End of Days
Written By: Jeff Lincoln
It is the year 2203 and the Earth has just defeated the Dark Nebula Empire. The StarForce is returning home, once again, freeing Earth from the tyranny of another people who wanted to conquer them. The Yamato has lost a beloved crewmember, Sasha, the daughter of the late Starsha of Iscandar and Alex Wildstar of Earth.
Derek Wildstar, now acting-captain of the Yamato, feels a deep pain from losing the daughter and final part of his older brother. Inside he feels responsible, and doesn't know how he can keep on going. Steven Sandor also feels the pain, Sasha was like a daughter to him and now he will never see her again.
With the StarForce's recent victory over planet Dezarium, Earth begins picking up the pieces and begins to rebuild. Many people are still in the underground cities, once occupied during the Gamilon bombardment of 2199. They remain there in fear of the Dark Nebula Empire which may still exist. Even with the assurance from the Earth Defense Forces Head Quarters, that they are defeated because Yamato is returning home. People still fear the possible reprisal from the Dark Nebulans without any way of confirming this. The Yamato receives its first communication from Earth Defense Forces HQ since the Dark Nebulans were defeated.
Day 1 Return and Disturbance
1700 Earth Time
Space Battleship Yamato on Approach to Pluto
Aboard the Yamato, things run smoothly as any normal return trip would. The crew goes about their duties as if nothing was going to disturb them. Many of them chose to sleep away the return journey, but for those 'lucky' few their duties still called for them.
"Commander Wildstar, we've got an incoming hail from EDF Head Quarters, the Commander wants to speak with you." Homer said placing his hand on his headset "Sounds pretty urgent."
Wildstar nodded from the Combat station, "Put it up on the video panel."
"Roger." Homer flipped a switch and the familiar face of the Commander appeared.
Wildstar stood from his seat and gave the hand-over-heart salute. Commander Singleton saluted back with the traditional hand to forehead. Both lowered their salutes.
"Wildstar, allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your successful mission to Dezarium. You saved millions of lives here on Earth, seeing this is the first message we've been able to get through to you I thought you would like to receive the status report from some one special, someone OTHER than myself," Singleton said with a smile. Moving his chair out of view, behind him stood Nova, looking rather healthy, happy, and well.
Wildstar was stricken with joy, during the journey he had no idea if she was alive or dead. Picking his jaw up off of the floor, "Nova! How...how did you..."
Nova giggled. She had known he would react this way all along. "All in good time Derek, I will speak to you when you get back home. For now let me just give you this report." She lifted a piece of paper and began, "Thirty percent of Earth’s population has been moved underground, it served as the resistance point and we evacuated as many as we could there. Many of them wish to return to what remains of their homes. Sixty percent of the population was on the surface where we sustained many casualties due to the Dark Nebulans."
Wildstar sat back down in his chair, half listening to what Nova was saying. He was overjoyed at the fact that she had survived the nightmare of the Dark Nebulans. If only he wasn't on Yamato right now, he wished he could just scoop her up in his arms and spin her around like he did on the return trip from Iscandar. The last time he saw her was on Earth, on the ground near the boarding ramp, holding her bleeding shoulder as he and the rest of the StarForce took off in Sandors' escape craft. He didn't know whether or not she had survived. Even if she did, he didn't know if she was in the hands of the Dark Nebulans or part of the EDF resistance.
"In total we have lost about 4,000,000 people. As bad as it sounds we must consider ourselves lucky. Derek, are you listening?" Nova snapped as she noticed him staring off into space. Wildstar woke from his personal little day dream.
"Yeah I am listening. I am just finding it a little hard to concentrate with everything that's been happening," he responded, "So thing's are slowly getting back to the way they used to be I take it?"
Nova nodded, Wildstar noticed something that the others would never have seen- Nova was tearing up, but doing an extremely good job hiding it. "Of course Derek, we've really picked up the pace here. We've already started rebuilding EDF Head Quarters, as you can see. We've also begun dismantling the Dark Nebulans super weapon, it never really left Earth. Sandor will probably want to study every little detail of it."
