Hello folks!

Sorry It took me this long to update. I was distracted by many things in the last few months. Things like the Kantai Collection fandom, lots of interesting stories on Spacebattles and Sufficient Velocity and , and new anime, and some of the topics I researched for this chapter.

Anyways, on with the story!

Chapter 12

JGSDF Camp Fuji Regional Hospital, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

12:44 P.M.

Ikeda Kurumi

"What was that?" I said as I slid down from the bed onto my two feet, staring at the room that had suddenly plunged into darkness.

"Kurumi? Is everyone alright over there?" My boyfriend yelled from where I last saw him.

"I'm fine!"

The moment after I yelled our part of the room was lightly illuminated by Papa's Samsung Galaxy.

I saw Mama and Papa tightly holding each other's hands with concerned looks on their faces. Mother was also doing the same for Ao, with the only difference being that my daughter had a scared look.

That fear made her scream when the room vibrated once again from...something.

"Is that an artillery bombardment?" Ichigo asked loudly, his features still unclear because his part of the room wasn't receiving enough light from Papa's cellphone.

"I hope not," Yasuhiko replied. "The roof might cave in on our heads if that is the case."

An instant after he said that the door suddenly opened, and solidly hit something.

"My head!" Akio howled.

Backlit by the hospital's emergency lights, the Self Defense Forces personnel who hit my ancestor in law profusely apologized to Akio, who was on his knees and rubbing his head while glaring at back at the man.

Seeing that his colleague was distracted another Self Defense Forces personnel, followed by nurses and a doctor, walked through the door and announced that the hospital is being evacuated.

JGSDF Camp Fuji Regional Hospital, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

12:56 P.M.

Ohta Ichigo

"Mama, Papa. It hurts," my daughter moaned from behind me as the stretcher she was strapped to was jostled down the stairs by nurses under the supervision of a doctor.

"We're almost there Ao. Just a little more, ok? Just a little more." I said as I held my broken spectacles in front of my face with one hand, while tightly gripping the stair railing with the other.

"Papa's right. We're now on the second floor, just a little more patience and all will be fine," Kurumi added from her place beside Ao's stretcher.

A few moments after that we finally reached the ground floor, to see a disheartening sight.

The hospital lobby, lit by emergency lights and the noontime light streaming in through the glass doors and windows, was filled by a herd of terrified patients and family members muttering to each other in tones too soft to decipher. Shepherding them with authoritative announcements of evacuation procedures, and doing their best to hide their own fear, was what seemed to be all the nurses, doctors, and armed Self Defense Forces personnel in the hospital.

And almost drowned out by the combined sounds of the humans in the room was the sound of non-stop explosions and gunshots.

A hand suddenly landed on my shoulder, surprising me out of my state of mind.

"Young Ichigo, you're blocking the way," Akio gently told me.

I quickly moved out of the way, and then watched as the procession I was part of walked out of the stair landing and joined the herd of people.

First came the three ancestors, shaking their head at the sight of the herd of humans. They were followed in quick succession by Mom, Kentaro, and Magdalena. After them was Kurumi, walking beside Ao's stretcher along with two stretcher bearers, a nurse and a doctor.

And after them was Ran the inari, pushing the wheelchair her twin sister Moe sat on with the help of a nurse. At the same time the speckled white pajama shirt and pants attired sisters talked with a worried looking woman in formal clothing who I assumed must be their homeroom teacher. And behind them came Mrs. Taro, talking with someone on her cellphone.

Seeing that I don't recognize anyone going down the stairs after Ran's group, I started walking back to my family when all of a sudden Moe called out to me.

"Mr. Ichigo! Over here!" she greeted me in a friendly manner, waving her right hand from her wheelchair. And because of her, Ran, the nurse and their teacher also looked over to me. Mrs. Taro, on the other hand, was walking away from their group and going towards the walls.

After a brief internal debate, I decided to go over to them and make small talk before joining my family.

"Mr. Ichigo," Moe said when I had stopped by their group. "I introduce to you Ms. Yamato. She's the homeroom teacher of both me and Moe."

Ran seamlessly continued the introduction an instant later.

"Ms. Yamato, this is Mr. Ichigo. He and his wife are the ones who saved me and sis by killing that Outsider at the end."

