According to The Book of Earth, “It came to pass that a weapon was created, so terrible in its power that none dared use it, for fear it would destroy all the Earth and every living thing that walked or grew upon it. So Man’s numbers multiplied and he became ever more numerous, and his living was made slender; and he looked to the Heavens for succor, as once he had looked to the continents across the Ocean; but the Heavens were silent and cold and distant; and the many cultures of Mankind were forced to live in chaos, one upon the other, until all was madness—and until the means were found whereby Man could go abroad in the deeps of space, and find other worlds to make his own…And, in those final days, the Edict was spoken: that each breed of Man shall leave the Earth; and that each shall have his place in the Hours of Heaven. And the first two Hours were given back to the gods. And the Men of the Middle Kingdom and the Men of Hindustan were given four Hours of the Heavens to share between them. And the Men of Europe two Hours likewise, so too the worshipers of Islam, and for the Slavs two more Hours were given, and the Latins also had two Hours. For Brasilia another two Hours, then two Hours for the Men of Africa, and two more Hours for the Men of Yamato. In this same way also, two Hours were given to the Men of America…”
Yamato is one of the original twelve Sectors. It is occupied by the cultural and linguistic traditions of Japan. It is bordered: by the Sector of Xanadu, which is occupied by the cultural and linguistic traditions of China; and by the Neutral Zone. Yamato contains many thousands of star systems, hundred of which are inhabited. They are organized into four Quadrants: Hokkaido; Honshu; Kyushu; and Shikoku. More than sixty systems contain very-well-developed planets of a billion or more inhabitants. The earliest settled systems, closest to Earth, are approximately three hundred years old. The Sector capital world is Kyoto; the form of government is a monarchy, headed by the Emperor, who is conventionally held to be divine…although much actual power now resides in the office of Shogun.
Yamato has been effectively closed to the citizens of other Sectors for many years: by the creation of high-price conditions; by the imposition of anti-immigration laws; and by bans on the sale of planetary land to foreign citizens or legal entities; then later by physical closure of the Sector. Now, no Yamato citizen is permitted to leave, and no outsider can gain entry. De facto annexation of the Neutral Zone has been an unstated but primary policy of Yamato’s government since the start of the Kanei reign era (that of God-Emperor Mutsuhito).
As A Rage in Heaven opens, it is the 20TH YEAR OF KANEI/A.D. 2421.
1. SOMEWHERE IN THE NEUTRAL ZONE...Edit
Late Amerikan Trader Captain Ayrton Rodrigo is buried on a remote world by the captains of a battered Trading flotilla. Trader Captain ELLIS STRAKER, stiff with anger, swears vengeance for the soul of Ayrton—the man who has taught Ellis everything. One day the Empire of Yamato will pay; but for now four hundred Amerikan souls are in the Trader captains’ care. Had a psi-tempest not come upon the Traders, they would be safe home—in sight of Liberty—by now. Ayrton Rodrigo was burned in the belly at close range by a Yamato sniper, during the Traders’ landing on Palawan, seven weeks ago.
