Mercenary 15

Chapter 15

Edited by: Kanaa-senpai

 When I got home, I immediately compared myself with myself a year ago.


 Indeed, I became whiter.

 I am sure that I have turned white, if not to the point of morbidity.

 I feel that my eyes have changed from black to blue, and my nose is sharper than before.

 Both Tsukasa and Satsuki know that the donor is an American.

 Maybe they know the case? Well, I can ask them right now. And,


 ’May I come in?’

 That’s Satsuki’s voice.

 It’s nice to hear from the person I want to hear from the most.



 Satsuki comes in and says something.

 ”Something bothering you?”

 ”Why do you say that?”

 ”Because you’ve been shutting yourself in.”

 ”…well, I’m turning white, aren’t I?”


 Satsuki nods.

 Maybe she thinks it’s counterproductive to hesitate.

 ”What do you think of this?”

 ”It’s the truth.”

 Satsuki hugs me.

 ”Evidence speaks louder than words. Your physical exam shows no abnormalities. You’re in perfect health.”

 ”I’m in perfect health… but I’m not going to be me anymore.”

 ”No. Ren is Ren, okay?”

 ”…I see”

 But I lied.

 After the transplant, I took over Ren’s body, so I’m not Ren as Satsuki said.

 I’m just an old mercenary.

 ”Even if your skin color changes, we’re family.”


 ”Now that you understand, why don’t you touch my breasts?”

 ”? Why would I do that?”

 ”Breasts are the best way to comfort a man.”


 Seriously… My ideal image of Satsuki is being destroyed.

 I guess she’s making a joke to make the place more comfortable, but I’m not the one who’ll fall for it.

 ”…I guess so.”

 I agreed with a dry laugh.

* * *

 While Ren is being comforted by Satsuki,

 (…Takkun, are you okay?)

 Tsukasa was alone in her room, staring at the photo of Ren taken a year ago.

 He had not been concerned about it, but he has been checking it since it was pointed out to him, and it seems to have been bleached more than he had expected.

 The most remarkable ones are as follows,

 ・Eye color

 ・The depth of the nose

 Ren, who is a pure Japanese, did not have a very foreign appearance.

 But now, he looks so foreign that he even looks like a foreign Japanese.

 If someone meets him, he might be mistaken for a mixed-race (double). As she though so, there is a knock.

 She looked up and saw someone on the porch.

 If he/she is a suspicious person, security cameras that detect bad feelings would recognize him/her and report it to the authorities, but if he/she is not, he/she must be a safe person.

 (A friend, perhaps?)

 When she opened the curtains, there was a girl in a middle school uniform standing there.

 (Oh, this girl…)

 Unlocking the door, Tsukasa invites her in.

 ’Forgive my sudden visit.’

 The voice is mechanical as usual.



 She is no stranger to the school.

 She is such a problem child that even the president of the middle school has a hard time believing in her.

 She does not participate in school events, but her grades are so good that the school does not see her as a problem, and because she is well paid, she is practically a special student.

 ”…did I tell you where I live?

 ’I did some checking. I’m here to advise you about your brother.’


 It’s raining.

 It’s hard to get rid of her at the gate.

 Even though she has a bad feeling about this, Tsukasa doesn’t want Natalie to catch a cold.

 ”Come in.”

 ’Thank you.’

 Natalie, who was German but seemed to be accustomed to the Japanese style, sat down.

 ’I think you and Ren-senpai should be separated from each other.’

 Tsukasa was shocked at the word, but what she disliked more than anything was…,

 ”…You call him by his name too, don’t you?”


 ”No, it’s nothing. So, what’s this all about?”

 Tsukasa’s heart is in turmoil, but she can’t proceed with the conversation even if she explodes with emotion.

 So Tsukasa is calm and collected.

 ’I’m not happy when you’re with him.’


 It’s like a prophet’s statement.


 ’Because he’s not good enough for you.’

 ”…what exactly?”

 ’What if he’s not him now?’

 ”What do you mean?”

 ’I’ve warned you. But I can tell you this. You’ll find someone better than him.’

 ”…Because he’s popular?”

 ’You know that, don’t you? Then, see you.’


 Natalie walks out in the rain.

 She must not like it here very much.

