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Chapter 10 Main Chapters Epilogue Act I


Chapter 11:

In the secure room, the Executive Council formally stripped Ayuko of her powers, and she watched angrily in her quarters as her control over life support evaporated.

Dr. Rara asked her, "So, are you coming out?" She was protected inside the last remaining shield on the Voyageur.

"No, I am not." Ayuko was petulant. "This room is well stocked with food and amenities, so I'll live. I'll live in complete contentment." She closed the channel.

"I'll cut the wires to her shield myself!" Mitsuki Sanada's eyes were aflame.

Dr. Warai winced as though someone were suggesting the severing of his own arteries. "I don't know if the Voyageur can be repaired as it is!" he exclaimed. "If we cut any more wires, we may never get home!"

"It's not as though we particularly want her company anyways," Dr. Rara shrugged.

Mits looked worried. "I also don't want the company of whoever she bribed. Most of the crew is still on the ship, and some of them must have helped her."

Kent nodded. "We may need to risk cutting the cables. Not much point to getting back home if we're overwhelmed from inside the ship."

The bodyguard trio had been whispering a few moments, and now their faces were bright and proud. "Ayuko knows who the traitors are," Ryla said. "She doesn't know that we don't want to take down her shield!"

"What're you suggesting?" Dr. Sanada scratched the back of his head.

Alice undertook an imitation of a man's voice, saying, "Ayuko, if you don't come out I'll smash and sever until your shield is down!"

Mena said in an alarmed falsetto, "Oh, please don't! I'll tell you who I bribed to install all of the shields and weapons!"

Kent raised his eyebrows. Mrs. Nanjyoin nodded, "That is an excellent suggestion. Allow me to conduct the negotiations while the repairs take place."

It took another week to make the repairs to the main engines to Dr. Warai's satisfaction, but they were done and he declared the Voyageur able to return to Earth. Fortunately, there was just enough fuel left for this.

Ayuko had, astonishingly enough, given up her accomplices within a few hours. Some people theorized that she hadn't, in fact, disclosed all of the people she had bribed. Others claimed that she had come to accept her loss and feared reprisal so much that she was willing to make broad concessions. It was impossible to know for sure: Ayuko maintained her shield and her sullen silence. This bothered no one.

A few of Ayuko's accomplices stole escape pods and successfully reached the surface, joining Plath and the other defeated exploratory mecha pilots. This gave Dr. Sanada the idea of deporting the rest of the malcontents to the planet's surface to start a colony. They were rounded out of the makeshift jail that had been thrown up in some of the crew quarters, put onto a shuttle, and made to file off the shuttle. There were a lot of surly looks in the crowd, and no one wanted to think about what might've occurred without the steely countenances of Zinv, and the rest of the combat mecha, looking on. In any event, the shuttle returned safely to the Voyageur, filled instead with the loyal backup pilots who had been trapped in the habitat.

Akane got an earful of screeching from Plath when that shuttle load of mutineers joined the rest of Ayuko's party in the habitat. Plath's complaint was that these crewpeople had gotten the impression that the deportation was Plath's idea, and now she was the target of dirty looks and hatred. Mrs. Nanjyoin simply cut the transmission. Akane couldn't think of anything to say. Plath was the one who had refused to return, after all.

Ayuko stirred in her quarters this once to comment via the communication system to the Executive Committee, "Are you sure you want the first interstellar presence of mankind to be a penal colony?"

Kent had answered off the top of his head, "It seems appropriate to me." Whether it was because his statement was incomprehensible or no one wanted to talk to Ayuko, nobody else said anything. Ayuko signed herself off.

During the remainder of the scheduled month that the Voyageur's mission was supposed to last, the remaining people used fully robotic probes to continue exploring Loki, and also to keep an eye on Ayuko's people. To be safe, the wrecked exploratory mecha were placed aboard the Voyageur.

At the end of the month, the Voyageur checked once more that the habitat had all its life support equipment functioning. The check confirmed that the malcontents would be able to survive indefinitely upon the surface of Loki.

With the check complete, Dr. Rara entered the coordinates for Earth orbit, and Dr. Sanada activated the main engines. In the next instant, they were home.

Spontaneously, from all over the ship, and from enthusiastic supporters on the Earth, applause broke out. The Voyageur had returned home, missing nearly half its crew, all its expensive fuel gone, with a huge crack in its side.

