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Chapter 9 Main Chapters Chapter 11

Chapter 10:

Mitsuki Sanada yelled in sudden fury, "Kazuki, did you think at all about what you're saying? Suck up my father and everyone else into a black hole!"

Yayoi stridently objected, "I'm surprised at you, Kazuki. I think they'd rather take their chances with the atmosphere and the crash landing rather than be squished in a black hole."

"What?" Kazuki was astonished, then started waving his hands frantically. "No, no, you're totally misunderstanding me!"

"If you deploy that thing near us," Kent spoke in the hushed tones of a man in absolute terror, "we'll get sucked into it too!"

"Kazuki," Ayuko pleaded in an unsteady voice, "please, I'll make it up to you, give you all the money you ever want, all the dresses you ever want, don't kill me with your black hole, please don't-"

Zinv roared again, silencing the burst of chatter.

"Dresses?" D was perplexed.

"Suits! Suits! Not dresses! I must've been thinking of myself!" Ayuko giggled hysterically. "It was a natural mistake, I'm very distracted. What do you say, Kazuki? Please?"

"I'm not going to suck you into the black hole!" Kazuki yelled. "I'm not stupid! I'm going to use the black hole to pull the Voyageur out of the atmosphere and back towards us. From there, you can make it into a stable orbit, right?"

"That might work," Dr. Rara said. "Yeah, it might!" Dr. Sanada agreed. "Let's try it!" they said together.

"Wait!" Dr. Warai gazed at them stupefied. "There's a huge crack in the ship! If he uses a black hole on us, the stress could rip us apart!"

"And all the robots around Kazuki will still get sucked towards the black hole," Akane commented, feeling as though she had entered a world of madness.

Mitsuki Rara inquired, "Kazuki, can the two of you really do it?"

"It's the only chance we have of keeping everyone alive and the possibility of going home," Kazuki spoke firmly.

"What are you waiting for?" Mitsuki Sanada peeved. "Go ahead and do it!"

Kazuki frowned. "You're the one who said-"

"I believe we've changed our minds," Yayoi informed him.

"I haven't!" Dr. Warai spoke up. "How does Zinv ever escape from his own black hole, anyway?"

Dr. Rara looked in puzzlement at him. "He always has before."

"We shall wish you will return safely again," Mrs. Nanjyoin told Kazuki.

"I suppose," Kent was relieved that Kazuki wasn't proposing to vacuum them all into oblivion, "we in combat mecha could all move away so there'll be less risk of you sucking us up."

As the other robots moved away and Zinv flew rapidly towards the falling Voyageur, D's voice could be heard: "I want to say something before the end. Goodbye everyone, and thanks for taking me into your family."

"I wouldn't have had it any other way, D," Akane sniffed.

"Ooh, ooh," Alice hooted, "I want to say goodbye to everyone too, and I have something to confess. Mitsuki Sanada, I'm sorry I let Kumu play in your room and break so many of your things."

In D's cabin aboard the Voyageur, Kumu barked in an offended manner at the active communication system relaying these words.

"Kumu, be a good dog, Kazuki's coming to help you," D soothed her through the microphone on Unit 3. This reassurance only provoked Kumu into a rapid burst of yaps and growls.

"That was you!" Mitsuki Sanada was enraged. "I blamed D for letting her loose! Why did you even let her play in the house-"

"Well, it's Ms. Mitsuki's room too," Mena defended her comrade, "and we didn't think that Kumu could be that rambunctious. Kumu's such a cute puppy, of course she wants to play, and we were just trying to play with her. Besides, it was Ryla who missed her shot-"

Ryla was scandalized. "I did not! I made a bullseye, but you two hadn't secured the dartboard to the wall properly. It fell and hit Kumu, and of course that upset her!"

Kumu barked firmly and affirmatively.

This revelation of the use of the space she and the other Mitsuki shared astonished Mitsuki Rara. "You were playing darts in our room?"

