Attack of the Invaders
Earth had been thoroughly cornered. After the planet base battles and the defeat at the Mars war, most of the global military forces had been lost, and it could be said that Earth was no better than naked. However, it still needed protection by all means.
The Republic Federation deployed the Earth Defense Forces to all parts of the world while each country’s government rushed their citizens into underground bases. Earth had already been surrounded by the vast invasion fleet, and small, eerie formations of enemy ships occasionally penetrated the stratosphere as if to probe the state of Earth’s defenses. As they watched the enemy’s shadows moved across radar screens, the defense troops of Earth raised angry voices.
“Why aren’t they attacking?!”
Soon the situation would become much more severe, and there would be no time to raise such a clamor. At the limits of the naked eye, a lone point of black appeared in the corner of a peaceful, cloudless sky and fell quickly toward the ground. The first of these black points had been aimed at South America.
“Enemy missile detected, 15° 45′ south latitude by 47° 55′ west longitude. The enemy is obviously aiming for the center of the global military in Brazilia!”
Deep in the Atlantic, the defense forces’ nuclear submarines were the first to detect the trajectory of the enemy missile and hastily reported it to Republic Federation headquarters.
“Launch ground to air missiles!”
Anti-aircraft missiles rose from the Brazilia garrison to intercept the point of black, but the allied counter-missiles detonated one after another before they could strike the enemy.
“No good,” the Brazilia garrison’s commander shouted. “The enemy missile is protected by a special magnetic field…!”
Dazed, he stared at the approaching black spot and muttered a prayer to God.
Each country’s communication with Republic Federation headquarters was abruptly cut off. As each national military lost its focal point, it automatically reverted to the control of its own government. However, there was no counterattack from the Earth side. Simultaneously with the destruction of Brazilia, an incredible array of missile groups appeared in skies around the world, falling to Earth with the momentum of a rain storm to strike the surface. Scorching steam covered the ground and tore into the atmosphere, completely obliterating all forms into dust.
The attack also struck the waters. Tides surged, sea water boiled, and all living organisms dissolved until every substance was soon evaporated.
The surface of Earth was changed completely. It was impossible to believe that lush, life-giving greenery was once present. In this harsh attack from the invaders, the ground forces were wiped out in an instant and many underground bases collapsed from cave-ins or became uninhabitable pits of searing heat.
The Japan Islands were a baking wilderness as far as the eye could see. Vast schools that once resounded with the cheers of children and streets that once overflowed with vibrance were now mere shadows covered with boiling lava.
The invaders’ attack continued in cycles, as if precisely calculated. There hadn’t been a moment of rest on the first day, but from the second day onward the attacks gradually slowed to once an hour or two. In this way, they went on for a week. Whenever a new missile hit the ground, the terrain changed significantly. It seemed there could be nothing left alive in this chain of islands.
But deep under the burning surface, one underground base was alive and well. The Japanese government had set up in Tokyo Base. Built one thousand meters under Tokyo Bay, it was a huge underground base with a capacity of one million people.
Originally, underground bases such as this one were built in many countries as shelters against a large scale nuclear attack from opposing nations. But who, on any side, could have expected that they would serve as protection from invaders?
At this time, Tokyo Base housed about half a million people. It could never have accommodated the population of 20 million that lived in the Tokyo district alone. Those who hadn’t had time to flee had probably been disintegrated by the scorching missiles.
The political administration block in the center was surrounded by ten residential blocks, with two more devoted to agricultural production and the circulation system necessary to support life. Though small in scale, it was very active. The political block contained the headquarters of the armed forces, which accommodated Commander-in-chief Juuzo Okita and about a thousand ground troops. The space fighter headquarters to which Susumu Kodai and Daisuke Shima belonged had been installed there, despite its personnel being reduced to only a handful.
Contact with the outside world through the micro-antenna of the communication facilities, considered the lifeline of the base, had been completely cut off after one week of heavy enemy attacks. Therefore, the leaders of the government could no longer determine the rest of the world’s situation.
