Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure and its characters are the property of Pioneer and whoever, not me. The rest is mine, all mine! Bwa ha ha ha!

Takes a deep breath I'm okay now.

Italics: thoughts.

Bold: emphasized

Underlined: info from the author, such as definitions, clarifications, and the Author's Note

Interstellar Dual!, Part 1: New Arrivals

By Will Rogers (Xtor49)

Travis Ecks was 18 years old, 6' tall, 150 lbs., with blue eyes and brown hair. He was a complete Otaku anime fan, and learned martial arts just to be like his favorite anime characters. He lived in the hippie capitol of the universe, Eugene, Oregon. Anyone who's lived there will agree with this fact, unless they were very sheltered.

Anyway, he was riding his bike home one night in a storm, when he saw a funny looking yellow ball. It was transparent upon closer inspection, with a red interior and a 'tail'. He held it up in the air under a streetlight to see it better, "It reminds me of Kumu, that evil ball from Dual!."

The lightning had been miles away moments before, but now it was right upon him. Travis fell off his bike at the bolt that hit just a foot away. Another bolt struck the orb he was holding, sending electricity through his body. Travis blacked out.

"Good morning, Kazuki!" Dee greeted, shutting off the alarm before it went off.

Kazuki barely opened his eyes.

Mitsuki Sanada came in with a spatula and wearing an apron, "Kazuki Yotsuga, get out of that bed now!"

As he sat up instantly, he still looked sleepy. Mitsuki slapped him with the spatula across the face, "Wake up! Kazuki, now I have to wash this! It's all your fault!" That said, she left the room.

Kazuki rubbed the sleep from his eyes and his cheek at the same time, "Good morning, Dee."

"I think Mitsuki got up a little late today, she's in such a rush," Dee told him, smiling cheerfully.

Yayoi then climbed in through Kazuki's window, "Good morning, Kazuki."

"Good morning, Yayoi," Kazuki swung his legs onto the floor. Suddenly, the little dog Kumu came in and bit Kazuki's foot. "Ahhh! Get it off!" he cried out. Yayoi and Dee took the little girl's pet and left the room. A typical Monday morning.

Soon, everyone was downstairs eating breakfast. Dr. Sanada spilt his food on his shirt as he tried to read the newspaper. Then, the doorbell rang. "Now, who could that be? Mitsuki, would you get that please?" Akane asked her daughter as she got stuff to clean her husband's shirt.

Mitsuki went and opened the door. A 6' tall American boy stood there. "Hi, I...holy shit," he gaped, speaking English. He stood there for so long, Mitsuki Rara came to check on her cousin.

"Pervert!" Mitsuki Sanada slapped the American reeling, and slammed the door.

"Who was that boy?" Miss Rara questioned.

"Some stupid American," Miss Sanada stormed back to her seat.

Meanwhile, outside: "She...she looked like Mitsuki Sanada. Shit, this house looks like theirs!" Travis Ecks cussed. He tried the doorbell again.

This time, Miss Rara answered the door, "Yes? Can I help you?"

I understood what she said! In Japanese! I was never that good in class! Travis thought. "Um, good morning. I, uh, seem to be lost," Travis answered in perfect Japanese.

"Oh! Why don't you come inside? I'm sure we can help you," Mitsuki Rara invited.

"Thank you," he bowed, removed his shoes, and entered.

"What did you let him in for?!" Mitsuki Sanada shouted upon seeing Travis.

Wow. They're all here. Dee, Kazuki, Yayoi, Dr. Sanada. Travis thought.

"He said he's lost. I thought we could help," Miss Rara answered.

"My name is Ecks Travis. I...well, I'm actually a little more than lost," he introduced himself, right hand on the back of his head.

"What do you mean?" Kazuki queried, looking concerned.

"You'll probably think I'm crazy, but the last thing I remember was I was riding my bike home in a storm and I found a Kumu ball. Then the lightning suddenly targeted the ball as I held it, and I was hit. When I came to, I was on your street here, and I no longer had the ball. And my hometown is in the USA," Travis said.