Fifty days ago the Traders left Palawan under heavy fire from a beam weapon sited in orbit around the planet. As traders seeking profit from the settlers of the Neutral Zone, they met with heavy opposition. Every place they went their wares were shunned, even though the Traders could see that their customers wanted desperately to buy. When the Traders asked why, there were shrugging shoulders and nervous smiling, and then fear. Eventually, some whispered that Yamato would not like it, that the kempei would come soon. The Yamato secret police have no jurisdiction out here. The Yamato rikugun military rolled in the next day. Those arrogant little slimes in baggy pants came into the trade emporium. They turned the place over, and then they got nasty. COMMODORE JOSIAH “JOS” HAWKEN gave his orders, and everyone in the fleet was superb. Discipline, self-control, and impeccable manners under provocation—from crew and salesmen alike—when all anyone wanted to do was tan some Yamato butt. Then one of the rikugun shot Ayrton with a flame blaster; they thought he hadn’t shown them enough respect. The white-lipped Traders withdrew then, into the landing craft, leaving and dropping everything. They tried scrupulously to avoid conflict, and to make an eventless passage toward the nexus that lay close by the Trojan points of Palawan’s gas giant neighbor. But they were fired on again by a rikugun orbiter. Hawken arrived at a gravitational anomaly, which would allow him to take passage home; all he found was rock debris, scoured from sloppy and hasty terraforming that had been done in the system. A raging psi-storm caught Hawken in his approach phase to the choked nexus. It was at the moment when Hawken’s velocity and direction had to be precisely correct, if his ships were to hit the nexus and effect a subspace transit. But the storm ruined everything. For three days the Traders’ ships clung desperately together, as Ellis and Hawken’s other astrogators went terrifyingly insane. The intensity of the storm induced blasts of alpha waves in the brains of all the psi-talents. There followed eerie pauses in electrical activity for those who persisted in “feeling out” the nexus, and finally severe epileptic seizures gripped them. Ellis stuck at it; blood streamed from his nose and pumped in his brain; the agony drenched him. But it was no good. Dal Givens—the most sensitive astrogator, stationed aboard the Richard M. Nixon—threshed in a frenzy, whilst sending the lead ship into a blind approach. Without steering advice, the tidal lobes of the nexus tore the plex skin off their rotting twenty-five-year-old scout ship; as they overshot, the Millard Fillmore disappeared into the mass of Trojan debris. The shields on Hawken’s ships sheared to maximum, to deflect the hail of rock debris that spewed out. One after another they fell out of communication, so that each ship thought the others destroyed. When the ships regrouped a week later, there was no option but to run a manual make on the subspace topography charts, to cruise in real-time for the swamping gravitational safety of the system’s central star. But where precisely, in the G-field of that great sapphire-blue giant, are they now? How many astronomical units out have they drifted? And when might the Index rise enough to make the nexus safe? Ellis has been given command of Rodrigo’s ship, the Dwight D. Eisenhower. This was to have been Ayrton Rodrigo’s last trip before retiring.
Two weeks ago, a lost and fleeing shuttle turned up on Hawken’s scanners. He took two Shinto priests and Iwakura, a Yamato citizen, on board.
Ellis vows, if ever he gets home to Liberty, he’ll pay Yamato back ten thousand times over for Ayrton’s suffering; he’ll come back to Palawan with a good ship and a dozen beam weapons; he’ll square things with the kempei. Together, Commodore Hawken and his Captains have penetrated deeper into the disputed Sector than any Amerikan trading fleet for many years, shattering the Emperor’s decree that has created a Yamato monopoly over half of explored space. In three pioneering voyages, Hawken’s ships have driven a wedge into the golden heart of the Neutral Zone, establishing a lucrative trade that suits all parties—except the jealous rikugun military that represents the Imperial Court. Hawken’s first two voyages made a very handsome return, and the third started off just as profitably. At first, settlers at Buru and Ceram were anxious to trade. They were most willing to ignore the prohibitions imposed by the Emperor against these unlicensed (and therefore illegal) merchants. Because the colonists need machinery and manufactures and genetic stock from the established worlds, they brought from Hawken readily. Trading with the Amerikan fleet avoids the crippling shizo, or sales tax, that all Yamato supply ships are ordered to exact. But on Halmahera things began to change. There the Imperial authorities forced Hawken to land his cargoes under armed guard. There was interference and double-dealing. So Hawken cruised on to Sula, where he discovered only the rikugun and unsheathed aggression. Hawken pulled the fleet out of orbit, after the first skirmish, to think again…taking with him half a dozen wounded men, and leaving behind two dead. The days of peaceful trading are over. If Hawken is to move at all in the Neutral Zone, he must come in force. His beam weapons must show the Empire of Yamato that they can’t exclude him from the Neutral Zone. Hawken must never surrender to any unilateral declaration of ownership, or one day the Empire of Yamato will carve up Amerika, like they’ve carved up the Neutral Zone.
