Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright © 2013-2017, Karl Leffler
War Stories: Divine Wind
Greater Judea (northern continent), New Israel, Jeffersonian Republic
Kaylee Miyamura always enjoyed visiting her grandfather, so during her parent's discussions, in their home on Haifa Station, of their upcoming one-year transfer to Alpha Belt's asteroid mining operations, she was far from heartbroken at the suggestion that she would stay planetside with Grandpa Jack. Jack certainly didn't disappoint, broadening the adolescent woman's horizons, teaching her everything from his system for casino blackjack, to tracking the Judean Red Stag (introduced, and mutated from, Terran elk nearly three centuries ago) through its (now-)native spadeleaf forests, to fine-tuning the reaction-control system of his ancient Navy-surplus Type 63 shuttle.
They were in that shuttle now, flying back to Jack's ranch on the mountain-lined edge of the Great Eastern Plain of the northern supercontinent on New Israel, third Member World of the Republic, and the only Republic world to ever feel the tread of an invader's boot. But the War was long won, not least by the stream of ships and smaller craft built on and above the planet before the Terran invasion, and again after the liberation.
Jack was also teaching her piloting, including much the Instructors at Mordecai Bramowitz High School, in the river-junction city of Rehovot, obviously didn't know. Kaylee commuted from the ranch to school in Jack's much-newer Epsilon Automotive FlyCycle, an adorable little high-subsonic economy two-seater - EA had sold over thirty million since its introduction in 373. Despite his age - which wasn't that old anyway, in the Republic - Jack was still a fun-loving guy, and had long since taught Kaylee how to break Mach in a dive. That was real flying. She figured she had a shot at appointment to the Yeager Academy on Monticello, if she kept the rest of her grades up – and Grandpa Jack was no slouch there either, having been principal and CEO of that same high school for over forty years before retiring seventeen more years ago.
Kaylee looked up through the shuttle's large bubble canopy from her position in the copilot's seat. Abraham's Eye, the gas giant about which New Israel orbited, was below the horizon at present, so she easily picked out her erstwhile home, Haifa Station, gleaming in synchronous orbit; smaller points of light alongside were, she knew, the warships of the New Israel Home Fleet. Her big brother Solomon was on one of those ships, the old but sound post-War battleship Shinano, personally ensuring New Israel would never be invaded again. Kaylee expected, in the next very few years, to do her part in her world's defense, hopefully in the new Starcat-III fighters just now coming out of Steeltown Aerospace, her parent's employer at the orbiting city where they (usually) lived.
But that was for the future. On this day, in the shuttle's cargo bay, refit by Jack with refrigeration for just such occasions, were the results of the weekend's recreation: three fine stags, their population booming as over four centuries of terraforming continued; a dozen fat neogeese, likewise ever increasing in number; and thirty-one Giant Fauxhare, the rabbit-like eating machine carelessly introduced decades ago from Adams' World which, like actual rabbits in Australia centuries before, had once threatened to overrun their new habitat. The planetary government still paid a whole Republic dollar bounty for each tail. The meat, while unpalatable to Humans, was the preferred diet of Jack's pet Gnoppan houndosaurs – who were contentedly curled up in hammocks in the troop bay behind the cockpit – and the hides, properly treated, rivaled New Texan supercow leather for durability; Jack supplemented his pension with a casual leatherworking business, specializing in holster-sheath-and-belt sets.
He was teaching her about that, too. Since Kaylee's younger eyes had helped her bring down most of the fauxhare, she was entitled to most of the bounty and pelts, and was already thinking of how to impress that cute, shy boy in her math class, a transfer from the cold, harsh planet Necessity, with some custom leatherwork - his family obviously wasn't wealthy, as he carried an old Terran-surplus metallic-cartridge pistol in a fraying nylon holster, but his patient tutoring had finally made all those numbers make sense to her, and she looked forward to expressing her gratitude and maybe getting some extracurricular activity in return.
“What’s that?” Kaylee pointed northwest, out the port side, as a glint of sunlight on metal caught her eye.
