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Chapter 43 Main Chapters Chapter 45

No Need For The Arrow of Time

Azaka and Kamadaki appear on stage. "Hello, we're Azaka and Kamadaki, Princess Ayeka's faithful robotic guardians!" Kamadaki introduces them. Azaka continues, "Dragonwiles asked us to be your DJs for this chapter. We've selected a very appropriate song for this episode."

The two machines regard the sound equipment with their jeweled orbs, set high in their loglike bodies.

"I don't think this equipment will accept the universal interface either," Kamadaki comments, extending a few forks and prongs at the equipment, but finding nowhere to insert them.

"Perhaps we should attempt to burn a CD," Azaka suggests. He mashes the CD tray eject button with an outstretched dowel, then throws a CD into the air from an extended manipulator. Azaka and Kamadaki both fire their lasers at the CD as it falls into the tray, then Kamadaki presses the CD tray button again. The tray closes, and the sound equipment begins to output the song "The Power of Love." It's a song, of course, not owned by Dragonwiles.

Six Months After They Returned from Ryuten

The fog blanketed the lake, wreathing the trunk of Ryu-Oh which grew from within it, and hiding from view all the trees in the forest beyond. Tenchi pulled his jacket tighter around himself before he finished putting on his sandals over his thick socks, then looked out at the fields with a grim mien. This was going to be a hard day. He didn't know how, but he knew it.

He headed out to the field. The growing season was over, but he needed to work on keeping the paths to the house trimmed while the trees were dormant. Tenchi's work was slowed by cold fingers, and he wasn't getting nearly as much accomplished as he had hoped. He blew on his hands to warm them, then looked up at the particularly tangled tree and reached his shears towards one of the smaller branches.

"Tenchi?" Ryoko asked from just behind him.

Tenchi jumped, startled, thankful that he didn't injure himself with his shears. "What is it, Ryoko?" he asked, irritated.

"Didn't mean to startle you," Ryoko said, nonplussed.

"I was just caught up in the work," Tenchi sighed. "What is it?"

"Would you please do me a big favor?" Ryoko asked, batting her eyes.

This didn't sound so good. "What is it?" he asked, trying to keep his suspicion out of his voice.

"Well, it's about the jewels. You know, the ones with my powers, the ones that your grandfather took from me, so he could seal me up?" She gestured to the jewel embedded into the sleeve on her right wrist. "I've been thinking - it's been what, more than a year that you've known me? You know you can count on me. So would you please give me back the two jewels you still have? It would mean a lot to me really. Please?" She clasped her hands in front of her and bowed in supplication.

Tenchi took a deep breath, about to say no, when he remembered how Ryoko had risked her own life in battle for he and the others, and then acceded. He put his hand to his space tree key, the hilt of his Juraian energy sword, and concentrated on the two jewels in the sword. A moment later, one of the two went to Ryoko's left wrist.

"Only one?" Ryoko said, and her surprised, crestfallen countenance almost made him reconsider. Then she whined, "Oh, Tenchi!"

"Yes, only one more!" Tenchi insisted. "I don't need my house getting blown up when you and Ayeka argue! I saw you when you and Ayeka were fighting on the patio the other day, and your blaster bolt almost clipped the exterior wall! You should be grateful I'm even giving you one!"

"You don't reprimand Ayeka for stuff like that!" Ryoko complained.

"Yes I do, and you know it! Ayeka and I both heard you giggling when I was reprimanding her for that fight," Tenchi shot back. He shuddered involuntarily, remembering how scary Ayeka's face had gotten when she had heard Ryoko.

"Aw, Tenchi, I'll be more careful," she begged. "Please? Please? Please?"

"When you and Ayeka fight, you're never careful," Tenchi expostulated. He began to stalk back towards his home.

"Aw, Tenchi!" Ryoko cajoled. She levitated off the ground and floated steadily behind him, in a slouched position. "Tenchi!"

Tenchi shook his head. He had known it was going to be a hard day.

Later that morning, Tenchi walked down the hall past Washu's closet. She emerged and said, "Oh, good morning, Tenchi!"

"Good morning, Washu," Tenchi told her politely enough, although he actually felt it was quite the opposite.