On Hawken’s observation gallery at the aft of the Thomas Jefferson’s bridge, he estimates he’s on the Neutral Zone planet Tanimbar. His closest planetfall in the Amerikan Sector is ten parsecs from here. The other way is certain death; against the flow of the nexus chain, the Richard M. Nixon would founder before reaching the second jump. The Thomas Jefferson is in no condition to face a crossing. Should Hawken make for Biak, head back, and then follow the chain that crosses into the Tuamotu? Or should he head out, link into the Marquesas Main where there’s a crossover, and wait for the psi-storm to blow out? Then Hawken can make planetfall and Midway, and get a chance of meeting his rikugun friends again—this time with beam weapons, and no need to pussyfoot…and cause an inter-Sector incident. He’s done that already, in Yamato’s eyes…or worse, started a war. Hawken’s not at war with Yamato; he wants nothing other than cordial relations with His Imperial Majesty, the Son of Heaven, and Mutsuhito’s subjects. But how does it help to be at peace with Yamato, when Yamato is at war with them? The success of this, and future, trading missions depends upon Yamato remaining at peace with Amerika…and upon Hawken’s exemplary conduct, even in the face of provocation. His ships are in no fit state to make heavy transits after what they’ve been through. Hawken just doesn’t have the power to get home by the most direct route; if he tries that; he’ll get stuck for sure. One of his captains, Faye Geneva, says go direct: make for Midway via Sado, which is right next to the Yamato Boundary. If Hawken fights the nexus by going against the flow, he’ll have to cross two hundred light-years and make twenty transits before he sees Guam. It’s not just the Thomas Jefferson and Richard M. Nixon that are in poor condition; they’re all short of repair materials. If he goes via Sado, Hawken can be home in two easy jumps. If Hawken does a ten-jump chain with the hulls he has, he’ll be blown out of those nexus points as a fine mist. Is it better to chance that, or to be crucified as an interloper because he strayed into the Yamato Sector? They nail foreigners up on wooden crosses for the hell of it, in the Yamato Sector. Hawken was loaned the Thomas Jefferson and the Richard M. Nixon by the President herself—and they’re listed officially as Amerikan warships. To go around violating Yamato’s sovereignty in Amerikan Navy ships will be seen as an act of war. The President’s policy towards the Empire of Yamato stops well short of open warfare. For the flotilla to enter the Sado nexus without permission will count directly as an act of aggression against Yamato, leaving the way open for the Emperor to retaliate massively. The situation is fraught with dangers that extend far beyond the perils of Hawken’s own position. There is a small, poorly-defended nexus near Sado. The Traders will get there with a week’s dilation. “If we show themselves in force, and play a close hand about what a pitiful state we’re in, then they might offer us all we require without any need to threaten them.” Sado is a mantrap baited by the rikugun, but Hawken must lay up somewhere with a well-equipped apron to effect repairs. Wherever he goes, he’ll lack for a welcome. He could be there in one jump, although Sado is a dozen parsecs away. If the Index keeps up, his ships might make the transit first time. By midnight, Universal Time, just sixteen hours from now, Hawken can emerge with a three-day dilation. That psi-storm carried him much further than he thought. This planet isn’t Tanimbar, but Talaud. He has no alternative but to jump via Sado, to make a passage close by Yamato territorial space. Sado it is.
As the Thomas Jefferson comes within visual range of Sado, Iwakura is treated with due courtesy by Hawken, but Duval is wary of Iwakura’s half-reasons for taking a ship off-planet. The fuselages of four or five hulks stand like half-picked chicken crates on one end of the apron, now almost completely stripped of their plex skins. Robot salvagers crawl all over them, the violet points of their meson arc torches flickering in the heat haze. Any ship that can’t make the nexus gets made into samurai swords. Commodore Hawken posts sentries so those robot jiggers won’t be all over him with their arcs, cutting slices off his tail. The Yamato fleet comes to Sado every year to carry aurium to Honshu. Some old ships have been left here to be broken up. As they close with the port, the flotilla swings and turns parallel with the main runway. The flotilla passes along an approach lane, just two hundred yards wide, between the parked ships and the low white terminal building of Niigata passenger port. The other way, a headland juts into the surf and intermittently throws up great fans of white spray. The approach is kept deliberately narrow to discourage any maneuver or demonstration of war-like intent. The fleet is unmarked and unlooked for. Their arrival has caught Niigata, and the whole of Sado, by surprise.
