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Chapter 30 Main Chapters Chapter 32

No Need For Dr. Clay

"I'm Washu Hakubi," Washu introduces herself, "but you can just call me Little Washu. Dragonwiles asked me to be your DJ for this chapter." She sighs. "I really didn't want to use this song, but I'm tired from trying to figure out how to catch Dr. Clay. So let's just play Dr. Clay's song from the OVA." Dr. Clay growls, "Washu!" It is too late, however- the song has already begun to play. "Her attitude is irritating," he grumps, "but at least the song is appropriate for my triumphal moment."


"Mihoshi!" Kiyone was berating her partner through the transmission, "how could you have slept through my emergency call to you!"

"I was tired?" Mihoshi offered hesitantly.

"I've been trying to get ahold of you ever since the object entered this solar system!" Kiyone shouted.

"Next time, just shoot the thing," Ryoko advised, leaning over Mihoshi's shoulder to look at her wrist communicator. "It was a shapeshifting robot called Zero, and it almost killed someone."

"Was anyone hurt?" Kiyone asked in alarm.

"No, we're all fine!" Mihoshi said reassuringly.

"You won't be when I see you again, Mihoshi!" Kiyone yelled.

"I look forward to seeing you too," Mihoshi said cheerfully, "goodbye until then!" She shut off the communicator and said to Ryoko, "Oh, she's such a good friend to worry about us like that."

"You need all the worrying you can get," Ryoko shook her head.


About twenty minutes later, Washu told them what she had learned from the Zero's memory banks.

"He filled its head with science, mostly," she told them, "but I couldn't get much more out of it. There was some sort of auto-erase program running on it, and it had already wiped most of Zero's most recent data. So I don't know where it's been in the past few days. That leaves us with what it told me before. Dr. Clay needs me alive. He sent his machine to collect me, like it said, 'voluntarily or involuntarily.'"

"We're up against Dr. Clay?" Kiyone asked. She had joined them through Washu's Galactic TV set in the living room, as she was still in orbit aboard Yagami.

"Is he some kind of major criminal?" Tenchi asked.

"Nah. He's an intellectual," Ryoko disagreed, saying intellectual with distaste.

"I suppose ill-mannered people always denigrate what they don't have," Ayeka said with a smirk behind her hand. Ryoko snarled.

Kiyone tried to bring a more objective perspective to bear. "His file has no previous convictions, although we've had several inconclusive investigations into his business practices. After he left the Academy, he became quite successful in the areas of artificial intelligence and robotics. Dr. Clay is now a wealthy man. The last entry in his file is some time ago. He sold most of his companies, keeping a lot of high-tech manufacturing equipment. Then he simply sailed into retirement on his private ship Shunga."

"Why does he want to see you?" Sasami asked Washu.

"I'm not sure," Washu admitted unabashedly. "He's the sort who holds onto grudges. He probably still thinks I fired him from the Academy. I would've, too, but fortunately he was rotten and hated enough that a special commission of his peers fired him first."

"If he wanted revenge, he could've had Zero blast you," Kiyone pointed out.

"The easiest way to find out would be to go see him," Washu suggested.

"But what if there are more robots!" Sasami exclaimed.

"True," Washu admitted, "with Clay that's almost guaranteed."

Mihoshi noted seriously, "He may not have been a criminal before, but attempted kidnapping is a crime. He must be brought to justice!"

"Definitely," Kiyone emphatically agreed, visibly relieved that her partner was thinking straight. It happened so rarely.

Ayeka said, "We're forgetting that we don't know his location."

"Maybe we should do this the old-fashioned way and look for him," Kiyone weighed in.

Washu suggested, "The easiest way would be for me to set up a time to meet him."

"That's risky," Tenchi said, uncomfortable with the idea.

"He can't be trusted," Kiyone told her.

"I know, but it's me he wants," Washu said equitably. "Besides, everyone will be close at hand to help."