Washu wisely said nothing further. Instead, she padded down the hall in her slippers. When she paused before a wall clock, Tenchi heard her behind him, saying to herself, "7:30 AM."

Tenchi continued up the stairs to his room. On the landing, he encountered Ryoko, leaning against the balustrade and clutching her head. He sighed. She was probably feigning illness in a bid for sympathy. It had happened before.

Still, despite their quarrel, Tenchi didn't want to be unkind, and she appeared truly miserable, in contrast to her feigned expression. "Are you feeling all right, Ryoko?" he asked diffidently.

She raised her head and looked at him, but appeared distracted. "Oh, were you talking to me, Tenchi? Don't worry about me, I'll be fine soon enough." She waved him on, and quickly returned to cradling her head in her hands..

That actually alarmed Tenchi. Not only was she apparently not pretending, she felt so bad that she wasn't even trying to use her real pain in an attempt to gain his sympathy. "Say, are you sure you don't want an aspirin or something?" he asked, guessing she had some sort of headache.

"No, only time will cure this, but don't worry, it won't be too much longer," Ryoko sighed. "Now go on, already!"

Tenchi decided it would be best to continue - this headache was evidently making her irritable, and he didn't want to fight with her again. Besides, she was right, he had plenty more to do before school. As he entered his room and shut the door, he heard her mutter, "Lousy Washu."

Meanwhile, downstairs, Washu had interrupted the morning security sweep of the house, conducted by Ayeka's guard log robots, Azaka and Kamadaki.

"So, look, you two, can you download the standard time into my database," she waved a small datapad at them, "just for the records? I'm having trouble with my receivers and can't get the signal."

"But, Washu," Azaka pointed out, "how can we receive the galactic time signal if you can't?"

"Our antennae have much less range than your Galactic TV antenna," Kamadaki reminded her.

"Oh, why be so difficult?" Washu griped. "You could just say yes or no. I'll just have to get myself to fix those receivers." She paused and then said, "OK, I'm on it." She stamped away.

The interpersonal databases in Azaka and Kamadaki noted the information for later use: Washu had just uncharacteristically referred to herself in the third person. Being robots, however, they were unable to make further use of the information.

"I certainly hope she isn't considering us outdated," Azaka commented to Kamadaki as they resumed their sweep.

"Surely no one could consider us obsolete or inconvenient," Kamadaki agreed. "Oh, excuse us, Mihoshi."

"Hey, I was already going through first!" Mihoshi protested, with some justification, and she continued forward through the narrow hallway. The robots retreated and let her through, then continued on their security sweep.

The whole gang seemed to feel the weight of the day. They were more prone to meaningless bickering over nothing, or sighing over they knew not what.

The mood was especially strong on Tenchi, and he felt it like a cloying sickness, or a weight holding him down. It wasn't a very good way for the day to end, he thought as he finished up his homework that evening.

His dad poked his head into the room. "Hey, Tenchi, need any help?"

"No, thanks, I just finished," Tenchi shook his head.

"In that case," Nobuyuki suggested, "I had an idea. Why don't I get out my old 8mm's of your mother?"

Tenchi was surprised, and finally said, "Sure."

He followed his father down the stairs into the living room, where Nobuyuki had already begun to set up the old projector, pointing it towards the Galactic TV. Tenchi helped plug it in while his father began to thread the old film through it. Tenchi's grandfather Yosho entered the room and seated himself on the couch- evidently Nobuyuki had already unfolded the plan to him.

From the look of surprise on Ayeka's face as she entered the room, she had not been informed of these plans. "What are you preparing, brother?" she asked Yosho.

"Oh, we were going to watch some of Nobuyuki's 8mm recordings of Tenchi's mother Achika," he explained kindly.

"May I please join you?" Ayeka asked, interested.

"Of course," Yosho told her. "How thoughtless of me - I should've asked you. She is part of your family also. Perhaps I should go get Sasami."

"Don't trouble yourself, brother, I'll do it," Ayeka told him.

A short time later, Sasami joined them.

"So, what is 8mm, Tenchi?" Sasami asked.

"Oh, it's a sort of film that was used for inexpensive video recording," he told her. "My dad took these of mom when they were both in high school. There's no audio, but it's still a great way to remember her." Sasami nodded.

