The space fleet gathers
At the Republic Federation rocket base on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, a concentration began of space fleets from one country after another. Within about twelve hours, all the space fleets of each country fulfilled their obligations. Even for a state of emergency, it was a surprising amount of speed.
As they approached Mars base an hour later, a young Japanese man visited the control bridge of the fleet command flagship from Japan.
“Commander Okita. Mamoru Kodai reporting!”
The young man struck a stiff pose and cast his fiery gaze directly toward Juuzo Okita.
“Oh, Kodai, I’ve been waiting for you. We finally have a sortie.”
His normally stony expression breaking into a rare smile, Okita offered a seat to the young Mamoru Kodai. Without budging from his pose, Kodai spoke in what seemed like a coughing fit.
“Commander Okita. I came immediately, but why did you ask for me?”
“Kodai, why don’t you sit down before you burst?”
“Aye. But the sortie begins soon. I’d like your answer as soon as possible.”
“Hmm. You put your ship at the forefront. I understand the feeling of wanting to be the first to go at the enemy. You’re recognized worldwide as a space fighter, so of course you’d wish to do so. But Kodai, the magnitude of this battle is unprecedented in history. We may not achieve victory through conventional strategies. After all, we still don’t have a clear grasp of the enemy’s true nature.”
“Well, it’s begun. We are soldiers. Once we enter the battlefield, we must be constantly prepared for death. But a death should not be meaningless. Since I’m the commander, I intend to be careful with the lives of my subordinates. I have new orders for you. Mamoru Kodai, I’m attaching your torpedo boat God Wind to the flagship of Japan as an escort!”
The torpedo boats, which were called the Eagles of the Japanese Defense Force, were known worldwide. Mamoru Kodai, the young captain of God Wind, plainly showed his natural impulsiveness as he pressed Juuzo Okita.
“Commander Okita, those are your orders, but you’ve always prevented me from taking action wherever you could. You dashed my hopes when I applied to scout the enemy five years ago in the Phobos and Deimos dispute, so I decided to stay on duty at home …”
Okita’s usual stony expression didn’t budge as he listened to Kodai’s words.
“I know you were old friends with my dead parents, but surely it can’t be for that reason. But if not that, what other reason could there be? Why? Why do you leave me out in the cold?”
Okita answered calmly in a tone that was all business.
“I’ll only say this once, Kodai. Certainly, I was close to your late parents. But I haven’t given you any special treatment because of that, nor have I excluded you. My treatment of you so far has only been what was necessary to the operation.”
“Kodai! You have your orders, return to your ship immediately and get ready to move out!”
Just after Mamoru Kodai parted from Juuzo Okita, Republic Federation Headquarters received a report that Jupiter base had been annihilated.
(The Phobos and Deimos dispute: In October 214, approximately one thousand soldiers were stationed at Mars base, divided between the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. The case was an uprising against the Republic Federation, which the Japanese Defense Force suppressed and settled in about forty days.)
In ancient times, Mars was called Ares, a star of ill-omen that has continued to trouble peace-loving people. As its name suggested throughout history, it was now becoming history’s greatest battlefield. Special forces from all lands on Earth came into formation, solidified around the reserve forces of the Mars base defense fleet lead by Juuzo Okita.
Juuzo Okita’s fleet, arrayed around the flagship of Japan, was an imposing formation comprising twenty large space battleships, 200 destroyers, and 500 torpedo boats. Under Okita’s command, the first, second, and third blocks of the intercept squadron had already deployed in the sky 10,000 kilometers over Mars base “Pearl Cove.” The Japan flagship floated leisurely with the third block squadron, as if enjoying a peaceful slumber.
However, the atmosphere within its control bridge at the strategy meeting’s round table was crushingly heavy as the battle approached. A bewildered young staff officer asked about the still-unseen enemy.
“Commander. Will the enemy really launch an attack on Mars base? I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t they attack the Earth mainland directly? If their goal really is to invade Earth, don’t you think that would be more efficient…?”
