The Samurai Inheritance

The Samurai Inheritance by James Douglas Read Free Book Online

Book: The Samurai Inheritance by James Douglas Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Douglas
Tags: Fiction, General, Suspense, Historical, Thrillers
right hand dangled by the side of the seat, a broken length of thin chain hanging from the wrist. A bloodstained exit wound in the front of the admiral’s dress jacket indicated he’d been hit in the back. Dried blood streaked the right side of his face from a second wound above the eye. Belatedly, Hamasuna realized he hadn’t breathed for more than a minute and he gulped in a mouthful of fetid, fuel-heavy air. His hand reached out slowly to touch the pale neck above the collar, and he flinched as he felt the chill flesh. No sign of a pulse. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, father of the Japanese navy and victor of Pearl Harbor, was dead.
    Hamasuna stepped back and bowed from the waist, pausing for a moment to say a silent prayer. When he finished paying his respects he collected his thoughts, consulted his compass and called his men together.
    ‘Sugino? Check the cockpit for signs of life,’ he ordered. ‘Murayama? Take the point. This way. Back to the road. We will blaze a trail so that we can find our way directly back to the crash site.’
    ‘Is that—’
    ‘Obey orders,’ Hamasuna snarled. ‘You saw a crashed plane. Nothing more. If I hear a single word before the official announcement I will have every one of you transferred to the tiniest fly speck in the Pacific. Understand?’
    ‘ Hai! ’
    As they prepared to leave the clearing he noticed a leather briefcase lying in the thick grass ten feet from Yamamoto’s body. It was old and battered, made of unusual heavy hide, and blackened by fire. He moved to pick it up, but thought better of it. He imagined the wrath of his superiors if he tampered with the scene. More sensible to leave it exactly as he found it. The soldiers filed out of the crash site, hacking a way through the thick jungle.
    Hamasuna waited until they were out of sight, struggling against the instinct that drew him back to the briefcase that had been attached to the admiral’s wrist. Surely one look would not matter? He bent over the scorched leather and reached for the straps. A few minutes later he cast a last dejected glance at Yamamoto’s body and followed his men down the track.
    The Japanese had been gone for only a few minutes when a shadow moved in the bush to the south of the clearing.
    It took another hour for the patrol to return to the main track and they doubled along it until they reached the camouflaged tents and grass huts at Aku. Hamasuna shrugged off his fatigue and ran to the radio hut where he breathlessly ordered the operator to call headquarters at Rabaul. Taking a pencil between shaking fingers he put together a coded message: ‘Found crashed G4M tail no 323 south-west Aku stop No survivors stop Await instructions stop’.
    ‘Send it,’ he snapped. The operator tapped out the unit’s call sign and then the message. He darted apprehensive glances over his shoulder as Hamasuna paced the little hut for twenty minutes waiting for the answer. Without warning the distinctive Morse signal echoed tinnily through the headphones. Hamasuna froze as the operator began writing.
    ‘Well?’
    ‘I must decode it, sir.’
    ‘Then be quick about it.’
    He looked over the man’s shoulder as the words began to form. ‘Secure … crash … site … await … senior … naval … presence …’ There was a pause, as if the sender was awaiting instructions, then: ‘ensure … nothing … moved … stop’.
    ‘Acknowledge.’ Hamasuna threw the order over his shoulder as he darted out of the door already shouting for his men to reform with enough rations for three days. He left one man as guide for the ‘senior naval presence’ and hurried the rest back to the crashed plane.
    As he made his way through the jungle for the third time that day, Lieutenant Hamasuna felt a griping in his guts that had nothing to do with the fact that all he’d eaten since breakfast was a handful of rice. Should he have secured the site with ten men and sent two back with the message? No, he was certain

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