Choosing the crew staff
In a room at Tokyo base, Susumu and Daisuke faced each other and sat down in utter amazement. They opened a sheet of paper on the desk between them and fastened their gaze on it.
“I was surprised…”
After Susumu muttered this, Daisuke answered in kind.
“Yeah…I can’t believe we’ve been given such an important responsibility…”
They both recalled what Okita had told them earlier.
“The officer in charge of each respective division is shown here. I decided that you two in particular, as the last surviving space fighters, will each lead an important division. I want you to do your best. After you gather your staff, assign each of them to a section. Regarding the officer in charge of the Life Division, I’m relying on the prime minister for a candidate who will appear before you soon.”
Susumu and Daisuke had looked at each other, flushed with excitement.
“Right, we’ll do it! Gamilas better look out for us! Daisuke, let’s do our best!”
“Yes…but this is a lot of responsibility. Do you think it will be all right?”
“What are you talking about? This is our chance to get revenge for my brother and all the space fighters. The fate of Earth rests on our efforts. We were born to be men, and this is the best work we could ever do!”
“Yes…that reminds me of the member of the science staff named Sanada, who invented that awesome weapon…I wonder if we can turn it on the space ships of Gamilas?”
“Obviously we will! Commander Okita says so. It must be a tremendous weapon.”
The prospect of taking a journey into distant space caused courage to bubble up in their chests, along with a faint swirl of anxiety. They were abruptly pulled back to reality as a speaker resounded in the base.
“Space fighters Susumu Kodai and Daisuke Shima. Report to the prime minister’s official residence in the central block as soon as possible.”
It repeated: “Space fighters…”
The air car arrived at the central block in about three minutes. The two men hurried to the room without speaking and stood before the prime minister with serious looks.
“Honorable prime minister. I am space fighter Kodai.”
“Likewise, I am Daisuke Shima.”
“Kodai. Shima. You’ve been through a lot. How is the formation of Yamato’s crew going?”
“Yes, we’re almost finished. After that, the staff for the Life Division should be decided.”
“Hmm. In fact, I called you here about the human resources for the Life Division.”
“We heard some information from Commander Okita about it just a little while ago.”
“Right. I was asked by Okita to look for candidates, but I haven’t been able to find such talent. Managing a large number of human lives over a long term is important work…”
Susumu raised an anxious voice.
“Uh…does that mean you haven’t found a suitable person for it?”
“No, Kodai, don’t fret about it before you hear me out. Based on my own personal judgment, I want you to take these two…”
The prime minister reached over his desk and touched a switch on his interphone. In a flash, a door opened to the next room and two people appeared. One was an old man dressed in a white coat, and the other was a girl who seemed about the same age as Susumu.
“This man is Sakezo Sado, who has been my personal physician for a long time. And this girl is my granddaughter…Yuki Mori.”
Susumu and Daisuke involuntarily dropped their jaws, staring like fools at the face of the girl named Yuki Mori.
“So similar…” they both murmured in their minds. In their eyes, Yuki Mori’s face was transposed over that of the alien named Sasha who they had seen on the moon, and they were instantly branded as identical. Yuki could have been Sasha herself, right down to the color of her hair and the length of her neck. They could have been twin sisters.
Susumu thought of his visit to the moon and the figure of Sasha of Iscandar, lying enshrined on the sofa with the disc. Sasha, the alien from Iscandar who had traveled across 148,000 lonely light years to save the Earth! The members of the lunar expedition group had given their heartfelt condolences to this tragic heroine and buried her deep underground in her resting place, The Valley of Hope. Suddenly, Sasha had resurrected before Susumu and Daisuke.
“I am Yuki Mori. Thank you in advance.”
“I-I’m Susumu Kodai. Thank you…”
“A-and I’m Daisuke Shima…”
Flustered and embarrassed, the two lowered their heads. Even though they knew Sasha was a different person, the air of mystery around Yuki Mori set their hearts racing like a schoolboy crush.
“As you can see, Yuki is still young. But she has the perfect character and strength for this task. I can guarantee that. As for me, my heart aches to send such a pretty granddaughter out for such dangerous work. But I will not get caught up in such personal feelings now. Yuki, I wish for you to carry out the work on my behalf that will save the Earth…”
The prime minister’s responsibility for his nation did not diminish his love for his grandchild. His love and caring came out in the gentleness of his words.
“…and I can recommend Sakezo Sado as the best-qualified candidate to the manage the health of Yamato’s crew. Even if his name does sound like that of a brewery, he is respected as a doctor worldwide.”
Sakezo Sado stepped forward to support the words of the prime minister.
He held out his hand to Susumu, and his breath smelled of liquor.
“I’m Sakezo Sado.”
Susumu winced from the odor, but returned Sado’s handshake.
“Now then, Kodai and Shima, what do you think of my choice of personnel?”