As the flotilla puts down, beams are discharged from the Niigata shore batteries. Hawken and Ellis’s brother DUVAL STRAKER are forced to fire triple-bursts from the Thomas Jefferson’s singularity guns, taking out three shore batteries.
Commodore Hawken is met on the Thomas Jefferson’s cargo deck by Ugaki Nobutaka, the Governor of Niigata. The Commodore requests berths for his five ships and facilities to repair them. He intends fair payment for said facilities and any materials the Traders take aboard. Hawken tells Governor Ugaki his five ships are in need of repair and do not have enough power to return home except via the Sado nexus; they must hook up here. Moreover, there are only twelve ships on his apron, and sixty empty berths.
Governor Ugaki refuses them. He says it is piracy to arrive without proper identification. He says that soon the Emperor’s war fleet will be here—with many thousands of Yamato settlers and many heavy beam weapons—commanded by the veteran Admiral KURITA IMARI. The fleet of which Governor Ugaki speaks is the kin kaigun, and it is two days overdue. Niigata is packed to the rafters with aurium and argentium awaiting transshipment to Honshu. The warships of the Yamato Guard will be most disappointed to find Amerikan Traders here in their place.
Still, the Commodore doesn’t see any reason why he and Governor Ugaki can’t get along for the five days it will take the Traders to get their vessels nexus-worthy. So Hawken and his armed honor-guard commandeer the terminal’s beam-weapons installations. That Thursday, the Traders enjoy Thanksgiving dinner aboard their five ex-Navy assault vessels. (Commodore Hawken agreed to take Duval out on trading missions, in return for ships big enough to put aboard the first mountable prototypes of the singularity gun…which, very soon, will make beam weapons obsolete aboard nexus ships.)
The ships hooked up alongside the Dwight D. Eisenhower have 200 billion credits’ worth of aurium in their bellies—0.5 billion for each of the 400 Amerikan crew members. 386 senators and 110 congressmen of Amerika have recognized, for ten years, the need for Amerika to challenge the 75-year-old Central Authority decree that is allowing Yamato to loot the entire Neutral Zone. Hawken reminds his captains and crews that, if the Emperor’s wealth is touched, the Traders will stand rightly accused before the Supreme Court of Liberty (seventy light-years away) as pirates and common thieves. Hawken’s captains would rather take compensation for injuries to their trade, but the commodore gave his promise to the governor that the Traders would pay in full and leave peaceably. Hawken addresses the ship’s command bank: (1) No crew member or trader shall approach within 100 yards of any Yamato ship docked on Sado, whatever the reason; (2) No crew member or trader shall attempt to enter the terminal building except at the specific order of Duval. An armed guard is posted. And (3) all those without a disembarkation permit are confined to their own ship. The penalty for breaking any of these rules is death by freezing.
The morning after Thanksgiving, Ellis sees (on the Dwight D. Eisenhower’s forward scanner)…Thirteen big four-engined armed bulk-carriers, plus dozens of smaller vessels, eighty miles distant and bearing down on Sado. It’s the aurium fleet, here at the worst possible moment, with Amerikan repairs hardly started and the Traders’ ships in total disarray. The Yamato Guard will be on the Traders within minutes! Only six beam weapons are still functioning on the Amerikan ships, but Hawken controls the Sado batteries. When the Traders deny Admiral Kurita entry to his own ground port, his ships have nowhere to go. They can’t stay in orbit very long, and they’ve got to put down on this apron; there isn’t anywhere else with landing facilities, and the four-engined bulk-carriers aren’t built for putting down on rough terrain…not without casualties. Sure enough, Kurita is responsible for 200 billion in credits—more than the entire Liberty economy raises in tax revenues within a year.
