Chapter 2: Desperate Struggle of Mimas

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General Grudai

Nation A’s Saturn base shone brilliantly on the surface of Mimas. This was one of the ten moons of Saturn, a planet particularly blessed with diverse environments, and the base personnel were proud of the beautiful landscape. The massive figure of Saturn with its many striped patterns floating on the horizon behind the sheer, sharp mountains of Mimas looked to any spectator like a piece of fine art. Three rings consisting of ice grains surrounded Saturn at its equator, giving it a proud, unique majesty.

In the peaceful sky above Mimas, the space fleet of Nation A had begun to gather one after another. A huge space battleship surrounded by cruisers and destroyers was anchored 100 kilometers over the base while the resident military units on the ground finished setting anti-air defenses in place. They eagerly awaited the arrival of the invaders with a spirit of certain victory.

On the flagship’s bridge, a strategy meeting had already begun, lead by General Grudai, who commanded the entire army of Nation A. When it finished, the general’s message was transmitted to all the officers and troops. Nation A’s honor and prestige weighed heavily on the general’s shoulders. The success or failure of Saturn base’s defenses would decide the significance of Nation A on Earth. The “battle theme” faced by the leaders of Nation A was to avenge the humiliation of Neptune base’s defeat and demonstrate their prowess to Nation B.

Nation A still foolishly believed that their true enemy was not the mysterious invaders, but Nation B, the brotherhood of Earthlings with whom they shared a planet. Nation B held the exact same belief, not thinking the situation to be very serious. But they would all soon know how serious the situation really was from the depths of hell.

Just after General Grudai finished transmitting his message in a righteous pose, a shadow crossed into the Mimas base’s radar network. Young radar personnel watched, frozen, as block spots flooded across the radar scope. They quickly raised their voices in what sounded like a scream.

“Radar sighting! Position is in the direction of 45 degrees, distance approximately 100,000 kilometers!!”

At the same time, the flagship’s control panels started a full rotation and flicked through all the data.

“About 150 enemy craft confirmed…the formation is still growing…”

“Enemy orientation is on the silver orbit, angle zero-nine. Declination 52 degrees, right ascension 23 degrees, 30 minutes.”

“Distance 98,000 kilometers…enemy is holding stationary in space…”

General Grudai felt at a loss as he absorbed the incoming information. Hold this position to intercept the enemy, or mount a bold pre-emptive strike from here? In any case, the expert battle commander had to effectively adopt a third-person perspective.

“Can we capture an image of the enemy on the video scope? I want to see what sort of space vessels we’re dealing with…”

“Sir. The video scope is insufficient at this distance, so unfortunately it’s impossible at present.”

The general listened silently to the adjutant’s reply while gazing out into the void, but before long he raised his voice with confidence.

“All ships move out!”

It seemed the general had boldly determined that this would have a more dramatic effect. Nation A’s fleet moved forward in perfect battle formation. The mysterious invaders remained at a standstill 98,000 kilometers ahead.

The last moments of Nation A’s fleet

With Saturn shining in a pale yellow at its back, Nation A’s space fleet marched majestically forward, believing in victory beyond all doubt. Shortly afterward, the surface of Saturn glittered with a strange light. Before long, that glitter became a line of several lights that formed an arc back toward Mimas. Several seconds later, the tip of that light pierced Mimas base.

An intense, silent flash licked the surface of Mimas, and everything there was gone in an instant. Mimas base, which had been guarded by thousands of ground troops, vanished anticlimactically without a trace.

As if it was a sign, countless flying objects appeared from behind Saturn, rising 185,000 kilometers away. Ironically, it was much brighter than the majestic figure of Nation A’s fleet, and a much more beautiful sight. Eventually, this flying group passed over the collapsed Mimas in a formation to pursue the Nation A fleet.

General Grudai seemed to have fallen into a perfect trap. His space fleet, which had come together with all the concentrated power of Nation A, had been forced to change its formation after tumbling into the enemy’s midst. Too much attention had been focused on the forward enemy spacecraft, and when more were discovered creeping up from the rear, the fleet had been completely caught in the net of the enemy siege.

The adjutant at the video scope raised his voice bitterly.

“General! We’ve been caught in the enemy’s strategy! Please look – we’re completely surrounded!”

The general’s panicked voice was hurled at the computer staff.

“Calculate an escape orbit, quickly!”

The computer churned and a digital panel flickered.

