Planet Bolzon King Sruu
From the outside, the green forest resembled one that could once have been seen everywhere on Earth, richly packed with brush. But after passing into it, the view from inside the forest was strange. The branches and leaves that covered the forest to a diameter of three kilometers all sprouted from one huge tree. The Bolzon capital stood under the umbrella of this giant, its green branches and leaves a ceiling surrounding the town in a semicircle, like a natural dome.
The streets were not normal, either. At first glance, the stone buildings looked cluttered and disorderly, but a closer look revealed a beautiful arrangement with a natural order that seemed to dissolve perfectly into the majestic forest.
Okita and Susumu stood in front of a particularly large building. Their Bolzonian guide had told them to wait there. Susumu looked around, wide-eyed. The downtown area was a strange sight. The road was crowded, but a wide variety of life forms chatted peacefully and enjoyed a leisurely walk.
“It’s like an exhibit hall of space life, Captain!”
Susumu marveled at an eight-legged life form dressed in space clothes, a mineral life form like rock itself, and gaseous life forms that burned from head to toe. It was literally a melting pot of life from space. The remarkable forms of native Bolzonians stood out among them. Unified in clothing that harkened back to the past, they all wore white robes draped from their shoulder with simple sandals made of bark
“It’s strange,” Juuzo Okita murmured. “Judging from their buildings and clothing, the culture of this planet seems thousands of years behind us, but there are so many aliens here. What could it mean? The Bolzonian said that many people from space visit this planet. In this state, they wouldn’t fare well in an invasion from another planet.”
“Right. They don’t seem to have any strong weapons, and from what we’ve seen of the Gamilas, this seems like a suitable target.”
“Hmm. I don’t understand it. Even when they met us, they did not investigate, and it didn’t seem like they took any precautions. It’s a very strange planet…”
Then they both heard a call in their minds.[I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. Our Bolzon King will meet you now. Please enter the building.]
The building was simple, inside and out. Since they would have an audience here with the king, it must have been the royal palace, but the corridors and walls did not seem appropriate for one.[Friends. We welcome you…]
The words sounded in the minds of Okita and Susumu as they passed from the corridor into a great hall. Before them was what looked like a throne with a number of Bolzonians standing in front of it. Among them was the figure of the Bolzonian who had met Okita on the hill.
[Friend, I introduce my Bolzon King Sruu…]
The most elderly-looking person, standing in the center, slowly stepped forward.[I sincerely sympathize with you. You have endured an arduous journey with your home world in crisis, and dealt with frustrating interference from the enemy.]
With those words from the Bolzon King, Okita’s eyes opened widely.
“Bolzon King! How do you know all these things about us!?]
Although they already knew the Bolzonians had a special power, the ability of the Bolzon King seemed even greater.[I can vividly feel in my mind the depth of misery to which the enemy has driven you. That same enemy once stretched the hand of doom toward our planet. The dreadful enemy, Gamilas…]
As expected, Gamilas had visited aggression upon the seemingly defenseless Planet Bolzon after all. Okita’s curiosity was piqued again.
“Bolzon king…please permit me to ask an impolite question…”[Friend. I already understand that which you wish to hear. Bolzon appears not to have a single machine or weapon with which to fight. And you would like to know how we could possibly have withstood these dreadful invaders?]
“Yes, that’s right.”[Friend. Machine civilizations are themselves destroyed by other machine civilizations. As for your planet facing extinction, it is the inevitable result when nature is forgotten, so to speak, and one falls into the principle of machine supremacy. There is no history of mutual coexistence among machine civilizations. The stronger one just continues its history of conquest…]
“Bolzon King. Your words are devastating. We have certainly repeated this regretful history. If my home planet Earth can be revived again, I wish to build toward eternal peace with your history as a role model. By all means, please tell us how Planet Bolzon was able to avoid the aggression of Gamilas!”[Friend. Listen well. We have walked a natural history. We have never violated nature, and we have lived with sincerity here on Bolzon. Our power may seem miraculous, but it was all given to us by our mother planet and is only the minimum we require to live in nature. There is a natural will, so to speak, in our Planet Bolzon, which is itself a living thing. We are merely one system of Bolzon, like the sand and the tree. We are united in the grand power of nature, but scientific power is not our enemy, either. When the Gamilas forces surrounded Bolzon they touched the wrath of nature and it can be said that they were eliminated by natural means.]
