A large warship drifted through the wastes of space. Blue Noah. Its hull was severely damaged and power was lost.
Satoru Kamijo clung to his gunnery seat. His legs and back were injured, and his flowing blood had soaked his uniform. Still, he was breathing. He had desperately tried to attack and shoot down the enemy ships until the very end. He had destroyed five of them, but received a fierce counter-attack and passed out. The engine remained silent.
“Damn it, I can’t die like this.”
Enduring the pain, he tried to start the engine. It only offered a faint sound and went silent.
“What happened to the emigration fleet…the other escorts…have we all been destroyed? Where are we now…?”
He desperately wanted to know, but there was no one to answer him.
“Only the…communicator is…yes here it is…”
Kamijo began repairs to try and activate the broken communicator. He groaned from the pain of his wounds as he twisted broken wires together. Two hours passed as he tried to hold back his flowing blood with his shirt, and then the built-in speaker finally leaked out faint, staticky noise.
“I did it!”
Forgetting his pain, Kamijo leaned forward as the communicator powered up.
“This is Earth Defense Forces escort fleet flagship Blue Noah, combat team leader Kamijo! This is Blue Noah, please respond!”
He repeated the same words over and over, but no response came back. Kamijo closed his eyes painfully.
“I’m the only survivor…”
His whole body stiffened and was overcome by a feeling of exhaustion. Was it his fate to die like this…? The smile of his sister Ayumi floated through the darkness as Kamijo closed his eyes.
Ayumi had always stared at Kamijo with trusting eyes.
Ayumi isn’t here any more…
Kamijo’s memory revived.
I couldn’t protect my parents, my sister Ayumi, or any of my family. Now I’m just like them…
When Kamijo opened his eyes again, he allowed the thought of death to swim through those now-vacant pools.
Big brother, please don’t die. Always remember us. If you die, there will be no one to remember us…
That was certainly Ayumi’s voice.
“If that’s Ayumi’s wish, I can’t die,” Kamijo groaned. “I’ll find out who the enemy is. Your brother promises you that, Ayumi…”
He reached for the communicator again.
“Please respond…please respond…”
But there was nothing. Kamijo’s consciousness began to fade again.
No, hold on…survive and get back to your duty.
Kamijo pleaded desperately to himself, but now he couldn’t even open his eyes any more.
Susumu Kodai was on board an outdated space cargo ship, sailing to his next destination after offloading supplies at a frontier development station.
I haven’t been back to Earth in three years…and now I’m wandering around in an area of space where I can’t even communicate…
After first boarding this cargo ship, he’d returned to Earth once a year where Yuki and Miyuki were waiting. He felt sorry for Yuki. She had constantly shown understanding, not blaming him for continuing this selfish, aimless journey.
He had named this worn-out cargo ship Yuki, which was at least a testimony of his love for her. After losing Yamato and Captain Okita, something had gone missing. It could be said he was drifting through space to fill the hole in his soul.
His heart was at ease in space. Many people had lost their lives in the battles to protect Earth. Kodai’s heart was still heavily scarred by the afterimages of them falling, one after another after another. That’s what it meant to live in battle. He roamed the galaxy out of balance, hating all war.
I need to return to Earth soon. I want to touch Yuki’s soft, cheerful smile. I want to face Miyuki again, to talk slowly and carefully with her…
Kodai looked off into the distance, in Earth’s direction. The abyss of space spread outside the window of the cargo ship.
He felt as if a noise had come from the communicator. He turned to look, but it was just burping static. He spoke to the communications officer.
“Hasn’t that been repaired yet?”
“I’m sorry,” Comm Officer Yazawa answered, scratching his head. “I gave it a good try, but it was useless. I haven’t looked at it since then. I thought there was no help for it.”
“That’s no good. What use is a worn-out cargo ship without a working communicator?”
“You’re right. I’ll look into it right away.”
“Come on now, you can fix it if you put your mind to it.”
Yazawa began to tinker with the communicator, talking with Kodai as he worked.
“Doesn’t the captain want to see his wife and daughter? You haven’t been back to Earth in three years.”
“Well…this job has taken longer than expected.”
“If I were the captain, I wouldn’t leave such a beautiful wife all alone.”
“That’s enough. Concentrate on your work and fix it.”
Kodai couldn’t reveal the darkness of his heart to his subordinates. Even though he called it a worn-out cargo ship, he always had to keep his crew and baggage safe.
“Mr. Omura,” Kodai said to his deputy captain, “shall we go back to Earth soon?”
“That would be good, captain,” Omura laughed. “I was actually waiting for you to say that. I’ve really been missing Japanese food.”
