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Chapter 6 Main Chapters Chapter 8

Chapter 7:

The phone rang and rang on Inspector Yamano's desk in the abandoned Earth Defense Base. The answering machine broadcast its message to an empty room: "You have reached United Nations Inspector Akane Yamano. Please leave a message." There was a beep, and then the caller's shrill and piercing laughter was recorded by the machine and broadcast to the empty room. "Oh, my. Nobody's home. Guess you won't be coming back for a while, either! Hope you're enjoying your exile!" gloated Ms. Gwenyth Plath. "Oops, maybe I shouldn't be talking to you. I'm consorting with a criminal!" she shrieked and cackled, "You crushed my car, and now the law is finally on my side!" With that she hung up the phone, laughing again.

Kent Slade was stalking the corridors of the RaRa Army base again, absently drumming his fingers along the wall. It was in this state that Mitsuki Rara found him, and asked, "What are you thinking about?"

He smiled at her a moment before replying, "You and not you." He grinned as he let that hang in the air a moment, then elaborated, "It was the weirdest thing. In that last battle, there was this one robot that seemed to remind me of you. You know, how you stand 52 feet tall, and-" he chuckled at his own lame joke, and his fingers tapped against the wall some more. "To get right to the point," he continued, "it moved just as though you were piloting it."

"How would you know that?" Mitsuki Rara asked perplexedly. "The only times I've ever piloted an enemy robot are when I'm practicing as the enemy in the simulations."

"That's all I've got to go on," admitted Kent. "It was an eerie, feeling, though. Not just that; I recognized some of the moves you pulled in the simulators too."

"You can make your mind easy; it couldn't possibly have been me," she assured him with a small chuckle. "I was, or rather Ms. Rah, was your commanding officer, standing on top of that building."

Kent told her, "That's what I realized just now; of course it's impossible for you to be the pilot. There is, however, nothing to hinder the pilot from being a counterpart of you. A duplicate of you from another universe."

Her eyes grew wide as she asked, "They couldn't possibly have gotten into your universe, could they? I thought only people from your world could do that."

Kent replied, "So maybe they came here; I don't know." He suspected this prospect was alarming his fiancee out of proportion to its likelihood. Therefore, he joked, "There's no need to be jealous of your duplicate, Mitsuki. I'll stick with you."

The idea was so unexpected that she laughed. "Thank you," she said.

Her bodyguards walked up the hallway towards them. "I'm disappointed," Mena told them when they were reached, "the good pilots have only appeared right as the war is closing!"

"I recall all of you having a long-running fight with the blue robot," Mitsuki Rara reminded them.

"The blue robot has always been good," Ryla acknowledged, "but only now have the pilots of the other robots really been doing their best."

"Yeah!" Alice agreed, "they were all leaping and jumping and pow-pow-pow! But we toasted those giant robots! In their composite steel faces!" she shouted, causing Kent to burst with laughter and knock on the wall with his fist.

"You disagree?" Mitsuki Rara asked.

"No, I think they're all very correct," Kent said once his diaphragm had returned to normal, "but I disagree with their disappointment that the good pilots are only coming now. I'd prefer it if the good pilots never showed up. I suppose it's not really honorable, but I'd prefer it if the fights were as easy as taking candy from a baby."

"It's always like that for you," Ryla pointed out, rancorless.

"Too true. Life is quite unfair. We ought to get someone who's actually competent to pilot Himc for a change," Kent faux lamented.

"You're the best we've got," Alice offered carelessly.

"Right; you're stuck with me!" chuckled Kent.

A sudden thought occurred to Mena: "The enemy probably won't be fighting too much now that they're on the run, right, Mitsuki?"

Mitsuki Rara, surprised, cautiously agreed. The bodyguard trio cheered. "Free time!" Alice cried.

Little more than a week after that, the Earth Defense Force carrier remained submerged beneath the ocean on fairly quiet running. Commander Sanada asked, "So, are you all sure that Kazuki hasn't come yet?"

"Dad," Mitsuki Sanada was irritated, "we've told you again and again that he's not going to be here for about three weeks. He's predictably late; he can't be here yet."

"It seems like an awfully long time," sighed Dee.

"Far too long," Mitsuki Rara sighed as well.

Mitsuki Sanada fidgeted. "Oh, I guess so," she reluctantly allowed.

Lt. Schwael suggested, "Perhaps we ought to take the initiative now when the enemy is least expecting it."

Yayoi agreed, "That would keep us motivated over the long wait."

Akane Yamano, not entirely sure what rank to give herself now that she was no longer a United Nations Inspector, objected. "If we were only facing ordinary RaRa robots that might be a viable option. Facing Himc in battle would be useless."

Mitsuki Rara considered aloud, "We didn't have to deal with that in our world. It's going to be a lot harder with it around. Himc is still not everywhere. If we can attack at a place where it is not, then we'll be able to deliver a blow without risking too much."