"Really?!" Dr. Sanada stood up excitedly, "You were brought here after being struck by lightning! Amazing! I'd like to do some tests on you!"

"Ken! Sit down, you'll frighten him!" Akane scolded.

Travis laughed nervously, "Um...I didn't understand Japanese until this happened, either. I took some classes, but I wasn't that great."

"He's probably lying," Miss Sanada turned her head away.

"He sounds sincere to me," Dee smiled at Travis.

He smiled back, "I can't say I blame her for not believing me. It's not like I have any evidence."

"Didn't you mention Kumu?" Dr. Sanada checked.

Travis nodded, "Yeah. A little yellow ball with a red inside and a funny little tail. Ayuko would know about it."

"You know my mother?" Mitsuki Rara questioned.

"Not...exactly. I can honestly say we've never met, nor have I ever received anything from her. I know of her, and about her, but not her herself," Travis explained.

"Oh, sh...I mean, I'm making you late for school, aren't I?" he realized.

"He's right! Move it, Kazuki!" Mitsuki Sanada got up, got her bag, and ran out the door. Kazuki and Dee quickly followed.

"Well, we didn't even get to properly introduce everyone," Dr. Sanada complained.

"I must be going too. Good-bye. I hope the doctor can help you," Yayoi made her way out.

"There's still some breakfast left, Travis. Why don't you sit down and eat? You must be hungry," Akane offered.

"Thank you very much!" he accepted.

"I really do want to run some tests on you at my lab, Travis. We'll go after you're done, alright?" Dr. Sanada suggested.

"I'm fine with that. Thank you all for being so accepting of all this. I'm lucky to have ended up here," Travis then ate until he was satisfied.

Dr. Sanada eventually got Travis to his lab. "Well, well! Who's this young man?" Dr. Rara asked when he saw the American.

"Travis, this is my associate, Dr. Rara. Rara, this is Travis Ecks. He says he was brought here by a lightning bolt," Dr. Sanada smiled, getting a confused look from Hiroshi Dr. Rara.

Travis explained what had happened to him.

"Oh, no wonder he brought you to the lab! Let's get you started!" Dr. Rara pulled

Travis towards one side of the lab.

"Hey, I found him! He's mine to run tests on!" Dr. Sanada grabbed Travis's arm.

"You wouldn't know what kind of test to run, you spiky haired windbag!" Dr. Rara retorted.

"Windbag?! What does that make you? A full blown hurricane?" Dr. Sanada replied.

If it wasn't over me, I'd find this quite funny, Travis thought.

"Doctors! Please, stop!" Travis shouted. They paused, looking at him. "I'm willing to undergo tests from each of you, just stop fighting. Dr. Sanada can do the first test, then Dr. Rara, and back to Dr. Sanada. Okay? Can you take turns?"

"Why should he go first? I kno-" Dr. Rara began.

"Because he had first claim. Technically, he should get to do all his tests before you. I'm compromising. Quit complaining," Travis ordered, "Or I'm leaving."

"Very well. The moron can go first," Hiroshi sat in a chair and crossed his arms.

"Moron?! Why, you st-" Dr. Sanada stopped talking as Travis pulled him away.

"Let's just get this over with, okay? I'm already sure it won't be particularly pleasant," the American told him.

The testing lasted all day. Drs. Sanada and Rara tried everything they could think of. Travis's brainwaves seemed to be a little unusual, his body had a high electric wavelength, he had definitely been struck by lightning, and his 'positronic something-or-other' was a just above normal. Whatever all that means, Travis thought.

"I realize it is getting late, Travis, but I'd like to do one more test," Dr. Sanada said.

"Okay. As long as it's the last one," the American sighed.

"Good. If you'll follow me to the hangar..." Dr. Sanada turned to the door.

"You're not going to put him in a core robot?!" Dr. Rara exclaimed.

"Actually, yes, I am. I have a feeling he just might be like Kazuki, and have negative life sympathy. If he does, this could be very important," Dr. Sanada told them.

