Evacuees who diffuse to the world
An armor shining in gold. Before its gentle gaze, various ethnic groups gather. Even in a world of chaos and turmoil, quiet air flows into the castle, and a prayer that transcends different religions is about to begin. Refugees leaving their hometowns far away arrive to this holy night. Despite the importance of courtesy, no one can suppress their trembles as the greatest threat to human history approaches. As the Ulysses asteroid draws closer, destined to cause immense difficulties on the Usean continent, people are scattering around the world.
A Shelterized Castle
Gracemeria, the capital of the Republic of Emmeria. This city became the capital after the country's transition to a republic, and is well-known for the King's Bridge connecting the western Old Town with the developed New Town across the bay. It is considered a highly-developed metropolis not only in Emmeria but across the entire Anean continent.
Situated on a small, hilly landscape overlooking the Gracemeria city area is an ancient castle, standing there since the prosperous royalistic era of the 15th century. Construction for underground shelters is proceeding at a rapid pace around the castle's site, and in the preceding partly-completed sections, they are already accepting those recognized as refugees. Since construction only started three months ago, the depth of these shelters is not on the same level as those built in the main cities in Usea, but the exterior of these shelters, built by local general contractors, is robust. It is built out of ultra-high-strength fiber-reinforced concrete, features shock resistance and secures a wide internal area, and can accommodate as many as 15,000 people inside. However, the allocated space per person is about 3.3 square meters. Whether more comfort is necessitated is another story.
Including this one, a total of 16 large and small shelters are being built in the city, and ultimately 200,000 displaced people will wait for Ulysses Day here. This is of course the largest of major cities on the Anean continent, and when compared to the worldwide acceptance of refugees it is second only to the Osean capital of Oured.
As of December 1998, the number of shelters planned to be built in United Nations member states alone reached 160, and every country—despite differences in scale—declared acceptance of refugees from the Usean continent and its surrounding countries. Regarding refugee assistance such as medical care, food supply, blankets, outreach, etc., many NGOs have already begun providing assistance, and their network continues to expand.
About half a year remains until the asteroid's impact. A major ethnic migration on a global scale has begun, as prompted by Ulysses approaching the northern sky.
Expanded Damage Range
The reason for this large-scale population displacement just prior to the event lies in last July's International Astronomical Union (IAU) monthly report with a prediction of the asteroid's damage pattern. According to the report, in the 42nd month (June 1998) since the Comona Observatory began follow-up surveys, a space probe approached the asteroid. By combining analysis of the probe's images and gravity measurement results, the asteroid's composition became clear. A possibility arose that the internal structure of Ulysses could have hollow cavities or gaps. Based on this report, the IAU's team of astrophysicists recalculated the asteroid's trajectory, and Seals Bridge University verified the results. Due to Earth's gravity pulling on the asteroid's mass, Ulysses will roughly split into two fragments. This will result in the fragments covering a wider range of the planet's surface than initially estimated.
In an unprecedented move, the IAU alone publicly announced the new damage estimates. The reason was that the FCU government and United Nations chairman agreed it was not possible to fundamentally change the FCU-led STN program at this late stage. Up to this point, the STN program assumed the Ulysses fragments that pass the Roche limit would fall across a radius of 1200–1500 km from the center of the Usean continent, and would intercept them accordingly. The updated damage pattern greatly exceeds this, predicting that fragments will disperse in a way that penetrates the meridian from 135 degrees east longitude to 30 degrees west longitude.
The Usean continent remained the largest predicted damage area, but the possibility now existed that damage would extend to the eastern part of the Anean continent with the North Pole acting as a boundary, and even the interception abilities possessed by Stonehenge (meteorite interceptors) would not be able to deal with those fragments. In addition, an extension to the interception range carries various risks of causing friction among the coordinating countries. At this stage, the FCU's priority is to ensuring the STN program's reliability and stability between its alies.
Naturally, turbulence arose from each Anean country over the news of possible impacts on the continent. Unlike Usea, where Stonehenge's construction near San Salvacion was almost complete, they do not possess the resources or technology for self-defense, and were confronted with an extremely hopeless situation. The sudden "possibility of impact" report from the IAU and FCU resulted in many voices calling for responsibility of their crisis management, and large-scale demonstrations took place due to this lack of confidence, making it impossible to seek a calm response from these citizens. Scientifically-sound decisions do not necessarily save human lives.
