HER LAST JOURNEY...BY: Gail Kopetz (Fluffy) and Frederick P. Kopetz (Honey Bunny)
Introduction: This is a rather short story written by my dear wife Gail about Astra of Iscandar's journey from Iscandar to Mars with Queen Starsha's message. This is her first-ever attempt at writing fan-fiction, so please be kind in your comments. My role in this tale was limited to editing and the offering of some technical advice.---Freddo.
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.
I. FROM ISCANDAR TO THE COSMOS
The Capital City of Mother Town
April 4, 2199
Starsha of Iscandar, not long from an encounter with Desslok of the intimate kind, was talking with her sister Astra in the palace in Mother Town not long after returning back to the quiet capital from her rendezvous with the Gamilon Leader in another one of Iscandar's cities. Starsha began with, "Even though I love Desslok, I was shocked at what he told me yesterday."
"What did he tell you?" asked Astra as she brushed her long reddish-blonde hair.
"He thought he found his ancestral home of Galmania," said Starsha.
"That's wonderful!" cried Astra. "I know he's been searching for it. Aren't you happy for him?"
"No, I'm not, and I know it's not really Galmania, either. It's a small planet in the Milky Way known as Earth."
"Earth? It still exists?" said Astra. "Wasn't it mentioned in our legends?"
"Yes...Earth still exists...but for how long, we don't know," said Starsha with a downcast look on her face.
"Desslok is trying to kill off its population with his planet bombs," said Starsha in a low, angry tone.
"He can't be!" gasped Astra.
"But he is," said Starsha. "I didn't believe it at first...and asked him if one of his generals was doing this on his own. He said, "No, I'm doing it. And I'm proud of it!""
"Why is he PROUD of being barbaric?" hissed Astra with her fists balled up. "Haven't his generals, like that Lysis, killed enough people already?"
"Desslok used to say it was justified," said Starsha with a serious look on her face. "Justified for the survival of our races."
"Why?" snapped Astra. "Most of Iscandar is already dead, from the aging virus! And, as for Earth...Earth is in the Milky Way! The Terrans can't be a threat to him or to us!"
"He thinks they are, and he thinks it's necessary, as both of our worlds are doomed. He needs a new home for his people, or so he says," said Starsha.
"But why kill off all the people there first? WHY?" whispered Astra.
"Because Earth's atmospheric conditions aren't quite right for the Gamilons, or so HE claims," said Starsha. "To change that, he has to flood the whole planet with radiation first! That'll kill all the Earth people. He's already bragged that he's turned all of Earth into a desert and forced the survivors into underground cities! You're right, Astra. WHY is he so cruel? WHY? He thinks they're barbaric, just as he thinks that any race that stands in his way is barbaric. You know him by now," sighed Starsha. "I thought I could teach him a better way...but, no. He won't listen."
"How did the encounter with him end?" asked Astra.
"He left," said Starsha. "He has said...he will not return until I see the error of my ways and acknowledge he's doing a great deed for both of us."
"So, what can we do? We can't fight him, but we just can't sit here and let him get away with this!" snapped Astra as she got up and began to pace the floor of her palace chamber.
"No, but we can stop him," mused Starsha.
"BY helping the Terrans regenerate their world. We have the power..."
Astra had an idea. "The Cosmo-DNA...?"
"Yes," said Starsha firmly.
"But how do we GET it to them?"
"We can't. It's impossible, and improper in the spiritual sense. You know that. We can't make their destiny for them, but we CAN offer a helping hand. So, to do that, and test their courage...we must help them come here themselves," said Starsha.
"We can send them the plans for the wave-motion engine," suggested Astra.
"How do you propose doing that?"
"I can go to Earth. We still have the spaceship Mother Town available, don't we?"
"We do," said Starsha. "But..."
"I can activate her automated systems and set her on a course for the Terran solar system. I can make it in about five or six months' worth of intermittent space warps."
"We have to do something!"
Starsha's eyes began to fill with tears. "You're very brave, Astra. I'll start preparing the message capsule now."
"I can take care of getting the provisions I'll need."
"Good. Then, I can take off in three or four days."
The morning came. Starsha awoke to find her comm console beeping for attention. She switched it on, putting it in voice-only mode, and listened as she wondered who was calling.