Yamato was unable to hide her wince when Ran's tone from the word 'killing' up to the last word held a mix of hatred and joy. Most probably because there's no way any school teacher would want to hear that from their students, especially an innocent looking girl wearing the most innocent looking attire that a female could wear.

"T-thank you for saving the lives of my students, Ichigo," Yamato said, visibly trying to move on from her uneasiness.

"No. I'm also grateful to your students. If not for the two of them, me and my entire family would be dead by now."

"What about Mr. Krauncha?" Moe asked.

I looked at her and bluntly told her the Indian man did more harm than good to everyone involved during that night.

"Come to think of it, the whole thing was his plan, no?" Ran added with a slowly growing frown on her face.

Moe looked down at her amputated legs for quite some time, and then looked back at her sister with a sorrowful look and muttered 'Mommy is dead.'

"That's right. He is partially responsibility for that," Ran muttered with a brooding tone and fists clenched tightly around her sister's wheelchair handles.

It was silent in our little area of the hospital lobby for a minute or so after that. Yamato and I...we couldn't say anything about that. We had no right to do so, we weren't family or their close friends. Ran and Moe simmered in anger and grief at the same time.

It was possible that we would have stewed in that miserable mood until the herd of patients were escorted out of the hospital to a safer place, were it not for Kurumi's voice snapping us out of it.

JGSDF Camp Fuji Regional Hospital, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

1:00 P.M.

Ikeda Kurumi

"Moe! Ran! I'm glad to see you two again," I said as I walked past my husband to be and gave the two girls one tight hug each.

"My condolences," I said once I finished giving them a hug. "I'm really, really sorry I wasn't able to meet you girls before now, even though we're only one floor apart."

What I didn't say was that I didn't visit because I was afraid, I thought that they would blame me and my family for their mother's death. I also worried that I would be evicted from the hospital and be forbidden to reenter if I visited them.

"It's alright," Moe quickly replied with a sad yet thankful smile. "We were pretty inconsolable for a day or two. It's for the best that you didn't try to do so before."

Two emotions filled me upon hearing that from Moe. Relief that I had avoided a disaster, and shame that I was feeling relief in the first place. The guilt of feeling relieved was the reason I quickly made an offer to them.

"If there is anything my family and I can do for the both of you, just say it. We will try to do it when our financial situation becomes stable, right dear?"

It took three long, uncomfortable seconds of silence before Ichigo sighed for some reason. It was only after then that he answered my question.

"We will help when that time comes. However I should point out that even if this war were to end tomorrow, it's unlikely for us to become financially stable for years to come without supernatural help."

JGSDF Camp Fuji Regional Hospital, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

1:01 P.M.

Ohta Ichigo

When my wife offered the twins our assistance, I almost blurted out an instant refusal.

We were in dire financial straits, and that wasn't going to instantly change after we go ahead with the company we had just created with Izanami. That was why we had to take care of our family first before taking care of others, even ones we owed our lives to.

Only two things stopped me from instantly overrule Kurumi's offer. The first was because my wife would be humiliated, and the second was the fresh memory of our argument regarding decision making for our family earlier this day.

That was why I was relieved when she, all by herself, added we would only do so after we finished settling our own problems.

"Thank you for the offer, Ms. Kurumi. Really, thank you," Moe tearfully sniffed out.

"It's the right thing to do Moe," Kurumi replied while giving me a questioning look. "The right thing to do."

Before I was able to say we would talk later, Ran preempted me by introducing the temporarily ignored Ms. Yamato to Kurumi and vice versa. That left me watching the two of them talk.

I then noticed the nurse saying something to Moe and Ran. Within moments, the nurse waved goodbye to them with a smile and walked away.

"She wasn't assigned to us, she was only assisting patients in moving downstairs," Ran informed me upon seeing the incredulous look I had at witnessing what looked like someone abandoning their patient. An instant later she changed the topic.

"Say...your glasses are broken."

"Can you fix them?"

"I'll try."

JGSDF Camp Fuji Regional Hospital, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

1:13 P.M.

Ikeda Kurumi

"Ichigo, can you see well with...that?" I fussed as the hospital staff and Self Defense Forces personnel were in the middle of ushering everyone out of the hospital, reminding us to keep low to the ground and to walk in a line as much as possible.

