OAV Novel 1 "Firebird, Fly!": Chapter 1
The Challenge 20,000 Years Later

By Hideki Kakinuma

In the middle of the wide ocean, a huge luxurious passenger ship raises the capacity of its water-current engines to their limit, trying to get north.

Only 15 minutes ago it had changed its course.

Inside the ship, the end of a luxurious party is announced, and the outcry of the passengers takes its place.

After all, until 20 minutes ago, not one cloud had been seen on the weather radar.

The black waves surround the hull of the ship like huge snakes. The gusts tear away the antenna which had connected the ship to a satellite and take it towards the center of a black whirlpool in the distant sky.

The raging storm and rain wash the ship's hull, and the howling of the wind sounds either like the cry of a sea monster from the bottom of the sea or the singing of the Valkyrie.

The "Queen Horizon" is the newest and biggest passenger ship which disposes of two pairs of computer controlled absolute buoyancy devices which keep the interior of the ship horizontal no matter what waves are outside. Now the ship is caught in a tropical low-pressure area and sways like the leave of a tree.

It's so dark that the sight is zero and the compass showing the direction starts spinning with great speed.

"It can't be!¨That's not possible!!" shouts the captain when, inside the deck, he sees the three-dimensional picture established by the atmospheric pressure sensors.

In the center of the low-pressure area, the air pressure is close to zero. And that center is following the ship!! The navigational computer makes itself known noisily, saying "EMERGENCY" repeatedly.

It says that all passengers and crew members are to be evacuated in the life boats immediately.

Thirty minutes are needed for this exercise.

Besides, this is the time needed in normal training.

The hull of the ship tilts up to 20 degrees, and continues swaying heavily from left to right and back. With these conditions, it's inevitable that much more time will be needed.

"Captain!!" echoes the voice of his deputy on the deck.

At two o'clock, a huge wave has appeared!

It's six times the length of the ship.

They will be helpless if the wave swallows them.

"Ha.. Hard to port!"

It's the first time in already eight years of working for him that the navigational compter hears such a nervous call from its captain.

In the next moment... the huge white ship hull, with its maximum luxury, which depends on investors in the promised land, is swallowed by the huge wave, together with 780 passengers and crew members.

The white wave crests become splashes and are tossed up towards the sky.

It's a scene as if a huge waterfall had been reversed.

When the spectacle, reminiscent of the mythical Creation, is over, the ocean regains its usual appearance.

In a moment, everything is gone.

Something wants to get started.

It's an event 20,000 years after a "light ray" came flying.

**********

A plane comes into view against a crystal clear sky.

The sound of a Recipro Engine resounds in the sea of clouds.

The small plane suddenly loses its propulsion and abandons itself to gravity. It starts falling towards the surface of the Earth.

Does the pilot inside the falling cockpit enjoy the moment of zero gravity?

While spinning, he increases the capacity of the engine and the hull stabilizes itself. He's an excellent acrobat. The surface of the Earth is immediately the floor again.

The sharp spinner is reminiscent of the tip of an eagle's nose. The squat hull, painted in scarlet red, reflects the blindingly bright light of the sun.

It's a small, low monoplane.. It seems that, when you want to see its comrades, it's advisable to go to a museum.

The big air intakes installed at the nose, the firmly installed legs protruding from the plane, the propeller turning at the point of the nose... Wherever you look, this plane does not correspond to the trend of this time.

When you compare it to the passenger planes flying at many times the speed of sound, cruising close to space between the continents, its speed makes it completely look like it's parked in the sky.

But... when a person knowing this sees the plane, he might say the following:

It's a great plane which at the same time has the strength of a Hawker Tempest, flies in the sky with the stubbornness of a bulldog, and possesses elegance of a Supermarin S6B fast plane.

Indeed Ken, the pilot and also owner of this plane, thinks so.

Ken loves flying through the sky.

He loves the feeling of loneliness when he is the only person in the sky.

The loneliness and the pride of being the ultimate person alternate.

The white of the clouds makes him forget everything.

When Ken pulls back the throttle again and reduces the engine's capacity, the plane falls quickly towards the surface of the earth.

It's already as if he could grasp his own falling shadow.

It doesn't look like he had the intention of adjusting some flaps, landing softly or doing anything else.

It's an acrobatic, unbelievable and wild approach.

The denation of the plane is a custom made Air Racer 2021 "Uncle Eagle".

A small airport comes into view a bit further ahead. This is his "nest".