“General! From our present location, the escape trajectory is at angle zero-four to zero-five on the silver orbit. That will get us clear of the enemy’s air superiority…”

“Roger. All ships escape immediately in that direction at light speed!”

The inside of the vessel suddenly showed hectic movement.

“…and contact Mimas base, order them to cover us with space missiles!’

However, the voice of the communications chief was struck with despair.

“No use! No response from Mimas base! What could have happened to them?”

“Hold steady! We’ll take the escape orbit course and move to counterattack!”

Soon, the Nation A fleet wrapped itself in formation around General Grudai’s flagship and charged forward. But it would be a journey into hell. The trajectory chosen by the Nation A fleet to escape the enemy siege was in fact a false trail contrived by the enemy.

Shortly after moving out, one of the staff officers shouted out loud.

“There’s something up ahead! Navigator, be aware!”

“Stop light speed engine! Switch to rocket engine…!”

More enemy objects lay in the path of the Nation A fleet, like a dispassionate hawk awaiting its prey.

“Why don’t they attack? What are they waiting for…?”

General Grudai was bewildered by this strange, unprecedented battle.

“It’s not to our advantage to fight in this state. Stay on course for escape. Investigate the objects ahead of us immediately!”

The view unfolded in the video panel control room. Space was filled with strange, spherical objects; countless numbers of them floating close together like blimps.

“What on Earth is this? I’ve never seen anything like it. Dispatch a torpedo boat to investigate, quickly!”

The image of the torpedo boat shortly appeared on the video panel screen. Everyone in the control room held their breath as its report came in.

“Reporting in. I can’t identify the purpose of these objects by observation. But I don’t think it’s possible to continue on this course without removing them. I’ll try and recover one of them for examination…”

“Handle it with extreme caution.”

“Roger.”

On the video panel, the torpedo boat’s magic hand could be seen extending from the side for collection. It reached out and touched one of the spheres. In an instant, a tremendous flash filled the screen. When it subsided and a normal picture returned, the eyes of the viewers were assaulted by the image of the cruelly disintegrated torpedo boat reduced to scrap metal.

“They’re like mines,” the first mate shouted. “They’re space mines! General! We’re rushing into a space minefield!!”

“Damn! It’s a trap! All ships retreat immediately, full speed!!”

But by the time the general noticed this, it was too late. Though the ships fired their retros, it could not suddenly stop their forward momentum. As the hulls of the Nation A fleet creaked intensely, they charged right into the fearsome minefield.

The initial contact with the mines happened with the torpedo boat group. Flashes burst here and there and one by one the ships of the Nation A fleet were drawn into the garden of the devil. The flagship managed to stop just a few kilometers short of the minefield along with a few of its escort ships.

None of the staff officers in the flagship command center could hide their expressions of despair and confusion, including General Grudai. They were now surrounded by the enemy with the minefield waiting on the only escape path.

“General! There’s nothing we can do…please give us an order!”

“Hmm…”

Humiliation boiled deeply in General Grudai’s chest. Most of the elite fleet that was the pride of Nation A had already been lost without firing a shot, and now their fate hung by a thread. The general seemed to slump.

“Our only option is a suicide attack! If we must die, we’ll show the true spirit of Nation A! All ships, follow me!”

The flagship made a mighty turn toward the enemy fleet and began to advance, firing its maser guns. Of course, the escort ships followed. General Grudai was prepared to ram the enemy ships. His pride would not allow him to admit what a miserable rout it had become.

The enemy spacecraft opened up a simultaneous attack, as if to cruelly pluck out Grudai’s last hope. The ships were only small fighter rockets, but their bows glowed with rapid intensity and released heat rays that reached out across space to pierce whatever they touched. The countless rays of light penetrated into the Nation A fleet on its suicidal assault, throwing them off course and drastically slowing their advance.

“Our fleet at Saturn is now in total ruin…! Glory to Nation A…farewell, Earth…”

Soon after these last words were sent to Earth, the Nation A space fleet was destroyed, literally vanishing without a trace.

Establishment of the Earth Defense Force

With the collapse of Mimas base, the entire world was thrown into a panic over the defeat of the Nation A fleet. Meanwhile, the Nation B space fleet continued its own desperate battle at Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. As soon as the now-lost Nation A fleet had confirmed the enemy’s presence, they sent as much information as they could to Nation B, which allowed them to work out a strategy to some degree.

The Nation B fleet dogged the enemy persistently, but judging from the combat data their defeat was only a matter of time.

