Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from?
Originally I’m from Kosai, the lake district. That’s where I grew up. Most of my family lived around there, though I don’t think there’s any of us left there now. But I haven’t been back there since I was a child. I went to university in
Kyoto, and later worked with my father’s lab in . But I’ve lived in Tokyo for the last fifteen years or so. That’s probably the longest I’ve lived anywhere. Virginia
How did you end up in
That’s a really long story. I’m sure it’s not very interesting. I came here with George and my daughter, Emily, for lots of reasons. We left
because it got to be too dangerous for us there, and Michael helped us out when we needed him. We’ve had a place in his family ever since. Japan
Who exactly is Michael? He sounds like a very generous man. How did you first meet him?
Michael was George's friend, and our benefactor. Those two had been together for as long as I’ve known either of them. To an outsider it must have seemed like Michael was George’s employer, and that’s not untrue. But in a deeper sense they were partners. They each owed each other so much, the depth of their mutual indebtedness, it goes beyond friendship. I suppose it is what family ought to mean. Michael is like family to us, and I know he thinks of us in the same way.
I first met both of them about twenty years ago, when I was working in my father’s lab in
. He was involved in some bio-weapons research, which inevitably drew the attention of some very dangerous people, and some very secretive government organizations. Michael and George were there like all the rest of the gaijin, trying to ferret out whatever we were up to. But somehow they were different from all the rest. It’s hard to describe how I knew I could trust them. Maybe it was just something in George’s eyes that told me. Tokyo
Well, things started to go really bad, foreign agents broke into the lab and stole a bunch of papers and bio samples. Apparently they tried to abduct my father and me as well. At first the company that owned the labs and funded our project was supportive, but soon enough they began to accuse my father of industrial espionage. He was insulted by the accusation, and irate at the insolence of a few executives of the company. Well, after a good deal of internal turmoil, he took his own life. The consequences for the company, and the executives involved, were severe. They were all forced to resign, one committed suicide, the company turned over any rights to patents that might have come out of our research to the government.
How do Michael and George fit in to this story?
Once the government stepped in and shut down the lab it seemed like there were suspicious foreigners everywhere. Not just Michael and George, but Chinese and Koreans, Russians, all sorts of people. I began to feel very unsafe. It felt like I had become a target once the program had been shut down, and the police did not seem interested in helping me. George and I talked things over. Over the previous year we had become close, we were friends or perhaps even more. In fact, I was pregnant, and given the nature of my father’s research, neither of us thought it was safe for news of this child to become generally known. George and I fled to
Hokkaido, and then to Okinawa, while Michael went to the to set up a new life for all of us. The baby was born in Philippines Okinawa. We met up with Michael again in several months later. Within a year we were living on this magnificent estate he had put together in rural western Hawaii . We spent the next decade and a half there in relative peace and safety. That’s where our daughter grew up, and where she lives to this day. Virginia
What did you do for all those years in
I worked as the cook in Michael’s house. Michael and Andie, his wife, entertained lots of important people there over the years as part of his work. George worked as the chauffeur. But George and Emily and I were really hiding in plain sight. Michael kept us all safe on that estate. As long as the various intelligence agencies that had sought to steal my father’s research thought the project was a dead end we were safe. As soon as that was no longer the case, we were all in very great danger.
It sounds like someone began to think your father’s research wasn’t a dead end.
Yes. I don’t know exactly how that happened, but one day there was an incident and it became clear to Michael and George that someone was interested in finding me again. The next thing I know, they’ve planned out an elaborate escape plan.
What was the incident that set all this in motion?
Emily was attacked at a concert one evening.
She was attacked!? By whom? How old was she when this happened?
Yes, she was attacked. She was seventeen at the time, just a girl out with a boy. Four guys jumped them outside the concert. I only heard about it sometime later. I think maybe George was afraid to tell me about it at first. Maybe he thought I would be too frightened. But he and Michael took it very seriously. They were convinced the attackers were a team of mercenaries hired by people after my father’s research.
A team of mercenaries!? How did Emily manage to get away from them?
You know, that’s a long story in itself. Are you sure you want to hear it?
Absolutely! Please, tell us what you know about the events at the concert.