Nobuyuki finished fiddling with the projector and began it. The picture that emerged was a close-up of a teenage woman in a forest. The forest looked old but well-tended. The young woman had long, dark hair that she wore in a ponytail high on her head. She was wearing a school uniform and was walking, the camera following her, first in a pan, then alongside her with slight jerks. At first she looked uncomfortable, but something was said to her that made her smile.

"She's very beautiful," Ayeka said quietly to Tenchi.

"She is," he replied in a hushed voice.

Ayeka felt deeply for him. How long had it been? It had been when Lord Tenchi was young, she knew that.

She couldn't imagine life without her mother, despite their differences. It was so sad that Tenchi had lost her so long ago. Looking at him, and her brother and Nobuyuki, it was clear that they still missed her.

Ayeka returned her attention to the screen, trying to drink in each detail. This was, after all, a daughter of her dear brother. What had she been like in life? Clearly she had been a person who enjoyed life, for she was now walking easily and talking soundlessly with an expression of contentment. But what had she liked and disliked? What had been her hopes and dreams?

Ryoko walked into the room. "Why didn't you tell me you were going to do something like this?" she asked.

"This is a family matter, Ryoko," Ayeka answered caustically, "regarding a family you happen to hate." Why did that monster woman have to make her appearance now?

Tenchi sighed. He didn't want a fight tonight. It had been a while since he had seen these, and he wanted to spend a little time forgetting the present, and remembering his mother. It didn't seem that much to ask, that he be able to do so in peace once in awhile.

"I like his mom," Ryoko said defensively as she moved behind Tenchi and leaned her arms on the top of couch where he was seated. That Ayeka was just trying to poison Tenchi's mind against her. Ryoko could still recall how Achika had brought Tenchi to the mouth of the cave as an infant, and how she and Tenchi had smiled in at the cave, as though they were smiling at her. It was something she could never forget. And Ayeka had the nerve to say something like that!

As though she were there again, Ryoko recalled what Tenchi's mother had said next. How sad she had looked then, as she asked, "Please, take care of him for me, when I cannot?" Achika had to have been asking Ryoko, for there was no one else around, and Yosho had told Achika that Ryoko was sealed inside. But why on earth had Achika chosen to ask her? Why had she even chosen to come near the cave? Most of Yosho's descendants avoided it as much as possible. What made Achika different?

Mihoshi wandered into the room. "Hey, Tenchi, who's that?" she asked, nodding at the screen.

"Oh, that's my mother, back when she was in high school," Tenchi explained.

"She's really pretty," said Mihoshi admiringly.

"She is," Sasami agreed.

"Of course she is. This is Tenchi's mom we're talking about," Ryoko said, stating what was obvious to her.

Ayeka glared at Ryoko. If that monster woman was choosing now to be flippant, when Lord Tenchi and their hosts were fondly reminiscing about Lady Achika, then Ayeka was determined to punish that Ryoko!

Nobuyuki explained to Mihoshi, "This is an 8mm film I took of Achika back in 1970. We were on a school trip together."

"Oh, you went to the same school?" Mihoshi inquired.

"Since the ninth grade," Nobuyuki replied.

Mihoshi plopped into a seat and watched. The room was silent for awhile.

Ayeka was curious about the context of this footage. She asked quietly, "Lord Tenchi, where was it a school trip to?"

"Tokyo," Tenchi responded. He turned to his father and queried, "Say, Dad, what's this park, where you filmed this, called again?"

His father never answered, because just then, on the Galactic TV screen, and thus under the projection of the 8mm footage, King Azusa's face appeared. He began to speak as soon as he appeared but soon broke off, shielding his eyes with his hand, and asking, "Why are you shining a bright light at the receiver?"

"Father?" Ayeka asked in surprise, while Tenchi grunted in surprise and Mihoshi jumped out of her chair. Nobuyuki hurriedly switched off the projector, and Azusa gratefully lowered his hand from his eyes. He searched the room hurriedly with his gaze, tugging his beard.

"Ayeka, go get Washu as quickly as you can, I need to speak with her," he said quickly.

Ayeka immediately got up and headed for the door of Washu's interdimensional lab.

"Father, what is occurring?" Yosho asked in some concern.