“Bolzon King. I will never forget your words. But it may already be too late for my Planet Earth…”
Finding himself at a loss, Okita dropped his gaze. The confident and benevolent words of the Bolzon leader had caused the miserable situation of Earth to boil up even more strongly in his heart.[Friend. Peace is something you must win by your own hand. It is not possible to use our power for your own purpose, but I wish you the best. Nature performs miracles for those who believe in it. Arrangements are already underway for the repair of your space ship. You should take a leisurely rest in preparation for your long journey.]
“Thank you very much.”[Dinner will begin soon, and many friends from space will gather. You may also attend and enjoy it. Planet Bolzon sincerely welcomes everyone but those with evil purposes.]
“I appreciate your kindness, Bolzon King. We must issue orders for the repair of our ship. So with that, we must be going.”[Hmm. Until dinner, later…]
Meeting with Dessler
The dinner of Planet Bolzon was a strange sight. Aliens with drastically different body structures took whatever drink suited them as a peaceful party unfolded. The meeting place was in the middle of nature, a soft meadow nestled into the woods.
Shortly after they arrived, fruit juice was placed in front of Okita and Susumu, and the taste melted on their tongues.
“I’m surprised, captain. I never imagined drinking such good juice on a strange planet in space.”
“Indeed. Some was delivered to Yamato as well, so everyone should be drinking it with gusto by now.”
“I guess it’s a truly natural taste. It’s a feast for someone like me, who has only known the taste of synthetic juice.”
“When I was a child, such tastes could also be found on Earth…but as the Bolzon King said, when such tastes were lost, it could be that Earth had already taken a step toward extinction…”
As Okita eased into his seat for dinner, it became more than a place where sorrow arose from nostalgia.[Friends from Earth. The Bolzon King is calling.]
Bolzonians stood before them in white robes. Bolzon King Sruu emerged slowly from a white tent in front of Okita.
“Bolzon King. Thank you for the invitation to such a wonderful dinner. In addition, I deeply appreciate your heartfelt gift of food for my colleagues.”[Ah, friend. It was nothing. In fact, someone who wants to meet you by all means has visited us here on Bolzon.]
A single person appeared from behind the Bolzon King, a tall Homo Sapiens-like life form with a handsome expression.
[My friend. I introduce to you Leader Dessler of Gamilas.]
Okita and Susumu both stiffened as a shock ran through their bodies. Dessler of Gamilas! The hateful instigator who had driven Earth to the depths of despair!
Okita and Susumu remained in place, dumbfounded. Eventually, the Bolzon King looked back toward Dessler.[Dessler of Gamilas. These people came here all the way from the Milky Way Galaxy, inhabitants of Planet Earth, which has tragically been driven to the edge of extinction.]
The Bolzon King glanced toward Okita with mystical light behind his eyes. Okita could sense what was on his mind. The king’s eyes spoke words of their own.
…this is the real nature of your enemy. Etch the hatred deep in the back of your mind and never forget it…
The callous words of dessler struck the ears of Okita and Susumu through an internal translation device on his space belt.
“That clumsy battleship, stumbling through space, is that yours…?”
The Bolzon King quickly turned to Dessler and asked an ironic question.[Dessler of Gamilas. Do you know these people?]
“No, I would have no reason to know such vagabonds. However, my subordinates have informed me of strange, inferior creatures wandering through space in a large battleship…”
The tone of the Bolzon King’s words suddenly turned sharp.[Dessler of Gamilas! Those who gather on my Planet Bolzon are neither superior nor inferior. Everyone may come and enjoy relaxation in full equality. I cannot permit even the leader of Gamilas to insult my guests!]
“Please forgive me if I have hurt any feelings, Bolzon King.”
Dessler lowered his head in false humility and arrogantly turned to walk away.[Friends of Earth…]
Just like that, the tone of the Bolzon King toward Okita returned to that of an affectionate father toward his child.[…that is your enemy, Dessler. I intended for you to meet in order to inspire you to stir up your courage, so surely this meeting has not been wasted.]
“Thank you, Bolzon King. I will never forget that face…!”
