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Chapter 10 Main Chapters Chapter 12

Chapter 11:

As she watched the fight from deep within the RaRa Army battleship, Kumu repeatedly attempted to access the hardware of the new white robot, to no avail. "It does not have a limiter, it is being piloted by a male, and it is beyond my control," she raged to herself.

Kumu grew increasingly frustrated as the white robot gained the upper hand. She began to say to herself, "Male instincts are dangerous, holding the key to unparalleled destruction. But that man in the white robot is my enemy, and will destroy me. The man in Himc is a tool I can use. He is somewhat controlled, and Himc's hardware is accessible to me, while the white robot is beyond all restraint." When Zinv was only seconds away from Himc, she made her decision and acted upon it immediately.

Kumu released the limiter upon Himc.

Zinv stopped short as Himc was engulfed in a storm of unexpected energy. It subsided, and Himc took the opportunity to move backwards, doing so at a rapid rate. A network of green lines appeared upon the hole in Himc's cocoon and around the damaged tentacles, rapidly repairing the damage.

"That's the nano-fiber self healing system!" Kazuki shouted.

"Massive power surge from the large robot!" cried an officer on the artifact carrier.

"Oh, no," Cmdr. Sanada breathed.

"I hope Yotsuga smashes it soon," Akane muttered as they went through another abrupt evasive maneuver.

Two swathes of shining light emerged from Himc's back and shattered to reveal luminescent green wings.

Dee was alarmed, shaking her green hair vehemently. "It can't have light-hawk wings too!" Her counterpart, the bioroid D, trembled in her cockpit, but managed to go on fighting by burying her terror.

Zinv charged forward, determined to end the fight now. His hand shot forward and impacted on Himc's shield. Kazuki attempted to pierce Himc's shields as usual, but it was not working. The shield flared, and Zinv's fingertips exploded. Kazuki shouted at the pain. Zinv fell back as his own nano-fiber system regrew the fingers.

Kazuki thought aloud as Himc began dodge about and he tried to predict its intentions, "This explains a lot. There's another guy in there. It must be someone we've had no experience with; that's why he doesn't use Himc the way we expect."

Slade looked at the sympathy orbs beneath his hands. Instead of their customary reddish-orange light, they were now filled with a roiling darkness. "Commander," he said as he moved Himc backwards and lined up a shot, "I don't know what this is, but I like it."

His commander, in her room in the RaRa Army battleship, looked in astonishment at Himc's rising power figures. Ayuko shouted to Ms. Rah, "Argh! Destroy the white robot, this is a perfect opportunity! Ungh, stupid flying ship!" She was having difficulty shooting at the artifact carrier, which distracted her from giving commands to her daughter.

Ms. Rara's bodyguards looked around in confusion. Mena finally ventured a question, "Ms. Mitsuki, why is your mother giving the orders?"

"She's taken over the RaRa Army," was all Mitsuki Rara said.

Slade found it difficult to pull away from Zinv. Despite Himc's new stock of energy, it still was slow. He fired the high-energy bullet at low power, as well as the beam and several of his tentacles. Zinv's shields took the hits. Himc's tentacles were destroyed, but quickly regenerated. Zinv was now again within striking distance, and punched and kicked at Himc's shield. His hands and feet were damaged, but regenerated.

Ms. Hayase insisted, "Ms. Mitsuki, we have to turn off Himc now: it's still growing in power!"

"We can't turn it off," Mitsuki Rara said worriedly, "Kent would be killed accidentally by that other robot! Look how fiercely they're fighting!"

Mitsuki Rara from the synthesis universe told Kazuki, "We're going to back you up. We'll be there any second."

"No, don't!" Kazuki said. "It's too strong for that! Zinv and I will just have to do our best!" He stepped away from Himc several paces and powered up a gravitational shell.

Mitsuki Sanada shouted, "Kazuki, we're helping whether you like it or not!"

The silver-haired head of Yayoi also appeared on Kazuki's communication screen and assured him, "We'll use caution. There is no way we are abandoning you."

Kazuki grunted, "All right, but don't get in the way of this blast."

