Chapter 20 – The Dark Queen of El Hazard
8:00 until detonation
A knight in shining armor goes to rescue a damsel in distress by attempting to slay the dastardly dreadful dragon. Perhaps the oldestof clichés and fables, and yet the rooftop of the primary Shadow Tribe headquarters was now the setting for such a staggeringly surreal scene. What added to the surreal nature of the scene, yet ironically also made it far more unique than most variations of this old cliché, was how you could hardly pick three more unlikely candidates for these timeless roles.
Our knight in shining armor; or in a shining helmet, in any event; was former warlord Katsuhiko Jinnai, who up until recently had played the villain, by his own words.
Our damsel in distress was far from the picture of placid peaceful politeness that the phrase 'damsel in distress' would tend to make one envision, and yet Haruhi Suzumiya was now indeed in distress, and seemingly as helpless as any damsel could be.
And then there is our dastardly dreadful dragon Galus, Lord of the Shadow Tribe. Of the three, he perhaps fitted his role the best.
While SOS Man was not prepared to face a cyborg, he nonetheless had fashioned for himself a multipurpose utility belt, and hence was not completely left without any effective tricks up his sleeve… or, rather, within his belt.
"Hopeless heroics, Galus?" asked SOS Man rhetorically, while forcing a grin in order to convey a sense of assurance and confidence to both his enemy and to his friends, "No, Galus, nor will I need to be particularly dashing, either!"
SOS Man pulled a few spherical bombs out of his belt, and hurled them at Galus.
"Ha!" laughed Galus derisively, "More of your SOS smoke bombs, Jinnai? That will avail you n… OOoooggggggghhhhh!"
Each 'smoke bomb' struck against the ground next to Galus' feet with the force of a live grenade. The sum of their explosions resulted in Galus being thrown turbulently towards the rear, with significant damage done to his rocket jet boots, as well as some indentations mashed upon the cybernetic portions of his legs.
"Heh!", chortled SOS Man in a high-pitch short snicker, "Not all SOS bombs are smoke bombs, Galus!"
Shadowy soupy smoke, as well as a rain of tiny fragments of metal lit ablaze like freckling embers from a campfire, had been left in the wake of SOS Man's opening gambit in this duel with Galus. The gambit had appeared effective, but it also had left SOS Man's view of his foe obscured.
"Yes!" exclaimed a wide-eyed Haruhi, pleasantly surprised by the sight of SOS Man so swiftly regaining the upper hand on Galus, "Now finish him off, SOS Man!"
"Gladly" responded Jinnai with a vindictive grin washing across his face.
SOS Man carefully and methodically walked towards where Galus was previously standing, moving his arms about to push the smoke out of his way, as well as out of his field of vision. SOS Man, while squinting downwards, caught a glimpse of Galus' fallen unmoving body. Upon further visual scrutinizing, it was apparent to Jinnai that he may have already defeated Galus.
"Ha ha ha ha ha ha!" laughed Jinnai, before turning his head around to face Haruhi and call out to her, "It looks like he's already finished off, Haruhi! Now, let me use my acidic containment unit to burn those webs away from you, and we'll be…. GGGaaaggghhhhhh!"
SOS Man had just had the wind completely knocked out of him by a cyborg fist giving him an underhanded punch directly to the gut, causing him to lean over in suffocating pain.
"Katsuhiko!" shouted out an alarmed Haruhi at the sound of him grunting piercingly in pain.
"Heh heh heh…" cackled Galus; the real Galus, as the illusion of his fallen body dispersed into nothingness, "You walked right into that trap, Jinnai, just like I knew you would! By pretending to be overconfident myself, I lured you into a state of overconfidence. NowI'm going to dissect you bloody bit by bloody bit in order to force the Bugrom Queen to do what I want her to do! But first, let's dispense with your obstructing helmet, shall we?"
Galus then roughly took hold of SOS Man's helmet with both hands, and ripped it off of his head, leaving a thin but long laceration on the left side of SOS Man's face, as well as abrasions underneath the left eye. The Lord of the Shadow Tribe then took firm hold of SOS Man's cape at two spots, one close to each shoulder, and draggedSOS Man's unhinged face close to Galus' own.
"Let's see what Haruhi Suzumiya thinks of you once I've mangled your face beyondbelief." sneered Galus at Jinnai, as Galus' eyes bore deeply into Jinnai's in this moment of withering intensity.
