Read Usurper of the Sun Online

Authors: Housuke Nojiri

Tags: #science.fiction, #fiction

Usurper of the Sun

BOOK: Usurper of the Sun
3.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Usurper of the Sun
© 2002 Housuke Nojiri
Originally published in Japan by Hayakawa Publishing, Inc.

English translation by John Wunderley
Cover illustration by Katsuya Terada
English translation © VIZ Media, LLC

No portion of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means
without written permission from the copyright holders.

HAIKASORU
Published by
VIZ Media, LLC
295 Bay Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
www.haikasoru.com

ISBN 978-1-4215-3988-1
Haikasoru eBook edition, October 2010

CONTENTS

Prologue

PART I: USURPER OF THE SUN

Act I: November 9, 2006

Act II: December 2006

Act III: September 2007

Act IV: May 2014

Act V: June 2017

Act VI: October 2017

Act VII: January 2018 (Houston, USA)

Act VIII: August 19, 2021

Act IX: January 24, 2022

Act X: January 28, 2022 (3,000 meters above the surface of the Ring)

Act XI: February 2, 2022

Act XII: February 23, 2022

PART II: PHYSICAL CONTACT

Chapter 1: Theory of Mind

Act I: March 11, 2024 (9 am)

Act II: March 11, 2024 (11 am)

Act III: March 11, 2024 (3 pm)

Act IV: March 12, 2024

Chapter 2: United Nations Space Defense Force

Act I: April 22, 2024

Act II: May 13, 2024

Act III: June 20, 2024

Act IV: August 14, 2024

Act V: July 12, 2026

Act VI: October 20, 2028

Act VII: January 12, 2029

Act VIII: February 23, 2029

Act IX: November 4, 2035

Act X: November 20, 2037

Act XI: November 23, 2037

Chapter 3: Contact

Act I: March 4, 2041

Act II: June 14, 2041

Act III: July 25, 2041 (Three days before rendezvous)

Act IV: July 29, 2041

Act V: July 30, 2041 (8 am GMT)

Act VI: July 31, 2041 (5:14 am GMT)

Chapter 4: Mind to Mind

Act I: July 31, 2041 (3 pm GMT)

Act II: July 31, 2041 (7 pm GMT)

Act III: July 31, 2041 (8 pm GMT)

Act IV: July 31, 2041 (9:00 pm GMT)

Act V: July 31, 2041 (10 pm GMT)

Act VI: August 1, 2041 (12:05 am)

Act VII: August 1, 2041 (1 am GMT)

Act VIII: August 1, 2041 (2 am GMT)

Epilogue

Afterword

About the Author

PROLOGUE

AT DUSK, THE
third day of the third month, in the fifty-seventh year of the Empire of the Great Ming, a farmer entered a teahouse. Every year, on this auspicious day, villagers harvested shepherd’s purse, a weed of the cruciferous order. Setting down his woven bamboo basket, the farmer offered a bundle of the white flowers to Zōngyuan, the teahouse’s proprietor. Drying the grass in the shade and placing the shepherd’s purse next to a lantern distracted moths because the moths would feed on the grass instead of entering the flame. In traditional medicine, the weed was added to formulas to treat blurry vision and spots that floated before the eyes.

The farmer described a new star to Zōngyuan. He stated that the star had appeared next to Shen Xiù, the asterism of three stars that eventually became known to the West as Orion’s belt. Surprised, Zōngyuan followed the farmer out into the street. The stars shined dimly through the sand-filled air, with the last vestiges of sunset glowing crimson along the western horizon. Despite the dusty air, Shēn Xiù was clearly visible in the southern sky.

Where the farmer pointed, next to the three stars, Zōngyuan saw a faint light. The farmer said that he knew the night sky as well as shepherds knew their sheep and insisted that the barely visible star had not been there the previous night. Zōngyuan returned to his house. With his record book and inkstone, he wrote, “1424: Guest star appeared next to Shēn Xiù.” Below his note, he drew a rough map to indicate the location of the celestial body.