Kumu floated in Himc's empty hangar, pleased with herself. It was still difficult to think of giving a man this much free rein, but she'd be sure to reestablish the limiter after this battle. "Himc's true, untapped power will soon manifest itself," she mused. "When piloted by a male it gains a new ability. Soon, it will display the power of-" Kumu pulled up short. Himc's controls had been reset; now it was only generating as much power as it had before Kumu removed the limiters! Kumu frantically ran a diagnostic on the systems. The light-hawk wings and nano-fibers were still operational, but at the cost of shields and weapons weaker than Himc's norm. Kumu could not find the source of the power drain, and checked all the systems again.

Zinv fired the shell, but Slade cunningly increased Himc's hovering power so that Himc rose into the air for a brief period of time. The shot, however, passed through the lowest section of Himc's body, disintegrating it. In the madness of pain, Slade fired the beam and hit Zinv to no avail. Nano-fibers struggled to reassemble the dissolved portions of Himc.

With incredible shock, Kumu identified the source of Himc's woes. Lacking time to bring Ayuko down to the hangar, Kumu resorted to telepathic communication with Ayuko. "Someone has tapped into your control network!" Kumu angrily thought at Ayuko. "They are reducing Himc's power levels! Send guards to this room while I attempt to disable the hacker's connection!"

Ayuko was simultaneously astonished and irritated at this distraction from trying to hit the incredibly pesky artifact control ship. Ayuko thought back, "Argh, Kumu, I'm busy right now, and- what? That's Ms. Rah's command bridge! What is she doing?" She took only a moment to dispatch some guards, then made another attempt to swat the fly that was the Earth Defense Force carrier.

Ms. Hayase quickly entered more commands onto her console and said, "They've traced it back here. We'd better be sure the door is locked." The sirens and lights indicating an intruder alert activated all over the base: Ms. Rah was deemed the intruder. There was a pounding at the door of Ms. Rah's command room.

The bodyguard trio turned to the door. "We've got your back, Ms. Mitsuki, Ms. Hayase," Ryla assured them both.

"If they ever get through that door," Alice vowed, "they'll get a taste of my kung fu action!"

"You know kung fu?" Mena asked.

"I learned it at the greatest martial arts school ever, the arcade!" Alice proudly informed everyone.

Dee, Yayoi, and the two Mitsukis used their Core Robots to attack Himc from the side. Slade saw them coming but concentrated on the winged unit. The grenades from the Core Robots pierced Himc's weakened shield and destroyed two of its tentacles. Slade hissed in pain and astonishment.

Yayoi was quite perplexed. "It must be getting significantly weaker," she commented.

Himc backed away and fired upon Zinv to no effect. After firing another gravitational shell which actually missed thanks to Slade's dodging, Zinv ran towards Himc. Himc's lower section and destroyed tentacles had yet to fully regrow.

Kumu attempted to secure manual control of Himc's engines while disabling its connections to the outside world, hoping to cut off Ms. Hayase.

Ms. Hayase rapidly entered more commands into her console, building fortifications around her communications link with Himc. She was aided by the fact that Ayuko had built the network to be very hard to detect and disable. Kumu still knew the network well and was disturbingly close to disconnecting her.

Upon the beach of the debris island, Kaoru Hayase from the synthesis world, along with D the bioroid and the other two Core Robots, destroyed the last of the jewel-cannon robots. The Core Robots ran along the beach, hoping to reach Himc's other flank or its back.

Lt. Schwael once again raked the hull of the RaRa Army battleship with the carrier's laser weapons, taking only a few hits in return.

Slade looked at the large white robot running toward him and decided he had to use every weapon he could in the short time before it arrived. He launched all his remaining tentacles against it though he knew they'd almost certainly explode. He fired the beam and sustained it on the target as long as possible. He charged up the bullet as much as he could in the time possible. He fired all of these weapons upon his enemy.

Kazuki and Zinv passed through the attacks unscathed. All of Himc's tentacles were destroyed. Zinv leapt in the air, his hand outstretched, and easily pierced the shields.

"Goodbye," Kent said into his communication system.

The next thing he heard was the fingers of Zinv shearing the metal of Himc's hull. The next thing he saw was its fingers enveloping him and the cockpit, pulling him out of the robot.

The command room of Ms. Rah was totally silent, apart from guards hammering on the door.