Galus then pulled back his right cyborg arm and launched a punch directly at SOS Man's nose with ludicrous speed, leaving after images of both motions of his arm here. Regardless, SOS Man had somehow managed to move his nose out of the way, but that merely resulted in his left eye being struck instead, blackened by the scrupulously choreographed impact, as Galus made sure not to go so far as to kill SOS Man.
"AAArrrrggggghhhhhh!" blared SOS Man in thunderous pain.
A downcast Haruhi Suzumiya, with an open frown and an anemic look on her face, could only look on speechless at this panic inflicting sight.
"You mechanical monstrosity!" shouted out a fiery, yet ultimately still helpless, Groucho, "The boss will never succumb to you!"
And yet, that currently looked to be precisely what SOS Man was doing, as Galus began shellacking him mercilessly.
Due to the ticking hydrogen bomb, and his getaway chopper having been rendered inoperable, Galus lacked a means by which to outpace a radically destructive blast radius. He now had but one prospect remaining for the actualization of his savage dream for all of El Hazard. He had to emotionally stricken Haruhi Suzumiya to a point of forlorn despair; pressing her into destroying or remaking the entire planet, if not the universe in its entirety!
Galus had deduced that Jinnai dying relatively quickly at his hands would not be sufficient here, as it had not been sufficient before. Hence, he relied upon the idea that Haruhi seeing her SOS Man slowly ground down to a pulp would be sufficient.
6:00 until detonation
While SOS Man was being pummeled into near unconsciousness by a sadistic Shadow Tribe Lord, I was being nursed back to health and consciousness by a warm and sympathetic former Shadow Tribe assassin.
"W-What happened…?" I asked woozily, as it felt like the inside of my head had a thousand ENOZ concerts going on within it.
"You were badly cut and knocked out by Nahato after Galus saw to all of your allies and friends being shocked into collapse" answered Nanoha Inverse, as she was kneeling down next to me, applying healing salves to my forehead, neck, and side wound, "It was certainly wise of Yuki to have me remain out of sight in case of emergency. I… I couldn't bring myself to attack Galus directly, though, I'm afraid…"
"That's… that's fine, Nanoha…" I stated, gradually gaining strength due to the preternatural effects of her healing salves, and as I shuddered into a slouched sitting position, "But… now that my memory is coming back…"
"We have to deactivate the hydrogen bomb" interjected Nanoha in a firm tone, "I know. That is why I have already revived Makoto Mizuhara, as his abilities may enable him to deactivate it. He has already begun searching about this facility in hopes of finding the location of the bomb. However…"
"We don't have a moment to spare." I now interjected, given the immediacy of our current predicament, and while rising to my feet, "Ok, with my ability to sense metal or through metal, with your ability to see through Shadow Tribe illusions, and with Makoto's ability to manipulate technology native to El Hazard…"
"The three of us will make the perfect bomb diffusing team!" exclaimed Nanoha in a spirited shout.
"Well, for this particular bomb, at least" I responded with a smile, "Ok, let's go!"
And with that, Nanoha and I chased after Makoto Mizuhara, in the hopes of diffusing the bomb. At the same moment, however, Galus was busily diffusing apart every last shred of hope that might remain in the heart and mind of Haruhi Suzumiya…
"RRRrrraaaagggghhhh!" clamored SOS Man in grueling pain, as Galus had just kicked him in a calf muscle, causing him to plummet to the ground in charley horse anguish.
Punch… after kick… after raking of the eyes… after the breaking of one finger… after the discoloration of a right arm riddled with pain and twisted out of a joint… after an elbow to the back of the head… Jinnai was being personally thrashed liked never before. Only Ranma Taro had even come close to imposing such bodily damage and searing pain upon Katsuhiko Jinnai.
Jinnai had been reduced to a crumpled convulsing mess simply struggling with all of his might, and against almost inconceivable pain, to simply move to all fours and from a laying position.
"Still you try to rise to your feet, Jinnai?" asked an amused Galus, looking down upon him, "She means that much to you? I have to admit, Jinnai, that even in the state that you are in now, I envy you. It has been a long time, a very long time indeed, since I have cared about anyone to the degree that you clearly care about the Bugrom Queen. However… reminding me of those people that I did care about to such a degree angers me, Jinnai!"
Galus then kicked Jinnai viciously into his gut, causing him to cough up blood, and fall upon his back, seemingly a totally defeated man.
"Stop it!" screamed Haruhi Suzumiya, as tears flung wildly from her reddening eyes, "Stop it, you… you… you malignant mechanical meanie!"