Sandor didn't look up, but instead responded with a disgruntled groan.
"What's eating him?" Nova asked, raising an eyebrow.
Wildstar sighed, it was going to take longer than one single call from Commander Singletons office to explain what had happened on Dezarium. "Nova, it's going to take some time to explain and I really can't speak about it right now, it's affecting everyone aboard. I'll tell you about it later."
Nova nodded, "Derek...I have something to tell you too..."
Wildstar nodded, "We will have plenty of time to talk when we return to Earth, which will be in a single warp." He and Nova already knew that things were not going to be easy when he got home. With any luck they will have a lifetime to work on it.
Commander Singleton moved back into view, "Wildstar, when you and your crew dock they will be granted three weeks leave. Spend time with your families, and get to meet some new people. You all deserve it, Singleton out." With that the video panel went back to its familiar green shade. From across the bridge a single loud sigh could be heard. They all knew that as soon as they got back all they would feel is sadness, shame, and guilt for what had happened.
"Venture, plot a single warp to Earth. I'm sure our families are waiting for us," Wildstar said getting up from his seat. "If anyone needs me I'll be in my quarters."
Wildstar entered the elevator and left the bridge without another word. No one questioned, no one wondered, they all knew something was going to happen and they all knew Wildstar was not going to like it.
Venture switched on the internal PA and addressed the crew, "All hands, buckle yourselves down. We are performing a high risk, long distance space warp back to Earth. After we emerge from warp I suggest you get your things together. The warp will be in two minutes."
As Wildstar took a seat at his desk his mind began to race. He worried about what Nova had to tell him. He regretted not protecting Sasha especially when he found out who she really was. He began regretting not saving Nova when the Dark Nebulans were invading.
On the desk, spots formed on the papers he had scattered about. "Nova, Sasha...why couldn't I be there for you both when you needed me? Am I that much of a failure? Alex, I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promise, Starsha forgive me." The thoughts pouring into his head were almost too much to handle. He put his head down and let the tears fall. It was the first time he had cried since the return trip from Iscandar. Little did he know he had someone listening in.
"He cried before the warp, he cried during the warp, he even cried after the warp." IQ-9 said to Sandor and Venture. The two blinked in shock. "I don't know what caused him to cry so much. Human emotions are too complicated to compute," He said in his dry robotic voice.
"IQ-9 have you not seen the crew? They're all shaken up. Losing the very last descendant of Iscandar can do that. They all loved Sasha," Venture said, "Even the Commander has emotions. Let him have this one moment to himself. And IQ, no more spying on the Commander. That's something we call an invasion of privacy."
Sandor nodded, "IQ-9, I can understand completely what's going through his head right now. In the year that I raised her, she became a daughter to me. I feel like I just lost a part of myself."
"I still don't understand but if you want me to stop I will stop. I am now returning to my duties in Sickbay." IQ-9 said turning around and rounding the corner. Sandor and Venture were silent for a time. Venture was the first to speak.
"You know I really should check on Wildstar, he probably needs a friend right now." Venture said rubbing his eyes.
Sandor sighed, "Venture it might not be the best time. Wildstar is feeling responsible for everything, he may not want your counsel. He nearly lost Nova, and then he loses Sasha. If it were me I'd want to be left alone too." With those final words Sandor turned on his heel and walked away. Venture was left alone to his thoughts, deciding whether or not to go see Wildstar. Instead he came up with a plan that could cheer both of them up, a dinner invite for Wildstar and Nova in two days should smooth things over.
1730 Earth Time
As the Yamato slid gently into dry-dock, the crowds began to fill. Parents, grandparents, children, even pets knew they were home. They were all there waiting for their loved ones, presumed lost. At first joy overwhelmed the crew, the feeling of home had begun to sink in. Then sorrow, sorrow for those that were lost, sorrow for those families that will forever be changed at the hands of the Dark Nebulans. After all the joy and sorrow the crowds finally faded away and only one person remained, Nova.
When she first arrived, she thought that Wildstar would come running out of the ship and into her arms, finally being able to see her again, but it didn't happen.
