Catching the red-tailed object
The small escape rocket followed a precise trajectory for Earth. It was auto-controlled all the way through its approach to Earth territory. No matter how much the two boys inside wished for it to return to its point of origin, the rocket had decided otherwise.
“Susumu…we’ll enter Earth’s territorial airspace in about thirty seconds. Can you do a course correction?”
“Daisuke…when the auto-control device frees up, I want to return to my brother…”
“Me too…but there isn’t enough energy to go back.”
“I know, I understand!”
Susumu was overcome by an unbearable feeling of helplessness. There hadn’t even been enough time to feel the sorrow of parting. His older brother had gone into the jaws of death, disappearing in space along with countless wasted lives.
“Daisuke. What on earth what will happen to us now? And more than that, what will happen to the Earth?”
“Well…I don’t know if it will be ruined, but…”
The clear blue Earth floated ahead of them.
“That beautiful planet that my brother and so many other fighters were happy to die for.”
“Yes. For that planet…even we applied to be space fighters for it.”
“Hey, Daisuke! We’ll return to Earth early. That was my brother’s last wish.”
“Yes, let’s do that…”
The moon appeared, edging up to the Earth below. Suddenly, Daisuke pointed and shouted.
“Eh? Hey, Susumu, what’s that? ”
The object reminded them of a meteor, falling toward the surface of the moon with a red tail behind it.
“A meteorite, or…?”
“No, its rate of descent is too unnatural for a meteorite.”
“Yes. It could be a damaged enemy spacecraft!”
“Let’s check it out, Daisuke! It would be a good souvenir to take back to Earth.”
“Okay, let’s go!”
The rocket carrying them turned gently onto a course for the surface of the moon.
A gift for Earth
The surface of the moon was veiled in eternal silence. Once, humanity’s first space travelers left their footprints there as a memorial. During a temporarily prosperous period at the end of the 21st century, a huge observation base and a town had been constructed. But today it was a desolate place with only computer-controlled instruments.
“Susumu, there it is!”
Having dressed in space suits and armed themselves with laser guns, Susumu and Daisuke looked down into an oval crater known as “Hope Valley.”
In the bottom of the crater, nearly 100 meters below, the form of a dust-covered space ship had fallen into the surface.
“I’ve never seen a spaceship like that.”
“It is an enemy ship, after all!”
The two men slowly made their way down the crater slope with tense expressions. The space ship was disc-shaped, about 25 meters across, and had been brutally destroyed by a broadside hit in its belly.
“It gave out here and made an emergency landing.”
The interior of the ship could be seen through a huge crack in the damaged portion.
“…but the crew couldn’t have survived.”
Susumu stuck his head into the crack for a look, but Daisuke quickly laid a hand on him.
“Susumu, stop! The enemy could still be alive!”
But Susumu had already entered up to his waist, and spoke in a strangely dull voice.
“Daisuke…this is a surprise!”
Susumu completely entered the disk.
“Susumu! Don’t be crazy! If the enemy is alive in there…”
Still mumbling and complaining, Daisuke went in after him. When he saw what Susumu had seen, he held his breath in amazement.
In the center of the simple disc, the only accessory was a long, strange shape that looked like a sofa, under which a woman had fallen. The color of her sheer gown was hard to describe, and her hair could only be referred to as a dark green. She laid pitifully on the floor, having breathed her last.
“She was beautiful,” Susumu muttered forlornly. Daisuke croaked in disbelief.
“This is the true nature of the enemy…?”
The woman surely was beautiful. She resembled an Earthling, but had no eyebrows, a long and slender neck, crystal-clear skin, and noble features that invited a beholder into a world of fantasy.
Susumu was at a loss when he looked to Daisuke.
“Daisuke, should we…?”
“Yes. Let’s collect as much information as we can report and get back to Earth.”
Their eyes scanned the interior of the disc again and they quickly started exploring, placing their hands on the walls and floor.
“This is…strange material! Is it metal, or…?”
“Hey, Daisuke, come here!”
Susumu was standing in front of a simple panel.
“What kind of engine does this ship have? This might be a cockpit, but there’s nothing mechanical.”
“Yes, it’s strange…”
“In any case, if this is a space ship of the enemy, we can use it to our advantage in a future battle! Anyway, we don’t know anything about them.”
“Hey, Susumu, let’s just get back to Earth and make our report!”
Daisuke moved hastily toward the exit crack, but Susumu stopped and looked down at the fallen woman.
“Daisuke. I feel sorry for this person. Someone who’s dead is neither an enemy nor an ally.”
Daisuke stopped, too.
“Oh…then why don’t we lay her on the sofa?”
“Yeah, that’s it. Give me a hand.”
They lifted her body as carefully as if it were glassware, and when they laid her quietly on the sofa, something tumbled to the floor.
Daisuke jumped back in surprise, but Susumu picked it up calmly.
“Susumu! Don’t tamper carelessly with something you don’t understand!”
“You’re too cautious, Daisuke. It’s no big deal.”
“Susumu! You should be more cautious, too!”
Susumu held out the strange capsule-shaped object toward Daisuke.
“All right. Still, what is this? It doesn’t seem dangerous…”
“Fine, let’s take it back just in case, Now, let’s hurry!”
They launched away from the lunar surface, leaving only the mysterious disc behind in the unbearable loneliness of the crater named “Hope Valley.”