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Chapter 24 Main Chapters Chapter 26

No Need For Yosho v. Ryoko

1289 A.D.

Ryoko looks at the audience seriously. "I'm Ryoko, as you know. For some reason Dragonwiles asked me to be your DJ for this chapter's theme song. As you can imagine, looking back at this part of my life is rather difficult for me. I've managed, though, to find a song that I think captures that, as well as my desire for something different that brought me to where I am today. Well, more or less. I am still a monster! Dragonwiles of course reminds you that he does not own any trademarks or copyrights, or the song I am about to play." She presses a button, and the heavy sounds of a song by "Skillet", "Monster."


Yosho and his space tree Funaho pursued Ryoko as she fled with Ryo-ohki.

They flew after one another, ambushing and being ambushed, but neither causing enough damage to halt the other before Ryo-ohki would flee again. Sometimes local ships had attempted to aid Yosho, but they were unable to match Ryo-ohki's speed. Funaho the ship was only able to stay just behind it- she was unable to overtake it. Still, Ryo-ohki obviously had limits as well. For the last week they'd simply been moving as fast as they could, Funaho just behind and Ryo-ohki ahead. Their course had always seemingly been random, and now they appeared to have no course at all, simply fleeing towards the exterior of the galaxy.

Yosho thought over and over again about this. Ryoko's behavior made no sense. Why wasn't she trying to rejoin Kagato? Or was that her objective? He'd learned from a news broadcast that Kagato had evaded his father's pursuit. But he had fled in almost the opposite direction to that which Ryoko was now taking.

"Yosho," Funaho communicated with him through the master key Tenchi. Funaho was trying to keep the exhaustion out of her voice. Space trees could not maintain this high a speed indefinitely, and he could only hope that Ryo-ohki couldn't manage it either. "Yosho," Funaho continued, "are you sure we should go through with the plan, since Kagato is still on the loose? Jurai might need you to defeat him."

Yosho shook his head. "I've thought about it, of course, but I've realized that Kagato is nothing without Ryoko. We could've beaten Souja given time. Kagato knew it, that's why he fled. Without Ryoko, he can't hope to attack Jurai again. He'll probably live out the rest of his days in hiding. Ryoko, though- Ryoko is another matter. She's far stronger." He and Funaho could still hardly believe that Ryoko and Ryo-ohki could send their attacks through Light-Hawk Wings, the strongest defenses known.

Ryo-ohki veered wildly, then shot off in a totally new direction. With concentration and great care, Funaho managed to follow her without losing too much distance. "She's heading towards the protected zone, Yosho!" Funaho said urgently.

Yosho stood up in his seat. The protected zone contained the planet Earth, his mother's homeworld. It was kept isolated by his father's orders, so that the Earth people wouldn't suffer from opportunistic aliens or pirates. Now Ryoko was going there. She could destroy every human there as easily as crushing a bug.

Funaho and Yosho waited with bated breath as they followed Ryo-ohki into the star system containing Earth. No ships were assigned to this area, because of the fear that they would make contact with the Earthlings and spoil their isolation. His father had plans to place a lone Juraian vessel and an early-warning network for defense, but the attacks of Kagato and Ryo-ohki had delayed those initiatives.

Had this been Ryoko's destination all along? Yosho doubted it, and Funaho agreed. Ryoko and Ryo-ohki had hardly ever been in this nearly deserted region of space- there wasn't much to steal. There was no reason to believe she'd ever been to Earth before, and the course change showed every indication of being just like the other random maneuvers Ryo-ohki had made during the course of their flight. It was almost as though Ryoko and Ryo-ohki knew of no place where they could go.

Ryo-ohki slowed to make a safe reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Funaho took the opportunity to close even more distance. As soon as they were within weapon range, Funaho began to fire again and again. Ryo-ohki fired back, and Yosho gripped his key tightly as he felt Funaho's exclamations of pain. Both he and Funaho were fortunate to be alive. The flight must've exhausted Ryo-ohki, or else the beams might've been powerful enough to destroy them.

The hulls of Funaho and Ryo-ohki grew red-hot as they reentered the atmosphere, firing desperately at each other. Funaho's grunts of pain were audible only to Yosho through the key, while Ryo-ohki's meows were now audible to them through the air.

They were now over land, and Ryo-ohki was firing back desperately, but Funaho hit her mark and Ryo-ohki went down in a sudden plunge, impacting the ground and spewing a huge amount of debris into the air. There was a large explosion from inside of it, and the crater it had created grew even larger and deeper.

"You did it, Funaho!" Yosho congratulated his friend.