Nova brought a hand to her lip and gently nibbled on her index finger. She started to worry- what was taking him so long? She took a few steps forward and looked up at the battleship.
"Yamato...what happened out there?" She asked quietly. "Where is Derek?" She started slowly up the gangway. As she got to the midway point she started to pick up her pace. She knew something was wrong and started a slow run. As she entered the ship she broke out into a run. Then that turned into a panicked sprint, she didn't even bother to look at her surroundings. She knew exactly what her destination was.
As she ran the same thought raced through her mind again and again, "Derek, where are you?" As she rounded the last corner she could see a single beam of light coming out from a crack in the door. She slowed down and quietly approached. As she got closer she could hear sobbing. It was not a woman's cry but a man. She peeked through the crack and saw her beloved Derek beaten and broken like someone that had lost it all.
He was at his desk, head in his arms, and crying. Nova gasped as she saw him lower his right hand towards his thigh. As he brought it back up he was holding his brothers Astro Automatic. He raised his head and opened his mouth, allowing just enough room for the barrel. He clicked off the safety and started to pull the trigger when she burst into the room and slapped the gun out of his hand.
"Derek!" Nova exclaimed pulling him into a hug, "Don't you EVER do that again!" She started crying, "What's wrong Derek, please tell me, what is wrong." She said letting her tears stream down her face.
Through sobs Derek finally spoke, "I failed them. I failed you." He sobbed, "I let her die Nova, Sasha is dead." Nova closed her eyes understanding, "I failed Starsha, I let my brother down. I can't..."
"Shh...It's alright, you're home." Nova said running her hand through his hair. "You're home, everything is over."
"Nova I...I thought you were dead. I don't know what kept me going..." He said as his tears began to soak into Nova's white blouse. Nova pulled him closer and rocked him back and forth gently, like a mother would to an injured child.
"Derek I am here, I am alive. You can stop worrying about me. Derek you aren't the only one who thought the other was dead." Nova began, "I thought you were dead when we got the report that Yamato was destroyed. At first I didn't believe it, but after a while I began to... I was a prisoner of war Derek, I was offered the chance to end everything once and for all. I just..."
Derek looked up tears still falling, "You had to just, what?" He asked intently. Her story was starting to take effect and bring Derek back among the living.
"Derek I was told by Alphon, one of the leaders of the Dark Nebulans, that if I slept with him he would give me the plans to the super weapon they brought here." She said letting him go so he could dry his tears.
Derek frowned, "You didn't do it did you?" He asked tossing a tissue into the waste basket next to his desk.
Nova smiled, "You think I would cheat on you?" She said hugging him and giggling, "Derek you know me better than that. I would never do anything like that. For a time I considered it, but- when the resistance killed Alphon he gave me the plans before he died. So I never had the chance to consider it fully."
Derek laughed slightly, "Thank you Nova." He leaned forward and kissed her cheek, "I feel a little better now, I um...I apologize for the..." He pointed to the discarded Astro Automatic.
Nova smiled and nodded, "All's forgiven, just next time you get the thought in your head let me know." She smiled and stood up, picked up the pistol and handed it back to Wildstar. He took it and slid it back into its holster.
"Now all I need to do is get over the fact that I let Alex's daughter die." Wildstar sighed, "She said it was her destiny, but I don't know how to accept it. I mean she's with both of them now, but still I don't know how I will ever get over it."
Nova nodded, "I'm here for you Derek, and we can help each other." She took his hand and they both left the office, happy to be together again.
Behind them Venture smiled and thought to himself, "Well I might not need to throw that dinner after all."
2000 Earth Time
"You actually fell for the idea you were in the future?" Nova asked between bites of her chicken currie, "What did they do, get you all so drunk you didn't know which way was up?"
"The only one that was like that was Doctor Sane. You know me better than that; I don't drink his 'spring' water." Derek said with a chuckle, "We all believed it because the planet looked exactly like Earth, destroyed and dead, but still Earth. We were shown images of the past; we saw the destruction of Yamato and were told that it was going to happen whether we wanted it to or not."
