3 days had passed since Zyuoh Raven's sacrifice. It was morning and Yamato, Sela, Leo, Tusk and Amu were doing chores at their home, Atelier Mori. Mario was out, buying materials for his next project, so he asked them to help him out with the upkeep of his property. He never remembered anything about the Frozen Forest happening, nor did anybody else in Japan. All they knew was that a giant robot showed up out of nowhere and started murdering civilians. As for those who lost their lives before then, they were treated as mysterious disappearances, their loved ones would never have closure. It left a wound in the Zyuohgers and sometimes, they couldn't help thinking they failed those people.
Mario's absence proved convenient, as Misao and the obvious Zyuman, Larry, entered without warning to interrupt their labor. "Buenos dias, amigos, there is good news!" said Larry.
"First of all, I'm back to my old self, as you can see. My rib still stings a little sometimes, but the doctor assured me it'll heal up soon." said Misao.
"Hey, good for you, buddy!" said Leo. The five residents applauded their friend's recovery.
"And what of Bud?" asked Yamato.
"He came out of his coma a few hours ago. He's recovering quickly and they plan to discharge him tomorrow. I owe Misao a great debt for saving his life." said Larry.
"Oh, you don't owe me nothing. Saving people is what we live for, y'know." said Misao, absolving the debt.
"Even so, I'll always be grateful to you. Anytime you guys need me, I'll be sure to come to your aid." After updating them on the welfare of their ally, Larry turned his attention to Sela. There was another matter that concerned her specifically. "Before I take my leave, Shirou asked me to send Sela his invitation." he said.
"Shirou did?" asked Sela.
"That time, when he just disappeared after the fight with G.I.F.T., I never thought he'd come back. If he's willing to talk now, he must have something very important to discuss with you." said Tusk.
"You mean like, gasp, marriage?!" asked Amu.
Tusk facepalmed. "That's definitely not what I meant, at all."
"Si, I expect he has a good reason. He wants to meet on Jun's yacht. This is the time and address." said Larry. He handed Sela an envelope containing the information.
Even though they won the battle for Earth's future, there were still a few loose ends. In order to see them resolved, she knew this was the opportunity she needed. Not just her, but everyone wanted closure for that event. "I'll hear him out." she said. She opened the envelope and examined the contents.
A few hours later and now it was afternoon, which as Shirou specified in his letter was when the meeting was arranged to take place. Sela navigated through the docks, looking for 'Jun', where she would find him. The distinct stench of saltwater and fish nearby made her realize, it was lunchtime and she was hungry, her ears attuned to the growling in her stomach. Maybe he would have food to spare, she hoped. Eventually, she found Jun, the boat, and Shirou was there waiting for her arrival.
"So this is what you inherited from Jun. Eccentric, naming her after himself." said Sela.
"A perk of being a dude with a unisex name, I guess. How about you? 'Sela' sounds like a fitting name for a yacht, given the Greek derivation." said Shirou.
"I don't even own a yacht." Then Sela remembered she probably wasn't here for small talk. "Hey, why did you call me out?" she asked, a little irritated.
"It's a sensitive matter. Come aboard and I'll explain the situation." he replied. As he entered his lounge, Sela rolled her eyes and followed him, albeit reluctantly.
Inside, there was a table with a laptop, chairs and more importantly, a stocked refrigerator.
Hearing the occasional growling, Shirou opened it and retrieved a fresh can of mackerel. "Here, you should probably eat this." he said, giving Sela the cold served fish.
"Thanks." she replied, before immediately feasting on it. Shirou then proceeded towards the cockpit and started the boat's engine. "Are we going somewhere?" asked Sela.
"Sorry, Sela, this ain't a social call. Before I can disclose any details to you, we need to get away from potential spies." he replied. They weren't headed for anywhere specific, more like the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by sea where they could talk in privacy.
After reaching the isolated area, Shirou returned to the lounge and sat on a chair opposite where Sela was sitting, with the table and laptop between them.
"Okay, so we're all alone. I think you owe me some answers. About why you disappeared that day." demanded Sela.