Kumu raged, "If only that white robot and its pilot would just disappear."

Kazuki told Mitsuki Sanada, "Here, this time you get to take the pilot." He handed off the severed cockpit containing Slade to her Core Robot.

Yayoi looked at the extracted cockpit and noted, "You severed all the cables neatly. That must've taken a lot of practice."

"I have had plenty," Kazuki laughed. Wind began to circulate around Zinv's fingers, and he compressed Himc into nothing.

Kent was not sure when his heart rate would return to normal. Not only was he a prisoner again, but also Himc had just been squashed into nothing, and he was suspended high above the ground in the grasp of a giant robot. This is a rather gentlemanly war, but accidents still happen, he thought to himself.

The artifact carrier had retreated from the RaRa Army battleship upon seeing Himc destroyed, as planned. Kazuki communicated to Cmdr. Sanada, "Tell the RaRa Army to evacuate their base now."

Red lightning played between Zinv's fingers, and the Core Robots fell back to a safe distance, bearing Kent with them.

"Evacuate?" Ayuko shouted at the screen where Cmdr. Sanada was conveying the warning. "Just on your word? You've taken out my Himc, but I'm going to take your white robot!" She fired all the lasers of the battleship at Zinv.

Kent's cockpit was laid to rest on the far side of the island, and he watched in amazement as a dark sphere with a red sheen took form between Zinv's hands. Every laser beam from the battleship started out on a proper trajectory to hit Zinv, but eventually curved to end inside the hole. Kent gasped in English, "Oh no, he's got a black hole." Through his horrified mind drifted thoughts like, "Mitsuki and her bodyguards and Chairman Rara are still in there!" and "He had a black hole! I'm glad he was holding back; he could've killed me whenever he wanted! Nothing can beat a black hole!"

Hiroshi Rara looked at Ayuko as lightning bolts began to fill the RaRa Army base. One way or another, the base was going to be evacuated. He stepped towards her.

The pounding at the door of Ms. Rah's room ceased several moments later as Hiroshi Rara ordered the base evacuated. There were crashing and rumbling sounds throughout the base.

Slade found himself singing, "Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,/And death's dark shadows put to flight," and then pausing a moment as he swallowed in fear for his fiance and friends aboard the battleship. It was at that moment that he saw great transport helicopters leaving the base, and he was overcome with gratitude.

Kazuki saw that the evacuation was complete. "Hopefully this'll be the last time, Zinv," Kazuki said. Zinv roared, and the black hole between his hands expanded to incredible size, engulfing the battleship. For a moment, very little could be seen; then the black hole disappeared, and Zinv appeared floating above the crater.

Minutes later, Kazuki, Dee, Yayoi, and the two Mitsukis from the synthesis world had gathered around the severed cockpit of Himc to see just who their mysterious enemy was. The refugees of the RaRa Army had only started to arrive.

Cmdr. Sanada walked over with Akane Yamano, Lt. Schwael, and Mrs. Nanjyoin, noted that the pilot had made no move to leave the cockpit, and shouted, "Hey, come on out of there! The war's over!"

Without a word, Kent Slade drew himself up out of the cockpit and stood before them. The disquiet he felt could not be seen; instead he appeared unsatisfied, as though he were not yet ready to let the war end. Surveying his enemies before him, Kent saw quickly that, as he had guessed, there was a duplicate of Mitsuki Rara. Yay, I'm right, he thought hollowly to himself. There was also another woman who looked disturbingly like her; he heard Cmdr. Sanada refer to her as "Ms. Sanada." To the left was a young woman with silver hair in an officer's jacket; to the right was an identical woman in a pilot suit. He'd never seen a young woman with silver hair. That was odd. There were two cute duplicate young ladies with hair an attractive shade of ... green. That was odder. There was also, to his befuddlement, duplicates of the bodyguard trio, as well as a second Ms. Hayase in a pilot's outfit among the enemy.

Kent shook his head in amazement and muttered to himself, "Will a bearded Mr. Spock be joining us later?"

Dee, like everyone else, had peered inquisitively at Kent from the moment he emerged from the cockpit. Now she smiled. "He's our doorbell repairman! Mr. Slade!"

