Book 2, Chapter 1: The First Fierce Battle

Gamilas Army officers meeting

In space overlooking the sparse, shining stars at the edge of the galaxy, a huge alien spaceship was docked. Around the bagworm-shaped mothership were forty to fifty medium-size vessels surrounding it like soldier bees protecting their queen. At first glance, their appearance was reminiscent of a derelict drifting in a great vacuum of death, but hot air swirled in an uproar around the command module of the mother ship.

Dessler, leader of the Gamilas, sat in the center and a dozen Gamilas military leaders stood in a circle, one of them standing rigidly at attention while he shouted.

“Leader Dessler. The Gamilas Army Corp Commander and staff officers who lost the enemy battleship have taken responsibility and committed suicide. For ten thousand troops to surround just one ship and allow it to escape before their very eyes is evidence of their insufficient loyalty to you!”

Another officer rose.

“Still, it is strange…that planet should not yet have sufficient scientific might for interstellar travel.”

“However, the reality is that a space jump engine has been installed in that incredible battleship to travel between fixed stars, and the main battery installed in its bow is surprisingly powerful.”

“Also, I find it very difficult to understand why they left their suffering planet to jump out into space. To continue their race through emigration is too haphazard a move. Anyway, it would behoove us to destroy that battleship as soon as possible!”

The officers’ debate continued without end. As Leader Dessler listened, his handsome, statuesque expression did not budge an inch. All the officers had beautiful faces that seemed to come from a painting, but their features were uniform with little individuality. The exceptionally handsome Dessler stood out from them by far.

“Quiet, everyone!”

Dessler suddenly rose, opening both hands broadly to quiet the officers.

“I grow bored here, listening to your nonsense. Why do you make such noise about a single battleship from a planet on the brink of ruin? Nothing is impossible with the power of my Gamilas. That planet will soon be a thing of the past. You should stop this unsightly uproar. If you are so worried, disperse the army across the universe to search every corner.”

At Dessler’s dignified words, the officers prostrated themselves on the floor all at once.

The Mystery of
Captain Harlock

Carrying the fate of Earth, Space Battleship Yamato advanced through the great, dark vacuum. Bundles of photon jets shone brightly, pointing backward from the huge main nozzle on the stern, seeming to symbolize the faint hope of Earth in the death of space.

“Wave-Motion Gun energy charge completed…!”

“Switching energy circuits to connect to the warp engine!”

“Roger! Connection completed!”

“One hour to scheduled warp navigation!”

“Right! The ship will proceed at 90% light speed for the next hour. Check each radar to reconfirm and correct our course!”

“Roger!”

Yamato’s first bridge overflowed with a tense atmosphere in which no amount of carelessness was permitted. One month ago, the ship had been surrounded by a massive Gamilas army and had nearly reached a point of giving up when the mysterious sailboat-type space ship Phantom appeared and they were rescued by someone calling himself Captain Harlock. Since then, the voyage had continued without incident, but a state of high alert was maintained so that an unexpected moment of carelessness would not leave them vulnerable to the continuing threat of Gamilas.

Yamato was already in a position about 30,000 light years from the solar system on the way to the Large Magellanic Cloud. From behind Captain Juuzo Okita, Chief Engineer Hikozaemon Tokugawa called out from where he sat in his control box.

“Captain. With things as they are, I see no reason we shouldn’t be able to reach Iscandar safely.”

“Hmm. We can’t get careless. I can’t help but think that this month of quiet sailing is very strange. People as relentless as the Gamilas couldn’t simply watch the action of Yamato in silence. I’m certain they must attack some time soon…”

“It was dangerous that time,” Susumu Kodai said. “We didn’t anticipate that such a large battalion could be waiting in ambush. We found that the Gamilas are an even more terrible enemy than we imagined.”

“That’s enough…”

As Susumu’s words drifted across the bridge, they seemed to revive the tension of narrowly escaping that crisis into the black hole.

“Captain Harlock…who on Earth is he?”

Daisuke Shima looked back from in front of the main panel and expressed an idea.

“Maybe he was someone dispatched from Planet Iscandar to protect us.”

“Hmm…in any case, there seems to be no doubt that he’s on our side. If his ship hadn’t appeared at that moment, we would already have vanished into space like seaweed. I’d sure like to meet him some time and give him my sincere thanks.”

“Captain Harlock…who are you, really…?”