In the end it was Washu's plan that prevailed. She used some of her equipment to send a broad signal through the area surrounding the solar system, and after a time, they received an automated response from Dr. Clay's computers. Apparently it had anticipated them, for it read, "Washu, if you do not wish to have more of my robots collect you, meet me outside the solar system at the following location." The message then went on to describe the precise point; an uninteresting bit of space between the stars, with no remarkable features.

Azaka and Kamadaki remained at home to protect Sasami and Nobuyuki. Yosho would remain with them as well. Mihoshi had tearfully begged Kiyone to let her go to the meeting. After some time, Mihoshi reluctantly relinquished her demands and agreed with Kiyone. Mihoshi would orbit Earth in her patrol ship Yukinojo, in case more killer robots from space arrived.

Kiyone traveled in her patrol ship Yagami to accompany Washu. Washu, Ryoko, Tenchi, and Ayeka were aboard Ryo-ohki. Ryo-ohki was meowing, excited about traveling through space for the first time in weeks.

They arrived to find Shunga waiting for them. It was a large battleship, though not nearly as large as Souja. At first glance, it was not as imposing either, for its prow consisted almost entirely of a female figurehead. Washu assured them the ship was still quite dangerous in its own way.

Dr. Clay hailed them, asking, "What is this? Ryo-ohki and Galactic Police Craft together? I am Dr. Clay. Who are you, and what do you want with me?"

Washu was pleased to see that their unexpected methods of transport had discomfited him. He had never known that Ryo-ohki was her brainchild. She answered for them, "Dr. Clay, don't worry so, it's just me!"

Dr. Clay was surprised. "Washu?" he asked. They saw from his projected image that he was now frowning. "What treachery is this? Two ships!"

"You didn't say to come alone!" Washu perkily pointed out. "Now that I'm here, what did you want to talk about?"

"No disrespect intended," Dr. Clay said in an oily voice, "to who knows who else you've brought along, but this is a private conversation."

"Okay, everybody off the bridge!" Washu turned around and clapped her hands obligingly.

"Ryo-ohki's my partner!" Ryoko huffed mentally. Washu returned in the same way, "And I'm your mother."

Dr. Clay said, "That's not what I meant, Washu!" He thought fast and told her, "These transmissions can be intercepted, as I'm sure you know. We need to meet in person."

"We'll be waiting for you!" Washu told him brightly.

"Washu!" He growled in rage. "I mean for you to come over to my vessel!"

"Really?" Washu asked, as though his intentions had been entirely unclear. "That would be possible, I suppose. Give us a few minutes." She ended the communication.

"You are not intending to meet with this person?" Ayeka asked incredulously.

Kiyone quickly set up an encrypted communications link and said tersely, "Washu, I highly recommend against that."

Washu nodded impatiently. "Yes, I know. Careful, now, he'll be trying to hack your communications, Kiyone, so let's all make this fast. If anyone has to get onto his ship, only go to the location I'm heading for."

Kiyone sighed as Washu cut the communication. This was what came of letting a civilian take the lead. She couldn't see as she had a choice, though- Washu had more knowledge of Dr. Clay, and her ship Ryo-ohki was more powerful than Yagami.

Kiyone felt an irrational wish for Mihoshi's presence. It was ridiculous, because she knew if Mihoshi were here, she'd be wishing for Mihoshi to stop bumbling in the middle of the mission.


Dr. Clay smiled. Soon Ryo-ohki would dock with his ship. As soon as Washu came aboard, his trap would place her in stasis. He had planned to destroy the vessel she arrived in, but since she had chosen to come in Ryo-ohki, he'd simply have to flee.

"Your taste in decorations is still awful, Dr. Clay," Washu commented disparagingly from behind him.

Dr. Clay whirled around to find her looking about his sheer white bridge. "Washu! How did you find me?"

"Never mind that," Washu insisted, waving her hand a few times, "what is it that you want to ask me about so badly?"