Tokyo Base was essentially a miniature Japanese nation in which life managed to hang on, though filled with despair. As the invaders’ missile bombardment continued with the formidable radiation of a million X-rays, the scientific staff in the political block desperately came to the conclusion that it was equal to roughly 100 hydrogen bombs. Moreover, if this radioactivity persisted, it would gradually permeate the ground and reach the base.
Based on those findings, meetings of the base’s block representatives continued day after day. In one such meeting, representatives of the scientific staff concluded their latest report.
“…Furthermore, as a result of analyzing the radioactivity of the enemy missile warheads, it is presumed that they are using powerful nuclear bombs.”
“As for this radioactivity,” Juuzo Okita asked, “can you calculate how long it will take to penetrate Tokyo base?”
“Unfortunately, Commander, we don’t have firsthand data on nuclear bombs, because only Nation A and Nation B conducted small-scale experiments with them, and there is no data with examples of this radioactivity. I can only guess that it would be horrific, but we’re not at a stage where we can give an accurate answer.”
One of the ministers tried to corner the scientist with expanded logic.
“On the other hand, there is the possibility that it could naturally be absorbed into the ground.”
“No. First of all, that would be impossible. The radioactivity generated from this nuclear bomb has very strong penetration, migrating from one substance to another, similar in theory to a contagion.”
“I see,” Okita said calmly, making a frightening prediction: “That means we will undoubtedly be contaminated by the radioactivity.”
A stir went up from the meeting that could neither be called a scream nor a moan. They had barely escaped from a horrible crisis, but those who escaped to this underground base were on their way to a more miserable death. The government ministers, who supported the body that was now likely to collapse, edged closer to the science staff representative.
“Isn’t there a way to eliminate the radioactivity somehow?”
“There is none. Unfortunately, our enemy has more scientific skill than we do. Even if there was a way, we don’t have sufficient material or human resources. It’s very regrettable, but there’s nothing more we can do!”
The conference room fell as silent as a graveyard. In fact, it was one thousand meters deeper than a graveyard. At that moment, a single soldier rushed into the conference room, running straight over to whisper in the ear of Juuzo Okita.
“Hmm…very well…” Okita nodded and the soldier left. As Okita rose, his expression eased slightly.
“Everyone. It’s just been reported that the enemy attack has suddenly stopped.”
The conference room stirred again.
“What on Earth?”
“Maybe they gave up…”
“No, wouldn’t the enemy come down to land next?”
A faint glimmer of hope was mixed with anxiety.
“Everyone, calm down…” The prime minister, acting as chairman, rose and turned toward the science staff representative.
“I think this report gives us a ray of hope, but with the end of enemy attack, is it possible this could have a lessening effect on the radioactivity?”
The science representative stood up slowly with the same heaviness as the prime minister and sadly shook his head.
“I don’t think it will help us. The ground has already been saturated with more radiation than necessary, so would there be any more need for the enemy to attack?”
“In other words, our fate is unchanged…”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
Deathly silence again filled the conference hall. As if rebelling against this atmosphere, Okito Juuzo rose to his feet.
“No, everyone! You shouldn’t give up just yet. Now that the enemy attack is over, we can at least initiate contact with other countries. First, we’ll collect as much information as we can, then make every possible effort!”
Though Okita’s words were faint, they lit up people’s hearts. Soon afterward, they spread as micro-waves through the dead ground.
“This is Japan, Tokyo base. This is Japan…any country that receives this transmission, respond immediately. This is Japan, Tokyo base…”
The voice from Tokyo base ran through the devastated surface, continuing to seek compatriots in this tragedy. But the base’s expectations were vain. The world was silent.
“Are we alone as the only survivors on Earth?”
Government leaders packed into the communications room, pinning their last hopes on receiving a response, but fell into a disappointed silence. Okita raised his voice against the gathering gloom.
“Continue to transmit. We can’t give up on this!”
But the increasing anxiety was like a dark, bottomless pit.
Decoding the Capsule’s Tape
Ten days had passed since the sudden stop of the invaders’ attack. The onslaught of nuclear missiles had stopped, but Earth was still threatened by the intangible monster of radioactivity. There had been no response to the desperate calls from Tokyo Base, and the last Earthlings were sliding down a slope of certain extinction.