Okita and Susumu shot a look toward Dessler’s receding back and Okita’s expression suddenly changed. He had seen something unbelievable and his voice was overtaken by surprise.
“It can’t be…”
Okita stared intently toward a single point as he uttered this. Susumu glanced at him, worried.
“Captain, what’s the matter?”
“No, it’s nothing…Kodai, we should check into the repair status of Yamato.”
“I’ll go then.”
“No, you wait here.”
Suddenly, the Bolzon King called to Susumu.[Young man, you should stay and tell me stories of Earth.]
“Bolzon King,” Okita said, “please excuse me for a while, thank you.”[Hmm. Very well, attend to your errand.]
“Thank you very much, I will…”
Okita quickly left in a trot.
The true identity of Captain Harlock
Juuzo Okita made his way out to the edge of the dinner area where people were sparse to catch up with someone near the forest.
The figure stopped at Okita’s voice. From behind, it could be seen that he was pitifully wounded, his right shoulder drooping as he dragged his left foot. Okita felt ridiculous as he spoke.
“…I’m sorry, but are you Kodai? Mamoru Kodai!?”
Mamoru Kodai had been a Japanese Space Fighter, a valiant soldier in the battles for the fate of Earth, who was thought to be among the fallen in the fierce battle of Mars. At Okita’s words, the man slowly turned.
His face looked as injured as his body. A black patch covered one eye and one side of his face was covered in a sutured scar. It was impossible to imagine what his face had originally looked like based on his current appearance. Juuzo Okita held his breath as the man stared at him in silence.
“It’s no mistake! Your appearance has greatly changed, but you are Mamoru Kodai, without question!”
“That’s a different person,” the man said in a quiet tone.
“No, it can’t be. Your body is the same shape. But more than anything else, you speak perfect Japanese, a language of Earth.”
“No…I am from Earth, but my name is Captain Harlock. I have never heard of this Kodai.”
Okita’s eyes opened wide with surprise. And no wonder. As the captain of a mysterious sailboat-like space ship, Captain Harlock had twice saved Yamato from crises.
“Now I understand!” Okita cried. “Captain Harlock is Mamoru Kodai. Otherwise, you’d have no reason to save Yamato twice, out in deep space! Kodai, tell me, what in the world happened!?”
“You have me at a loss,” Captain Harlock said, his face contorted with a gimacing smile. “I suffered a mortal wound in a fight, a lone Earthling drifting in space until I was rescued by the Bolzonians. Mamoru Kodai was a hero of Earth, wasn’t he? As admired as Japanese washi paper. Mistaking someone as ugly as me for him just tarnishes he who fell in battle.”
“Is that so…? If you deny it, then maybe my intuition was wrong…”
The two Earthmen stood for a moment, concealing their thoughts in their hearts. The two burning eyes of Juuzo Okita met the single icy eye of Captain Harlock as if they were speaking silently to each other.
“Human beings are weak,” Okita murmured. “As prepared for death as they might be, lingering regrets in their heart blunt those feelings. I called to you because I really wanted to talk with Mamoru Kodai…”
Their gazes remained locked on one another.
“…Captain Harlock, perhaps we were fated to meet in this way. I’m sorry to trouble you, but I need to say this…”
Okita continued speaking calmly, his eyes still burning.
“Twenty years ago, I had a beloved wife and a young son. I was a scientist, blessed with work and a quiet, peaceful home. However, it is said that there is a fine line between good luck and bad. My wife died suddenly one day, and I became involved in military work. After the life I’d lived until then, a situation that seemed inconceivable had swooped down upon my son and me. I could offer my son no comfort.”
“What on Earth was a fool like me to do? I couldn’t even take care of myself. How could I raise a young child? At that time, a friend of mine came to visit me and said he would take my son. He and his wife had no children, and they desperately wanted a son. In other words, it was a merciful proposal from my friend who knew my suffering.”
“He and his wife were people with beautiful hearts, so I knew my son would be brought up well. After I thought carefully about it, I decided to part with my son. He would go to new parents while I left my home to become a staff officer in the military. From that day forward, I had no choice but to take on the responsibility of my position, but I haven’t forgotten about my son for one day.”
“My friend and his wife had a child afterward and I worried about how they would get along, so I went in secret to see how things were going. But they were wonderful people, and they guessed what was in my heart so they allowed me to meet with my son as often as possible. Once or twice a month I would go and watch them play.”
