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Chapter 2 Main Chapters Chapter 4

Chapter 3

Cmdr. Sanada looked around the basement of his home in the synthesis universe. "What! This is just used for storage!" he cried.

"Indeed," Mrs. Nanjyoin calmly agreed, "there isn't a scientific instrument about."

The commander couldn't believe his eyes. "Not even a beginning at making a parallel world transporter? Maybe this isn't my house in this universe."

"That seems unlikely, Commander," Mrs. Nanjyoin stated.

"I'm glad we brought these signalers, or we'd be stuck here." The commander shook his head. "My other self is really letting me down."

"Perhaps he maintains a transporter at a different site," Mrs. Nanjyoin stated. She also did not believe that Cmdr. Sanada in any universe could be prevented from at least beginning to make such a device.

"Yeah, a huge one!" said Commander Sanada. "Like that mobile wide-area transporter Rara and I were talking about before we heard about the artifact. Maybe we're keeping that someplace else!"

Mrs. Nanjyoin asked, "Commander, what will we do if there are no artifacts or pilots in this universe?"

He shrugged. "We'll do the best we can with what we've already got. Maybe it'll be enough."

In the world he had just come from, Kent Slade walked down the corridors of the RaRa Army base. He was talking to Pres. Rara, saying, "I'm really grateful we got those seat belts installed in Himc, sir. When the rubble fell on me, I felt like I was going to be thrown out of my seat with the seat belts on- I don't want to know what it would've been like without them!"

Pres. Rara shook his head. "That was quite a reversal you managed. I'm glad you're safe." He grinned. "Stay safe as long as it takes to get me some grandchildren!"

Kent attempted to laugh and salute. "Yes, sir!" He smiled again, "If I do end up with whiplash, I'll just have to sue the Earth Defense Force!"

Their laughter rang down the hallway.

Ms. Hayase and Mitsuki Rara were talking privately in one of the RaRa base's residential areas.

Ms. Hayase shook her head sadly. "We're still without any alternatives, Ms. Mitsuki. The Earth Defense Force is too weak. Even if we were able to successfully sabotage our forces, there would be a power vacuum. Your parents made up their justification about preventing the planet from going to war for the artifacts' powers, but if we remove the RaRa Army from the equation, that's just what will happen. The Earth Defense Force and a weakened RaRa Army can't fend off the world."

"Maybe I ought to defect myself," Mitsuki suggested. "I could join the Earth Defense Force and make it stronger."

"No, Ms. Mitsuki!" Ms. Hayase pleaded.

"It's better than participating in evil here. You could disable or at least weaken Himc while I fight for the Earth Defense Force." Mitsuki continued, relentlessly and remorsefully. "The Earth Defense Force would win, Kent wouldn't be killed, and the Earth Defense Force would be strong enough to guard the artifact with eight robots."

Ms. Hayase shook her head. "Your mother trusts no one, Ms. Mitsuki, but she especially doesn't trust me. If you were able to successfully escape, I'd be implicated and removed from my position, and then I wouldn't be able to weaken Himc for you."

Mitsuki nodded, and they were silent for a moment. Mitsuki Rara spoke again, "We ought to leave even if there is no chance of winning."

"We can't take that sort of risk without any hope," Ms. Hayase insisted. "From in here we can do something when the time is right. Trying to escape now would be very dangerous and change nothing. Even if Himc could be disabled, the other robots from the artifact could quickly be brought online, and the Earth Defense Force can't defeat them either, with or without your help or my help. While here, I've nearly gotten access to the system your mother installed for controlling the robots remotely, and you're still in authority. We must act where we can change things, and for now, that is from the inside."

Mitsuki Rara looked at her friend sorrowfully. "Thank you."

Ms. Hayase returned the look. "I thank you. These are my convictions as well."

Mitsuki Sanada was alone in the kitchen, as far as she knew, preparing something for dinner. She was only slightly startled when she heard something behind her, and she turned quickly to see who it was.

"Hi, Mrs. Nanjyoin, hi Dad," she said, pleased to see them.

