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Short Story [Unit Story]
[024] Gravidia Nordlinger
Brandt Gate
Race Space Dragon

Card Information

Illust: koji

Behold, the manifestation of our perfect world.

Brandt Gate Central Dome, Military Academy Astronomy Dept. Meteoritics Laboratory / Ms. Given

“Ms. Given, what’s with the name ‘Neatness Meteor Shower’ anyway?”
This is our first contact from the research team over 3,000km away near the south pole.
“Apologies. Can you repeat that? There’s a lot of interference on the line.”
I blame my lack of response on interference. In truth Brandt Gate’s satellite communication system is sophisticated enough to not be afflicted by interference no matter what the weather is like.
“It’s just strange, is all. I’m sending you the data now.”
As he says this my monitor comes to life displaying an array of figures and data.
“This is the sample meteorite fall range and distribution matrix? …No, something seems wrong here.”
“It’s a composite of high-res images taken by low-orbit satellites and UAVs. You can trust our equipment, doctor, our tech never fails.”
The Brandt Gate snow fields are dotted with meteorite craters. A single meteor shower is impressive enough, but this is something else. The meteors keep coming, meaning the craters are starting to overlap and stack one on top of the other. The ground almost resembles another world entirely.
But the most shocking image is the one from the far-field camera: a view of the area as seen from space.
The craters, all circular and perfectly symmetrical, are projected onto the screen.
It’s like a necklace made of black pearls on a white silken thread.
Almost as if trying to prove that this wasn’t a coincidence the craters form a clear geometric pattern.
The door to the lab opens suddenly and Emma’s face appears. She looks a little flustered.
“Ms. Given! An urgent report from the Space Force Chief of Staff has been sent to all agencies! It is now clear that this meteor shower is in fact an attack on our nation. We are raising the threat level accordingly.'”
“Using a meteor shower as a weapon?! Who could do such a thing…?”
That’s what we all must be thinking. I look in dismay at the images of the south pole now scarred with countless meteorite craters and have to agree with the Chief of Staff.
An artificial meteor shower.
Even for Brandt Gate, the most technologically advanced nation on Planet Cray, such a thing would be impossible.
But clearly someone has managed it. For what purpose? And how have they done it?
Today will long be remembered as the day Brandt Gate went to alert level red, the highest level possible.

Brandt Gate, near the South Pole

That’s the distance to the subterranean kingdom, though the ice between us is so thick, and after eons of subzero temperatures it has become so hard, it may as well be impenetrable.
Dellen wiggles the tentacles that extend from its body and weaves deftly through the crevasse back to the palace.

Illust: 北熊

For most creatures this kind of motion would be impossible, but for Dellen, who can manipulate gravity to its will, it’s as easy as riding a bike.
The surrounding walls of ice glow eerily blue and red with the energy emanating from the ruler of the kingdom.
There’s an immediate response to Dellen’s call.
Gravidians like Dellen generally communicate telepathically. They evolved as such in order to communicate large amounts of information to each other efficiently over the long distances that separate them beneath the ice.
“The humans are panicking.”
Wells unhinged the jaws at the tip of its tentacle and let out a derisive laugh.

Illust: 北熊

I think it’s strange that we should care at all about the surface dwellers. After all, should the comet concern itself with the cosmic dust and gas that surrounds it? It is only there to be blown off or absorbed.
“Right. I’ve intercepted some of their communications. They’re getting increasingly vigilant.”
Dellen spreads its arms and tentacles–the equivalent to a human shrug.
Both Dellen and Wells are still juvenile Gravidians, so they still look mostly humanoid, though their cellular structure and biological functions differ wildly from the humans on the surface.
“We need to report this. Our comrades are waking up below.”
Dellen nods and continues its descent.
The water’s surface looms into view, and then it dives in with barely a splash.
Thick tentacles spread out before its eyes.
The glowing suckers belong to Barringer. The last vestiges of arms still exist on the adult Barringer’s upper body, but most of its organs have now migrated down to its lower half, which now spreads out, resembling a kind of underwater flower.
I send Barringer a telepathic greeting through the cold, but still unfrozen, water. It returns the thought with a sense of familiarity you could almost feel.
Dellen smiles (or at least the Gravidian equivalent) as it senses Barringer push against it with their gravity manipulating power.
“Good day, guardian of the gate.”
Barringer is one of the guardians of the gates that keep our nation safe. It is able to hold back any number of enemies on its own… Assuming any would make it this far below the ice.

Illust: 黒井ススム

As we continue our descent, we come across Stanner.
It’s a Gravidian with a lower half that resembles what the surface dwellers call a jellyfish. Stanner is a warrior. It’s in part responsible for mopping up the remains of the “Blessed Rain,” what the surface dwellers know as the Neatness Meteor Shower.
Unlike Barringer, Dellen believes that “a tentacle that doesn’t touch you is no danger.” It nods and continues down.
Finally, the light from the ice walls becomes blinding as Dellen reaches the ceremony. Even for someone as fast as itself, diving 4,000m takes some time.
“Dellen, welcome.”
Dellen feels the warm touch of Gravidia Nordlinger, the great ruler of their race, as it reaches into its mind.