Dr. Clay recovered his mental balance. "I wanted to ask you to meet someone," he told her. This was the truth. If he told her the actual truth, she might get less suspicious of him.

"You, a middleman?" Washu stared at him. "How far you've fallen from your own ideals. Namely yourself before all else. Or maybe this is personal growth. Have you actually learned to care about someone else? Maybe you've finally found someone to be Mrs. Clay and you want to introduce me?"

"No," Dr. Clay said tightly.

"Oh, I see," Washu said in a voice dripping with sympathy. "Look, Clay, I appreciate your feelings for me, but I could never make you happy, and you aren't my true love. We aren't meant to be."

"Washu!" he yelled. "That is not why I have asked you to come! I said I wanted you to meet someone." He calmed down and had to laugh, which made his octopus-like hair and beard wriggle. "You are still able to bait me. After 700 years. Frankly, you haven't changed." He eyed her critically, with his original left eye and his biosensor right eye. "Not as much as a hair follicle in seven centuries. Frankly, I can detect no evidence of any dyes or surgeries or nanorestoration."

Washu shrugged, "I was in stasis most of the time. You haven't changed either. I mean, I see the hair and the eye. I suppose it was silly, but I was hoping you had changed, where it mattered, if only so I could feel better about the universe."

"Frankly and honestly," Dr. Clay reminisced, ignoring Washu's remarks, "even when I was digging up information about your past, back at the time we both ran for Director of the Academy, I could never quite determine how old you were."

"I'm only a little kid," Washu demonstrated with a skip and a jump. Dr. Clay looked at her antics patronizingly, as he had ever since she started them in her Academy days. Washu continued, "As a little kid, I'm getting bored. So who do you want me to meet anyway?"

Dr. Clay grinned fiercely as he told her, "Lady Tokimi."

He laughed at her startled reaction. "You didn't honestly think I could manage it, did you? You always thought my experiments into contacting multidimensional lifeforms were ridiculous. But I did it after all. I contacted her."

"Lady Tokimi?" Washu repeated after a pause.

"Yes," Dr. Clay said, exulting in her stupefaction.

"I don't know that you've ever used an honorific with someone's name, this is a shock," Washu put a finger to her chin as she thought back.

"Washu!" Dr. Clay exploded. "Don't play innocent! I know you remember! The myth I learned of when we were still students, of great and powerful multidimensional beings! Of the greatest of them all, Lady Tokimi!"

Washu examined her nails. "Mhm-hm, and your silly fantasies of gaining their power by becoming one of them."

Dr. Clay clenched his fist with a growl, then went on, "Immature, perhaps. As you recall, I later proposed a more mature course of attempting to contact them. You were opposed to the idea for no good reason, and it was defeated for a time."

"Waste of money is how I described it," Washu reminded him. "No one even had a theory of multidimensional communication, and you wanted to move right to an application. I wouldn't have bothered to oppose you if you wanted to start with theory."

Dr. Clay recalled bitterly, "Your lapdogs, Yakage and Kagato, opposed me at every turn when I tried to get the grant approved. Frankly, I had expected it. As Juraians, they did not wish for anyone to be able to contact someone conceivably more powerful than their beloved Tsunami."

"I remember Yakage saying he wouldn't spend the slightest bit of the money he and his ancestors had donated to the Academy on such an ill-planned project," Washu corrected him, "and I think Kagato just didn't like you."

"He was convinced the myth of Lady Tokimi was a forgery," Dr. Clay corrected her back. "After you ran me out of the Academy, I had plenty of time to pursue my own interests. I developed the theory and application single-handedly. I am now the only person with the knowledge of how to directly contact a multidimensional being. Frankly and honestly, I am one of a handful of beings who has actually spoken to Lady Tokimi." He smiled smugly.

"And now I'm to become one of those few," Washu said after another pause.

