Yamato: Soldiers Of Honor

Chapter 3 - The Landing Operation

    In the medical wing of the Yamato a short doctor wearing glasses was talking to his long time companion, a genius robot named IQ-9. The plump Doctor and IQ-9 had served on the Yamato since its resurrection in the year 2199. His other friends, a small cat and a full bottle of saki were always in close proximity.
    "Now be careful IQ-9," said Doctor Sane. "You're a very valuable part of this crew."
    The mechanical monstrosity issued a number of beeps and chirps as it prepared for the difficult mission. The red machine with two legs, two arms and a swiveling domed head had incredible strength and amazing wit.
    A little cat slithered up to IQ-9. She rubbed her back section up against one of IQ's legs and issued a loud meow. She then proudly pranced over to the doctor and jumped up into his pudgy arms. The feline quickly began to purr and wash herself unaware that her crew was in immense danger.
    "Mimi says be careful too," said the doctor.
    Doctor Sane smiled. The robot rolled out of the room as Doctor Sane shook his head in amazement.

    On the bridge, the crew was ready to put their plans into motion. Wildstar sat in his command chair and silently prayed to himself. He hoped that the vital mission would go smoothly. Hundreds of lives were at stake and Earth must be warned of the possible danger from this strange alien race.
    "Okay Venture, take her up," ordered Wildstar.
    The ship's pilot pulled up on the controls and the Yamato's engines ignited. The ship slowly rose from its makeshift landing platform. Venture adjusted the ship's course and moments later, the Yamato broke free of the asteroid belt.
    "Nice work Venture, hold course and continue preparations for the small space warp," said Wildstar. "Conroy, Astro-Fighters, take off at once! Second squadron of Astro-Fighters, prepare to take off. As soon as we complete the warp, we begin the attack!"
    Once again the launch bay opened beneath the ship and dozens of small fighter planes were launched into outer space. Within a few minutes the planes were in formation and the pilots were ready to attack the enemy missile silos.
    Wildstar activated his communicator. "Sandor, how's it going down there?"
    "We are all ready Wildstar," replied Sandor. "The Cosmohound is ready to take off."
    "Take care of yourself and good luck," answered Wildstar.
    The Cosmohound, a craft approximately ten times the size of an Astro-Fighter, was used for special missions, reconnaissance and search and rescue. The Cosmohound's engines ignited and the most pivotal element to the mission began. IQ-9 piloted the Cosmohound and Sandor sat in the co-pilot's chair. Minutes later the Cosmohound entered the Xylotian moon's atmosphere. As the team sat in silence each individual knew that their mission was vital. They must destroy the Xylotian aircraft transporters and fighter hangers before they could be used against the Yamato.
    "IQ-9, bring her down thirty-five hundred meters from the base," said Sandor. "Be careful not to be detected by the enemy's radar. We will walk from there."
    IQ-9 skillfully piloted the ship down to the surface and the Cosmohound effortlessly landed on the yellow moon. Sandor quickly unbuckled his seat belt and then assembled his men in the rear of the ship. The crew hastily put on their backpacks and armed themselves with the latest Earth Defense Forces rifles.
    "Beau, you get the chargers," ordered Sandor. "Vance, you help him. Yamazaki, are you ready?"
    "Ready as I'll ever be," replied Yamazaki. "Let's go and get this over with!"
    Sandor opened the outer hatch and the crew began to disembark. The landing party exited the Cosmohound on foot and began to search for the mysterious enemy base. They soon discovered that the surface of the planet, despite the yellow soil, had the same gravitational pull of the Earth.