"So what happened next? Did you figure out that it wasn't Earth?" Nova asked enthusiastically, "It sounds like your getting to the 'good' part."
Derek sighed and then continued, "The landing party demoralized, returned to Yamato... all except for Sasha who seemed to have had foreknowledge of her true destiny. She abandoned the landing party and remained on conquered Earth. I chased after her calling out, 'Sasha! Sasha!' but she wouldn't listen and insisted that I returned to Yamato. Alone on Earth's surface, Starsha appeared in a vision. She told Sasha that she was born between Iscandar and Earth, and that her destiny is to die far from both, but in service of both." Derek sighed, he didn't want to tell the rest but he felt that Nova should know the whole truth about what had happened.
"In orbit, Yamato was attacked by the Grodaze and its fleet. Sandor figured out that the woman on the planet was not really human, and that the artworks were all frauds. We all had the same question, 'Might the Earth below us not be the real Earth?'"
"Is this where Sasha was killed?" Nova asked, seeing the hesitation in Derek's eyes.
"Actually, at the time no, we turned around and fired the Wave Motion Gun at the Grodaze and its fleet, destroying them. But, the tachyon- based energy of the Wave Gun had an unexpected reaction with the enemy weapons. When the enemy ships exploded, a huge cascade explosion formed over Earth, burning up much of its surface. The Earth, where Sasha remained, dissolved. We all thought she was dead. Within the fire revealed the black skeleton of a planet, its twisting ribs formed into a sphere. It was not Earth, but the Black Nebulan mother planet, Dezarium. It was all an elaborate hoax designed to demoralize and defeat us. Scaldart pulled off the mask he wore to reveal his true Black Nebulan face." Derek explained as he cleared the table.
"Sasha managed to survive the incineration of the surface by running into the lower levels of the planet. She reached a sub-control center and sent us a communication, telling us that in order to destroy Dezarium, we must reach its core through a huge conduit she was about to open. Scaldart interrupted her message to inform us that if we proceed any further, he would detonate the Hyperion bomb on Earth. Yamato sped though the conduit, dodging all sorts of enemy fire. We reached the center of the planet where we found a huge crystal city bound up in a spherical arrangement... it looked something like a glass sea urchin." He described as he sat back down. "It was actually quite beautiful now that I think back on it."
Nova nodded, she was very intrigued at his story and detail of everything that had occurred while she was leading the resistance assault on the enemies' weapon. She didn't bother to interrupt him, he was too far into the tale to stop. She figured the more he talked about it the sooner he'd get over losing Sasha.
"Buildings flew off and burst into missiles. Yamato was hit and Captain Yamanami was killed. I prepared the Wave Gun, but stopped when I realized that would kill Sasha. But Sasha again radioed us, insisting that we fire. Scaldart found and shot Sasha at that point." He struggled with the memory, "When I saw what had happened I pulled the trigger. And the Wave Motion Gun shot through the city. The blast set off another explosive chain reaction. Mark made Yamato do a 180-degree turn and we rushed out of the internal chamber entering into an emergency warp as we reached the conduit exit. Dezarium exploded behind us, destroying the delicate gravitational balance between the two sides of the Double Galaxy. They crashed into each other, becoming the birth of a new galaxy."
Nova was stunned; she couldn't imagine how a simple shot from the Wave Motion Gun could create another galaxy. "And you did all this without me? You guys really don't need me anymore do you?" She teased as she placed her hands on the table. "Oh well, were all safe now, Sasha is with Alex and Starsha, your with me, Venture is with Jordy. Who could ask for a better ending?"
Wildstar shrugged, "Sasha could have survived, but if she did we'd all probably be dead. We owe her and Yamato our lives, and of course we need you, who else would tuck us all into bed?" He said as he stood up and ran for cover as a cushion from a seat flew towards his head. "Is that the best you can do? A seat cushion?" Wildstar said picking it up and throwing it back at her.
Nova smiled and threw it back at him when he turned his back to her, the cushion hit him right in the back of the head. "There we go, we're even." She giggled but then went wide eyed, "Uh oh." Wildstar turned around and threw it back at her and started running, then he slid under the table and reached out for her bare feet. He got a hold of one before she had the chance to run the other way. He started tickling her, she screamed in surprise but that was quickly overtaken by uncontrollable laughter.