Kosaku Omura was a good and trusted friend. Slightly older than Kodai, he had both calm judgment and passion. He was a good fit as deputy captain.
“I don’t think I can increase the sensitivity,” Yazawa grumbled as he worked to repair the communicator. But then he suddenly raised his voice.
“Ah, I think I hear something. Is that an SOS?”
“SOS?” Kodai’s expression tensed. “Yazawa, have you fixed the communicator?”
“No, not completely, but I’m catching some kind of signal, like an SOS.
The voice issuing the SOS was as faint as a whisper. Kodai leaned forward.
“This is…Kamijo of Blue Noah…please help…”
It was a thin, intermittent voice, but they certainly heard it.
“Where are you?” Kodai shouted. “We hear you!”
Kamijo was surprised. Did the God of space deliver his voice after all?
“I’m Kodai, captain of a cargo ship. We read you, Kamijo. Where are you now?”
Despite Kodai asking, there was no way for Kamijo to accurately convey his current position.
“While escorting an emigration fleet, we were attacked by a horde of mysterious spaceships about 17,000 light years from Earth. When I recovered, I was drifting.”
“That’s right…Earth will disappear in three months. A mobile black hole is approaching. The human race decided to relocate to Planet Amal.”
“Is this true?!”
Everyone listening was shocked to hear this. They had neglected communication with Earth, and now this terrible situation had erupted.
“I need you to come and help me somehow,” Kamijo groaned painfully. “I’m on board the damaged escort fleet flagship Blue Noah…”
Then communication was cut off with a snap.
“Kamijo! Kamijo!” Kodai called out, but the communicator only answered with static. “Kamijo, we’ll get there and find you by all means! Don’t give up!”
But still no reply. They had to reach him as soon as possible.
“The exploration screen is out of order,” said Apprentice Navigator Yoichi Sakurai of the space training college. “I’ll try to do something with it!”
This screen was critical to locating Kamijo’s whereabouts. Sakurai began stabbing buttons below the screen.
“What’s wrong with this…”
Sakurai checked one thing after another, but the screen only filled with a static sound and no image. Sakurai punched it with a bang.
“Come on, do it!”
“It can’t be helped,” Kodai said decisively. “We have no choice but to warp. If it’s 17,000 light years from Earth, we can warp into that airspace from here.”
“All at once, with this ship?” Sakurai scoffed with his hands outstretched. “That’s impossible!”
“I believe in your ability,” Kodai answered calmly. “And you have to do it if your captain says so!”
Sakurai relented and started preparations for warping.
“Thank you,” Kodai said.
Omura’s voice sounded from every speaker in the ship.
“All hands, we’re changing our route and doing a warp! Everyone put on your seatbelts!”
Everyone on the crew grabbed the closest chair and strapped themselves in. Sakurai pressed his hands together and started the countdown.
“Let my skills be enough for this reckless act to succeed. Three, two, one, warp!”
The main screen filled with orange light and space itself screamed as if being torn apart. The cargo ship became a thin line that was catapulted forward and disappeared.
The warp only lasted a few seconds. Kodai quietly opened his eyes. Cheers broke out from the crew.
“We’re alive! God wants us to stay alive!”
Sakurai’s voice was ebullient.
“Oh, the screen is also fixed!”
Had the exploration screen also been surprised by the warp’s impact? An image was now projected from it as if it had woken up from a long sleep.
“All right, let’s locate Kamijo! Aim from 100 to 200 space kilometers!”
They reacted as ordered, changing direction ten degrees to the right and then to the left to look for the drifting flagship. But they could only see stars glowing in the distance. They tried operating the communicator again, but there was no response.
“Where’s the shipwreck?” Kodai was getting impatient.
Right away, Sakurai hit a computer key at the radar and shouted, “In the four o’clock direction, 150 space kilometers!”
“We’re going to rescue the survivor,” Omura barked to the engineer from the master control panel. “Engine output at full!”
“It’s impossible to fully open up such a worn-out engine,” the engineer responded.
Omura thrust a verbal spear on Kodai’s behalf. “Don’t mess with me! How many years have you been on this ship?”
“Uh, aye! Engine output at full!”
Creaks and squeaky noises began to rise from everywhere. This is what it was to fly a worn-out ship. But Kodai had sailed on it for a long time, and it didn’t betray his passion or expectations. The ship arrived at its mark without breaking down.
“It looks like an Earth Defense Forces ship!”
The huge battleship drifted helplessly through black space. It was unquestionably the flagship of an escort fleet, and Kamijo would be on board.
