Star Blazers, Space Battleship Yamato, and all related names and elements are copyright © 1998 by Voyager Entertainment, Inc. and Leiji Matsumoto. Star Blazers is a registered trademark of Jupiter Films, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Nota Bene: This work of prose is inspired by the original North American Star Blazers series, and is also inspired by Uchu Senkan Yamato to a lesser degree. However, some events and character depictions may deviate from the accepted standard. This is a work of fanfiction by “Wicked Good Grrrl” and is her property.
by Wicked Good Grrrl
“This whole area used to be a beautiful lake,” Wildstar sighed. He and Venture were walking down the gangplank of Biwa-ko. “Now all that remains of it is the name of this ship.”
“My father would know the average annual tonnage of for-human-consumption rice grown in this region,” Venture tried to change the subject. “Even something about the major varieties farmed.”
“Ask him some time about how ‘the face of agribusiness’ has changed since then.”
Venture kept his peace. Wildstar had been in a mood ever since he’d realized Yukikaze had not rendezvoused with the Biwa-ko. Wildstar already suspected there was something wrong, even before he and Venture had been briefed on the situation involving the Plutonian Armada.
“No one’s given us straight answers about Yukikaze or its crew. And they haven’t let me near Captain Avatar…!”
Wildstar intuited that Captain Avatar was the go-to officer for word on his brother, who idolized “The Old Mariner”. He remembered the one time Alex told him about Captain Avatar.
Alex refilled his younger brother’s cup of saké. The older Wildstar was, himself, deeply in his cups. “Avatar tol’ me a fortune-teller tol’ him he’d never drown, bein’ a seventh son of a seventh son. Can you imagine (*snrkx*) havin’ six older brothers, Squirt? Hehehe!
“Avatar thinks he’s fated never to die by fire, either. I think he’s right. He tol’ me about some of what he’s survived. Not pleasant.
“An’ he kinda looks like if Ernest
Hemingway and Santa-kun could have a child. Grumpier
than the latter.
“He’s not Japanese, but by th’ gods, he’s got the bushi spirit in ‘im more `n most Japanese I know. ‘F you ever get the chance to serve un’er him… `F you get the chance to talk to him! Take it! Y’gotta promise me you’ll take it. `Cause I worry about you, Squirt…”
“…I’m so sorry about your brother,” Venture broke into Wildstar’s reminisce.
“Yeah,” Wildstar sighed. He’s not gone yet, Venture, he kept to himself. Save your condolences!
The two young men relinquished
the message capsule to EDF Intelligence and finished with their reports at
headquarters. Wildstar was advised to see Captain Abraham Avatar, currently
“Promise me you’ll spare Captain Avatar the Famous Wildstar Volcano Impression.”
“You know very well. You may get some bad news, and you shouldn’t take it out on the messenger.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about!”
Then Venture and Wildstar saw the ghost.
A young, female nurse was walking down the hall in the opposite direction. She was the nearly-exact image of the dead alien woman. The nurse’s hair was shorter, but was the same honey-blonde color. She wore a marigold-colored uniform dress with matching stockings and nursing clogs that played up her long, very-nice legs. She could have been American or European, and yet she had that indefinable something that made her look Japanese.
Her eyes were slightly downcast, as if she was sad or worried. Then she saw Venture and Wildstar and stopped in midstride. She lowered slightly the clipboard she hugged, and continued her walk. There was a polite gleam of interest in her dark, long-lashed eyes.
Nova Blackwell recognized the appreciative stares of the two Space Cadets. Within a few hours of giving William the brush-off, she had a pair of would-be admirers. Fairly pleased with herself, she affected an extra wiggle as she walked.
“Hello,” she said as she passed. Her voice was only just audible, and the barest smile graced her mouth. Then as immediately as she’d shown her interest in them, she cast her eyes down and walked away.
The two young men stood open-mouthed, profoundly silent and stunned. Wildstar felt a sudden, delicious shiver rise up his back and neck.
He turned to Venture. The two of them chorused, “Who was that?”
Wildstar recovered first and blurted out, “I’ve got to meet her!”
“She doesn’t look like the kind of girl who’s into Space Cadets, Dare,” Venture replied.
“Ah, Ventsch, don’t say that!” Wildstar protested. “A guy can dream, can’t he?”
Avatar was cleaned up, patched up and made almost comfortable in a hospital bed.
Why did I smash my chest and shoulder up so, he thought. I only did the sort of face-plant that would have been slapstick in a Harold Lloyd movie.