"A CR! You want me to try and pilot a CR?!" Travis was enthusiastic.

"Yes. I think we'll put you in CR1," Dr. Sanada replied. And that's exactly what they did. Travis got in, and the Hartzinen activated immediately.

"Just as I suspected; negative life sympathy! 100 already!" Dr. Rara proclaimed.

"You suspected?! I was the one who suspected it, you thief!" Dr. Sanada yelled.

"You never would have suspected it without my tests, and you know it!" Dr. Rara shouted.

"Hey, guys! Can we go now?!" Travis called to them.

Finally, Dr. Sanada took Travis back to the Sanada home.

"What took you so long?! Do you know what time it is?!" Akane railed on her husband.

"Why is he back here?!" Mitsuki Sanada pointed at Travis.

"I'm sorry. It was my fault, Mrs. Sanada. I let him do too many tests. I should have stopped him," Travis apologized.

"He's going to stay here for now. He has negative life sympathy! Isn't it wonderful?!" Dr. Sanada declared.

"And where is he supposed to sleep?!" Miss Sanada asked.

"Well, I figured he'd stay in Kazuki's room. I know it's small, but it'll work," Dr. Sanada told them.

"I really don't want to be any trouble..." Travis said.

"Too late for that!" Mitsuki S. responded.

"Mitsuki, stop being so rude to our guest!" Akane scolded.

"Yes, mother," Miss Sanada sighed.

So, Travis was given a bedroll for him to sleep on. He and Dr. Sanada ate a late dinner, and then it was time for bed.

Travis awoke the next morning as Dee came in the room. "Good morning, Travis," she greeted.

"Good morning. You're Dee, right?" he replied.

"Yep. I'm Dr. Sanada's adopted daughter," the green-haired girl smiled.

"Nice to meet you. Let's see. He's Kazuki, your sister's Mitsuki, your mom's Akane, and there's Dr. Ken Sanada. The other girl is your cousin, Mitsuki Rara. Right?" Travis checked.

"That's right! Excuse me," Dee moved past Travis and hit Kazuki's alarm off, "Good morning, Kazuki!"

"Hey, Kazuki. Get up, man, before Mitsuki comes in!" Travis shook him.

Too late, as Miss Sanada came in, "Get up, Kazuki!"

Yayoi came in right then, "Good morning, Kazuki." She stepped on Travis's leg, making him cry out in pain. "Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't see you there! My name's Yayoi," she offered her hand.

Travis shook it, introducing himself.

"Would you stop with the shortcut, Yayoi!" Mitsuki was not truly asking.

Travis had to borrow some of Dr. Sanada's clothes, as Kazuki's clothes were much too small. After everyone had gone, the doctor asked, "Is there anyone you want to call, tell them you're alright?"

"Um...I don't think I could reach them. You see, there's something I didn't tell you," Travis admitted.

"Really?! What is it?!" Dr. Sanada looked hopeful.

"I...I'm not from this world. Hell, my world doesn't have artifacts, core robots, or any of you. I didn't come from a parallel version of this world. As far as I can tell, I came from a completely different universe. I know about this world, somewhat, because I saw images of it on TV. I know it sounds ludicrous, but it's the truth," Travis explained.

"Another universe, you say? This is great! Not just a parallel world, but a different world altogether! Of course, it can't be proven, but it does sound plausible," Dr. Sanada said, "I just wish I knew of a way to test for it. Your brainwaves and all could be evidence of it, but without traveling to the other world and getting another subject, I can't be certain."

"I'm just glad you believe me. Of course, I'm only hypothesizing on the different universe, but I know I'm not from this reality," Travis responded.

"Well, then, I guess we'll just have to make up a history for you. Have you finished high school?" Akane questioned.

"No. I was in my senior year," Travis answered.

"Then we'll enroll you at the school Mitsuki goes to. You can finish your high school there. We can say you're an exchange student. It will take some doing, but we'll get it done. But, perhaps you should try to contact your parents anyway. You may just be mistaken from your lightning strike," Akane suggested.

So, Travis made a long-distance call home. "The number you are calling has been disconnected," the phone told him.

