The Sorrow of Amal
Concept illustrations by Nobuyoshi Habara
A horn blew loudly and a boarding ramp extended from Space Battleship Yamato’s flank. Captain Susumu Kodai, dressed in the most formal uniform of the Earth Defense Force, descended the stairs. Team leaders followed from various departments, including the staff of the first bridge. A young Amal soldier standing guard rendered a salute to Kodai and the Yamato crew, and Kodai returned it with the EDF-style salute.
Queen Irya held a welcoming ceremony in celebration of the save arrival of Earth’s third emigration fleet, led by Yamato. Irya, the beautiful queen who ruled Amal, went to the spaceport where the Earthlings arrived safely to welcome them all.
Kodai and Yamato’s crew walked quietly under an archway and past Amal soldiers. A red carpet spread out before them in honor of Earth customs. Beyond the arch, a young woman waited for Kodai and the others.
“At last, you’ve arrived.”
It was Amal’s Queen Irya, gazing at them with her gentle eyes. She skin as smooth as buttermilk and emerald pupils in her almond-shaped eyes. Those eyes were as calm as sheep with warm affection and a clear intellect. Behind Irya was a tall soldier wearing a helmet of the Amal military. His gaze was sharp, and his jawline, seemingly chiseled by a knife, showed his strength of will. Kodai kneeled before Irya to give his best thanks, and the crew followed suit.
“Your majesty, I am Captain Susumu Kodai of the Earth Federation Space Battleship Yamato.”
Irya urged Kodai to stand with a graceful gesture. The look in her eyes clearly encouraged a handshake.
“I am pleased that you have arrived safely at Amal, Captain Kodai. All the people of Amal were heartbroken when Earth’s first and second emigration fleets were attacked and disappeared.”
“On behalf of the human race, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your majesty’s kindness. You saved us from the threat of the Cascade Black Hole and restored our future. Thank you very much.”
Irya began walking along the red carpet, side by side with Kodai. The military man behind her, who seemed to have a fairly high rank, followed in protection. Yamato’s crew followed behind him.
“May I ask you something, your majesty?”
“Anything at all.”
“On the way here, we exchanged fire with a fleet of the Great Urup Interstellar Union. At that time, I spoke with Admiral Gorui, leader of the Etos fleet, and learned that the attack was ordered by a force called the SUS, which controls the Interstellar Union.
Irya’s eyes showed confusion.
“I’d like to ask, if your nation of Amal is a member of an Interstellar Union controlled by the SUS, why are you helping Earth? What will happen when you contradict them by accepting Earth’s emigration fleet after we were attacked?”
Irya’s jewelry reflected the beautiful light of the setting twin suns.
“Once, a great storm of war raged in the center of the galaxy, which includes Amal. Over the years, this battle was fought with the full power of the Interstellar Union and it continued for generations. The cities of major planets were destroyed, and many people were killed. There were times when we spent miserable days in the hell of battle.”
Irya gazed up into the heavens. The moon of Amal, the second home of humans from Earth, could be seen rising in the light of sunset.
“It was the SUS that ended the interstellar war. They appeared suddenly, destroying the great powers that ruled the center of the galaxy one after another, and the long war came to an end. The SUS was located in a remote part of the galaxy, and we did not even know it existed. Victory was made possible simply because of the SUS’ strong military power.”
“So even now the members of the Interstellar Union is led by the SUS?”
Irya silently nodded in answer.
“Even if all the member states banded together, including Etos, Fridei, and Beldel, they could never overcome the might of the SUS. Amal provides valuable resources to the SUS, and currently receives their military protection.”
As she spoke, a fire seemed to light in her emerald eyes.
“But please understand this, Captain Kodai. The interstellar nations that follow the SUS do not necessarily accept the methods of the SUS. I hope this answers your question.”
Kodai thought it would be presumptuous to question Irya further.
“I will keep that in mind.”
The soldier with the large physique finally spoke up. He was an impressive middle-aged officer with a dark beard who gave the same battle-hardened impression as a brave Earth veteran. His bold voice was as impressive as his majestic appearance.
“And now, Captain Kodai! There’s one more thing to keep in mind as well.”
There was defiance in his voice. Irya’s emerald eyes opened wider and she turned to him with a worried look.
Pascal pointed in another direction.
“Captain Kodai, look at that.”
In a facility that seemed to form a natural park facing the spaceport, many people of Amal held up signs and gave a chorus of shouts.