"You are, frankly," Dr. Clay said, looking at her with distaste. He decided to try a bluff. "Do you know why?" he said with a threatening smile, as though he knew already.

"Why a great big multidimensional being wants to talk to me?" Washu thought. "Maybe she's lonely."

Dr. Clay gaped at her. Washu said defensively, "You've got a better idea?"

"Why?" Dr. Clay wondered aloud, "why out of all the beings in the universe would she ask specifically for you, spend so much energy so that you would have a personal audience with her?" It was entirely unfair. He'd had to cajole D3 into giving him an audience with Lady Tokimi, and Washu had been given a personal invitation by Lady Tokimi herself! Dr. Clay spoke bitterly, "What would the two of you even have to talk about?"

Washu didn't respond. She looked around the room, which contained nothing except for a tall, dark blue chair, and ugly art on sheer white pedestals, seamless with the sheer white floor.

Dr. Clay decided to attempt an extraction of the last bit of information he needed from Washu. "I'm frankly quite surprised that you managed to find my bridge. I go to some lengths to conceal it; in fact I've altered Shunga's original design in several respects to make it even better protected. Frankly and honestly, I'm wondering what sort of scanning technology you used to find it."

"Fair trade of information," Washu offered, "I'll tell you if you tell me how you knew where to find me. You first."

"A hard bargain, Washu," Dr. Clay observed, unsurprised. "Still, it's worth the price. Let us sit; these explanations may take some time." He sat in his dark chair, while a duplicate of it arose from the floor for Washu. She sat in it, moving about to feel its cushions. The tall chair rose some height above even the wide, rounded tip of Dr. Clay's black hat, and it positively dwarfed Washu's diminutive proportions. Nevertheless, she placed her hands on the armrests and looked supremely comfortable.

"Frankly and honestly, I have a longstanding relationship of bribery with a senior GP official," Dr. Clay smirked at her. "He brought the most recent reports by Kiyone and Mihoshi to my attention. His price on those was astronomical, but he assured me it would be worth it. He didn't know how right he was!" He steepled his fingers and looked expectantly at Washu.

Washu smiled and told him, "Your favorite possessions are always marked with your logo." She gestured to the emblem on his crimson robes. The emblem was a yellow circle with a shape like the number 4 running through it in blue. Dr. Clay looked at her in confusion. "You marked Zero with it too. And you marked the brow of the figurehead on this ship with it. So I figured you had to be close by." She waved an antique dun jug she was holding and asked, "By the way, this is one of your favorites too, isn't it? It's got your logo." She pointed to the emblem.

Dr. Clay said in a panic, "How did you get that off the pedestal?" He looked to his side and its pedestal was indeed empty. When had she done that? "Have you any idea how long I looked to find it? Hand it over right now-" His heart leapt into his mouth as Washu almost dropped it, then held it up with a cheeky grin.

She told him, "Dr. Clay, I don't really feel like seeing Lady Tokimi. So why don't you just go back and tell her that? I'll hang onto this for safekeeping," she wiggled the jug in the air in a way that made Dr. Clay worry, and continued, "and I'll gift-wrap it for you and give it back in a year or two. Unless you send more robots, in which case I'll shatter it."

With a triumphant smile, Dr. Clay pressed two hidden buttons on his armrest. Washu's chair melted into green goo, which swiftly encased her, then hardened into crystal. The jug was pried out of Washu's hands by the gel and lowered safely to the floor. Dr. Clay rose and waddled forward greedily to retrieve it.

He heard a crackling behind him, and turned his head. To his astonishment, Washu was there, only a foot or so away, holding something near his neck that was warm and crackled . Dr. Clay looked back at the gel, and now saw that there was some manner of small doll encased in the gel. Washu must've substituted it somehow before being trapped. How had the doll fooled his mechanical eye, and how had Washu been able to move so fast that he missed seeing it? He took a second look at the thing in her hand that was making the crackling noise, and saw it was an orange energy saber. Dr. Clay hadn't known she could do that.