"The phone's out there. Disconnected," Travis stated to his hosts.

"Well, that settles that. I guess you're stuck with us," Dr. Sanada grinned.

There was a knock at the door. Akane went and opened the door, "Oh. Ayuko. Come in."

"That's not much of a greeting for your sister. I heard you had another houseguest and thought I'd stop by," Ayuko Rara made her usual evil smirk.

Just what I need. The queen of lies. Travis thought, rolling his eyes.

"I'm Ayuko Rara," she introduced herself. "I'm Travis Ecks. Nice to meet you," he greeted. "I was wondering if you would care to join me and my husband for dinner tonight? I want to know if I can trust you around my daughter. And other family, of course," Ayuko added.

"Ayuko! What a thing to say!" Akane exclaimed.

"It's okay. I can understand her feelings," Travis told her, Yeah, she's out to find out what all I know. She doesn't give a damn about Mitsuki.

"So, you'll join us, then?" Ayuko's smile was beginning to annoy the American.

"I don't want to be rude, so...yes, I suppose I shall," Travis agreed.

"I'm glad. My husband will bring you from the lab. I will see you then," Ayuko left.

"Are you sure you want to do this? My sister is known to have some plot up her sleeve. She might do something you would rather she didn't do," Akane warned.

"Maybe so. But, I feel she knows more than she's letting on. Perhaps she can help me find a way to get home, or answers," Travis explained.

At the Sanada/Rara lab, Travis underwent more tests. Most of them were retests. Nothing was different from the day before. "Am I taking you two away from your work on space travel?" Travis asked.

"No, no, no. Not at all. We've currently got people exploring the planet for more alien artifacts as we speak. With more artifacts, we should be able to achieve our goal," Dr. Rara answered.

"I remember you saying something about seeing us on TV in your world. What exactly did you mean?" Dr. Sanada queried.

"Well, in my world, you guys are a TV show. I've seen all sorts of things you all did, from Kazuki's meeting Mitsuki, to the day after Zinv was blown up. There were a lot of time gaps, but I saw plenty. Everyone in my world thinks it's all fiction. Even the guys who made it think it's fiction," Travis explained.

"Hmm. We were a TV show. How odd to find out. I wonder how that all works. How could someone from another universe make a show about us?" Dr. Sanada tapped his head.

"Well, Travis, we had best be off. Ayuko is waiting to eat with you; we shouldn't keep her waiting," Dr. Rara led Travis to his car.

Dr. Sanada didn't even notice. "Could there be gaps between the worlds, some barrier between us, that lets events appear in peoples minds? Is it possible that it was purely random? Maybe the authors know that these universes are real, but can't prove it, so write stories instead. If that's the case, how much of fictional stories have actually happened? This is astounding! Travis, I...where'd they go?" Dr. Sanada looked around. "They must have left for their dinner appointment. Well, I guess I had better go home, myself," the doctor collected his stuff and walked out of the building.

The Rara's had dinner with Travis in a private room at a fancy Japanese restaurant. Their home had been destroyed by Zinv, which was why Mitsuki Rara stayed at the Sanada house. Ayuko and Hiroshi stayed at a hotel while their home was rebuilt.

Ayuko sent her husband away after dinner. "I'm so glad you agreed to come, Travis. My husband has been telling me about you," Ayuko sipped at some tea.

"No offense, but I don't think you wanted me here to make sure your daughter would be safe around me," Travis noted.

"Yes, that is true. I wanted to know about Kumu. That is, the orb you found in your universe," she smiled, like she knew a secret.

"What about it? It looked exactly like the one you used to talk to when you led the Rara Army. It didn't speak, if that's what you're wondering. Why it attracted the lightning, I have no clue. How exactly I came to this world, and this country, I don't know either," Travis told her.

"Well. I suppose that answers my questions, but one: how do you know I talked to Kumu?" Ayuko made an inquisitive face as she smiled.

"I saw it. As Dr. Rara later, I explained it to him and Dr. Sanada. I don't suppose you know anything about why I'm here? Or anything else I might find helpful?" Travis questioned.