    Noian proudly sat in his command chair. He felt alive with the thought that he would soon be able to conquer another galaxy. Now that he had the information on the space storm and the void he began to feel invincible. But as he started to find comfort in his new found universal superiority complex, news of the Star Force's attack finally reached the Xylotian Headquarters. His Lieutenant, fat lip and all, rushed to his commanding officer's side.
    "Commander Noian, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that the Yamato has left the asteroid belt in pursuit of our fleet." The Lieutenant took a deep breath. "The bad news is that a whole squadron of enemy planes is heading this way! The enemy planes will be in our missile range shortly."
    Noian smiled. He was impressed with Wildstar's tactics.
    "These Earth people are strange indeed," said Noian. "They have left their fighters without cover. But their loss is our gain. Order all of our surface-to-air missile silos to fire at once! That will keep their planes busy. In the meantime, prepare two squadrons of demolition fighters for launch. We will show the Yamato how an attack is done."

    Conroy was flying in perfect formation as the lead of the Astro-Fighter squadron. His mission was simple - to attack and disable the enemy missile silos. Being the brother of the Yamato's original fighter squadron leader had given him tough shoes to fill. But fortunately for the Yamato, he had far exceeded those expectations.
    "Astro-Fighters, split up into your four respective groups," ordered Conroy. "Group one, take the west. Group two, take the east. Group three, take the north. Group four, take the south. Okay boys, begin attack."
    As soon as the words left Conroy's mouth, the Xylotian silos began their counter attack measures. The enemy missiles were fired straight upward directly above the Astro-Fighters. They suddenly exploded into hundreds of smaller missiles that began to rain down on the Astro-Fighters. Conroy's squadron was badly damaged.
    Conroy pressed a button and two missiles were launched from his fighter and a missile silo was destroyed. He banked his fighter to the left as his wing man repeated the process. Another silo was blown to bits. Before Conroy could set up for another attack run, the Xylotians fired their missiles again. It was another deadly blow to the fighter squadron as a half dozen more fighters were destroyed.
    "All Astro-Fighters regroup at fifty thousand for our second bombing run. We'll be out of the enemy's missile range there."
    The remaining Astro-Fighters suddenly reversed course to regroup.

    Aboard the Yamato, Wildstar checked his computer screen to follow the progress of Conroy's attack on the missile silos. Wildstar began to look dismayed as he soon realized that Conroy's squadron had been hit very hard.
    "Okay Venture, warp," ordered Wildstar.
    The Yamato instantly disappeared. Moments later, it had completed its small space warp and materialized directly behind the enemy fleet. Wildstar shook off the grogginess from the warp and quickly began the offensive.
    "Good warp Venture," said Wildstar. "Black Tigers, take off at once! Dash prepare to fire the main guns!"
    The launch bay door opened underneath the Yamato and the second squadron of Black Tigers blasted off as the third part of the mission got underway.

    Aboard the bridge of the commanding ship of the enemy fleet, the ship's Captain was in the middle of a conversation with his first officer. Personnel issues were the topic of the day and the first officer was clearly upset about the daily rotation. An explosion on the deck of the vessel suddenly halted the conversation.
    "Captain, we have enemy planes in all sectors," reported the radar operator. "They must have hit our radar blind spot!"
    The Xylotian Captain, fairly new to his post and surprised by the sudden attack, did what every warrior should not do in battle - panic. Instead of firing back, the Captain just sat there dumbfounded. Another explosion knocked him back to reality.
    "Report the situation to Commander Noian," said the Xylotian Captain. "We need fighter support!"
    The first officer scurried off to the communications panel unaware that Commander Noian was one step ahead of the fleet's Captain.