"Blame Ran," my fiance replied, squeezing my right hand as we stalked out the hospital doors right after our daughter's stretcher. "I didn't know she'll turn my eyeglasses into something you only see in anime."

I spared my beloved fiance the cruelty of being told his current eyewear was ridiculous even by anime standards.

The intact left lens was removed from all the other parts of Ichigo's rimless eyeglass, and was given six holes with a corresponding number of thin silk rope threaded through. The ropes were braided and topped off with a knot to create two sturdier lengths of rope, which in turn was tied together to secure the lens to Ichigo's head in the fashion of an eyepatch.

To make things simple, it is what the offspring of an eyepatch and a monocle should look like.

"Still, can you see well?"

The earth started to shake before Ichigo was able to reply. And then someone shouted something that made the young and the old, the patients and the able bodied, turn to look at Japan's most famous mountain, conveniently located some kilometers to the East to our back.

"Fuji-san is erupting!"

I...we watched in horror as a gigantic cloud blossomed out of Mt. Fuji's crater with unnatural speed to spread itself across the sky. Once the sky as far as my eye could see had been covered by the dark cloud, horror turned into shocked awe as gigantic streams of pink colored lava started flying out of the cloud in the shape of eels to strike somewhere to the South.

And the earth never stopped shaking while all this happened.

"What's happening over at Fuji-san?" Mother loudly wondered from just right behind me, in the manner of someone not expecting an answer her question. Which was why I think I heard her squeak in surprise when someone did answer her question.

"It is most probably Konohanasakuya-hime deciding to fight the Outsiders from atop Mt. Fuji, Mrs. Ohta."

"Blossom who?" Papa and Mama asked simultaneously from right behind Mother as Ichigo and I turned around to look at the speaker, Moe.

"Konohanasakuya-hime is the princess of the cherry blossoms, avatar of mortal life, and goddess of Mt. Fuji and all other volcanoes of Japan," Moe answered. It was quickly followed a moment later by Ran, who was still pushing her sister's wheelchair with the help of their homeroom teacher. She said that Konohanasakuya-hime was also one of Izanami's granddaughters and the wife of the great grandfather of the first emperor of Japan.

"Does that mean Izanami called her granddaughter for help?" I asked.

The twins looked at each other, then back at me and shrugged in genuine cluelessness. A moment later the Self Defense Forces personnel yelled at everyone to start moving again towards the east.

"Are we safe here?" I asked Ichigo as our families, his ancestors included, huddled in a circle around Ao's stretcher.

"Probably," he muttered as he looked around at our shady surroundings, while squeezing my hand tighter every time the ground shook slightly.

We were in the forest right next to the Self Defense Forces hospital's parking lot...or was it the forest that surrounded the entire military camp? Whichever it was we were deep in it, hidden from sight and muffled from hearing by the springtime greenery of the trees we were under.

"Just probably? Now why would you say that, young one?" Ancestor in law Akio asked.

"It might be Spring, but fire and things that start them are being used all over the place by both sides. We just might burn alive if this forest catches fire."

I tightened my hold on my fiance's hand when Akio laughed at what Ichigo said.

"Ichigo, people have been using fire in war long before the time of Kumaso Takeru and Yamato Takeru," Ancestor in law Hisashi answered in place of Akio, who can't seem to stop laughing at what Ichigo had said and was earning the glare of both Mother and me. "Cities and temples had been completely burnt down, but never an entire forest. Never."

"Grandfather, I must...Honorable Ancestor, please stop laughing. Ichigo has a point," Great Grandfather in law Yasuhiko intervened, frowning at the still laughing Akio.

"Wha – hahaha. What point?" Akio replied as soon as he managed to stop his laughter. "Hisashi's right, no one ever burned down an entire forest or mountain in battle. Doing that is useless, it won't hurt anyone who can walk away from the flames. And burning mountains and forests left and right would just make the farmers of Japan unite into one giant army dedicated to killing you, whether the daimyo and the Emperor allows it or not. Don't you know the mountains and forests are where half the food of every farming village comes from?"

"Honorable Ancestor, the circumstances of the present battle are very different. Magic was never used in any war in the past. Kami had never fought in any battle in the past, never mind one as powerful as the goddess of all the volcanoes of Japan. Weapons that can burn down or poison entire forests or mountains in the span of a day or less had never been created in the past."

