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the eylau sequence.war

There is nothing so beautiful as flying amongst turbulent equatorial clouds. Even during descent from orbit, though they lay far below for most of the trip, their forms spread across the Earth's atmosphere as an ever changing delight. Up close, their powerful columns churning with energy are a true wonder of nature.

Noshi Yamazaki was certainly an admirer. Relaxed serenely in his flight couch, he quietly watched the panorama spread before him with the casual wonder of a person immersed in a favorite concerto. The task at hand momentarily forgotten, he looked far down to the ocean as the sunlight passed amongst the grey and white pillars of water vapor. From a giant anvil cloud to starboard, lightning stabbed out erratically while it dumped torrents of water into the waiting sea. As beautiful as the spaceward views in Japan were, the home planet’s wondrous atmosphere never failed to impress.

Even so, he sat collecting a few thoughts about his mission while the ship slid further into Earth's thickening atmosphere. Idly hoisting another slice of fresh fruit, he looked at it curiously, admiring its intricate texture and colorful method of retaining the same water as that was pouring from the nearby thunderheads. Earth’s clouds, which were visible anywhere in the solar system, and this fruit, which he eyed by comparison; they both contained one of the most valuable of commodities: fresh, clean, ready to use water – always worth fighting over, definitely worth killing for. Yamazaki was what people would call a nice guy, but he was under no illusions as to what a typical homo sapiens was capable of.

A quick check of the topside view confirmed the trails his ship and its escorts were tearing into the atmosphere as they nosed through their descents. Shallowing out, the ship kissed through the tops of the first clouds and after a few flashes of whiteout the slender vessel broke into an enormous valley in the sky with towering walls of billowing white cleanly separated by canyons of blue-grey. It was a hundred miles long and ten miles high.

As usual his mind was in the habit of intruding on moments like this, reminding him of its own concerns both real and imagined. These were easily pushed aside in favor of the splendid view. He popped another finely sliced section of fruit into his mouth and briefly reviewed his escort; they reported nothing unusual, and his ES assistant was parsing status reports, so no problem. Summoning up his notes, he created a brief reminder to someday look for places in San Diego that served modern Japanese cuisine. ‘If we survive.’ he thought to himself.


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Sonya Ortiz was standing in Hangar 12, located in the Loma Military Reservation. The center was far to the west of El Cajon Mountain and had a commanding view of the ocean as well as a remote location that allowed discrete access. Despite its seeming great height above the sea, the facility remained vulnerable to major tidal waves and was not considered suitable for the general population. That was fine with the intelligence service, who was the true operator of the facility.

Ortiz was still thinking about the message she had received from Mister Yamazaki: "With your permission I will visit California in two days. I look forward to your kind consideration."

She was shocked to say the least. It was like getting a message from the president asking to come over for lunch. No Japanese representative had ever personally visited California. They always wanted to meet at off-planet locations like the moon or Maine Station, and they typically suggested a meeting – ordaining one was entirely out of character. The longer Ortiz knew the Japanese, the less she seemed to understand them.

Her pondering on the purpose for his visit was interrupted by the hangar’s status warning; Yamazaki’s ship was approaching fast and low from the northwest. Within minutes the Californian built vessel pulled smoothly into a hover above the landing stage. The Japanese never used their own spaceships within sensor range of Earth, not when they could help it.

The small escorts supplied by the Californians pulled away and flew off to another part of the ridge, leaving Yamazaki’s ship to land by itself. It settled flawlessly into its docking cradle and was taxied into the hangar, where it stopped precisely at the main arrival mezzanine. The ship’s canopy opened silently and Mister Yamazaki stepped out onto the shallow arrival ramp. Sonya was at the foot of the ramp waiting for him.

"Yamazaki-san, your presence is an honor." she said as she bowed. "How may we be of assistance?"

"Miss Ortiz." he said, bowing in return. "I apologize for the intrusion." Ortiz was confused so far, this was not typical Yamazaki form. "Not at all sir, please come with me and we can speak further. Would you like to meet in here or walk outside?"

“Outside will be splendid.”

