"The Galataea Syndrome" Part 9

by Fred H


The volleyball sails through the air, then is blocked by Negako, who sees it passed to Mie, who sets up for Makoto's spike. The shot smacks into the sand between Rikuko and Taiko! "Point to Team A!" Shooko declares.

Team A...Atako, Lum, Mie, Makoto, Chigaiko and Negako...switch places. Team B, composing the last six women who bonded in Class 3-4, brace up as Negako serves. It is a Saturday, a month after the only organic woman remaining in Atako's class bonded with her lover. The androids who were the closest emotionally to Atako and Lum had come to Ryuunosuke's island, a small dot of sand in the middle of the Sagami Sea outside Tokyo Bay, for a party. Of course, since they were isolated...the nearest town on the shore was fifteen kilometres away...no one wears a bathing suit.

Tampopo and Hotaru work the open air stove near the old beach house where Nagisa and her father had tried to run a tea shop, Setsuna and Hyooko setting up plates for the buffet that everyone would soon enjoy. Suddenly, a very expensive camera focuses on them. "Hold it right there!" a voice calls out.

The girls freeze as the shutter clicks. "Thank you," one of a few men permitted to be close with the women regardless of wherever they went, rises as he rewinds his camera.

"Did we look beautiful, Kamatarou-kun?" Hyooko blows a kiss.

"As always, Hyooko-san," Kamatarou Uzuki hums. Twenty-six years old, he had come to Tomobiki five months ago. A professional shutterbug, he had won many awards for his breathtaking scenery shots and the many fashion shows he worked. However, his life had completely changed when he arrived in Japan's most infamous district. Slender to the point of being anorexic, he has shaggy black hair and brown eyes behind glasses, a moustache and goatee adding a little spice to his looks. No chance in landing him though; he was openly gay though presently unattached, something the androids of Tomobiki discovered very quickly after his arrival.

Looking around, he sees a group of Class 3-4 students gathered around Aisuko and Mikan, devouring each other's lips with gusto. He snaps a couple shots from there, then sighs. Damn, this was so much hard work, he hums as he takes a flask of fruit juice and swallows deep. He then blinks as Nagaiwakai and Shinobu come up. "Good morning, Kamatarou-kun!" the latter tightly holds her lover's hand. "Getting some good pictures?"

"Well, let's see," he snaps up the camera.

Shinobu lands a kiss on Nagaiwakai's cheek just before the shutter clicks. "Thank you," he rewinds. "Yeah, some nice shots. How are you two lovely androids getting along?"

"Quite pleasantly, Uzuki-san," Nagaiwakai hums. "Do you think you'll soon have enough pictures for your special portfolio?"

"I've enough for five of them, Nagaiwakai-sama," Kamatarou hums. Android or not, the honorific had to be maintained; the Moroboshi clan matriarch was paying the photographer a hefty sum to record events in Tomobiki. "Not just the basic daily activities shots, but all the model shoots too. For a photographer like me, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I really appreciate it."

"You're welcome," Nagaiwakai nods. "Do you expect much when you can finally release the pictures?"

"Honestly, I don't care," Kamatarou sighs. "When the news of what happened in Tomobiki actually does get out, the shock of it alone is going to last for years. By all rights, I'll be able to retire from the royalties alone. I don't see it that way. You may be machines, but this is the most human story I've ever seen and it has to be preserved for future generations. History demands it."

Nagaiwakai smiles. "Good for you, Uzuki-san."

They head off. Kamatarou breathes out, then straightens his T-shirt. Since the women around him were pleasure androids, seeing him exposed would be a considerable temptation, homosexual or no. Glancing around, he notices some other men, male classmates of Atako and her friends, relaxing in a group. Like him, they wore swimming trunks and the odd T-shirt. It struck Kamatarou as strange that many of them were permitted to spend time with the androids even after Ataru had taken care of them.

Finally, the game ends, then the couples disperse. Negako and Chigaiko walk down the beach hand-in-hand. Their relationship was more experimentation than anything else; it had just only got to the point where Negako could feel comfortable saying "I desire you to live with me, Chigaiko." Both now altered between the bedroom in the Moroboshi home and Chigaiko's room in the Inu home.

Kamatarou glances at the boys. Many of them were talking animatedly among themselves, the final effects of Galcron-Sigma having been cured by Hotaru over the last week. It hadn't restored the memories or feelings of domination they once held over the androids ten months before. However, now knowing that their female classmates and friends had finally forgiven them, they no longer shied away from them. Friendships had started up again, even some relationships. The photographer smiles as he snaps a picture of them. It was good that most of the damage the Shoozooki had unleashed would soon be wiped out forever, left only to celluloid to remind future generations of this dark time.

Most, but not all, Kamatarou sighs as he notices one man sitting by himself, gazing into the vast expanse of the Pacific. Not all of the Galcron-Sigma victims could be cured. The weapon would always kill you unless you treated it before the damage to the nervous system becomes irreparable. The true horror of G-S was that its effects varied from person to person. It could kill you right away. It could take a week, a month, up to a year...but unless the damage was stemmed early enough, it would kill you.

For Shutaro Mendou, it was too late.


* * *

"Konnichi wa, Shutaro-san," Atako walks up. "Hungry?"

Mendou glances up at the beautiful android standing before him. His eyes dance over her nearly perfect features, the wide beautiful smile, the face that was so cute he couldn't ignore her no matter how much he remembered that this was once the man who had been his most annoying rival. The man who had, in effect, killed Mendou nine months ago...though it would be another few weeks before his body finally came to realize it. "Hai, Atako-san," he nods as he takes the bowl of kalbit'ang, Korean beef rib soup, from her, then moves over to allow her to sit. "Where's Lum-san?"

"She's off with Mie-chan and Makoto-chan gossiping up a storm as usual," Atako muses. "I swear, Lum-chan's been in such a funk since Noa-chan went back to Sagussa! There's been times that I wonder if she's forgot that we're supposed to be a couple!"

Mendou chuckles. "Such a change from before," he sighs, his mind looking past the several month blank in his memory to the times when Ataru acted as if Lum didn't exist. "I'm glad for you both, I really am. You were meant to be together, Atako-san. Noa-san just was the agent of Creation who helped it happen."

Atako gazes at him. As Ataru, she found him one of the most stuck up, stupid, arrogant assholes in history. Now as Atako, all she saw was a man trying to make peace within himself before the te'a finally claimed him. "Are you scared, Shuu-chan?"

"No, Ta-chan," Mendou shakes his head. When they were alone, they always switched to more personal versions of their names. "I happily participated in, aided and abetted in such an unimaginable crime, the idea of dying to atone for it doesn't frighten me. My honour is in shambles, Ta-chan. I don't remember what I did, but from what I've heard, I can't bring myself to look into the eyes of my mother, my sister, all the others I've debauched so shamelessly. All the pain I caused, all the agony. I must atone."