Susumu glanced at Shima and answered without hesitation.
“Thank you very much, prime minister! We certainly accept Yuki Mori and Sakezo Sado as the staff of Battleship Yamato’s Life Division!”
This completed the selection of Yamato’s staff officers. Now there was just the remodeling of Yamato, but although Susumu and Daisuke were relieved, another problem still remained.
Republic Federation Headquarters
One week had passed since Yamato’s remodeling began. The desperate work continued day and night at the Gaja Island underground dock, and Yamato’s appearance had already changed completely.
The powerful warp engine had been installed by the efforts of Hikozaemon Tokugawa, Sasuke Sanada had worked around the clock without rest on the offensive and defensive weapons alike, and the sensor network was nearly 90% complete. For the past two days, crew members embarked one by one from Tokyo base. Of the 120 who had been chosen, 100 had already gathered.
However, Juuzo Okita was troubled. Though the time of departure was imminent, a report on Iscandar’s position had yet to arrive. He had prodded Tokyo base with countless telegrams, but a definitive answer hadn’t yet been obtained from the intelligence staff. No matter how well Yamato was prepared, it would be meaningless if they didn’t know where they were going.
Juuzo Okita spent his time alone in irritation. The event that was the cause of his worry happened on the next day. It was early in the morning of February 28, 2199. Juuzo Okita was roused by an urgent report from Tokyo base. He stood before the receiver and shook the heaviness from his head. His eyes widened at the call from the base.
“Commander Okita! Commander Okita! This is Tokyo base calling! We’ve received a call for you from the communications chief at Republic Federation Headquarters in Brazilia. Can we transmit it directly to you!?”
A moment passed, then the color returned to Juuzo Okita’s face. He had already given up wondering if anyone else in the world had survived, and now it was evident that Republic Federation Headquarters, the cornerstone of Earth itself, was safe.
“I’m ready,” Okita shouted instinctively. “Put Federation Headquarters through right away!!”
With that, an earsplitting noise sounded through the receiver, then the clearly-spoken Japanese of the communications chief.
“This is Republic Federation Headquarters, special underground base…Mr. Okita, Mr. Juuzo Okita, are you receiving us…?”
As soon as he heard it, Okita uttered a shriek.
“It’s you, Goda! Kenkichi Goda!!”
“Ah, Okita! It’s me, Goda. We both seem to be safe.”
Indeed, it was the voice of Kenkichi Goda, Japan’s representative to the Republic Federation Headquarters.
“Goda…Goda…you’re all right! Why didn’t you contact me sooner?”
“Yes…when the enemy attacked, the headquarters collapsed instantly, and about 100 of us were saved by evacuating into the the underground base. Our communication equipment was damaged, and we just managed to repair it. We were greatly frustrated that we couldn’t send or receive.”
“So that was it…anyway, I’m very happy to hear that you’re safe.”
“Thank you. I just finished speaking with the prime minister at Tokyo Base a short while ago, and he told me how hard you’ve worked for Earth. I never thought after we discovered Yamato that it would be so helpful, but it must have been the divine protection of God.”
“That’s it. Yamato is almost completed as a space battleship, but there’s one more problem before we can launch. The location of the planet Iscandar still remains unconfirmed. This is a critical problem. At this rate, there’s nothing we can do but watch Earth die…!”
“Yes, I heard about that. But surely it must be found soon. If you don’t keep calm, your subordinates will be troubled, too. Keep calm and wait, Okita…”
“Hmm. Thank you for your advice. It’s just as you say. By the way, I have a favor to ask you…”
“Yes, what is it?”
“Once Yamato’s destination is known, we’ll travel the extraordinary distance of 148,000 light years. But as of now, we won’t be able to communicate with Earth during the voyage. We’d already given up on that, but now that I know you’re safe at Federation Headquarters, it’s possible for us to communicate with you and exchange necessary information. Would you build a communications antenna there at headquarters to stay in contact with Yamato?”
“It’s a good idea, indeed. If that happens, it would be possible for us to provide hope to all the survivors on Earth. But what communication method would work over long distance with Earth’s technology?”
“That’s a reasonable question. It’s certainly not possible with present technology. However, my subordinates may get a hint from their energy development of the engine from planet Iscandar. I’ll get the engineers to discuss it and they’ll come up with something. Can you arrange for them to talk with the experts on your side?”
“Yes, understood. There are some excellent engineers here. Contact will be made right away so that this effort can advance.”
“Thank you. Then, Mr. Goda, you and the others wait for me. I hope that I can contact you from space.”
“Yes…we will pray for God’s blessings upon you…”
“Goodbye, Kenkuchi Goda…”
“Goodbye, Juuzo Okita…”
The miraculous contact with Republic Federation headquarters ended. A ray of hope wrapped in iron will once again crossed Juuzo Okita’s expression.