"Derek AAHH! Stop it!" She screamed between laughs, "AH! Don't tickle me!" She pleaded, but Wildstar kept on tickling her feet. She fell to the floor and started rolling about. Trying to get out of his grip, which ended up making things worse because she now exposed her other foot to him, he released the first and grabbed the second tickling that one as well. Nova was laughing so hard Wildstar couldn't help but laugh along.
Nova then did the unexpected; she used her free foot to press against his head and push herself out of his grip. "Hey! No fair!" He said reaching back out trying to grab her foot. She took a few large steps away from him and stuck her tongue out. Their fun was quickly cut off when the phone rang. Wildstar climbed out from under the table, bumping his head on the bottom, Nova giggled. But Wildstar shot her a quick grimace and she stopped giggling but continued to smile.
Wildstar reached for the phone and picked it up, "Wildstar residence...Yes this is him...are you sure?...Right we are on the way...Yes 'we'...what's it matter to you who I'm with?...Of course she's got clearance... Lt. Nova Forrester for your information...is that all?...Tell the Commander we'll be there in an hour...Good-bye."
Nova raised an eyebrow, "Who was that?"
Wildstar sighed, "Leaves been cut short, we've got a problem near Pluto. Put on your uniform, we're needed at EDF Head Quarters." Wildstar said heading for the door, "I'll be waiting in the car." He closed the door behind him and Nova ran into the bedroom and slipped on her StarForce uniform.
2100 Earth Time
EDF HQ Long Range Sensor Room
Back at EDF Head Quarters Sandor had already returned to work after spending a few moments with his family at the dock. He figured the best way to get his mind off of Sasha was to drown himself in work. Something the return trip to Earth didn't allow him to do. When he first arrived at Head Quarters he went straight to his office and began working on the reflective shielding the StarForce had used to defeat Desslok on the return trip from Iscandar. He wanted to perfect the technology before Yamato set out again. She was the only surviving EDF Battleship after the Dark Nebulan take over, he didn't want to take the chance that she too would be destroyed.
But shortly after he got to his desk and started thinking of ways to improve the technology he was called to the Long Range Sensor Room. As he walked through the halls towards the LRSR he had a feeling he wasn't going to like what he had to hear.
"Sandor!" Wildstar exclaimed, waving a hand towards him, "Any idea what this is all about?" Wildstar asked catching up to him with Nova close behind.
"I don't know Wildstar, I only just got the call. I was in my office for the past thirty minutes." Sandor said waving them into the room first. "For once Wildstar, I don't have the answers. We'll have to see what Commander Singleton has to show us together."
As the door to the LRSR opened they all had a feeling of dread as they looked up and saw the main readout. As they looked out in fear, a huge ship appeared on the screen, they saw a top, side, and bottom view. The ship had a triangular look to it, and sort of resembled Yamato in the sense that the back was elevated to hold a tower.
"Ah, Wildstar, good to see you. Sorry we had to cut shore leave short. But you're the only EDF Captain with a warp capable ship." Commander Singleton said crossing his arms, "Our base on Mars just picked up this signal heading towards Earth at slow speed. So far all communication attempts have been met with static."
Wildstar nodded, "You want me to take Yamato back out and see what this ship wants don't you?"
"Exactly, we estimate at its current speed it will reach Earth in approximately 4 days. You have until then to find out what they want while we get to work building a backup fleet. At our current state we will only be able to build fifteen ships and only two of them will be Andromeda class."
Wildstar gave the hand-over-heart salute and turned to Nova and Sandor, "Sandor, I want you to get all the data we have on this thing uploaded to Yamato's main computer. Nova, get a message out to all StarForce crewmembers. Tell them to report to the Yamato's dry-dock. We take off in two hours. Tell them we've got visitors and shore leaves' been canceled."
Nova and Sandor saluted, spun on their heels, and took off for the first air-car to Yamato. Wildstar started to walk away from the Commander when the Commander placed a hand on Wildstar's shoulder.
