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Chapter 13 Main Chapters Chapter 14

Interlude 13

"Sir," one of Dr. Rara's researchers told him through the intercom, "I thought you'd like to know that dimensional bend is increasing again."

Dr. Rara looked out of the control room window in Zinv's hangar, down to the floor below where the researchers worked. "Again?" Dr. Rara repeated as an inquiry. "How much in the last few minutes?"

"Nothing in the last few minutes, sir," the researcher told him. "It's plateaued since four hours ago."

Dr. Sanada, sitting beside Dr. Rara, grunted, and added to that, "Then it wasn't caused by any of Zinv's maneuvers we tried; they were only a few minutes ago."

"Yes," concurred Dr. Rara, and added the reservation, "but if Zinv isn't causing this, then what is? Zinv can't have been causing the rise in readings we've been seeing the last few months, but what has been?"

Dr. Sanada shrugged. "What caused that spike a few months ago?" he asked rhetorically. Neither had any idea.

Dr. Rara caught Dr. Sanada's eye. "Are you sure there aren't any parallel universes anymore?"

Dr. Sanada assumed the greater gravity he knew Dr. Rara wanted right now. "A scientist is never sure until he measures. You have all the measurements I do."

"Then neither of us know," confirmed Dr. Rara. He said to the researcher through the intercom, "Thank you for your hard work. Please continue to update me."

"Yes, sir," the researcher replied.

"Ms. Hayase," Dr. Rara asked her through the communications setup with Zinv, "if it is another world, perhaps we ought to begin to run crash simulations."

"You mean they might collide like they did last time?" Dr. Sanada asked him.

"I don't want to go through that again, but we should prepare for the worst," he replied.

"Unfortunately, we still don't have enough facts," Ms. Hayase told them. "The simulation needs far more information than we currently have."

"Well, then we'll just have to keep collecting data," Dr. Sanada decided.

"Let's get back to this test," suggested Dr. Rara.

Ms. Hayase made Zinv jump forward, the longest jump she had been able to make yet. The next maneuver in the test was sprinting and dashing. She made Zinv move forward quickly, then dash from side to side. Then, as scheduled, she made Zinv leap vertically, achieving the greatest height that she had yet achieved.

"Thank you, Ms. Hayase, for your patience," Dr. Rara said through the communications system. "The instruments are set up. You may begin the test when you're ready."

Everyone had meant for the instruments to be ready earlier, but there had been some last-minute problems in the field. The doctors had therefore been having Zinv go through miscellaneous moves until everything was ready.

The researchers had finally finished assembling the instruments, which looked like a giant hoop. Its purpose was to make a careful measurement of the gravitational fields within the hoop. Dr. Sanada and Dr. Rara were hoping that Zinv's unique abilities with manipulating gravity could help them fashion an artificial gravity system for their spacecraft. This test was one of the first steps toward that goal.

Zinv carefully moved to face the open portion of the hoop. The test was to fire a gravitational shell through the hoop, so it could be measured. Unfortunately, the hoop was not much bigger than the shell. If the aim was slightly off, then the hoop would be destroyed and no useful data could be collected.

Ms. Hayase deliberately aimed Zinv's arm, allowed the glowing blue energy of the shell to coalesce in front of Zinv's fist, and fired smoothly. The shell passed precisely through the center of the hoop and impacted in the ocean as intended.

Dr. Sanada and Dr. Rara leapt to their feet, praising her marksmanship. Dr. Rara commented, "You've become a very good pilot."

"Without a doubt," agreed Dr. Sanada.

"Thank you, sirs," Ms. Hayase smiled, "but you really should be thanking Kazuki and Yayoi. They've been very helpful to me."

"Don't be too modest or we'll stop praising you," joked Dr. Sanada.

The praise did not cease, for when Ms. Hayase returned Zinv to the laboratory, she was complimented by Kazuki and Yayoi in person. They had been able to make it to the laboratory that day, unlike many other days.