Large Magellanic Constellation
At 5:30 in the evening of that day, a submarine from Tokyo base arrived at the Gaja Island underground dome, and the entire corps of information officers disembarked with looks of unrestrained joy on their faces. The lead officer asked to visit the captain’s room on Yamato right away and sat down with Juuzo Okita while each division chief was summoned.
At last, the information Okita was waiting for had been found; the location of Iscandar.
Soon, those in charge of each division gathered in the captain’s room: Hikozaemon Tokugawa, Sasuke Sanada, Susumu Kodai, Daisuke Shima, Sakezo Sado, and Yuki Mori. The sunken eyes of the information officer told the tale of his long labor.
“Hello, everyone, and commander Okita. You waited a long time, and I’m very sorry. We devoted all the power of the information bureau to the search for Iscandar’s position, and we’re finally able to give you an answer with confidence. I am pleased to report…”
He drew a breath and continued.
“…the clue to Iscandar’s position, a nebula 148,000 light years from Earth, came from the enigmatic names ‘Older Sister Nebula’ and ‘Younger Sister Nebula’ and the fact that Iscandar and Gamilas are binary planets. Therefore, the information bureau decided to examine neighboring galaxies within 148,000 light years of Earth. As you know, the only nebulae at that distance are the Magellanic Clouds. One of the two Magallanic Clouds must contain the Salezar solar system. But which of them is our goal?”
“The expressions ‘Older Sister Nebula’ and ‘Younger Sister Nebula’ became the key to solving the riddle. The nebula containing Iscandar would be called the Older Sister, and the Younger Sister would be nearby. We inferred that the terms were an expression of the size of each nebula. By that reasoning, the ‘Older Sister Nebula’ would be the larger one, which would clearly indicate the Large Magellanic Cloud.
“Next, the question of the Salezar system and the binary planets. Fortunately, within the Large Magellanic Cloud there is only one fixed star at the position of 148,000 light years judging by our surveys. In other words, we have concluded that this star is Salezar.”
“However, unfortunately, it is physically impossible with our present abilities to confirm a binary planet in the Salezar system. We gave it every possible effort, but in the end it wasn’t enough to see both planets Iscandar and Gamilas from Earth. It seems the only remaining method is to go to the Large Magellanic Cloud and explore the Salezar solar system there.”
Space Battleship Yamato’s destination had been decided. Salezar, in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Juuzo Okita took great care with his words to the information officer. He spoke in a low, gentle tone like the calm before the storm.
“Thank you for your hard work. Now it is up to us and Yamato.”
As he looked slowly around at the faces of each division chief, he spoke in a powerful voice.
“It has been decided that Yamato will launch at dawn on March 1st. Each officer in charge will give their division a final inspection and prepare for launch!”
Five minutes to takeoff
Space Battleship Yamato revived at last.
Its massive 329-meter long bulk was equipped with a sub-light-speed engine and a warp engine that was 10,000 times more powerful. To prepare for both offense and defense, Sasake Sanada had armed it with a Wave-Motion Gun at the bow, a total of four gun turrets, and sixteen 1000 mm guns that fired Californium nuclear shells. On the left and right of both the bow and the stern, missiles waited in their racks to be fired at the enemy.
Additionally, an all-purpose space boat and 100 small rocket aircraft were stored inside the vessel along with ten medium-size rocket transports, all waiting to take the field.
Out of the 120 crew members, 60 were placed in a new space fighter organization under Captain Okita and the direct command of Susumu Kodai, mainly devoted to guarding the ship and engaging in combat. The other 60 were assigned to chief navigator Daisuke Shima, engineer Hikozaemon Tokugawa, weapons developer Sasuke Sanada, and Life Division chief Yuki Mori.
All the preparations were completed. And at 4:30am on March 1, the semicircular dome that covered the ceiling of the Gaja Island underground dock opened quietly. There was no light on the surface of the Earth, since the starlight that used to color the sky was hidden by a veil of radiation. The huge body of Space Battleship Yamato looked up at the dark, empty sky without moving.
“Base dome fully open!”
“Engine process check completed!”
“All hands to your stations!”
Within the vessel, each station reported in one after another to the captain’s control box on the first bridge.
“Five minutes to takeoff, start the anti-gravity wave vertical engine.”
Navigation chief Daisuke Shima looked back at Okita from his subcontrol box. Okita nodded silently to Daisuke and soon began speaking into the panel mic for ship-wide broadcasting.
“All hands, we finally begin our voyage. Earth is on the verge of extinction, and the fate of the planet rests on the success or failure of this journey. In order to fulfill this year-long journey, any personal feelings must be set aside. I want you all to cooperate for the brotherhood of Earth. At the same time, as your captain, I wish for you to hear the wish of one Earthling, Juuzo Okita. In the end, I pray for your continuous effort and the divine protection of God.”
Soon, the huge figure of Yamato began to vibrate faintly.