The king said in a deadly serious voice, "A potential breach has been detected in Kain's primary detention shield."

"I see, Father," Yosho said, bowing his head and adjusting his glasses, then putting his hand to his chin in thought.

Tenchi heard Washu outside the room, asking in an querulous voice, "Well, did he say what he wanted to talk about?"

"No, but I'm sure it's important," Ayeka said in an imperial tone.

"It'd better be," Washu muttered as she entered the room behind Ayeka, "taking me away from the greatest scientific find in the millennium." Washu folded her arms and grumpily questioned, "All right, what is it?"

King Azusa almost snatched a datapad out of the hand of an aide who had run to his side and been whispering in his ear. The king told Washu, "Kain has breached his primary detention shield."

Washu's arms moved quickly to her sides. "How long ago?" she asked crisply.

"Thirty seconds and counting. We think the secondary mechanism can give us about ten minutes more," the king replied succinctly.

Washu moved to the side of the Galactic TV and manipulated some controls, then a keyboard suddenly appeared beneath her fingers. "All right, can you send me any data?" she asked.

"We're sending all of it," the king told her definitively.

Tenchi jerked upright. He had been nodding off! It really had been a hard day. Fortunately, none of the others seemed to have noticed.

Kain, broiling with anger, shook himself against the constricting prison. It was so small! He had been locked in something so small! Kain wasn't sure how long he had been asleep, but it was too long, far too long.

He slammed again against the pieces of his confinement that had weakened over time. They shattered, and he immediately streamed out through the hole. Kain triumphantly expanded his body to its full volume, then examined his surroundings to get his bearings.

Apparently Tsunami and her Juraians had locked him in an asteroid, enforcing his hibernation and confinement with organic root lattices and large quantities of isolation gel. He could smell that disgusting Tsunami's energy throughout the thing.

Kain next took in the surrounding area of space. It was a deserted asteroid field, utterly remote from civilization. Surrounding him in a spherical perimeter was that loathsome, nauseating energy of Tsunami, coursing through further restraining roots embedded in the hovering rocks. Beyond this perimeter, he could feel only the cold, dull energy of millions of passive and active sensors, could smell only the tasteless odor of maintbots and sentrybots. No life upon which he could feed. Even as he thought this, hunger gnawed at him.

He shook with rage. To think that Tsunami and her Juraian pets could do this to him! Kain had yet to regain the strength they had stolen from him, and now he faced another barrier to destroy. Tsunami and her Juraians would be here soon, but without something to soothe his hunger, he would face the indignity of losing to them.

What did Tsunami think she was doing, playing with things that were food! She expended so much of her energy for those Juraians, and received nothing in return. She was an utter fool, and yet she and her pets had blocked him in the end. Kain's hunger tore at him as he regretfully recalled their scent, which though tainted with Tsunami's energy, seemed a delectable dish to him now. If she hadn't protected them in that last battle, they would all have fallen before him that day!

Then a delectable idea spread itself through Kain's mind. It was brilliant. He needed to escape, and he needed food. No one had ever done what he planned to do, but it was better than waiting for Tsunami to arrive. Kain would have the galaxy to feast upon.

He released a great deal of energy out from his body, and it shot out in a pulse, and he almost wilted as his hunger redoubled. Then he released a smaller amount of energy in controlled bursts around his body.

"...None of our scientists have seen anything like it," Azusa was saying.

Washu nodded, "Well, that's not surprising. I mean, I saw these sort of readings for the first time ever this morning. Otherwise I'd have no idea what I'm seeing..." she trailed off, then commented, "Oh my, look at all those fifth-order harmonics!"

King Azusa looked at her out of the Galactic TV, trying to make some sense of what she was saying. "What happened this morning?" he asked, bewildered.

"Nothing noteworthy," Ayeka shrugged, not sure what Washu was talking about.

Mihoshi said tremulously, "Oh, Kain is so scary!"

"So, how many harmonics does this Kain have, and how many did Kagato have?" Tenchi asked. He felt like he was several steps behind in this conversation, not even having any idea who Kain was, so he hoped that this information would provide a useful comparison in strength between an old enemy he had vanquished, and this new person he knew nothing of.

