Chapter 49. Rocco Returns to Space Part-1

The Arrow passed beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and headed for the moon.
Rocco was still worried about how to deal with Planet id. Reason with it? That’s easy to say, but getting a planet to listen won’t be easy. If the task were harder than he expected, if he failed, the Earth would face devastation. The first collision would rock the earth down to its core, 60 kilometers underground, the entire Earth would feel the violent impact, and everything within a 50,000 kilometer radius would turn into a sea of flames that would kill every living thing. If Planet id repeatedly slammed into the Earth, the Earth would be destroyed.
Countermeasures had to begin with identifying X Day, the day when Planet id would appear. International authorities in astronomy and physics gathered to hammer away at that question day after day, making no progress. Then Sydneyed, who was one of the invited participants piped up with an idea: “Wouldn’t it choose the day of the total eclipse of the sun?”
“Of course! That’s it!” That simple suggestion from a high school student was pounced upon, and the experts started considering the implications. It made sense, much more sense than the complicated hypotheses that they had been dissecting.
“Next month will bring the first solar eclipse in 52 years. An annular eclipse will be visible on the island of OroiiRurokka.”
“Yes, and it would be really clever of Planet id to make use of that. It could get close to us by hiding between the sun and the moon.”
While the scientists pondered, Rocco had been thinking, for several months now, about Planet id itself. Yes, it is the Earth’s greatest enemy, but the more he learned about that rogue planet the more he felt sorry for it. Given the environment in which it was raised, it could never have known love. Surely that deprivation was a major influence on its character. “Planet id must be desperate to survive!” he thought. “It must see violence as the only way it can live.”
In front of him, the moon grew larger. Beautiful, pure white as if covered in chalk, it constantly watches over the Earth.
“This is the spot.” Rocco brought the Arrow to a halt and gazed out the cockpit window at the moon. Planet id, he knew, must be headed for the Earth at a furious pace, the sun at its back. Rocco turned on the SB, the Super Beam he and Satchina had developed together, based on Dr. Einstein’s theory. Two white beams of light graphically crosscut the universe. As they swept across the moon, highlighting what lay around it, the beams flashed on something hiding behind the moon. Without even looking at his instruments, Rocco knew that he had found Planet id.
The time had come. As Rocco looked up, the vastness of space became a huge screen on which the memorable events of his life, the life of a cat not yet four years old, were being played back.
Every living thing throughout the universe seem to have realized that something important was about to happen. Only Rocco and the Arrow gleamed in the moonlight. As though clearing the decks for battle, the stars which had dotted the sky only moments before swiftly moved far away.
Rocco was riveted to that vast screen. There were Father, Mother, Dr. Chancewinsky, Prof. Satchina, and all of the other people in his life. Knowing he shouldn’t turn sentimental before going into battle, he tried to look at stoically, to burn their faces into his memory. Then, he noticed something, and started to laugh. Kii had somehow found her way into almost all the pictures. “That’s just like her,” he thought, and then the emotions he had been holding at bay welled up. He began to tremble slightly, and his eyes teared up.
As he did, the alarm began beeping. The flickering blue light on his instrument panel meant the SB had detected Planet id.
Planet id!
As Rocco calmly began to change into his fighting suit, his face grew stern. Rocco the warrior stood in the moonlight, checking the Arrow’s SB monitor. The dot highlighted in the pitch-black night was still small but heading for the Earth at blinding speed. “If it stays on course, the Earth will be toast. I have to stop it, somehow, out here.” Rocco felt his paws grow sweaty. He hasn’t shared his final plan with anyone. Will it work? He can only trust himself.
On the Earth, nearly 8 billion people, all the members of its dominant species, were looking up the sky or watching the live coverage on TV or Planata Vision, and cheering for Rocco. Now, at last, they are united as inhabitants of Earth.
Rocco takes a deep breath, then exhales. Then he began to store breath, from his right nostril and then his left, in his belly. It grew visibly rounded.
Concentrated, fully present, acute, he glances at Planet id on the monitor. It has grown big enough to tell the shape and size. That’s fast. Yes, and it is oddly shaped, like a rugby ball. It has to be Planet id, heading for the Earth. Rocco knew that the last hope he’d cherished was not going to come true. Planet id really means to collide with the Earth.
His ears are ringing with the advice so many people have given him.
“Be calm and careful.”
“Fire this Super Atomic Rocket when you enter the 100 kilometer zone of Planet id. Remember that a violent blast will occur when it hits the object, so, ah, do flee, somehow.”
“You can reason with it. You can show it how meaningless it would be to fight.
You can do it. You can do it.”
Rocco made up his mind. To save the Earth, he would confront Planet id but not fight it.
“Planet id, what a strange star. It’s sentient, but doesn’t know love.
“That’s it–it needs to know love!” Empathizing with its pathetic circumstances,
Rocco knew that he wanted to talk with it, to enable them to understand each other.
But then he glanced at the screen and was dumbfounded. “Aargh! It’s huge!”
Planet id was now bigger than the screen, bigger than Rocco’s paw, even to the naked eye, moving full speed ahead towards Earth. The numbers below the screen, showing the remaining distance to Earth, are changing at a blinding pace.
“120 kilometers!”
The yellow light, a signal from the Earth, flickered.
“Earth Fighting Forces here. This is General Buhcho. Rocco, do you read me?”
“Yes, sir. This is Rocco.”
“You’re safe! Good. Rocco, the target will soon enter the zone. Be prepared to shoot. Are you listening to me, Rocco?”