A straight, 600 meter long runway laid out with compressed concrete, then... yes, a small red eagle dances down to a local airport which seems to consist only of one reserve runway on which the gras is growing unhindered. An airport which looks exactly like the Rooswelt airport around the time when Lindbergh took off for his flight across the Atlantic.

After swirling up the dust and bouncing a few times, he makes a landing before the large wooden hangar.

Opening the small canopy by force, the pilot runs off light-footed. Passing below the main wing, he stops to stroke the propeller blades lovingly. Then he takes off the leathern flight cap and puts the pilot gloves inside it.

Today's work has just finished.

On the premises, one can see two small jets with two engines and a FRP made whirlwindmachine, which is used for pilot's training.

This is all that "Eagle Boy," the aviation company which owns the airport, possesses.

Even if it's called an "aviation company", it is a private company which makes agreements regarding the transport of small amounts of mail and also supplies a delivery service to the terminal of big aviation companies.

This is all the assets that the young pilot, Ken Washio, has taken over from his father.

His main work as owner and pilot is to carry small parcels to nearby islands and to cities in the vicinity twice or three times a day.

At 3:30 pm he has fulfilled his today's task.

When he is in the small office below the control tower, he puts a "X" on his own scoreboard.

Tomorrow he has two mail items and one and one mission for the aerial photographs.

A big red double circle has been made around the air race which awaits in seven days.

There's nothing more interesting for him than this.

Near the desk.. not to mention on the wall.. and on the ceiling.. are hanging different photos of planes.

They range from the "Player 1" of the Wright brothers to the "X-15".

Ken had intended to spend the afternoon on maintaining his beloved plane, but is stopped by a small, plump man appearing in his office.

"Keeeeen!!" booms a loud voice.

The man wears oil-stained coveralls and a cap which belongs to a football team from somewhere.

"Please excuse me.. can I ask you for yet another service?" he asks. This is the super-intendent and technician since the time of his father.

He carries in his hand a small red box wrapped with a ribbon.

"Would tomorrow be okay? Today.."

"It's a birthday present. For a boy called Jimmy, on the peninsula of the west district."

While saying this, he hands the box to Ken.

When he looks at it, he sees a card stuck into the ribbon.

"A present from the son.. to the father?" mumbles Ken in his mouth.

­­­­­­­ Dad??­­­­­ says Ken in his heart, sighing.

Then his eyes go to the disorderly desk.

Somewhere in the distance another pair of eyes meet his.

The one photo with its faded colours is the only prove that he ever had a father.

The innocently laughing boy riding on the shoulders of his tall father, that boy is Ken.

Ken doesn't know anything about his father besides the fact that his father was an excellent test pilot for fast test planes.

The laughter of his father has remained as a fuzzy memory in his ear. The intonation of the warm voice. That's all he knows about his father and it's his most cherished memory.

A half formed, solid model of a propeller has been put besides the picture. When the wind blows, it turns slowly.

A plane painted scarlet red with a three-bladed propeller is the "Fokker Dr. 1", the favourite plane of the aerial ace in the First World War, von Richthofen.

He was a hero in the sky who painted his plane scarlet and was feared as the "Red Baron".

Has his father, with that plane in his hands, talked about the times when nothing stood in the way of chivalry in the sky.

But the young Ken wouldn't have been able to understand the content of the talking anyway.

Since contact with his father was lost during a test flight more than ten years ago, no day passes without Ken wondering whether his father will come back.

But his father has not returned so far.

A strong west wind blows.

The weather vane on the control tower turns with a rattling noise.

When the super-intendent looks again into the office, Ken has already left.

Then the small eagle soars into the sky again.

In the meantime, the sky is covered with black clouds.

In the distance, lightnings are flashing.

Like an foreshadow of something, the clouds expand across the western sky.

Also Ken senses already the signs.

Something wants to get started.

**********

A city of the future has been built on an artifical island, taking into consideration the rise of the sea level during the next few hundred years, and using construction techniques relative to the pressure of the water. As a symbol of the true triumph of the 21st century civilization, it swims right in the middle of the ocean.

A straight highway was prolongated to reach the surrounding islands, which exist in all sizes and shapes. Cars circulate quickly on it, reflecting the light.

A tall building, with 106 floors above ground and 26 floors below, from which you can watch the sun rising from the horizon and the moon setting in the shadow of the island, towers over the surrounding skyscrapers in a majestic and stunning display.

The glas covered walls, whose translucence can be adjusted, mirror on one side the blue oean, and on the other side the bustling city.

The International Science Organization's home, called "Glas Tower", is a meeting place for knowledge, intended realize balance and prosperity for the next 1000 years of humankind.

