Dai-tō-a
rating: +7+x

There is something in my mouth, underneath the tongue. It's nothing relatively uncommon. Of late, my urine is black and I have excreted strips of paper. Ever since I opened a letter from Robinson Toʊ Liz and then quarantined by the Foundation, this has been the new norm. So much for uneventful retirement in New Zealand.

My tongue twirls around my mouth, feeling for the mysterious thing that is still inside. It feels soft. Probably another piece of paper.

Eventually, I spit it out. A squarish shape appears on the otherwise stale floor, coated in my saliva. Despite its condition, I can make out the yen symbol on that shape.

Ah yes, so that is the compensation – as they have mentioned a few days ago – in the form of a postal stamp.

But the stamp consists more than the denomination. The image of the banana tree. The words "Dai-tō-a – Malai Baru".

"That is…"


"Stop, Miyafuji." Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto ordered.

I still remembered that day clearly. Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto invited me for a stroll in a park, even when the Americans' bombardment were increasingly common in the cities. Our feet trod upon stone pavements, islands in the sea of grass. In front, two paths lied ahead – left and right.

"Yes sir." I obeyed the Lieutenant Colonel's orders.

"Look at the paths. Which one will you take?"

"I will follow the path you take, sir."

Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto was silent, shaking his head grimly. Perhaps he did not desire that answer.

"Sir, I express only loyalty toward-" I was cut off by him.

"I did not ask you for elaboration. But it appears I must guide you again."

"My apologies, sir." I bowed at Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto.

"This crossroad is the fifth we've crossed within this park, the outcome of the paths we have chosen. Here, we are to make another choice." Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto explained, "Choices are important, Miyafuji. They defined the present moment and guide us to the future. Most importantly, choices require actions. Do you understand all of that?"

"Yes sir."

"So, what will be your choice?"

I stared long and hard at the two paths. Both looked so similar to the other that they felt like the same path, regardless of what I chose.

"Corporal, we are at war. The Americans will bomb us any minute! We do not have the luxury to contemplate!" I exited my deep thought.

"That way!" I cried, my finger pointing out to somewhere. It was on neither paths, but out into the grass and another divergent stone path.

"Yes. The current situation is not preferable, yes? The empire is in dire situation." Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto mused to himself, "We desire for a better present. But to do so, we must redo the choices already made. So Miyafuji, how can you reach the direction you pointed at?"

"Walk there directly."

Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto smiled, and stepped upon the grass. He then rummaged his pocket, and produced a bank note. The image of a banana plant was printed onto said bank note.

"A souvenir during my previous assignment in Malaya." He explained, handing the bank note to me, "I will be away for some time, to find a better situation wherein the choices made resulted in the empire's continuation. And the Anomaly Agency hopes that we can seek help from those situations."

"Yes." I paused briefly, "Sir, may I help you in your mission?"

"No. I need you here. You have to protect your mother. I heard the Americans enjoy the taste of the women of defeated nations." Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto cautioned.

"Do not worry. No one will ever harm the Lieutenant Colonel's sister."

"Good. Then, farewell."


"Did he even find it in the end?" I pick up the stamp and clean my saliva off of it, "Unlikely. What is the likelihood?"

I pocket the stamp away, continuing my cloistered existence under the Foundation's internment.


Some days later, I while my time at the library in the internment area. After all, there is little to do beyond reading up on English. At least I can improve my grasp in that language.

While flipping through a book on English grammar, an unusual thought pierces through.

Dear Miyafuji,

"Very few people whom I know would call me that."

And before I know it, the next thought manifests.

Sincerely
Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto

"Uncle?"

And like a river, more thoughts stream in.

Found appropriate reality. There, empire exists.

"I can tell." I recalled that stamp, which I surrendered to the Foundation nurse when they asked for it. After all, they have power over me entirely. It is unwise to oppose them.

Sent the stamp as validation. I planned the design.

"Seriously? What about the world you're in now?"

Empire still exists. Humans there possess stronger digestion. Can dissolve even cellulose. History and culture is similar to ours. Society mostly disinterested in inter-dimensional travel.

"That explains their unusual methods… Uncle, how is your mission?"

Travelled long to find appropriate reality. Only Robinson Toʊ Liz interested in inter-dimensional travel. But can only transmit words and small objects.

"Like that stamp."

Sent the stamp as validation. I planned the design.

"I know that already." My voice pierces the silence of the library; those around stare at me. I then bury my head into my book, pretending to be reading it.

"But how do you know to reach out to me?"

So I worked for Robinson Toʊ Liz. Saw client list. Your name and address are on it.

"So you sent a letter to me. Thank you, Uncle."

Sincerely
Lieutenant Colonel Sakamoto

"I know. About mum… wait, I'm not actually speaking to him." I sigh.

I have placed myself in client list too. If you intend to contact me, my address is…

"No. I'm effectively a prisoner here. I have to get by the Foundation if I want a letter to be sent, and they will know something's off from the address alone. How?"

Amidst my thoughts, I feel the urge of nature's calling, specifically of the ink and paper processing inside of me. I left my book for medical assistance, wherein I continue pondering for a solution.

In the end, I think that there may be a way.


The following day, I'm once again in the Foundation's interrogation room – by my request. The Foundation doctor – Dr. Cohen – is my interrogator.

"So Mr. Miyafuji, you have requested for me. What is the issue?"

"My uncle wrote to me. He's IJAMEA Lieutenant Colonel Ryusei Sakamoto."

"IJAMEA?! But that group is…"

"It's not dead, or at least parts of it. That stamp is evidence. They have found a world where the Axis won the war instead."

"What do you know about that world?" Dr. Cohen's face stiffens.

"Not much, but here's an inference." I reply, "If they are willing to send in trivial things like stamps and letters, what else are they willing to send across?"

"And you're telling us this because…" Dr. Cohen pauses, waiting for my response.

"I want to help you. Allow me to have correspondence with my uncle, and I will feed you the information you need."

"And why should we trust you?"

"I requested to meet you, instead of running off."

Dr. Cohen stares at me briefly, perhaps pondering over my words.

"I will bring this matter to my superiors first. This conversation is over until further notice." Dr. Cohen left the room.

"At best, maybe we'll have a few last exchanges before my ruse falls apart."

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