Within the hour, Vice-admiral KONDO gets under way to parley on the apron. He represents His Excellency Choshu no Nishima Jun, daimyo-designate of Sado, who demands that Commodore Hawken’s ships leave this port within the hour. The Commodore informs Kondo that His Excellency is in no position to make demands. Hawken’s conditions are met: twelve hostages are exchanged as Friday night falls, and the aurium fleet drops out of the sky to land.
From the bridge of Admiral Kurita’s flagship, the Chiyoda, Choshu no NISHIMA JUN looks on as his wife FUMIKO and her traveling companion—Urawa no HASEGAWA MICHIE—are taken to Niigata. He has chosen noon as the time to restore the Emperor’s honor and serve him. It has taken two days, but by Thursday morning, all is prepared and the Amerikan vessels are sectioned off together. By stalling and applying constant interference, Yamato has made the Amerikans lose almost three days repair time; they are now trying to make it up as rapidly as possible, understandably distracted by their anxiety to leave.
Nishima’s preparations are almost complete for his brutal ambush. The murderer Iwakura was promised clemency for his crimes in return for a favor; his escape from the convict settlement on the Blood Moon was clever enough to keep anybody from guessing that Nishima’s hand was in it. (Nishima has no intention of delivering clemency; Iwakura, like the Amerikans, will dangle from a cross once his purpose has been served.) Governor Ugaki is quietly mustering a thousand soldiers of the Sado garrison, and smuggling them aboard the nexus-ship hulk lying beside the Niigata apron. Beam weapons are being inched into place aboard a great ship of nine thousand tons, which is secretly being packed with samurai (300 armed men) next to the Richard M. Nixon.
Commodore Hawken counts too many Yamato men passing back and forth on the apron, more than their agreement stipulates. He asks Nishima to order them back. The commodore also questions the purpose of the great vessel being brought alongside the Richard M. Nixon. Kondo knows the Traders are suspicious; he judges the daimyo’s plan too complex to work once the Amerikans are alerted.
At dinner aboard the Thomas Jefferson, Iwakura says his farewells to Hawken and the Trader captains with due ceremony. The Traders’ overhaul is completed. Yet Ellis remains suspicious. Yamato has already broken the treaty by shifting vessels all over the apron, and by swarming all over the place…shaven-headed men who never look you in the eye, doing the work of slaves. Then Iwakura attempts to assassinate Hawken with a tanto blade he has hidden in his sleeve. Ellis saves the life of his commodore, who shouts for Bowen to break out the guns, rally the crew and get everyone suited up.
The big Yamato bulk carrier sends a thick flexiplex hawser, looped from her beakhead, over the Richard M. Nixon and down to the apron. The Richard M. Nixon’s sharpshooters counterattack. Hundreds of the daimyo’s samurai swarm across the apron. Amerikan crews appear everywhere, in plex armor, with weapons to hand. Yamato troops rush the defenders and hack them down with swords. Blaster fire rakes the cargo bays, slaughtering the Richard M. Nixon’s crew. Ellis is trapped against the bulkhead and fights wildly with a battle-ax, until the samurai are driven away under a blaze of fire from the Thomas Jefferson’s high stern. Amerikans pour into the melee but are pinned in the Thomas Jefferson’s cargo bays, under a withering crossfire from decks above. The samurai are attacking from all quarters. Ellis, with the help of CAO: a Chinese the Traders “liberated” from Palawan, works to get the Richard M. Nixon away. The beam weapons on the terminal thunder. All across the apron, samurai soldiers fall on the Amerikans; the parking pads are littered with bodies cut down by energy beams. A hundred or more have been cut down near the storm gullies. The Richard M. Nixon pulls away from the Thomas Jefferson, whose cargo bays are swarming with Yamato troops. A heavy bombardment begins—Deadly beams whipping from the terminal batteries—but both the Richard M. Nixon and the Thomas Jefferson are free. Ellis climbs into the flagship, sweeps up a lost samurai sword and charges into the plex-armored men; they turn on him with their own swords, which are poisoned with nerve venom. Ellis is “hog-spiked” by one of the samurai, leaving a four-inch-deep wound in his shoulder. Cadet Preston, who’s been fighting valiantly, is hacked in half. Battery fire rakes the ship again, knocking Ellis out.