Because of the aim explained above, it's also a scientific fortress, in which 200 smaller departments have been established and 20,000 experts work.

Solar power plants--which outclass the "Dead Sea Project" of the 20th century--the completion of the salt removal plants, which convert sea water into drinking water, the long awaited nuclear fusion reactor, the clean air virus, produced by the life engineering department, the earth heat factories, which produce energy out of the Earth' heat, and the Mantle Plan. (These are the projects of the "Glas Tower".)

It is a governmental agency which has had great success since the beginning of the century and possesses the capability and authority to have the media publish that all the difficult issues, with the exception of the military defense, should be left to the ISO.

The huge conference room on the top floor, which serves to watch the sky, is also a very favourable observation platform from which one can overlook Earth from above.

But today the terrific spectacle is not desired.

All the windows are set to not let any light through and separate the world outside from the interior of the room.

Despite the fact that it's Monday morning 8 o'clock, all 12 heads of subdivisions were called in by the minister urgently and are now assembled here. Those are the circumstances.

Nobody is here to tell them the subject of the meeting.

In the middle of the huge meeting room, which has a capacity of 300 people, the 12 persons are sitting around a round table set there and wait for the apearance of the minister, who has the leading role.

Soon, the imposing figure of Anderson appears in front of the screen at the front. He approaches them and sits down on the place of the chairman. As soon as he's seated, he lights a smokeless cigarette. The eyes of all attending are fixed on him, but it is not him who will have the lading role here.

When the door is opened, the figure of a man appears.

The mahogany coloured suit, which has not one crease, changes its colour to bluegrey as soon as the light of the room hits it.

Pin-striped jacket, Dunhill pipe.

He is always, without fail, the best dressed man.

When he holds an elegant FOX umbrella in his hand, he looks exactly like a dandy, an ideal English gentleman.

ISO technology head, Kozaburo Nambu, 42 years old... single.

But in the pale technique room, there are not stubborn politicians.

It's a capable group, possessing wisdom and the power to act at the same time.

Director Anderson especially has a lot of confidence in them.

The condition that one keeps asking about technology for the future of humankind is that one is convinced that technology is continuing to be the hope for the future of humankind. Somebody who has unwavering conviction.. a human who possesses both modesty and self-confidence. Anderson has learned that Dr. Nambu is such a person.

As soon as he's seated, a weather map appears on a multifunctional wall screen behind him. It's a graphic of a low pressure area with clouds rolled up in a whirl. Nambu magnifies it continuously and starts with an angry expression on his face.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. As you all know, together with the disappearance of the Queen Horizon, it's the 16th time this year that material damages happened and lifes have been lost because of hurricanes."

Everybody can suddenly imagine what the subject of this meeting is.

"We have to take precautions! And the right time is now!" shouts Nambu.

",,, maybe use the weather bomb?"

"It's too early for practical use of this bomb! Besides, it's not certain that the damages due to hurricanes will continue." A particant has opened his mouth.

"The damages will continue."

The look converge on Nambu who firmly states this.

"Doctor.. is there.. any proof?" asks Minister Anderson with a puzzled expression.

This should be an obvious question. How is anybody supposed to know whether the natural phenomen hurricane will do damage also in the future?

But Nambu answers full of conviction.

"There is."

He gets up suddenly and stands before the screen. Then he proceeds.

"This low pressure area has been manually manufactured by somebody. THEY will continue their course of action until they have reached their goal."

"WHAT!!"

"THEY??!!"

"What is that?? Somebody... artificial hurricanes.."

Namu answers the tumbling questions of a few people with one word.

"Indeed."

"... And what is that supposed to be? Those "THEY" you mentioned? Doctor??"

One participant insinuates through his mocking tone that he does not believe what Doctor Nambu said.

When Nambu touches the screen with his forefinger, the graphic is changed with a short alarm sound. The weather map disappears without a trace and letters appear.

----- Nietsche, Magnat (36 years old), male, doctor in life technique, Alfalfa life technique institute, emeritus professor ----- in this way, names, age, sex, then scientific domain appear. This is nothing else than a list of 36 scientists in total.

"This is a list of persons who have disappeared since the beginning of this year due to a hurricane. Among them were quite a few friends of mine. I guess it's not necessary to explain that all of them are international scientists."

He tells them this with a much deeper voice. Then he commands the screen again to display new information.

While Nambu shows the displayed essay, he continues:

"The deep space research ship, planned to be launched in 20 years; the research for a solar wind power plant drifting in space; suppression of symptoms of old age; the Mars terraforming. The list of examples is endless. You probably all know it. How useful the fields of research of those missing scientists were and how big the corresponding loss for us is. Has nobody noticed that the probability, that their disappearance is a coincidence, is zero?"