    On the Xylotian moon, Sandor's party had been wandering aimlessly over the hilly terrain in search of the Xylotian fighter hangars. They had been unsuccessful in finding anything of use and the entire group's patience was beginning to run thin.
    Sandor disappointingly looked down at his malfunctioning compass. He looked back up and surveyed the area. He noticed two mountains in the distance but paid them little mind as they looked strangely familiar to the ones he had discovered about an hour earlier.
    "IQ-9, have you been able to pick up anything?" asked Sandor.
    Sandor shook his head in disgust. His group was now lost. Before he could dwell on the situation for long, the ground began to tremble. Sandor looked up. A side of one of the distant mountains began to open. Moments later, dozens of fighters began to launch from the opening. The fighters flew a quick looping pattern and then hovered in formation over the surface of the moon.
    About a half mile from the mountain hanger was the other mountain and it too began to tremble. A door slid open and a cannon was forced upward. The huge cannon lit up and emitted a purple ray that was shot directly at the fighters. The planes disappeared. The Star Force's landing party, now in visual contact of the mountain hanger and transporting mechanism, had their targets.
    "Yamazaki, you take Beau and Vance and destroy that transporting mechanism," ordered Sandor. "I'll take IQ-9 and we'll destroy the hanger."
    "Okay Sandor," answered Yamazaki. "We'll meet at the Cosmohound when we're done. Let's go!"
    The two parties split up and hurried off in different directions. The two groups were just out of sight of each other when IQ-9's lights began to go haywire. Sandor stopped and looked over at the robot. He had detected something out of the ordinary.
    Without warning, a trap door opened beneath Sandor and IQ-9 and they were quickly swallowed up!

    The Xylotian fleet was defenseless. Their main guns and radar systems were destroyed and they had no way to fight back. On the bridge of the command ship of the destroyer fleet, the Xylotian Captain received a message from his communications officer.
    "The Yamato is ordering us to return to base at once," said the Xylotian captain. "They will give us safe passage but failure to comply will result in total elimination."
    The defeated Captain realized that his first command had been a major disappointment. He knew he must make up for his lack of good judgment but the result would still be the same - the end of his career and his life. He decided that it was better to die in battle than to die in disgrace at the hands of Commander Noian.
    "They want us to return? Never! All ships change course! Ram the Yamato!"

    What was left of the enemy fleet changed direction and began to head straight for the Star Force. Aboard the Yamato, the move did not go unnoticed.
    "The enemy fleet has changed course and is heading our way," reported Nova.
    "I have them too Wildstar," added Eager. "They're coming in fast!"
    "Fire all guns," ordered Wildstar. "Target the enemy fleet!"
    The Yamato's guns fired and the shots slammed the enemy fleet. One blast hit the main bridge of a destroyer. The ship exploded into a huge fireball. Another shot struck a destroyer on its port side. A huge plume of smoke bellowed out of its side. Another blast hit the same ship and the vessel was obliterated.
    Another shot hit a destroyer squarely on its deck. It was sent spinning out of control and rammed into another ship. The two spaceships exploded. Only the flagship destroyer remained and it did not change course.
    Another shot from the Yamato's third main gun severed the flagship in half. The stern blew to pieces as the ship's engines exploded. One final shot destroyed the remaining portion and the fleet of destroyers had been eliminated.
    "Wildstar, we're getting a message from Conroy," reported Homer. "The Black Tigers have taken heavy damage and are running low on fuel. He's urging us to return at once. We've also lost communications with the landing party."
    Two squadrons of demolition planes instantly appeared around the Yamato.
    "We have enemy planes in sectors three and four," reported Nova.
    "Oh, what a spot," said Wildstar. "Venture, evasive maneuvers! All Pulsar Cannons begin firing! Counter-attack missiles, fire!"