Nodding heavily at the words of the young staff officer, Commander Juuzo Okita spoke in a grave tone as he focused on the faces of his dozen staff members.
“I don’t know, gentlemen, but don’t forget what I’m about to say. Certainly, the true nature of our opponent in this battle is unclear, but they are a fearsome enemy. You must never be caught off-guard. As far as I can see, their strategy has been carefully and skillfully calculated. If I were in a position to invade Earth, I think we would adopt the same kind of attack method. What would you do if the enemy began by directly attacking the Earth mainland?”
Okita stared at the young officer who asked the earlier question.
“Yes…first, after the civilians were moved to an underground base, I’d continue resistance as much as possible. I’d build an attack strategy for both land and sky and contact the fleets stationed at each planetary base. I’d order them to attack from behind in a so-called mousetrap operation.”
The young officer’s eyes brightened as he talked, and Okita nodded with an indulgent smile.
“Hmm. I’d consider the exact same strategy. If that happened, no matter how formidable the enemy, they couldn’t avoid a difficult fight. However, gentlemen, this enemy has avoided such a foolish measure by deploying in quite stunning combat. They’ve aggressively used the orbital bases of the solar system as stepping stones in their invasion, gradually narrowing the ring of attack like a cat cornering a mouse.”
“For example, as a result of what I call this stepping-stone strategy, two-thirds of the military power of Nations A and B has collapsed, and a third of the Republic Federation’s combined army has been wiped out. Is this not a fearsome enemy…? Now they will definitely move against Mars base, and next I think we’ll understand their goal of the Earth mainland. But I’ll say it again, do not be caught off-guard! We have no idea who they are, but I understand that they are more formidable than any we’ve seen so far…”
Juuzo Okita’s words made the air hang even heavier.
“However, the information obtained by Nations A and B gives us a rough prediction of the enemy forces. Now we have three times the military power. Our prospects are not so bleak. However, gentlemen! Victory or defeat in this Mars war will determine the fate of Earth.”
Anxiety over the upcoming battle darkened the expressions of everyone on the staff. And, as if on cue, a strained voice burst out of the speaker panel for fleet contact.
“First block squadron! Contact on the forward radar! It’s the enemy invasion fleet!”
Reports rang in sequence around the control bridge.
“Distance, 75,000 kilometers! We have a visual for the image converter.”
At that moment, a terrible scene was projected on the bridge’s video panel. An enormous number of small spacecraft filled the darkness of space.
“This, this is…!”
Dazzled by the scene, Juuzo Okita groaned involuntarily. It looked to be five times the number of spacecraft that had fought against Nations A and B.
“What is this? The enemy force has increased to match to ours!”
This was an event that completely overturned the basic assumptions of the skilled commander Okita. His hopes of being able to at least meet them with superior numbers had come to nothing.
“Fearsome…a fearsome enemy, after all.”
Confronted with the immeasurable power of the mysterious invaders, his shoulders shuddered with horror.
“This is first block squadron! The enemy is approaching rapidly! Do we have an attack order?”
The sudden shout from the front line returned Okita to his senses. He could not afford to lose time now on fear and hesitation. He quickly stuck out his chest and took the podium in front of the control panel.
“All ships! We will engage, but change Operation 202 to Operation Z immediately! Our strategy is Operation Z! First block squadron, use predetermined offensive immediately!”
“First block squadron! Preparing for Operation Z immediately!”
“Second and third block squadrons, prepare for Operation Z deployment on all sides immediately!”
“Second block squadron! Understood.”
“Third block squadron, roger! Deploying immediately.”
The Operation 202 strategy was based on the assumption that the enemy forces would be outnumbered. Suddenly, it had be changed to Operation Z, which was a surprise attack. The enemy formation was at least twice as large as the Earth side, and Operation Z was a kind of diversionary tactic.