"Um, can somebody tell me where I ought to aim the black hole so I don't break the ship?" Kazuki asked. "Dr. Sanada, maybe?"

Dr. Sanada was too busy saying, "Why didn't you just use Kumu as a target?"

"Ken!" Akane scolded him. "Just kidding!" Dr. Sanada assured them all. "That's not funny, Dad," D huffed. Kumu growled agreement.

"I knew we shouldn't have given them so much time off," Ayuko was murmuring. Dr. Rara caught this and said sharply, "They're not our slaves! I'm sure they needed relaxation after the stress of tending to your every whim!"

Ayuko's voice rose in volume and pitch. "What did you say? What are you talking about? They're our daughter's bodyguards, and they don't-"

"I'm talking about when you took over the RaRa Army-" Dr. Rara roared back.

"Let it go, little boy, it was two universes ago," Ayuko said disparagingly.

"One universe ago!" Dr. Rara returned.

"Guys?" Kazuki's plaintive voice could hardly be heard over the rising noise.

"I can't hear Kazuki!" Dr. Warai complained. "Or concentrate!"

Dr. Hayase repeated for the tenth time, "Kazuki, can you say again? I couldn't hear your question."

Mrs. Nanjyoin was trying to take people off the communication system. Unfortunately for her, the system was designed to automatically put people back on when they spoke. The tide of this battle was against her.

Zinv's annoyance registered in Kazuki's mind. So this was the world they were trying to save. Apparently there were always going to be problems like this. Maybe, also, what Alice said was really true, that all of them were generally happy to be together like this. There was no way of knowing that, of course. The gang might split apart, in the next few seconds or the next few years. There was no way even mecha commanding giant grenade launchers, tentacles, the weather, and black holes, could prevent that.

For now, all he knew was that people he cherished were plunging through the atmosphere towards danger. He and Zinv wanted to change that. When they had, they would have to treasure every moment they spent with everybody. Just in case someday they did have to separate, because of how they had to die or how they had to live.

Kazuki and Zinv could feel their thoughts reach rapid agreement on that subject. If they were to help the Voyager, it had to be immediately.

"Yeah, Zinv, let's do our best right now." Even Zinv's roar couldn't completely quell the chatter, but it helped. Red lightning arced between Zinv's fingers, and a small black sphere appeared in the midst of the lightning. The red-hot hull of the Voyageur quickly halted its plummet, then began to retreat backwards. Winds reversed direction as the atmosphere in the locality was sucked into the black hole. The combat mecha and the shuttle hung back, watching and hoping.

The Voyageur was lifted up, out of the atmosphere of the planet. Zinv had expanded the black hole to be about as large as Zinv himself. Now the Voyageur was coursing quickly towards the black hole. The collective intake of worried breath mirrored the intake of the black hole as it continued to suck up parts of the atmosphere.

The darkness of the black hole expanded briefly, and then entirely collapsed. Zinv reappeared to many delighted cries of, "Kazuki!" Dr. Sanada and Dr. Rara quickly worked out a stable orbit and fired the undamaged thrusters accordingly.

Once again, the communication system was filled with chatter. This time, the chatter was happy and excited.

On the planet below, Plath spat into the communication system, heard but unregarded, "You're leaving us! All your talk of justice, and you're still leaving us!"

Akane finally heard her and told her, "Don't worry, Ms. Plath. I'm sure we can arrange to pick you up especially. In fact, I think we'd have quite a few volunteers for such a mission."

Plath began to breathe quickly. "Erm, well, actually, I was just condemning your thoughtlessness. I didn't want you to pick me up. I was thinking I might stay here. You wouldn't want to waste any precious fuel or anything getting me. I've got plenty of oxygen, don't worry about me. Take your time, there's no rush! Don't try and feign moral superiority by coming and picking me up after I mentioned it!"

Chapter 9 Main Chapters Chapter 11