The cargo ship pulled up to the wreckage that had been Blue Noah, and when the mobile docking bay system connected the two, Kodai transferred quickly over.
“Kamijo!” Kodai called out as he proceeded through the ship, relying on a life sensor. He arrived at the combat bridge to find its bulkheads still intact. Then he discovered a man who had fallen out of the gunnery seat, trying to get back up.
Kamijo opened his eyes weakly as Kodai lifted him up.
“The emigration fleet…I couldn’t protect them…” Speaking haltingly, Kamijo passed out.
Doing his best to encourage Kamijo, Kodai carried him back to the cargo ship and Sakurai treated him with his limited medical knowledge. When Kamijo’s blood-stained uniform was peeled off, it revealed a huge scar and countless fragments stuck in his back. After a while, his treatment was finished and he regained consciousness.
Feeling the pain of his wounds brought to Kamijo the realization that he was alive.
“You said your name was Kamijo,” Kodai said.
“Yes, Satoru Kamijo, airman first class, Earth Federation Forces.”
Kodai replied, trying to tamp down his impatience.
“Can you tell me more about the current state of Earth?”
“Earth is going to be swallowed by a Cascade Black Hole in three more months. The whole human race is emigrating to Planet Amal, and we were in the first group.”
“Who’s in charge of the emigration fleet?”
“Eh…?” Kodai stammered. “Kodai…Yuki Kodai…?
“That’s right. There were 700 million people on the emigration ships. But we were suddenly attacked by a mysterious fleet…”
“700 million? Is that true?” Kodai felt dizzy. While he had been drifting in space, Earth was…
“My family was killed by an enemy warship right in front of me…” Kamijo’s eyes trembled with hatred. Kodai kept silent. “They’re sure to reveal themselves. I’m going to live for that day…”
Kodai hesitantly lowered his hand onto Kamijo’s shoulder.
“When was the black hole discovered?”
“A little over three years ago.”
“I see. After the last time I left Earth. And I couldn’t communicate with them…” Kodai spoke slowly to control the tension that was gripping his heart. “I’m Susumu Kodai. Yuki Kodai is my wife.”
“Eh? Susumu…Kodai? Captain of Space Battleship Yamato? That legendary battleship…?”
There, standing before Kamijo, was the Susumu Kodai who fought with Captain Okita on Yamato. He was so excited he forgot the pain of his wounds.
“Yuki is…?” Kodai wanted to know what happened to Yuki’s escort ship.
“I don’t know. In all that confusion…”
Maybe it’s drifting near here. I have to find Yuki…don’t give up…
Kodai told himself that over and over as he single-mindedly searched for the her wrecked ship. Losing Yuki would be like losing half of his own body. He couldn’t bear it. But it was very difficult to find a single escort ship, a grain among countless stars. In the end, he found nothing.
“Let’s go back to Earth,” Kodai said to Omura while holding down his anxiety.
Omura just quietly looked down.
In the operation center of the Space Science Bureau, Chief Sanada and Jiro Shima watched a screen with grim expressions. The screen displayed images of the first emigration fleet and its escorts under attack, punctuated by sharp flashes and vivid explosions.
“Mayday! Mayday! Who are they? Why are they attacking? Someone help us!”
The voice of the speaker was cut off with the rest of the noise as the image disappeared from the screen.
“When did this happen?”
“It’s a warp communication that came in three days ago through a number of relay boosters,” Shima answered.
“This isn’t an attack…it’s a slaughter! Who is this enemy?”
“We don’t know. Chief, is the second emigration fleet all right…?”
But Sanada was speechless.
“Shouldn’t we delay the launch of the third fleet until we figure out what’s going on? It’s too dangerous to send them out knowing they’ll be attacked!”
“No, we’ll proceed as planned.”
Sanada spoke up before Shima could finish. “Has Kodai returned yet?”
“He’s the only one who can save Earth from this crisis now. We have no time left.”
Sanada communicated with the lunar command center. “How long until the reconstruction plan is completed?”
“It will be done in two weeks,” they replied.
“Hurry it up!” Sanada turned back to Shima. “Has Kodai contacted us yet?”
“Not yet. We’ve been sending warp communications, but his cargo ship’s ability to receive is not good.”
“Understood about the reconstruction plan,” the voice from the lunar base replied. “Our engineers will devote all their power to it and forget about sleep.”
Kodai could not be contacted. His ability was desperately needed. Sanada’s hand, clenched into a fist, shook with helpless resentment.
In the sky outside, the Aquarius ice mass that floated in gravitational balance between Earth and the moon shone brighter than ever in the beautiful sunlight.