Whenever Susumu remembered that moment, hearing the person who introduced himself as Captain Harlock was strangely disturbing. Certainly, one month had passed without incident. But none of the crew on board Yamato were as settled as any of them thought. It was impossible to predict what was in store for them from now on, so these people of Earth all kept equally silent.

Just then, the side elevator to the first bridge opened and Sasuke Sanada jumped out with his face flushed.

“Captain! The equipment for communication with Earth is finally completed!”

When the bridge crew heard this, their expressions all brightened at once, and no wonder. To these wanderers of space, the word “Earth” sounded more beautiful to them than anything else.

At Juuzo Okita’s suggestion, development of communication equipment that would connect Yamato with the Republic Federation headquarters underground base in Brazilia had progressed steadily since the ship had launched. By now, a special antenna should have been built, rising 2,000 meters above the ground above the headquarters on Earth.

Since Yamato was traveling almost 300,000 kilometers per second at sub-light speed, communicating with it via normal radio waves was impossible. Besides, Yamato’s primary navigation was to warp far past the speed of light. Therefore, Sasuke Sanada had the idea to develop a warp communications circuit using the warp engine, which was pushed forward at fever pitch.

Juuzo Okita’s voice bounded toward Sasuke Sanada, its tone of sorrow suddenly gone.

“So you’ve done it! And Earth is…!?”

“Yes…the communication equipment is finished, but actual contact isn’t yet possible…”

“W-why?”

“For a variety of reasons. The energy output may have been miscalculated, or there may be defects in the equipment on the Earth side, and so on.”

“So, then…we still don’t have contact…”

“But captain, it’s only a matter of time before we will. Don’t worry, we’ll soon know the cause.”

“Hmm…carry on, then.”

“Yes.”

Okita seemed to slump with encouragement. The whole crew had been exhausted as one tension gave way to another. Once the ship established contact with Earth, it could begin to restore their courage and strength. As Okita had that thought, his chest tightened with unbearable loneliness and helplessness.

“Captain,” Daisuke Shima called out, “Ten minutes to warp. Please give the preparation order.”

“All right…”

Fighting the pain in his heart, Okita tried to switch on the panel mic to issue an order for warp engine recheck as his body slowly sank into his control box. At the same time, a cry from the main radar operator echoed across the bridge.

“A signal on the main radar! Distance, 150,000 kilometers, angle 22 degrees on the silver road.”

Enemy Blockade

“Light speed engine stop! Activate recoil system!”

As Juuzo Okita shouted his order, Yamato’s huge hull came to a stop with incredible swiftness.

“Radar group, analysis report!”

“Reporting. Signal on the main radar indicates the presence of an enemy squadron, numbering approximately 1,000!”

“Right! Prepare the ship for combat immediately, and all Space Fighters prepare to launch!”

Yamato’s interior became intense, abuzz with movement.

“No movement detected from the enemy squadron. Distance, approximately 130,000 km!”

Susumu listened to the radar operator, muttering suspiciously.

“Strange…they don’t intend to attack?”

“There are a lot of them. Let’s maintain distance and keep an eye on Gamilas’ moves.”

“Captain,” Susumu suddenly shouted, “permission for the Space Fighters to recon the enemy. Please let me take out a scout unit!”

“Hmm…”

Okita brooded on Susumu’s proposal for a moment.

“The Space Fighters haven’t yet experienced actual fighting in space. By all means, please permit a sortie on this occasion!”

As chief of the Space Fighter corps, Susumu had a faint anxiety about combat. They were Space Fighters in name only, a collection of hastily cobbled-together amateurs. Susumu worried about whether or not they truly had what it took to face Gamilas on an equal footing.

Okita made his decision.

“Very well! Kodai, order one platoon of Space Fighters to spy on the enemy, but you will remain here. It would be trouble for a commander to disappear.”

“Y-yes, understood. I will send out one Space Fighter platoon as a scout unit!”

Frustrated that he couldn’t join them, Susumu quickly jumped into the side elevator, bound for the combat boat hangar.

“No movement at all from the enemy,” the radar operator reported.

Okita approached Sasuke Sanada’s position at the Wave-Motion Gun firing station. Sanada had a tense expression.

“Sanada…how are preparations for the Wave-Motion Gun?”

“Yes! It’s ready any time. There’s enough energy to destroy one thousand to two thousand of the Gamilas.”

“I see. Continue standing by.”

Juuzo Okita shifted his sharp eyes toward the panel screen at the front center of the bridge. The distance to the Gamilas squadron was about 130,000 km, still too far for a visual. But Okita saw the brutal alien invaders vividly. He had come to hate the way this unbeatable enemy could force him into any condition they chose. He muttered two words, in which were concealed a fire-breathing intensity.