“Unfortunately, my friend and his wife died in a sudden traffic accident. I wanted to tell my son the truth at that time, but he had taken charge of my friends’ son after their deaths and was growing up strong. When I went to tell him, he said ‘Uncle Okita, we’re brothers and we’ll take care of each other from now on. You can become our guardian if you want, but we’ll be all right.’ When I heard that, I was ashamed. My son was growing up into a fine man thanks to his excellent parents.”
“I was a fool who had parted with my child out of convenience. I was nothing like the man he would become. My son enlisted in the Space Fighters and became a brave soldier after that. I was so proud of him. He was a bold man who willingly charged into danger. He reminded me of myself in my younger days, and it brought back happy memories.”
“When Earth was hit by crisis, my son disappeared in the Mars war. Captain Harlock…Mamoru Kodai, the Eagle of Japan, is in truth the son of Juuzo Okita. If I could, I would apologize to him for not being a proper parent, and I wish he would forgive me. I would like him to call me ‘father.’ Sneer at me if you like, Captain…”
Okita’s long story ended. In Captain Harlock’s single eye, clear as a water’s surface, a flame burned like the glow of a firefly. Okita did not miss this mysterious signal of change, but he pretended to ignore it.
“Thank you for listening to my sorry tale. Thanks to you, I feel lighter. You can forget all of it and journey onward.”
Captain Harlock slowly turned away from Okita and started walking. Filled with countless emotions, Okita called out to his lonely back.
“You…I may not see you again, but take care…”
Captain Harlock seemed to nod faintly.
Suddenly, Juuzo Okita gave out a sharp groan, and the Captain turned to see him pitch forward, beginning to fall. He saw an arrow, piercing him deeply below his left shoulder.
“Are you all right?”
As the Captain caught him, Okita’s face twisted with pain.
“Ohh…I’m all right. But who in the world…!”
“Come, come, the culprit’s target is here with you. I’ll go call someone now…”
The Captain laid Okita on the grass and started running toward the dining area.
Rage of the Bolzon King
In a room of the royal palace, the Bolzon King had been watching Okita. Anger and embarrassment roiled in his heart.[Who could have done this…!]
It hurt the king’s heart even more that the arrow had been of Bolzonian manufacture. Okita’s condition was critical. Because the arrow entered under the shoulder it lodged close to his heart, and great care was needed to remove it. When Okita was brought to the palace, he had fallen into an unexplained coma. Susumu sat at his bedside, watching with great sadness.
A report had already been sent to Yamato, and the ship was probably in a complete uproar.
Suddenly, a single person appeared at the room’s entrance. Dessler spoke ironically with a contemptuous smile.
“…I was rude a short while ago. I heard that there was some sort of calamity and wanted to see for myself. What was it…?”
The Bolzon King stood in front of Okita and Susumu as if the wrong person had turned up at exactly the wrong time.[Dessler of Gamilas. We are grateful for your favor, but a seriously ill person needs rest here. Please depart now…]
“I went to great trouble to stop by, but it appears to be an inconvenience. Very well, I’ll leave immediately.”
After spitting out these stinging words, Dessler turned to leave but another person had stepped into his way without a sound.
It was Captain Harlock, with his unnerving appearance.
“Is this man your subordinate…?”
The tall, handsome alien was was undeniably good at upstaging the Captain. At the same time, Dessler’s expression was filled with disgust.
“What of it?”
“Oh, what of it? If this man of yours was secretly carrying this, then what exactly are you up to?!”
The Captain produced a bow and arrow, which he held up directly toward Dessler’s nose.
“W-what is the meaning of this!?”
“You really want to know? All right, I’ll tell you. And the Bolzon King will also hear it. The Gamilas people have Bolzonian arrows, and if we examine the arrow that struck the Earthman, it should be clear who aimed it at him…”
The Bolzon King’s expression sharpened in an instant.[Dessler of Gamilas! What do you have to say!?]
“Bolzon King, even if one of my subordinates did attack and injure the Earthling, isn’t it just one inferior life…?”[Dessler of Gamilas. You still don’t seem to understand. On my planet Bolzon, the grand power of nature alone rules over life and death. It is never permissible for one life to assert that over another. It is a serious crime to usurp the spirit of Bolzon. I now strip you of all the special privileges I granted to you here. After this, I forbid you access to Bolzon airspace under any circumstances. If you violate this, you will be repelled without mercy!]