"Thank you, Yosho," Funaho said in a voice of utter exhaustion as she sank slowly. "I'm so sorry, Yosho. It took all of my strength to get this far. I can't take off, and-agh!" She exclaimed in pain as she finally touched down to a landing near the crater.

"Oh, Funaho," Yosho said, filled with sorrow for his friend. Funaho continued sadly, "Ryo-ohki got me bad enough that I'll probably never fly again."

Yosho headed for the exit and said, "Funaho, I'm sorry for asking you to do this. You've accomplished a feat worthy of legend. You've done more than enough. You've defeated Ryo-ohki. Now I must see where Ryoko has ended up and what more is needed to defeat her."

Ryoko suddenly teleported inside Funaho, directly before Yosho, and Ryoko swore at him. He only barely had time to raise his sword before she struck, again and again and again. Tears streamed down her face as she screamed, "No! Ryo-ohki! Why now! Why now!!"

Yosho had hoped she'd have at least a few more injuries. It looked like he'd have to take what he could get. Right now he had to get her out of Funaho. His poor tree didn't deserve any more abuse. Ryoko evidently cared similarly for her ship, and it was odd to find that as common ground between them.

Yosho barely managed to fight his way out of Funaho and onto the ground near the crater. It was nighttime, but Ryo-ohki still glowed with a fierce light, and felled, burning trees from the nearby forest added wavering illumination. Fortunately, the air was still, and a major forest fire looked unlikely.

Ryoko stabbed at him in her berserkergang, panting and screeching unintelligibly. She would phase through his attacks, or teleport behind him when he least expected it. The fight dragged on and on. Ryoko was looking tired, but not nearly as tired as Yosho felt. She was wearing him down. Something had to be done to change the course of the fight.

He recalled how Ryoko's gems would tend to flare when she was using her most awesome abilities, such as controlling the white nightmare. Perhaps her gems were her source of power. If they were, would it be possible for him to actually steal the gems by temporarily changing his key's blade into a tractor beam?

Yosho feinted for Ryoko's head, and when she brought up her right arm to block it with her energy saber, he turned his attack and struck at her right wrist. He quickly changed his blade, and the blade drew out the red gem, and embedded it in the hilt. The energy saber in her right hand disappeared. Ryoko screamed and dealt him a murderous punch with her left hand. He took it on the face, and flew for three meters before hitting the ground, stunned.

She was breathing heavily, staring in shock at her right arm. She suddenly teleported and reappeared above Yosho, then dived to the earth, both fists extended to crush him. But her teleportation took slightly longer, and her flight was slightly slower, enough to allow Yosho to roll out of the way. He hauled himself to his feet, standing unsteadily a moment as his sense of balance recovered. Ryoko regenerated her energy saber in her left hand and stabbed at him as she swore at him. He stepped aside and chopped in an attempt to snare her left wrist's gem, but she had only feinted. She fired a bolt of energy at him from her right hand. He barely dodged it.

It was another hour before he finally managed to capture the gem on Ryoko's left wrist. Ryoko was almost gasping for air after she lost its power, and he was gulping in great drafts of air every chance he could get, but her rage was undimmed and his resolve unwavering. They continued their battle. The air was cool and silent but for the sounds of their battle, as the animals had fled some time ago. The fires on the trees had gone out, but Ryo-ohki still glowed brilliantly, illuminating the two of them almost as brightly as daylight. The scent of burnt wood mixed with the smell of live woods, and a nearby cultivated field.

Another hour saw the end of Ryoko's rage, and the emotions which had fueled her earlier in the battle now shifted their course and drained her. Her fear was etched plainly on her face. Her swings became erratic, either from exhaustion or the apparent futility of her efforts. Yosho was bloody and fairly sure Ryoko had broken some ribs with her punches, but basically still whole. Some of Ryoko's hair was singed, and she had only one gem left, resting at the base of her throat. Her other injuries she had regenerated, but the panic in her mind was not so easily cured.

Yosho had been tempted to consider himself a dead man an hour before, since removing the second gem had little apparent effect. Ryoko's bearing now gave him new hope. He pressed his attack in a dizzying display of technique marred only by the exhaustion of his muscles and mind.

Seeing this, Ryoko grew desperate, and began a strategy of charging at Yosho, then quickly teleporting away before he could strike her. He was guarding himself well and not allowing her to strike at him during these charges.

Time seemed to be progressing at a very slow rate for Yosho. He was so tired that every moment moving seemed to last forever. He was almost too tired to think or notice things any more, yet he marshaled what strength he had left to keep his wits about him.

Yosho stepped just slightly to the side of one of Ryoko's mad charges, and thrust his sword into her throat. She desperately clawed her arms at him, trying to reach him, but the red jewel escaped her throat, traveling the length of Yosho's blade until it joined the other two gems at the hilt.

