Chapter 2 - The Xylotian Moon
Wildstar sat confidently at his station as the Yamato
approached the strange new planet. His new journey had taken a few unexpected turns
but nothing could prepare him for what was to come.
"Captain, we are two thousand megameters from that small planet," reported Eager. "The environment is similar to what our moon's used to be. There is no atmosphere to sustain human life and there are no life forms. There are no signs of civilization and everything appears to be quiet. It's like a big rock in the middle of nowhere."
Wildstar began to contemplate his next move but his thoughts were interrupted by Eager's voice.
"Wildstar, we have missiles approaching! I count at least fifty!"
"Battle stations," ordered Wildstar. "Conroy, prepare the Astro-Fighters for launch. Dash, ready all guns for firing. Eager, where did the missiles come from?"
"The missiles were fired from a moon on the opposite side of the planet," answered Eager. "They are now at seven hundred fifty megameters and approaching fast!"
Sweat began to trickle down Wildstar's left cheek. A move had to be made. He must issue the counter attack to avoid damage to the ship.
"Main guns, open FIRE! Black Tigers, standby for my signal to take off!"
The mighty main guns of the Yamato fired. The neon blue laser light twisted and twirled from each of three barrels of the three front main guns. The shots collided with the incoming missiles but a few stragglers survived. Wildstar watched the monitor as the missiles approached. He ordered the Pulse Lasers to fire and soon the smaller guns destroyed the remaining missiles in a cloud of orange, red and yellow.
"Venture, change course thirty degrees starboard," ordered Wildstar. "We're going to take a closer look at that moon."
The Chief Navigator obeyed his Captain and the Yamato began to orbit the bluish, lifeless looking planet. Soon, the yellowish moon came into view.
"Homer, send a universal message of good will to that moon," ordered Wildstar. "They must understand that we are here to spread peace and knowledge, not warfare."
Homer repeatedly sent the message in all known forms of communication. A few moments later Homer received a response. After adjusting to the appropriate frequency, Homer analyzed the signal and a video transmission of a tall, slender, brown looking humanoid appeared on the Yamato's main video screen.
"I am Commander Noian (No-eye-en) of the Palmatians (Pal-may-shens). Who are you and what are you doing in this sector? If you have been sent by the Xylotian (Zi-lo-shen) Empire, I warn you that we will take all steps necessary to destroy your spacecraft."
Wildstar knew he must play his cards carefully. Diplomacy was the name of the game. The right move could bring success but a move in the wrong direction could prove disastrous.
"Greetings Commander Noian. I am Captain Derek Wildstar of the Space Cruiser Yamato from the planet Earth. We are on a friendly mission to explore uncharted space. Our mission was interrupted when our ship got caught in a space storm. We then traveled through some sort of void and ended up here. Our sensors now indicate that we are three billion light years from our home. We mean you and your Empire no harm. We come here in peace."
Wildstar noticed the alien's delay in responding. He wondered if there was a translator of some kind that was causing the delay. A strange feeling came over the Captain. It was as if the alien was probing his mind.
"Our biological senses indicate that you are telling the truth Captain. We have just begun to explore the outer reaches of that void. The plane that attacked you was on a mission to get to the other side of that storm. The pilot thought that your ship was a Xylotian scouting mission. That is why he fired on you. Thank you for not firing back on him and we ask for your forgiveness. We are in a state of war."
"A state or war? With who, the Xylotians?" asked Wildstar.
"Yes Captain. The Xylotians breed their own people into slavery. They force their own people to work as miners to produce enough metals to build vast space fleets used to take over other worlds. The Xylotians attacked our planet but we were strong. We would not give in to their tyranny and we would not become their slaves. We had a strong defense fleet but it was no match for the Xylotians. We were quickly over powered and were forced to retreat to this remote satellite.
"We secretly set up a mining facility on this moon's home planet which gave us enough ore to build this base. We were so far away from the Xylotians that we felt safe from further attacks. We thought that they would never find us here. One day the Xylotian Empire ran out of ore. They sent scouting missions throughout the galaxy to search for more ore and eventually they found our base. The result was a cruel war that we fight on an ongoing basis.
"But during one of the battles, one of our planes discovered that void. If that void led somewhere, we could possibly find more ore to make our defense stronger and rid the galaxy of the Xylotians and slavery forever. You see Captain, the Empire that controls that void could control a passageway to unlimited trade or mining stations. The controlling Empire could become very rich and very powerful."