“Those Gamilas…”

Love Letter

Steadfast and immovable, Space Fighter captain Saburo Kato stood before Susumu Kodai.

“We will now make a sortie to observe the enemy position!”

“Right…I wanted to go with you, but I was overruled by an order. Do your best!”

“Yes, chief! Please leave it to me.”

His heart dancing for his first time in the field, Saburo Kato swiftly moved his muscular body toward a line of ten small combat boats and leaped into the first one. A buzzer sounded from the traffic control room to indicate a launch, and the combat boats accelerated along launch rails to soar out of Yamato’s flank into the darkness, one after another.

Susumu watched his men launch from behind the glass of the traffic control room, then slowly walked out to an empty corridor on his way back to the bridge deck. A voice came from behind him.

“Susumu…”

It was Yuki Mori, director of Yamato’s life section. Suppressing a surge in his heartbeat, Susumu fixed his gaze on her delicate, beautiful face.

“Oh, Yuki…! What are you doing in a place like this…?”

“Uh…actually, I wanted to ask you something…”

“What is it?”

Yuki Mori blushed with embarrassment and lowered her voice.

“I received a letter from someone yesterday…the letter said…it said that they love me.”

“You mean, it was a love letter?”

“Yes…and I’m troubled about it…”

“Outrageous! Who would do such a ridiculous thing?!”

Susumu raised his voice to shout indignantly, but he secretly felt respect for such a courageous act. As beautiful as Yuki Mori was, he didn’t dream that a space man risking his life would give her a love letter.

“It…well…it came from Shima…”

Susumu jumped reflexively at these unexpected words.

“Eh?! It was Daisuke…!!”

Biting his lip, his thoughts darkened. As companions from the same Space Fighter class, he and Daisuke were best friends who could talk plainly and forgive each other for anything, but this was something Susumu didn’t want to know.

Though he didn’t want to hear such a thing, he looked into Yuki Mori’s face reproachfully. If Susumu were in Daisuke’s position, he’d probably feel betrayed by Yuki Mori at this moment and bear a wound of deep humiliation in his heart.

On this journey, an unpredictable crisis could erupt tomorrow. Susumu understood Daisuke’s painful feelings, wishing to at least win the love of a woman. Even more, when the woman was someone like Yuki Mori, Susumu could very likely have felt the same.

“Shima asked me to marry him. I don’t dislike Shima at all, but I’m not in any position to respond on such a thing as love and marriage. I thought about giving him my apology directly…but I’m no good at something like this, and I’m afraid I’d hurt him. So I thought I’d try and ask you, Susumu, as Shima’s best friend…”

While listening to Yuki Mori’s story, Susumu was surprised that Daisuke – normally so cautious, meticulous, and passive in the face of a crisis – would take such bold action.

“Understood,” Susumu said flatly. Out in front of Yamato, the dreadful Gamilas enemy forces were waiting. He had to return to the bridge as soon as possible.

“…I’ll try to speak to him somehow. Daisuke and I are like brothers, I’m sure he’ll understand.”

“Thank you, Susumu…”

Yuki gave him a pleasant smile and turned to trot back to the life group block, but then suddenly stopped and looked back.

“Susumu, I’d be happy if that letter had come from you…”

As she ran off, Susumu stood there in dumb surprise. His body had gone numb as if struck by electricity from Yuki Mori’s last words. But this unexpected task that had just been laid on him conversely feel like he’d been dropped into a dark hole.

Susumu shortly left that spot and turned at a T-junction toward the side elevator that rose to the first bridge. He was about ten meters away from the traffic control office when he let out a cry of surprise.

“Da-Daisuke!”

Shima stood there with a pained expression. Susumu’s voice was heartbroken.

“Daisuke…! You heard that…”

“Yes. I heard. Ms. Mori is a a terrible person. No matter what, she should have turned me down directly. Susumu…I feel really foolish…”

“Daisuke…”

Susumu couldn’t think of anything more to say. While considering Daisuke’s feelings, he thought of his own for Yuki Mori and remembered a deep sense of guilt.

Daisuke suddenly spoke up in a cheerful voice.

“Well, that’s fine. I was turned down, but now it’s just back to normal. By the way, Susumu, you’ll be scolded by the captain if you don’t get back to the bridge quickly.”

Daisuke seemed to be struggling against his own heart and falling deeper into misery, but his words were salvation for Susumu.