"So must I," Atako bites her lips. "Your blood, all the blood of all those Hotaru-chan can't save...it's happened every day since that damn day. No one gave me the right to be judge, jury and executioner to all of you. No person has that power."


"Hai, Shuu-chan?"

"What was that Sagussan saying again?"

Atako sighs as she gazes sadly at the rolling waves, her tears flowing. She hated it when Mendou reminded her of the rationality he had accepted for Ataru's bloody act nine months ago. "'Of the parts of Existence, one thing can be said. Entropy has a reason for everything. But Creation is unreasonable.'"

"Hai," Mendou nods. "All emotions belong to either Entropy or Creation. The Shoozooki made us embrace Entropy, made us believe we had every right to do whatever we wanted to the others. You became Creation's avenging angel to counter that...and because Creation has no limits, you won. It's hatred and love, Ta-chan. We hated so much, we felt we needed no controls. You loved so much, you HAD no controls...and justice for all of them came."

Atako smiles, patting his chest. "Damn you, Shuu-chan! I hate it when you try to rationalize it."

"Everyone else does, Ta-chan. Lum-san, Noa-san and Negako-san most of all. Why won't you listen?"

"I don't know," she sighs, crossing her arms as they slowly eat. "I may be descent from a shinobi clan, Shuu-chan, just like you're descent from samurai, but the thought of killing, even when it may be right, sickens me. I lost it that day. I became so scared, so angry, so outraged that I totally forgot what I believed was right. You know, even the Shoozooki agents I killed earlier, the members of the conspiracy...even though they probably were beyond saving, I wondered if I could've done it differently."

Silence falls as they finish them meal, then gaze at each other. "You are honourable, Ta-chan," Mendou stares into her brown eyes, seeing the odd flash of datascreens in those orbs. He hoped she was all right. "As Ataru, you held back when you had the power you needed to push us all away. The only time you used it was when it all went out of control, when you had no choice. I never knew that before, Ta-chan...but I'm glad I know it now. I only wish I could have had the chance to know you better."

Atako sniffs, looking down. Hotaru gave Mendou two weeks, three at the most. She then yawns as a warning scrolls on her left eye. "Oh, shit, why now...?"

"You have to recharge?"

"Hai, Shuu-chan. Gomei nasai. Here, let's go to that solar panel and I'll do it there," she points.

The two stand and walk to a clear spot near a palm tree. Like Tomobiki, there were solar collectors all over Ryuunosuke's island, put there for convenience in case an android needed to relax and recharge her primary power pack. Atako lays down beside the large storage battery, draws out a magnetic sealer from a convenience bag, then opening herself up, slips in the power jack. "Let me lay on your legs, Shuu-chan," she gazes at him.

"Hai, Ta-chan," he allows her head to rest on his thighs as she switches to secondary power. "Can I admit something else?"

"Hai, Shuu-chan. What?"

He smiles. "I love you, Ta-chan."

She grins, seeing him reach down to hold her hand. "I love you too, Shuu-chan," she blinks. "And I'll be with you all the way to the end, my love. All the way..."

Silence falls again as Mendou gazes once more at the sea. Atako stares at him, wishing that there was some way to save him. But the regeneration matrix was of no help. The disintegration of Mendou's nervous system had gone too far. Soon, he would not be able to walk, then write, then feel anything. She couldn't even offer herself to him sexually; a man's libido was the first thing G-S destroyed. Oh, if only she could...

Her eyes widen. She could! Atako smiles as the sudden flash of inspiration settles in, her CCU analyzing the risk factors and making a very positive prediction as to the outcome. It would only take a day at most to make the primary preparations, then a week to get it all set up for the final ingredient to be inserted.

All she now needed was a blood sample...

* * *

The Galatea Syndrome

an Urusei Yatsura fanfic

by Fred Herriot


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Based on Urusei Yatsura, created by Rumiko Takahashi

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WARNING: This is a sometimes dark fic with lots of strange lemon scenes in it. If this isn't your style of fan fiction story, go elsewhere. All standard lemon fanfic/ASFR story warnings apply.

**** **** ****


"Why is Darling spending all his time at Shutaro's place?" Lum sighs as she slurps up a bowl of noodles. "I mean, yes, she cried a lot when she heard how many you can't save, Hotaru-chan, but why single him out for personal attention?"

"Before all this happened, didn't you want Shutaro and Ataru to be friends, Lum-chan?" the nurse crosses her arms. A week has passed since that pleasant Saturday. Both were now in Tampopo's, the Sagussan volunteering her time to help watch over her lover's restaurant whenever business didn't drag her somewhere. "Look, because they fought so often, there's an affinity between them. When Atako-chan was made to forget she's an android, she always talked to him, treated him with kindness and friendship. Then she remembers what she did. She feels guilty about it, Lum-chan. She wants to atone. So, she picks the one who represents what Ataru put all of them through, the one she does know very much, then elects to remain with him. Besides, you've been moping like a lovesick sandpanther over Noa not being here and totally ignoring Atako-chan. She's lonely, Lum-chan!"

Lum frowns. "Am I going to lose her, Hotaru-chan?"

"No, you won't," Hotaru shakes her head. "There is as many kinds of love as there are stars in the sky. Atako-chan's love for you is the love of marriage, the love of marei'cha. Her love for Shutaro is that of a person she really wishes could've been her best friend, a possible surei'cha perhaps," she shrugs, referring to men Sagussan women selected to be their children's fathers. "Give her the chance to make peace with Shutaro...then when the te'a claims him, be there for her."

"I will," Lum sighs...

* * *

Atako relaxes as she watches television in the living room. She would go to the Mendou estate later to spend a lovely evening with him watching a movie. However, Negako and Chigaiko were still in the house, now in their bedroom enjoying some music. Chuuko was at work, Kinshou and her brood were downtown shopping, Nagaiwakai and Shinobu were spending the day in their apartment and Lum was off somewhere. Atako frowns as she remembers the Oni's questioning looks whenever she went off to be with Mendou. It had been a touch of revenge she felt for ignoring her, but it soon washed away into guilt, knowing the Oni's feelings were hurt. She's YOUR life mate, stupid!! a part of her shouted every time. Why aren't you paying attention to her?! You love her, remember?!

Atako blinks as the door opens. "Is that you, Lum-chan?!" she looks over her shoulder.

"Hai, Darling!" Lum walks into the living room, a hesitant smile on her face as she sits beside her. "How are you doing? You going to see Shutaro later this evening?"

"Yeah," Atako reaches over to gently embrace her. "Lum-chan, look...I've got something to say. I'm sorry for not paying any attention to you over the last bit, but..."