 Otherwise, she wouldn’t want to get soaked.

 As she reaches the road, she sees a car driven by a foreign man, probably her parents.

 A car driven by a foreign man pulls up in front of the house, and Natalie gets in.


 Tsukasa was stunned.

 It was an unsubstantiated story, but for some reason it was convincing.

 ”…different person…”

 She utters Natalie’s words.

 She doesn’t know what it means, but she is a doctor’s daughter and she has read the paper.

 (…Memory transfer to Takkun? No way…)

 She wants to deny it, but the evidence is better than the words.

 In fact, Ren is a different person before and after the surgery.

 He used to be shy, but now, he has no desire to be.


 She wanders to Ren’s room with unsteady steps.

* * *

 After Satsuki left, I was reading.

 The bold always win against the less bold.

 I was thinking about the sentence of “The Theory of War”(Carl von Clausewitz) which I bought at an old bookstore in Kanda, Tokyo.

 (At that time, I was hesitating to see the drone for the first time… is that the borderline between life and death?)

 I guess that’s exactly what it means.

 Before the drone, I was true to my word, always bold.

 That’s why I survived until now.


 I can’t stop thinking about it.

 I wonder what my life would have been like if I had fought and won without hesitation.

 After that war, I was going to retire as a mercenary, and after returning to the U.S. Army, I was going to work as an instructor and live on a pension.

 I don’t know if I would have been as happy as I am now.

 And if I had taken that path, I would have been separated from my daughter.

 After all, I would be in America.

 And Sharon is in Japan.

 This geographical distance, even I can’t bridge it.

 (I can’t. I’m not.)

 I thought I had sealed off my love for my daughter, but still, when I see her every day like this, the love of family comes back to me.

 Though, she seems to be mistaken like a movie heroine who fell in love with her own son.

 (…I’d better avoid contact with Tsukasa in front of Sharon. It’s not good for her education.)

 Sharon is an adult, but she is still a child in my mind.

 I don’t like to think it, but she may have been in a relationship with a man without my knowledge.

 Still, she is my precious daughter.

 (…well, let’s go to bed)

 I stop thinking and close the book.

 But when I’m about to turn off the light, the door opens.


 Tsukasa stands there with teary eyes.

 ”Why are you…!”

 In her hand, she was holding a paper on memory transfer.

 (Did she realize it?)

 While I was in a hurry, Tsukasa hugged me.

 ”…Takkun is Takkun, right?”


 ”Just now. Natalie-chan came to see me.”


 ”Is it your friend? She told me to break up with you. She said it would make me unhappy.”


 Our team had an unspoken agreement not to get involved privately.

 That’s why I stayed out of other people’s lives as much as possible, but Natalie seems to have broken that rule.

 (…If she were a Yakuza, she would be excommunicated…)

 I hug Tsukasa back, and we sit on the bunk.

 If it were for ulterior motives, this would be the usual place to have intercourse.

 But I’m not interested in sleeping with a wounded woman.

 ”That’s her story, okay? It’s not fate.”


 ”I’m Ren. Always have been. I always will be, okay?”

 Goebbels said, “A lie becomes the truth if you tell it a hundred times,” but my situation is like that of a marriage cheater.

 Tsukasa is in love with Kitaoji Ren, not Lou Bradley.

 I feel that I am deceiving Sharon, too, by lying only because I don’t want to hurt Tsukasa.

 No, in fact, I am, so no matter what excuse I give, I am no better than a fraud.


 ”Yes, I’m sure. Or are you going to change your mind just because I look different?”

 ”It’s not that, but…”

 ”Then we’re engaged. Nothing more, nothing less.”



 ”Then show me proof.”


 Tsukasa gradually regains her composure as we embrace.

 I, on the other hand, hate myself.

 I feel like Hitler.

 It must be a psychopath to hurt so many people and not care.

 (…is this the price of a second life?)

* * *

 That night, I had a dream for the first time in a long time.

 It was a blank world.

 Usually, it is an empty space, but not this time.

 ”…are you Ren?”


 I see.

 Now, I’m wearing a military uniform, probably the one I wore when I died.

 In front of me is a skinny Japanese man.

 He’s wearing the uniform he wore when I was a freshman in high school, and from the way he looks now, it’s easy to guess.