Later that season, standing in his garden, Zōngyuan located Shēn Xiù, slightly west of where it had been. The guest star was still next to Orion’s belt. The star remained visible whenever Zōngyuan checked. Eventually, he grew old and his eyes no longer worked.

Fourteen years after the original sighting, the farmer returned to the teahouse and told Zōngyuan that the star had disappeared. Wetting the inkstone, wondering how legible his entry would be, Zōngyuan wrote, “1438: Guest star no longer next to Shēn Xiù.”

PART I

USURPER OF THE SUN

ACT I: NOVEMBER 9, 2006

THE SUN IS
often studied by high school astronomy clubs, partially because it is usually the only celestial body easily observable during the day. In terms of astronomical distance, the sun is nearby. Every once in a while, other celestial visitors appear and make the day’s light show more interesting.

Aki Shiraishi was getting ready to stare at the sun. She was excited this particular morning because Mercury did not normally get much attention. Mercury was considered uninspiring by some astronomers because its craters are less attention-grabbing than atmospheres or volcanoes. The swift planet once posed the question of how its center of gravity wobbled gyroscopically as it orbited the sun. Mercury travels elliptically as it passes through the sky, but Albert Einstein solved that mystery by explaining general relativity and the Mercurial perihelion shift about a hundred years ago.

On this particular day, the only people bothering to watch the Mercurial eclipse were amateur astronomers. Tons of them, from high school kids to citizens in their backyards with binoculars, were ready to record their observations and upload them to the Internet. There were contests and prizes to be awarded for the most accurate measurements, and Aki Shiraishi, even though she was only a high school junior, wanted to win very badly. Her school’s astronomy club could not afford a digital camera to record the eclipse. Her club needed money for something better. Aki wanted to rectify the situation. A good camera could have them all watching the eclipse instead of sharing one eyepiece.

Hoping she could get accurate results with their inferior telescope, she pushed on the doors that opened the slit in the building’s domed roof. Waiting for the planet to come into view, Aki felt the warm air of the clear summer sky.

“Can you give me a hand?” she asked a junior club member she was training.

“Sure.”

Just her luck, the doors were not opening all the way. With help from a classmate, Aki managed to shove hard enough to get the roof’s slit open. Sunlight glared off the reflector telescope that rested in its ancient equatorial mount. Peering into the eyepiece, Aki said, “The optical axis is still wrong. Weren’t you supposed to fix it?”

“Sorry, I didn’t get a chance,” apologized the junior club member.

There was just enough time. Aki grabbed a screwdriver and changed the angle of the main mirror. She made the adjustments and got the line of sight to work just as her target came into view. Closing the aperture, she saw the edge of the sun shimmering through the telescope’s light-reduction filter. After a minute, a speck of darkness appeared on the sun’s outer rim.

“There it is!” she called out. “First contact! Record it as 19:12:04 Universal Time.” Her friend recorded the time into the club’s PDA.

Aki knew that first contact, when the outer edges of celestial objects first touch, is hard to measure accurately by eye through a telescope. With Mercury about to appear on the face of the sun, Aki strained her eyes in anticipation of second contact.

Tiny, like a poppy seed, Mercury’s silhouette was gradually eaten by the edge of the sun’s brightness. Mercury fully entered the solar sphere, making second contact. The shadow of Mercury morphed into the shape of an elongated bead of liquid, the teardrop effect. The planets do not actually change shape. Astronomers realized a long time ago that the teardrop effect was an optical illusion. Even though Aki had known the illusion was coming and prepared her mind, the teardrop effect still looked strange.

“Second con—” Aki stopped suddenly, forgetting to finish her word.

“What’s wrong?” asked the club member.

BOOK: Usurper of the Sun
3.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

From Nanny To Wife by Hopkins, Kate
Fighting by Phoenix, Cat
Blood Curse by Sharon Page
Welcome to Icicle Falls by Sheila Roberts
Ethan: Lord of Scandals by Grace Burrowes