On a day of such despair, Susumu Kodai and Daisuke Shima were summoned to the base’s information bureau. The faces of the assembled ministers, the information officer, and Juuzo Okita, made them nervous.
“Space fighter Susumu Kodai reporting!”
“And Daisuke Shima reporting!”
Under normal conditions, government officials in such a meeting wouldn’t have lavished so much attention on two people. Susumu and Daisuke stood rigid with pale faces. Juuzo Okita spoke first.
“Very well. At ease. You may approach.”
At his direction, the two men proceeded around the large table. Okita suddenly changed his tone and put a hand on Susumu’s shoulder.
“Susumu, still the same?”
“Yes, Uncle…I mean, Commander!”
“Hahaha. That’s right. You’re my subordinate, but old habits die hard.”
Susumu looked up wide-eyed at the boldly laughing Okita, remembering childhood days. The memories of Okita watching him play with his brother Mamoru still remained in his heart. Okita changed his tone again.
“You’ve been called here because this gathering of ministers would like to hear of your encounter on the surface of the moon again. Please explain it in detail.”
Prompted by Okita’s words, Susumu and Daisuke began speaking of their unusual experience in the crater Valley of Hope; the mysterious disc, the beautiful woman who died there, the strange capsule, and so on. Their story ended. The ministers, who had listened intently, directed their gaze to a single point on the table. Sitting there was the capsule, which had been turned over to the information bureau upon returning from the moon.
Susumu spoke up, and Okita nodded back silently. It seemed that this capsule was the only thing that had been brought safely through the ground above that scorched like hell.
“I see. Thank you, that was helpful. Can we hear the decoding of the capsule tape once again?”
“Of course,” the prime minister said.
The information officer placed his finger on the switch of an antique recording machine in front of him.
“As I explained earlier, this tape was collected by these two boys from the surface of the moon, and a recorded message from aliens has been translated…”
In other words, the capsule that Susumu had picked up from the lunar surface contained a recorded message sent to Earth from another planet.
“Then we will start.”
The recording machine was activated, and precise Japanese soon flowed out of it.
Dear friends of space…my name is Starsha of Iscandar. My planet is 148,000 light years from yours, located in the Salezar star system in the Elder Sister Galaxy. Iscandar is the second planet of the Salezar System.
A warning, dear friends. You are being targeted by aliens from Gamilas, a companion planet of my Iscandar. They have already conquered my Elder Sister Galaxy and are coming for the Younger Sister Galaxy with a plan to conquer your solar system.
The Gamilas are a people of violence. They are a terrible race that measures life by fighting. They make full use of advanced scientific weapons and intend to rule over the entire universe. It is not possible for you to overcome Gamilas with your power. You must avoid fighting by all means. If you don’t, it will certainly put you on the path to extinction.
Therefore, I have sent my younger sister Sasha to your planet as a messenger. By all means, Sasha will stand as a force for reconciliation between you and Gamilas. However, if it is already too late and Gamilas has started its invasion, listen to my younger sister for a way to escape the crisis.
By then, your planet could be shrouded in terrible radioactivity. Please listen to my younger sister for the removal method. When the Gamilas invade another planet, their method is almost always to wrap it in radioactivity and wait for it to die naturally. This radioactivity takes approximately 39 orbits. In other words, in 365 of your days, it should completely saturate to 1000 meters underground.
To them, all life on other planets is useless. Therefore, they perform a thorough slaughter. When all life has died out, they begin construction of a base on the planet.
There is no way to survive other than to follow the instructions of my sister Sasha.
I sincerely pray for your peace, my dear friends of space.
I am Starsha of Iscandar.
The meeting room in the information bureau had fallen into an eerie silence. Susumu and Daisuke had also lost their voices in utter amazement.
“That woman was not the enemy…”
In Susumu’s mind, the events on the surface of the moon resurfaced as if they’d happened yesterday. The information officer had a refreshingly cheerful look on his face.