Washu looked at him distractedly for a moment, then shook her head and said with a slashing motion of her arm, "No, no, no, no, fifth-order harmonics are nothing to be impressed about. It means he's wasting energy all over the place! He's practically doing this randomly! Must just be guessing as he goes. Oh, this is really diminishing the value of my scientific achievement!"

"Little Washu," King Azusa interjected frustratedly, "I need your interpretation of the data, what is Kain doing-" He sucked in his breath. "He's gone! Where- " The king stopped and gripped the armrests of his throne tighter. In a moment he asked, "Can he hide himself from our sensors?"

Washu was unflustered, and replied, "No, we can't see him because he's not there anymore. He's performed a category 3 space-time displacement."

Seeing quite a few blank stares, Washu went on, "Category 1 is getting around in space and time the normal way - walking, jumping, flying. You know, you take time to move someplace. Category 2 is teleportation - in a very brief amount of time, you disappear from one point in space, and reappear at another. And the third category is when you instantaneously disappear from one point in both time and space, and reappear in another. Simply put, Category 3 is time travel."

King Azusa harrumphed, "Washu, when I was at the Academy, we were taught that Category 3 was impossible."

"That is what Sasami and I learned there as well," Ayeka said, staring at Washu. "The technology for teleportation is well-understood, but time travel has never been demonstrated. Has it, Little Washu?"

Washu grinned. "As a matter of fact," she began, then paused dramatically, then continued, "I became the first time traveler just this morning!"

Ayeka thought to herself, "I was afraid of that."

Washu's A and B robots clambered onto Washu's shoulders and began to cheer while Washu laughed triumphantly.

"You traveled through time?" Tenchi sputtered. Washu nodded smugly.

"So, did you see how we're all doing in the future?" Mihoshi asked.

"Nope, sent myself back in time half an hour, to just outside my lab," Washu explained.

"There were two yous at almost the same place and at the same time!" Nobuyuki exclaimed. "I thought that would blow up the universe or something!"

"I was pretty sure it'd be fine, and it was," Washu told him casually.

"That's reassuring," Tenchi muttered.

Looking around the room, Washu asked, "You all do believe me, right?" Everyone got very quiet.

"She really did time travel," Ryoko suddenly put in. Noticing Ayeka's suspicious look, Ryoko added, "Hey, I never give Washu credit even when she deserves it. I certainly wouldn't give her credit she doesn't deserve."

"You do have a point," Ayeka allowed reluctantly.

"Thanks for the help, dear daughter," Washu said sarcastically.

Tenchi wondered if Ryoko's headache that morning had somehow been caused by there being two Washu's in the same place at the same time. Perhaps it had to do with Washu's link to Ryoko? That sounded complicated enough, and it certainly sounded like having two such links would be even more complicated.

"So, then," Yosho put in gravely, "Kain is the second time traveler."

"Yeah," Washu agreed, "the energy readings are very similar to the ones my time machine generated. Except Kain apparently did it himself, without any machine."

King Azusa asked urgently, "Do we know when and where he's gone?"

"It's hard to say, seeing as this is only the second set of data," Washu said with a frown, "but it looks like he ends up within ten light years of our present location."

"Why here?" Tenchi asked.

"He was radiating all over the spectrum - I'm amazed he actually did time travel. Can't even tell if he had some place in mind he wanted to go, or he just wanted to get away," Washu said frankly. "Anyhow, the time I'm more confident on. Looks like he ends up in 1970, about the latter half of the year."

"How odd," Yosho said with a frown.

Nobuyuki wondered aloud, "Could this have something to do with that incident?"

The king asked Washu, "Little Washu, I need to ask of you a great favor. I would ask that you use your time machine to send as many people to the past as possible, to stop Kain."

Washu nodded, "Naturally, I'll be glad to help stop Kain. It can send back a few people, but not anything much bigger, and little in the way of supplies. So I guess the big question is who should go."

Immediately Ayeka said formally, "Father, I request permission to go."

The king bit his lip until it drew blood, but he didn't seem to have noticed when he finally said, "You know what it cost your grandfather to face Kain."

"I am prepared to do what I must, Father," Ayeka replied firmly. The king gave a single nod.

Raising her hand, Sasami asked, "May I please go too, Father? If I'm along, Ayeka won't even think of sacrificing herself!"