"Starsha?" said a familiar, cultured voice that suddenly sent shivers up her spine. "Are you well? As for my departure...perhaps it was a bit hasty. I'd like you to consider another meeting soon."
Desslok, she thought with teeth gritted. I can't talk to you now. I just can't.
"Starsha, what's wrong?" asked Desslok. "You aren't trying to do anything to thwart my plans for Earth, are you? Don't you understand it's for the greater good of both of us?"
Starsha turned her head, glancing out her palace window at Gamilon. Then, she turned to look out towards the sea. She saw an exhaust flare brightening in the morning sky. Then, through tears, she saw the little shape of the Mother Town lifting off into the bright Iscandarian morning.
Starsha remembered the bittersweet farewell that she and Astra had shared the previous night as they ate their last meal together before Astra had to leave with her message capsule in order to prepare the ship for a dawn liftoff, in the hopes that leaving Iscandar when Iscandar and Gamilon were at apogee might help Astra evade the Gamilons' interceptors. While they felt the Gamilons would never descend to harming them, they would try to stop her and ask unwelcome questions about her journey and destination.
Then, Starsha remembered Desslok's question. With an emphatic gesture, she reached up and turned off the comm unit.
On Gamilon, Desslok threw down his comm handset, since he was both puzzled and angry. A concubine came with a glass of wine for him, and he responded by baring his teeth and screaming, "GET OUT!"
"Leader...I...," she asked.
"I do not need, nor do I desire, your particular brand of comfort at this moment!" he snapped. "LEAVE!"
"But, Leader...you'll need this...and, Krypt has an urgent report for you. He seeks permission to launch interceptors, and."
Desslok snarled and slapped at the young woman, shattering the wineglass she was presenting. "I said, LEAVE! And, you can tell Krypt to ignore that foolish report! Unless the idiotic, barbaric Terrans have somehow gotten one of THEIR pathetic vessels here, something they can NEVER do, I don't want to HEAR his report! LEAVE me, you brainless fool!"
The concubine ran out.
Starsha... thought Desslok in a white-hot rage. Why are you toying with me? What do you have to hide? You've never done this before!
However, because of Desslok's rage, Krypt's desire to intercept Astra's vessel was NOT acted upon at that moment. Desslok had kept in place on old Gamilon edict that maintained that ANY action regarding Iscandarian or probable Iscandarian vessels had to be confirmed by the Leader himself before being acted upon.
As a result, Astra and the Mother Town were able to safely escape the Gamilons' local-system defenses.
II. INTERSTELLAR SPACE
Deep Space, between the Great Magellenic
Cloud and the Milky Way
June 4th, 2199 (Earth Time)
Astra's journey in interstellar space was a long and lonely one. The endless days and weeks of listening to digital capsules and reading and re-reading her books soon became boring, as did the days and weeks of acting alone as the vessel's pilot, navigation officer, and Captain, all the days of sitting in the cockpit looking at a slowly changing starfield between warps.
After a while, the ship's twice-daily warps were the only excitement in Astra's daily routine. However, a continuing tension gnawed at the young woman's soul as she drifted on in deep space, right on course, approaching a lonely little planet that seemed to be out in the middle of nothing, as there was no nearby star of any size for the planet to be orbiting.
WHERE, she thought, are the Gamilons? They'll have to catch on to my presence at some point. Perhaps I never should have done this. Perhaps...
As she sat watching the controls, the ship's cosmo-radar began to bleep.
She looked at the radar in fear as she noticed several blips approaching the vessel at high speed. Flicking on her small video display, she noticed the vessels' identity a moment later.
Gamilons!, she thought. And I'm powerless to stop them if they should attack me...
A moment later, a voice came over the Mother Town's speakers.
"Unidentified vessel," said the cold, professional-sounding voice. "State your identity, mission, and purpose, at ONCE!"
Astra's hands trembled over the comm controls. Unsure whether she should answer or attempt to evade the green-and-orange Gamilon vessels, she sat in her pilot's seat, frozen with indecision for a moment. Finally, after a moment, she began to slowly increase her speed.
Immediately, she noticed that the Gamilons simply picked up speed. There were eight ships, four on each side of the Mother Town.
Like it or not, she was surrounded.
"Unidentified vessel, please state your mission and purpose, or we will be forced to open fire," said the cold voice. "This is our last warning to you."