He’d broken his collarbone and ribs. If it hadn’t been for a contraindicative medical condition, he would have already begun the “bone-knitter” therapy. Sado-sensei had started Avatar on an IV of something; Avatar was a little more relaxed, though pain still scorched at him. Yet this level of attention from his primary care physician felt unusual. Putting a patient on an IV was scut-work, something assigned to a med-tech’, or a nurse.
Sado-sensei had already scheduled him for more medical tests.
Avatar remembered a bad tumble he’d taken off a 19th-century ship’s rigging. He had been young and lucky. He’d broken his nose instead of his spine, and was concussed and bruised. A night of observation in a hospital, then a hot bath, beer and extra rack-time had set him to rights. I even recovered from that accident two years ago, he thought. I’m just getting older and Dr. Sado wants to be careful.
The hail-chime rang on Avatar’s
hospital room door. “Come,” he called. Two Space Cadet types walked
in. They wore the new naval whites for the operation he would lead.
“Sir, Cadet Derek Wildstar reporting, sir!” said the sharp-eyed one as he saluted.
Oh-oh. Alexander in spades, Avatar thought.
“Sir, Cadet Marc Venture reporting, sir!”
...and it seems Wildstar the Younger is the alpha of this pair, even if he looks like a yakuza punk.
“At ease, men,” he said. Both Wildstar and Venture hove to, hands clasped behind their backs.
“Not like we should stand on ceremony when Dr. Sado won’t let me out of bed, yet,” Avatar grunted. He put down his good left arm to shift himself upright. “It’s come to my attention you two intercepted the courier who was wrecked on Mars.”
“Yes, sir,” the cadets answered.
“The Earth Defense Fleet will release information found on that capsule on a need-to-know basis. Given that amount of secrecy, I figure you two have found something important. Good work.
“I need to speak to Cadet Wildstar privately, though. Dismissed, Cadet Venture.”
“Yes, sir!” Venture saluted again. He caught Wildstar with a flick of the eye as he walked out of the room. Wildstar knew that look: let me know what happens.
Wildstar steeled himself. “Sir,” he saluted again, nervously. Avatar’s tone softened. “I think you’d better sit down, son.” Wildstar did as he was bid. “You’ve probably suspected that something went very wrong, and probably everyone’s given you the runaround. Alex and his crew are missing and presumed dead. Yukikaze drew heavy enemy fire in order to protect the flagship of the Earth Defense Fleet.”
“What?” Wildstar gasped.
Avatar ignored the interruption. “Battleship 225--Biwa-ko--and Missile Ship 17—Yukikaze--were all that survived Pluto, and had no cover from additional ships. Several Gamilon ships caught up with that two-ship convoy over Saturn. Captain Alexander Wildstar believed that Biwa-ko would founder with immense loss of life. He knew he only had a twenty-man crew, while Biwa-ko’s crew numbered over four hundred. Without a thought of sparing his own life, the life of his crew, or his ship, he fell behind to protect the flagship’s rear. Yukikaze was surrounded and suffered heavy damage. Last seen, his ship was in a decaying orbit near Saturn, with massive, visible hull breaches. There was an explosion. There has been no radio or video communication from Yukikaze since.”
Avatar saw Wildstar shaking. “Steady on, Cadet.”
“You were the commander of the flagship.”
“Battleship 225, Biwa-ko, was under my command, Cadet Wildstar.”
“Surely you must have given Captain Wildstar the order to not fall behind, sir.” There was a dangerous edge in Wildstar’s tone, as if he might cry or shout.
“My order was that we should leave the space near Saturn together. Ultimately it was his choice to break ranks.”
“You left him behind!”
“He chose. To stay,” Avatar emphasized. He paused, then tried more softly, “I don’t expect you to like what happened, but your brother served and died very honorably and bravely. I was proud to have known him, Cadet Wildstar. I’m truly sorry for your loss.”
Wildstar’s gaze was pure venom and sorrow. He swallowed hard. “Thank you for letting me know what happened, Captain Avatar.”
“Thank you, sir,” Wildstar said as he rose. He saluted one last time. Avatar felt the hate through Wildstar’s veil of abject politeness. Though his salute was clearly a proper salute, Avatar felt like he’d been flipped the bird.
Wildstar left the room, his heels striking too hard and quickly against the tile floor. The hospital room door, shutting quietly but finally, sounded like a slam in the echo-y stillness of the corridor.