Nambu's tone becomes slowly menacing in the meantime.

"You mean it's a conspiracy by a third country?"

"Are there corresponding informations?"

Adora, who is responsible for monitoring the international situation, blushes and jumps up.

He's a small man with a bald head and a sharp facial expression.

As soon as he regains his composure, Nambu commands the screen three times.

The new weather map is a computer generated view from 30'000 meters above sea level.

"These are pictures taken by using the Mach 5 weather satellite. The time scale is shortened by 1/100."

Hearing this, the leader of the weather group stands up.

"Ma.. Mach 5? That satellite is used for measuring the albedo (reflected warmth of the surface of the Earth) in the Northern Hemisphere! With whose authorisation was it mobilized?"

Totally like a teacher reprimanding a noisy pupil, Nambu controls that man with his look and continues his speech.

"Please look at this. You can't see anywhere a sign of a tropical storm. In the afternoon at 6:20, a low pressure area suddenly develops. As soon as it devoured the southbound luxury passenger ship, it disappears."

"But Dr. Nambu... that's brilliant up to the point of using a weather weapon. And it should be impossible that the course coincides with the one of a ship sailing on the ocean and consequently dragging away that ship" somebody says.

"Sure, for us..." answers Nambu.

"Please wait, Doctor" says a one of the seated men, despite a bitter laugh.

"When the ISO, where all the wisdom of humanity is brought together, can't do something, who do you think could..?" asks the man on behalf of all the participants.

"For quite some time, humanity lacked a natural enemy blocking the development of our species. Humanity reigns as representives of Earth, destroying plains, mountains and all other kind of animals and plants. Now that we are the representatives, a truly demanding task has been assigned to us."

---- What are you saying?----

---- What's that? ----

Everybody grumbles.

"What is it? The task you mentioned?"

The time has come for Nambu to tell the facts.

"The task is to protect Earth."

Nambu seems to shout to the sky.

Nobody can hide the uneasiness.

"It is said that +1 (G-Force), which you founded and which is supposed to take measures against all imaginable and unforeseen events, also takes measures in this situation" says the aforementioned Adora, as if he were crunching on something. Meanwhile, he is also leafing through the data at hand. His eyes are obviously full of negativity.

+1.. this means that, in addition to the 200 departments that the ISO already consists of, a new one has been founded.

"Besides... even the value of existing has become a "secret" for this department. Okay then. If you say that you're going to lift the veil off this secret, I won't object that this organization starts its activity. Shall we come and watch how you handle things?"

Adora says this while smiling jokingly at the man beside him.

"It seems to be an important task which we at the International Situation Analysis / Special Task Troup are not able to handle. But could you please show me a fight with a hurricane?"

He has exposed Nambu's actitivies as an act of arrogation. Also the protection of the ISO is Adora's mission. With all this, it seems obvious to say that he is inclined to hold a grudge again Nambu who has founded his own private army outside the normal structure.

There are quite a few persons laughing at Adora's joke.

"The Doctor looks like he's grasping for something. How about we leave him with his hurricane, gentlemen?" continues Adora.

"Protecting the Earth is also wonderful, but it would be bad indeed to forget to protect also the ISO! Doctor. If this is the only subject, I will take my leave."

Adora stands up and leaves like the wind.

But Nambu does not seem to be flustered at all.

He says "If none of the remaining 11 persons has any objections, I would like to take my leave as well."

He avoids saying more than he already did in this this place.

You could say that this is a reaonsable way to act.

The reason is that Nambu notices that are not knowledgeable enough for him to talk about a plot and invasion of spacewide dimensions, encompassing humanity, Earth and the solar system.

An oversensitive approach towards the hurricane.. that's what probably everybody thinks.

Thinking it's a waste of time, everybody agrees with hand sign to the start of activities for +1.

But...

Only Anderson, who knows Nambu, acts differently.

If Kozaburo Nambu, a tacit man, suddenly rushes forward, there must be a good reason behind it.

Anderson stops Nambu as he is in the aisle.

"Doctor Nambu, what do you think will happen..."

After a moment of silence, Nambu turns around.

"--There will be a battle. For survival."

Nambu says this few words while leaving. As if fortifying his decision and explaining it to himself, he adds "We don't have the choice of losing."

Anderson suspects this too.

He has the feeling a black cloud is expanding in his heart.

Is this the work of the human instinct?

It says that... something wants to get started.

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