Chapter 1 - Space Storm
It was the year 2208 and Earth was once again at peace.
The Space Cruiser Yamato and its crew The Star Force had been sent on
a long journey to explore the outer regions of the galaxy. The mission,
authorized by the Earth Defense Forces Commander Todo would bring the Yamato
and its crew to uncharted space and unknown danger. The mission could also
be the last for many members of the crew.
The Captain and his long time love were having dinner in the Captain's quarters. They were nicely dressed in their formal wear and sat at a tiny table in the small room above the Yamato's first bridge. The cook's assistant placed a plate in front of the Captain and then did the same for the young woman. The assistant then stood at attention and saluted the Captain.
"Enjoy your meal Captain!"
The young Captain with flowing brown hair, which was completely against Earth Defense regulations, gently saluted. If it had been anyone else, the Earth Defense Force would have had him shaven bald. But this was no ordinary man. This was Derek Wildstar - a true war hero.
"Dinner looks great Derek!"
The tall, beautiful woman with waist-length flowing brown hair seemed to be very content with the dinner that had been prepared. It was a simple dish, chicken with garlic bread and vegetables but it had been very elegantly presented. She used her fork and began to play with her peas. While nudging them back and forth she realized that she had dominated the conversation all evening.
"Yes, the cooks have out done themselves this time," replied Wildstar.
Nova began to notice Wildstar's distance. Their travels have been long, intense journeys but none further than the distance between them at that moment in time. Something appeared to be on her lover's mind - something illusive. Whatever it may have been she knew that it was causing some stress for the dashing soldier. After having sat for many minutes with very little said, she broke the silence and came right out and asked what had been on her mind all evening.
"Derek, is everything all right?"
Wildstar looked up from his meal to catch Nova squarely in the eyes. Her cheeks had dropped and her eyes were beginning to fill with tears that weren't quite ready to flow. He had upset the love of his life and it bothered him deeply. The battle that had been raging inside of him was a personal one. It was a battle over a decision he had to make that could decide the future of their lives together. It had been a battle he had been fighting for months.
"I've been thinking about Commander Todo's offer," answered Wildstar. "Deputy General, I would be the youngest in history."
Nova noticed the uneasiness in Derek's voice. He had never had a life outside of the great battleship; an old hulk restored to fine beauty. But his time in space had made him tired and angry but most of all homesick. He had no family to speak of; they were all killed in the war with Gamilon. But still, the planet Earth was calling him. It was calling him home.
"It's a great opportunity Derek," said Nova.
The Deputy General's position became vacant when his brother, Alex Wildstar, sacrificed himself so that Commander Todo could escape the Dark Nebula Empire's occupational forces. The explosion from the bomb he had concealed under his uniform helped swing the balance of power back into the Earth's favor. It was an honorable death that Derek had not been able to deal with.
"It's an opportunity that shouldn't have come about!"
The shout startled Nova. Her knees banged into the table and her fork clanged to the floor. Her peas rolled off of her plate and onto the table. She had heard about enough. She slammed her fists on the table and stood up in fury.
"You are not responsible for Alex's death! He willingly gave his life so that the Commander and many other high ranking officials were able to escape the Dark Nebula Empire's invasion! You know that! Deep down inside you know that! If your brother were here he would want you to go for that position! He would want you to stop trying to be the hero for the whole universe! He would want you to have a real life!"
Wildstar's head continued to drop further into his chest. He began to feel about the size of one of the peas Nova crushed with her fists when she slammed them down on the table. If it had been any other member of the crew that had spoken to the Captain the way Nova had, they would have been knocked to the ground. Nova was the only person onboard with the guts to speak to Wildstar in that fiery tone and then live to tell about it. Nova was not through. She continued her assault.
"In the past few years you have lost everything; your parents, your family and your brother. You have given away everything you can to try to feel something, anything, just to end the numbness of your loss. It's time to let it go. Let this ship go. It's time you started to really live."
He looked up again just in time to see the tears flow. He knew that she was right. Wildstar reached over and softly secured Nova's hand. Her skin was as soft as cashmere and he began to think about how strong and lovely she could be. After a deep sigh, he gently wiped the tears from her eyes.
"Nova I'm sorry. This decision has been more difficult for me than you know. To walk away from this ship, my home after all of the time we have spent here is almost impossible. At times it is more than I can bear. But I can't afford to waste any more of our lives out here in the dead of space. I think it is time we settle down."
Nova was surprised and shocked. She had waited a long time to hear those words but they didn't quite set in. She had always wanted a simpler life; one with a home and with children. But there had been other things that had gotten in the way. Things like war and death. But now, things were different. The wars were over.