"Aaahhhh…" said Galus, as though Haruhi's words were a serene symphony to his ears, and while turning about to face her, "It is nice to hear that you still have your tongue, Bugrom Queen! But then, I can hardly blame you for going completely silent at the harrowing sight of your copiously cherished champion of truth, justice, and the bugrom way, lying broken at my feet!"
And SOS Man did indeed look broken. The veins of his eyes were showing while one eye was blackened, his right arm had been contorted into an unseemly shape, his left knee was bruised to the point of bleeding, his esophagus has been wounded to the point that breathing was difficult, and his entire body had simply been racked by injurious blows.
Haruhi looked down at him, with the costume that she had designed form him torn asunder in many places, with such incredible regret and sympathy in her eyes.
"What do you want, Galus?" she screeched at him in desperate but strong query, but before taking upon herself a chocked tone of voice, "What do I have to do to get you to stop hurting Katsuhiko?"
"My Queen!" protested Groucho, as he looked over to her through the gaps in the webbing that he had strained in vain to free himself of, "Don't give in to this feral beast! Don't give up!"
"I can't take it anymore, Groucho…" she sobbed to him.
That was exactly what Galus had wanted to hear.
"And you don't have to take it anymore, my dear." stated Galus in a disingenuous tone of sweet empathy, "With the power of your mind you can end all of this! You can end this cruel joke of a world! You can stop bemoaning the sight of the abyss by making everything an abyss! End. It. ALL, Haruhi Suzumiya! Let it all fade away into a comforting oblivion that will caress your bosom like the vanquished SOS Man never could! …Or remake this world to reflect what is greatest and strong! Make it a world where my might makes right! I have outshone Katsuhiko Jinnai for good, and hence is it not proper for me to reign supreme?"
Even in the thick of this arena of misery, Haruhi Suzumiya could not help but to be taken aback by Galus' words here. She looked at him as though he had seven heads and ten horns!
"Y-You're a raving lunatic!" she screamed at him, "My… my God! You are totally insane!"
"Very well…" stated Galus, superciliously shrugging his shoulders, "You leave me with no choice but to finally kill SOS Man then…"
Galus' mental health was certainly not beyond question at the moment, but he was nonetheless correct about Haruhi's capabilities, whether she wanted to admit it or not. Furthermore, Galus was not the only one whose mind had been enwrapped within a relentless focus so constricted and tightened that it bordered on insanity.
2:00 to detonation
Though barely conscious, Katsuhiko Jinnai's mind drifted back to one of the more traumatic moments in his life. A moment not much unlike this one. He remembered how he had tried to stand up for his sister Nanami against the bully Ranma Taro. He remembered how he had failed to save her, and how he had endured great bodily harm as a punishment for his good deed. He remembered his personal sense of shame at that moment, and he remembered how that day began the trend of Makoto Mizuhara outshining him at every turn, just as Galus had remarked that he had outshone Jinnai now.
While gnashing his teeth in almost incomprehensible rage, Jinnai saw in his mind the image of a boot stamping down on his face… over and over and over again… while Makoto Mizuhara, Galus, and faceless multitudes around him laughed and mocked him, and his sister turned away from him in disgusted disheartened disappointed. Then he saw Haruhi Suzumiya about to do the same…
"NNNnnnoooooooOOO!" roared SOS Man, as he stunned everyone on the rooftop by rapidly raising himself to his feet, flexing his arms backwards and tight to his sides, preempting Galus as Galus prepared to deal a final blow to SOS Man.
"I will not" –began SOS Man in a staunch indomitable tone, as he delivered a smashingswinging fist to Galus' jaw, -"be one upped"- he continued as he followed that up by bringing his other fist down in a devastating descending drive to Galus' face, -"in front of"- he persisted as he smacked Galus with a direct punch to his nose, -"Groucho"- as he used his left fist to uppercut Galus with all the force that he could muster up, "and Haruhi!"
Galus, groaning in pain from these four ferocious consecutive blows, had also been sent soaring stridently out of control! He crash landed upon his back, completely dazed and jolted by SOS Man's magnificent comeback!
"What valor!", exclaimed Groucho in awestruck admiration of his boss and best bud.
"SOS Man!" shouted an exuberant Haruhi Suzumiya, in an heady mixture of disbelieving awe and a spirit reinvigorating by the Bugrom Queen's champion mounting a comeback.