 ”…nice to meet you, I should say?”

 ”Hahaha. I guess so. Well, have a seat.”

 Ren snapped his fingers, and a table appeared.

 We sit down in front of it.

 ”It’s been a while since I’ve been here. And this is…”

 ”This is my room.”

 ”Then, why have you been hiding until now?”

 ”I wanted to invite you, but it took me a long time to get here from the heavenly realm. I’m sorry”

 ”…no, it’s fine.”

 Being Tsukasa’s brother, his speech is similar to her.

 Well, it’s only natural for them to sound alike since they grew up in the same house.

 ”So, are you dead?”

 ”I’m afraid so.”

 ”…do you hate me?”

 ”Not at all. Because you switched places to make my sister happy instead of me. In fact, I’m rooting for you.”

 ”…why me?”

 ”You received the Medal of Honor for your service in Somalia and Afghanistan. That’s why.”

 ”You know a lot about that.”

 ”I got it from God, though.”

 Ren smiles.

 It’s not public knowledge, but I led a suicide mission in Somalia to rescue a group of stranded comrades after their Black Hawk was shot down.

 In Afghanistan, I saved the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) and Navy SEALs as well.

 The former was called Black Hawk Down.

 The latter, known as Operation Red Wing, was ostensibly a failure, but in fact a staged stunt to script the withdrawal from both countries.

 Both operations succeeded and the U.S. withdrew its troops.

 To put it in the above way,

 ’I don’t care if the Somalis and Pashtuns are killing each other as long as my people are not the victims. Unless it makes money.’

 That is.


 ”…God says, ‘For all the killing you did in your previous life, even in war, make at least one person happy in this life’.”

 ”…Ren, are you a messenger?”


 ”…are you glad to be dead?”

 ”My heart wasn’t strong enough to protect myself and my sister and to accept her love. That’s why I chose to leave early. I’m sorry, okay? For making you carry this burden.”

 ”…it’s okay.”

 I don’t blame him.

 I don’t think I’m even qualified to do so, since I’m deceiving Tsukasa and the others.

 ”Do you consider yourself a fraud, by any chance?”


 ”Don’t blame yourself. The only one to blame is me for running away.”


 ”If you get found out, I’ll help you. That’s how I’ll make up for it.”

 Ren pats my head, as if he cares about me.

 To be honest, this attitude toward a younger man makes me uncomfortable, but it’s different when it’s Ren.

 Perhaps it has a healing effect on me, but it is making me feel less and less anxious.

 ”…Ren, are you not going to be born again?”

 ”Not at all.”

 Ren denied it, smiling and patting her.

 ”You see. I’m a HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I don’t know about others, but it’s a hard world to live in, at least for me. That’s why I envy you, you have a strong heart. Maybe God took that into consideration, too?”


 Ren sat down in front of me.

 ”Lou-san, thank you for what you did on 3/11.”

 ”…you knew about it?”

 ”Yeah. I saw it on TV.”

 I’ve never been to Japan, but one of the few times I’ve been to Japan was during Operation Tomodachi.

 ”You know. I got tired of watching the tsunami footage every day, and I started to have thoughts of death. It made me bipolar. In front of my sisters, I act fine, but when I’m alone, I’m always thinking about death. So when Lou-san came to my body, I was overjoyed to finally die. In this country, death with dignity is not allowed.”


 Even if they legalized the death with dignity, Satsuki would never have approved it because she is a doctor.

 That might be one of the reasons why Ren got sick.

 ”I’m sorry to Lou-san for getting you involved because of my selfish reasons. I’m sorry, okay? If you don’t want to, I’ll talk to them about it.”

 ”No, that’s okay. You’ve been through a lot, haven’t you? It was hard for you, wasn’t it?”


 When I think of my comrades in arms who are suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in the battlefield, I don’t blame Ren easily.

 ”Well, Ren…if something happens, can you explain the situation to both of them? I can’t do it alone.”

 ”I know. So, make my sister happy, okay?”

 Ren waves and disappears.


 Then my vision goes black.

 (Ren…you were a good man. You’ll live happily in heaven)

 Tears fall from the corners of my eyes.

 Needless to say, my guilt is gone.

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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.

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