"You want Shutaro's last days to be happy ones?" Lum smiles.

"Hai," Atako sighs. Damn, even now, Lum could read her mind. "I know I love you, but I love him too. I've had a special thing for him since I first became Atako and even now, that affects me very strongly. I want him to know that someone does care..."

"Hush, Darling," Lum kisses her. "I understand. I'm sorry I've been giving you such a guilt trip, but I want to make sure my lovely android Darling stays loyal to me!"

"I am loyal to you, my sexy Oni love doll!" Atako snickers as they kiss again. "And I think I'm going to please you now."

"Mmmm...take me," Lum croons...

...and the telephone rings! "AWWWW!!!!" both women scream as they fall to their sides, then glare angrily at the device whose noise just interrupted their trying to reaffirm their love.

Atako walks over and picks it up. "Hai, Moroboshi residence, Atako speaking. Whoever this is, you've got ten seconds to tell me what you want before I rip your motherboards out!"

"Did I interrupt you and Lum-chan, Atako-chan?" a flighty voice echoes over the line.

"Iyami-mama!" Atako then grins. "It's okay when it's you who's calling. Is there a problem?"

Lum grins on hearing the name. Iyami Bara (TB-4924) had, in repayment of Ataru's bonding her mother to Aoi Kisashi, been the leader of the group who had built the beautiful android before her in an attempt to save what was left of her Darling's disintegrating soul before his guilt killed him. In respect of that, Atako always applied the "-mama" appellation to each of them.

"She's ready," Iyami reports.

Atako's eyes widen. "Great!!" she breathes out, then stares at Lum. "I'll bring Lum-chan with me. We'll be there in ten."

"We're waiting," Iyami closes off the line.

"Something wrong?" Lum rises. "What did Iyami-chan want?"

Atako stares at her, grinning, her eyes shining with tears. Lum stares deeply into those brown orbs, then her eyes widen as she remembers why Iyami Bara and her family were so special to her.

"Darling, you didn't...!" she gasps.

"Hai, I did," Atako nods. "Look, we won't force it on him, okay? He has the choice. We can't do this to many others; he's one of the last G-S victims whose mind's still in good enough shape to make the mind transfer work successfully. I've already told everyone who might have someone else in mind for this to get the names in to Iyami-mama and the others as soon as they can; we've got two months before the last dies off. Now, c'mon...let's see what miracle those wonderful androids've worked up today!"

"Okay!" Lum nods as she follows Atako out of the house...

* * *

Moments later, they step into the Taian Commercial School's chemistry building. It pretty well served the same purpose as it always did, save for one room cordoned off for the exclusive use of the Special Projects Group of Noa Aruka Enterprises, the team of eight androids...the Bara sisters, the Kisashi twins and their lovers...who created Atako. Lum bites her lips as she wonders what will await her and Atako when they got inside. She hopes it will be better than when Atako first awoke; that had been a disaster!

Turning the corner, they step into a private lounge which was once part of a chemistry lab. Waiting there was Iyami herself. "Hello, Atako-chan, Lum-chan! You're just in time," she walks over to embrace them. "How are you?!"

"Fine now, Iyami-mama," Atako kisses Iyami's cheek. "Have you already tested her out?"

"Yes, unfortunately," Iyami waves a hand over her mouth, her eyes flashing considerable fatigue from an intense orgy. "She's just as randy as we made you, Atako-chan."

Atako shudders. "You're not going to disable our optic sensors when we go in there, will you?" Lum wonders.

"No, Lum-chan, you can relax," Iyami chuckles, then leads them to a door leading to the other side of the old lab. That part was divided into a small conversion chamber borrowed from the Hinan Apartment, and what Iyami called a "testing room." Lum remembers well her first time there. "She's programmed with everything she needs up to when his mind has to be loaded in. Ready?"

"Hai!" both nod.

"Go for it," she waves them inside.

The two exchange looks, then close their eyes as they step through the threshold, then hear the door close behind them. Turning right to face the bed, they open their eyes...and gape in shock and awe at what they see. "Beautiful!!" Atako gasps.

"Tcha!!" Lum echoes.

Now laying on her stomach diagonally across the mattress is a beautiful seventeen year old girl. As beautifully proportioned as Atako but not possessing the unnatural air of a fashion model, she has no clothes on. Her breasts, barely visible under the quilt she laid on, were very perky with large nipples, begging to be suckled. Her buttocks were firm, nicely rounded and quite inviting. The arms and legs were dreamy, slender but not too much. Her skin is also totally flawless, creamy with a touch of gold in it. It begs to be kissed, touched, caressed and fondled.

It is the face that is the most arresting detail, Lum stares at her. She had always been amazed that Iyami and the others had made Atako look so much like Ataru and still make her beautiful. With this one, there was no real need to worry. Her chin was nicely pointed, her lips having a bit of a natural pout, her stormy brown eyes, even deactivated, flashed intensity in all things she did. The hair was different. Not slicked back like Mendou's, it was shoulder length and straight as an arrow, his trademark cowlick part of a forest of bangs over her forehead. No surprise there, Lum knew, gazing at Atako. As a man, he always cut his hair off at the top of the neck. As a girl, she wore her hair down past her collarbones, a shaggy mass of brown that gave Atako a wild, almost untamable aura. This new android's aura was of a woman in control, willing to abide by a code of ethics and honour.

"Was I this beautiful when you first saw me?" Atako wonders.

"Oh, yes!" Lum nods. "I couldn't see your face, of course, but the body made my mouth water. I'm so glad Iyami-chan made you so beautiful, Darling," she gently grasps his hand. "And I'm so glad you're giving Shutaro another chance."

"Arigato, Lum-chan," Atako nods, then gazes at the unmoving android. "Well, shall we try her out?"

"Hai," Lum nods.

Both sit beside the android, then Atako reaches back into her vagina, touching her clit. A little of Luna's ribald humour here; Lum had to touch her clit when she and Shinobu came in to test the not-completely programmed Atako. The android blinks as her primary power comes on line, then she slides up into a kneeling position, revealing a trim stomach and a beautiful forest of black hair around her inviting vagina. She then smiles. "Hello, my friends. I am Android Unit Tee-Em-Three-Four-Five-Oh. I do not have a name as of yet. May I know your code numbers?"

"I'm Tee-En-Nine-Four-Four-Nine," Atako smiles.

"I'm Tee-You-Three-Three-Seven-Five," Lum hums.

The new android blinks, then warmly smiles. "I have been instructed by Iyami-mama to give you both as much pleasure as you would desire before you take me to show to my template. My primary power pack is at full capacity. May I begin?"

"Hai," both women nod readily...