Two large battleships were positioned at the enemy front with thirty cruisers and fifty torpedo boats above and below. After luring the enemy in, they would deploy radially and hit from every direction; an all-or-nothing strike.
A staff officer shook with anxiety as he stood next to Okita.
“Commander! Operation Z could lead to self-destruction if just one step goes wrong. Is this advisable…?”
“Nobody knows. We’re facing an enemy that boasts at least two-to-one numbers over us. Ordinary strategy is completely hopeless. This is all we can do.”
Opeartion Z, the only strategy left, would soon unfold in the darkness of space.
Complete withdrawal of the Earth forces
The battle passed according to Juuzo Okita’s expectations. A large group of the enemy ships formed a cone shape and slowly advanced on his decoy vessels. The scene was breathlessly observed on the flagship’s control bridge.
“Commander! What are your orders?”
“Steady. It’s still too early. We have to get…closer! Keep advancing.”
It was as if the enemy ships were entering the trap willingly. Without any further orders, all ships continued to slowly advance.
“That’s strange,” Okita suddenly muttered. “This is progressing much too smoothly.”
However, the Earth force’s Operation Z was actually succeeding. It seemed Okita’s worries were pointless.
In response to the staff officer’s tense voice, Okita made up his mind and gave instructions.
“That’s it. Second and third block squadrons, move to attack immediately!”
The second squadron was standing by in a wide circle surrounding the enemy as the third squadron was anxiously awaiting Okita’s order. The bold strike began. Maser guns fired countless threads across the darkness of space to be absorbed by the enemy ships at the tip of the conical formation.
The flagship control, bridge was in an uproar from the staff officers’ cheers. A great explosion soon appeared on the video panel screen, presumably from the enemy ships that had been destroyed in sequence.
But far from exploding, the hostile craft that had taken the concentrated attack of the powerful maser guns were still there. Not even the conical formation was disrupted.
All of Okita’s staff officers stood voiceless and petrified at the unbelievable sight.
“This is second block squadron, lead fighter. The enemy ships are unaffected by our attack! It’s incredible…what on Earth happened…?!”
The voice from the attacking squadron was at a loss, reduced to muttering.
“This is third block squadron! We’re continuing our attack as ordered!”
The battle situation began to follow a process that seemed totally reversed. As the Earth forces assaulted them from all sides, the enemy ships seemed to be calmly waiting. As Okita continued staring at the scene in silence, he gradually muttered something that seemed like a vomit of blood.
“Do not proceed!”
The mutter turned into a shout that was almost a scream.
“Second and third block squadrons! Cease the attack immediately and go to full retreat!”
But it was too late. Faced with the strange appearance of the enemy ships not moving an inch, the Earth forces completely lost their composure and continued their reckless attack.
“It’s useless! Our weapons don’t affect the enemy…!”
Their collapse came so soon that it was a symbol of Okita’s sorrowful voice. The enemy ships, which had previously shown no movement, pointed their bows outward so that the conical formation suddenly expanded. As if they had simply been waiting, several hundred bows emitted silent, white light. The warships of the Earth forces dissolved like leaves in a fire.
Around Okita, the staff officers stared at the video panel in utter, desperate surprise.
“Commander! It’s all over. Do we move in for a final charge, too?”
Okita groaned, his eyes held wide open.
“No…contact the remaining ships and Mars base immediately. Order them to retreat to the Earth mainland!”
The young staff officer edged up to Okita almost as if he was ready to pounce.
“Retreat? Commander, do you intend to run away?”
“Repeating the order: all Earth forces carry out total retreat immediately. Give this order to all ships!”
The control bridge went into an uproar, swamped with the withdrawal procedures. The first, second, and third block squadrons were already at the brink of destruction, but the remainders hung on and engaged in what could be called a suicide attack. They had no room to even hear the withdrawal order from the flagship.