Kent stared in shock at Dee. Everyone else was surprised, too, but they suddenly caught the similarities. His RaRa Army uniform was much flashier and better looking than the uniform his handyman company issued, and he had been in a better mood even while Drs. Sanada and Rara were shocking themselves, but they were indeed looking at Slade.

Disquiet arose in Kent as the expressions of his enemies changed to recognition. This was crazy- he'd never repaired their doorbell! Then he realized that he hadn't, but if they recognized him, then it must've been his counterpart who had.

Several hours later, every piece of artifact technology had been destroyed apart from Zinv. Kazuki was patiently waiting as Cmdr. Sanada set up the device that would allow it to be destroyed. From time to time, more debris from other worlds would appear on the island around them. If Zinv were not destroyed, then these worlds and everyone in them would be annihilated.

Kent and the Mitsuki Rara he knew stood, as they had for the best part of the time since the battle, amongst the vanquished army. She decided this was the best time to tell him. She whispered to him, "Kent, we did what we had to. Ms. Hayase and I made the decision to sabotage Himc in the battle we just fought." Kent's mouth dropped open and stayed there.

"We only removed some of its power," she continued nervously, "seeing that the new white robot was so strong. I never wanted it to kill you."

"You did what?" Kent shouted, making her flinch. Every head on the island turned towards him. Gathering herself, she whispered again, though whispering seemed pointless now, "There's only one more thing you don't know. Another way I justified it was by what you said; that you wouldn't pilot under Ayuko. She executed a coup."

"She did what!"

Some nearby people covered their ears.

Kent Slade was livid, and he stalked towards Ayuko Rara. Ayuko's fright showed plainly on her face. Kent stopped abruptly and growled, "She wouldn't dare." It seemed impossible, but in the next moment his glare intensified and he ground out, "She would dare."

Kazuki laughed anxiously. "Yeah, I'm afraid she would. Uh, I mean, whatever it is you're talking about, she probably would. Don't, uh, don't get carried away or anything."

Slade spun about to face him, stared a moment, then cooled his wrath and walked away from Ayuko.

Cmdr. Sanada uneasily returned to setting up the trigger for Zinv's detonation.

Kent squinted in the sunlight. He wished that he had his nonprescription sunglasses with him, but was painfully aware they had been inside his room on the RaRa base, which he had just seen get squished as flat as a pancake. Kent desired his sunglasses fervently, which was quite odd for him. Had he even been able to retrieve them from beyond the event horizon of the black hole, they'd probably be smaller than his thumbnail. The sunlight wasn't all that bright. Yet the light hurt his eyes all the same.

"All done!" Cmdr. Sanada announced at last.

"Thanks!" Kazuki exclaimed. "Zinv and I just hope we never have repeat this a third time!" He quickly strode toward the trigger and almost hit the red button again, but stopped himself in time. He put his hand behind his head, slightly embarrassed. "I wouldn't want to repeat that mistake. I'll just try to finish this quickly." He turned toward the lever.

To his surprise, and everyone's, Dee, Yayoi, and the two Mitsukis from the synthesis world were all in a rough circle about the lever on the trigger console. All four stepped towards the lever simultaneously. Noticing the action, they all pulled up sharply after that step. Stares were traded around the circle and around the island.

Kent Slade drummed his fingers against his leg impatiently.

"Fine," Mitsuki Sanada decided, "all four of us are going to pull the lever at once, on the count of three."

"A most equitable arrangement," Yayoi agreed.

"I've been looking forward to this!" Dee giggled.

"We'll all make this world," Mitsuki Rara agreed.

"Uhm, I thought I was going to-" Kazuki began to say.

"One, two, three," Mitsuki Sanada said, and the massive lever was pushed down. She noted with surprise that there were five pairs of hands pushing down the lever. The fifth pair of hands had a ring. Looking over her shoulder, she was astonished to discover that the Mitsuki Rara from this universe, still in Ms. Rah garb, was the owner of the fifth pair of hands.

"Who let her in!" Mitsuki Sanada gasped.

"I did," Mitsuki Rara from the synthesis universe said innocently.

"You're not allowed to stack the odds in your favor," Yayoi argued with her.

Zinv's explosion engulfed the entire island.

Chapter 10 Main Chapters Chapter 12