She crushed the doctor's wings and broke them off. She encircled the fuselage, locked her wrists and snapped his plane in two. Ozumi's propeller swept up and smacked his face like a hand. Exhausted and shaking she let her arms fall back on her wings. Out of his wrecked plane his hands moved gently over her icy skin. He felt too stupid to feel, giddy with despair and cold.    
The two airplanes in shambles looked more real as wrecks. Ozumi's hand finally found his coat underneath them. The pocket was empty. They kept clutching each other, but only to stay warm. Ozumi twisted around. He wanted to see the shot that killed him.
Genda got to his feet. The thin gun barrel never wavered from Ozumi's chest. "Just look at him, Toshi. He needs a nursemaid, not a lover. You can't save him now."
Toshi said, "I didn't want him here. He followed me."
Genda's eyes misted with tears. His warrior mask crumpled like paper: "I never lied to you. I showed you my soul." Big tears rolled down Genda's cheeks but his face twisted in a savage, lopsided grin.   

"It was stupid and weak to believe you, Toshi. That you could ever love me. That you could ever come with me."
Ozumi's teeth rattled and his body shook, bone and tissue pitched to a whine. Toshi sank to her knees. Her head was bowed before Genda. From behind he couldn't tell if it was submission or defiance. Slow, slow he watched giant snowflakes come to rest on Genda's eyelashes. He hadn't noticed their long lustrous grace. Snow and the white faces of Noh Theater blurred. Warmth filled him now and it spread urging sleep in a chorus of temple bells. He felt his gun under his leg. His side ached and burned.
Through slitted eyes he watched Genda and the prostrate Toshi. Ozumi clenched and unclenched his numb right hand. It felt as big and dumb as a baseball mitt. As a hand puppet of a bulbous ghost. A tiny throb told him his hand hadn't yet gone dead.  He inched it under his hip, toward the gun. Toshi could do a lot worse than Genda in the peacetime ruin to come.  Certainly she'd be better off with anyone but himself, not that he expected to be around to see the great post-war world in the flesh.
Ozumi's fingers gripped the dart gun and drew it close. The co2 cartridges might work after all. He'd pulled the cocking mechanism and they burned with cold. But he was too far from Genda to get a clear shot; the needles at this range would fan out and hit Toshi and Genda both. And he was so hot! Sweltering now in the toy mangle of the Zero, dumb with hypothermic commands to get undressed in the snow. But he was already undressed. That had been Genda's idea, hadn't it? That was Genda sitting there, and not a tree stump, or a ghost, right?
He couldn't wait any longer. "Genda-san! End this! But please, give me the honor of dying by your sword!"
There was no trace of the alcohol or hate-addled Genda that Ozumi thought he had seen before. Now he was all martial training and Bushido Code, but Toshi fell apart into imploring, helpless moans at Genda's feet. She clutched and hung on Genda's legs just as she had done with Ozumi in what now seemed a long dead past. Genda kicked her away like a troublesome dog. He raised his sword. Toshi hugged his legs again and buried her face between the folds of Genda's coat, nuzzling his crotch with a hypnotic grinding of her shoulders. The sword above him held still enough to reflect a single star in its blade. Genda's eyes squeezed shut and he groaned and the sword trembled. Ozumi almost laughed; good old Toshi! But then Toshi's arm jerked violently and she flew back. Genda bent over with a deep bellow of rage and agony. He staggered past Toshi with his sword held aloft over Ozumi's head. He was weaving and his eyes were unfocused. Ozumi fired. The co2 had a powerful kick. It let out a hissing squeal and the needles sounded a sickening fump as they hit the flesh wall of Genda's face and neck. He dropped the sword and clutched at his belly and then at his throat.  Syrup thick blood drooled through his fingers. He was raining blood and viscera from between his legs. A mess of it hit the snow with a gurgle and a hiss. Then the blood was pouring down the buttons and lapels of his coat; a few lucky darts had torn and severed Genda's carotid artery. He hit the ground on his side. Where had the blood from between his legs come from? Ozumi knew the answer before he rolled over the body and found Toshi's knife buried deep at the end of a long, gaping slash from hip to hip over his groin, spilling out a seppuku's worth of steaming guts into the snow.
Now Ozumi was really burning up. His fingers were frozen to the gun's co2 cartridges. He tried to shake it off but Toshi tore it out of his hand and took a patch of skin with it. She tossed the gun into the trees with a cry of "Idiot!"
She rubbed his arms, shoulders and legs. Her hands were sticky with blood. It was Ozumi's. He'd been shot in the side by the Nambu. The wound was deep. In the cold it had taken its time to bleed out. Now it was a flood. She tore off her coat and dressed him roughly, then grabbed his pants out of the snow, crumpled the ice that was already forming and tugged them fiercely over Ozumi's blue legs, pressing the cloth to staunch the bleeding. Then she rubbed some more, still muttering, "Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!"
Ozumi said, "I should have told you about Dogura Magura. I'm so sorry…"
"I knew all about it. I've always known. How could I not know? I know everything about you, Ozumi-san, but you don't know me at all! Did you really think I could leave you for Genda?"
"But you told him…"
She was dragging him through the snow by his coat. She hissed through bared teeth, "Idiot! I'm an actress!"
"I'm sorry…"
"Shut up!"
Creatures appeared, great goofy yokai and yammering drooling kodama, performing lewd acrobatic parodies of Toshi's stage show all around them. He watched with interest but Toshi didn't seem to see them. Too bad. They finally hooted and farted and drifted away into the trees and he burned again in the cold. A chestnut tree. Three poplar trees. A spruce tree. Then two more spruce trees. Then a miniature forest of spruce and pine and ginko covering the bottom of the hill. In this tiny forest was the hatch leading back to Nara 77. She was going to make it, at least. Secret foxes and rabbits with X-Ray eyes watched the wind carry pumpkin seeds and potato sprouts, flowers and ash and snowflakes aloft while tiny bent women swept a path for them with enormous brooms. There was the clap of wooden geta, the voices of women talking as they chopped frozen water in barrels. Someone had lit the candles of Shinto snow lanterns all along the ridge.
Toshi's voice above him gasped, "Idiot! Idiot!" as she tugged him farther through the snow. Warmth covered him. She would be all right. She'd join up with the others and get safely away. Behind her voice was a purring hum, rising to a whine, then a roar--that special sweet-tooled song of the Zero engine, engines, thousands of them, sending an oscillating moan up through the ground like a trumpeting call to the stars.
He hung on for a time, then opened his hands, and dropped. Swarms of toy airplanes passed him as he fell. The brush of their wings was almost tender, like butterflies or falling blossoms.

by Greg Williard continued...