“Yes. Aren’t you going back?”

“Yes. I’ll return after I cool down a little.”

“All right, then. I’m going ahead.”

Relieved, Susumu boarded the elevator box and pressed the button for the first bridge.

Great Gamilas Army Forces, Approaching

When Susumu returned to the bridge deck, he was assaulted by Juuzo Okita’s scolding voice.

“Kodai, what have you been doing? The scout unit has contacted us!”

“I’m sorry. A report from the scouting party?”

“Yes. They reported that they’re on approach, 10,000 km from the enemy squadron.”

“10,000 km. That’s a bit close.”

“Hmm. But if we fear danger, we’ll accomplish nothing. We have already sacrificed lives for Earth. Even the scout unit needs to be ready for war.”

Before long, a panel speaker issued a faint noise and a clear voice resounded in the bridge.

“This is Kato, first Space Fighter boat! Our team is now moving forward, 8,000 km from the enemy squadron. I’ll now report the battle formation of the enemy. It’s a big squadron, approximately 1500 combat space craft arranged around two large carriers. We will attempt to approach…”

“Kato, this is Kodai. Don’t overextend yourself. For the time being, just watch for changes in the enemy’s movement. You’re on a scouting mission, not combat.”

“Understood, chief. We’ll observe the ships for a while without approaching any closer.”

Space Fighter Saburo Kato replied breezily, overjoyed that he’d finally been able to sortie, but his tone suddenly became tense.

“Chief…! The enemy has begun to move. About 100 of their combat spacecraft are heading this way rapidly!”

“Kato! This is Okita. We’ll launch reinforcements immediately. Meanwhile, your units should avoid combat as much as possible!”

“Understood, captain! It’s galling, but we’d have no chance with ten against one. We’re breaking off!”

Okita’s orders rang through the bridge.

“Launch two Space Fighter squadrons immediately to intercept the Gamilas forces and cover the scout unit!”

“Space Fighters, roger!”

“Wave-Motion Gun and each gun turret, prepare to take up aggressive stance and stand by!”

“Wave-Motion Gun, ready!”

“First gun turret, roger!”

“Second gun turret, understood!”

“Third gun turret, roger!”

“Also, advance the ship forward by rocket navigation!”

“Rocket engine ignition!”

Responses to Okita came in from one station after another, and the huge figure of Yamato began to move slowly. The Space Fighters took off in sequence from the traffic control room. The launch of two squadrons comprising forty combat boats was heroic in itself. Susumu, watching his men launch from the traffic control room, spoke to the busy operating officers.

“Will my boat be moved onto a launch rail soon, too?”

The officer gazed back at Susumu with a puzzled look.

“Chief Kodai, didn’t you lend your boat to Chief Shima?”

“What did you say!? My boat to Shima?”

“Yes, he said he’d just gotten permission and took off in your combat boat.”

Susumu instantly changed his expression and lunged out of the control room without another word.

Luring Strategy

As Susumu ran into the first bridge, the Space Fighters began a fierce battle outside Yamato. The scouting unit, which had gotten relief from its allies, turned its fire on a Gamilas combat boat and fighting craft from both sides could now be seen in the great vacuum. Susumu shouted as he pointed to the battlefield scene projected on the panel screen.

“Captain! Daisuke Shima is out there using my combat boat!”

“What? Shima…?”

Surprised, Okita looked hard at the screen. Susumu nearly stumbled as he ran toward his control box and shouted close into his panel mic.

“Daisuke! It’s me, Kodai! What are you doing? Daisuke, respond!!”

Soon, Daisuke’s voice sounded through the panel speaker.

“Susumu…it was wrong to take your combat boat. But in the end, it’s good to get back into one after such a long time…”

“Daisuke! Listen carefully before you answer! Why did you do it? It can’t be what just happened that drove you to this?”

“Susumu…if you’re truly my friend, leave me alone with this and don’t say anything more. I…I…I’m sorry, Susumu.”

Okita’s voice erupted in anger.

“Shima! What’s the meaning of this? Aren’t you the navigator responsible for Yamato? Leaving your post and taking such selfish action is a court-martial offense!”

“Captain…please forgive me. But I wanted to do this and it’s been done. Please don’t say any more and let me fight with everything I’ve got.”

“Shima! I can’t permit this! Return immediately!!”

“Captain…I’m sorry. I’m turning off communication. Please take care. Goodbye, Captain…Goodbye Susumu…”

“Shima!”

“Daisuke!”

But the transmission from Daisuke was cut off.