* * *

"Mistress Atako is here, sir," a butler bows as soon as he walks into the atrium. "As is Mistress Lum."

"Send them in," Mendou nods, then lightly smiles.

Atako and Lum walk in, then stop, staring in horror on seeing Mendou now in a wheelchair, gazing at the broad expanse of the family estate outside a picture window. "Shuu-chan, are you okay?" Atako walks up, then kneels beside him, warmly taking his hand.

"I couldn't get out of bed this morning, Ta-chan," Mendou kisses her, then gazes at Lum. "It's been a while since you came here to see me, Lum-san. I'm glad to see you here."

"I'm glad to be here, Shutaro," Lum grips his hand. "Has your mother and sister been around to look in on you?"

"Yes," Mendou nods. "Things are so quiet here these days. No troops exercising outside, no jets flying overhead, no Kuromegane hanging over every word I utter. I actually like it very much."

"You can still like it, you know," Atako smiles. "Shuu-chan, I...I did something last week, just after the party on Ryuu-chan's island. Please don't be offended if you feel I've violated your privacy, but I felt I had to do it to save your life."

"Ta-chan, you can't save me," Mendou smiles lightly, hoping he wouldn't break Atako's heart.

"Oh?!" Atako winks, then claps her hands. "C'mon in."

Mendou blinks as he hears a third woman walk into the room. "Shutaro Mendou," Lum waves, "...meet Shutako Mendou."

He gasps in awe as the beautiful android constructed from his DNA steps in front of him, now in a silver girl's school uniform which was modelled after the silver boy's uniform he wore when going to Tomobiki High. Atako even took the time to apply some lipstick, eye shadow and mascara on Shutako's face. "Gods, you made an android of me?!" Mendou gasps, staring at Atako.

"Hai," Atako nods. "Look, we're going to do this to all the other terminal cases whose minds we can still save. We'll give them the choice of becoming an android, then if they say yes, we'll make the conversion. Most of the other ones, by the way, are older men who'd want to stay with their wives, try to rebuild their marriages and all that. The others are guys like you, who've repented what they did before and want another chance."

Mendou blinks, then gazes at the android before her. "I never thought I'd be so beautiful as a woman, Ta-chan."

"You are, Shuu-chan," Lum winks, then gazes at the android. "Shutako, take your clothes off, please."

Shutako immediately strips. "Gods!!!" Mendou exclaims as she does a slow circle to let him see everything. "I am beautiful!!"

"Hai, Shuu-chan," Atako grasps his hand. "Even more, there's someone on Sagussa who's volunteered to be your template when a clone body is prepared. But we can't hold you in cryofreeze until a body can be prepared, Shuu-chan; Galcron-Sigma isn't stopped by near-zero temperatures. This is the only way. Please!"

Mendou shudders, then blinks as Shutako leans down to cant his face to gaze into hers. "We must merge, you and I," the android warns. "Ta-chan loves you very much. Mother and Ryooko-chan love you, too. Many of the others will miss you if you choose to permit your life to expire. Through me, you can experience new things, live a new life, regain that which you've lost...not to mention keeping the hearts of those who care for you whole. There is no dishonour in starting over again. Please...for them."

He blinks, then smiles. "I'll like waking up every morning staring at your face."

Shutako and Lum beam. "All right!!!" Atako cries out as she embraces Mendou. "Let's get it done!!!"

* * *

Monday morning.

"Good morning, ladies," Shutako happily smiles at some passing Sanrinbou students as she walks down the street to school. When Ryooko and Haruka first saw her after her mind had been transferred out of its disintegrating organic shell, the sheer joy and love in their eyes finally gave she who was once Shutaro Mendou such peace. Now she knew how Atako felt when she had been reborn...then she remembers that Atako had been programmed never to know she was an android. Maybe I should've done that to myself, Shutako muses, then laughs. "Forget it! Oh, good morning, miss!" she nods to another student in a Syakkou Institute uniform.

She stops, gazing quizzically at her. "Um...this may sound like a strange question, but when were you built?"

"Three days ago," Shutako hums, realizing that the names of most of the androids hadn't been downloaded into her CCU. "I guess the news hasn't been relayed to everyone just yet. The town-wide cyberlink's tonight, right?"

"That's right, nine o'clock," the woman smiles. "You must be one of the G-S victims we're trying to save now. I'm Asako Yutaka, Unit Tee-Tee-Oh-One-Two-Nine," she offers her hand.

"Shutako Mendou, Unit Tee-Em-Three-Four-Five-Oh," Shutako shakes her hand. "A pleasure to meet you, Asako-san."

"Shutako...aah!!" she gasps, eyes widening in awe and shock on recognizing the man Shutako once was. "Mendou-san, is it you?!!"

"Hai!!" Shutako beams, then twirls. "Well, do I look nice?!"

"Oh, I should've guessed it was you from the uniform," Asako slaps her forehead. "You always wear a silver school uniform! I forgot that Atako-chan was determined to make you one of us! And yes, you're a very attractive woman!"

"So are you...aaah!" Shutako slaps her cheeks. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean for that to come out so bluntly!"

"Relax, Mendou-san," Asako giggles. "I complimented you, so it's okay to complement me in return."

"Gomen, Asako-san," Shutako sighs. "I'm just so afraid of taking any step that'll put me on the path which wound up with so many of you being hurt."

"It's okay, Mendou-san," Asako nods. "Say, you don't have to be at school right away, do you? Have time for breakfast?"

"Yeah, it's so early, I wanted to get out and walk around before I get to school," Shutako nods. It was only six-thirty. "Tampopo's is very nice."

"Tampopo's is ALWAYS nice!" she slips her arm around the newborn android's, then guides her down the street.

"Oh, Asako-san?"


"Please...call me Shuu-chan."

"Hai, Shuu-chan."

* * *

"Hey, sexy, looking good!" Atako whistles. "Get in here!"

"Hi, Ta-chan, Lum-chan!" Shutako bows to them, then walks up to the counter, Asako beside her. "Ohayo, Tampopo-san, Hotaru-sensei. A beautiful day, isn't it?!"

"I see Iyami-chan and her crew struck again," Tampopo laughs. "My, when Atako-chan said you'd come across, I hardly believed her. Information about you hasn't been transmitted out, you know."

"The news'll get out, Tampopo-chan," Atako winks as she nibbles on her beefbowl. "Believe me, when it comes to a sexy new android, the rumour mill runs better than cyberlinking. Ohayo, Asako-chan. How are you doing today?"

"I feel like a stranger," Asako admits. "You three have know each other for three years almost. I've only heard of Shuu-chan, the old one, through what everyone else says about him."

"Pretty bad things, I take it?" Shutako frowns.

"Oh...gomen nasai, Shuu-chan," Asako looks down. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings..."