"Your dedication is quite impressive," Yayoi told her. "Aiming a long range weapon requires a great deal of concentration even under tranquil circumstances."

"Zinv agrees," Kazuki said, "that you're very good." Coming from the robot himself, that was praise enough.

"You've both helped me so much since the beginning, putting my name forward and then training me," Ms. Hayase said warmly, "and I am very grateful."

"It was our pleasure," Yayoi assured her.

"Hey, Kazuki, it's your turn now!" Dr. Sanada called into the hangar. Kazuki agreed and jauntily stepped into Zinv. They proceeded to run tests on the high-powered activities Kazuki could do in Zinv.

On the next day, Mrs. Nanjyoin visited the Sanada household, finding Dr. Rara already there.

After everyone was greeted and comfortable, Mrs. Nanjyoin said, "I'm glad to see that you're all here. I've only today discovered an important clue that I believe explains the mysterious manifestations of artifact technology in the mainstream of society."

"Like the fuel delivery systems from the Core Robots?" Akane asked.

"And that personal digital assistant that just came on the market?" Dr. Rara inquired.

"I think it explains both amply. I was reading an interview with one of the engineers who worked on the new digital assistant. In it, he explains that he gained most of the designs for the holographic technology and touch interface from a dream he had."

"A dream?" Dr. Sanada was interested even more than before.

"A quote which stood out was, 'Many good ideas come in dreams. We couldn't even have gotten these ideas off the ground if other people hadn't been dreaming up the technology we needed to make the device.'" Mrs. Nanjyoin quoted from the article.

"All the scientists and engineers who had these dreams turned out to be people who were investigating the touch interface I found on my artifact battleship! Am I right?" Dr. Rara enthused.

"That is correct, doctor, and I thank you again for supplying me with the names so I could confirm that," Mrs. Nanjyoin nodded.

"The guy who came up with the fuel delivery system," Dr. Sanada reminisced, "helped me design the Core Robots based on the artifact technology we found. So I suppose he thought he dreamed up that solution as well."

"People all over the world must be remembering the secrets of artifact technology they learned before the universes were put together," Akane comprehended, "and are explaining these memories as dreams."

"From the brief survey I've done," Mrs. Nanjyoin confirmed, "the Earth's technological level is already slightly higher than it was at this time in the universe without the artifacts."

"I'm relieved that there was such a simple explanation," Dr. Rara commented.

"Our progress on the starship should be greatly accelerated by these technological advances," Mrs. Nanjyoin suggested.

Dr. Sanada shot out of his seat, his fist raised in the air, and was shortly joined by Dr. Rara, both men exclaiming, "We'll make it to another solar system yet!"

Two evenings later, Kazuki was up late into the night surfing the Internet. He was surprised by an instant message from Dr. Rara.

"Have you finished your parallel world story yet?" the message read.

Kazuki was flabbergasted, and typed in, "How did you know about it?"

Dr. Rara's reply explained, "Mitsuki Sanada told my daughter, and she told me. I read the part of the story you had posted online some time ago, and I was wondering if you had written any more since then."

Gulping, Kazuki typed in, "No. I've been way too busy with schoolwork." He had no idea that anyone was still reading the story, certainly not one of the story's characters.

"When you can, do finish the story. I know how it ended, of course, but you tell the tale well, and your perspective on the war between your uncle and myself is interesting. I have to go now, so have a good evening," was Dr. Rara's final message before he signed off.

Kazuki leaned back in his seat. Now he wished he had portrayed Uncle Rara in a more flattering light. He had included his experiences about the time when he was a prisoner of war, and his realization that Dr. Rara was really a good person. It was quite possible, though, that his uncle was still miffed by his portrayal in the story. Kazuki wanted to faithfully report what had happened. He hoped desperately that Dr. Rara understood that Kazuki knew he wasn't an evil dictator.

Would Ayuko read the story? Kazuki groaned in horror at the thought. He was in trouble if she ever did that!

Chapter 13 Main Chapters Chapter 14