She had been about to return to slicing the vegetable, but their gawking made her stop. Was there some problem? She turned and saw that only her father was visibly gawking, but she was pretty sure that Mrs. Nanjyoin was surprised as well.

"I'm your father?" Cmdr. Sanada said in shock.

"Of course, Dad," Mitsuki laughed. "You always have been. Wait- what are you doing home at this time," and then she gasped, laying the knife carefully upon the counter. "Oh no. You're a counterpart of you, aren't you? Dad, have you been making a parallel world transporter again?"

So, he had a daughter, and now was being berated by her. "Well, uh, I didn't actually make the transporter, another me made it."

"Another one of you! Do you have any idea how many problems this is going to cause! You're trying to tell me that there are three of you running about! I'm going to have to go to the store again to pick up more onions!"

"Please don't go to any trouble on my account!" begged Cmdr. Sanada; he hated onions. Mitsuki Sanada knew this, but insisted upon his eating them anyways.

Mrs. Nanjyoin intervened. "We're sorry to have alarmed you, Ms. Sanada. Perhaps we should've made it clear that the commander won't be able to stay for supper."

"That's all right, Mrs. Nanjyoin," Mitsuki Sanada declared, "as long as he does eat onions sometime." Cmdr. Sanada made a face at the prospect.

Mitsuki Sanada eyed them both. "Mrs. Nanjyoin, did you just call him the Commander?" Mrs. Nanjyoin nodded. Unsurprised, Mitsuki concluded, "The stupid war is still going on in your world. A lot of people saw Unit 2 and Himc fighting."

"You know about it?" cried Cmdr. Sanada, again in surprise but this time also in delight.

"Of course I do. I had to fight for a long time to get that stupid thing over with so Kazuki and I could finally get home," Mitsuki Sanada thus synopsized the entire adventure as though she had hated it.

"I'm so happy! What a wonderful daughter you are!" He ran forward and hugged her, and she easily returned it- he was her father, after all. Cmdr. Sanada yelled, "Oh, I really need your help again, my daughter. It's so wonderful to finally have found someone to be able to help! My own daughter a top-rated pilot!"

When released, Mitsuki Sanada commented, "I guess that means we'll have to fight the stupid war all over again. I hope this time I won't have to be near Ayuko." Being captured by Ayuko was still a rankling memory for her.

Mrs. Nanjyoin assured her, "We certainly don't want to burden you with drudgery. You don't have to fight for us, and Ayuko is not on our side."

"Thanks, Mrs. Nanjyoin, but the fighting is actually rather pleasant when I'm on Dad's side. I don't really mind," Mitsuki Sanada told her.

Seconds later, Kumu exploded into Cmdr. Sanada's feet, vigorously rubbing her head against him; then she stopped, backed up a few paces, and sniffed him more carefully. Dee entered from the door that Kumu had arrived through. She called to him, "Hi Dad, I didn't expect you home already. Are you abandoning your poor students again? You promised Mom you wouldn't do that in this universe." Dee busied herself getting Kumu's food and water prepared while Kumu reluctantly decided to give Cmdr. Sanada a few half-hearted licks and departed to follow Dee.

"D, you're, what, uh, what happened to your eye?" Commander Sanada stared at her.

"Commander!" Mrs. Nanjyoin reproached.

Dee's two curious human eyes regarded them. Mitsuki Sanada explained, "D, this isn't quite Dad." She meant to go on, but the commander interrupted.

"How did I get to be her father too!" the commander exclaimed.

"You're right. I understand now. He's another him!" Dee told Mitsuki. Mrs. Nanjyoin sighed.

Yayoi stepped briskly into the kitchen, attracted by the noise. "Doctor Sanada, Kazuki is presumably trying to study, if he isn't loafing on the computer again. I would appreciate it if you didn't shout."

"I have a son too?" Commander Sanada backed into a corner. "And what are you doing at our house, Lieutenant?"

"He's really your nephew, but he's like a son to you," Dee helpfully explained. "Yayoi's here all the time."