"If I may add something?" Papa chimed in the instant that Yasuhiko had finished his words.

When everyone had given him their full attention, Papa continued.

"In regards to what Mr. Akio had said earlier, I would like to point out that we do have companions who can't walk away from the flames."

"Like me?"

The adorable sight of my curious daughter waggling her left fingers in the air was in equal proportion to the horror that poured over me when I realized that we can't outrun a forest fire without hurting my daughter in the process.

The tight squeeze that Ichigo gave to my hand told me my beloved had realized the same thing.

"Like you," Papa grimly confirmed.

During the silence that followed my eyes started wandering around on their own, looking at everyone else who were unable to simply walk away from a forest fire.

Just nearby our group was the little circle that Ran and Moe formed with their teacher. Over there was a man with his right leg in a cast, sitting on the tree roots right beside his crutches. And then there's the thin, old woman with an IV drip laying on a stretcher right beside her softly sobbing grandchildren. And so on and so forth as far as I can see in the forest.

My eyes stopped wandering when Papa suddenly changed the topic by asking Mother where Father went off to.

"If Hayato is here we can simply ask him what's going to happen next. He's the Self Defense Forces member here," Papa added.

"He went off to receive further orders the moment runners went through the hospital yelling Camp Fuji is under attack," Mother replied. "But right before doing so he told me to go back to the room and stick with all of you."

Woods around JGSDF Camp Fuji, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

1:49 P.M.

Ohta Ichigo

As the others reacted to Mother's news about Dad, I silently sat on the moist forest soil and did something that I never thought I would be doing outside of a funeral.

I prayed to whoever or whatever could hear me from the depths of my mind.

I prayed for Dad to stay alive and healthy. I prayed that the forest won't catch fire because of all the magic being thrown around the place. I prayed that Japan and the world would win this war. And I prayed that everything will go back to normal.

A moment later one of my prayers suddenly turned invalid in a most dramatic fashion.

Moe suddenly yelled –

Ran instantly appeared beside Ao –

Dad suddenly appeared in mid-air above Ao's stretcher with a loud crack –

- the word "teleport."

- and disappeared with my daughter an instant later.

- and dropped unconscious onto the empty stretcher with a loud thump.

A second of stunned silence passed as everyone looked at the curiously reddish skinned man before Mom suddenly screamed Dad's name, prompting everyone into action. On my part I stood up and looked around us, yelling for a doctor or nurse to get over here and start treating an unconscious man whose skin was becoming unnatural in color.

When I saw two doctors and a few nurses running out of the glimmering forest shade from several different directions, I felt warm relief pour on me from the heavens above. For a moment.

The relief instantly transformed into cold terror when Hisashi yelled words that I never wanted to hear anytime soon.

"His breathing stopped!"

The medical personnel ran faster when they heard that, yelling at everyone in their path to make way for an emergency.

As everyone including me scrambled to do so, I took the opportunity to look around for my daughter. I quickly found her sitting on Moe's lap, being hugged from behind by the inari and both looking at Dad. Behind them was Kurumi, talking with a glare at an apologetic Ran while Ms. Yamato tried to mollify my wife.

Satisfied that my daughter was fine, I looked back towards the doctors and nurses and instantly flushed in anger as I saw Krauncha, in rat form, distracting them by telling them something from atop Dad's chest.

I was about to yell in anger at the magical being when Krauncha hopped down from Dad and walked on his hind legs towards me. Behind him, the medical personnel seemed...different in their actions as they started stripping Dad naked.

Before, they were rushing in the manner of a person who was uncertain on what they were dealing with. Now, they were rushing in the manner of someone who is trying to finish a task before a time limit expires.

"What did you do?" I demanded as Krauncha stopped walking a couple of meters away from me.

He didn't answer immediately. Krauncha first transformed from his rat form into his human form with a pop of displaced air, in full view of everyone around us. This resulted in a wave of gasps coming from everyone who wasn't my family, the inari twins and their teacher, and the medical personnel who were busy with saving Dad.

Krauncha was still dressed in the same colorful cotton wraparound skirt, white turban, golden bracelets and thick, golden necklace as he did during that night in Matsumoto. However his exotic musical instrument was nowhere to be seen. It was most likely stored somewhere on his person.