"Asako-chan, please," Shutako gazes warmly at her. "I did many awful things to all of you when the conspiracy was controlling things in Tomobiki. Before that, I strung you all along, flirted with you shamelessly...and unlike Ta-chan, I didn't have Lum-chan to keep me in check! If people don't like me anymore, I accept that willingly. It's my penitence and I suffer it gladly."

"You don't have to suffer," she gazes warmly at her. "Many of us, those who had a crush on you, have always thought of you kindly, especially after the Galcron-Sigma. Believe me, we were all supportive of Atako-chan's idea to save your life. I'm very glad; after all, Iyami-chan and the others do such good work!"

Shutaro flushes at her compliment, then smiles contently. "It won't go back to those days, Asako-chan. I mean it."

"I know. In the meantime, mind telling me why you call Atako-chan 'Ta-chan?!'"

"Well, I call Tobimaro Mizunokoji 'Ton-chan' because we care for each other like brothers even though our families have feuded for so long," Shutako warmly grips Atako's hand. "I call Atako Moroboshi 'Ta-chan' because we care for each other in the same way. She found it in her heart to forgive me for my past sins as Shutaro and I certainly forgive her for hers as Ataru. We're sisters now."

"I'm glad for both of you," Asako nods.

"And speaking of which," Atako kisses Shutako's cheek, "...I'm going to pamper my spirit-sister today. Tampopo-chan, one beefbowl with tempura for Shuu-chan and Asako-chan will have the beefbowl with shrimp. My treat!"

"Hai!" Tampopo turns to the stove.

Asako smiles, then blinks. "Please excuse me for a moment," she rises. "I'm just going to go to the washroom."

"Are you okay?" Shutako gazes concernedly at her.

"I'm fine," Asako smiles, then walks into the bathroom.

As soon as the door closes, Lum rises. "I'll go check on her, Shuu-chan," she waves as she flies after the other android.

"Did I say something wrong?" Shutako stares at Atako.

"Asako-chan...look, Shuu-chan, I don't want to intrude on her privacy," Atako gazes at her. "As androids, we share knowledge as best as we can. Sometimes, I wish we didn't share it all, though."

Shutako nods understandingly. In the bathroom, Lum gazes at Asako, who now stares at herself in the mirror, her glasses off as her tears flow. "There are days I want to rip every circuit out of my body and die, Lum-chan," the latter bites her lips. "You've never known real loss. I envy you."

"Asako-chan, you couldn't help what happened," Lum shakes her head. "So many have wanted to see you happy, to see you whole again! Please, do it! You're single, Shuu-chan's single. And with the Shoozooki still around because of those damn converters of theirs, we all have to stand together, especially since we're so close to finally getting what we want."

"I know," Asako sniffs. "My classmates have all said the same thing. But I lost a man I dearly loved, even after the retro-virus gave my life back. It wasn't Kenji-kun's fault that I became so alluring that he had to do me every which way, that I became his personal property. I've never blamed him, Lum-chan. I've never hated him. I've always loved him, even in death."

"If that's the way you see it, we won't stop you," Lum sighs. "But right now, I can see it in your eyes. You need someone, now more than ever. Take the chance, Asako-chan. It'll be worth it."

Asako sighs, then nods. "I will," she smiles at the Oni, then shrugs. "Maybe I should call the school and tell them I'll be spending a day at Tomobiki High."

"Go for it," Lum laughs...

* * *

"Why, a visiting student!" Hanawa smiles as Asako comes up. "And who might you be, young lady?"

"I'm Asako Yutaka, Syakkou Institute Class Three-Nine, Hanawa-sensei," Asako bows. "I'll just be here for a day."

"Oh, my!" the teacher smiles. "All you ladies visiting each other all the time. The community spirit you show is so inspiring. Now, who might this lady be?" he turns to Shutako.

He doesn't even recognize me?! Shutako blinks, then bows, remembering Atako's words about not directly connecting herself to Shutaro. "I'm Shutaro Mendou's cousin, Shutako Mendou, Hanawa-sensei. My...brother passed away suddenly over the weekend. I was going to join him in classes from now on..." she weakly shrugs.

"I'm so sorry for your loss, Shutako-kun," Hanawa bows in respect. "Mendou-kun was a very fine student. But sometimes, the gods demand we return to Heaven. Perhaps a wake should be held..."

"Oh, no thank you, Hanawa-sensei!" Shutako shakes her head. "My family would prefer to mourn in private. Thank you for your very fine thoughts. I pray I will be worthy to stand in my late cousin's place."

"I'm sure you will, Shutako-kun," Hanawa smiles. "That's the spirit people need when they come here. Have a good day."

"Hai!!" Shutako nods as Hanawa heads off, then waits until she, Asako, Atako and Lum get clear. "Doesn't he realize...?"

"No and we don't ask!" Atako hisses. "Let's get to class!"

As the four head inside, their classmates watch from the windows to room 337. "Shit, Shuu-chan's a babe!!" Aisuko whistles, then grins. "But not in Mikan-chan's class!"

"Loyal as always, eh, Aisuko-chan?!" Lan smiles. "That always was your best quality...and your worst!"

"How right you are, Lan-chan, how right you are," Aisuko nods. "Say, who's the Syakkou girl beside her?"

"Asako Yutaka, Aisuko-chan," Shinobu sighs, looking down. "You won't remember this very well, but if there's one android in this town who could hate Ataru Moroboshi because of what he did with the Galcron-Sigma, it's her. We'll explain it later."

The guards exchange confused looks...

* * *

"Hey, Shuu-chan!" Atako steps into study hall later.

"Hai, Ta-chan?" Shutako and Asako look up from their textbook, then the former sighs, slapping her skull on seeing who's with Atako. "Oh, no, you're not going to ask me to...?!"

"What do you think?" Atako giggles, then gazes at the four nice young fellows beside her. The four were sophomores from Tamiko Seikou's class, who now stare curiously at the beautiful androids with them. "Look, Shuu-chan, we're functionally bisexual as androids. We'll be that way when we become organic. These guys didn't know about the conspiracy until they moved into town. You have to learn how to be comfortable with a guy sooner or later; might as well do it now. C'mon, let's have fun."

Shutako blinks, then gazes at Asako. "You mind?"

"Of course not," the latter hesitantly smiles. "I guess I have to get back into the loop again, so to speak. Well," she stands, gazing at the boys. "Do you understand what we are?"

"Hai, Yutaka-sempai," one bows, then meekly smiles. He is a slender boy with black hair and brown eyes, his smile very pretty. "I...wow, I mean, it's hard to believe even after you see some of the girls open themselves up and do things, y'know."

"That's good," Asako nods. "So, where shall we go?"