Wildstar sighed again and then collected his thoughts. It was truly a huge decision for him to make. He would be stationed in Tokyo and would be a direct report to General Todo. He would spend a lot of time behind a desk but a least he would be on Earth and perhaps he could start to have a normal life of his own.
"After this mission," continued Wildstar. "I am going to take the position at Earth Defense."
Nova was overjoyed, a smile appeared on her face and the tears quickly changed to tears of joy. She leapt over the table and hugged Wildstar for the longest time. Tears began to swell in Wildstar's eyes. Before he could say another word Nova whispered in his ear.
"You're not kidding, are you?"
Wildstar sighed even deeper. He still couldn't imagine what it would be like to leave his command, his life, his ship which had been his home for the last ten years. But he was a man of courage and it would take all of his strength to leave the Yamato for good. He began to realize that sometimes change is good and sometimes it can be difficult but sometimes it is necessary to truly be happy and to truly live.
"No I'm not kidding," answered Wildstar.
Wildstar let go of Nova and walked to the center window of his cabin. The stars filled the view and it was glorious. He smiled and looked at the stars for a few moments before saying another word. He wanted to remember this moment forever.
"Captain Avatar used to spend hours looking out this same window," said Wildstar. "Being in bed with radiation sickness doesn't leave you with much to do but think. I often wondered what he thought. Maybe he thought of how much he hated war and of how he dearly missed his family."
Wildstar turned from the window, walked over to Nova and hugged her. He softly kissed her cheek and then wiped the tears that flowed from her eyes. He gently kissed her lips and was amazed again by her beauty. She passionately kissed him back. After the embrace he stood holding her tight.
"I've been from one side of this universe to the other. I've seen just about everything there is to see. But I'm tired Nova. I'm really tired and I believe it's time to settle down. It's time to take it easy for a while. Before you, it didn't matter. My family was gone and I really didn't have a home."
Wildstar looked around at his cabin; Captain Avatar's old room and the ghosts that now haunted it.
"But this became my home. This ship, these people all became my family. But now, I want to spend time on my real home. I want to be on Earth with you."
Nova was thrilled.
Nova was about to embrace Wildstar when a violent shock shook the ship. Wildstar and Nova were thrown to the floor and the ship was immediately put on red alert. Wildstar and Nova were shaken up but scrambled to gain their composure.
The ship violently swayed back and forth as a signal went off in Wildstar's chamber. It was a high pitched sound which can only mean one thing: trouble! Wildstar worked to get his footing and finally made his way to the communications panel. Wildstar pressed a bright red button on the console.
"Venture, what's going on down there?"
A familiar voice soon replied. It was his best friend and Chief Navigator Mark Venture. They had been friends for years and had served together for over a decade. Venture was considered by many to be the best pilot in the Earth Defense Force. Mark was a good man and a trusted soldier.
"Wildstar, I think you'd better get down here right away!"
Wildstar was not happy. This was supposed to be a special evening alone with Nova who he had hoped would spend the night. Now, duty called and it put an end to their plans.
"What lousy luck. Okay I'm on my way!"
Wildstar made his way to Nova. Nova brushed the hair from her face and revealed tears that had changed to tears of sorrow. Another moment had been dashed but there was nothing they could do. He kissed her softly and tried to comfort her.
"Let's get to the bridge, Nova. The sooner we find out and fix what is going on the sooner we can finish dinner."
Moments later, one of the elevator doors on the bridge opened and Nova rushed to her position at radar control. Within seconds, Wildstar's command chair descended from the ceiling of the bridge.
"Okay Venture, what's going on?"
The Yamato appeared to be out of control. The ship's Chief Navigator sat behind the controls of the ship and was having a difficult time as it violently bucked and swayed beneath him.
"A space storm just suddenly appeared, answered Venture. "It wasn't detected on the radar!"
Wildstar began to grow nervous but he did not show his concern. He had been caught in space storms before and had been able to escape but this one was a lot more violent then any he had ever encountered.
"Venture, can you control her?"
Venture quickly shook his head in disagreement. The best pilot in the galaxy was nervous and visibly shaken. He was fighting a losing battle. Every move he had made in getting the ship under control had been negated by the storm.
"I'm doing my best Wildstar," answered Venture.
Venture glanced behind him to a very stocky and powerful looking man. The Chief Engineer was very irritated. His crew in the engine room were behind in their scheduled daily duties and his ship's engines did not appear to be responding correctly.
"Yamazaki, engine output is down," said Venture.
The Chief Engineer was already aware of the problem. Venture's announcement to the entire bridge did not make Yamazaki any more pleased with the performance of his crew. Yamazaki turned on his communicator, his link with the engine room and his assistant, Orion.