Ryoko collapsed to the ground, unconscious. She was still breathing, but Yosho could tell that she might easily perish. He stood over her, prepared to deal the final blow.

The second that he stood there seemed to elongate into a millennium, and he felt as though his entire body had finally seized up, as it had been threatening to do for the past hour. His mind refused to stay on the present. It kept drifting back, recalling his mother's briefing and the footage he'd seen of Ryoko since, how her eyes had always been a glowing green. Yet just after Kagato abandoned her, they had changed. He saw that expression on her face, as though she had been freed from something, and ready to destroy everything. He remembered Nagi delivering the information that Kagato and Ryoko were working together, and his own unasked, unanswered question of how he had recruited her. Yosho could see the expression on Ryoko's face when Funaho shot down Ryo-ohki, how Ryoko had wept for her ship, as though it were the only thing she cared about.

He suddenly had a small, incomplete understanding of what Kagato had done to her. He shuddered in pity.

"He mind controlled her," he whispered in shock to Funaho through his key.

Funaho was shocked into silence for a moment, then finally replied, "You must be right. It explains everything. But is there anything we can do about it now? I pity her too, but shouldn't we also have pity for the people of this world? And yours?"

"She could've been something great," Yosho said slowly. "Just like Kagato. But he warped her. And at the end, she warped herself. I wasn't able to stop anything Kagato or Ryoko did. I can't undo who Ryoko chose to be when she was finally free. She can't go back to real society. Yet I still want to give her a chance."

"Then there may be one way," Funaho suggested. "I could restrain her by keeping her in suspended animation. Her body will decay, but in time I will have enough energy to regenerate her when she is awakened. Unless she should choose to regenerate herself," Funaho added wryly.

Yosho pinioned her wrists in one hand, then started to carry her up the mountainside, pausing for a moment as his injured rib cage acted up. He had to find somewhere to place her where humans would not easily find her. Perhaps there would be a cave in the mountain.

Plodding up the mountainside, he noticed Ryo-ohki's light was dimming, not from distance but from a loss of strength. The night air seemed to be draining Yosho's strength as well. Ryoko was unconscious as he carried her, but occasionally she murmured incoherent, frightened fragments of words.

"We're taking an awful risk," Funaho told Yosho. "Your father gave Kagato another chance when he let Kagato go to the Academy after you fought him. Kagato threw away that chance by attacking us. We can show Ryoko mercy, but when can we be sure she is ready to be released? Will she ever be ready to be released? Perhaps I ought to prepare to hold her forever."

The feet of Yosho were stuck on a constant rhythm upwards. If Yosho shook his head, he figured he would jar that rhthym, his legs would suddenly collapse, and he'd simply pass out on the mountainside. Instead, he simply answered with his mouth, "No, Funaho," and then had to stop talking until he navigated a tricky bit of the path. He continued, "That would be asking too much of you. Besides, she may break free on her own." He took a deep breath, then finished what he meant to say, "We shall hold her for a time, mayhaps a few centuries, then I or my descendants will free her. At that time, she shall either behave, or we shall kill her."

"A good plan," Funaho agreed. "Go to the left a few meters and I will relieve you of your charge." Yosho veered to the left and found a cave. He could see and hear long, thin roots breach the cave wall, reach out, and envelop Ryoko, taking her from his arms. "I guess that'll have to do for now," Yosho panted, and leaned against the cave wall to rest, and there dozed off.

He clambered down the mountain that morning, and noticed several men watching him from the forest. Some women and children were further back, looking in fear and awe at the crater, and they darted behind trees at his approach. Yosho wondered how long they had been examining the battlefield. The men hastily bowed to him, and he bowed back. He asked of them, "May I beg of you a place to rest?"

The man in front stared at him in fear and awe, hesitantly answering, "Yes, great sir."

"Thank you, sir," Yosho said, with a voice tired but dignified. "You will not find me ungrateful for your hospitality."


Next Chapter

Ayeka steps forward and explains, "Well, I'm sure we all appreciated that display of courage and heroism from my brother. The next chapter returns to the present, as Mihoshi and Kiyone finish their business at Galactic Police Headquarters. Meanwhile, Yosho and Ryoko finally end their centuries-long battle!" Ayeka smiles fiercely, "I'm looking forward to that. The next chapter is 'No Need for a Karaoke Night.'"



Continuity with Dragonwiles

Dragonwiles reposes in state in the library of his lair. Looking up from his book, he greets, "Welcome to this special segment, in which I give a few brief continuity notes."

"Much of this chapter is drawn from a few very brief scenes in the Tenchi Muyo OVA, and I filled in with a great deal of details I made up to support my backstory."

Chapter 24 Main Chapters Chapter 26