"Of course, I was afraid you wouldn't come. You're right, you deserve to know the truth and I feel obliged to honor that. I assure you, I had a good reason for taking off the way I did." said Shirou. He took out a Black Ops issue USB memory and placed it on the table.
"What's this?" asked Sela.
"That day, after G.I.F.T. 3.0.1. was destroyed, I went back on my own to look for Cubegirl. There was no trace of her, but I did find this under the Link Cube. It's a dead drop Jun left behind, 'dead' being quite literal in this case. Anyway, check it out." said Shirou.
He inserted it in the laptop's port and opened the file within, named 'cbgl.jpg'. On the monitor, there was now a map of their world with a series of numbers, including Jun's name and those of the intended recipients.
"Hey, these are co-ordinates." said Sela.
"That's right. They pinpoint another Coalescence facility in Singapore. It may hold the answers we're looking for." said Shirou.
"I'm not so sure. Something doesn't add up." said Sela. She walked out to the back deck to clear her head with fresh air. "I don't understand how Jun could have acquired this intel while he was dead, dormant, or whatever. And I don't really get why he would want me to know about it. All we have is this dead drop from beyond the grave, which could mean anything." said Sela, looking out at the calm waters.
Shirou stood beside her, disappointed that he couldn't provide her with an adequate explanation. "I suppose Jun already told you, that he was actually a qualified marine biologist. That's how he knew what you were, that you would hear his signal and why he entrusted you with that weapon." he said.
Sela took out her Shark Jawzer, recalling what Jun told her.
"It's called the Shark Jawzer. - When Corvus infected me, I saw it in a vision where all my knowledge somehow started to come together to conceive a device that can temporarily disable the effects of Zyuman Power. - I wrote up a blueprint and ordered it on the 54i black market. Didn't tell Shirou since he hates 54i, like, a lot. Anyway, I think you should have it."
She figured there was more to it than he told her. "Jun claimed he saw it in a vision. Except now, I believe that was only a fraction of the truth. I mean, with a name like 'Shark Jawzer' and an ability to reproduce ammo like a shark spawns new teeth, it's like he intended for me to have it before he even knew who I was. This was his vision, not Corvus, not the Link Cube. A weapon designed to channel the power unique to my kind." said Sela.
"Very insightful, although I wonder about the legitimacy of his benefactor." said Shirou.
Sela hesitated for a moment, worried about how Shirou would react to finding that out. "He told me what happened between you and your unit. I can't imagine how hard that was for you, losing them both and being the one who pulled the trigger." she said, changing the subject. Her sentiment was sincere though.
"You already killed Yamato once." he reminded.
Sela wasn't sure that it was fair to compare the dilemma she went through to the permanent loss he had to live with. "He's not dead anymore. He got lucky, we both did. You, you didn't."
"But now you understand how it feels, to have to kill someone you care about. Yuki and I were close. But she chose her side and I did what I was trained to do. Jun consoled me, until I lost him as well. I was the only fully organic human in our party and I was left alone. I didn't realize until now how wrong I was. Even though he's dead, he's still here, he's still my partner. Forever. He's given us this lead and I'm going to follow it!" The determined man then looked over at Sela. "What about you?" he asked.
Sela's desire to seek out the answers was matched by her commitment to keeping the world safe from harm. "As much as I really want to, Shirou, I just can't. It's not an option. As long as the Deathgaliens remain a threat to innocent lives, I can't go to Singapore, not while they could be planning their next move even as we speak. Zyuoh Raven was proof that formidable opponents can come from any place at any time, our stories intertwined in a way nobody could have predicted. So I need to stay with my team and I believe, together, we can be ready to take on whatever new challenges we face. That's my duty." she said.
Although it wasn't the decision Shirou was expecting, his expression showed that he was impressed nonetheless by her sense of priorities. "Very well, I have no intention of standing in the way of your mission. We may fight on different fronts but we're both soldiers connected by our hearts of justice. And I'm honored to have served with you." he said, saluting her respectfully.
Sela grinned at his compliment before returning the gesture. "Have a safe journey!" she said.