"I'm afraid I have no idea why you are here. Perhaps Kumu brought you here on accident. Maybe it wasn't Kumu. But, I do know something you might find useful. I had a search done on you, anything I could find on a Travis Ecks. The only one who fit your description has a safety deposit box at a bank in town. There is no family, no birth certificate, only the box. Even in America, there is no trace of you. Just a safety deposit box, made the day before you arrived. This puzzles me. I believe that you are from another world, and that someone has brought you here on purpose. I have no idea who," she took another sip of tea.

"That...is helpful, I guess. I think I'm even more confused than you. Which bank?" Travis wondered.

Ayuko told him, smiling even more. "If you're finished, my husband will take you back to my sister's house."

"Yes. Thank you," the American stood up, bowed, and walked out.

Dr. Rara drove Travis to the Sanada house. He knocked on the door before entering.

"It's about time you got back! What were you thinking, meeting with her?!" Mitsuki S. was looking very angry.

"Why, Mitsuki, I didn't know you cared," Travis smiled.

She tried to slap him, but he caught her wrist. He caught her other wrist as she swung with the other hand. She then tried to kick him, but he blocked with his leg. "Let go!" she pulled away.

"If I let go while you're doing that, you'll fall and get hurt. So, stop pulling," Travis released her once she had done so.

"That is not a very nice way to welcome a guest, Mitsuki," Akane scolded. Miss Sanada went to her room, still angry.

"My mother didn't do anything, did she?" Mitsuki R. worried.

"No. She just wanted to know about my coming here," Travis calmed her.

"Did she tell you anything?" Dr. Sanada asked.

"Just that the only sign of my existence is a safety deposit box. There's no sign of me at all in America. Too bad I don't have the key to it," Travis answered.

"Is this it? I found it in your wallet, which you had left in your pants," Akane handed him his wallet and a key.

The key was small, with a number on it. "I don't recognize it, so it could be," Travis replied as he examined it.

"Well, tomorrow you'll have to go check. I don't know what all's going on, but that box may have some of the answers you're looking for. I don't have any more tests to run right now, so it'll be fine," Dr. Sanada told him.

"Okay then. I will. Maybe it'll send me home. I hate being a freeloader in an already crowded home," Travis stated.

"It's okay, Travis! We don't mind!" Dee smiled.

"Thanks, Dee, but I'm not sure everyone feels that way," Travis looked towards Mitsuki S.'s room.

Travis was woken up the next morning by Miss Sanada stepping on him on her way to slapping Kazuki awake. "Oooff! Mitsuki...get off...please," Travis gasped for air.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Travis. I forgot you were there," Mitsuki didn't sound wholly truthful, but she did remove her foot from his midsection.

"Yeah. Apology...rrrrm...accepted," Travis's comment and facial expression made Dee laugh.

"I'm sorry, Travis! I couldn't help it!" Dee expressed her regret.

"It's okay, Dee. Can't say I blame you," he forgave her.

As Yayoi climbed in the window again, Travis sighed, Another normal morning at the Sanada house. How can Kazuki stand it?

"Good morning, Kazuki," Yayoi greeted in her usual manner.

Travis turned to leave, and saw Mitsuki R. staring at him. She turned, embarrassed, and went downstairs. Hmm... Travis thought.

Just then, Kumu the dog came in and bit Travis's leg. "OW!" he exclaimed, pulling at the little beast.

"Wow. He usually goes for Kazuki," Yayoi noted.

Travis jerked the dog loose, held it by the area behind its neck, and carried it out of the room in front of him. He looked Kumu in the eyes, "Bad dog! Don't do that again!" and shut it in Dee's room.

Travis walked to the bank after everyone had left except Akane, of course. "May I help you?" the woman at the counter asked.

"I would like to get into my safety deposit box," Travis told her.

She got a colleague to take him to the box. The key was indeed to the box in his name. "Could I open this in private somewhere?" Travis requested, and was led to an empty office.

