Chapter 6: The End

The struggle was over. Expression had faded from the great robot's face, and it was quiescent in their hold. Lyta asked nervously, "Miina's... stopped?"

Aya's voice came over the radio. "Does that mean they've rescued Aya? Ryu... Jeff?"

Ryu knelt beside his daughter's body. There were no more tears. There was no energy left for them. He could only sit, heartbroken. Jeff watched them for a long moment, then he said softly, "Mr. Tendo...."

Ryu twitched, then began to gather his daughter's body tenderly in his arms. "Let's return to the machine!"

He raced, the fragile body carried tight, Jeff on his heels. As Jeff ran, he touched his chest nervously. The rippled skin was strange under his finger. He could feel something, a kind of thumping inside. This isn't just the beating of my heart. Something is pulsating inside of me. Is this what it would feel like if I was pregnant? His thoughts turned to an image of the remains of a body left behind in Miina's heart. Eyes closed just like sleeping. A thrill of fear raced through him and he shouted, "Radiguet is dead, right?"

Ryu shouted back, "I don't think he could live in that condition. But to make sure, let's destroy this robot!"

Back in Miina's center, the shattered body opened its eyes. Awareness had returned and a quick inventory showed the conditions within. Radiguet was amused. "Well. This body didn't last very long. I have no more use for it. I'll just have to find a new body." He shifted up, his soul armored and masked of old, the great shell-helmet curled down his back over his heavy, bone armor. He thought of the human he had fought, who had lived when supposedly dead. "Now that man, Jeff they called him. He's inherited the power of the Vyram. He would suit me just perfectly. I was defeated this time, but just you watch, Red Hawk. And so there will be still more terrifying pain for you...." He started to step out of the burnt body. And then a powerful force slapped around his wrist. "Wha -- " Silver-white hair, black and white clothes, right hand metal-armored. Eyes wild with victory in a grinning face. "TORANZA!!!"

And Toranza was reaching up, hands gripping and pulling, climbing Radiguet's arm. His armor, an affectation of a living body, was gone and so was Radiguet's. Their souls were naked as they were beginning to die. "So, Radiguet. Do you think you're going to be the sole survivor? You can't! You're going to die with me!"

Radiege struggled, but he could not get loose. "Let me go! Toranza, I haven't --"

Ryu hurtled into Jet Icarus' cockpit. Kaori met him with a gasp of horror at the sight of the limp form in his arms. "Ryu! Aya?"

But there was no time. He lifted his gaze to hers. "We have to settle this!"

Radiguet writhed madly. Toranza no longer had his wrist, but held him instead by the shoulders, dragging him down, away from the distant glow that led to the living universe. "But I haven't defeated Red Hawk yet!" he wailed.

"Join, Great Scramble!" The two machines entered synch with a slam of their right hands. Jet Icarus turned its back, and their components separated to reconfigure, joined as one. The powerful, heavy, Great Icarus hovered above Earth. "Let's destroy the enemy robot!"

"Let me go! Stop! St -- " Toranza's fingers dug into his throat and he could no longer speak. He could not escape. Toranza held him there.

Energy crackled between Great Icarus' giant hands. It was rerouted and channeled through the bird-shaped symbol-cannon on its chest, and then roared out. "Bird Mezor!"

Light as bright as the end of the world filled Radiguet's eyes. He no longer tried to escape. Toranza had him and would never let him go. They both could only watch as the brightness filled their existence and sent them on into darkness deeper than anything they had ever known.

The light finally died. Nothing remained in front of Great Icarus. There was nothing at all except the world far below. Ryu stared out at empty space and murmured, "It's over. Nothing could have survived that. But... Aya...." They had laid her body on a spare chair at the center of their cockpit.

A gasp from his side caught his attention. Then the small sounds of agony as Jeff curled over, hands clenched across his chest. Ryu leapt to his feet. "What's the matter?! Jeff!"

The pain! Like my chest is on fire! He was blind with agony. Ako was in front of him, her small hands a comfort on his shoulders, Lyta anxious over her.

A startled cry behind them spun Ryu around. Kaori was bent over their daughter. "Aya..?" she cried, gathering the limp form in her arms. It was shrinking. In an instant, the body was a baby, dressed in loose black.

"She's returned to her true form!" gasped Ryu.

Jeff fought the pain to lift his head and ask, "With Radiguet dead, the Vyram power has gone out?" What would that mean for him? Oh, please let it have nothing to do with the pain. What's this rumbling inside me? And then the pain struck again, redoubled. He writhed back.

"Jeff!" Ako cried.

The pain went out suddenly. He was sitting uncomfortably on his buttocks, staring down at his chest. The flesh had reformed and now there was a face sticking out of him. " It's Miina!" he gasped.

"Pchi," it said. Ako gaped down at it. "Ji," it said, and then scrunched its eyes and smiled at her.

Ako said the only thing she could, under the circumstances. "Weird."

Lyta raised a finger to point uncertainly. "Er, what does this mean?"

Jeff crossed his legs and rubbed his arms nervously. "I don't understand it either." He thought as hard as he could and then felt a burst of inspiration. But... maybe we've been fused? Part of Miina... survived inside me when we destroyed her body. She has no control and cannot move of her own will. And if she was in him.... "Mr. Tendo!! We can return this life to Aya!" Ryu and Kaori were together, and had wrapped Aya's body in a small blanket. They stared back at him, bewildered and questioning. Jeff hastened to explain. "Miina's power combined with the Birdnic Wave will grant her a new life! At the moment I have two lives. Miina's power is still inside my body! So we can use the Birdnium and the Birdnic Wave! We can give this energy back to Aya! She'll live again because of the cellular activity it grants us!"

The idea sank in and they leaped into their seats. Ryu called, "Right, let's try it." He signaled the Sky Force base and explained quickly. "Chokan, prepare the treatment!" he shouted.

She never questioned, she simply said "I understand."

"Great Icarus, let's return to Earth!"

Outside the Sky Force base stood Chokan Odagiri, the Neo-Jetman, lab technicians and scientists. As the jet trail appeared in the sky, Chokan spun and snapped orders. "They're coming back! Get ready to start the operation. Hurry the treatment!"

The Last Story