SOS Man had been so enraged by Galus, and so surged by what felt to Jinnai like his last chanceto undo the cursed culmination of a lifetime of relative degrading, that he had managed to both block out the enormous pain that he was in, as well as force broken or wounded parts of his body to move as he desired by sheer force of will. With a look of conviction affixed to his face that was sharp enough, and hot enough, to cut through metal as though it was butter, he strode towards the fallen form of the moaning Galus.
"I'm putting an end to your madness, you crazy sideshow freak!" SOS Man exclaimed in boiling rage towards Galus, as he fastened the fingers of his two hands tightly together above his head, about to bring a crushing blow down upon Galus' skull.
However, SOS Man was simply too slow here, as his one super burst of adrenaline was now beginning to wear off.
"Ithink not…" stated a still confident Galus, as he swiftly rose to his feet, and took hold of SOS Man's neck with a tight grip of his cybernetic right hand.
"Gaaaahhhh!" cried SOS Man, as Galus lifted him off the ground, and began to squeeze his hand harder around his neck.
"NO!" screamed a frenzied Haruhi Suzumiya, having thought that SOS Man might, just might, complete this stirring recovery by singlehandedly defeating Galus.
Nevertheless, SOS Man's highly improbable resurgence was enough to give Haruhi some renewed hope, even though it had been halted. To try to bring that hope to some sort of fruitful fruition, Haruhi tried to focus on all of the encouraging words that she had heard from new and old friend alike in recent days. Similar encouraging words where needed by both Makoto and Nanoha at this same minute, however, as the collective efforts of Nanoha and I had enabled us to locate the count downing hydrogen bomb, with only…
1:00 to detonation
"This…this…" began Makoto, as the pulsating rotating lights of the hydrogen bomb gave out a desiccating heat that, combined with Makoto's anxiety at the moment, caused him to sweat profusely, "…is the most wearisome manipulation of El Hazard technology that I've ever attempted. My mind is walking through an inscrutable maze as I try to find the off switch for this darn thing!"
"You can do it, Makoto" I stated to him, in a contradictory moment of me trying to play the hopeful optimist to his daunted pessimism, "You're a real whiz at this kind of stuff! You'll get it done!"
00:45 to detonation
"That's right!" chimed in Nanoha, "You and Kyon… you and Kyon are winners, Makoto! Unlike me, I'm afraid…"
"Nanoha!" I stated, startled by her words here, "What do you mean by that?"
"Welllll" Nanoha slowly began in answer, "While I'm glad I made the decision that I did…"
00:30 to detonation
"The fact is, Kyon…" she continued, "Is that the Shadow Tribe is hated throughout all of El Hazard, and now I'm going to be hated by the Shadow Tribe itself as well. I have become a pariah to my own people, and unwanted by everyone else. I am now without a tribe, and without a people to call my own."
"That isn't true!" I quickly piped up to her, as I took hold of her shoulders.
00:15 to detonation
"I… I would be honored to be your friend, Nanoha" I said to her, "A-And you're still cute enough that any guys with eyes would have to like you!"
"…Kyon…" she said in a soft tone, clearly moved by my words.
And then, given the heat of the moment, and given the atomizing heat that I truthfully expected to be upon me any second now, I coupled my faked optimism with a sincere equally atypical decision to throw caution to the wind… since I suspected that a million tiny fragments of my body would also soon be carried about by howling winds. Hence, I passionately delved into her face, bringing my lips excitedly upon hers. I took some degree of morbid pride in the thought that I'd not only be going out in a bang… I'd be going out in a bang in more ways than one.
00:02 to detonation
"Got it!" exclaimed a triumphant Makoto Mizuhara, as he then lurched rearwards to settle back down, wiping the sweat from his forehead, and breathing the deepest sight of relief of his entire life.
Hydrogen Bomb shut down complete
That put me in the awkward position of not having 'gone out' at all, meaning that my kiss of Nanoha would have lasting repercussions.
"You're a great kisser, Kyon!" shouted Nanoha with a wide appreciating smile, "And since Makoto came through for us, I'll make sure to repay you for that kiss sometime soon!"
I chuckled nervously over this.
"I never thought you had it in you, Kyon" stated Makoto with a playful grin.
"I didn't think that I had it in me either!" I responded to him.
"Ha!" Makoto laughed at this, before taking a more serious tone upon himself, "In any event, while we've taken care of this hydrogen bomb…"
"We should get to the rooftop to see if Galus successfully made off with Haruhi" I stated, finishing his sentence for him.
"Right!" exclaimed Nanoha, whom my ego liked to believe was now up to fighting Galus directly due to the effects of my great kiss, "Let's go!"
