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.
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 planets
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.
Earths 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
pondering on the purpose for his visit was interrupted by the hangars
status warning; Yamazakis 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.
escorts supplied by the Californians pulled away and flew off to another part
of the ridge, leaving Yamazakis 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 ships 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?"
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 will be splendid.
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.
understand this imposition may be confusing for you Miss Ortiz. he said.
our pleasure sir, such a departure from protocol only indicates the importance
of your visit.
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.
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.
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
over and closely scrutinized Yamazaki. It was his turn to remain noncommittal.
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.
first time in weeks Sonya Ortiz was dumfounded. Her mouth dropped open.
Mobilize the Army?
Mobilize everything. he added.
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 Californias 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.
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.
think there are that many out there? she asked.
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.
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 dont 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 Japans
concerns? she asked.
Miss Ortiz, our leadership is prepared to confirm this.
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 Yamazakis warning all the more terrifying.
Something was going terribly wrong.
Japan prepared to supply direct military aid? she asked. Yamazakis
expression remained neutral. I am afraid that may not be possible Miss
what that meant. Japan was holding back their armed forces for their own
defense. Earth was on its own.
understand. she replied.
while later she watched Yamazakis 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.
24. Conversation Two