"I just saved your father from dying of poison gas, and this is how you thank me? How ungrateful," he tsked while shaking his head.

I was so stunned by this revelation I only noticed Mom beside me when she asked a single question.

"Excuse me sir, but did you just say poison gas?"

After a blink and a quick sweep of my eyes, I saw that my family and Ran had formed a circle around us to listen in to what was being said.

"Yeah, poison gas. Cyanide to be exact."

One second after he said that, Mom suddenly collapsed in a dead faint.

Woods around JGSDF Camp Fuji, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

1:49 P.M.

Ikeda Kurumi

Ichigo quickly caught Mother in his arms, quickly followed by Mama giving Mother light slaps to the cheeks in an attempt to wake her up.

"Hayato is going to fully recover from breathing that crap, right?" Papa asked as he grabbed Krauncha by the shoulders.

"Well...I'm not sure how damaged his brain will be from lacking oxygen for...is he breathing properly now?"

Filled with fear for Father, I looked back at the doctors and nurses who were working to save Father.

The nurses looked on Father's naked and reddish colored body with defeated expressions. One doctor was continually compressing and decompressing the rubber ball part of the gas mask they had put on Father. The other, who was surrounded by opened first aid kit full of medicine vials, was shaking his head and slumping his shoulders in defeat.

"Oh. They don't have cyanide antidotes on hand. That sucks."

"Ao! Read Father's future!" I suddenly screamed, only noticing after I did so that I had walked out of the circle around Krauncha to look at my daughter.

As the nurses and doctors and patients within earshot looked at me like I was insane, my daughter gave a nod and closed her eyes.

She suddenly wailed after two seconds, prompting Moe and her homeroom teacher to instantly comfort my daughter.

I looked back at Ichigo, who looked back at me while cradling his fainted mother.

An eternal moment passed, and he nodded to give his permission.

"Fix Father up," I ordered the magical Indian rat. "Same deal as back in Matsumoto for now, then more negotiations after this battle."

"Ok – what now?" he moaned as he tossed the magical ring at me.

I jerked and dropped the ring out of my hands when Major Suzumoto's voice suddenly came from behind me. He was demanding an answer as to why Krauncha was here when he had been deported from Japan just yesterday and forbidden to return here ever again by the Japanese government.

"Here's a question. Did your gods and enlightened ones also agree with that? If not, then there's nothing the Japanese government can do to keep me out of here."

"We could shoot you," Major Suzumoto suggested as he stopped beside me and glared at the rat.

Krauncha chuckled at Suzumoto and replied back with something that slammed home just how inhuman he is.

"I, my master, and all the personages of the Sanatana Dharma, what you foreigners call Hinduism, were at project Smiling Buddha with drinks and food on hand watching one of the greatest achievements of our worshippers. Now look at me. Do I look like I was sitting a hundred meters away from ground zero of India's first nuclear bomb?"

"Do you know what I would make you look like if you didn't heal Dad right now?!" Ichigo suddenly roared out.

"Heal now! Fight later! Help me Ran! Bye!" Krauncha singsonged as he ran towards Father, leaving the silent gathering of people looking at his back. Within moments, Ran followed.

As they kneeled by Father's side and Krauncha started doing his stuff with Ran's assistance under the wary stares of the two doctors, I finally picked up the magical ring from the forest ground and looked around.

We had a lot of wary onlookers, composed of patients and medical personnel and armed Self Defense Forces personnel. Mother, who had regained consciousness in Ichigo's arms but looked somewhat dazed, was calmly being comforted by Mama. My ancestors in law were harassing a still annoyed Major Suzumoto, while Papa tried to moderate things. And Moe and my lightly sobbing daughter were moving towards me, the wheelchair they were on being pushed by Ms. Yamato.

When Yamato finally stopped the wheelchair, I thanked her and Moe for keeping Ao safe in the meantime. Then I kneeled in front of the wheelchair and asked my daughter if Father would be alright after this.

At the same time I put the magical ring at the tip of my right ring finger, waiting for Krauncha to fix Father up before completely sliding it down my finger and shutting down the magic in the local area.

"Mama. G-grandpa *sniff* Grandpa will never be the same again," she sobbed.