He opened the box to find 500,000 yen $5000, and a sealed envelope with his name on it in English. He took it all, deciding to wait and open the packet later. He put the money in his pockets and wallet, and left. He went to the mall, sat at a bench, and checked the contents of the envelope. Inside were a letter and a map of the city. The map gave directions to a field near the Sanada/Rara lab. Hmm...what could be there? Travis thought. The letter read as follows, in English:

Travis Ecks,

You have been brought here for a purpose. You will be able to go home after your purpose is over. If you want to find out what that purpose is, go to the spot on the map tonight at midnight. If you do not come within four days of your arrival, you will never be able to go home. The money is for you to buy clothes and things.

Buy enough, as your purpose will take some time to achieve.

I shall remain anonymous at this time.

Travis didn't know what to think. He did know that he would be there, at the field, at midnight. He also knew that he really wanted some clothes of his own. He bought himself some shirts and pants, just a few, as he figured he'd need to buy the school uniform for next week. He also bought some soda, for the trip back to the Sanada house. The trip home wasn't as smooth as he might have hoped. Along the way, two young guys with knives tried to mug him.

Pretending to be getting out his wallet, he put down his bag of clothes. Then, he kicked the knife out of the one crook's hands. "Stupid tourist!" the other stabbed at him.

Travis dropped and performed a sweep kick, but got his left arm cut. The kick toppled the armed robber.

"Why, you..." the other swung at the American. Travis blocked and beat the guy to the ground, then kicked away the knives. The muggers got up and ran afterwards.

"Travis! What happened to your arm?!" Akane exclaimed when he came in.

"Couple of muggers. One cut me for resisting. Violence broke out, and they ran," he told her.

She ran and grabbed the first-aid kit.

He winced at the disinfectant Akane applied to the wound, "How could you be so careless?! They might have killed you!"

"I'm sorry I scared you. It wasn't intentional," he apologized.

"Where were you to get attacked?" she questioned.

"Coming back from the mall. The box gave me some money, so I bought a couple sets of clothes. I wasn't sure about how to get a uniform for the school," he answered.

"Well, at least it's nothing serious, young man," an old woman came in.

"Reika, Yayoi's grandmother," Travis bowed.

"Travis. He really does know about us, doesn't he?" Reika asked after she bowed back.

"Yes. Everything seems to support his story," Akane replied.

"The box also held a letter, saying I should go to this field near the Doctor's lab. That is, if I want to go home eventually," Travis explained.

"Well, then, I guess you haven't much choice. I assume you'll be going, alone," Reika stated.

"Well, it didn't say 'alone', but I didn't really plan on taking anyone. If it is some kind of trap, I don't want anyone else hurt. Besides, given its proximity to the base, I doubt anything'll happen," Travis responded.

"Do be careful, Travis. Especially with your arm injured," Akane requested.

"I will. Thank you. I think I'll leave my stuff here, and change clothes before I go," Travis went upstairs.

"I worry for that boy. He's going to have a lot on his shoulders soon. I can feel it in my bones. But, he needs to do this alone," Reika told Akane.

Travis quickly came back down, bid farewell, and began walking to the Sanada/Rara base. By the time I get there, I can probably just doze until midnight, Travis thought. And that is exactly what he did.

"Travis did WHAT!" Mitsuki S. shouted when she got home.

"He went to a meeting with who brought him here. Now stop yelling, young lady!" Akane scolded.

"Yes, mother. That stupid foreigner! If he comes back alive, I'll...I'll..." Miss Sanada clenched her fist.

"You'll embarrass yourself trying to hit him again?" Reika had been told of that by Akane.

Mitsuki S. released her rage in an "Oooooh!", and then hid in her room once more.

"Why does she get so mad at Travis, mother?" Dee asked.

"Well, I can't say for certain, Dee. I think she hasn't been able to get over her initial dislike of him," Akane answered.

I'm just glad I'm not getting all her negative attention, Kazuki thought.

"Shouldn't someone go make sure Travis is alright?" Mitsuki R. questioned.

