Chapter 49. Rocco Returns to Space Part-2

Instead of replying, Rocco turned off the switch. He couldn’t bring himself to attack Planet id. He didn’t want to use a nuclear weapon, even a small one, in space.
“I have my own plan!”
The time had come. Rocco moved the Arrow into the path of Planet id. On the earth, the news was reported by excited announcers and analyzed by famous scholars. They all found his action incomprehensible.
“If he shoots the first missile from there and Planet id dodges it, the Arrow will be smashed before it can get off a second shot. Planet id will hit the Earth!”
“Why did he move in front of it?”
“Why did we bother loading the Arrow with four missiles? The idea was that if Planet id evaded the first one, there was still a chance to stop it with the second or the third. But not now. This is it. The end of the world! Right, Rocco is just a stupid cat after all.”
“No, no, Rocco must be confident that he can smash that Id thing at one go. He wants to show us!”
“But Planet id will soon be 50 kilometers away, and launching the missile will contaminate the whole Earth with radioactivity. Why the hell did we send that cat out there?” The scholars who’d always been anti-Rocco criticized him lavishly, but they were in the minority. He had gotten that far thanks to the overwhelming support of people around the world, people now watching with bated breath.
Meanwhile, on OroiiRurokka Island, Dr. Chancewinsky, Satchina, Father, Mother, Kii, Ms. Soroban, members of the V.R.V., Shizuko, and Luna were also watching every move Rocco made. They trusted him but were worried anyway. There were too many imponderables. They knew that Rocco was absolutely determined not to use the nuclear weapons that had been handed him. They all agreed, and Dr. Chancewinsky had advised Rocco on how to dispose of them safely.
Planet id grew bigger and bigger, heading toward the Arrow.
“Plan A will tell all,” Rocco thought. If it didn’t work, the world would end.
Putting on a rather old-fashioned set of headgear, he shouted, all alone in his spacecraft, “Plan A, go!” and pressed the red button.
The nose of the Arrow opened and a special speaker emerged, extending about a meter in from of the spacecraft, to send a tremendous blast of sound towards Planet id.
Startled, Planet id braked suddenly. That was the sound of a collision, the sound it would cause. Where was it coming from? What’s going on? Without grasping the situation, Planet id acted on habit and swallowed the noise.
Rocco had planned the sound waves to collide head-on with Planet id, but, as he tracked it, he realized that the wave front was about 30 degrees off. Planet id had been moving slightly differently than Rocco’s calculations indicated. Plan A might be sunk.
To his surprise, Planet id analyzed the situation instantly, changed its course by 30 degrees, and absorbed the blast fully. It will work! Rocco jumped with joy.
“Plan B. Go!”
The second blast of sound was released.
As the tremendous wave of noise rolled towards it, Planet id didn’t move an inch but absorbed every echo of the noise. “Good! Plan C.”
Rocco shot it 15 degrees away from the position of Planet id.
“Go!”
The noise was incredibly violent. Even with his protective headgear on, Rocco felt deafened. Planet id changed its course by 15 degrees to absorb the noise fully.
“That’s what I thought!” Rocco continued to shoot increasingly strong blasts of sound, and Planet id continued, without understanding what was happening, to absorb them, for noise was its food. Here was such abundant energy to live on in, gushing towards it. For the first time in its life, Planet id was happy.
Its large energy storehouses held noise, for Planet id was the only celestial body in the whole universe that lived on noise as its energy source. Running out was its constant fear, but now all three storehouses were full, and its rugby ball shape had plumped out to the rounded contours of a basketball. It was so full that white puffs of smoke seeped from the joints in its multi-layered surface.
Things were going as Rocco had planned, although he had not anticipated such a change in Planet id’s shape. At any rate, it had stopped where it was.
“Good.” Rocco gave a sigh of relief.
“Hmm,” Dr. Chancewinsky murmured. “Well, well, I knew Rocco could . . .”
Lost in thought, he continued, “What a brilliant idea!”
To Planet id, whose objective was not the collision with another planet but the blast of sound it created, being in this area of space with sound energy pouring towards him made him strangely happy.
Rocco was cautiously optimistic.
If Planet id were to try to slam into the Earth again, it would have to back up by 50,000 kilometers. Right now, full to the brim, like a kid who has stuffed himself with his favorite food, it could not move at all.
“The Earth is safe for the moment.” The first act had gone as Rocco had planned.
Down on Earth, excitement reigned. Praising Rocco, people hugged each other, clasped hands, and shared their joy.
But in time, Planet id would grow hungry again.
Now the second act, the hard part, began. Rocco had to reason with Planet id.
He moved to the cabin and lifted out a big black case, taller than himself, and opened it carefully. A new light gleamed in the cramped space: a shiny, golden electric guitar. Strapping it on his back with a specially designed leather belt, he tightened the belt and locked it around his waist. The operation was familiar: just like putting on the school backpack he’d worn in elementary school. Then Rocco went back to the cockpit and turned on the autopilot, then set the destination. Stars, planets, galaxies appeared on the monitor. He chose the Sun.
Then, putting on a special space helmet that dwarfed his head, Rocco said, “Let’s go!”
The inner door opened. He stepped into the airlock. The inner door closed behind him. Rocco gulped, grabbed the white rope in the upper right corner, and attached it to the clasp at his waist.
The outer door opened. He trust forward as though pushed by someone. Rotating slowly, he aimed his feet towards the Arrow’s fuselage. With his magnetic shoes keeping him at 90 degrees to the spacecraft, he managed to walk to the cockpit and look at Planet id. It was so swollen that the metal joints were pulling up from the pressure of all that sound energy inside. White smoke was belching from the gaps.
“What on earth?” Something pink seemed to be flashing in the gaps. But Planet id’s exterior was so dark; the pink made no sense.
Planet id looked at Rocco. It felt no hostility toward that small creature standing erect on the small spacecraft. Rather, it was trying to assess what relationship there could be between Rocco and the upwelling of sound energy filling Planet id. What, it wondered, would that small, odd thing do next? High above, the other stars and planets began to gather to take a look at Rocco, too.
Rocco held his golden guitar and then strummed an A, as hard as he could.
In a flash, the sound echoed back. Surprised, he looked up and then understood. The tens of thousands of stars looking forward to the “space fantasy” he was about to perform had picked up his A and sent it reverberating back.
“Wow, this is perfect! Lighting, check; sound, check. We’re ready to roll!” Rocco’s solo performance was about to begin.