"...Ao, can you look have a look at the future again? Please?"

I hoped...prayed that my daughter had just made a mistake with her psychic powers. It was possible it was a mistake, seeing that she had said she sees the future and the past as a book of hiragana that includes words she wasn't familiar with.

"*sniff* Grandpa will always forget some things*sniff* from this day onwards. And he *sniff* he will also act differently from now on."

Those words did what losing the house in Matsumoto wasn't able to, kill all the plans my fiance and I had made for our family once we graduate high school.

We were supposed to finish high school, then once we got our diplomas Ichigo would join the JSDF. While that was happening I would search for a full time, Monday to Friday schedule job to supplement Father and Ichigo's wage while leaving the daytime chores to Mother. And we would ready Ao for grade school as best as we can.

Even losing our house in Matsumoto, which was still a terrible setback, won't kill those plans. It just meant we would have to follow the plans while temporarily residing in one of three possible places while the house is being rebuilt or the land the house is on gets sold.

But the all of that depended on Father being able to work while we were in high school. Now that Father is somewhat disabled...

"Goodbye highschool. I'll miss you," I muttered to myself as I looked over at my fiance and mother in law, who themselves were watching Father get healed.

Woods around JGSDF Camp Fuji, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

1:51 P.M.

Ohta Ichigo

I tensely watched as Krauncha held a floating little ball of colorless liquid between his hands right atop Dad's pale colored body. At the same time Ran, whose eyes were glowing white, held Dad's head between her two hands while one of the doctors worked a portable breathing apparatus on Dad's face.

After a few more moments Krauncha stood from his kneeling position, brought the ball of liquid above a small hole in the forest floor that he had asked the nurses to dig earlier, and promptly let go.

The liquid promptly dropped into the crater, and was quickly covered up with soil by pushing a mound of soil over it.

"So, is his heart beating now? Is he breathing by himself?" Krauncha asked as the other doctor squatted at where Krauncha was sitting earlier, and put a stethoscope on Dad's chest. "If not, then should I give him with a lightning shock to the heart? Force air down his nose?"

The sudden injection of large amounts of hope and anger, brought on by the Indian man's words, allowed me to ignore the pain of Mom's nails digging into my right arm.

After a few seconds of listening, the doctor took the stethoscope off his ears and replied with a very strained smile.

"Sir, the patient is now breathing well. Thank you for removing the cyanide from his body, and for the offer of defibrillating the patient. Now, please leave everything to us."

As I gasped in relief, Mom let go off my arm and started sniffing. Upon looking, I saw she had her face in her hands, trying hard not to cry, while Magdalena had her arms around Mom in a gesture of comfort.

"Kid, you can let go of his head now," the doctor continued.

"I can't. Parts of Mr. Ohta's brain are...still damaged," Ran worriedly replied, without letting go of Dad's head nor taking her glowing eyes off his head.

In an instant I felt the cold hand of terror grasp my heart. At the same time I heard a hiss and a moan come from Mom's direction.

"Are you saying he has brain damage?" The doctor with the breathing apparatus wondered in awe and jealousy.

"...brain damage and dead cells are the same thing right?" Ran said after a long moment of squinting at Dad's head.

The nodding of said doctor turned the cold terror inside me into a mix of so many things that I didn't know what I should do next.

In contrast, Mom knew what she would do next.

"Ran...miss Ran, how...how bad is my husband's brain damage?"

"One moment...there's...I think a few million dead cells scattered all over his brain."

"Just a few million dead? Well that's good news," The doctor with the stethoscope commented.

Upon seeing Ran's stare as she let go of Dad's head and turned off her glowing eyes, the doctor sighed and explained to us that there were tens of billions of neurons cells in the human brain. Which most likely meant that the effect of a few million dead cells in Dad's brain would only be mild.

Before Mom was able to give a sigh of relief, the other doctor detailed what mild would look like. It meant Dad might have gaps with his memories, he might forget a few skills both common and uncommon, his personality might be different from before, he might have poor control over his impulses, and maybe even dementia...whatever dementia meant.

"But my husband will be alive and talking and walking, right?"