She placed her free arm akimbo. "Come quietly and I'll let you live."

"Frankly, Washu, if you were to kill me, you would be dead within the hour," Dr. Clay told her.

"Why?" Washu inquired.

"Because of my perfect robot," Dr. Clay told her proudly.

Zero rose out of the floor of the room, a dun oblong arm pointed at Washu's head.

"The Shunga is already heading for our rendezvous with Lady Tokimi," Dr. Clay gloated, "and even if your companions continue to pursue us, I doubt they'd make it to this room in time to save you."

"You were planning this for a long time, weren't you, Dr. Clay?" Washu said irritatedly, and with a slight undertone of fear.

"Frankly and honestly, I contemplated for two whole months to create this ideal plan," he explained with a look of incredible smugness.

Washu held her saber steady at Dr. Clay's throat and tried to remain calm as she told him, "I think you planned it out a little too well. Now I don't have anything to lose."

A drop of sweat rolled off Dr. Clay's temple and off his cheek, where it was vaporized by Washu's energy saber with a small sizzling sound.


Next Chapter

"And that's a wrap!" Dragonwiles says. "Thank you all for your hard work, everyone!"

The cast and crew repeat, "Thank you for your hard work!" and begin the process of breaking down the set for the day.

Dragonwiles notices two exceptions to this. Dr. Clay is still frozen, and Washu is still holding an energy saber at his throat. Earlier, a makeup artist had sprayed water on Dr. Clay's face for a sheen of perspiration in a closeup shot, but Dragonwiles suspects Dr. Clay's perspiration is starting to become real.

"Washu, Dr. Clay, the shot is over. You two have been working hard; you both need a break," Dragonwiles says encouragingly, internalizing all disquiet.

"Tell her that!" Dr. Clay blusters. "Tell her to let me go!"

"Washu, you need to let him go," Dragonwiles explains carefully, "we need to do the next chapter preview."

"Yeah, I know," Washu says tightly, "you've already had the 'Next Chapter' thingy appear, blah blah blah. Well, I'm not letting him go. He's evil! Why didn't I just take off his head when I had the chance?"

Mihoshi says admiringly, "Washu's such a dedicated actress, getting into her character's motivations like that!"

Kiyone murmurs, "I sure hope that's what Washu meant."

Tenchi passes Washu and Dr. Clay with a nervous expression and goes to center stage, where he says, "Wow, I think this is the first time I've ever done a chapter preview! Or has it just been a long time? In any case, I'll do my best! In the next chapter, we have to try to stop Dr. Clay, and make sure Washu doesn't get hurt! You'd think with all of us that'd be easy, but Dr. Clay and Zero are really tricky. And I'm starting to think there's more than one Zero! Who's really who? Join us in the next chapter, 'No Need For Body Doubles.'"



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."

"I greatly changed Dr. Clay's backstory; or at the least I added a lot to it. In the OVA it never really said what he'd been doing after he left the Academy and before he stole the Shunga. I decided to have him go into business and build the Shunga honestly. Or mostly so. In the OVA the Shunga was a Galactic Police battleship Dr. Clay stole, but it never looked much like other Galactic Police things, and it seemed way more powerful than stuff they had, and Mihoshi seemed unfamiliar with it. So I think my way makes more sense."

"As you've no doubt noticed by now, I've also made major changes to the Dr. Clay-Zero story arc. In fact, the arc in the OVA bears little or no relation to my arc."

"I also made up the part where Dr. Clay learns of some myth about Lady Tokimi, and wanted to contact her, but Washu, Kagato, and Yakage opposed it. The OVA didn't really explain at all just how Dr. Clay met D3 or knew of Lady Tokimi's existence. Just as I wrote in the continuity note for 'No Need for Zero,' I made up backstory that made sense to me and fit in with my backstory."

Chapter 30 Main Chapters Chapter 32