The hope of humanity, Yamato
Kodai’s heart remained empty with disappointment as he traveled to Earth for the first time in three years. Neither Omura nor anyone else on the crew could find words for him. Except for commands to warp, he was silent.
Kodai headed to the ship’s washroom to shave the beard that had grown over the course of the long voyage. He couldn’t pass the Aquarius ice mass with a beard. When it was gone, Susumu Kodai’s unchangeably handsome face looked back at him in the mirror despite him being a bit older than the last time he’d seen himself in full.
On a bookshelf to the right of the washroom sat a photo of three family members, taken just before launch. The faces of his wife and daughter looked lonely to Kodai now.
Soon, the nostalgic sea of Aquarius could be seen out the side window. It was the tomb where Yamato slept along with Captain Okita, who Kodai respected like a father. From the day they sank together, Kodai had lost his bearings and given in to self-doubt. He became troubled by nightmares.
It had been a battle to save Earth from destruction in which Captain Okita sacrificed himself.
“Devoting your heart and soul to your loved ones to make them happy can lead to making many people happy,” Okita had said. “That is where true peace comes from. This is also an important fight.”
He had thought of Kodai and Yuki’s happiness to the end. Up until then, many courageous people had given their lives in every battle. People of other worlds had given Yamato and Earth a helping hand and cast away their own lives of love. The Queen of Aquarius explained that the blessings of love were another kind of trial. Space was made up of the infinite connections of life…
As Kodai stared out at the sea of Aquarius, those memories ran through him like lanterns.
“This is solar system traffic control. Warpout of cargo ship Yuki has been detected.”
The words rang through the Space Science Bureau’s observation room and a signal representing the ship appeared on a screen. Sanda and Shima glanced at it in surprise.
“Kodai! Have you come home?”
How long they had been waiting for Kodai…
A twinkle appeared in Sanada’s eyes. Soon, Kodai’s voice came over the speakers.
“I’ve heard everything. I’m coming home now.”
“We’re waiting,” was Sanada’s only answer.
Kodai landed on Earth and immediately headed to the Space Science Bureau.
“We’ve been waiting for you Kodai,” Sanada said as he showed Kodai to the observation room. “Look at this.”
Kodai couldn’t hide his surprise at the images displayed on the large video panel. A rift of red-black space blotted out the stars, glowing strangely from within.
“This is observational data that was colored and processed to speed it up for clarity,” Shima explained.
“What is it?” Kodai gasped in astonishment.
“Something never seen in astronomical history,” Sanada said. “A moving black hole. We call it a Cascade Black Hole.”
He issued an instruction to Maho Orihara, a young woman seated below and to his right. Her hands flew over a keyboard to send the black hole’s trajectory on the display screen.
“Are you certain that Earth will be swallowed?” Kodai asked.
“No matter how many times we’ve recalculated its course, it passes right through the solar system. It’s unavoidable…”
A window appeared on the panel that counted down the number of days and hours before it reached Earth.
“Less than 8 million seconds before it reaches Earth. We’re predicting May 17th.”
“Just three months until Earth’s destruction.”
Kodai couldn’t believe it. The beautiful Earth that had survived so many crises was to be swallowed without a trace…
“There is no way to save humanity other than emigration into space,” Sanada sighed with regret.
“I appointed Shima as head of the emigration plan, and I’ve been working to educate people to prepare for it.”
“I heard from Kamijo, who I rescued from an escort ship, that everyone is moving to Amal.”
“Yes. Planet Amal of the Sairam system. We’re moving to their moon.”
“Can it be made into a second Earth…?”
Kodai stood for a while, at a loss for words, thinking of Yuki. She had embarked as the leader of the first emigration fleet. She must have been heartbroken, having to leave Earth without seeing him. Moreover, she now remained missing after being attacked by unidentified enemy ships.
“Here is the trajectory of the second emigration fleet.”
The panel shifted to a diagram of space, indicating the fleet’s coordinates.
“Is there any information on the attacking fleet,” Kodai asked Sanada.
“We don’t know who they are. There’s no information. Come with me.”
Sanada led Kodai out onto a terrace overlooking the city. Dusk was approaching. For a while, the two of them gazed out at the large city as night set in.
“It’s going to vanish. Earth will vanish without a trace. The Earth that Yamato protected…”
The truly beautiful Earth, filled with variety…
“That’s right. That’s why I’ve been waiting for you.”
Sanada stared intensely at Kodai. “I want you to serve as the escort fleet commander for the third emigration fleet. You’re the only one who can save humanity.”
Kodai shook his head painfully. “It’s too much, Sanada.”
It was different from the days when he had boarded Yamato with Sanada and the others, with his passion burning brightly.
“I’m a man who abandoned Earth and went wandering around for three years…”
Sanada had tried to stop him from boarding that cargo boat, tried to stop him from leaving Yuki and Miyaki alone. Such a man wasn’t fit to command escort ships.
“…it’s not like those days.”
But Sanada would not back down.
“But Yuki certainly did it,” he said quietly. “She boarded an escort ship to command the first fleet.”
Kodai closed his eyes. What were her thoughts as she boarded her ship and left Earth? When he thought about her being missing, his heart ached.
“Wait,” he suddenly snapped. “Does Miyuki know about the first fleet?”
Sanada went quiet.
“I’m going to Miyuki!”
Kodai left the Space Science Bureau without answering Sanada’s request.
Kodai’s house was in Yokosuka, located on a hill near the Space Defense Academy. He stared up nostalgically at the mansion overlooking Tokyo Bay. Yuki had really liked this house. She had been so happy with the three of them living there together.