“The message in this capsule included rudimentary vocal codes and mouth-shaped diagrams. Based on them, I recreated the language system of the planet called Iscandar and produced the translation. There might be two or three errors, but I believe the interpretation is mostly correct.”
“Even if the content of the message is true,” the prime minister murmured to no one in particular, “it offers us no salvation. The Iscandarian named Sasha who died on the moon held all the keys, and Earth is already threatened by radioactivity…”
One of the cabinet ministers opened his sleepy eyes and shouted, “Didn’t the message talk about what to do in case this Sasha woman died?!”
“No,” the information officer replied, cringing as if being scolded. “There is nothing else contained in it.”
“Then it’s useless! Every hope has been crushed!”
“They say the aliens from Gamilas are madmen! What can we do against such people?”
“Damn! I can’t believe Earth could die under such conditions! It’s all a dream, some terrible dream!”
The ministers yelled with rage. Juuzo Okita continued staring straight ahead. Before long, the furor subsided and stillness fell over the room again. Okita spoke as if he had been waiting for it.
“I’d like the information officer in charge to do something else…”
“I’d like you to ascertain the correct location of this planet Iscandar, 148,000 light years from Earth in what’s called the Elder Sister Galaxy. At that distance, it must be one of the galaxies we know about. There is a hint in there. There’s a positional relationship between the Elder Sister Galaxy and the Younger Sister Galaxy, and the planet Gamilas is a companion to Iscandar. Could you confirm this as quickly as possible?”
“Yes! We’ll do it. I’ll gather my staff immediately!”
In response to something in the meaning of Okita’s words, the information officer rose tensely and dashed out of the room. The prime minister gave Okita a dubious look.
“Mr. Okita. What do you intend by checking the position of Iscandar?”
The cabinet ministers gazed at Okita with cold eyes, wondering if it was a waste of time.
“Yes, prime minister. There is now only one way for Earth to survive. That is to go to Planet Iscandar, meet this person named Starsha, and learn how to save Earth.”
The cabinet ministers abruptly sputtered with hoarse laughter.
“Hahaha! Okita, it seems you’ve truly gone crazy at last. How on Earth are you going to travel 148,000 light years to another planet?
“Certainly you wouldn’t claim you can fly 148,000 light years in your worn out space battleship? Even if you could, the round trip would take 296,000 years at the speed of light. That’s far too late to save the planet, Okita.”
But the commotion subsided as Okita began to talk calmly.
“Then, I will say to you all, Planet Iscandar is certainly far away. No, it’s very far. But how could the aliens from Gamilas and the disc of the woman called Sasha come to Earth…?”
“It was stated in the message just a moment ago, it’s because their scientific power is greatly advanced.”
“Yes, it is. That’s right. Therefore, we have to learn it from them.”
“What’s that? Are you seriously thinking such a foolish thing?”
“Yes, I’m serious. The disc found by Mr. Kodai should still be on the moon…”
The prime minister shouted as he sprang to his feet.
“I see! You mean to prize navigation secrets out of the disc, Mr. Okita!”
“That’s right, prime minister. Certainly this plan will be haunted by various difficulties. Can we carry out covert action for a month without being discovered by the enemy? Can we truly understand the disc’s engine with our knowledge? However, this is the only way. To make a round trip of 148,000 light years and back in one year, we have no choice but to carry out this plan.”
The ironic smiles of the cabinet ministers faded and the room was suddenly wrapped in a hot atmosphere.
“But there’s one problem,” the prime minister said. “Even if all that work is carried out, what could anyone use to fly away from Earth? Our military doesn’t have a single proper spaceship any more. On a long voyage, it would surely come under fire from Gamilas. Where on Earth could we find an invincible spacecraft that could endure it, Okita?”
“Prime minister. Surely my one-in-a-hundred plan could be called a desperate one. But I know there’s still a chance even if it is one in a hundred. Please, won’t you just leave this all to me?”
There was no one laughing at Okita now. On the contrary, it now seemed as if Juuzo Okita was the one person who could save Earth.
The intense gaze of both Susumu and Daisuke poured into Okita’s stoic form.