Yayoi stared at the commander and her grandmother's counterpart, then began to comprehend.

"I meant to say a few minutes ago," Mitsuki Sanada recovered, "that these are the counterparts of Dad and Mrs. Nanjyoin. They're from another universe."

"Doubtless the one that sent Unit 2," Yayoi deduced.

"And Himc," D shuddered and concentrated on feeding Kumu.

Mrs. Nanjyoin asked, "What's Himc?"

Mitsuki Sanada rolled her eyes at the memory of it. "It's the name of the big robot with all those golden tentacles."

Akane bustled in from buying groceries, placing some bags on the counter, and gave Commander Sanada a quick hug, a peck on the cheek, and a "Hello dear." Mrs. Nanjyoin was so overcome she actually giggled.

"Help!" Commander Sanada shouted. "She's been overcome by my charm!"

Kazuki wondered what all the fuss was about in the kitchen, but it was probably more of the usual odd circumstances in Dr. Sanada's house. He didn't dare leave his room without his homework completed. He was glad he had finally gotten it done for today, and could finally surf the Internet without fear of reproof. He was very surprised when Akane knocked on his door and asked him to come downstairs.

"Uh, okay," Kazuki agreed, and quickly went downstairs to the sitting room. "Hello, Mrs. Nanjyoin," he greeted her, and looked at Cmdr. Sanada. "Uncle, I didn't expect you home now!"

Commander Sanada stood up and peered down at Kazuki, scrutinizing him. Kazuki sighed. "You're not my uncle, are you?" he asked in a weary voice.

"The other me is your uncle, but I am an abnormality from another universe!" Cmdr. Sanada exclaimed. "And you must be the extraordinary male who can pilot a robot! I'm so excited to meet you!"

"We've been telling him about you," Akane explained. Yayoi and Mitsuki Sanada had returned to preparing dinners. Dee sat near Mrs. Nanjyoin, with Kumu resting on her lap. Akane continued, "They want us to pilot robots for them again."

Kazuki grimaced, "I know Mitsuki enjoys combat piloting, but I find it so nerve-wracking!"

"You'd definitely enjoy tearing up the RaRa Army with Zinv's power fully unlocked," Mitsuki Sanada put in from the kitchen. "Maybe," Kazuki grudgingly admitted.

"Oh yes, we never got to that!" Commander Sanada stepped even closer to Kazuki. "What are Zinv's full abilities?"

The voice of Dr. Sanada answered him, "Oh, they're incredible! They make his gravity shells look like sneezes! Hello everyone, hello me, we're home!"

Commander Sanada turned around to see his counterpart enter the room, greeted gaily by everyone. "Hello me," Cmdr. Sanada shook his counterpart's hand, "I've been looking forward to meeting myself again."

Dr. Sanada put a hand to his temple. "I'm really confusing myself. This is the first time we've met as far as I know."

"I met another one of me in another universe," Cmdr. Sanada explained.

"Now I understand." Dr. Sanada noticed Mrs. Nanjyoin on the couch. "Oh, Mrs. Nanjyoin," he said, "I'd better introduce you to yourself."

Another Mrs. Nanjyoin entered the room and bowed to everyone. Mrs. Nanjyoin bowed back from where she sat.

"I presume this is about the appearance of the robots?" the synthesis Mrs. Nanjyoin inquired.

"Indeed," the other one nodded back. Neither appeared at all fazed.

Yayoi stood in the doorway. "Grandmother," she said to the room in general, since it was very difficult to tell the two identically dressed Mrs. Nanjyoins apart, "I wanted to ask you whom among the Raras we should tell about this. We should probably tell Mitsuki, and definitely not tell Ayuko, but should we tell Dr. Rara?"

The bodyguard trio could be heard at the door, taking off their shoes. "I'm really good at keeping secrets!" Alice jumped up and down. "What is it, what is it! Tell me!"

Dr. Sanada looked at Yayoi in surprise. Mitsuki Sanada almost dropped a pan, and when she had a better grasp asked aloud, "When did they get here?"