"The gymnasium equipment room's free right now," Atako winks.

"Let's go!" Lum nods.

They make their way out of study hall, then head out of the school proper to the equipment shed beside the gymnasium. Outside the teacher's lounge, this was the most popular making out zone on campus. Making their way inside, Lum locks the door, then sighs. "Okay, let's introduce ourselves," she beams. "I'm Lum. This is my Darling, Atako Moroboshi. If you've not heard, Darling was a man, Ataru Moroboshi. This is Shutako Mendou, who herself was a man until three days ago, Shutaro Mendou. And that's Asako Yutaka beside her. Now, why don't you introduce yourselves, please?"

"I'm Kameo Shimau," the first boy bows.

"I'm Tanaka Inoshishi," the second boy, one with spiky brown hair and green eyes, bows next.

"I'm Mikawa Wazawa," the third boy, a grey eyed and silver haired lad, then bows.

"I'm Hitomi Yanagi," the fourth boy, a freckled lad with brown hair and grey eyes, bows. "Honoured."

"Okay," Lum nods. "Now, we're programmed to give you total pleasure in whatever way you desire within reason, but don't think for a moment that you can control us. We're not slaves."

"We understand that, Lum-sempai," Tanaka nods. "Actually, we're not really interested in going all out with you. I don't think we're really ready for that, though we could change our minds...but can we please spend some time alone with each of you?"

"Fair enough," Lum nods. "Always good to start slow. Now, whom do you desire?"

* * *

"A lot of us heard what you went through when Moroboshi-san used the Galcron-Sigma, Yutaka-sempai," Mikawa smiles sadly as he and Hitomi sit with Asako and Shutako at one end of the shed. No one has yet come to take off their clothes. "We're really sorry for your loss. We hope you'll find happiness soon."

"Thank you very much, Mikawa-kun," Asako nods, her eyes watering. "Everyone's been so sympathetic to me lately. I don't know what to say to you all."

Shutako gazes at her. "Asako-chan, can you tell me? I want to understand what's going on, too."

"Hai, Shuu-chan," Asako nods. "Well, it all really started after Ataru-kun hunted down the Shoozooki agents who were based here in Tomobiki. You were in the hospital then, I think..."

* * *

Eleven months ago, near the Moroboshi home.

A crowd of androids had begun to converge near Ataru's home. A simple two storey building stood before them, black cordite marks all over, fires still burning. Asako led a small delegation from Syakkou, including the Kisashi twins and their lovers. "Ryuu-chan, Kinshou-chan, what's going on here?!" she gazes quizzically at Ryuunosuke as Kinshou and the rest of Class 3-4 approach.

"We found out who did this," Ryuunosuke announces, then gazes at the building. "A pack of aliens came into class, kidnapped Lum-chan, Shinobu-chan, Benten and Oyuki, nearly killed us, then make off with them. Ataru-kun's in there now cleaning house!"

"We heard the explosions all the way from Syakkou!" Akui Kisashi (TK-2884) stares at the building, Luna Hamilton (TH-7991) holding her hand. "It sounded like World War Three had dropped in on us!!"

Sophia Marakov (TM-1301) blinks. "Ryuunosuke Fujimiovich, you said you were nearly killed...bozhe moi!!" her eyes widen.

Everyone gapes as a tall man dressed in a black security guard's uniform walks into the light. Wearing glasses, he is unbelievably handsome, his chestnut hair stylishly combed, green eyes glittering unnaturally. Hearts appear in the eyes of the other androids. "I never thought I'd ever see a male android in my life...especially such a hunkster!!!" Luna drools.

"Greetings, ladies," he smiles bemusedly. "You may address me as Joseph; for your information, my unit code is Oh-Ay-One-Nine-Two-Eight-Two-Jay. I represent someone who desires to help you ladies regain that which you've lost...your humanity."

"I'd stay an android for you!!" Minari Bara (TB-4725) gushes.

Agreeing hoots echo from the other women. "Ladies, I'm not programmed with sexual routines, so your words do not arouse me."

The girls visibly deflate. "What a tragedy!" Tiara O'Keefe (TO-4799) moans. "To be denied the right to have happiness..."

Joseph smiles. "However, we should await the Daimon'cha and his Other's success...ah!" he looks left.

Everyone turns to see Lum and Shinobu stagger out of the building, several serious rips in their skin. "Lum-chan, Shinobu-chan, are you alright?!" Kinshou cries out as she races up to embrace them. "What did they do to you...?!"

"I'm okay, Kinshou-chan," Lum smiles, then looks down, her eyes watering. "Darling told us you had to...do it with him to clear out that gunk the Shoozooki put into his system..."

"I know," she looks down. "Still, he is my son and I couldn't stand by and allow him to race off to rescue you without ensuring he is healthy. Sinful or no, I did save his life. Still, I guess that's what made him so angry when he went to find you. Besides," she then smiles, "...he said I was the best lover he had all day!"

Everyone stares at Ataru's mom in stunned shock and disbelief, then laughs. "So, what's the deal with tall, strong and handsome here?" Asako indicates Joseph.

More footfalls are heard, followed by crying. Everyone turns to see Ataru emerge from the building. Slung over his shoulder is his grandfather's gaikatana and an automatic rifle he obtained from the weapons stores in Noa's apartment. In his arms is a whimpering Benten. Oyuki walks out with him. "Benten-chan, Oyuki-chan!!!" Lan cries out as she races up to them. "Are you alright?!!"

The hooded looks on their faces cause the Seishin android to pause. "I'm a fuckin' machine now, Lan-chan..." Benten whimpers.

"Oh, no, them too?!!" Kinshou gasps.

"Hai, them too," Lum sadly nods, then gazes intently at Joseph. "Darling said you helped him rescue us, pointed to this place where we were being held. Thank you, Joseph-san," she bows.

"You're welcome, Lum-san," he nods. "As I said before, I represent someone who could help you become human again. She has, with the cooperation of the United Nations, arranged to have a secure location established for you to maintain yourselves until new organic bodies can be provided. If you'll all come with me, I will take you there, restore Lum-san and Shinobu-san to proper operational levels, then explain what we will offer you."

The other androids nod. Ataru sighs, then moves to carry Benten off to the apartment. Kinshou falls alongside him. "Are you alright, Ataru-chan?" she gazes worriedly at him.

"I'm okay, Mom," he wanly smiles at her. "I got rid of the people here on Earth who stabbed you in the back. I got only part of your revenge, though."

The androids gaze at him, surprised to hear "revenge" come out of Ataru and not the saikoo jinseijitsu. "Ataru-kun, are you alright?!" Nagisa falls back to walk alongside Oyuki.