Astra ignored the warning and began to use her piloting skills to perform a series of evasive maneuvers at high speed.
The Gamilon ships soon gave up their pursuit, as Volgarr was too drunk to give them any more orders.
Astra had a little time to breathe, so she looked through the ship's compartments to see if she overlooked anything. It just so happened that she had overlooked a couple of compartments and found some new reading and audio material that came from Starsha's private collection.
Thank you, dear sister, she thought as she took out the new material and began to read.
III. PLUTO BASE
Gamilon Base, Pluto, Milky Way
August 19th, 2199 (Earth Time)
"What is the schedule of the next flight of planet bombs to Earth?," asked Colonel Ganz. Bane, who was standing nearby replied, "They're should be a hundred going in the next hour, sir... on schedule."
"Excellent!" said Ganz. "Leader Desslok should be pleased, for with this next batch of planet bombs, Earth will be almost irradiated enough to destroy the Earthlings, and for us to claim the planet in due time. What's happening with the fleet?"
"Sir," said Bane, "there are Earth ships nearing Pluto; according to Captain Lenhard, a whole fleet is approaching."
"Ha, ha, ha, HA!," roared Ganz. "So the Earthlings want to play, eh? Our fleet is far superior to theirs, it will be nothing but a waste of their time and lives! Bane, contact Garrenden, Varan, Eltar, and Lenhard now, and order them to begin the attack!"
Aboard his flagship, the Gamilon destroyer Z-119, Squadron Kommandant Captain Lehnard was bored. Nothing to do but watch the planet bombs head for Earth and patrol for alien vessels. Until a crewman yelled that a whole fleet of Earth ships was approaching Pluto.
Finally, thought Lenhard, Some action at last.
Call Pluto for orders," he said.
A moment later, the crewman reported, "Orders coming in from Colonel Ganz now, Captain, with verification from Fleet Captain Garrenden!"
"What are the orders!?"
"Sir, they read as follows: Attack the Earth Fleet at once. Let no one survive. Bring victory for Gamilon! Message ends, sir."
"Yes..." hissed Lenhard, as he licked his lips like a verrkat savoring its next meal. This should be easy, he thought, since the Earthlings are said to be soft, ha ha ha.
"Sir, we are within range of the Terrans. Garrenden commands us to make them an offer of mercy."
"Ganz wants specimens to study; preferably live ones," chuckled Lenhard. "Naturally, there is no guarantee they will remain that way...indefinitely..."
"Of course, sir," smiled his inferior.
"Commander!," snapped Lenhard. "Send the Earthlings our message! Tell them to surrender!"
"Yessir," said another brown-armored officer, who began to type a coded message. "Translated into Terran Standard. Voxcodsimulator switch on! Sending!"
Lenhard smiled as he saw the Earth fleet approaching. "Those pathetic fools...."
"Sir; they've sent an answer!"
"What?," leered Lenhard. "Tell me they'll surrender..."
"No, sir...you won't like this..."
"The answer is from their commander: Avatar. I've translated it twice...it's short...but it can't be right! It's just one word."
"Idiots...hmmm..?" sneered Lenhard. "We'll show YOU who the idiots are, Avatar! Open fire!"
IV. MINERVA ASTEROID BELT
August 19th, 2199 (Earth Time)
Finally, my journey is almost over, thought Astra as she entered the Solar System. Odd. According to my scanners, there's some activity near Pluto; could it be a battle? I must use all my skill as a pilot to avoid that area at all costs. That means delaying my journey by a week to do so, but I'll have to risk it, she thought sadly.
V. THE BATTLE OF PLUTO--ANOTHER VIEW
August 19, 2199
"Battle report!," said another young officer named Karan.
"Most of their fleet destroyed. Their flagship's fire has been repelled by our armor. We have returned fire. They are outnumbered five to one! The Fleet flagship orders us to press the attack to its logical conclusion, sir."
"Their demise is imminent," chuckled Lenhard. That was easy, he thought. Now, the bulk of the Earth fleet is destroyed, with minimal Gamilon losses, and we are homing in on that accursed Avatar's flagship. Soon, he will meet his comrades in death, in accordance with Leader Desslok's commands. Let the Earthlings know what it means to tangle with the might of the Gamilon Empire! Let their flagship ship run back to Earth so its crew can die like rats underground as we BOMB them into submission!
