Yamato rose slowly through the dark, silent sky surrounding Gaja Island. A single white light issued from the vertical engine nozzle beneath the ship, leaving a beautiful white line in the darkness as Yamato rose far off the surface.
“Advancing to 18,000…”
“Ready for Earth escape!”
“Escape angle, silver road 43 degrees. Adjusting angle.”
“Rocket engine ready to start!”
“One minute to Earth escape, all hands reconfirm!”
Yamato’s first bridge was thick with anticipation. With their long-awaited departure at hand, there was little wonder all 120 crew members were unusually excited.
“This is main radar, this is main radar!!”
When the digital timer showed 30 seconds since launch, the voice from the radar operator suddenly rang through the bridge.
“…Abnormal situation! Abnormal situation!!”
At the same time, Okita lifted the launch preparation posture. His voice jumped toward the radar, located at the front of the bridge.
“What is it? Main radar operator, keep calm and report!”
“Y-yes! There’s a strange shadow on the main radar. Its position is on the silver road, 43 degrees forward at approximately 50,000 km. It’s directly ahead of the ship!”
“All right! Put it on the video panel, quickly!”
Instantly, a faint point appeared on the video panel at the upper front of the bridge.
At that command from Okita, the picture expanded across the panel. It was unquestionably the enemy, a fleet from planet Gamilas. Even faced with this, Okita still muttered fearlessly.
“We’ve been found again…I at least wanted to escape the solar system safely, but…”
“Captain! Do we take the initiative and attack from here!?”
Susumu Kodai had already assumed the form of combat leader under Okita.
“No, wait, a poor attack can lead to self-destruction. Let’s watch the enemy’s movement…”
Juuzo Okita knew all too well the terrible power of Gamilas. He couldn’t repeat the defeat of the Mars war. As he saw on the video panel, the enemy force consisted of about a hundred spacecraft.
“…or we could use the warp engine and quickly escape the solar system, captain!”
“We can’t do that.”
It was the voice of Hikozaemon Tokugawa.
“Warp navigation is too dangerous when there is on obstacle in our course. We could do it if we were outside the solar system, but…”
As Tokugawa cast an anxious look toward Okita, the captain finished his sentence.
“…the warp engine hasn’t been tested yet. Its operation is still theoretical and we don’t know what to expect…”
“Then is it possible for us to use the Wave-Motion Gun in combat!?”
At this anxious question from Susumu, Sasuke Sanada answered wryly from his position at the firing gauge.
“Wait a little more. Warp energy should reach 100% in another thirty minutes, then we’ll get an immediate answer…”
As the anxiety in the air increased even more, the radar operator gave another cry.
“Captain! The enemy has begun to move. They’re coming toward us!”
Indeed, the image on the video panel was changing slightly.
Juuzo Okita stared at the enemy ships on the panel, muttering to himself.
“Thirty more minutes…”
At a thought, he suddenly rose and began walking toward Daisuke Shima’s subcontrol box.
“Shima, change course quickly!”
“Yes, captain! What’s our objective?”
“Hmm…the asteroid belt.”
Surprised, Daisuke Shima shifted his gaze from Okita to an equally confused Susumu.
The asteroid belt, a band of small rocky bodies between Mars and Jupiter, most of which were less than 100 km in diameter.
“Captain! The asteroid belt is dangerous. We may be able to hide from enemy sight, but on the other hand we won’t be able to move freely. And if we get surrounded, there will be no escape!”
“Never mind! This is a delaying action. And if all goes well, we may put an interesting plan into motion. Set course for the asteroid belt, quickly!”
There was uncertainty in Shima’s reply. But the enemy was closing in. There was no other way. Yamato’s bow turned heavily.
“Light speed engine stop! Switch to rocket engine!”
10,000 km from the asteroid belt, Yamato’s engines switched over.
“Is the enemy still in pursuit?”
The third radar operator, who kept watch on the rear of the ship, answered Okita’s voice with a tense expression.
“Yes, they’re still following us. Current distance is 20,000 km and closing.”
“5,000 km to asteroid belt!”
Daisuke began measuring the range from his subcontrol box.
“Shut down rocket engine at 1,000 km and coast forward from there!”
The chief pilot responded to Daisuke’s voice.
“Roger! 4,000 km…3,000 km…2,000 km…okay, engine stop!”
Yamato approached a swarm of asteroids on inertial speed.
“500 km to asteroid belt…400 km…300 km…”
“Okay, activate maneuvering engine!”