"Orion!" screamed Yamazaki. "What's going on? Must I come down there again!"
A young and inexperienced voice muffled by the sirens and commotion of a now very busy engine room quickly replied.
"Nothing's wrong down here, Chief. Energy output is normal."
Yamazaki took a moment and listened to his ship. A good Chief knows his ship like the back of his hand and he knows exactly what is wrong by just listening to the sounds it makes. The Yamato continued to buckle and sway. Its engines were clearly trying to do their job. Yamazaki, with a puzzled look on his face, could only guess at the problem.
"Venture, engines appear to be working perfectly. It must be the storm."
"Sandor, do you have any ideas?"
Sandor was the Yamato's Chief Technician and Executive Officer. He was a man whom Wildstar trusted completely. He was also a very close friend to Derek's late brother Alex. Since Alex's death, Sandor and Wildstar hadn't been able to talk about the incident. It was still too fresh in their minds.
Sandor had lost his arms and legs in an accident as a child. They were replaced with bionic prosthetics but Sandor had never let the accident hinder his career. He was a genius who could fix or repair just about anything.
"The best thing to do is to wait it out," answered Sandor. It has us clearly in its grasp and does not seem to want to let us go. The ship doesn't appear to be in any immediate danger at this point."
"Thanks Sandor," answered Wildstar. "Let's just hope there aren't any other objects caught in this storm besides the Yamato or this might get a little tricky. Homer, contact Earth Defense Headquarters. Update them on the situation. Maybe they can tell us what's going on or offer some suggestions. Let them know that at this point, we're going to see where this storm takes us."
Homer was the Yamato's Chief Communications officer. He was a good man who at times was homesick. His love affair with the Commanding General's granddaughter was well known and Homer missed her terribly. Many onboard the Yamato felt that Commander Todo sent the Yamato on this mission so that Homer could be as far away as possible.
Homer worked at his station but received nothing but static in his headset. He tried to boost the signal by increasing power to the transmitter but the storm has created a communications blackout.
"It's no use Wildstar," answered Homer. "We can't get in touch with the last relay satellite we set up. I have tried to boost the signal but the storm has cut off all of our outgoing communications."
Another violent shock shook the ship and this time it was followed by an explosion. Shortly after, an unidentified space ship soared past the bridge.
"Did you see that Wildstar?" asked Sandor.
Wildstar nodded in agreement. He began to wonder what other surprises would be next.
"Shall I prepare the shock cannons Wildstar?" asked Dash the eyeglass wearing Chief Weapons Officer.
"No," snapped Wildstar. "Stay sharp and keep the gunners on standby."
Nova had been carefully watching her radar screen for any activity. The storm had made radar communications virtually impossible. Without warning the radar screen began to light up signaling an object in close proximity to the Yamato. The signal was fairly weak but it was close.
"The mysterious ship has done a looping pattern," reported Nova. "It will soon be traveling on the same heading as the Yamato. I don't know how long we'll be able to track it."
The mysterious ship again soared past the bridge. This time it did not attack. Wildstar saw this as an opportunity to act.
"Venture full speed," ordered Wildstar. "Follow that ship!"
Venture tried to steer the Yamato into position. He pulled tightly back on his controls and the Yamato reluctantly attempted to change its course. The ship swayed and bucked but it gave in to the request.
"Give me a damage report," ordered Wildstar.
Sandor's computer screen lit up. The screen showed a cut away view of the Yamato with deck by deck detailed schematics of the ship. There was only one yellow blinking light on the starboard aft portion of the ship.
"Minimal damage and no casualties," reported Sandor. "There is no hull breach."
Wildstar studied the storm on the large video screen that encompassed nearly the entire length of the Yamato's bridge just above the main viewing area. The storm swirled in nearly every direction. Wildstar stared at the strange alien fighter and began to believe that the key to getting out of the situation could be found.
"Nova, could you enhance grid area Z-7?"
Nova pressed a few buttons on her computer. A grid in the lower portion of the video screen was enlarged to full size. The mysterious plane was in the middle of the grid. Despite the interference from the storm, the image was fairly clear.
"That plane seems to be able to navigate this storm quite easily. That is highly unusual for a ship of that size. If we run into a number of those ships, we could be in trouble. They could easily out maneuver us. But this fighter appears to be on a specific course. I suggest we follow at a safe distance as best as we can. Let's see where our friend came from. He got in here somehow and now he's going to show us the way out."
The strange spacecraft glided it's way effortlessly through the space storm but suddenly and with no warning, the fighter vanished from Nova's radar screen. She desperately tried to locate the strange ship. She increased the power to the radar system but the fighter still did not appear. She tried it again by pressing a few button on her workstation and suddenly a faint image materialized on the screen. It was the mysterious fighter.