"Captain!" barked a brown-armored officer, interrupting Lenhard's reverie. "Unidentified approaching, two hundred gerad to starboard! It's not Terran, and it's not one of ours, either!"
"Do you have an identification?" hissed Lenhard as he looked at the visual image of the approaching ship on the small screen on his destroyer's cramped bridge.
"No, sir! Not without checking the battle directory in the computers, at least? Should we check?"
"Negative," said Lenhard. "We have no time. I have other tasks, such as the destruction of the Terrans. I cannot play wet-nurse to every vessel that blunders into a battle zone. Let them pay the consequences themselves."
"Sir, it is our procedure to..."
At that, Lenhard drew his blaster and fired, the bolt striking the young officer in the heart.
"Leader Desslok would have done the same," he hissed, watching his crew. "I do not tolerate traitors in my command, and neither will Ganz! Virdan! SHOOT the vessel down, regardless of your doubts and questions!"
"Yessir," snapped the gunner as he lined up his sights...on Astra's ship.
"Virdan...Hold..." snapped Lenhard a moment later.
"I recognize the silhouette of that vessel...yess," mused Lenhard. "Iscandarian...Damnit!"
"Sir...if that is so..," said Lieutenant Virdan...
"Iscandar is trying to meddle with us. No matter. Let them DIE! Open fire!"
"Yessir," said Virdan. "I fire now, in Desslok's name!" He finished sending the orders to line up the destroyer's topside gunhouses and then he thumbed the failsafe switch. "Gunners, commence fire!"
They did. Pink beams of light whizzed out towards the Mother Town, with soon-to-be-terrible consequences.
VI. ASTRA'S VIEW
August 19, 2199
Astra sat in her chair, furrowing her brow with concern as she watched her sensor screen and then, after running her hand through her long reddish-blonde locks, she flicked on her log recorder and began to speak:
"Ship's log: Now approaching Pluto. There seems to have been a battle, nearby and…and what; GAMILONS! Scanners say that they're firing at me, oh no! Evasive maneuvers!"
She shifted about to her helm controls, heedless of a slipper which fell off her foot as she began to punch in commands and then grabbed the helm handles. "Manual override activated! Hard to port...and..."
She breathed a sigh of relief as some beams missed her...but then, she cried out with alarm as one of the ships maneuvered viciously under her and directed shots into the Mother Town's fantail that struck like knives thrust into an innocent party's back by a cold-blooded assassin.
Alarms began ring again as the ship's lights went dark, and then came back, dimmed to emergency levels.
"The main engine!," she cried. "They hit the controls! Damn them! Computer, override!," she gasped. "Activate emergency..."
But, then, the ship lurched, and she fell hard and graceless to the deck losing her other slipper in the process. Frantically grasping the message capsule, she tried to get up, but the ship lurched again, and she slammed her head against the deck, losing consciousness as the ship accelerated wildly past the battle, heading towards Pluto itself.
"Captain!," declared a crewman aboard Avatar's flagship. "Unidentified spaceship! It's not a Gamilon!"
Avatar paused from his desperate business...of keeping his fleet alive...and looked at a display of the wildly careening unidentified ship. "At that speed," he mused out loud, "...it has to be from outside our solar system; and it's on a collision course with Mars."
"Sir, how can you guess that...at this range?," asked the radar officer.
"We were on a direct bisect with Mars as a navigational fix," snapped Avatar. "She'll hit Mars in a few hours...providing the pilot doesn't change course...funny thing though...how can it be accelerating?"
Then, the 225 was hit again, drawing Avatar's mind back to more mundane concerns. "Stabilize the liquid oxygen tanks! NOW!"
Astra's ship continued to accelerate. Soon...a short circuit within her engine systems caused the warp generators to kick on in a random manner. Beyond the eyes of the Terrans and the Gamilons...and without Astra's knowledge, the ship warped one last time, in a sort of accident...as it shimmered into subspace.
It emerged near Mars a wink of time later, very badly damaged.
Astra knew the Mother Town was doomed. Battered as the ship bucked about under her, she crawled through the access tunnel to the escape capsule while clutching the message capsule from her sister.
"Initiate ejection sequence!," she cried as the Mother Town began to glow red-hot in portions due to its sudden descent at high speed into the thin Martian atmosphere.