“Bolzon King, what are you so angry about? We forged the friendship between our two worlds with great effort. There is no need to break it over such a pathetic lower life form.”[It’s useless to argue, Dessler! Take your leave immediately!]
Faced with the intense anger of the Bolzon King, Dessler’s attitude suddenly turned violent.
“Bah! Foolish man. You are speaking to Dessler. Soon, my planet Gamilas will dominate all of space. It will be too late for you to beg for my friendship again!”[It has already become unpleasant to look upon your face. Leave now, Gamilas!]
“See here! You will regret that!!”
With that parting shot, Dessler left. Captain Harlock intended to leave, too.
“Bolzon King, I will also return to space. Take care…”[Captain Harlock. You take care as well.]
Susumu watched in stunned surprise.
“That person is…Captain Harlock…”[That is so. A great man. His injured body contains superhuman spiritual strength that keeps him alive after others would give up. However, even his life will eventually run out…]
As the Bolzon King murmured this with sorrow, everyone glanced toward the door but the Captain had already disappeared. Susumu had a faraway look in his eye.
“Bolzon King, will Captain Harlock die soon?”[Hmm…It won’t be long now. That man has continued to live by the power of his strong spirit.]
At that moment, low, delerius words leaked out of Okita’s mouth.
“Mamoru…forgive me, Mamoru…”
Susumu’s eyes opened wide at this and he continued to stare.
Okita’s coma continued for the next three weeks.
Yamato’s restoration was finished and preparations to resume the voyage to Iscandar had been completed. But Juuzo Okita, the lynchpin of Yamato, remained motionless.
From the day of the incident onward, Okita had been housed in the palace of the Bolzon King, receiving treatment from Dr. Sado who had rushed over from Yamato. Through his efforts, Hiroshi Sado determined that the cause of Okita’s coma seemed to be a mysterious bacteria applied to the arrowhead that pierced him. Sado was in hard pursuit of the bacteria’s identity, but had thus far uncovered nothing. Nor did he have any clue about how to treat it.
On the other hand, while Yamato was anchored in Bolzon airspace, the various section chiefs held several emergency meetings. Susumu and Dr. Sado took turns returning to the ship for days at a time.
“Anyway, three weeks have passed,” Sasuke Sanada said with a serious expression. “We’re now at the limit of our navigation schedule. We should set sail immediately.”
“Understood,” Hikozaemon Tokugawa replied, taking it in calmly like an elder. “Of course, we must leave at the earliest day and hour we can. However, we can’t leave the captain behind. Until Dr. Sado’s prospects for treatment finally become clear, we have to wait until the last possible minute.”
“That’s right,” Yuki Mori said with conviction. “If Captain Okita were to disappear from Yamato, it would probably upset most of the crew and compromise leadership. It would be difficult to navigate successfully in such a situation.”
“Even so, we should move the captain to Yamato and treat him during the voyage.” Sanada had repeated this claim at every meeting.
“But Hiroshi Sado says it’s too dangerous. If we do that, something could happen to the captain!”
“Well, then I have to say this clearly! We’re weighing the life of the individual captain against the important fate of everyone on Earth! I feel sorry for him, but I have to emphasize that we must set sail as soon as possible. Kodai-kun, what do you think?”
Susumu was at a loss. There were two opinions, and he could understand both.
“Susumu-san,” Yuki Mori prompted before long, “please let us hear your opinion. We’re just wasting time with this argument. Let us decide based on your thoughts.”
Biting his lip, Susumu began to speak.
“…I support Sanada’s opinion. He’s as worried about the captain as we all are. But in this case, we have to give priority to our major goal and save the Earth.”
With that, the trend of Yamato was decided. As orders for final checks were hastily announced on board, Susumu went at once to Planet Bolzon to retrieve Okita and Hiroshi Sado.
Shortly afterward, Susumu returned with the sleeping Okita. The Bolzon King had sympathized with Yamato’s hardship and watched Susumu’s transport boat rise away until it disappeared from sight.
Next: Infiltrators of Fear