“You can’t hear them from here, but they’re shouting for the Earthlings to leave Amal.”
Irya glared at him. Kodai’s expression tensed. Yamato’s crew, standing nearby, gasped. General Pascal continued, seeming to resist Irya.
“They fear that the enormous number of Earth immigrants will take over Amal. They are afraid…that Amal will have no future without the friendship and goodwill of the SUS. Amal ignored the will of the SUS by allowing humans from Earth to emigrate to our moon. This is an action that came from her majesty’s sense of kindness and justice, and many are afraid that it will anger the SUS. Captain Kodai, please be aware of that and the effects of your past behavior.”
“General Pascal!” Irya sputtered, “What do you mean to say here?”
It was Kodai who soothed Irya’s sudden anger.
“Your majesty, I think what General Pascal has said is reasonable. We are indebted to Amal, and were ignorant of your circumstances. We will take the General’s advice to heart and give close attention to our conduct.”
Irya looked at Kodai with confidence. He stared back, thinking that if he were to hug her slender form, it might break.
The words “sorrow of a lesser power” drifted through his mind. Against the SUS, a superpower that controlled the center of the galaxy, a small nation like Amal could never prevail. Kodai’s position was even more delicate, entrusting Amal with the future of the human race. But at least Queen Irya seemed to look upon them with favor and kindness. That had been their only salvation.
“Here it is.”
The words were spoken by a young Earth Defense Force officer in his twenties who had been assigned as Kodai’s guide. Kodai stepped out of the limousine provided by the royal government of Amal and held his breath.
It was a ship’s graveyard. Countless space ships lay here, fallen from brutal damage by laser and missile attacks. Most were emigration ships with the Earth Federation crest on their hull. They sat silently on the ground along with the EDF battleships that had tried to protect them but now bore the raw wounds of battle. The site was a scrapyard provided by the Amal government.
A huge, dignified vessel with a double Wave-Motion Gun at its bow lay before Kodai; a Super Andromeda-class Battleship. It had been an escort ship in the first emigration convoy, commanded by Kodai’s wife Yuki. Kodai immediately wanted to run toward it, but a ringtone sounded from the comm device in his pocket.
“This is Kodai.”
“It’s Chief Engineer Kinoshita. Yamato is currently undergoing repair at the water dock provided by the Amal government. It’s in a rough state, but there’s no problem with equipment or manpower. We expect it to be completed in four or five days…”
“But there’s a problem?”
“Just a little one, captain…”
“A lot of Amal people have surrounded the dock, yelling for the Earthlings to ‘get out’.”
Kodai closed his eyes.
“Don’t worry about it. They’ll soon realize that our presence isn’t a threat to them.
“Uh, yes sir…”
Kinoshita and the others would probably continue working silently amid the jeering of the Amal people. Once again at a loss for words, Kodai switched off the communicator. He turned to Shimiya, who had overheard the conversation.
“Are you in a similar situation?”
The young officer hung his head in silence. Kodai put a hand on his shoulder.
“I see. It’s going to be hard.”
“Captain Kodai…I’ll show you around.”
A vehicle with automatic bridging equipment created a ramp up to the Super Andromeda. The officer led Kodai on board the ship once occupied by Yuki. Traces of intense battle hung heavily, filling it with the stench of burning metal and synthentic fibers. The power was out and no elevators were operating. It was a challenge to reach the bridge.
“Here’s the bridge,” the young officer said.
Of course, Yuki was not seated in the decaying captain’s chair.
He called out softly from his heart, and as he heard the word “That’s…” his eyes were riveted to a hat that had fallen gently to the floor, waiting for his gaze. He recognized it. He picked it up with a sinking feeling. Inside it were Yuki Kodai’s initials. He held it to his chest and the softness of her breath came back to him. Then gloom gathered over him.
You’re alive, Yuki…please tell me you’re alive. What have I done…? I left the people I love back on Earth. What was I thinking, wandering around in space like a recluse?
Kodai tightened his grip on the hat. He prayed that he could shake off this feeling of melting into jet-black darkness.
Stay alive, Yuki…
Suddenly, Daisuke Shima’s words came back to Kodai, piercing his heart like an arrow.
Yuki…I fell in love with you first. Kodai, no matter what happens, make her happy. I’ll never forgive you if you cause her pain…
He had said this as he was dying. And now, an echoing scream tore through Kodai’s chest.