"Commander Noian," interrupted Wildstar. "How big is this Xylotian Empire?"
"This sector of the galaxy is very spread out, Captain. The Xylotians control the three other planets in this system. We control this one and its moon. We would appreciate any information you have on that storm and void. It could be vital in our war with the Xylotians."
"Commander, I am going to confer with my senior officers," answered Wildstar. "I will contact you shortly."
"Very well," replied Noian.
Noian's face disappeared from the screen. The bridge crew all looked at Wildstar.
"Sandor, why do I not believe this character?"
"I don't know Wildstar. I don't trust him either," answered Sandor.
"One second this guy wants to blow us out of the sky, then he wants information," added Venture. "It just seems a little hard to believe."
"If these people are at war, they need a strong defense," replied Wildstar. "Maybe Noian is just being a little cautious."
"I don't know," answered Sandor. "Let's look at this first before we make any decisions."
Sandor walked over to a computer station and pressed a few buttons. An image of the mysterious fighter in the storm appeared on the Yamato's large video screen. It was an image taken by one of the Yamato's exterior cameras just before the fighter disappeared. Suddenly another image appeared on the screen. It was a space carrier. Seconds later the fighter landed on the space carrier and both ships disappeared from the video screen.
"I have an idea," said Wildstar. "Homer, get me Noian."
Seconds later, Noian's face appeared on the screen.
"Commander Noian, I am a little curious. What happened to that fighter we followed out of the storm? We lost all tracking of it as soon as we left the void."
Noian was a little lost for words and appeared uneasy. Another alian carrying a small electronic device walked up to Noian and handed it to him. Noian studied the device for a moment and then looked up at Wildstar with an unearthly evil smile.
"I will show you how it was done, Captain."
A whole fleet of planes were instantly transported to the area around the Yamato.
"What's going on Noian? Is this your idea of a joke?"
Noian smiled feverishly.
"That fighter was on a mission to scout that void and the storm. The pilot had some difficulties with his systems because of the storm's interference. Fortunately, we have just finished studying the tapes and everything is in order. You were being kept as insurance in case the tapes were useless. But now that the tapes are fine, you have outlived your usefulness. Now the Xylotian Empire has what we need to crush the Palmatians forever! And after we do, we will then travel to your galaxy and enslave your planet! Good-bye Yamato. HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!"
Noian's face disappeared from the screen and the triangular shaped alien fighters began to attack the Yamato. Wildstar was not pleased. He made his way back to his command chair and strapped himself in. Explosions and vibrations could be felt as the ships began to pelt the Yamato.
"Fire all guns," ordered Wilstar. "Black Tigers, take off!"
As the Yamato's guns fired, the launch bay on the underside of the hull opened outward. Large magnets in the ship's hangar swung the fighters out onto a lighted runway deep inside the ship.
A fighter pilot stared out of his cockpit. A small area of black would soon open into an ocean of weightless space. The pilot pressed the launch button and fire and energy exploded from the rear of the fighter. Swiftly, the small and deadly attack plane sailed on its wheels down the runway and headed toward the exit. In an instant the vehicle had been hurled into outer space. Other planes from the same attack unit followed and quickly got into their attack formation.
Within moments the dogfight had begun. Fighters from both sides of the battle exploded. Between the Yamato's guns and their squadron of Astro-Fighters, the fight did not last long. The Xylotians had lost the battle.
At Xylotian headquarters, Noian's executive officer had just finished reporting that the Yamato had destroyed the Xylotian fighter squadron. The unfortunate second in command was shaking and scared to death. Not many Xylotians disappoint Commander Noian and then live to tell about it. But Noian appeared to be in a forgiving mood.
"Launch a squadron of demolition fighters at once," ordered Noian. "They'll take care of the Yamato in no time!"
A demolition fighter was built like a normal fighter but its missiles were made of a super strong alloy. When the missiles hit a target they did not explode. Instead, they would sometimes go right through their target causing extensive damage. Eventually, these missiles would hit an engine room or some other power source which would cripple its prey.
Moments later a whole squadron of demolition fighters appeared around the Yamato. One of the planes launched its two missiles at the Yamato. Conroy, the fighter squadron's commander, flew near the missiles and fired his lasers. There was no effect. He then fired two of his own missiles and the incoming missiles were blown to pieces. The missile fragments rammed into Conroy's ship causing minor damage.