“Please this way Sir.” she said, at a complete loss on how to interpret his actions. They dropped down to the main floor level and walked out past his docked ship. On her orders the hangar was empty, outside there was a well paved path leading up to the top of the rocky heights that overlooked the sea. There were numerous ruins scattered nearby and a kilometer to the north appeared to be the remnants of an ancient cemetery, this place had been built upon for over a thousand years. Ortiz noticed that Yamazaki was wearing simple flight overalls and appeared to take no security measures. The Japanese either did not care how this meeting went, or they were sending a message – it was hard to tell which.

“I understand this imposition may be confusing for you Miss Ortiz.” he said.

“It is our pleasure sir, such a departure from protocol only indicates the importance of your visit.”

He stopped and looked at her keenly, much like he had done previously. “Yes.” he replied, “It is important.” He began to walk again. She felt relieved even though the process was vaguely unnerving.

He continued; “We know of your land expedition to the East, and we know of its true nature and the substance of your reports on the matter.” He stopped to evaluate her reaction. She was unsurprised and her face remained completely neutral, still listening.

He continued approvingly; “What may surprise you is that we have also been watching this same situation, and we have some advice for you on the matter of these invasive species.”

Ortiz looked over and closely scrutinized Yamazaki. It was his turn to remain noncommittal.

“Yes, I said invasive species.” he continued. “California is not the only country investigating this. Both of us and also the Selangor are. The Australians and Brasilians are becoming suspicious. So far California is ahead of the others, but the situation is more dangerous than you realize Miss Ortiz.” Yamazaki stopped and looked right at her. “It is good that you know, and it is good that you are investigating. But whatever you have planned so far, you should consider acting on it, the time is nearly past for investigations and research. Allow me to be blunt Miss Ortiz, the government of Japan is recommending that California mobilize.”

For the first time in weeks Sonya Ortiz was dumfounded. Her mouth dropped open. “Mobilize – the Army?”

“Mobilize everything.” he added.

Ortiz looked away and walked over to the edge of the path going up the hill. She looked out at the ocean, which suddenly seemed darker than before. Could the Japanese be right? Was this actually far worse than California’s most dire predictions? The Japanese thought so. Yamazaki was being uncharacteristically blunt and informal – as if all the formality had been scared out of him.

She turned to face him again. “You mean… we need to start killing these things instead of studying them.” she half asked.

“Yes.” he replied soberly.

For her this was a complete departure of normal diplomatic policy, she was abandoning the concept of post-meeting analysis and instead just asking Yamazaki what he meant. The fact that he seemed not to care only heightened her concern.

“You think there are that many out there?” she asked.

“There are more than you realize Miss Ortiz, and their numbers are increasing. We may need all of our resources to suppress them. Hopefully their elimination is possible; it should certainly be your goal.”

“Extermination.” Ortiz said to herself. Yamazaki watched her closely, the Japanese may have left Earth, but they still cared about its future.

She turned to face him again; “Yamazaki-san.” she asked in submissive earnestness. “Do you know where they come from?”

He eyed her cautiously, for once uncertainty showed on his face. A brief flash and it was gone, he said nothing. ‘They don’t know.’ she thought to herself. She paused and looked up at the turbulent grey sky.

“Alright.” she said. “I will contact Northern Command immediately, and they will inform Armed Forces Primary Command in Soledad Mountain. I will inform my superiors at the State department and the final decision will come from the President and his advisors. You understand of course, that our leadership may want additional confirmation of Japan’s concerns?” she asked.

“Yes Miss Ortiz, our leadership is prepared to confirm this.”

Ortiz thought to herself for a few moments, especially about his last comment. Even in circumstances they felt were dire, the Japanese still sought to maintain as much separation from the rest of humanity as possible. No matter, such a fact only made the rest of Yamazaki’s warning all the more terrifying. Something was going terribly wrong.

“Is Japan prepared to supply direct military aid?” she asked. Yamazaki’s expression remained neutral. “I am afraid that may not be possible Miss Ortiz.”

She knew what that meant. Japan was holding back their armed forces for their own defense. Earth was on its own.

“I understand.” she replied.


A short while later she watched Yamazaki’s ship blast free of its landing cradle and meet up with its escort. Long after the sky became empty again, she stood looking out at the foggy sea. It was getting dark.


Next: 24. Conversation Two

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