I don’t really know what happened there. But what I meant to say is that somehow Emily managed to fight them off. You know, she has been studying karate for years, and I’ve always been critical of how much time she gave to it. It’s always seemed to me to be a good hobby, but not a suitable career ambition for a girl. But I guess all that work she put into karate paid off that evening. From what I heard, she fought off the mercenaries. The boy she was out with was pretty useless.
She fought off a team of mercenaries!? How on earth was she able to do that?
I don’t really know what happened that night. But I have seen what she can do. When we were in
, Emily was able to come visit us. While she was there, I got to see up close what her work out regimen was, and it’s pretty amazing. But I wasn’t the only one who noticed her. Michael’s security personnel noticed too. Then one morning two of the toughest guys among them, Jesse and Ethan, who are former Israeli military… well, anyway they watch her training and they ask her if she wants to spar with them. Andie came running into the kitchen to tell me about what was going on down by the beach. The two of us run out onto the back patio, expecting to see the worst. I mean, who knows what we were expecting to see. But what we actually saw was a complete surprise. She was completely dominating these two guys. We actually felt bad for them, for the embarrassment they would suffer if the other security guys got wind of it. But that was the first moment I realized what karate really meant to my daughter. This wasn’t just a hobby for her. It was clearly something much more important than that. From what I saw happen to Jesse and Ethan on the beach that morning, I had a pretty good idea what happened to the mercenaries at the concert. New Zealand
Where did the escape plan take you?
Michael sent Andie and their son, Anthony, to
Naxos right after the concert. The rest of the plan was for the four of us to hide out in northern . The plan required a split second departure, because Michael knew that at least one strike team was on the way to the estate. But at the last minute, George tells Michael that he and Emily will be traveling separately, and that Emily is hiding out up in the woods! You can imagine how upset I was at this news, but we had no time to argue with him about it. So Michael and I left right then. But before George could find Emily the strike teams were there. I don’t know exactly what happened next, but he and Emily ended up having to fight their way out of the estate. They ended up escaping on a motorcycle riding through the forest at top speeds. That’s what Emily told me later. New Mexico
That really sounds like a narrow escape!
Actually, in one sense they didn’t really escape at all. Emily told me that George was wounded when the strike teams first entered the estate. Apparently it didn’t seem to be serious at first. But by the next morning, he was fading fast. He died that day in a small town in
. Emily was with him, and then she was alone. Can you imagine? Pennsylvania
I can’t imagine it at all. What did she do?
Well, Michael and I were expecting them to make their way to
, and George had explained the plan to her before he died. But she decided that she didn’t want to go into hiding with us. She settled things with the local authorities about George’s remains, and then she turned around and went straight back to New Mexico . She insisted on going back to school, right under the noses of the people who had attacked the estate. When she finally contacted us, and explained what had happened and that she was going to stay in Virginia , I was terrified. I could barely breathe. There was nothing I could do to protect my child. I felt so helpless. I practically lived from week to week, waiting for her next phone call, to find out that she was still alive. Virginia
What did you do?
There was nothing I could do! But with each week, I felt a growing sense of how capable my little girl really is. Until finally we were reunited in
at Christmas. That was one of the happiest moments in my life. I had lost George, but I had gotten my daughter back. And when she arrived there, I could see that she was not a little girl anymore. She was a mature, focused woman. I mean, she’s really both. She’s just like her father, a fierce soldier, a protector. But she’s also a high school kid, finding new friends and dreaming of going to college. New Zealand
What’s Emily up to now?
Well, like I said, she’s just an ordinary kid. She goes to school, does her homework, goes to her dojo, goes out with her friends. Andie and I are wondering if she’s planning on going to the prom.
And what are you’re plans for the future?
Well, now that our secrets are all out, I don’t have to pretend to be the cook anymore. Michael found a position for me in the think tank that he currently has a contract with. And now we’re living in
Charlottesville instead of an estate way out in western . Our home life is delightful. Andie and Michael and Anthony, they’re like family to me. And when Emily stops by on the weekends, it’s the most wonderful feeling. I know Andie and I practically share her as a daughter, and Anthony thinks of her as a sister. Virginia
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