Aboard the Richard M. Nixon, Duval is the only one of his weapons-crew alive; at the terminal, out of 150, only three got away alive. Two hundred Traders have paid for Hawken’s stubbornness with their lives. The Richard M. Nixon is going in crazy circles, her aerials and gantries in ruin. Despite intense battery fire, the Richard M. Nixon comes to battle order. Yet she and her fellow Trader ships are being cut to pieces each time the terminal’s guns fire. The Yamato ships cut loose and come across, bringing their guns to bear. Duval readies his five singularity guns and fires them at a line of blockading Yamato ships. The Chiyoda is hit and her prow is ripped apart by the concussion. Kondo’s ship, the Shinano, is set on fire…as is a bulk carrier. The Judith L. is safely off the ground and stands off to give covering fire. The Trader fleet is doomed: The John F. Kennedy is burning; the Dwight D. Eisenhower has been taken; the Thomas Jefferson is abandoned and useless; only the Richard M. Nixon and the Judith L. remain.
The resistance has taken Kurita Imari completely by surprise, and the singularity guns punching holes in the plex hulls of his ships have struck fear into him. Now the angry Daimyo Nishima Jun is refusing to come off the burning Chiyoda. Kurita orders death for any crew member who leaves the Chiyoda before Nishima Jun does. Kurita accuses Kondo of giving the signal to attack an hour before Yamato was fully prepared. The Amerikan ships should have been obliterated, as were those slaughtered in the terminal. Instead Yamato has lost three capital ships, and it’s worse because Nishima’s obviously never been in battle before. There’s no way Kurita can bring up the disaster now without Nishima losing face completely. Kurita’s men have re-taken the beam-weapon batteries, and are crushing the shields of the hovering Amerikan ships. Nishima orders a kamikaze ship prepared. Across the apron, as both Amerikan pirate ships get off from the apron, the helpless Amerikan flagship is lacerated by fresh bolts of energy from the beam-weapon batteries. The chroming is close to failure.
John Oujuku has made off under full power and is heading for orbit, but the Richard M. Nixon, with Commodore Jos Hawken aboard, cannot follow. There are two reasons. (1) The Richard M. Nixon was not loaded by the time the battle started, and there’s no Dover catalyst aboard. Without that they’ll starve. (2) The Traders can’t leave singularity gun prototypes behind, intact, on the Thomas Jefferson. The Richard M. Nixon cruises low over the terminal in an arc, and Duval’s gunners disable the three main batteries that are pouring beams into the Thomas Jefferson. The Richard M. Nixon is brought under cover of the Thomas Jefferson, where she is protected from the deadly fire of the Sado batteries. The ship puts down again, her shields are closed down in landing, and the hulls of the two Amerikan vessels touch.