"We'll be sure after he wakes up. When he does, call for us. In the meantime, find something to cover him up because we need to dispose of these clothes. They're still contaminated by the poison gas," the doctor with the stethoscope said as he gathered up the medicine vials from the forest floor and put them back into first aid kits, helped by his fellow doctor and the nurses who were watching the operation.

Within a minute they finished packing up and walked over crunching dead leaves and past still staring onlookers to wherever the temporary comand post was, carrying with them Dad's clothes wrapped in a plastic bag they brought out of nowhere.

As soon as they were obscured by the trees and the people Mom and I displaced Krauncha and Ran from their places by Dad's side with different goals in mind. Mom hugged Dad to her chest and whispered comforting words, and I looked around for something to cover Dad's nakedness.

Within moments, I gave up and turned to Ran.

"Ran, can I ask you to create something to cover Dad? Please?"

"Cover?" Ran asked with a blink and a turn of the head. The next moment she squeaked and turned away with a blush on her face.

"Oh, first time seeing a man naked?" Krauncha teased the young inari.

"Shut up!" Ran blurted out as she covered her face with her hands.

"Ran, can you make some clothes?"

"...is a towel good?" Ran shyly muttered from behind her hands.

"Make it two long and fluffy towels," Magdalena said as she walked into place beside us. "That way we could cover Hayato from the armpits down to his calves. And Yuki?"



I barely had a moment to stare at the grinning Filipino woman for the word that came out of nowhere when Mom replied by giving Magdalena the middle finger and beaming a smug smile at her, without concern about all the strangers who were slow to stop staring at my family and the inari twins.

"Ran? Towels," I repeated.

Amidst Krauncha's snickers, Ran quickly dumped the two towels into my arms and then ran off towards her sister, teacher, my wife and daughter who were grouped together some meters away from us and still staring.

"Mom, Mother, can we cover Dad up now? We got a lot of stares coming our way."

By the time we finished wrapping Dad in the towels, most of the onlooking patients and nurses had thankfully stopped looking at us. Instead they were focusing their attention on...

"Damn it. What now?" I asked as I beheld an angry Major Suzumoto striding towards us, tailed by three smug ancestors, a frazzled looking Kentaro, and more Self Defense Forces personnel.

"Ichigo, what's your father's diagnosis?" he brusquely asked as he stopped near us and glanced between Dad and me.

"Minor brain damage. Likely won't be able to continue as a member of the Self Defense Forces from now on. We're now thinking of tapping Dad's disability insurance."

Suzumoto and all the Self Defense Forces personnel in hearing range were stunned speechless by my words for a few seconds, in the manner of someone seeing a nightmare...no. Maybe they were seeing a nightmare in the form of Dad, since what happened to him could also happen to them today or in the future.

My ancestor's grins instantly died, replaced by grim looks on their faces. And Kentaro, who had become Dad's close if not best friend since Ao was born, was in denial.

"No, that can't be. Who said that? Is it these magical people? Look, ask the doctors Ichigo. Maybe they got a different opinion."

"The doctors said they will know for sure when Dad wakes up. But they didn't say brain damage was unlikely."

"...fuck," Kentaro hissed in English.

"I'm terribly sorry for what happened to you father Ichigo," Suzumoto finally managed to speak moments after that last word from Kentaro. "I promise I'll do everything in my power to get that insurance released to your family. However, that was not what I came to talk about."

At seeing me nod for him to go on, he suddenly dumped something so unbelievable into my arms that I had to ask him to repeat the whole thing.

Woods around JGSDF Camp Fuji, Sunto District, Shizuoka

May 11, 2013

1:53 P.M.

Ikeda Kurumi

"I said that I would allow them to possess all the weapons they want, in return for subordinating themselves under someone I could trust. And that's you."

As my boyfriend stared at Suzumoto, I took the opportunity to wave my left hand at Krauncha to get his attention. Once I got it, I raised my left hand and the ring I'm holding in my right hand and waggled them together.

After visibly thinking about it, he shrugged and gave me a thumbs up. Taking that as my cue, I slid the ring down my left ring finger while Ichigo and Suzumoto were talking in the background.

An instant later he flinched. That was followed by a horrified stare and five dreadful, whimpered words.

"They said they fixed it."

Many thanks to Atreidestrooper, locki, rm928, and Mjolnir66 for help and information regarding topics in this chapter.

I couldn't have done it without you folks.