Yayoi concurred. "It should be relatively easy to outflank Himc. As long as we manage to make the RaRa Army think we're still here, they'll probably keep Himc here. Then we can attack elsewhere."

Commander Sanada looked interested but unconvinced. "Yeah, but any attack is still a big risk in our current situation. I'd prefer to do something more spectacular than a nuisance raid."

Mrs. Nanjyoin entered the room. Bowing to everyone, she waited for Commander Sanada to say, "Yes?"

"Commander, this television report indicates that the Raras will be on the move in the next few days. They're currently in New York and are heading to Europe."

Mrs. Nanjyoin had gotten the bodyguard trio to carry a relatively portable television set, where an anchor was telling them, "After being installed as chairman of the United Nations at its headquarters, Chairman Rara announced that he and his wife will make a state visit to Europe. Security is tight; they have announced only plans to visit nations such as France..."

The anchor continued talking, but Mitsuki Sanada looked sharply at Mitsuki Rara and asked, "The old lady would do it again in this universe, wouldn't she?"

Mitsuki Rara smiled. "She wouldn't be able to resist."

Dee leapt up and asked, "Can I please go get Ms. Hayase! Please?"

"Sure! Why not!" Cmdr. Sanada was somewhat baffled but waved his arm, and Dee ran to the laboratory.

Yayoi explained to the others, "We have a very good idea of where at least one of the Raras is going to be within a week. May I recommend we move the vessel within striking distance of Paris?"

Commander Sanada's eyes grew wide. "You can't possibly be contemplating attacking Paris?"

Lt. Schwael considered, "There is a RaRa military base in that area. With it captured, we could control the territory and airspace, thus allowing us to capture them or restrict their movements."

Dee finally returned with Ms. Hayase, who reported that while the two worlds were certainly going to collide, they would not be in serious danger for some weeks. The others then filled her in on the plan, but Ryla frowned and said, "The attack didn't work that well the last time, and we had Zinv then."

Mitsuki Sanada crossed her arms. Yayoi pointed out, "Still, the attack did eliminate the RaRa forces in the vicinity. Our objective is to strike effectively; Ayuko is simply a target of opportunity."

"Huh, I kinda like being a bandit king. Let's do it!" cried Cmdr. Sanada.

It was nearly a week and a half after that when Ayuko Rara finally got her chance to set foot inside the swank Parisian store and shop to her heart's content. Several world leaders were following her around, insisting that she try on expensive fabrics and jewels, and Ayuko never refused. A television crew followed them about the store. On the nearby streets, the honor guard of jewel-cannons stood watch.

Elsewhere in the city, Chairman Rara was hobnobbing with other world leaders when his retinue informed him there was a signal matching those used on the old hotline between the Earth Defense Force and the RaRa Army, and hustled him into his car. Once there, he was equipped with a tablet personal computer and communications getup. On the tablet, the smiling face of Cmdr. Sanada took form.

"Are you ready to give up yet?" Chairman Rara gruffly asked.

"No, do you feel like giving up?" Cmdr. Sanada asked in return.

Chairman Rara thought quickly. The car was now moving rapidly away, as he had instructed, but the signal was still being received fairly well: Sanada and his ship had to be close. "You really should be the one surrendering. Stupid Sanada, you can't take on the whole world."

Cmdr. Sanada's grin only grew wider. "I thought I'd just take on the part of it that you're in." He began to wave his right arm wildly and deepened his voice, "At precisely 11:50 A.M., the Earth Defense Force will take the field against all the foolish mortals who oppose them! We advise all those who support the future of the planet to leave the RaRa base near Paris!"

The chairman gasped. "Ten minutes! Sanada, you can't give only ten minutes warning!"

The commander returned to his regular voice. "Idiot, it's your own military base. Haven't you been drilling those people to move fast? There won't be any civilians to hurt, and the only things you need have topside are giant robots. You don't need any more warning time."

"What you really want is to capture me!" Chairman Rara yelled at the tablet.

"It would be nice, and I'd say we have a fair chance of doing it," Cmdr. Sanada laughed maniacally. "Care to surrender now?"

Rara cut the connection instead and began giving orders to his subordinates in the car. "Get the military forces at the base warmed up and on full alert. Tell Ayuko to get out of the store right now."

The message was relayed, and Ayuko frowned but went towards the roof, where the transport helicopter was just beginning to spin up its blades. She hated leaving the merchandise behind but would hate giving the nearly defeated Earth Defense Force any advantage even more.

Chairman Rara asked, "How long until we reach our aircraft?"

One of his men replied, "Sir, I'm afraid it's already too late for that. They came in below radar, but human spotters on the ground have confirmed four Earth Defense Force robot transport planes coming from the north, headed south." Another one ended a cellphone conversation and reported, "We've just confirmed four more. They're going to put four robots north of our base and four to its south. Our airspace is effectively controlled by the transport planes."