Under the supervision of isotopist/gunner HORSE SMITH, provisions are transferred manually: water, Dover catalysts, inter-Sector exchange cards, and the like. The Thomas Jefferson’s hull is breaking up, and she’s a shambles inside. Many crew have been killed aboard her; Yamato and Amerikan bodies are strewn across her decks, some whole and some torn into slaughterhouse meat by the blasters. Searing, stabbing beams still crash into the Thomas Jefferson. The main fluid tanks have been ruptured; they’re gushing thousands of gallons of water, lube, bilge and refrigerant into the holds. Hawken and Don Hampton are carrying data modules and navigation instruments, the ship’s log, and her remote self-destruct key. For almost half an hour, they labor under withering beam fire. Duval brings out twenty dideuterium-oxide containers, each one of 126 gallons’ capacity. They bring out fifty full cargo units containing everything from genetic bank stocks and translation cards to atmospheric monitors and super-hardy wheat seeds. Duval carries phials of food catalyst across, followed by fish which di Barrio brought from Palawan. All the while, they work knee-deep in bilge and breathe choking smoke, amid terrifying danger in the holds. Sado’s gunners hole the flagship and reduce the bridge to a wasteland of splintered steel struts and ruined upholstery. Her starboard side is smashed in, and all her beam weapons are thrown back from their plex blisters in disarray. Duval rigs the melt-outs so that they can’t fall into enemy hands. The ship is cleaned out in forward. Hawken has already left with survivors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Richard M. Nixon prepares to raise her hatches and lift off. Duval fires the remaining singularity gun down into the ship; then he and INGRAM—another nexus rat—clean out the strong-room: refined aurium in heavy five-inch cast spheres; three huge, locked flasks of radioactive aurium-308 tri-nitride; 10 million credits’ worth of exchange data. Rively notices a 2 thousand-ton bulk carrier—a kamikaze, or suicide, ship—coming right at them. Duval and Ingram bring the tri-nitride flasks out; each flask weighs 350 pounds and is worth a fortune. The flasks are loaded aboard the Richard M. Nixon along with all the other valuables from the Thomas Jefferson. Duval finds Ellis and loads him aboard the Richard M. Nixon as well, but fails to get on board himself before the kamikaze smashes into the Thomas Jefferson and shatters it. The Richard M. Nixon escapes; Duval survives but is stranded on Sado.
9. CHI NO TSUKI...Edit
Overnight, the Richard M. Nixon hugs the darkside of the big red “Blood Moon” of Sado. The Judith L. has vanished, having escaped over the nexus event horizon; the Dwight D. Eisenhower is captured and the John F. Kennedy destroyed. The Richard M. Nixon finds a suitable hiding place from Kurita’s cruisers. Of the 400 that landed on Sado, only half remain. Helene di Barrio is absent; Faye Geneva is dead. With the Richard M. Nixon’s recycling plant shot to bits, she will get no further than Guam. With 200 mouths aboard her, there is enough food for just five days; on quarter rations, twenty. The crossing to Amerika will take 75-to-100 days.
Hawken’s enterprise is ruined; only 15 million in tri-nitride and convertible credits are left to show for their year of labor. His heart falters as he imagines explaining to his President’s face that he has lost her ships to a Yamato attack. Most of those who want the President to arm massively against the Yamato threat are also those who invested in Hawken’s expedition…with the exception of OTIS LE GRANDE, whose investment was made in secret. Hawken thinks of making le Grande support him and speak for him; Otis would be unwilling for the Security Council to learn that he’s invested in the Hawken brothers while at the same time publicly supporting the reconciliation with Yamato. Against that, what would be the loss of a few million credits?
For now, the very existence of Amerika is at stake. One of Nishima Jun’s dispatch ships is even now transiting for Honshu with Yamato’s account of the Sado incident. If the Emperor is goaded to anger, war might easily be the outcome. And it is not a war Amerika can possibly win against the mighty Empire of Yamato. The President will fight fiercely to avoid war, to knit the wound and heal the scar with the Emperor. Nothing is beyond her. She will offer marriages, make gifts of restitution, appease the Emperor’s haughty ambassadors, and order executions. To save her realm, she’ll shovel Hawken and his into the furnace of the Emperor’s wrath. Hawken faces impeachment, execution, a traitor’s freezing inside the wire at Camp Worth.
10. CHI NO TSUKI...Edit
Hawken looks for fresh water to fill the Richard M. Nixon’s tanks. This is the place Sado sends its criminals; they have a colony and a penitentiary complex in the warm south, which is eight thousand miles away. Ellis comes to and, after being filled in by Hawken on what’s happening, becomes obsessed with locating Duval…whom he believes still lives.