Yamato slowed rapidly, moving right into the midst of the swarm.
Susumu jumped at Okita’s voice.
“When it looks good, fire a missile into a suitable asteroid and blow it to pieces!”
Susumu rushed out and Okita called to Hikozaemon Tokugawa.
“I’m here, captain.”
“Very well. As I explained earlier, on my signal I want you to magnetize the surface of the ship.”
“Understood. Preparations are complete.”
“Timing is important, so I want you to do it personally.”
“Yes, don’t worry, I’ll act as the switcher.”
Outside, a mass of rock 1,000 meters in diameter floated in front of Yamato.
“Let’s aim for that one. Missile room, are you ready!?”
At Susumu’s voice signal, a missile launched from the bow of the ship.
“It’s heading straight for the rock.”
There was a tremendous flash of light, and the rock mass was dispersed in all directions.
“Shima! Get the ship in between those flying rocks!”
“Now, Mr. Tokugawa!”
The huge body of Yamato was surrounded by a sea of rocks broken up into 10-meter pieces. And then, amazingly, the countless scattered rocks were pulled toward the hull one by one to cover the entire surface of Yamato without leaving a single gap. It was as if it had been transformed into an asteroid.
“It worked. The metallic elements of the rocks reacted to the magnetism on Yamato’s surface.”
Okita nodded with satisfaction and moved to the third radar panel.
“Is the enemy still coming?”
“Yes, 5,000 km and closing…”
“Very well. This time it’s our turn…”
A fearless smile crept across Okita’s face. He slowly walked up behind Daisuke.
“Shima…advance Yamato toward the enemy squadron.”
“Huh? Move toward the enemy?”
“Yes! Advance toward the enemy!”
Covered with rocks, Yamato slowly moved out of the asteroid belt. The Gamilas squadron could already be seen with the naked eye as they approached. Were they suspicious of this strange object? They slowly spread out as if to surround it in a wide circle.
“Tokugawa, at my cue, reverse the magnetism to attack.”
“Right…come on, get closer, Gamilas aliens!”
As if drawn to Okita’s words, the Gamilas squadron finished surrounding the ship like a circling net.
“Now! Reverse the magnetism!”
Instantly, the rocks that covered Yamato were flung off in all directions as they were ejected. Two to three hundred of them flew furiously outward and began slamming into the Gamilas ships. Caught off guard, they were damaged and exploded one after another. About sixty of them escaped the barrage and quickly moved into a battle formation.
“Well, Mr. Sanada, it’s finally your turn. We’ve had ten minutes to build up warp energy, so give them the Wave-Motion Gun dead center!”
“I’ve been waiting, captain. Please watch this!”
No one moved on the first bridge. Finally, the Wave-Motion Gun would be fired. They’d only heard about its capability from Sanada, but not even he truly knew how much destructive power it contained.
“Target, 1,000 km in front of us…”
The officer in charge began making adjustments.
“Wave-Motion Gun conformed to standard!”
Sanada’s finger moved subtly over the firing switch, and Yamato was filled with a strange, warbling tone in a tense wavelength. It stopped suddenly, and an eerie silence returned. It had only been about three seconds, but to the crew it seemed as if time was standing still.
Then, it happened. At that moment, the Gamilas squadron attempted to launch its counterattack on Yamato. But in a split second, they seemed to be heavily distorted and transformed into volcanic ash, scattered into the air by a strong wind.
Susumu was the first to cry out.
Daisuke was heard next.
“Th – that was…!!”
Okita, Tokugawa, and Sanada merely looked from the two of them toward each other silently. Now, half of the warp engine’s effect had proven itself. Their expressions were flushed with the joy of success. A tense voice came through the panel speaker.
“Space fighter Kato here! Is chief Kodai there!?”
Susumu lunged toward the panel mic.
“This is Kodai! Captain Kato, what is it!?”
It was the voice of Saburo Kato, the space combat fighter commander.
“Ah, chief! We’re in our rockets standing by for attack, and we can see a damaged enemy ship floating by. What should we do?”
The attack rockets were housed in a hangar block on the ship’s central flank. It seemed the enemy ship had been damaged by a flying rock and had drifted in close.
“Captain, you heard them. What would you do?”
“Hmm. It’s a chance to investigate the true nature of the enemy. Go out and recover the enemy craft, but be careful!”
Susumu rushed to the hangar block to take command of the recovery operation. Twenty minutes later, he reported to Okita.