As the minutes passed, the Yamato's crew continued as best as it could to keep track of the fighter. But as the time went by, the storm appeared to be thinning. Suddenly and with no warning whatsoever the Yamato broke free of the storm's clutches into a sea of complete blackness. Not a light could be seen as darkness enveloped the Yamato.
Wildstar and the crew were in awe. They had seen many things in all of their adventures but they had never seen total nothingness before and it began to worry them all.
"Nova, is the radar equipment still operational?" asked Wildstar.
"Yes," answered Nova. "The mysterious ship is about two thousand megameters directly in front of the Yamato."
"Venture, continue following that ship," ordered Wildstar. "I want no deviation in course unless our little friend decides to make a move."
Sandor meanwhile had accessed the Earth Defense Force's computer database. After searching through countless files, he found what he had been looking for.
"Wildstar," began Sandor. "I believe we are in some sort of void. There is no telling how long or how big it could be and in theory, a void could go on forever. There is a myth that says that a void is a passageway into another dimension. I suggest we drop relay satellites at periodic intervals."
"Like leaving a trail of bread crumbs," said Wildstar.
"Exactly," answered Sandor. "So we don't get lost."
"Let's do it," replied Wildstar. "Homer, drop the satellites at their furthest possible range. Let's stretch it out. We don't know how long we'll be in this void."
"In the meantime, Wildstar," continued Sandor. "The repair crews have salvaged some missile fragments that were stuck in the hull from the attack by that unknown fighter. The results are disturbing. The fragments are made of a super strong alloy that is completely foreign to us. If the missile did not have an exploding head, it could have gone right through the ship - if fired powerfully enough."
"Thank you Sandor," answered Wildstar.
A worried feeling came over Wildstar's body. He looked outside into the darkness and then back down at his computer screen. The strange fighter continued steadily on its course into the unknown leading the Yamato and her crew into a possible deadly situation. He wondered where it had come from and what species if any was onboard. He wondered what kind of danger could be waiting for him and his crew.
"Wildstar," interrupted Venture. "Look at that!"
Starlight began to show through the view port. The darkness was gone and the Yamato appeared to have made it through the void. The crew scrambled to gather as much information as it could on this strange new place. The entire Astro-Navigation unit bustled with activity. A new unexplored system meant numerous experiments and charting. Nova continued to monitor the alien craft. She had been watching it closely for any deviation in its course. It was nine hundred megameters ahead of the Yamato and it was slowing down.
Without warning an explosion erupted on the starboard bow of the Yamato. The crew was nearly slammed to the deck. Sirens blared throughout the ship and emergency systems kicked in. Pieces of metal and debris filled the space around the ship. The Yamato had been strategically hit with a powerful missile.
"Distance to the alien vessel?" demanded Wildstar.
Nova pressed a few buttons on her computer and nothing appeared on the screen. She repeated the process and still nothing. She then ran a quick program that checked the status of the equipment to make sure it was functioning properly. The test came back as positive. The alien vessel was not on the screen.
"The fighter's gone Derek," said Nova.
Wildstar knew exactly what had happened. He had seen this tactic before. It was a simple hit and run trick. He should have expected it. The missile was only a diversion.
"Sandor, a ship that small couldn't have a warp drive," said Wildstar.
"They did not want us to see where they were going," answered Sandor. "If that ship does have a warp drive, we could be in trouble. I would hate to see what our Astro-Fighters are going to be able to do against a whole fleet of those planes."
"Wildstar and Sandor, I think you both should come take a look at this," said Venture.
Wildstar and Sandor walked to Venture's station. Upon arrival, Venture pointed to a small, oval meter on his control panel.
"This counter tells me how far from Earth we are," said Venture. "The instrument did not work while we were in the void."
Wildstar and Sandor stared at the meter in disbelief.
"That's impossible," said Wildstar. "It must be a mechanical error."
"I've checked it three times Wildstar," answered Venture. "It is working perfectly. According to this, the Yamato is a little over three billion light years from Earth."
"If this reading is true," interjected Sandor. "The only way for us to see the Earth again is to perform a space warp regularly each day for twenty years. Unless we can find another way; possibly back through that void."
Wildstar was stunned. But before he could ponder his next move Eager's voice grabbed his attention.
"We've got a planet at four hundred and fifty thousand megameters ahead. We are still too far away to get any precise information on its atmosphere or physical makeup."
Wildstar returned to his command chair. The newly discovered planet was only two hours away.
"Venture, auxiliary engines only and keep us on yellow alert," ordered Wildstar.
Derek stared out the window at the strange planet. What key if any did it hold to the Yamato's whereabouts?