"I'm fine, Nagisa-chan," he icily grins, a dangerous glimmer in his eyes projecting the look of a hawk hunting prey. "After what Joseph just told me, you're going to be fine too. Then, then things'll be better, much better...once we've eliminated the creeps who provided the nanites to convert you in the first place."

The others blink worriedly...

* * *

"So that's when he began to change, plunge down to the point where he was going to use the Galcron-Sigma," Shutako shudders.

"Hai," Asako nods. "It was gradual at first. He butchered two hundred people that night, shot them down without mercy. He didn't intend to allow anyone to live, Shuu-chan."

"But that's when you found out about Noa-sama's offer to make you human again, right?" Mikawa wonders.

"Hai, Mikawa-kun," Asako nods, then breathes in as she gazes at the ceiling. "Believe me, that was the happiest night of all our lives. Finding out we weren't alone, finding out a little bit about the Sagussans, seeing the apartment and how much they and the SCAA prepared for us. For the next week, we celebrated."

"At the same time, they had to get routines set down to adjust to the new reality," Shutako adds. "The people manning the duty watch at the Hinan Apartment. Setting up the cyberlinking network so they could keep track and update each other with information. Telling everyone about the conspiracy, the Shoozooki. Programming the central monitor unit, keeping track of that. Helping people bond with each other so they could defend themselves against new viruses. It was natural but..." she gazes sadly at Asako, "...all we other men saw was that we'd lost total control of all of you."

Asako gazes at her. "I never felt that way...about one man," she looks down. "Shuu-chan, the reason I'm single right now...is that I never bonded with another android when Ataru-kun freed us. I never saw the need; I knew who I loved. His name was Kenji; he was a fellow student at Syakkou."

"Did he...?!" Shutako tenses.

"Somewhat," Asako shrugs, her eyes tearing. "I never had a lover before I became an android, Shuu-chan. I was quite naive back then, which made me perfect to be converted. Kenji-kun and I met shortly after. He knew about the whole thing, went along with it...but he never slept with anyone else other than me. He was loyal to me and only me. When I became free, I believed strongly that I could teach him to love me as an equal."

"That was very brave of you, Sempai," Hitomi smiles.

"Thank you, Hitomi-kun," Asako nods. "Education was the way to heal Tomobiki, I believed. Many of us did, many of us wanted to try as best we could to help those we cared for come back. I tried with Kenji-kun. But...now, I'll never know if I succeeded."

"The Galcron-Sigma," Shutako's eyes widen in horror.

"Hai," Asako nods, tears flowing...

* * *

Nine months ago, Asako Yutaka's apartment.

Asako smiles as she stirs the stew, humming a happy tune. The apartment she lived in once belonged to her parents, who abandoned her when she became an android. These days, she didn't mind being alone; here she was, a seventeen year old girl living alone with a boy her age. While he sometimes acted as if she was still his love slave, Kenji Minemura was showing signs of improvement. Perhaps in a month or so, she'll finally be able to persuade him to marry her. After all, with the Sagussans planning to grow new bodies for them, she would be able to bear his children, give him a real family.

"Asako-chan, is it done?" he calls out from the living room.

"It's almost ready, Kenji-kun!!" Asako smiles, then walks into the living room to gaze at him. "Care for a little appetizer?"

Kenji shudders as he watches her slip off her cooking apron, revealing a T-shirt...and nothing else! "Asako-chan..." he gapes on seeing her lovely black forest of pubic hair, then stares at her face confusedly. "Why, Asako-chan?! Why do you still want me?!"

"Why not?!" she walks over to sit in his lap. Kenji is a man her height, with curly brown hair and brown eyes. Quite handsome by anyone's standards, he was now dressed in a T-shirt and jeans. "Kenji-kun, you made mistakes with me, but they weren't bad ones. I was abandoned, remember? You protected me, kept me safe while I was still under the influence. I'm grateful to you. I want a relationship between us to work out, to be a loving relationship. We can do it, Kenji-kun. I believe in us."

He blinks, then smiles. "It's hard, Asako-chan."

"I know," she rises, placing her muff right in his face. "Well, sir? Care to sample my lovely android delights?"

"Hmmm...maybe later," he hums. "I'm hungry for food first."

"Hai!" she nods, heading to the kitchen.

Good, the stew was ready. Stirring it, she looks outside the window. They were on the fifteenth floor of a high rise five blocks from Syakkou. The Hinan Apartment was visible in the near distance, quite close to the triple towers marking Tomobiki's district centre. Her eyes then notice a hovercycle flying high up.

"Hey, who's up there?!" Kenji calls out from the balcony.

Asako walks out to join him, her telescopic vision extending to focus on the man sitting on the Sagussan airbike. "It's Ataru-kun!" she gasps, her eyes widening.

"What's he doing up there?" Kenji muses.

"I don't know..." Asako blinks as she sees Ataru load two shells into a photon shotgun, a twin barrel breach-loading weapon similar to an M-79 grenade launcher. Taking aim, he fires. Asako's eyes follow the shells until they streak over the Mendou estate, then explode, releasing a fine white powder to spread like a miasmic cloud over that part of Tomobiki.

"What's that?!" Kenji wonders.

"I don't know," Asako shakes her head, then notices Ataru loading new shells into his weapon, flipping it to aim right at them. Her eyes lock on his face, then widen in horror as she sees no emotion in his brown orbs. No smile, no frown, no laugh, no anger. Just frightful calm. If there was anything human left in Ataru at that moment in time, it was gone.

A shell explodes over their head, the white cloud billowing over them. Asako's skin sensors analyze it immediately, detecting that it is some sort of highly complex chemical similar to many types of insecticide. Now, what was he doing spreading that...?

Her eyes then widen as she hears Kenji's coughing. Looking left, she sees him leaning over the rail, blood leaking from his mouth and nose as his skin paled horribly. "Kenji-kun!!!" she moves to support him. "What's wrong?!! Are you okay!!"

He gazes confusedly at her, then his eyes roll into his head as he staggers drunkenly away, sauntering blindly to the side of the balcony...then flips over before the shocked Asako could leap over to grab him. She reaches the edge, staring down in horror at the receding figure, unable to look away as he fell to his doom.


* * *

"Oh, gods!!" Shutako stares in horror at Asako.

Hitomi and Mikawa are crying as Asako looks down at herself, her own eyes watering. "Now, you see why people are so sorry for me!" she smiles lightly. "The others've tried so desperately to find me someone to take Kenji-kun's place, but no one could compare to him in my eyes...until you, Shuu-chan."

Shutako jolts on feeling her gaze, then she stares at her as if she had just met her for the first time. What she sees is a beautiful woman his height with sparkling blue eyes and long black hair combed in spikes over her forehead and tied in a ponytail. Her eyes shone with the pain of her personal tragedy...and the spark of love for her. "Asako-chan!" she gasps. "Why me?!"