The king choked back the definite negatory he had been about to declare, considered Sasami's reasoning, found it unusual yet valid, and agreed.

While Ayeka stared at her younger sister, Ryoko put in, "This sounds dangerous - count me in."

Tenchi, however, was distracted by his father's earlier words, and so asked Nobuyuki, "Wait, Dad, the incident - you don't mean that time when you were hurt protecting Mom at Tokyo Tower, do you?"

"I certainly do!" Nobuyuki declared. "Now I really wish I hadn't been knocked out when the ceiling collapsed. I might've gotten to see an alien!"

"Now, Dad," Tenchi protested, "you're thinking now that Kain had caused that?" His father was caught up in the past, though, and was asking, "What do you think, Dad?" To which Yosho responded, "You might be right. As my daughter, she is part of the royal line of Jurai, Kain's enemies."

Kiyone's voice said formally, "Your Majesties, I think we're all forgetting something very important."

Tenchi looked to the door, and said, "Kiyone, I thought this was your duty shift." But then his face's puzzlement grew; she wasn't at the door as he'd thought. In fact, she didn't seem to be anywhere in the room.

Mihoshi held up her communicator and explained, "I thought Kiyone might want to hear about this. It's really scary stuff, and she's better at handling that than me!"

Ryoko smirked, as she thought she could hear Kiyone sigh through the communicator.

Kiyone said matter-of-factly, "An operation like this one will take a great deal of care. For one thing, almost none of us has an Earthling appearance."

"Yeah, that's true. You look like some kind of freak," Ryoko smiled savagely at Ayeka.

"I'm not surprised that you think so, monster woman," Ayeka sniffed haughtily.

"My point," Kiyone continued through gritted teeth, "is that precautions should be taken."

"True," Washu acknowledged. She arranged her fingers into a square and held it before her eyes, as though she were cropping her field of vision, as she stared at Ryoko, Ayeka, and Sasami. "Yeah, I can take care of it. Old tricks are the best tricks - we'll use colored contact lenses for the eyes. Then some nonpermanent hair coloring changes. Oh yeah, and of course, you girls shouldn't fly, pulverize rocks, or swing energy swords around."

"That goes without saying," Ayeka thought to herself.

"Anyone else wanna come?" Washu asked.

"Ooh, I do, I do!" Mihoshi squealed. She asked excitedly into the communicator, "You'll come too, right, Kiyone?"

The line was silent a moment, then Kiyone said, "It's not strictly necessary by the plan, is it?"

"Oh, please?" Mihoshi begged.

"Officer Mihoshi, Officer Kiyone," the king said solemnly from the screen, "though you are not at my command, I request that you would lend us your aid. Kain is a formidable foe who must be stopped. If we can take him now, while he is still weakened, we may be able to avert calamity."

"I will go," Kiyone said finally. Mihoshi exclaimed happily.

Tenchi stood up. "I'd like to do my part, too. If Kain's a danger to my parents and this planet, I've got to stop him."

The others were heartened. The king stood and said, "All of you have the profoundest thanks of Jurai. I must attend the Council's emergency session now, so I shall leave this in your hands." They exchanged farewells, and the transmission ended.

Washu looked at the group and thought aloud, "Let's see. Tenchi's already a human, so we don't need to do anything more. Kiyone has blue eyes, so we'll just need to change the hair color. Mihoshi-"

Mihoshi cut in brightly, "I don't really need to change, do I? I've got blond hair and blue eyes, plenty of humans have those!"

"Except for the ears," Washu said for everyone. "Oh yeah," Mihoshi realized, fingering the pointed tops of her ears.

"Hey!" Nobyuki exclaimed. "I just had an idea! Back then, 'Star Trek' was getting pretty popular. You could say that you're a Spock fan!"

"But Kiyone doesn't like it when I draw attention on secret missions," Mihoshi said regretfully. "And what's a Spock fan?"

"Wear something on your head, like Spock did!" Nobuyuki recommended.

"That should work," Washu shrugged, and Mihoshi agreed absently, still wondering what a "Star Trek" was.

"Are you sure?" Kiyone asked dubiously from the communicator.

Ryoko sighed impatiently, "Let's start moving!"

"First things first," Washu admonished, "let's get you all disguised. Don't know who'll be around when we arrive!"