The wave of panic swept over the world. As peace and order began to break down in some places, two Japanese men moved throughout the world with calm expressions. One was Japan’s representative to the Republic Federation, the other a taciturn physicist. As information flowed in from Ganymede base and the signs of imminent defeat mounted, these two appeared at the Republic Federation Headquarters building in Brazilia and headed straight for the chairman’s office.

“Chairman. We’ve just returned.”

He kicked back his chair as his voice rose to greet them.

“Mr. representative! We’ve been waiting for you…were you successful?”

“Yes, you can be pleased. We’ve managed to put it together.”

“Is that so! That’s very good…”

“Before we talk,” the Japan representative said, “I want to introduce someone.”

The chairman’s gaze shifted to the physicist standing toward the back.

“This is a physicist and the commanding officer of the defense force. Mr. Juuzo Okita.”

As the physicist was introduced, an iron will exuded from deep inside his eyes and he nodded his head calmly.

“I am Okita. I thank you, honorable Mr. chairman.”

“Ah, Mister Okita…!”

The chairman returned Juuzo Okita’s smile with reverence.

“I believe you published a paper about twenty years ago. The title was Human Life and Death in Space, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. An embarrassing work.”

“Nonsense! I still haven’t forgotten the impression it made on me, even now. I still admire the sharpness of your ideas about life and death in space from the field of human bio-physics.”

“You honor me, sir.”

“I must say, I’m happy to meet you here.”

The two men kept their smiles as they exchanged a firm handshake. Watching them, the Japanese representative spoke joyfully.

“Mr. Chairman, it’s convenient that you know of Mr. Okita. In regards to establishing an Earth Defense Force as we discussed earlier, we have obtained full-scale international support. The issue of choosing a commander-in-chief has been problematic, but Mr. Chairman…I’d forgotten that a great hero lived in my own Japan…”

The representative’s expression beamed with pride as he rested a hand on Juuzo Okita’s solid shoulder. The previous meeting between the chairman and the representative in this same room when Earth met its first crisis was still fresh in their minds. Then, these two politicians had discussed the realization of a grand vision: a global, unified body called the Earth Defense Force.

The nations of the world had hoped for eternal peace for hundreds of years, but history had become an endless conflict of power vs. power. About a hundred years earlier, an organization had also worked to unify the world under the name United Nations. Other institutions, such as the current Republic Federation, were also founded with this goal, but as the opposition of Nations A and B had demonstrated, the effort was only partially successful.

With the sudden destruction of Pluto base, the existence of a common enemy of all human beings was becoming clear.

These two politicians had dedicated their lives to the unification of Earth, and it was natural for them to believe there was now a reasonable chance for it to happen. To begin strengthening the existing republic, they had consulted with each country. With a life-or-death emergency so close at hand, not a single country opposed their plan, and they had all promised their full cooperation. The framework for humanity’s long-held dream of global unification was completed.

“I see,” the chairman said with brightening eyes. “Mr. Okita is ideal for this position.”

“Yes. He has already been endorsed by all the world leaders. If we have your agreement I will appoint Juuzo Okita as the supreme commander of the Unified Earth Army and a campaign will begin immediately.”

It was indeed an emergency. After the destruction of Pluto base, the mysterious invaders had proceeded to attack the bases at Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter. They were now steadily approaching Earth.

“Judging from their movements so far, Earth is clearly the enemy’s objective. They began their invasion from outside the solar system and used these stepping stones with the intention of making Earth vulnerable for their final slash. And, in fact, we are growing more vulnerable to this terrible, terrible enemy…”

The representative from Japan cried out with anger and despair as he described the fragility of Earth.

“It’s only a matter of time before the collapse of Jupiter base under the defense of Nation B. The enemy will certainly aim for Mars base next…”

The representative drew a deep breath as he glanced at the faces of Juuzo Okita and the chairman.

“…And the defense of Mars base will probably determine the fate of Earth. Mars is now Earth’s last fortress, the only one we have left.”

The chairman nodded heavily at the words of the representative and grasped Juuzo Okita’s hand.

“All those of Earth have fully entrusted you. Please protect Mars base, Earth, and all of humankind!”

Juuzo Okita gripped the chairman’s hand just as strongly.

“Mr. Chairman, I’m only an ordinary man. Therefore, I cannot predict the result of the war. Only God knows if it will end in victory or defeat. However, I promise you that I will defend the Earth with all the power at my command.”

Continue to Chapter 3

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