Yuki, I will live with you forever as a man and a father for all time. I promise. So stay alive!
Kamijo, Kobayashi, Sakurai, Miharu, and Orihara took a walk on a paved road alongside a canal facing the Amal royal palace. It had been paved with polished white stones. Water taxis and sightseeing boats with snow-white sails came and went. The main street was filled with exotic galleries and art museums, a variety of stores, potters and craft workshops, cafes, and restaurants. A spicy scent drifted by, inspiring the young people’s appetites.
The palace of Amal was built of marble and coral. Colorful ceramic tiles covered its entire surface with decorative stucco. To the warriors of Yamato, who had fought through the hellish battlefield of BH199, it was a beautiful world of dreams. When they looked up, the moon of Amal hung in the sky, coating the ground with glamorous blue light.
“Will Amal’s moon become the second home of humanity, or…” Sakurai murmured.
Maho’s eyes filled with tears as she finished his sentence. “…or will we come to call it The Earth?”
Kamijo looked at her anxiously. “Maho…”
Miharu cradled Maho’s sad face.
“You can cry all you want in front of us…but not in front of the others. The main crew must always appear to be resolute.”
“Yes…thank you, doctor.”
Maho wiped her tears and noticed some Amal children silently staring at them. Like Queen Irya, they had emerald eyes and tan skin. Maho was embarrassed that they might have seen her crying, and smiled timidly at the boys.
But in the next moment, their young faces distorted with hatred. One boy picked up a pebble from the ground and threw it at Maho.
“Get off Amal, Earthlings!”
The pebble sailed just past Maho’s forehead.
“What are you doing?” both Kamijo and Kobayashi shouted, their tempers flaring. The frightened boys scattered and ran off in all directions.
Maho’s face went pale with shock. In contrast with Kamijo, who was enraged, Miharu sighed.
“To the people of Amal, maybe we’re intruders threatening their peaceful life.”
“Don’t say such a thing, doctor,” Sakurai said. Miharu turned a skeptical eye toward him.
“It was General Pascal who said that. Amal allowed Earthlings to migrate to their moon, but many are afraid to anger the SUS. To ordinary Amal citizens, we might appear to be terrible troublemakers.”
Kobayashi pushed in. “But, Miharu…”
“This happened all the time in Earth history,” she continued. “When food disappeared due to heat and drought, people always migrated to other lands. It was a matter of survival, but the people who lived there might have deprived the newcomers of what little food they had. For them, the immigrants were intruders. They might have even looked like invaders.”
“We are invaders,” Kamijo said, looking down and biting his lip.
Maho spoke up. “We’ve been preoccupied with escaping from the Cascade Black Hole threat, so we never thought that our actions might look aggressive to others.”
At those words, Kamijo felt a stab to his chest, as if his heart was on fire. Maho thought this was what it meant to lose one’s home planet.
In Queen Irya’s office in the Amal palace, General Pascal leaned forward on her plush sofa.
“How could I express it in a way acceptable to you, your majesty?”
“General Pascal, please don’t irritate me further,” Irya answered with creases of anguish engraved onto her exquisite forehead.
“For the SUS, it is only natural to be suspicious of Amal’s actions. By relocating 2.7 billion Earth humans to our moon, we’re not just doubling our population, we’re expanding it several times. What’s more, they have a powerful space fleet. With Earth on its side, is Amal planning to challenge the sovereignty of the Great Urup Interstellar Union? It would be natural for the SUS to think that.”
“But that suspicion is groundless. We just wanted to save the lives of two billion earthlings who would otherwise have been lost to a black hole. That’s all there is to it. All of us who serve Your Majesty are honored by your kind heart, and above all we respect the strong sense of justice you’ve upheld since you were a child. You are our pride. But you are no longer a young girl. You have the power to determine the fate of the Amal people.”
“Do you think there is a future for Amal if we incur the displeasure of the SUS?”
“You are the Queen of Amal, not of Earth. The future of our people comes before that of the Earthlings.”
“More than 600 million Earthlings have already arrived at Amal, general. The immigration plan has begun.”
“The Earthlings far exceed the population of Amal. This group of immigrants is like a tidal wave. Won’t they swallow all the people of Amal at once? Will they eventually take everything? There are many who hold that suspicion. They will not hide their dissatisfaction from their Queen, who approved the immigration plan. How long can Amal’s situation remain stable? The reports must have reached Your Majesty’s ears by now.”