"Because you're like Kenji-kun in many ways, Shuu-chan," Asako smiles. "You too suffered horrendously because of Ataru Moroboshi. But unlike him, you learned, then moved past it. I admire that very much and, if you desire me, would gladly become your lover."

Shutako shudders, then drops to her knees and prostrates herself to her. "Asako-chan, I am so unworthy of you!"

"Rise, Shuu-chan," she smiles. "You're very worthy. Please, will you love me?"

"I will, Asako-chan...I will!" Shutako looks up, smiling.

She rises, then falls into Asako's tender embrace as they passionately kiss. Nearby, Hitomi and Mikawa exchange a knowing smile, then tenderly hold hands. "We're very happy for you," the former smiles. "We wish you both a happy life together."

"Thank you...what is this?!" Asako blinks on seeing their holding hands, then she gapes at them. "Are you...?!"

"Hai, we're lovers," Mikawa nods. "We're very sorry to have deceived you, Yutaka-sempai, but there's a reason for it."

"What reason?!" Shutako wonders.

Suddenly, Atako, Lum, Kameo and Tanaka walk up. Shutako and Asako stare at them, then gape on seeing the other two boys also holding hands. "Ta-chan, what's going on here?!" Shutako gasps.

"Sorry, Shuu-chan, Asako-chan," Atako bites her lips. "Yes, Kameo-kun and Tanaka-kun are lovers too. They got into contact with me a couple weeks ago and told me their problem. All of them are terminally ill. Kameo-kun and Mikawa-kun have the same type of leukaemia as what nearly claimed Chigaiko-chan. Tanaka-kun has Hifuto Syndrome, an alien version of leprosy someone left here when they came through Tomobiki a year back. Hitomi-kun has HIV from a bad blood transfusion when he was a kid and is now about to get full-blown AIDS. Their pain brought them together and they don't want to stand the pain of watching each other die at different times. If they have to die one day, they'll do it together as a couple. Simply put, they want to live...and want us to help."

Asako gapes. "You want to be androids?!"

"Hai, Yutaka-sempai!" Mikawa nods. "We know it means we'll become girls. We don't mind that; in fact, we're really happy because then, we can bear our own children. Gays have it rougher than lesbians or bis; where could we get children we could raise? Now we have an option, when we become organic down the road."

"Their bodies are being prepared right now by Iyami-chan and the others," Lum reports. "Once they're ready, the mind-transfer will occur right away."

"Oh, thank the gods!" Shutako breathes out, then smiles at Atako. "Ta-chan, you really are something, you know that?!"

"I've sunk to the depths of hatred and anger, Shuu-chan," Atako smiles at her, then gazes sadly at Asako. "You suffered for that more than anyone else, Asako-chan. But now I want to embrace the heights of love and charity."

"Good for you, Atako-chan," Asako nods, beaming.

"There's another problem," Atako sighs. "Their families dropped them like hot potatoes when they found out about their relationships. They've been living at Toranoseishin Finances for the last three weeks at Grandma's expense. But what they need now are stable homes they can call their own. Lum-chan and I've agreed to allow Kameo-kun and Tanaka-kun to live with us at the house. Negako-chan will move into Chigaiko-chan's home full time since they've got the room. Shuu-chan, Asako-chan, will you allow Mikawa-kun and Hitomi-kun to live with you at the estate?!"

"Of course!" Shutako nods.

"Arigato!!" Hitomi and Mikawa readily bow.

A knock is heard at the door. "Hai, just a minute!" Lum runs to the doorway, then opens it. "What is it, Shinobu-chan?!"

Shinobu leans in. "Atako-chan, call from the factory! Iyami-chan says they're ready whenever our would-be sisters are!!"

The four soon-to-be androids grin happily, Shutako and Asako embracing. "Alright, let's go!!" Atako whoops...

* * *

Hours later, Atako, Lum, Shutako and Asako relax at the Taian Commercial School's chemistry building's lounge enjoying coffee as they wait like expectant parents for the Special Projects Group to finish their work. Atako and Asako exchange looks, then look away as their eyes flash a desire to do something to overcome the gap between them. Lum and Shutako gaze at their lovers, then sigh. "Darling, say what you have to say, please!!" the Oni gazes at her. "If you want to say you're sorry to Asako-chan, say it!"

Atako sighs, then bows to Asako. "Asako-chan, please, will you accept my deepest apologies for what I did to you as Ataru. Believe me, you have no idea how guilty I've felt all this time about all the misery I unleashed then...!"

"Atako-chan," Asako smiles.


"I've never been angry at you," she points at her. "You are different from Ataru...and way different from the monster you were the day Kenji-kun died. I've know that all along and I've never held you as Atako responsible for Kenji-kun's death. When you were still in the dark about being an android, I want you to know that I voted to continue keeping you in the dark so that you wouldn't feel the guilt you feel now. Besides, I am grateful for one thing you've done," she reaches over to gently grasp Shutako's hand.

Atako blinks, then smiles as she and Asako embrace, then everyone blinks as they hear someone cough. Turning, they see Sophia standing there. "Pardon me, tovarishka, but I believe you'd like to meet these lovely androids," she waves.

First to enter is a beautiful, slender girl with wide brown eyes and long black hair, possessing the trim body of an Olympic-level swimmer. She is now in the proper Tomobiki High School girl's uniform. "Hello, everyone," she speaks with an innocent lilt, beaming. "I used to be Kameo Shimau. You can now call me Hisako Shimau. I am Unit Tee-En-Nine-Four-Five-One."

Next to come is a very well exercised girl with her spiky brown hair done in a high ponytail like Asako's and Makoto's. "Hello, everyone," she grins happily, projecting a streetsmart demeanour. "I used to be Tanaka Inoshishi. You can now call me Tanako Inoshishi. I am Unit Tee-En-Nine-Four-Five-Two."

To follow is a very bouncy, bosomy girl with short-cut silver grey hair, a wholesome type any mother would desire as a daughter. "Hi, everyone," she winks. "I was Mikawa Wazawa, but now I'm just Mika Wazawa. I'm Unit Tee-Em-Three-Four-Five-One, by the way."

Finally, there is a beautiful girl covered in freckles with her long brown hair tied in side-by-side French braids, the innocent sprite who would steal anyone's heart. "Hello, my friends," she bows respectfully. "I used to be Hitomi Yanagi, but since that can also be a girl's name, I'll stay with it. Oh, and I'm Unit Tee-Em-Three-Four-Five-Two, if you want to know."

The four older androids exchange delighted looks, then open their arms as their new friends race into their embrace. "More satisfied customers as Kiesha would say," Sophia grins...

* * *

To be concluded...