“Captain, if we lose Daisuke it puts all of Earth at risk. I’m going out!”

Unable to sit still, Susumu bolted toward the side elevator. Okita’s voice erupted behind him.

“Wait, Kodai! There are strategies that can be given to the Space Fighters. Stay near me and watch.”

“But, Captain…!”

“It’s an order, Kodai. Without Shima, I need your assistance here!”

“Y-yes…”

Okita locked his eyes on the screen and faced the panel mic.

“This is Okita. Attention, all Space Fighters: try to lure the enemy combat boats toward their mother ship and get as many of them into one place as possible. I need you to get the enemy squadron into one place.”

“This is Kato in first combat boat, understood. All boats will engage in enemy-luring strategy!”

The unusual maneuver began. Each Space Fighter combat boat suddenly, boldly, charged its opponent and then careened toward the area where the main body of the Gamilas force was anchored. Confused, the Gamilas combat boats stopped, regained their bearings, and moved out after them. Then, from behind, Yamato suddenly increased speed and tracked after them. About thirty of the enemy battle boats noticed Yamato and began short, quick attacks like killer whales striking at a larger whale.

Each of Yamato’s gun turrets fired in desperate defense to destroy about half of the enemy boats. Their attack was relentless and inflicted several small wounds on the hull, but Yamato still kept coming.

The radar operator’s voice was understandably shaking.

“Distance, 50,000 km to the enemy squadron. 45,000…40,000…”

Susumu’s voice echoed almost like a scream.

“Captain! The men will be destroyed! Please do something soon!!”

But Okita ignored him and spoke in an icy tone.

“Wave-Motion Gun, prepare to fire! Target, the center of the enemy squadron…”

Sasuke Sanada’s voice cried out in response.

“Roger! Standard settings are good, ready to fire!”

The huge Gamilas squadron appeared on the panel screen, and the Space Fighter boats could be seen plunging boldly forward.

Susumu edged up to Okita and yelled hysterically.

“Captain! If we fire the Wave-Motion Gun, our own combat boats will be also be destroyed!

Okita was still staring hard at the screen.

“Kodai, calm down! I understand that!”

The enemy squadron’s attack intensified even more, and Yamato took big impacts on both the left and right.

“This is Okita to all Space Fighter combat boats! In ten seconds, you will simultaneously abort your strategy and scatter in retreat!”

“This is first combat boat, understood!”

Nodding at Kato’s safe reply, Okita raised his voice toward Sasuke Sanada.

“Set Wave-Motion Gun to fire in ten seconds!”

“Roger! Starting countdown. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6…”

On the screen, the Space Fighters all went into a steep turn, scattering quickly outward toward space in every direction.

“…5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Fire!”

When Sanada’s countdown ended, a massive shudder shook through Yamato followed by a high-pitched metallic sound that gradually narrowed in wavelength. When it reached its maximum, a flash of light erupted violently from the bow and extended straight off into space. In an instant, most of the Gamilas squadron, which numbered far more than a thousand, completely dissolved.

Helpless before the nightmarish power of the Wave-Motion Gun, a single carrier and a few of its combat boats fled the scene. Yamato had claimed a monumental victory against the huge Gamilas squadron. This lone battleship, equal to at least several hundred thousands, dominated space.

It could be said that Space Battleship Yamato’s power was more than expected, but in the shadow of this victory there were many casualties. Twenty members of the Space Fighter squadron had fallen along with their valuable combat boats. Daisuke Shima was one of them.

“Daisuke…you…why, why?!”

Greeting the returning survivors, Susumu was at a loss for words while thinking of Shima not coming back. Yuki Mori was with him.

“There’s no doubt…I’m responsible for Shima’s death…”

Susumu whirled, muttering angrily.

“That’s not it at all…! It’s only Daisuke’s fault that he was killed. In the end, he was a coward…!”

His heart seized with personal feelings, Susumu could not be carefree. All the citizens suffering from dangerous radiation within the ravaged Earth were waiting for salvation from Yamato.

“Yuki…let’s forget about Daisuke. We have more serious responsibilities. How can we waste our time thinking about such a stupid man!?”

Tears flowed uncontrollably from Susumu’s eyes, seemingly without end.

Shortly afterward, Yamato left the space battlefield. Although a huge Gamilas army had been beaten, they couldn’t waste a moment contemplating their tremendous power. Yamato rushed to get back on course for Iscandar, suffering from the painful wound of losing twenty in battle.

Next: Planet Bolzon

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