Irya’s color flushed with anguish.
“General, are you saying the Earthlings should be abandoned?”
“I sympathize with the fate of Earth, about to be swallowed by a black hole. But that’s their problem. Why must Your Majesty pick up burning chestnuts until you incite the anger of the SUS? It could lead to the destruction of Amal.”
As if stuck for a reply, Irya stood up from her chair and walked toward a window. Outside, the garden of the royal palace was bathed in the liquid light of Amal’s moon.
“Please let me consider it a little longer in solitude…”
“Please, general. Just a little longer…”
General Pascal decided it would be disloyal to push it farther, so he slowly rose and silently bowed to Irya. She listened as he walked to the door and closed it behind him. Now alone in the room, she opened the window. She coughed as the gentle night breeze rippled through her hair.
“Oh, what trouble this is…why must it be so difficult to save a human life…?”
The massive fortress that served as a symbol of the SUS’ power drifted through space. Barlsman, commander-in-chief of the SUS army, sat in the central control room at the core of the fortress, conducting warp communication with one person. Their connection was at the highest level of encryption with multiple protections, its encoding and decoding requiring a powerful computer. It meant that despite this being an internal SUS exchange, the information was particularly sensitive.
Barlsman laughed bitterly from his command chair.
“Stupid woman. That’s the reaction I expected.”
The expression of his communication partner was clouded.
“Ah, a slip of the tongue. It must be great trouble for you, dealing with such a queen.”
“I thank you.”
“I have never doubted Amal’s loyalty to me or the SUS. The situation is just a bit muddled due to her inexperience.”
“Thank you very much for your understanding,” the other party said with a bow.
“Since the queen’s feelings are unchanged, we have no choice but to put our long-standing strategy into practice. Prepare yourself.”
“I understand, Lord Barlsman.”
“Will there be any weaknesses in your strategy on the day of commencement?”
“I’ve arranged for all of Amal’s air defense systems to be temporarily compromised on that day. The SUS should be able to land on Amal with no resistance to its fleet or ground units.”
“What about the Earth fleet? Space Battleship Yamato and the escort ships are equipped with powerful radar systems. What if they notice our approach?”
“All the Earth ships are anchored at the capital of Amal, in the southern hemisphere. If you approach from the side of the northern hemisphere, your fleet will avoid detection.”
Hearing this, Barlsman finally smiled.
“There have been some communication disruptions between Amal and the SUS, but they’ve been dealt with. Everything is restored. Amal will continue to enjoy its prosperity as a protected state of the SUS.”
On the other side of the screen, the other party spoke with passion.
“I thank you. I am sorry for the trouble caused by Her Majesty and the people of Amal. Please promise again on this occasion that you will not interfere in our affairs after this.”
Barlsman waved his hand dismissively.
“It is a promise.”
“I think you.”
General Pascal, commander of Amal’s armed forces, bowed his head again.
On Earth, Chief Shiro Sanada of the Space Science Bureau was still waiting impatiently for a message that was due from deep space. It was Jiro Shima who called his attention to it.
“Director Sanada! Communication from Yamato! A message from Captain Kodai! Yamato is safe!”
The science bureau staff exploded with jubilation when Susumu Kodai appeared on the main screen.
“The third emigration fleet arrived at Amal at 14:00 hours on April 5th, Earth time.”
Sanada raised his hand, signaling his cheering staff to quiet down. Shima adjusted the image to remove static.
“6300 emigration ships, 162 escort ships, and survivors of the first and second fleets totaling approximately 630 million people. Yamato is scheduled to return with six emigration ships as soon as repairs are complete.”
More cheers and applause erupted at the Space Science Bureau. Silver tears fell from Sanada’s eyes and splashed onto a console.
“Indeed, Kodai! Well done! Thank you!”
“Amal is a member nation of the Great Urup Interstellar Union. I’ve made a report on the governing superpower, the SUS, and the political situation surrounding it.”
Kodai gave Sanada the nostalgic Yamato salute and the picture cut off. A cloud of anxiety sprang up again in Sanada’s chest. Why did this Urup Union attack the Earth fleet? Why would Amal, one of its member nations, accept the human race from Earth? What kind of beings ruled the union with the SUS? No matter how much he wanted to know, the answers were 27,000 light years away. It was infuriating.