The battle raged on and a few more missiles were fired at the Yamato. Two hit the ship. One missile drilled a hole right through bridge number three. The other took a huge gouge out of the port bow.
On the bridge Sandor analyzed the enemy attack and discovered the alien strategy.
"Wildstar, remember those missile fragments we analyzed from that fighter in the storm? I remember saying that if the missile hadn't exploded it would have gone right through the ship. That's what they're doing Wildstar. They're trying to cripple us by knocking out the engine room or some other power supply."
"Oh, what a spot," answered Wildstar. "Second squadron of Black Tigers, prepare to take off!"
Meanwhile, Nova's dual radar screens began to flash.
"At fifteen thousand megameters there is an asteroid field," reported Nova.
"Venture, head for that asteroid belt," ordered Wildstar. "Those fighters won't be able to maneuver there."
"But what about Conroy and the Black Tigers?" asked Venture. "We just can't leave them here."
"We don't have a choice, Venture," replied Wildstar. "We have to put some distance between us and those fighters. Conroy and the others will be fine."
Wildstar activated his communicator.
"Conroy, we are heading towards an asteroid belt. Do you think you can cover us? Concentrate your protection on the back half of the ship. Those fighters are aiming for the engine room."
Seconds later Conroy's voice is heard over the speaker.
"No problem Wildstar. We'll cover the rear. These alien planes don't maneuver all that well so we have an advantage. It shouldn't take us too long to take care of these guys."
"Just be careful and we'll see you soon," replied Wildstar.
The Yamato entered the asteroid belt and rocks of all sizes began to surround the space battleship. Venture turned off the Yamato's automatic piloting system. The only way to successfully navigate through an asteroid field was to do it manually.
A few of the enemy fighters tried to follow the Yamato into the asteroids. Large and small rocks began to collide with the fighters. A pilot, amused by avoiding one asteroid, was quickly demolished by another. Another pilot avoided one asteroid only to ram into another plane. Soon, the enemy planes were obliterated and Conroy's Black Tigers were back onboard the Yamato.
Meanwhile, back at Xylotian headquarters, Noian waited impatiently for news on the Yamato. His Lieutenant began to head towards Noian's chair but another officer stopped him with a report. The Lieutenant looked down in disgrace. It was more bad news. The young alian eventually made his way to the Commander.
"Commander, all of our demolition fighters have been destroyed and the Yamato and its planes have retreated to the asteroid belt. Sir, the asteroids are jamming our radar and we've lost the Yamato."
Noian was furious. He hauled off and slugged the Lieutenant across the mouth. The young officer fell to the floor and blood began to trickle from the alien's mouth. Noian stood with a scowl on his face.
"As soon as you clean yourself up, I want you to send out a reconnaissance team! I want the Yamato found immediately!" Noian paused. "No...I have a better idea. Prepare a fleet of destroyers. We are going to bait them out."
While Venture skillfully maneuvered the Yamato through the asteroid belt, Eager and Nova scanned the area and found a large asteroid with an alcove just big enough for the Yamato to land for repairs. Venture pulled back the controls and moments later the ship landed safely on the floating space rock.
Moments later Sandor entered the bridge through one of the rear elevators and walked over to the Captain's chair.
"I've got some bad news Wildstar. One of the missiles severed a large pipe leading to the Wave Motion Gun. It will take us weeks to repair it properly. Without the Wave Motion Gun, we could be in trouble."
Sandor is abruptly interrupted as Nova's radar began to sound.
"A fleet of ships has launched from the far side of the alien moon," reported Nova. "Heading: point zero-six-nine degrees. They're heading straight for the void!"
"Wildstar," interrupted Homer, "I'm picking up a transmission from Xylotian headquarters to the command ship of the enemy fleet. They're urging the fleet to continue on to Earth."
Wildstar leaned back in his chair and shook his head. He knew it was a trap. His first priority was to protect his crew but he couldn't let a fleet of ships attack Earth. He had to prevent the confict from escalating into a an all out war.
"I want to see everyone in the Main Planning Room immediately," ordered Wildstar.
Minutes later, all of the top officers in the Star Force were standing in the Main Planning Room. The whole floor turned into a huge video screen and Wildstar was ready to begin. A map of the alien star system was displayed on the greenish screen. Wildstar pointed to the asteroid field on the map.