11. CHI NO TSUKI…Edit
As the Richard M. Nixon touches down just out of sight from the penal settlement, Ellis proposes lying in wait for another Yamato ship—then running one of them down and taking their arms. The Traders could survive on this moon indefinitely with a singularity gun-equipped ship to prey on the Sado convoys. There’s plenty of fresh water, and time for the Traders to get themselves shipshape again. If convicts eat here, the Traders can eat here as well. With half their men in a hidden stronghold and the rest raiding on the Richard M. Nixon, they can menace anything that comes into the system. They can paralyze the entire Yamato aurium trade; when they’ve had their fill, the Traders can force down one of their big transports, and take her home in triumph with a ton of refined aurium in the coffers! Then if the Traders get branded pirates, so be it! Commodore Hawken is opposed to aggressive action (read: piracy).
Hawken calls an assembly in the cargo bay, explaining that he intends to brave starvation and psi-storms to try for Amerika. The Commodore names 36 crew members, all those essential for the ship’s working and maintenance, to join him. Hawken names 60 more crew members to make planetfall here, to take their chances with the Sado convicts and/or the Yamato authorities. Ellis volunteers to be landed, since there must be a recognized captain (read: leader) among those staying; otherwise, there will be chaos. Hawken announces that all crew members who choose to stay here will have his/her dues—pay, bonus, and voyage share. Or, if they prefer, it will be given to their families…should the Richard M. Nixon reach Amerika. Hawken further pledges to his crew that he will return here next year—or when the government allows it—to bring them home, awarding double pay for the interval.
It can’t be far to a Yamato settlement from here. Light gravity, a thin atmosphere, low oxygen, fever swamp and proto-forest thick with dangers…and the likelihood of being nailed to a cross by the Yamato authorities. But Ellis must know if his brother is still alive. Thirty other crew members have come forward; all those who have chosen to disembark do so at a point some miles from the ship, and on the other side of the swamp…from which water is taken to be tested and filtered, and to fill the Richard M. Nixon’s tanks. Ellis and Chambers are ambushed by the technology-deprived convicts, who have been forced to live on their wits. Two other traders are killed by the long-haired convicts, fifty miles from the penitentiary complex. The Richard M. Nixon lifts off and heads for home.
The sight of the newly-captured Duval fills Urawa no Hasegawa Michie with wonder and excitement. It has been two weeks since the great battle for Sado, the morning on which Michie watched in disbelief as a great transporter of ten thousand tons blossomed into an enormous ball of fire.
Nishima Fumiko believes the Traders should all be crucified; they are less than men, worse than savages. She can’t imagine why her husband hasn’t hung the Traders up on crosses already; that way, they could have been burned with the other corpses. She considers it indecent and lewd, when one of them bows to her and Michie.
The Traders don’t disgust Michie, however. They have souls, for all their evil; moreover, no one smells sweet in prison. Besides, the Amerikans that have caused Nishima Jun so much trouble are the same hostages that were exchanged before she and Fumiko were permitted to land.
Nishima Jun’s inquiry has little to do with the truth. He is trying to insulate himself against blame for the loss of the Emperor’s ships. Ex-Vice-admiral Kondo is the perfect choice for a scapegoat. Michie despises Lord Nishima for what he is doing to Kondo. She knows what kind of man Nishima Jun is; he has no honor—in battle or out of it. Fumiko recalls when Emperor Mutsuhito visited then-President Lucia Henry at the White House, on Liberty.
- 1. "Yamato: A Rage in Heaven" (novel) by Kato, Ken. Copyright 1990. First Printed in Paperback: 1991. Warner Books, Inc.; 666 Fifth Avenue; NYC 10103.
- 2. "Yamato 2: The Way of the Warrior" (novel) by Kato, Ken. Copyright 1992. Warner Books, Inc.; 666 Fifth Avenue; NYC 10103.