In the midst of this confusion, the words of Lord Alberto Lawrence from the Emmerian republic's former royal family began to gather people around the world.
A World In Unison With Emmeria
At the air base on the west side of the castle, refugees enter every day. As if to labor the exhausted families from their long air travel, Lord Lawrence greets each and every person. Lord Lawrence, a descendant of King Aurelius, was the one who appealed to the Emmerian government for domestic acceptance of Ulysses refugees, and he also advocated cooperation among neighboring nations, especially foreign countries that had already been working with the royal family. It was also his decision to build a shelter within the historic Gracemeria Castle, which was borne of his deep understanding of the characteristics of the castle's structure rather than out of a philanthropic desire.
A "castle" in the first place is a defensive structure used to provide a base against enemy attacks. It is a key component of battle, and it also serves as a place to stock food, ammunition, and funds. Castles, a central location for politics and information, are usually built in mountainous areas. It is purely a defensive tactic, making it difficult for enemies to invade, and also escaping natural disasters such as flooding.
Regarding these structural characteristics, Lord Lawrence judged they would be useful advantages in the case of an asteroid impact. The passages and rooms running underneath the castle can be used for evacuation, and they can be extended thanks to the robust ground it is built upon. Even if it is cut off from various kinds of infrastructure, a stockpile of supplies can be independently managed here, making it possible to provide optimal life support depending on the situation. Considering the chance of a fragment hitting the ocean, given the castle's construction on a hill, it can even minimize the impact of a tsunami and other events despite being situated in a coastal area.
Besides Gracemeria Castle, most castles currently owned and managed by each country do not function as more than historical monuments. Lord Lawrence took note of this and advocated to the royal families of each country to follow his refugee aid plan. The Emmerian government fully supported him and devised a comprehensive relief plan that gave priority to areas with a high Impact Hazard Level. Personnel transportation took place using Emmeria's aircraft and naval vessels to support international humanitarian aid organizations. "If the FCU is acting offensively, who will act defensively? The fact that an asteroid will fall is of equal importance to all of humanity, and we are being called to action." It did not take long for each country to respond to this call from the Emmerian government.
The Legend of the Golden King
"I remember when I was a child. Just beneath where you are standing was my secret playground," said Lord Lawrence with a mischievous laugh. We were guided into the audience chamber where refugees were gathered, and the statue of the Golden King sat on the throne in front of us. While most of the exhibits were moved to storage, this large statue remained for the nation. It is the cornerstone of the Emmerian people, and Lord Lawrence responded to their wishes to share the asteroid's fall with the "Golden King" of their hearts. For the people who evacuate to this country, this is the first place they will come to.
The "Golden King" was constructed by the medieval hero King Aurelius II, and is based on ancient myths attributed to the Anean continent of a god of war known as the "Golden Giant". The land around Gracemeria was highly fertile since ancient times, and due to many many vassals fighting over control of the land, Gracemeria was devastated, and public order deteriorated. The area came to be invaded by foreign countries, the royalty broke down, and Emmeria's situation turned into a domestic crisis. It was Aurelius II who stood against the foreign invaders and put an end to the conflict.
The statue of the "Golden King" was made to raise the morale of troops and allies victorious in battle, and eventually their enemies who witnessed the statue lost the will to fight. It became often that they would win without fighting at all. Finally, Aurelius II himself persuaded the various houses to turn over their rule and sealed the gaps in foreign borders, ending the warfare. This story was cited in the declaration of Emmeria's re-establishment as a republic.
The facial mask is said to be modeled after Aurelius II. We have surely seen a similar face around here. Rather than bravery, it is a face that represents peace. It emits a glow that makes the cold weather outside the window invisible, as if answering the people's prayers. The day is blessed. Many thoughts overlap, and the sounds of singing are heard.
Lord Lawrence closes his eyes and speaks. "All I want is to do as he did. That's all."
The extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago is thought to be caused by the impact of large asteroids, and asteroid impacts may have had great influence on human history as well. Sudden disappearances of civilizations, cultures that suddenly end at a certain period, and the rise of eschatology. But humanity has grown each time, and has continued to prosper. As compiled by many historians, this event will become a historical fact as a major trial for mankind. If we can survive until this day next year, we can certainly overcome any hardships and catastrophes that stem from this. This is not something that falls to any one person, because it is a path the whole human race will walk.
- "Evacuees who diffuse to the world" is a mistranslation of 世界中に散らばる避難民達, which is more accurately translated as "Refugees scattered around the world".