At this moment, Haruhi was trying to rouse herself to not 'go', per se, but simply to do something, anything, that might turn the situation once more around in SOS Man's favor. Ye, she didn't know what to do… she didn't know how to overcome the webs that encumbered her, as well as her own internal doubts.
"You are a very quick learner, Miss Suzumiya." Diva had said to her, "From what I have gathered from your words, there is a substantial likelihood that your chosen goals may actually reflect the prophesized promised land of domination, glory, and plenty more than mine did."
"Don't give up, Haruhi!" Mikuru had exclaimed at her before, "Don't submit to the vile traps that have been set for you! Believe in Yuki, believe in me, believe in yourself, and believe in Katsuhiko!"
"You have a lot of spunk, Haruhi Suzumiya!" Nanami had shouted at her very recently.
"Haruhi…" I had said to her softly and only a couple days ago, "I think that whatever you eventually choose to do will be the right choice. To be honest and fair to you, you're usually pretty good at reasoning out the best course of action to take in tight squeezes like this one, just like you did when you tried to discover who the killer was when we visited Itsuki's relative at the island villa. Whatever you choose to do, Haruhi, I'll support you in that choice."
"I am proud of you, my Queen!" Groucho had admitted to her, "I know that you will achieve the end of warfare that the Bugrom people have desired for untold ages!"
"Now chin up!" Sensei Fujisawa had said to her in an encouraging tone, and while flashing a confident smile towards her, "You're the Bugrom Queen! You have to stay strong because you have a mighty responsibility on your shoulders, and I'm going to lend my shoulders to you to help you out in meeting those responsibilities!"
"Let me introduce you to… the clever trainer and shape-changer that will change the fate of the Bugrom Empire forever!" Katsuhiko Jinnai had shouted in a speech to the restored Bugrom Empire, "Let me introduce you to our invaluable ally, Haruhi Suzumiya!"
"Invaluable ally…" she stated softly, repeating two of Katsuhiko's words, "SOS Man alone cannot win this day. But maybe with the help of an invaluable ally…!"
SOS Man alone was indeed unable to win this day, as he labored in vain, kicking his legs wildly while pulling pointlessly at Galus' cybernetic right hand with both of his normal hands, to free himself from Galus' hold.
"I'm done playing with you, Jinnai!" Galus snarled to him, "It is over for me. The hydrogen bomb will kill us all, thanks to your meddling! But I'll see to it that you'll be the first to enter the grave today, Jinnai, sent there by me popping your head off of your scrawny little pencil-neck!"
"Get away from my invaluable ally!", came a loud impassioned shout from a thoroughly rejuvenated teenage girl.
Three shurikens, with a symbol shaped like the outline of Groucho's head smoothly carved into the center of each of them, impelled into the right cybernetic arm of Galus, making some sort of tick tock sound as they remained dug into his arm.
"W-what?" exclaimed a thoroughly startled Galus, but not as startled as he soon would be, "Gggggaaaaaarrrrrrrrgggghhhh!"
These three unique shurikens made small, but powerful, localized explosions, causing substantial chunks of Galus' right arm to be blown off, which in turn caused Galus to drop SOS Man, who landed upon his backside, breathing heavily. Galus turned away from Jinnai and his attacker, grimacing in tear producing pain.
"He he he…" laughed Haruhi, "How did you like my bugarangs, Galus?"
"B-b-bugarangs?" asked an incredulous SOS Man, after soothing his neck by stroking it, and turning his head towards where Haruhi's voice was coming from.
"Well…" she began in a very sweet tone to him, before shooting one arm upwards to the heavens above in an imposing pose, "What better weapon for the Dark Queen of the Bugrom Empire? What more appropriate utility tool for the Caped Crusader of El Hazard? What better way for Bugwoman to make an entrance?"
Haruhi actually new little about the fictional character that she had based her SOS Man concept off of, but she knew a few details. She knew that he, like Katsuhiko Jinnai, was an alien immigrant to another world who became beloved amongst those who inherited him and even treated him as one of their own, which was almost the entire idea behind the costume. But she also knew that this western comic book character had an equally famous ally who would frequently work alongside of him in a league of justice.
And so now, due to her being able to use her shape-changing abilities since the medication that had been given to her had begun to worn off, Haruhi had escaped from the webbing that she had been ensnared within. She was also now clad in a silky smooth mostly black leather outfit from neck to toe, which was completed with a black cape and cowl extended over the bridge of her noses, with two large slits made for her eyes, and two tiny slits on the top for her bugrom antennae to extend out through. Upon her chest was a yellow symbol in the shape of one of the more angular bugrom faces, which served to perfectly accentuated Haruhi's two breasts. Jinnai's nose actually bled at this sensuously sexy sight.
"SOS Man and Bugwoman!" she shouted, as she rushed over to smile widely at the blinking in amazement Jinnai, her face very close to his, "Together we are El Hazard's Finest!"
SOS Man was bewildered, but he wasn't about to fail to take advantage of the great opportunity that Bugwoman had given him. As such, he was about to rise to his feet, when Bugwoman stared deeply into his eyes; not romantically, but like a hypnotist trying hard to psyche someone out.
"Wh-what are you doing?" asked SOS Man, even more freaked out by this stare than I had been when Haruhi had given it to me before.
"He he he. I'm just beaming healing rays into you with my bugvision!" she stated to him proudly, while standing back up to take a stern posture with both hands firmly on her hips, "Now, let's go finish off Galus together, SOS Man!"
Katsuhiko Jinnai suddenly noticed that Bugwoman was right as all of his broken joints, all of his skin discoloration, and all of his cuts and abrasions… had somehow been healed!
"Wow…" he couldn't help but to exclaim, but with it only taking him a second to fully regain his composure, and come to his feet, "Ok then, Bugwoman, let's go show Galus that nobody messes with us, and gets away with it!"
"Right on!" shouted Haruhi, pumping a fist by bringing an elbow down close to her abdominals.
A growling Galus had finally come back to attack as well, and began racing with an uncontrollable deranged rage at Haruhi Suzumiya and Katsuhiko Jinnai. But Galus' moment had passed.
"BBUUUUUGGGGG…KICK!" exclaimed Haruhi Suzumiya, as she threw an amazing double-footed roundhouse kick at Galus from the left.
"S O S PAAAAUUUWWWNNNCCCHHH!" roared Katsuhiko Jinnai, as he swung a fist with all the momentum of a locomotive at Galus from the right.
Galus' faced was squished, temporarily beyond recognition, by these two decisive blows striking him simultaneously! He was also, not surprisingly, rendered unconscious by them, falling upon the rooftop… defeated.
Finally, and at a most inopportune time, a large number of bugrom had made it to the rooftop, having just finished dispatching with the last of the Shadow Tribe soldiers. Still, they did arrive in time to take part in some vivacious victory revelry.
"SOS Man has emerged victorious!" exclaimed Chico having just caught Galus' collapse.
"And that woman in the odd black costume" stated Margaret, "I'm sure that's Queen Haruhi!"
"We won!" asserted Haruhi Suzumiya most vivaciously and vigorously, as she leapt at least three feet into the air, arms wildly outstretched, and directly towards Katsuhiko Jinnai.
Jinnai caught her somewhat clumsily, but after taking a couple steps backwards to steady both him and Haruhi, he began to twirl himself around, as well as twirling the outstretched form of Haruhi Suzumiya about in the air. Haruhi and Jinnai were now like two young kids on a playground who had just won their favorite game against another team. Both laughed with great cheerfulness as Jinnai twirled Haruhi about.
A large number of bugrom began to unite together in a circular formation around their Bugrom Queen and Supreme Commander, but giving the two of them plenty of room within which to continue their more personal celebrations. Jinnai finally placed a euphorically smiling Haruhi Suzumiya back down on her feet.
It was at that exact point that Nanoha, Makoto, and I arrived at the rooftop. Hearing our steps coming towards them, Haruhi and Jinnai both looked over in the general direction of Makoto, Nanoha, and me.
"Kyon!" Haruhi exclaimed jubilantly.
"…Makoto." Jinnai sneered, bringing his palm to his face, "Why oh why did he have to interrupt my greatest moment of victory?"
"Katsuhiko!" Haruhi shouted enthusiastically at Jinnai, as she looked upwards at him with a big excited smile on her face, "I have to finally introduce you to Kyon! Come with me!"
Haruhi grabbed hold of one of Jinnai's hands with both of hers and dragged him after her, with the two of them eventually coming to a stop only a few feet in front of Makoto, Nanoha, and I.
"Kyon!" Haruhi shouted with a smile to me, before motioning one arm towards SOS Man, "Let me introduce you to my new best fri…"
"We've already met" I stated firmly to her.
"Oh? You have?" asked a dumbfounded Haruhi, before turning to Jinnai, "Katsuhiko, you never told me that you met Kyon!"
"Er, well… you see… ah, that is to say…" began Jinnai, pulling nervously at his cape which doubled as a collar, and scrambling to find some way to explain how he first met me without getting him or me into trouble.
"We only met briefly" I stated on his behalf to Haruhi, "I had to save Makoto from him at the time."
"…Oh." said Haruhi in a low tone, quickly realizing once more that Jinnai wasn't always heroic.
Makoto and Nanoha meanwhile laughed anxiously over this awkward situation.
"But that's beside the point" I continued, to break the tension, and before turning to address Jinnai, choosing to politely bow to him, as is the Japanese custom, "You saved Haruhi twice, Katsuhiko, and for that, at least, I thank you."
"Well, yes, you are most welcomed, good sir!" exclaimed a most relieved Jinnai, as he rapidly bowed three times to me, to try to dash any thought from Haruhi's mind of him having recently attempted murder against Makoto.
"You can relax now, Katsuhiko…" I stated to him with a grin, while raising an eyebrow a bit mischievously.
"Well." said Jinnai, settling himself, "It's good to finally meet… on good terms, of course, you understand… the Kyon that Haruhi has told me so much about! It's very clear to me that you, Kyon, are to Haruhi what Groucho is to me! Hence, I hope that all four of us can be close comrades."
"Thank you… for that charming analogy, Katsuhiko" I responded to him, my head twitching a bit over it, yet I couldn't get that angry over it, since I suspected, sadly, that there was much truth to it…
"Excellent!" shouted a pleased Haruhi, "I'm glad that you two are getting along with each other. Well, now you're getting along with each other at least."
"…We should go board the Red Comet now" stated an anxious Jinnai to Haruhi, "Diva is no doubt worried sick over you, and so we need to get you back to the Bugrom Hive ASAP!"
"Yeah" said a nervous Makoto, thinking the same thing that Jinnai was, "For once, I'm in full agreement with Jinnai! Kyon, Nanoha and I need to go wake up the others and head back to Florestica right away ourselves. So we'll catch you all later then!"
"O-Ok" said Haruhi, even now not fully realizing just how bad the blood between Makoto and Jinnai was.
I took it upon myself to take Galus into custody, however. He was to be imprisoned for his crimes, but hopefully, and for Nanoha's sake, reformed. It was now exceedingly late on the SOS brigade's ninth day on El Hazard. Truthfully, all of us gathered at this now bugrom conquered Shadow Tribe fortress were exhausted.
As such, Haruhi, Jinnai, and the hundreds of bugrom who headed back to the hive took turns sleeping during the overnight journey, although Jinnai left behind a sizeable contingent of bugrom to ensure that he would get to add one final piece of territory to the Bugrom Empire in what he knew might be his last glorious military operation.
Likewise, Sensei Fujisawa, Itsuki Koizumi, Nanami Jinnai, Nanoha Inverse disguised as a human of El Hazard, Makoto Mizuhara, Ura, Yuki Nagato, the Three Priestesses, and myself, all took turns sleeping during our journey back to El Hazard upon the rather cramped and crowded Camerock and Peacemaker crafts. Nagato remained awake all night however, to ensure that Galus didn't try to get away.
The SOS Brigade's tenth and eleventh days on El Hazard proved to be a relative calm after the storm, as humanitarian and reconstruction efforts dominated the minds of all of us in Roshtaria, while there was much for Haruhi, Jinnai, and Diva to discuss concerning Haruhi's fast approaching official coronation as Queen, as well as SOS Brigade matters that were pertinent to the Bugrom Empire.
Finally, though, during the middle of the night of my eleventh night on El Hazard, Haruhi and Jinnai arrived in Florestica, riding atop the Red Comet. Haruhi was back in her North High school uniform, while Jinnai was back in his own student uniform with no article of SOS Man clothing about him, based on an interesting suggestion by communiqué that Nanami had sent to Haruhi via Nagato.
Haruhi and Jinnai had come to Florestica to put the final stamp of approval on the peace accord between the Bugrom Empire and the Alliance of human nations. They had arrived during the middle of the night to avoid as much commotion as possible given what the presence of the infamous Katsuhiko Jinnai within Florestica's royal palace itself could cause. Jinnai certainly turned more than a few heads at the peace accord signing the next morning.
"What got you up on the wrong side of the bed, Megraton?" Jinnai asked of him while grinning wildly, "I don't suppose it's the screaming upstart star Cyberica politician that's looking to replace you, eh?"
Megraton grumbled beneath his breath.
"Just sign the peace accord and get this unsightly scene over with, damn you!" Megraton growled in reply.