"Wildstar, I need you to stop this thing, before the time is up. We are still licking our wounds from the Dark Nebulans, we don't need another invasion on our hands. Also the two Andromeda's are pushing it, we may not be able to complete them in time. Please, Wildstar take care of this for me."
"I will Commander, the StarForce won't let that ship get anywhere near Earth." With that the Commander released Wildstar and Wildstar ran out.
"Good luck Wildstar, make us proud." The Commander said as the doors closed.
2400 Earth Time
Even though shore leave had been cut short every single member of the StarForce reported to the dry-dock. There was only one problem, a few of the members that came back aboard NEEDED to bring along their families. Venture for one, was told to watch Jordy, his younger brother. And now that he was recalled to Yamato he had to bring him along. So now Yamato had precious cargo to worry about while flying in space.
From behind him Nova called out, "Sensors are fully operational, radar systems are standing by."
Next to her Yamazaki, the StarForces replacement Main Engineer called out, "Engineering systems standing by, all batteries connected to the Wave Motion Engine are charged and ready."
"Communications all set to go Skipper." Homer said winking, he knew that Wildstar hated that name. And Wildstar showed it by wincing.
"All guns are secured, torpedoes and missiles have been loaded, the armory has been restocked, and all gun crews report weapon systems are green across the board." Dash said reading off of his console.
"All analysis systems are functioning inside their designated parameters." IQ-9 said wheeling up to the Analysis station.
"Navigation systems are good to go. We can take off at any time Commander." Venture said holding the flight sticks.
From over the radio Conroy reported in, "All Black-Tigers are present and accounted for."
"This is Sargent Leon Knox of the 14th Space Marine Battalion, all Marines are present and accounted for Commander Wildstar, it's an honor to fight with the man who saw Sargent Hajime Knox pass to the next life."
"Sciences are also ready to go Skipper, we are go for launch." Sandor said giving a thumbs up to Wildstar.
Wildstar nodded, "Communications, send a message to Head Quarters, inform them that we are departing and will report back when we have reached Mars. Venture, begin engine start sequence."
"Roger, engine room, begin start sequence. Charge main batteries." Venture said into the radio. "Engine RPM's at 1500, and increasing. 1700, 2200, 2700, 2900, 3000, start Auxiliary engines!"
"Homer, signal the quartermaster and have them flood the dry-dock." Wildstar ordered. "And tell them to open the doors this time, we don't want to plow through them like last time."
"Roger," Homer said, "The quartermaster says good luck and to remind Sandor that he still owes him for a pair of doors."
"They can take it out of my pay." Sandor chuckled.
"Alright people, focus, Mark get us moving" Wildstar snapped, "Deciding whether or not who pays for the doors is a secondary priority."
"Aye, aye, Captain grumpy." Eager said with a laugh.
Nova couldn't help but smile a little and mutter, "Boy's and their toys…"
Wildstar turned around, "I heard that." Nova blushed and looked back down at her console.
"Auxiliary engines full power, speed at half, we are leaving the dock." He pushed forward the starting lever and the ship started moving forward in the water. Slowly at first but as they cleared the underground dock and sunlight appeared the ship lurched forward approaching top speed.
"Yamato, take off!" Wildstar exclaimed as the ship was finally in open water.
"Wave Motion Engine contact now!" Venture said pulling back on the sticks and the nose of the Yamato rose up out of the water. As Yamato began to take flight her aft section dragged along, looking like she was having a hard time. But as Venture increased power the ship rose completely out of the water. Yamato rose higher and higher, reaching for the stars. Her sleek beauty reflecting on the water.
As the ship emerged from space all eyes in the EDF control room looked on. Wishing the StarForce, their final hope, good luck. The ships wings retracted and all thoughts became the same, "Who is this contact? Why are they here? And why are they headed towards Earth?" All our hopes and dreams go with you, Yamato.
There are only four days left.
This Chapter is dedicated to Mr. Reiji Matsumoto and Mr. Yoshinobu Nishizaki.