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Lake Aral


MacDonald Reid


"Admiral, a coded message for you, Sir."

"Yes, I will take it in my cabin."

The message alert was on his computer console. He tapped in his code and looked directly into the minuscule camera mounted in the top of his console's bezel. The computer scrutinized Nagato's eye and, having confirmed his identity, decoded the message for him to read.

"Climb Mount Niitaka!" He exclaimed with a mixed feeling of joy and dread. One hundred and sixty-five years ago another Japanese Vice Admiral had received an identical message. He, too, had felt the conflict between duty and peril, between eagerness and dread.

In 1941, Admiral Yamamoto commanded the finest fleet in the world. He had every technological and manpower advantage. His fleet of mighty aircraft carriers was more numerous than those of all the great powers combined. His aircrews were the most experienced and well-trained in the world. His battleships were the largest ever to sail the sea. Yet, in spite of all his advantages, he had cautioned, "Beware of the sleeping giant, lest he awaken filled with a terrible resolve."

Nagato could not help but remember the awful consequences of that war.  Unlike the civilian population, whose history books were filled with half-truths and complete falsehoods, he had studied World War II. The war had been an utter disaster. If the Americans had not used their atomic bombs to end it, millions would have died unnecessarily as the allies conquered Japan meter by meter. Russia would have seized far more than just the southern half of Karafuto and a few islands of the Kurile Archipelago. The Iron Curtain would have come down in Japan, dividing the country like Korea and Germany. Uncountable millions would have lived in slavery, and Nippon would never have regained its former glory or power.

"Climb Mount Niitaka," he repeated to himself, feeling an increasing sense of trepidation. The attack and invasion of Karafuto would begin in forty-eight hours. How many sleeping giants would be awakened? How would Japan ever withstand their terrible wrath?

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Lake Aral