"I think that was the best family vacation we've ever been on, Dad!" D enthused.

"Yeah, when are we going to go again?" Kazuki asked excitedly.

"Perhaps when Kazuki gets caught up on his schoolwork," Yayoi hinted.

Mitsuki Sanada laughed at Kazuki. "He's never going to get caught up. He'll just have to drop out of school."

Akane noticed that Ayuko had finally turned off her shield and was preparing to leave the ship. "Are we just going to let Ayuko go?" she asked aloud.

"She can't hurt us now," Dr. Rara affirmed unconcernedly. Slade and Dr. Warai wore expressions that conveyed very different ideas, but said nothing.

Mitsuki Rara suggested, "Maybe we could all help Kazuki with his schoolwork."

"He's never going to learn if we do it for him!" Mitsuki Sanada protested.

D stood up, "Who's going to help me unload all of Kumu's dog food from the ship?"

Mits asked the entire room, "Weren't we thinking of going to Alpha Centauri next year?"

Kazuki just sat in his seat, smiled, and let his thoughts drift. Who knew? Maybe he had just been too pessimistic these last few months. Everyone might actually be able to, and want to, stay with each other, despite irritations and close quarters. Maybe they would all get another chance to explore the stars, free from internal strife and the probability of death. For now, he and Zinv were happy to have gone into space and returned home.


Pioneers ends here, as does the larger story. All that remains now is the epilogue, a delirious parody of the larger story. It will include more lame attempts at humor and failures to resolve the climax. The epilogue will be posted tomorrow.


Ending Credits:

Great minds think alike. I did read several Dual fanfictions after I had the ideas for writing mine, but I had my ideas first and tried not to steal. "Dual! What Is This Emotion Love? When We Least Expect It Pt. 2," by COHugh, has Ms. Hayase becoming a doctor, a title she richly deserves. Also, Clayton Overstreet's "Dual Episode 15 Decision" came to the same conclusion I had independently; Yayoi would be able to pilot a robot in the synthesis world. Also, I believe many fanfictions, including "Interstellar Dual!" by Xtor49 and Thorin Blauvelt recognized the bizarre web of family relations that now exists in the synthesis universe.

Acknowledgements:

I'd like to thank and acknowledge my beta readers Blue Comet and Shiori Hitohana for putting up with my initial versions of my stories.

The Dual DVD (Digital Video Disc) extras and the "Dual! Ultimate Fan Guide" by Guardians of Order proved extremely helpful to me. If I misinterpreted them, it's my fault.

Scott Adams' book "The Joy of Work" has helped me to be funnier. I still need a lot of coaching before I actually become funny, but the book did its best.

I'd also like to thank the movie Alien for its famous tag line "In space, no one can hear you scream" for promoting good drama and accurate science at the same time.

The following articles helped me to have a somewhat factual basis for this science fiction story. Blame me first for inaccuracies or insanities. I deserve it.


On aerial planetary probes:

IEEE Spectrum, Vol. 43, no. 3 (NA), March 2006, p. 43 "Halfway to Mars" by Jean Kumagi


On computer security:

IEEE Spectrum, Volume 43, no. 1 (NA), January 2006, p. 42-43. "Loser: Britain's Identity Crisis" by Erico Guizzo.


On gravitational constant and other constants:

Google Calculator

"Physics for Scientists and Engineers" by Serway and Jewett, 6th Edition, Thompson Brooks/Cole


On names:

Ask.com

The Bent, Winter 2005, Spring 2006, and Summer 2006 issues

Celebrity Watch (http://countdownonline.tv/celebrity_link05_full.htm)

http://www.bio.net/hypermail/womenbio/1995-March/002225.html

The Marx Brothers and The Phantom of the Opera

Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus

Wikipedia: Arabic name, List of Korean Family Names, Married and maiden names, Vietnamese Name


On The Use Of Characters:

Finally, please feel free to use these characters and ideas in your own fanfictions. Do it in your head or in writing, whether you liked how I did the story or not. As I understand it, since it's a fanfiction, I own nothing within the story anyways. Of course, I haven't exactly consulted a lawyer about that. Don't depend on me for your legal advice!

Chapter 10 Main Chapters Epilogue Act I