Avatar looked in his lap at the book he’d been reading: A Glorious Way to Die by Russell Spurr. He’d been too muzzy-minded to do his technical reading and had sunk into that naval history for the umpty-umpth time. A twitch of guilt and irony passed through him; he imagined Wildstar had read the jacket title.
We are all surrounded by ghosts, Wildstar, Avatar mused.
Some minutes later the communication link at Avatar’s left chirped, and chirped again. Avatar reached over gingerly, trying not to move his chest or right shoulder in the stretching with his left hand. He tapped at the controls to open the connection. “Mushi-mushi,” he said in his gravelly voice.
Although Avatar had expected a return greeting in Japanese, the caller spoke in English. “General Charles Singleton for Captain Abraham Avatar.”
Singleton and Avatar had grown familiar with each other over ten years. For a red-hot second, Avatar feared that Singleton was delivering the official military condolence visit over the phone. “I hope you have some good news, Chuck. About anything.”
“We’re reserving judgment on “good”, Abe, but it sure is news.”
“All right, let’s have it.”
“Not until you say you’re alone….”
Unbeknownst to either Singleton or Avatar, someone was eavesdropping on their conversation. In this case, rather, it was some thing.
Nova Blackwell’s father was the
patent lawyer who’d done the intellectual-property work on the IQ-9/Analyser
series of robots, and the inventor had given him one of the first as partial
payment. In turn, “Poppa” gave the robot to Nova to tinker with.
Nova did such a good job teaching her robot “IQ-9” that he had thoroughly
imprinted on her, and would follow her as Ruth followed Naomi. When Nova
Blackwell had begun her school-to-work internship at the
Trouble was the series IQ-5 robot would have been more appropriate for working in a hospital setting; Nova’s `bot was four generations ahead. Although the “Nine” series had significant cognitive improvements on the “Five” series, the “Nine”s still lacked the social intelligence of a polite human being. IQ-9 was typical of the series, then, and had human-like curiosity without good manners, discretion or a sense of boundaries. In other words, IQ-9 was smart enough to get bored easily but not to stay out of trouble.
IQ-9 sensed that an interesting conversation was happening in Patient Avatar’s room. He extruded from his finger a fiber-optic cable and snaked it into a socket on the control panel for Avatar’s hospital room door. Normally said control panel held the information for the patient or patients inside a given room. It also connected into the communication links provided to a patient. These links could be very easily hacked.
Very-interesting, he thought. Something-about-a-ship-called-Yamato...something-else-about-Cosmos-DNA. I-must-search-the-‘Net. IQ-9 began to scan and digest all available information on ships named Yamato. He found nothing about Cosmos DNA. Hurray! he cheered himself. I-have-a-new-learning-challenge! “Input! Input!”
Venture made Wildstar sit in a reception area and drink a cup of water. He knew Wildstar’s funk had deepened, and tried to talk him out of it. “Look, man, it’s OK. Tell you what. If you want, I can call my mom and ask if you can sleep over for a few nights. Then tonight...well, you know she loves any excuse to stuff you with fancy Portuguese and Brazilian food!”
Wildstar continued to stare at the floor.
“Or would you rather just the two of us tonight? We’ll go out, get a beef bowl or yakitori. Then we’ll get completely sozzled and spend the night in a gutter somewhere. I’m buying. Sound good? You shouldn’t be alone right now.”
Wildstar sipped very quietly at his cup of water.
“Say something, Wildstar, you’re being really scary.”
“I should have known,” Wildstar began. “Alex’s ship wasn’t in dry dock. I just thought maybe...”
“It’s OK. You have the right to hope.”
Then the cute nurse from earlier spotted them and walked over. She looked from Wildstar to Venture and asked, “What’s the matter with your friend? He’s looking a little pale...”
Venture shrugged in her direction. “He lost his brother in the Plutonian Armada, Miss. He just got the report from one of the surviving officers.”
A frown of sadness clouded her eyes. “I’m so sorry. Could I help?”
“Thanks for asking, Miss...”
“Blackwell. Nurse Nova Blackwell. Could I get you another cup of water?”
She had put her hand on Wildstar’s shoulder. Her hand came to rest on him so lightly that he didn’t feel intruded upon, and her touch was very pleasant. Somehow she knew just the right amount of weight and pressure to apply. “Whatever. Yeah. Sure. Thanks,” he replied.
“Be right back.”