They parted ways. Shirou rallied a unit to raid the Coalescence facility in Singapore while Sela remained in Japan to continue the fight against the Deathgaliens.
Speaking of the Deathgaliens, one of their generals, Cubal, was already plotting his next sinister agenda on the Sagittariark.
He tipped over the operating table in his lab, now a mess of blood and scrap. It seemed he had taken his defeat hard. "Those accursed Zyuohgers and Nalia! Once more, another perfectly flawless plan shattered by their interference! Now I have only one last card up my sleeve. Zyuohgers, Nalia, you will become my unwitting pawns and this time, Ginis will fall. I vow on my life, Ginis will fall, dammit!" he said.
Having exhausted his tantrum, he left his littered laboratory to set the trap.
The day concluded with no further noteworthy events. And then, the following day, dawn broke in Singapore!
Another lab, this one illuminated in white and operations within it conducted and overseen by human scientists. Cubegirl was on an operating table, sedated, her body still intact. For now at least. Two scientists wearing masks were trying to break through her firewall.
"So what kind of maniac would do this to a kid?" asked the younger in perfect English.
"Cordis Die, 54i, some other terrorist faction, I don't care. I'm more interested in whatever's in her DNI that the doctor wants so much." replied the elder using the same language.
Suddenly, they were alerted by the cry of sirens and the lighting changed to flashing red of danger!
That was when the younger started to panic. "Oh no, they're inside the facility. I want to get out of here!" he said.
The elder slapped him in the face with a glove. "Shut the hell up and do your damn job, you do what I tell you! Proceed with the operation, I'll go check out the noises." he commanded.
The younger felt compelled by fear to comply as he continued fighting the DNI's advanced security, trying his best to keep his hands steady.
The elder investigated the corridor just beyond the room and shut the door behind him. Smoke was accumulating, limiting his vision, but he could hear the hissing sound of its source nearby. A military issue smoke screen, he figured.
He was promptly ambushed from behind by a man in armor and a mask, restraining him with an assault rifle pressed against his throat, loose enough that it wouldn't inhibit his ability to breathe and talk, yet tight enough to make him squirm. There were others as well, watching his six.
"Where's the girl?!" he demanded.
"Screw you!" replied the elder. He pulled a small knife from his pocket and slipped free, immediately taken down by a few bullets through his chest!
"Get that door!" ordered the masked man.
They bust through, ready to fire upon any who posed a threat, finding the younger as the only conscious person in the room.
Dreading their wrath, he raised his hands from the keyboard he was using. "Please spare my life! I won't resist!" he begged, too feeble to challenge them as his senior did.
"Then get your hands over your head and in the corner, now! Or you'll end up just like your cohort!" ordered the masked man. The scientist obeyed and another soldier pointed his gun at him, waiting for a struggle that wasn't going to happen. The masked man turned his attention to Cubegirl and engaged the communicator on his vest. "Tsubasa-sempai, we have secured the V.I.P. and she is unharmed. Over." he said in Japanese tongue.
"Copy that. I'm en route to initiate extraction. Over and out." replied Shirou.
The Black Ops soldier detached her from the machine that was giving her anesthetic and slowly, she came awake. "Take it easy, kid. You're safe now." reassured the masked man.
Cubegirl sat up and observed her new surroundings. She recalled how she lost consciousness after uploading the template. Anything could have happened between then and now, so she had no idea how she came to be here. Fortunately, the danger had passed and she felt a lot better when she saw a familiar friend enter the room.
Shirou walked over to her side. "I've come to get you out of this place, Cubegirl. Sorry it took so long."
"'Cubegirl', my name...." she repeated.
Shirou noticed her confusion and wondered if the Link Cube helped her make sense of the information in her head. "Do you have another name?" he asked.
Cubegirl tried to assemble her memories and thoughts to provide an answer. It seemed strange for her to doubt her identity again now, after she finally felt validated as a person. But there was a contradiction she couldn't ignore. She remembered. Indeed, she did have another name. At least, it was somebody's name.
She responded thus: