Why the hell had I let Ken talk me into this? I was a damn fool. I should never have let the others know I was alive. Despite the bizarre circumstances, this past year had been the happiest time I had ever known. I was grateful to Dr. Raphael for saving my life, but I was even more grateful to him for saving Jun.

Jun… she was the best thing that had ever happened to me, and now I was throwing that away like it was garbage. She would never understand what I had done. Never! Hell, I didn't even understand it myself. Right now she was in New Jork, anxiously waiting for me amongst the earthquake rubble. But I wasn't coming back…

Motherfucking stupid ass Ken! Why couldn't he have left well enough alone! He knew I was alive. Wasn't that enough for him? But as I looked around the Bridge of the New God Phoenix, I could see why it wasn't. This new girl… Mako… was nervous and unskilled. Jinpei and Ryu were good enough at swaggering about, but it was clear that they were lacking positive leadership. And Ken… there was something wrong with Ken. He seemed well enough to me, but Jun had told me how he hadn't been able to run back at the Arama base, and it certainly had been out of character for him not to be with the Team inside Eastern Island temple.

I wouldn't even have been in this mess if I hadn't been so damned curious about our replacements. Jun had begged me not to see Getz and Mako. It was enough for her to know that they had found others to fill the void we had left behind. But I had had to know… instead, I had stumbled upon a dying Getz, then had barely escaped the notice of his assassins. After that, I hadn't been able to just let this pass without contacting Dr. Nambu…

Jun had been furious, and rightfully so. But when I had described to her how hopeless and lost everyone was, she had understood, even sympathized, with my desire to help them. She had agreed to assist me, even when I had gone behind her back to warn Hakase about the attack in the Cascard Desert. She had stood by me… up until we had received that message from Dr. Nambu this morning. We had turned on our bracelets only to be greeted by a repeating signal, instructing us to meet him in the Gera Desert.

Jun had outright refused. She had instinctively understood that this was a trap: a setup designed to force us to reveal ourselves to the others. Deep down, I had known it too, but I had found that I just couldn't disappoint Dr. Nambu. He had asked so little of us, and as it had turned out, this time he really had needed my help. There was no one else who could have done what I had done… at least, no one who could have accomplished it and come out of there alive. I shuddered, recalling the intense heat and the manner in which the Condor Attacker had literally melted under the intense sprays of boiling magma.

I was doing the right thing. I just had to keep telling myself that. It was the right thing for the Science Ninja Team. The right thing in the fight to defeat Galactor.

But was it the right thing for Jun? For me?

Only time would tell.

The End