“Terran battleship Conquistador,” Jack replied without looking – he knew the region well. “Brought down by kamikaze during the Invasion. –You know, I'm ashamed I've never told you that story. We have plenty of time, would you like to stop there? The monument is really something.” Kaylee nodded.
Retaking control of the shuttle from his granddaughter, Jack slowly overflew the wrecked Terran warship – shattered and scattered over more than sixteen square kilometers, with some sections at least 50 meters in size jutting up from the forest below. He guided the shuttle to a smooth landing in a grassy clearing easily large enough for a hundred such vehicles. They got out, the houndosaurs frolicking and happily gronking at their feet, their polished scales casting thousands of miniature rainbows in the sun.
Grandfather and granddaughter walked toward the monument: nine 10-meter statues of Japanese men and women. “The Shinto hold a remembrance here every local-sidereal anniversary,” Jack explained. “Very somber and reserved. But hell, after what they did during the Occupation, they can do any damn thing they please out here. They earned it.” Kaylee saw that the statues bore names of the people they portrayed, in three languages: Japanese, Hebrew, and English, in that order but all of equal size. Behind the line of statues rose a monolith, bearing, again in three languages, the inscription:
CREW OF THE SAGIMOTO MARU
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
IN DEFENSE OF THEIR WORLD
22 THIRDMONTH 319 JR
“The day the Terran Navy exited hyperspace within half a light-second,” Jack pointed out. “The first Close-Transit Attack. The day the Republic-Empire War started. About a hundred-ten years ago. These folks here-” he gestured at the statues- “were on a routine freight run with ore from Alpha Belt, docked at Edo Station, which was ‘round the other side of the planet at the time. The Terrans popped up right in front of them as they came around. They finally tracked down the log buoy, nearly a year after Liberation. The bridge recordings were full video and sound.
“They didn’t say a word about it. They looked at their screens – they knew what was happening. They did an emergency undock, slashing their procedures – but they made even that look routine and well-drilled. Then Ami, there-” one of the women, young and beautiful to judge by her statue, marked with the name Amiko Kirizu- “made short work of plotting the intercept course, while Hikaru-” Jack pointed at the oldest male, and oldest-looking of all nine- “got to work on the cargo, only half of which had been unloaded. After their initial burn they went silent and coasted toward the Terries, using only reaction mass for course corrections, not their fusion drive, and not broadcasting, shutting down even most of their life support to minimize their emissions. And it worked; the Terries didn’t see them until too late.
“The really eerie thing about it was they didn’t discuss it. No one gave orders; Ami called out the necessary course and burn information, Hikaru sometimes gave some mass data over the intercom, the other crew did likewise for their own tasks, or just silently helped the others. As far as any of the historians can tell, no one even looked at the escape pods.
“They had to keep the cargo aboard as long as possible of course, so the Terries couldn’t take evasive action. Hikaru planted seismic survey charges to, at just the right moment, blow out all the holds and the ore with them. Turned the ship into God’s own guided cluster bomb, while Reizo-” the central figure, the Captain- “took the controls and lit the torch just at the end, aiming right at the biggest target he could see. The recorders kept transmitting to the buoy after it was jettisoned, to the last instant.
“For the last five minutes, not one of them said a single word. Not one of them flinched.
“The ore destroyed two escorting destroyers and a frigate, and crippled a light cruiser, then went on to hit the transport group a few minutes later – Ami planned the vector perfectly – killing two troopships and a munitions tender, which brewed up and took out another troopship and a food freighter. Sagimoto Maru hit Conquistador at an estimated closing speed of two kilometers per second; the whole forward third of the battleship just… went away. They think some of the Terrie crew were still alive near the stern when the wreck deorbited, right here, ten hours later.
“Sagimoto Maru knocked out six percent of the Terrans’ combat fleet and nearly ten percent of the initial landing force, for the cost of one sublight freighter and nine lives.
“Of course that hunk of stone isn’t the real monument,” Jack added, pointing at the wreck. “45 kilotonnes of Terran scrap metal – that’ll last a while.”
Jack Kirizu ben Meier, aged 121 Monticellan years, gazed with clear, dry eyes at the monuments, and nodded to himself. “Mom deserves it.”