NaNoWriMo Short Story – The Struthiotitan Incident
I do not want to give this story the usual lengthy explanation of my inspirations and intentions, because it is intended to be interpreted by the reader. This sounds perverse – usually I relish the opportunity to explain my thought processes in these stories – but in this case, as part of my intent this NaNoWriMo to experiment with my writing, I am leaving the interpretation of events to the reader.
Fears Grow for Children Reported Missing After Kaiju Attack – Asahi Shinbun, 20/9/2046
As the search for the five missing children of Aokawa Elementary School continues into its second week, police are still unable to report any developments in this tragedy. Tsubasa Youta (13), Tsubasa Reiko (10), Shirakawa Miki (11), Toyotomo Daigo (12) and Toyoto Akira (11) disappeared in the aftermath of a kaiju attack on the port of Wakayama, outside Osaka. According to a statement from the headmaster of Aokawa Elementary, the students had, along with their classmates and teacher, been on a field trip to the town. At the time of the attack, they were returning to Aokawa by coach, and police have confirmed that they were last seen by their class president on their way to the emergency shelter beneath Kimino-Nonaka Road Services. No further information has been made public concerning the time spent in the shelter, although police have claimed that they are still analysing CCTV footage and have possible leads in a related inquiry.
Searches of the local area have extended as far out as Tobigasuyama and Usugassan, although missing persons expert from Osaka Police Department Entouji Toro was quoted as saying that after this length of time, the chances of finding the children are slim but not zero. Today, the families of the missing children once again held a press conference to request anyone with information come forward. In a statement issued on local television, bank clerk Tsubasa Junko, mother of two of the children, said the following: “Youta and Reiko mean everything to us, and we are doing everything in our power to assist the police in their search. We have always been a close family and know in our hearts they are out there somewhere.”
A teacher from Aokawa who wished to remain anonymous said the following of the missing children: “They were all close friends; the Tsubasa family are pillars of the community, assisting those families whose parents are taken across the country by their work for the TKJ, and I am sure that wherever they were taken, they would have been together.”
Detective Entouji has declined to comment on whether he suspects this to be an abduction or murder, claiming that in the chaos of recovery following a kaiju incident it can take several days to even determine a full list of missing persons. He has urged the families of Aokawa and Wakayama to follow standard disaster recovery procedure and co-operate with the TKJ and local authorities as necessary.
Tributes from across Japan have been gathered at Aokawa, the latest in a number of places suffering the after-effects of the recent spate of creature attacks. Although the JSDF, in partnership with the Special Scientific Ministry, have been effectively managing these incursions, each still brings with it a toll in lives and property damage. Chief of the TKJ and expert in kaiju biology, Professor Honda Akihiko, has issued the following statement in light of the highly-publicised events following the attack on Wakayama: “the indiscriminate nature of kaiju containment operations is an unfortunate necessity; if the currently held theory that each creature is specifically evolved for a certain mission holds true, then the JSDF personnel must have the latitude to operate in a way that ascertains this purpose and counters it. That said, the TKJ is co-operating with local authorities in disaster relief and search and rescue operations as part of our environmental cleanup remit.”
Yesterday a special fundraising event was held in Aokawa by the staff and students of local schools to raise awareness of the humanitarian impact of the kaiju crisis, putting further pressure on international defence and research agencies widely criticised by the TKJ for their inaction in this matter.
Anyone who has seen any of the missing children, or who believes they have information regarding their whereabouts, is asked to contact the Aokawa-Wakayama Joint Special Police Unit on 91-254-1103.
Special Scientific Ministry Under Fire From JSDF After “Secret Weapon” Proves Ineffective – Sankei Shinbun, 21/9/2046
The Special Scientific Ministry’s military branch, the Mobile Operational Weapons Division, is once again facing criticism from politicians and military officials as the latest kaiju attack took the heaviest toll on Japan to date. The creature, designated Struthiotitan by TKJ experts, emerged from the Bay of Osaka near the port of Wakayama nine days ago, and inflicted severe damage on local industrial areas before being engaged by MOWD forces under the command of Honda Akihiko. Prior to Struthiotitan‘s emergence, Honda had issued a statement reassuring citizens that the MOWD had learned from the failure of its initial attacks on the previous kaiju, Caenagamimus, and would be deploying new equipment.
The MOWD’s figurehead weapon TKJU Kannone was once again deployed to the attack zone, along with the support craft JASDF Susano-o, and in the course of a two-hour battle both vehicles sustained severe damage. Although the kaiju was defeated, the MOWD’s deployment of a new strategy involving joint close formation operations between the Kannone and Susano-o was disrupted by Struthiotitan‘s attacks.
The MOWD has yet to issue a full statement regarding the events, but in an initial statement Professor Honda was quoted as saying that with “great regret” he had to report a number of MOWD personnel serving aboard the Kannone had lost their lives. This is not the first time that Kannone has sustained severe damage in engaging these creatures, and Honda’s insistence that a high-risk close-quarters-combat strategy is the best way to mitigate collateral damage invites increasing criticism from high-ranking military personnel. Once again, General Urobuchi Mitsuru, acting head of the JSDF in Osaka Prefecture, has called for a full enquiry into the running of the MOWD “beginning with their Wakayama branch.” In a speech made to the Diet, General Urobuchi sarcastically claimed that the MOWD were “a bunch of children with toys they can’t use”, citing the TKJ’s special mandate to analyse and develop anti-kaiju weapons as a misplaced trust.
Critics of Urobuchi accused her of trying to capitalise on the high-profile case of missing children following the Struthiotitan incident, claiming that the public fervour to aid in ascertaining the whereabouts of the children – many of whom had families with close links to the TKJ and MOWD – was not to be used as an opportunity to raise dissent against a public organisation with the highest confirmed record of kaiju neutralisations to date.
As Wakayama rebuilds following another attack, however, the public finds itself left only with empty promises from Honda and the MOWD. Last-minute deployments of barely-tested weapons are a major drain on public funds and high-profile failures – resulting in the deaths of soldiers as a direct result of this inefficient strategy – will try the patience of the Japanese people. Numerous shortcomings of the Kannone project have been raised – its reliance on close-formation operations requiring the extensive training of a five-man crew, its high maintenance costs and preponderance of ineffective or specialised weaponry, its high potential for collateral damage among others – and maybe this defeat will lead to renewed scrutiny of the purpose of a “figurehead weapon.”