Last moments of the God Wind
Inside the Japan flagship’s escort God Wind, it had fallen deadly silent. The commander’s retreat order had just been received. The captain, Mamoru Kodai, sat in the controller’s seat with his gaze burning out into the void.
Two boys stood behind him, just 17 and 18 years old, with fierce looks filled with a sense of justice. One was his younger brother Susumu Kodai. The other was also a space fighter trainee, Susumu’s friend Daisuke Shima. It was unexpected that this battle would end in such complete defeat, or that a flagship escort would face much danger, so the two trainees had been specially permitted to embark on the God Wind.
“Big brother…! Why have we been ordered to retreat?” If you’ll stay and fight, we stay, too. Right, Daisuke?”
“Please, captain! We should fight together!”
Intense rage and deep sorrow swirled together in Mamoru Kodai’s mind. His compatriots had vanished one by one with no ability to resist. Despite the defeat, his chest seemed ready to burst with the desire to charge wildly in and die for Earth.
“Quiet, Susumu! Stop calling me big brother. There are no parents or brothers on the battlefield!”
“Yes, captain…but please…”
Mamoru stood apart from them and spoke coldly.
“First mate, put these two on an emergency escape rocket and launch them for Earth!”
The first mate stepped forward and took the arms of Susumu and Daisuke.
“Captain! I ask you as my older brother. Please let us stay!”
The two shouted as they were dragged toward the escape hatch. Mamoru Kodai’s expression toward them softened for the first time.
“Susumu and Daisuke. Listen carefully. You’ve grown up into full-fledged space fighters, and you still have the important work of defending Earth. Go back to Earth and leave this fight to us. We’re prepared for it!”
“Big brother! You intend to die here! Don’t do it! I’ll be alone with you! I have to stay!”
“Captain! Please let us stay here and die together!”
At the hand of the first mate, the two pleading voices were soon sealed into the rocket.
“Captain, the escape rocket is ready for launch.”
“Then launch it immediately!”
The small rocket was fired from the side of the God Wind and flowed straight toward Earth. Mamoru Kodai watched the shrinking shadow of the rocket that carried his brother.
His childhood memories flashed like the blinking lights of a computer panel.
– Gentle parents.
– The day he applied to be a space fighter over their objections.
– The grief he shared with Susumu over the sudden, accidental death of their parents.
– His confusion on the morning when his younger brother announced that he also wanted to apply as a space fighter.
A few seconds later, such sentiment was interrupted by a transmission from the japan flagship.
“This is commander Okita. Are you there, captain Kodai?!”
“This is Kodai of the God Wind, commander…”
“Kodai! You should have gotten my order. Why aren’t you withdrawing?”
“Commander Okita, we received your order, but the God Wind remains here.”
“What did you say, Kodai? That’s an order! Follow me in retreat!”
“Kodai, listen to me carefully. It would be easy to continue fighting here and be destroyed. I understand your feeling. I’ve already allowed a lot of men to be lost here. My pain will fade away if I die here. If you also die here your suffering will disappear…but who would protect Japan and Earth? We must endure the humiliation of today for the sake of tomorrow. That’s what it is to be a true hero, Kodai!”
“Commander Okita…my decision has not changed. I can’t withdraw with the enemy right in front of me. Please allow me this self-indulgence. You’ve taken care of me for a long time. Please take care of my younger brother. Goodbye…Uncle Okita.”
– Uncle Okita. That had been Mamoru Kodai’s nickname for him as a boy. It had become a nostalgic memory for Okita.
Okita’s shout was surely a cry.
Dozens of vessels from the Earth fleet continued their regretful withdrawal with the huge enemy fleet drifting in space behind them. However, a single torpedo boat flew recklessly into the pack of invaders. It was the last appearance of God Wind, the Eagle of the Japanese Defense Force.[Translator’s note: as you no doubt expect, God Wind is the same ship we know as Yukikaze from all other versions in the story. It was phonetically spelled “God Wind” in the novel text.]