“Captain, it’s significant! Several people who seem to be Gamilas aliens have fallen here, but one seems to still be alive!”
At this, Okita bolted upright from the control box.
The alien lay on a bed in the medical office of the life division block. He was tall and slender, wearing a suit made of unknown materials. The people from Earth couldn’t take their eyes off his beautiful, breathtaking face. He was seriously wounded, and his erratic breathing seemed painful.
Standing next to Daisuke, Susumu whispered.
“The planet Gamilas must have an atmosphere like that of Earth. This Gamilas person is fine, even without a helmet…”
“Yes…just like the person from Iscandar who we saw on the moon, this one from Gamilas has really striking features…”
“Yeah. The other men who died on the ship were quite handsome, too.”
“If he was an Earthling, he’d definitely be a star in image movies or 3D TV…”
“Yu-Yuki…I mean, Ms. Mori…”
They both blushed at the same time.
“Thank you, Mr. Kodai. It was an outstanding job.”
“Oh, this prisoner…he didn’t even put up a fight.”
Though Susumu was embarrassed, he attempted to strike a smart-looking pose.
“Right, but to go out and bring him in like that…it was really outstanding.”
Susumu beamed at the compliment, but Daisuke showed no interest.
“If we can get some new information out of this, it will help our future strategy.”
“Yes, it will…”
Daisuke now regretted that he was no longer a space fighter.
Juuzo Okita stood in front of the man from Gamilas and asked direct questions through the voice translator that had previously been used to understand the language of Iscandar. Since the planet Gamilas seemed to have a special relationship with planet Iscandar, it was thought that there would not be big differences in their language.
“Unfortunately, your life isn’t going to last much longer. According the diagnosis of our doctor here, you only have a few more hours…”
At those words from Okita, Sakezo Sado nodded to the alien from the other side of the bed.
“…but we’ll continue to treat you for as long as we can. So won’t you cooperate with us and give us some good answers…?”
However, the alien only opened his large, beautiful eyes and silently looked around at the Earthlings surrounding him.
“Won’t you say something, at least…?”
Suddenly, his lips moved subtly. The Earthlings held their breath and waited for the next move.
Okita instinctively reached forward and touched the alien’s shoulder.
“…ha – hand…that hand…”
Suddenly, the pained voice of the alien began to flow through the translation device.
“…remove that hand…! Don’t touch me, you ugly primitive! You’ve soiled me…!”
The foul, abusive voice bore no resemblance to the beautiful face.
“…you wretches…we are people of Gamilas. Lesser races exist to be our slaves! Stop this useless resistance and bow to Leader Dessler immediately. It’s the only way to save your lives…”
The Earthlings stood in shocked surprise. The alien seemed to be weakening considerably.
“You!” Okita spluttered. “Who is this Dessler!?”
“Call him Leader Dessler…! He is the president of my planet Gamilas, and the almighty God that rules all of space. You wretches…your struggle is in vain…glory to Gamilas and Leader Dessler…!”
The beautiful face of the alien slackened as he stopped breathing. Despite being such a hateful enemy, his death was still a solemn moment. Okita ordered that a funeral be given for the alien, a proper act of an officer even in space.
Thirty minutes later, Juuzo Okita assembled the division chiefs to the meeting room for the first strategy meeting since Yamato’s voyage began.
“As a result of the interrogation of the Gamilas prisoner, we’ve at least confirmed the following information. First, the enemy lives a life of fanatical unity. Second, the leader of the enemy is named ‘Dessler’ and has an enigmatic existence akin to a God, feared by his subordinates. Third, this enemy leader called ‘Dessler’ considers all other life to be inferior and holds them in contempt. He seems to be a madman dictator who believes his own race to be superior to all others in space. And so on…”
After the information was recorded on a memory tape, Sasuke Sanada spoke up in his usual wry tone.
“Maybe he was crazy, and we would have been better off if we’d brought a psychiatrist…”
“Maybe,” Hikozaemon Tokugawa said, “but it could also be that this enemy is even more frightening than we thought. The future is more troubling now…”
“Whatever it has in store, let it come. I’ll give them the same present as I did a little while ago, the Wave-Motion Gun.”
Daisuke and Susumu shared worried looks.
“Either way, Yamato must continue toward planet Iscandar. No matter what happens, we can’t turn back. We have to fight to the last man and bring back a way to rescue Earth.”
With those words, Okita closed the meeting. And as their journey continued into the vastness of space, the deep color of fear was spreading.