"You're awfully hot under the collar there, Megraton" stated Jinnai, feigning concern "I know that you have a prime problem in optimizing your nation's military, but still, do you have to take that out on me?"
"Grrrrr…." growled Megraton angrily.
"T-that's enough fun for one morning, Katsuhiko" stated Bugrom Queen Haruhi, her eyebrows twitching slightly, fearing that Jinnai's poking fun at his former enemies could ruin the morning entirely.
Jinnai was satisfactorily amused for the moment, having decided to get revenge on the difficult Megraton on Haruhi's behalf, but with a small sigh, Jinnai signed his name directly under Haruhi's upon the peace accord parchment.
"Well, with even Katsuhiko Jinnai's signature upon the peace agreement" stated Princess Rune Venus, coming to a stand, "An age of peace; an age that we have longed after for millennia will now reign throughout all of El Hazard!"
A mighty cheer erupted throughout the entire hall in which this peace agreement had been signed, although Jinnai and Megraton's cheers were quite half-hearted.
Still, seeing an entire world shift from untold ages of war to a time of peace was quite the sight to behold. Even I couldn't help but to feel hopeful and uplifted over witnessing it. So did Nanoha, who had watched the peace signing from just outside the signing room.
"Do you think that this peace will last, Kyon?" Nanoha asked softly of me, in a whisper.
I dwelt on that question for a bit, trying to find a suitable answer to it. It was far from the only question that sat restlessly in my mind however.
What would become of Haruhi, Nagato, Asahina, Koizumi, and I from this point on? Would Haruhi expect the rest of the SOS Brigade to become part of her royal guard? If Haruhi's attitude could be unbearable before, one has to wonder what she'd be like now, as actual royalty.
Could Jinnai be placated by Haruhi on a permanent basis? Would he truly give up on his previous resolve to kill Makoto, and to rule all of El Hazard? Well, Jinnai seemed to like playing the hero, so perhaps optimism was called for her.
But I was not optimistic about finding a way home, back to Japan, back to my parents and sister who I'm sure must be very worried about me by now. Even now, none of the SOS Brigade knows precisely what brought us here to El Hazard, or why.
Koizumi's theory is a comforting one, however.
"Perhaps we were brought to El Hazard, by some unseen entity or force, in order to help establish peace on this world." he had stated to me, "Beyond that, Miss Suzumiya's heart and mind has gained a peaceful contentment that we have long sought for. She has achieved her greatest goals and dreams, but largely within the constraints of them not being brought about by her powers. El Hazard and Earth are both better off for it."
"But what of us, Koizumi?" I asked in turn, "Will we ever see Japan again?"
Koizumi had paused for almost a minute, to think deeply on this question.
"Someday Haruhi will long to return to Earth, to see her school, and to see her father." Koizumi answered, "And on that day, Kyon, we will all return to Earth, by Haruhi's powers. Not just the SOS Brigade, but Sensei Fujisawa, Makoto, and the Jinnai siblings as well."
Koizumi would end up being right.
Haruhi would indeed end up being the final Queen of the Bugrom Empire.
She and Jinnai would give up both of their roles, forever altering the Bugrom Empire into a democratic and free Bugrom Republic. However, the SOS Brigade of El Hazard continues on, lead by the top scientists of the bugrom and humans of El Hazard alike.
Groucho, very much attached to Jinnai and Haruhi, would actually opt to go to Earth with them. Now there is a bugrom on Earth. Jinnai's best bud, and Haruhi's personal pet. The disguises that this poor creature would be made to wear in public…
To get away from Makoto, and to make it easier to continue on his newfound friendships, Jinnai would transfer to North High for the final semester of his high school life. His temporary inclusion into the SOS Brigade somehow managed to make things even more wild and unpredictable than usual.
Meanwhile, Sensei Fujisawa, Makoto, and Nanami would all continue on happily at their own school.
Makoto probably had the happiest return to Earth of us all though.
Finally, he had been reunited with Ifurita, the real Ifurita.
As for myself, my life had once more been turned upside down by the whims of one Suzumiya Haruhi. And yet, I can't say that I regret it. In El Hazard, peace and freedom now finally ring, and those of us who are of Earth have returned, better for the experience of visiting the magnificent El Hazard.
The Magnificent El Hazard of Haruhi Suzumiya's deepest dreams.
Well, that's it, everybody! I very much hoped that you enjoyed the story. I'd really like to hear the reviews of people who have read this right to the end. Please tell me what you thought of the full story!