The escape capsule separated from its mothership, twirling like a bullet as it roared towards the ruddy surface of the planet.
The mothership, having more mass and velocity, crashed hard on the rocky surface of the planet, leaving a plume of smoke streaming up from its wreckage.
Can that be Earth? thought a confused Astra. What have the Gamilons done to it? I never guessed that it could be this bad! Such barbarity. It makes it more important that I deliver this to the Terrans, she thought as she clutched the message capsule.
A moment later, Astra flicked the switch for the automatic landing sequence. The capsule buffeted hard as it forced itself into a landing attitude on its small thruster and its legs extended.
When the capsule made planetfall, Astra vaguely wondered what had happened to her ship. It probably burned up in the atmosphere, she thought, unaware that the ship had actually crashed only a few hundred meters away from her landing site. She tapped irritably at a small readout that was supposed to show the outside conditions of the planet. "Not working," she murmured.
"None of the readouts are indicating anything. I wonder how far the nearest population center is. Silly you…you forgot your slippers," she grumbled as she stood up in her bare feet, clad only in her thin gown. "Well, here I go..."
Astra shut her eyes and thumbed the release switch while clutching the message capsule.
The air rushed out in a very unexpected and unwelcome manner.
A sudden wave of cold hit Astra's body as she her toes touched the cold, rocky, sandy surface of Mars.
But, the worst came when Astra tried to take a breath...and nothing except thin carbon dioxide with traces of other gases streamed into her lungs.
She tried to speak, but nothing came out but a strangled, thin gasp and a thin stream of carbon dioxide.
Have to get back to the capsule...try to repressurize? NO, she thought frantically as she took a few more steps, and then collapsed, gasping in the sand. She clutched the message capsule in her hand while trying to stand up.
Earth? This can't be Earth! This can't be! They must have SOMETHING to breathe! she cried in silence in her mind as her body convulsed with pain, trying to draw oxygen that existed in the Martian atmosphere in insufficient quantity to support her life.
The capsule...somehow...it has to get to them...has to get to...Earth...has to... she thought as she tried again to stand, but couldn't.
The pain slowly began to disappear as unconsciousness washed up over Astra's mind. Her last thought was of the warm seas of Iscandar as she shut her eyes...and saw something like a black tunnel rushing up to meet her as she fell into the sort of sleep from which she would never awake.
Astra's still hand clutched the message capsule as the processes of death ended, with her heart stopping as she lay there in her mortal coma. Then, there was only silence, broken only by the cold whisper of the thin Martian wind.
Like the surface of Mars, the body of Astra of Iscandar began to slowly grow cold.
August 19, 2199
The cold winds continued to blow on Mars as a single Type 100 Astro Fox Recon plane skidded to a landing on the ice.
The cockpit opened. Then, two spacesuit-clad figures emerged from the plane.
One of them, who had somewhat shorter hair inside his helmet, and who happened to be named Mark Venture, walked up to Astra's abandoned escape capsule, which had landed crookedly. "I've never seen anything like this," he said to his partner. "I wonder where it's from?"
"Any sign of the pilot?," asked his partner, who had somewhat longer hair in his helmet. He was named Derek Wildstar, and was somewhat more impatient and hot-headed than his friend and partner.
"Nothing in here," said Venture, looking inside the capsule.
"There's no insignia…" commented Wildstar as he inspected the outside of the capsule.
"There's no identification at all!" said Venture.
Then, Wildstar turned his head and pointed at something that caught his eye. "Hey, Venture, Look over here!" he cried.
Both of them looked...and then walked over towards...the corpse of Astra.
Venture bent down over the body. "Is she...?" he said.
"I think so…" commented Wildstar mournfully.
"She's beautiful," sighed Venture.
"Yes...she was," said Wildstar as he began to pick up the corpse. As he did so, something fell to the ground from her hand.
Wildstar looked at the strange object, which, unknown to him, was an Iscandarian message capsule.
"It must have been very important to her," said Wildstar, who then thought, Who is she? Where is she from? She must be from some unknown planet...
At that, he took the message capsule.
From far away, the spirit of Astra of Iscandar smiled, observing that, at last, her journey was complete. Earth had, indeed, received her sister's message.
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The Introduction to Visions