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Chapter 3 Main Chapters Chapter 4

Interlude 3

Kazuki was going through his morning routine as usual, finding various assorted people in his bedroom, being awakened by some combination of his alarm clock, cheerful greetings, and shouts of rage, and somehow surviving once again.

Everything was completely normal. Dr. Rara had come yesterday mostly for a social call, but he had received information while he was at the Sanada residence from the island laboratory where he and Dr. Sanada worked. For the last few weeks, they had been getting occasional faint readings on their instruments detecting odd interactions between parallel worlds, like the spacetime radar and dimension bend and distortion rate indicators. Just as Dr. Rara was eating dinner with the Sanadas, there was a sudden rush of activity, and then a sudden cessation of readings, forming a unique spike on their graphs. As the two doctors were nursing their doorbell-burnt fingers, the lab called Dr. Rara and Dr. Sanada to inform them of this. Both doctors had speculated on what it meant, from another parallel universe to the use of some sort of faster-than-light spaceship by alien intelligences, before they tired of that subject of conversation.

No one was very concerned at all about the news. The doctors saw it as an exciting new thing to pursue at work, but privately doubted it would be anything they could actually learn more about. Everyone had been somewhat concerned at the suggestion that it was another parallel universe, but when Kazuki assured them he had no visions, it became hard to think that this other world could impact them in any way.

Akane, the wife of Dr. Ken Sanada, was really quite pleased that everything was normal, including the doorbell now that Mr. Slade had finally found the problem and fixed it. Indeed, she wished everything would continue being normal, except perhaps in respect of some of Ken's habits. As Kazuki was being awakened, Akane was expressing her devotion to her husband.

"Ken, you need to bathe right now!" Akane demanded. "The water is ready, at exactly the right temperature."

Dr. Sanada turned bleary eyes upon her. "A bath in the morning? Honey, you know hot water always makes me sleepy. I'll take a bath in the evening."

"Perhaps if you actually did take baths in the evening, or indeed at any time at all, everything would be fine." Akane was not letting him do this to himself.

"Surely I can wait a few more hours until this evening?" Dr. Sanada yawned.

She frowned yet more. "As your wife, it is my duty to tell you that absolutely no one wants to be around you when you smell like that."

Dr. Sanada shuffled towards the bath.

Akane was always frustrated by her husband's intransigence over basic hygiene. She made an effort to cheer herself up by counting her blessings. She was about to count her United Nations medical benefits before recalling that she no longer had them. Being a housewife was such a new experience for her. In one universe she had been a United Nations employee, tasked with inspecting the Earth Defense Force, and in another she had an administrative job connected to the research of both Dr. Sanada and Dr. Rara. Now she was responsible for the massive home of Dr. Sanada. At least she had a cadre of daughters and friends who did nearly all of the cooking for her.

Dr. Sanada was still muttering about the fact that he needed something to wake him up, not a hot bath to put him to sleep.

"I could make you some coffee, Dad," Dee offered, passing him outside the bathroom. She had already been evicted from Kazuki's room.

At that moment, Dee's perkiness this early in the morning was suddenly and newly annoying to Dr. Sanada. He groaned in agony at his condition, and slowly shuffled into the bathroom.

Somehow, they all managed to assemble for breakfast around the huge table in the dining room. Yayoi felt sorry for Kazuki sometimes, having to eat three breakfasts: the breakfast that Mitsuki Rara made, the one that Mitsuki Sanada made, and the one that she herself made. If only Kazuki would do the sensible thing and pick just one to eat. She was certain hers had enough virtue to win him over. As usual, he managed to eat all three. That couldn't be healthy.

Some time later, everyone at the house who was going to school entered the grounds of the Nanjyoin Private Academy.

Dee went to her classroom, several grades below Kazuki. Mitsuki Sanada was one grade older than Kazuki, and they went their different ways. Yayoi was older than either of them, and she went to the teacher's lounge. She had her lesson for her class ready, and their papers from last week's test graded. When the time came, she walked into her classroom, radiant and orderly, giving a proper and encouraging smile to all the class, and especially to her student Kazuki Yotsuga. Today he managed a sheepish grin in return as his friends shot daggers of jealousy from their eyes into his back.

