with deadly shrapnel in a full three hundred sixty degree circle around the table. Dad was riddled with shrapnel–old screws, nails, bits of junk steel and iron–bursting from the device at speeds of up to three hundred miles per hour. The quantity and velocity had blown solid chunks out of his face, head, and torso and sheared limbs clean off. By the time the second IED had gone off, a concussion bomb designed to bring down the restaurant and the grocery store next door, he was dead on the floor and not feeling the wave of force that then blew the entire building to hell. His corpse had caught fire only to have that fire smothered by debris half a minute later.

In short, Dad's casket had been closed.

Mom had been in the kitchen proper, tending a bowl of boiling water, and therefore escaped the horror of the first IED. Even the second explosion had not killed her. Instead, the collapsing walls had trapped her, the shock wave had shoved a stove over atop her, pinning her in place. Various elements had conspired to shatter her right hip, left shoulder, three vertebrae and two ribs. The water had spilled on her, giving her third degree burns on fifty percent of her body. Still, she had been alive, her feeble voice calling for help when the rescue teams arrived.

That latter part was one of the more disturbing parts of the story Fast Strike had heard. His mother had never once asked for help. To think of her, buried under tons of sheetrock and steel and wooden wall studs, pleading for someone anyone to please help her, please save her? That shook him to the core, froze his spirit.

She went silent not quite three minutes before the teams found her. She had bled out. A medical technician had told him she would never have made it even if the teams had arrived and evacuated her immediately. She had lost too much blood in the blast. So, it was a living ghost under all that rubble who had been calling for rescue. A will o' the wisp leading first responders to the quagmires of despair. Even if a miracle had occurred and she did survive, she would never have walked or lived a comfortable life. Instead, she would have suffered for whatever years remained ahead of her.

This was one of the crimes Fast Strike stood accused of: Murdering his own family, as well as the ten other patrons in the restaurant, the dozen or so clerks and customers in the grocery store, and the passing woman on the street outside. All who had died in the blasts.

Blasts set off by those filthy cowards in the employ of Skorpion, an organization who had boldly taken credit for the terror acts in Los Angeles but who had still been cowardly enough to target civilians in the first place. That two of the victims had been the family of a Kinetic Force member who had the temerity to stand against them was immaterial. The enemy had shown ruthlessness heretofore unknown in the annals of warfare.


Chapter 3


Fast Strike watched a variety of experts called to sit and present evidence. A military tribunal was essentially identical to the civilian one, a series of called witnesses examined and then cross-examined, a jury of peers listening to the evidence, the judge receiving and allowing or overruling objections. This was a process guaranteed by law to all the citizens of these United States, and that process was well established. The line of scientists, medical officials, and expert witnesses was seemingly endless, and the data they supplied was often challenged for its usefulness on the grounds of being hearsay or supposition. The judge ruled on these challenges as his experience of the law demanded, and sometimes that was helpful to Fast Strike's case and sometimes it was detrimental.

Finally, Fast Strike himself was called to the stand, despite the suggestion from his own counsel to not take the stand. When he asked her why, Captain Spelling said:

"Montgomery Scout has an unparalleled ability to trick witnesses he does not like into behaving in a hostile fashion. If he does that to you, your case is pretty well lost. He will antagonize you, he will bait you, he will twist your words."

"What about justice? Isn't my side of the story relevant?"

"Captain Scout is not interested in justice, kiddo," she explained. "He is an officer and he is a lawyer, and that means he is interested in one thing only: Winning. He did not take this case only because he thought it was right. He took this case because he believed it would be a major victory for his record and his career. A successful treason conviction is pretty sweet, if you can get it. I think that's why he is hitting this case harder than any I've seen him litigate."

Fast Strike adopted his Bogart impression before asking, "You are working for me, aren't you shweetheart?"

"I'm working for you," she said, "and an overturned treason accusation is a bigger feather. It would not have come this far if they had not felt they had enough evidence to get you." She shook her head. "I don't want to demoralize you."

"Just dissuade me from taking the stand." He nodded and offered an amiable smile. "However, I am a kung fu master. And it's not easy to irritate a kung fu master. I think I can run circles around this guy."

If she rolled her eyes, she did so behind closed eyelids. "It's your defense," she said. "The only job I can do for you in advising."

"Noted," he said. And then he asked to take the stand.

The chair was hard, even less comfortable than those behind the defense and prosecution tables. He had heard of this particular place called the hot seat, but in fact it should have been referred to as the hard seat. Yowch. Sitting here too long would leave a bruise.

Captain Spelling had him first, and she threw him some curveballs. Nothing too tricky, easy to knock out of the park, and perfect for establishing what happened. How long had he been a part of the military, and how many decorations during that time had painted him patriotic shades. She further went into the areas she expected Captain Scout to venture, bringing to light his encounter with enemy agents disguised as medical crew while out of his right mind on as yet unknown painkiller-like substances, and his subsequent interrogation. Fast Strike readily admitted that he divulged sensitive information, though his memory of the specifics was cloudy due to the drugs he had been given. Spelling asked him to explain his state of mind upon waking from a drug induced comatose state to learn that his interrogators had used his information to stage multiple attacks on American soil. Of course, he felt terrible that his teammates in New Jersey had been endangered by his information. However, he felt especially worse that his parents and numerous civilians had also been killed. The questions were easy, and they established his credentials. It was a slam dunk, Fast Strike thought. And then Spelling had said, "Your witness, Captain Scout," and the prosecutor stood up and said "Good afternoon. Thank you for taking the stand. I trust your testimony will clear things up in no time."

After that, Scout had nothing good to say unless it served to set the defendant up for a riposte. Even that opening kindness seemed fishy upon reflection, a trick to lower Fast Strike's guard. At the time, however, coming off Spelling's questions Scout's manner had been almost submissive. A surrender. How wrong Fast Strike was to believe his ordeal was almost over.

Scout said: "Mr. Kurosawa, can you state for the record just what function you serve in the Special Forces unit code named Kinetic Force?"

"Function?" Fast Strike asked. "Can you be more specific?"

"Please allow me to clarify, Mr. Kurosawa. What is your job title?"

"I was originally brought on as a martial arts trainer."

"A title you still hold, yes?"

"I do." Fast Strike affirmed with a nod.

"So please explain why a trainer is doing field work?"

Ah, another easy question, Fast Strike thought. "Well, there was an all hands situation. Kinetic Force had a lot of leads to run down and too few hands."

"This is not the first time you have done field work," Scout asked. "Despite being just an instructor."

Well that was a loaded question if Fast Strike had ever heard. The phrasing was calculated to pique and provoke. "I have done field missions with Kinetic Force, yes." He glanced toward Spelling who briefly flared her nostrils and widened her eyes to tell him not to divulge too much.

"And why is that?" Scout continued. His manner was akin to a pleasant stroll, and it brought to mind Fast Strike’s teammate Giggles who used his aw shucks Arkansas good ol' boy demeanor to find the best spot to slip in the stiletto. "You being just an instructor, after all."

"There are a surprising number of circumstances where my specialties come in handy. You wouldn't expect that, I suppose, martial arts and ninjas compose major parts of our enemy's forces. However, that is the case."


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