    Sandor and IQ-9 had been taken into a dimly lit chamber. IQ-9 had been deactivated and had been placed in a dark corner of the room. Sandor was sitting in a chair and had been gagged, blindfolded, and shackled. A tall, brown, slender looking humanoid walked into the room and then proceeded to remove Sandor's blindfold and gag. Sandor gasped for breath and his eyes slowly came into focus. He saw a Xylotian standing over him. The alien took a step back and began to speak in an extremely deep voice.
    "I am Major Zeeman. I am a Xylotian working with the Underground Movement. You have been carefully watched since your landing. We are interested in your mission. Tell me, what is your plan?"
    Sandor refused to answer Zeeman.
    "I can understand why you refuse to answer."
    The Xylotian walked over to Sandor and removed his shackles.
    "Those restraints were used as a preventative measure so you wouldn't attack us. Now tell me Soldier, what is your plan?"
    Sandor again said nothing. Seconds later, another alien entered the chamber. This one looked identical to Zeeman except it had yellow skin. Sandor watched the two creatures closely as they conversed in a foreign tongue. The conversation appeared to finish and then Zeeman looked back at Sandor and continued.
    "This is Captain Reen of the Palmatians," said Zeeman. "You look concerned, Soldier."
    Sandor remained cautious but decided that there could be no harm in answering.
    "I am concerned about my mission, Major. When my ship fails to locate me, they will return and attack this moon with everything they have."
    "Let me explain what is happening here," said Zeeman. "We are in a state of civil war. Notice the similarities between a Palmatian and a Xylotian? Other than the different color of skin, we are the same race. You see Soldier, the Palmatians are the minority in our society. They are also intellectually superior to Xylotians. As the population of the Palmatians grew over time, their social status grew as well. The Palmatians soon took over high ranking jobs that were previously held by Xylotians. Some Xylotians hated them for it and soon anti-Palmatian marches and rallies began.
     "Then Noian won election and he took control with force. He ordered the assassination of thousands of innocent Palmatians. The 'Hit Squads' as they were called would open doors at night, drag their victims outside and then shoot them in the streets. The Palmatian people were outraged. They banded together but Noian controlled the military. His forces were strong and the resistance was crushed.
    "Noian's forces cut the Palmatian population in half and now they are traded, bought and sold as slaves. The Palmatians who work here though, The Underground, are free. We secretly run this whole Underground network right under Noian's nose.
    "Now Soldier, we have an update on your mission. The Yamato has destroyed the fleet of destroyers Noian had sent to lure it out of the asteroid belt. Two squadrons of demolition fighters have just attacked and the Yamato has taken evasive action and is headed back here to pick up its attack planes. The planes have successfully destroyed ninety-five percent of the surface-to-air missile silos but have taken heavy damage and are low on fuel.
    "What I propose is that we work together. We want to help you in your mission to destroy the hangers and transporting mechanisms. Before you answer, I want you to know that the other landing party is also under my protection and will be here shortly."
    Sandor was surprised by the offer and decided he had no choice but to accept.
    "My name is Sandor. I am from..."
    "I know the whole story, Soldier Sandor," interrupted Zeeman. "We monitored your conversations with Noian."
    "Well then," answered Sandor. "Maybe you could answer a few questions that I have. Why did you decide to join the Underground? Why is the Palmatian Liberation Underground Movement being led by you - a Xylotian?"
    "A Palmatian can be born to any parents," answered Zeeman. "Even a male and a female Xylotian can have Palmatian offspring. Under Noian's rule, Palmatian infants were taken from their parents right after birth and were placed in slave homes until they were old enough to work. But when my mother gave birth to a Palmatian son, my parents whole world changed in an instant. My mother looked at her son and decided to raise him herself in secrecy instead of giving him up. This was in direct violation to Noian's laws. One day when he was about 5 years old, he found his way outside of our home. Soldiers discovered him and my brother was seized. Both of my parents and my little brother were gunned down right in front of me. I was lucky enough to escape from my home before the soldiers could find me. Since that day I swore I would do anything to see Noian removed from power and our peoples living together again in peace."
    Sandor was stunned.
    "If I have offended you in any way, I am truly sorry," said Sandor apologetically.
    The Xylotian shook his head.
    "No offense taken. You are just being cautious. I will make a bargain with you, Soldier Sandor. You help us overthrow Noian and we will help you get back to your own galaxy."
    "We will help, Major Zeeman," answered Sandor.
    Zeeman reached down and pressed a button on a small box that was attached to the belt around his waist. Within moments Yamazaki, Beau, and Vance entered the chamber.
    "Sandor, are you okay?" asked Yamazaki.
    Sandor nodded in agreement.
    "I'm fine," replied Sandor. "This is Major Zeeman and Captain Reen of the Underground Movement. We are going to help them overthrow Noian and in return, they are going to help us get back home."

Chris' Corner, Chapter 4