"We might just screw it up," Dr. Sanada shook his head.

Midnight came, and Travis's alarm on his watch he had to set it to Japan's time zone and the alarm for midnight went off. He stood up in the field, "Hello?! Anyone here?! I'm Travis Ecks, here about my so-called 'purpose'!"

Abruptly, a bright yellow light filled the sky above him. "Travis...Ecks...you must...fight. For this...planet. Races... called Marikesans...are coming. They...will attack...Earth...with greater forces than...the Rara Army. Zinv is not enough. You must...pilot...our gift...Tatsuma," a strange voice pounded into Travis's head. The bright light faded to a much smaller light, but still large. From the light, something came out.

"It's a...a robot! An artifact mecha!" Travis exclaimed. The size of the Zinv, the unit was a dark green in color. Its shape was a lot closer to that of the Hartzinen, not nearly as bulky as Zinv. Tatsuma...doesn't that have to do with 'Tornado'? Tatsumaki is tornado...I don't know. But, I feel like...like I'm looking at myself. Is he connected with me, like Zinv and Kazuki? Travis wondered.

Okay. Joy ride. Travis climbed inside Tatsuma. The cockpit was just like Jinbu's. "Okay, Tatsuma. Let's see what you can do," Travis said enthusiastically. Travis found that Tatsuma worked a little different than the other robots. The green one was able to move as Travis thought of moving. Travis practiced kicking and punching, and was incredibly fast.

"Hey, an instruction manual!" Travis exclaimed as it fell in his lap after he did a backflip. "I'll read you later. Okay, Tatsuma, I think I better go back to the Sanada's place now. We'll meet again tomorrow. I'll put you next to the lab for safe keeping," Travis humanized the machine.

He took the manual with him as he walked back. The door was unlocked when he got there.

Mitsuki R. was sleeping in a chair, waiting for him.

Mitsuki S. was just coming downstairs. "Travis! You're back! How could you do such a thing!" she whispered angrily.

"Mitsuki, if I didn't know you were in love with Kazuki, I'd say you were falling for me," Travis stated factually.

She hit him in the jaw, "How dare you!"

"No, how dare you. I come back late, tired, leaving you all behind out of fear for your safety. I don't know what other explanation there is for you seeming to hate me so much. I can understand your beating on Kazuki; you do it because you care for him, and want him to be all he can. I don't know why you keep attacking me. The first time, you made a mistake. Fine. Then you try to hit me for a fucking dinner with your aunt and uncle. Repeatedly, I might add. Then you step on me, and lie about being sorry. Now you're attacking me for caring about people I've known for a few days! Oh, excuse me; you hit me for making an observation. Well, that's not right, either! Now, if you hit me again, I will defend myself! I will hit you back, whether I block your attack or not. Now, either be civil, or simply stay out of my life!" Travis railed on her. Next, he carried Mitsuki R. to bed, careful not to wake her.

Mitsuki S. stood there, stunned. No one's ever done that before. No one ever stood up to me like that, even threatened me. Why is he so different? Why did no one do it before? Why am I not angry at him? Why am I angry...at myself? Would he really hit me? He said he would. He could really hurt me. He scared me, talking like that. He meant it; I could see it in his eyes. Why am I so confused? How could I let him frighten me? she thought.

Oh, shut up and go to bed, Mitsuki! He's right, you're wrong, and you're afraid because he stood up to you! Go to bed! her conscience told her. Mitsuki was too tired to argue with herself, and really wanted to try and sleep it off.

The next morning, Thursday, Travis told everyone what had happened at the field. Mitsuki S. was silent, and avoided looking at him.

"Well, now. An artifact robot of your own. I can't wait to see it! I must run some tests!" Dr. Sanada rubbed his hands together.

"Ken! Didn't you hear about the Marikesans?! Aliens?! Planning to attack the planet?!" Akane yelled at him.

"What? Of course I heard. But I can't do anything about that. No one will believe an alien attack is coming on the word of a strange American. No offense, Travis. All I can do is tests on Tatsuma, for the most part," Dr. Sanada replied.