Nova went to a nearby cooler and began pouring three cupsful. Green-on-white is very good-looking. I like his hair, so dark and curly.
She came back and took a better look at the other man. His hair is nice, too, chestnut-colored and thick, and that shade of red looks good next to his skin.
Nova passed a cup apiece to both cadets. Her hand brushed the chestnut-haired man’s hand, and his eyes brightened at the contact. She rested her hand again on his shoulder, compelled to comfort him however she could. Nova toyed with the idea from whom, of the two, she’d accept a date. Or go to bed with, the imp in her mind suggested, in a voice curiously like her own. Oh, you! she scolded herself.
She heard a gentle, bell-like dinkdinkdinkdinkdink. IQ-9 was approaching. He braked to a stop, and said “I-have-news-for-Cadets-Wildstar-and-Venture. You-may-leave, Nova.”
Venture, his sense of chivalry aroused, scolded, “That was very rude!”
Nova held up a staying hand. “I’ll handle this.” At the robot she flared angrily. “IQ-9, what is wrong with your programming that you can’t be polite?”
“I’m the one who programs you, you piece of... Ohhhhh! We’ve been working on this for so long! Do I have to try programming you again?”
Nova threw up her hands. In mid-flail, the sight of her wristwatch prompted her to check the time. “IQ, the children are expecting me in their ward. Could you try to stay out of trouble between the time I leave and the time you rejoin me?”
“Fine. Tell what you must to the cadets. Then please, report to me right away!”
She strode off. By force of habit, Venture called after her, “May I leave my number with your robot?” Nova limp-wristed a wave in his direction as she walked away. Foiled in his flirtations, Venture grumped at the robot, “Well, ‘droid, you better have something really good to tell.”
It turned out IQ-9 had just that.
The robot finished reporting and rolled away, and left the two men stunned with the story they’d been told. Venture articulated why the moment had been weird. “Do you find it funny that robot knows that stuff?”
“Because he’s a civilian-use robot and he knows more why, where and how than Captain Avatar was able to tell us?” Wildstar replied.
“Exactly. That should be deeply classified information.”
“Should we tell someone?”
“Who to tell? And who’d believe a couple of cadets? Besides, that robot probably just picked up on a rumor.” Venture patted Wildstar’s shoulder. “Ready to go, old bean?”
Dr. Sado sat cross-legged on a cushion, fingered an old-fashioned glass, and finally poured himself more saké. Mi-kun played ring-o-rosies around his knees and backside, and purred his loudest to cheer him.
It wasn’t working. Sado had seen Captain Avatar’s most recent bloodwork and medical imaging, the latter now eerily light-screened on the wall.
Two years before, Avatar was nearly killed when
his plane was wrecked in the fallout-laden plume of one of the heaviest Gamilon
Sado-sensei watched the last of that bottle of saké drip slowly into his glass. He shuddered; the phrase dead soldier had come, unwanted, to him.
Abe, he thought, I hope your other geta hasn’t dropped.
Wildstar was serious about honoring his brother. He went into a nearby Buddhist temple with a small Shinto shrine. Worshippers came and went, some visibly in tears.
“I guess the news has broken about the Plutonian Armada,” he said quietly, dry-eyed.
Wildstar lit a joss stick and set it in a sand-filled container already crammed with smoking incense. He knelt in front of the primary Buddha, sandwiched his hands in front of him and began praying a sutra. Venture knelt next to Wildstar. Venture had been an altar boy, and in choir since long before his voice cracked, but he was still amazed at the gravity of Wildstar’s faith. Half of what he’s experienced, Venture thought, would have killed my faith if not me.
When Wildstar finished, he sat still for a few minutes and gazed at the placid Buddha. Venture reached over and squeezed Wildstar’s hand very gently. “I’ll say a Novena for Alex.”
“For all of them,” Wildstar said.
Venture considered, then nodded.
On the way out, Wildstar stopped at the Shinto altar. He rang the bell and clapped his hands sharply together twice then bowed. He kept himself in that position for a few moments as he prayed again, then stood upright.
“You didn’t pray as long for yourself as for your brother,” Venture observed aloud as they exited the shrine.
“I’m still alive,” Wildstar replied. His eyes were bloodshot and glazed.
“You sure you’re OK, Dare?” Venture asked quietly.
Wildstar gave his head an unconcerned shake. “It’s just the smoke.” He wiped his eyes with the heels of his hands. “You better be absolutely serious about buying my drunk tonight,” he said. “I’m mighty thirsty.”