“Lord Nordlinger, I am here to make a report. There is a blizzard blowing on the surface. We have intercepted the humans’ communications. They are bolstering their defenses after our Blessed Rain. They have seen the devastation with their flying machines and eyes in the sky, but have only just begun to analyze the data. Please, come look at this.”
“Very well…”
Lord Nordlinger shakes its lower half, which is shaped like a sea dragon, as it sits in their throne and readies itself for Dellen’s information. Amidst the facts and figures, Nordlinger notices something.
“You were seen, Dellen. By the humans.”
Dellen freezes. It is unbecoming of a scout like itself to be spotted by the enemy.
“Lord Nordlinger… I…”
“They would have found us eventually. I do not blame you. We have written our message in fire that we have awoken. Now that they know, their only choices are coexistence or extermination. Either way we have gravity on our side.”
Nordlinger looks out over its watery kingdom.
As it says this, their comrades begin to awaken.
After so long, the nation of Gravidia has returned.
There was a promise it made to its people before they were put to sleep, before the fires of the planet still raged.
In the depths, deep below the south pole, far from Brandt Gate.
“It is right to be proud, Dellen. Right now, you are the only Gravidian known to the surface dwellers.”
Dellen is flattered by its words.
Warm thoughts of blessings and joy spread throughout the cold waters in the palace.

Illust: 黒井ススム

Brandt Gate Central Dome, National Defense Meeting

The image was not clear due to the amount of snow, but the analysts were able to clear it up enough to reveal a figure standing in the center of a crater that belonged to an unknown species unlike anything else on Planet Cray.
Alongside this image of the figure in the crater more images of the scars left on the snowfield by the meteors appear on-screen.
“There’s a chance it may just be the warning shot,” suggests an archaeologist.
The floor is abuzz with activity.
“After that much damage, you think it’s just a warning shot!?” The Minister of Defense is taken aback.
“Meteors are a natural phenomenon. There shouldn’t be any more damage, right? We could just cordon off the area and leave it at that. However, if we cross that threshold, it would be a statement of intent to attack. Like letting a dog off its leash,” the archaeologist responds.
Laughter breaks out in the room.
“It’s not a laughing matter! What if there is a group of sentient beings living near the pole that has the power to rain down destruction from the heavens!?”
He slams his fist on the table. Ministers of Defense are known for being highly strung.
The first thing that came to everyone’s mind when this happened were the “gravity bombs” provided by Cardinal Noid Thumborino in the recent encounter with the aliens.
“However, those were gravity bombs, which are very different from large masses of rock falling from space. Ms. Given.”
The head of the Space Force calmly takes charge of the situation.
“Yes, I’ll explain.”
Ms. Given, the meteor expert, stands up in front of the screen.
“As you may already know, meteors and shooting stars are fundamentally the same thing. A meteor is simply a rock that’s large enough to survive the trip through the atmosphere intact. As has been explained previously, this is a common phenomenon on any planet with an atmosphere…”
The slide changes to a diagram of the asteroid belt that sits around Planet Cray.
“Our own Planet Cray has a number of asteroid belts surrounding it. Especially…”
The crowd falls silent.
“Over the south pole. In other words, the skies above Brandt Gate are full of potential projectiles just waiting to be dropped on our heads.”
“…Then what? Are we meant to be in a constant state of fear? Is there nothing we can do?”
The Minister voices everyone’s fears.

“Thank you, Professor.”
Given, who had been watching the discussion in silence, is startled by the head of the Space Force’s voice.
“You can go home now. I don’t think we’ll be done here any time soon.”
The Space Force chief smiles at her with a look that belies his military position.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help… In fact, I’m afraid I only made things worse.”
“Not at all. It was an excellent presentation. Between you and me, I’m more interested in the pattern the craters make than about any new defense measures.”
Ms. Given feels like she’s been punched in the chest. She resolves to look into it when she returns to the lab. The phenomenon is so large it hadn’t occurred to her to check, but it might well contain a message. Seemingly reading her mind, the head of the Space Force continues.
“I’m sure he’ll be very helpful. We’ve been friends since school.”
He waves at the archaeologist, who is getting ready to leave. Chuckling, he waves back.
“After the mutants and the aliens, the government and the military are accustomed to unexpected visitors to Planet Cray. Ah, but perhaps a man in my position shouldn’t be saying such things.”
Ms. Given notices that he calls them “aliens.” The head of the Space Force smiles upon her noticing.
“As the paleontologist has said, territories and nations are lines that we draw arbitrarily. So, the idea… Of a race of aliens that have been sleeping under the ice that have started waking up is one that I am ready to consider.”
The head of the Space Force gives a full salute and then returns to the discussion.
Before Ms. Given leaves she takes one last look at the image of the figure in the snow.
It seems to have both hands raised in celebration.

The End

* All units of measurement and military terminology have been localized to earth equivalents.


<<Notes about Terminology>>
A new race of people on Planet Cray who are able to manipulate gravity and cause meteorites to quake at will. They were frozen under the ice at the south pole but in the Chakrabarthi Divine Era they were awoken from their slumber.
The ruler of that frozen land was Gravidia Nordlinger. Before the great freeze it was Nordlinger who promised its people that it would bring them back, and he made good on that promise.
The new nation of Gravidia do not appear to be hostile or have any intent to expand their territory, but their future relationships with the other nations on Planet Cray, especially their neighbors in Brandt Gate, remain uncertain.


Story: 金子良馬
Supervising Editor: 中村聡