"We are currently here. We have analyzed the various attacks on the Yamato and have come to the conclusion that the enemy base for some unknown reason is broken up into two parts. The near side of the moon is where the missile silos are located. The far side is where the planes are transported. I don't know why they have constructed their base this way but we'll use it to our advantage.
"We are going to use a four part operation. In part one, Conroy will take Black Tiger Squadron One and attack those missile silos. In part two, Sandor, Vance, Beau, IQ-9, and Yamazaki will take the Cosmohound and invade the enemy base to disable their hangers and warping mechanisms. This will keep their planes grounded.
"In part three we will do a small space warp to intercept the enemy fleet. After the warp, Black Tiger Squadron Two will launch and take out the enemy fleet. In our final step, we will return to pick up Conroy and the landing party and use missiles to disable what's left of their artillery. Sandor, please make sure your ground party keeps radio silence until you have completed your mission. We want to keep these operations as quiet as possible. Any questions?"
Everyone in the room looked around but not a word was spoken.
"Okay, let's do it!"
The crew of the Yamato began preparations for their mission.
Back on Earth, the Commander of the Earth Defense Forces waited anxiously for news on the Yamato. He sat in his chair in the headquarters main operations room and watched groups of men and women trying to do their jobs. The Head Communications Officer approached Commander Todo with his daily report.
"Commander, there is still no word from the Star Force. The only information we have at this time is their last transmission which said that they were about to release their second relay satellite. Commander, that was five days ago."
The Commander of Earth's Defense Forces was deeply concerned. He had many good officers on board the Yamato; many of whom he respected a great deal.
"I see. Has my appointment arrived yet?" asked Todo.
"Yes Commander," replied the officer. "He is waiting in your office."
"Well then, I must go and greet our guest," said the Commander. "Report to me immediately if there are any new developments."
The Commander left the operations room and walked down the hallway to his office. As he approached the entrance, the door slid open. A man, holding a Captain's hat in his left hand and wearing a Captain's uniform, stood and saluted Commander Todo. Todo returned the salute and then walked over to his desk. He pulled out his chair, sat down and then motioned to the man to take a seat. The man placed his Captain's hat on the Commander's desk and then followed the Commander's lead.
"Captain Hudson Taylor," Todo began "thank you for coming."
Taylor had a tremendous reputation throughout the Earth Defense Forces. Captain Gideon once called Taylor the best Captain in the fleet. That was a tremendous compliment coming from a man like the late Captain Gideon. Gideon often talked about Taylor becoming the next Commanding General, as did many other high ranking officials in the Earth Defense Forces.
"Captain I have a mission for you," continued Todo. "It is of the highest priority. We are going to send out a search team to look for the lost Space Cruiser Yamato. Now I know you have been assigned mostly to the Academy due to what happened years ago at the battle of Minerva. But the Earth needs your expertise. We have just finished building a huge battleship designed by Star Force crew member Shiro Sandor. We have named her the Space Battleship Omega. I have chosen you to be her Captain. Your crew is also assembled except for a couple of bridge officers of your choosing."
Taylor seemed shocked at the news. Since the later portion of the twenty-second century, he had been training cadets at the Earth Defense Forces Academy. This would be his first assignment in space in nearly a decade.
"Thank you Commander," said Taylor. "I am honored."
The Commander snickered.
"You have a special mission, Captain. But do not take it too lightly. It will have its fair share of danger."
"When will we be leaving?" asked Hudson Taylor.
"You will leave in a couple of days, if all goes well," answered the Commander. "Unless of course, the Yamato is contacted."
"That's not a lot of time Commander," said Taylor. "But I think it can be done."
The Commander opened a drawer in his desk. He skimmed through some files and pulled out two folders. He opened the first one, flipped through some papers and then closed the folder and placed it on the desk. He looked at the name on the second folder and immediately placed it down on the table. He then pushed the folders over to the Captain.
"I think you should look at these two files carefully Captain. The two cadets are young but they're the best."
Taylor looked briefly at the names on the folders. The names were Reemer and Venture. A puzzled look appeared on the man's face. He looked back at the Commander who smiled. The Commander got out of his chair and shook Taylor's hand.
"Thank you Captain Taylor."
Taylor turned and left the room while the Commander silently sat back down. He looked up at a painting of the Yamato on the wall and remembered all of the battles and all of the wars that were fought and won.
"Star Force, what have you gotten yourself into?"