"He's right. All we can do is wait, and see. Kazuki, Dee, Mitsuki, Miss Sanada, we may have to be ready for a fight. Hopefully, the Marikesans will listen to some form of reason, but who knows? Let's just hope we're ready," Travis said.

"I don't want to fight anymore, but...Zinv and I will be ready," Kazuki nodded.

"Oh, I hope they don't come. But I'll fight," Dee stated.

"I will be by your side," Mitsuki R. declared. "Don't count me out," Mitsuki S. affirmed.

Travis went with Dr. Sanada to the lab, where Tatsuma had been left. "Sorry I had to leave you here, pal. I couldn't open the doors, and I had to get back," Travis put his hand on the green robot. He could swear the eye of the machine grew brighter for a second.

"I read the instructions. Tatsuma's got lots of cool features. He's a fighter, based more on speed than massive destruction. He's really fast, especially with his Boost turned on. His long range attack is a small beam from his chest. He has plenty of strength, and can do the withering grasp that Zinv did. He also is designed for space combat, and has numerous jets on his body. They allow for some nice moves," Travis told Dr. Sanada and Dr. Rara.

"Amazing. Given by an alien being, you say?" Dr. Rara stared.

"Let's begin the tests," Dr. Sanada suggested.

So, Travis climbed aboard Tatsuma. He flew through the air with the jets. He showed off his martial arts skill at great speed.

"Let's see how fast his Boost makes him," Dr. Sanada said over the radio. Travis turned it on just by thinking.

Suddenly, Travis felt that something was coming from the sky. He looked up, and saw three black Core Robots coming through the clouds. They were shaped with a much more round design than the other CRs, almost no angles. They began firing at Tatsuma with laser rifles they were carrying. "Doc! I'm under attack by unknown flying opponents. I'm going to return the favor!" Travis declared over the radio, and then used the jets to rush towards the dark robots.

They continued firing at him, but the jets allowed for easy evasive maneuvers. Tatsuma fired his chest beam, destroying the head of one of the robots. A few quick punches and kicks smashed the other two. Hmm...maybe I should shut off Boost now. Travis thought, and did so.

"Well done, Travis!" Dr. Rara praised.

"It was Tatsuma more than me. Anyone could have done that with his help," Travis modestly replied.

"Travis, could you bring back some of the wreckage? I would like to study it," Dr. Sanada wondered.

Travis went back to the Sanada house while the Doctors (and some armed guards) studied the black CR without a head. He and Akane had to go shopping for his school uniform and groceries.

"This is amazing, Sanada! This metal is not available on Earth!" Dr. Rara's tests had revealed.

"And the pilots are not in the units. They were piloted from somewhere else, much like you used to do," Dr. Sanada told him, "Unfortunately, there's nothing on the pilots, or much of anything, that we can use."

"I wouldn't say that. We can assume that these are the standard forces for those aliens, the Marikesans. If that's the case, our Core Robots should be a fair match for them. This metal isn't all that stronger than our own, although it is a bit lighter. And, now we can prove their existence," Dr. Rara noted.

"Yes, you're right. So, let's get to work!" Dr. Sanada said.

"You fought without us!" Mitsuki S. raised her hand to slap Travis.

He raised his, "Come off it. Any of you could have defeated them in any of the Core Robots."

Miss Sanada lowered her hand, as did Travis.

"I wish you had help anyway, Travis," Mitsuki R. stated.

"He was fine. They couldn't even hit him, and probably wouldn't have hurt him if they did," Dr. Sanada told them.

"At least the threat is known. Think of what could have happened if we were taken by surprise," Akane said.

"We might have lost a great deal of people before a counterattack could be made," Kazuki turned pale.

"Those three were just the first of many, I'm certain. They could be even be weaker units than the basic troop. We may have quite a fight soon," Travis declared.

End of part one

Author's Note: Interstellar Dual! was originally posted at dualfans.host.sk . This version has been re-edited and posted in a different format for easier reading. In the next part, the Marikesans pull a few new tricks out of their sleeves.