It was flattering to get such attention from a pretty woman like Yayoi, but it was uncomfortable, too. She was always watching Kazuki, so he could never use his personal digital assistant on the sly like he could in other classes. It was also uncomfortable having your teacher as a frequent guest at your home, especially when your grades were poor. Perhaps most uncomfortable was the jealousy of the other guys in the class.

Today, Yayoi announced: "Today, the class will be writing an essay about ambitions and dreams that you have had, and whether or not they were fulfilled. I will call on someone to read their completed essay in thirty-five minutes."

Kazuki began to panic. She was almost certainly targeting him with that essay. Of course, he always seemed to be the focus of attention in her class for some reason or another.

Whether Kazuki was being paranoid or not, Yayoi decided to call upon Kazuki. He really needed more practice speaking in front of large groups, and it would help him gain confidence. She was always very formal in class: "Mr. Yotsuga, please read your essay to the class."

Kazuki didn't bother to sigh. She was only doing her duty, and she surely didn't mean to humiliate him in front of the class. He began to read:

"The dream which became a reality for me almost became just a dream again. It was saved at the last moment. My dream was to become the pilot of a giant robot..."

At times, Kazuki worried that giant robots were the only thing he could ever write about. He didn't ever seem to tire of writing about them, never wearied of piloting them himself, and he never grew bored when he watched them as they sat silent in their hangars. It was an appreciation bordering on love that he shared mostly in his writing. Kazuki worried that his mind was one-track, but this essay had actually been turning out well, including not only robots but also more human matters.

He was somewhat nervous- these, his classmates and everyone at school, were the people who always had thought him weird for seeing the giant robots. His friends hadn't laughed at him, but they had been greatly concerned for him, thinking him insane. He thought he was insane just because he could see the robots, and thought he would go totally mad from everyone laughing behind his back. In this synthesis universe, none of that had happened, and if anyone did remember, they kept it to themselves, but Kazuki certainly didn't want to remind them, fearing a reawakening of contempt and loss of what social prestige he had. Nevertheless, this was his essay about something important to him, and his concentration on the subject gave his voice strength.

"...I loved the idea of giant robots ever since I first saw them. They're fascinating to watch, even when completely still. They have so much power, even when their systems are closed down and they have no pilots. When they're still, I can name their parts, reflect on how each is integrated into the whole..."

Strange looks, of half-remembrances and deja vu, stole over the faces of his classmates. Hadn't there been a time when he was some sort of outcast for seeing things like that? Things that didn't exist were what he had specialized in once. Had he seen giants? Or was it fights that hadn't happened? No, wait, now they remembered: but wait! That hadn't actually happened! How could they be remembering a whole lifetime that never happened!

"...when I climbed in, I found that my mind was in unison with the robot, responding to my wishes, becoming my hands and feet. Whatever I thought, it did..."

Now the class was becoming even more confused. They were beginning to remember yet another lifetime, in which those robots actually had existed. Their memories were now beginning to contradict each other, for they also remembered their other lifetimes, in the other world where robots never existed and they had laughed at Kazuki, and this synthesis world where there were no robots and they had never laughed at him. Each lifetime seemed so real and yet contradicted the other in so many ways: were they becoming crazy?

"...I had to give up that dream, in order to help not only my friends, but also complete strangers, people who'd never know my name or thank me, people who might even forget me entirely. I might have died, right there, and only a few people would ever mourn me. The worst part would be that if I had succeeded, my sacrifice would never have occurred. The world where I had died would be erased, and so my death and my entire life would be erased forever. My friends needed me, though, and it was what we wanted to do, to make them happy. I made the sacrifice, and now I'm here, and the thing I sacrificed was given back to me."

This moment he was describing, though the universe it took place in had now been combined into this universe, was clearly memorable to Yayoi. She could still recall the flashes of light and shocks in the distance as the two parallel worlds collided. Kazuki had the opportunity to make a new world, and it was the only way to save the lives of everyone in both worlds, but he could very easily have died. That had been the only test that ever mattered, and he had passed it, and he had been given a whole new life, a happy one, complete with a giant robot, and family and friends.

The entire room was silent.

Yayoi smiled at Kazuki. "Well done, Mr. Yotsuga."

Kazuki smiled back confidently and gratefully. "Thank you, ma'am."

Chapter 3 Main Chapters Chapter 4