"Only now. They came with me as usual," Mitsuki Rara said from behind her. Mitsuki Sanada did drop the pan.

Mitsuki Rara stepped forward in concern and Yayoi turned around in surprise as the other Mitsuki hurriedly picked up the pan. "Are you all right?" Mitsuki Rara asked.

"Oh, look in there," Mitsuki Sanada sighed.

Mitsuki Rara did briefly, and said, "Oh, yes, I knew another Dr. Sanada was in there; I didn't know another Mrs. Nanjyoin had come too."

Mitsuki Sanada looked at her and asked, "How did you know Dad's counterpart was here?"

"I heard them both outside. It was either that or he was talking loudly to himself again," she explained. The other Mitsuki grunted in agreement, and they both focused their attentions on making Kazuki's dinners.

Cmdr. Sanada commented to his counterpart, "Wow, you sure do have a lively house. May I stay for supper?"

"Commander!" reproached Mrs. Nanjyoin. "You have responsibilities to attend to back at the base. Your presence is required."

"Okay," grumbled Cmdr. Sanada as he pulled out a signaler.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Nanjyoin," Mitsuki Sanada said firmly, "he's like this in every world."

Commander Sanada hit the button on his signaler, and was surrounded by the green light. In a few seconds, he was back in his other counterpart's basement, where he set the computer to send him back to the universe of responsibility.

The trio had walked in upon the transport, and Ryla said to the two Mrs. Nanjyoins, "Oh, just proof of a parallel universe. That's not a very big secret. You'll have to forgive Alice; she can get so worked up."

Dr. Sanada was still rubbing his palms together, happy to be able to witness a dimensional transport from such close range.

Mrs. Nanjyoin from the other universe nodded to Ryla, and looked to Yayoi. "About your question, about who among the Raras to inform. I've been told they already know about Unit 2 and Himc's reappearance, so I'm not sure there's anything to gain by keeping them in the dark."

The other Mrs. Nanjyoin shook her head. "My, or our, granddaughter has a point; under no circumstances must Ayuko be informed of these developments." She eyed the trio.

"Alice isn't the only one who's good at keeping secrets," Mena responded for all three.

Kazuki was greatly relieved. "Thank you, ladies."

Yayoi returned to the kitchen.

Dr. Sanada declared, "Then it's settled. We'll only tell that idiot about it when we use the mobile wide-area dimensional transporters at the lab to send Zinv and all of us through to your world, Mrs. Nanjyoin."

"Dad," Mitsuki Sanada called from the kitchen, "That won't work!"

Mitsuki Rara, also in the kitchen, explained her cousin's statement: "It's very likely that my mother will find out whatever my father knows about the situation."

Ryla suggested, "We could take advantage of the device that the other Dr. Sanada just used. Mrs. Nanjyoin has one, and maybe we could set up some sort of relay for ferrying people into the other world. Mitsuki's parents would never have to know."

Mrs. Nanjyoin from the synthesis universe commented, "That's a good idea, but the disadvantage is that we'll have to leave Zinv here, since the signalers' transported can't take something of his size."

Akane remembered, "Yes, we were discussing this the other evening. Mrs. Nanjyoin, is there a Zinv in your universe?"

"I'm not sure," the counterpart to Mrs. Nanjyoin replied. "Where would we begin looking?"

Dr. Sanada described the sealed door underground in the cave complex of the Earth Defense Force base, behind which Zinv slept. As he did so, Dee watched Mrs. Nanjyoin from the other world very closely.

Mrs. Nanjyoin from the other world spoke deliberately once the description was completed. "There was an earthquake just before the excavations began. When we reached the area you just described, we found the door you mentioned, but it was cracked open by debris from the roof. Some people climbed the debris and made their way through the cracks. On the other side, all we could see was a hole. No further investigation was made since there were so many other discoveries being made in far safer areas of the base."

Dee took a deep breath and kept a calm expression. At least now she knew of the other Zinv's fate.

Chapter 2 Main Chapters Chapter 4