Kodai had shattered that happiness when he ran off. Yuki showed understanding, but Kodai knew she wasn’t being sincere. She must have felt so lonely she couldn’t put it into words. Despite knowing this, Kodai became the captain of a cargo ship.
Those were the first words he spoke to his daughter Miyuki after returning home to Earth. Failing to save Yuki had made him into a failure as both a husband and a father. He was also responsible for the three empty years of wandering that had led her to accept that dangerous mission. Combat was not the only way to protect the Earth. There was also the important work of maintaining peace in case of an emergency, but…
“Miyuki…I’m back. About your mother…”
Completely at a loss for words, Kodai was ready for a lashing from her. She just looked up at the Aquarius ice mass floating in the night sky. Her expression hardened.
“It’s your fault,” she said coldly.
Searching for their next words, Kodai and Miyuki glanced around. The silent air flowing around them made them feel utterly empty. Even if they wanted to share each other’s grief, they couldn’t.
“You’re tied to Yamato,” she said, pointing up from the veranda to the sea of Aquarius, shining in the moonlight. “Do you understand? Yamato was sunk! It’s sleeping in that sea!”
“Mother knew the truth. She was so lonely. When I remember her smile, it always looks lonely. I want to see my mother.”
Kodai’s voice was rough when he spoke. “Miyuki, don’t give up on your mother.”
He swore a vow to himself and his daughter. Yuki, stay alive for Miyuki.
He looked around the living room, seeing a picture of the three of them, back when they were still in harmony. Was Miyuki six years old back then? He had loved her most when she was a child, but now the gap between them was widening. He looked around absent-mindedly for a while.
Miyuki got up and retrieved a teacup from the kitchen cupboard. She warmed up the cup with a familiar gesture. There was a lemon in the refrigerator. Yuki had always prepared lemon tea for Kodai whenever he came back. As he watched Miyuki take tea leaves from a can and put them into the teapot he saw Yuki and his eyes almost overflowed with tears.
Until three years ago, he’d come home once a year. Whenever he came home, Yuki made him lemon tea.
After a while, the teapot turned reddish brown and gave off an aroma. Miyuki held out the teacup for Kodai with a slice of lemon. He hadn’t expected that.
“Thank you. Miyuki…”
“Don’t get me wrong,” her cold words came back. “I haven’t forgiven you.”
Without answering, Kodai lifted the teacup to his mouth. Delicious. It tasted just like Yuki’s. He honestly wanted to say this to Miyuki, but her face was turned away. Soon, the cup was empty.
“Can I have another?”
It was an awkward conversation between awkward people who could no longer communicate with each other. Still, Miyuki took the empty cup with no expression.
At that moment, a tone sounded from Kodai’s military cell phone, followed by Sanada’s urgent voice.
“Come to the Space Science Bureau right now! It’s the second emigration fleet!”
The second fleet had also been attacked. It was easy to imagine the confusion at the science bureau.
“Yes,” Kodai responded, “I’ll be right there.”
He was startled to see Miyuki looking at him with an icy gaze. Seeing his puzzled expression, she glanced away.
“If you go…”
Kodai had painfully learned to recognize insincere words. Miyuki now looked sad. Even if they couldn’t talk, he wanted to stay with her. He was also in pain. But he had to leave her and go.
Her glance turned cold again, piercing his chest. He lowered his head.
“Well then.” Kodai hesitated to say even that much, and though her back was turned as he left the house, he gave a small wave.
Kodai arrived at the science bureau by air car in the middle of the night. Sanada immediately took him to the operation center.
The big screen repeated the same tragic story as it had with the first fleet. As if springing from deep space, numerous unknown battleships had attacked the second fleet. Homing missiles launched and escort ships belched red flames from their tails. Approaching fighters fired beam weapons one after another.
Arrows of fire and spears of flame dug into a ship’s hull. A captain ordered a counterattack, but the enemy’s power was overwhelming. Allied fighters burst apart one by one. The burning craft flew onward by pure inertia and scattered against the beautiful backdrop of a whirlpool nebula.
The fierce enemy attacks were unrelenting. A fighter wing failed to dodge an attacking salvo of beams, then bloomed like bright red flowers to scatter apart.
“This attack took place in the same area as the first fleet,” Shima explained. “17,000 light years from Earth.”
“It looks like an ambush,” Sanada groaned. “I’m worried about another.”
Shima suddenly raised his eyebrows. “The form of this enemy fleet is different from the one that attacked the first emigration ships. It’s probably from different planets.”
Sanada’s eyes flashed sharply. “Then multiple nations are attacking our fleets?”
Kodai had been staring silently at the screen, but couldn’t remain silent any more.
“I can only assume that some great power is preventing migration.”
This can’t happen to the third emigration fleet. If I have to do it…
“Sanada! Command of the third emigration fleet…please give it to me!”
All doubt was gone now. Sanada was relieved.
“Thank you, Kodai…”
“For Yuki, and for the Earth…”
They shook hands firmly.
“We’ve already prepared a ship for you,” Sanada told him.
“Eh?” Kodai stared at Sanada in wonder.
“Space Battleship Yamato,” Sanada said forcefully.
Kodai glanced at Shima as if to ask if it was a joke. Shima looked him directly in the eye.
“Yamato has been waiting for your return.”
Sanada put his hand on Kodai’s shoulder.
“There’s no time to waste, Kodai. I want you to come with me.”
Sanada put Kodai in his personal high-speed space shuttle, which quickly left the Space Science Bureau.
Space Battleship Yamato…
It had been resurrected from the Battleship Yamato, and was now resurrected again. Kodai was about to be reunited with Yamato for the first time in 17 years.