"Tell Ayuko's helicopter pilot not to launch yet but keep the blades running," the chairman ordered. "I also don't want any of her guard robots running off to join the fight."

He turned to one of the officials at his side. "Where's my daughter right now?"

The man answered immediately, "Sir, she's been moved out of the hotel to the safe house. Ms. Rah, however, will be unavailable for some time. As you recall, that luggage was lost on the flight out of New York. We need several more minutes to give her the recovered costume."

Chairman Rara noticed he was receiving another communication on his tablet. He took it and saw the officer in charge of the base near Paris. "Sir," the officer began without preamble, "we're having difficulty getting all the units to operational status. The power generators are very complicated, and we're only now installing some of them into the units. They won't be ready in time."

"How many robots are ready?" Chairman Rara asked sternly. "We have our full complement of twenty jewel-cannon robots topside and ready for battle, sir," the officer replied immediately. "Do your best with what you've got," the chairman ordered. "Yes, sir," the officer saluted, and they ended the call.

His car finally reached the landing strip that was their destination. Chairman Rara and his officials hurried aboard a waiting plane, but they could not launch as long as the enemy controlled the airspace.

Commander Sanada watched with pleasure from the bridge of the artifact carrier as Lieutenant Schwael ordered, "Execute banking and strike."

The twenty jewel-cannons on the RaRa base stood upon the base's practice field, a large concrete plain. They stood in a loose box, one half looking towards the north and the other towards the south. Jewel-cannons didn't have their weapons positioned properly or with adequate range to shoot down aircraft, but they were prepared to face the Core Robots when they arrived from those directions. The planes soon appeared, flying low. The pilots of the jewel-cannons, hunkered in the Parisian base's own remote-control piloting bunker, readied themselves for the assault.

The transport planes then carried out the banking maneuver. Two of the planes bearing Core Robots from each direction, north and south, stayed on course and began to fire their Vulcan cannon on the jewel-cannons. The other planes suddenly turned to the side. The planes were all in their proper positions seconds later, and each released their Core Robot. The effect of the banking maneuver was to drop Core Robots on all four sides of the box. The cannon attack served to disrupt and surprise the group so the Core Robots could land unopposed.

Adding to the confusion, Ms. Hayase and some of the other pilots fired their grenade launchers as they dropped from the planes. They scored relatively few hits but forced the enemy to scatter further, so they were even less prepared when the Core Robots landed.

"It's nice to see the RaRa Army on the defensive this time," Yamano enthused.

The Core Robots all landed facing inward, encircling the box, and carefully fired into its center to avoid friendly fire. The jewel-cannons finally attempted to return fire, and the Core Robots began to dodge.

Chairman Rara watched with irritation on the tablet as he saw the Core Robots dodging and weaving and smashing this small part of his army to bits. The blue, green, and pink units were jumping about and shooting, the purple unit was blazing away and launched a fierce kick at a unit that happened to get close. The yellow unit sidestepped one beam and scored a direct hit on its attacker. The black robot ran forward in a crouch to duck some fire, then reached an advantageous position and destroyed its attackers. There were only two jewel-cannon robots left, running for their lives.

"Come on, Rara," Cmdr. Sanada was starting to get nervous, "why haven't you sent a callsign yet?"

There was no answer as one of the two jewel-cannons was destroyed.

A subscreen opened on Chairman Rara's tablet, reporting, "Sir! We've managed to install the power generators and the units are closed up again! We should have full power within two minutes! All we need now is a pilot for it."

Chairman Rara smiled. "Good work. Deploy as soon as we have full power and confirmed pilot life sympathy."

A large dot appeared on the screen of the Earth Defense Force's screen. "Sir! Registering large power source underground at the RaRa Army base!" an officer reported.

"Be careful!" Cmdr. Sanada cautioned his forces, "there's something big coming soon!" He turned to his officers. "Can we get any clearer idea of what we're dealing with?"

Chairman Rara received the report, "Global relay has been established. Pilot Life Sympathy has been confirmed. Our robot is on the elevator to the surface."

The sensor officers aboard the artifact carrier informed Cmdr. Sanada, "We've resolved it into multiple points moving towards the surface. Life Sympathy confirmed at 64%."

D destroyed the last jewel-cannon robot, and all the Core Robots turned to look to one side of the practice field, where the ground was now opening up. They saw borne out of the earth several small white pods and a giant grey pod.

"Not one of those again," Mitsuki Sanada grumbled.

"Oh no, not an Isolation Weapon," Commander Sanada breathed.

Chairman Rara laughed maniacally.

Kent Slade said, "Isolation Weapon ready to strike on your mark, Chairman."

Chapter 6 Main Chapters Chapter 8