Kiyone put in, "Do we have any Earthling clothes from the time period?"

"Maybe we could buy some while we're there," Sasami suggested.

"There might be something up in the attic," Yosho recalled.

"I think there might still be some school uniforms among Achika's things," Nobuyuki agreed.

"Excellent," Ayeka said, "then we could blend in well with the time period. Perhaps we could even accompany Lord Tenchi's mother to school, in case she is attacked."

"If we actually want Tenchi's mom to stay safe," Ryoko said, "then I'd better be the one protecting her."

Ayeka snapped, "And what is that supposed to mean?"

Tenchi put his chin in his hands as he regarded them both, then said doubtfully, "I dunno, I think you two would be too popular to blend in well."

"Why, thank you, Lord Tenchi!" Ayeka said, beginning to blush.

Ryoko gushed, "How sweet of you!"

Surprised, Tenchi gulped, "What? Uh? Oh, you're welcome."

Washu began to shoo Ayeka, Ryoko, Sasami, and Mihoshi into her laboratory while Yosho and Nobuyuki enthusiastically went up to the attic. For a moment, Tenchi simply stood in the room alone, wondering what exactly he had gotten himself into. Going back in time? To when his mother and father were young? And who was Kain anyways?

Then he realized he could be preparing as well, and set about the house collecting gear.

About fifteen minutes later, Yosho and Nobuyuki were standing outside the door of the lab, talking to Washu.

"We found these among Achika's things," Nobuyuki was telling her, moving the two school uniforms he was holding for emphasis. "Maybe the girls could use them."

"Yeah, maybe they'll fit. Thanks," Washu nodded. "I'll take these in to them. Oh, by the way, Yosho, I was wondering if you could suggest a landing point for us, when we go back in time. And Nobuyuki, I think we'll need to know everything you know about 1970."

Yosho nodded while Nobuyuki said excitedly, "Really? I've been trying to tell Tenchi for years how cool his old man was, but he doesn't believe me!" He grinned at Tenchi, who shook his head as he passed them, arms full of backpacks.

A few hours later, everyone gathered in the living room again - but Tenchi was hard put to say that these were the people he knew. Mihoshi was the only one largely the same, though she did have the addition of a giant, straw sunhat, incongruous with her GP uniform. Kiyone's ice-blue eyes were unchanged, but her long, free-flowing blue hair had been changed from blue to blond.

The others were more dramatically altered. Ayeka and Sasami now had long, black hair, and brown eyes. Now that their hair and eye colors were thus synchronized, the family resemblance between the two was very strong. Ryoko's hair was now brown, and instead of her golden cat eyes, she now had green eyes with many flecks of gold. Sasami was still in her Juraian robes. Ryoko and Ayeka were wearing the female uniforms for his mother's school - black blouses and black knee-length skirts, with white edging and a white handkerchief tied about the neck. Ryo-ohki's jewel on her forehead had been covered with faux fur, so that she looked almost like any other rabbit. Had any of them been seen walking down the street, they would've passed without suspicion.

Tenchi realized that for the first time, he was now seeing all five of them as though they were normal humans. It didn't quite feel like he had expected. He had thought it would've been comforting, and that it would've reinforced what he had come to learn over the past year and a half - that no matter what the differences between he and his alien houseguests, they were very similar in their souls.

Instead, he felt a feeling of sadness. Looking at them now, as people he might've seen anywhere, Tenchi felt like the lesson he had learned was lessened in its impact, now that he no longer had to confront the differences between his self and their selves.

He also felt a vague uneasiness, seeing how easily their outer forms had been changed by technology. It made him wonder if he had ever passed by aliens during his daily life and never known the difference.

Nobuyuki commented, "I'm glad those school uniforms fit. I'm a little surprised, because now that I think about it, neither of you seem like Achika's size."

Yosho grunted, then said, "I am surprised that she kept those school uniforms, since I had always thought she hated them. Achika was always very particular in her fashion. She had her mother's gift for sewing and sizes and clothing in general."

"In any case," Yosho went on, "I shall give you my recommendation for a landing point and base camp. Back then, there were even fewer people living out in this area. Almost no one went into the woods a few miles from our house, except for some hikers now and then. There's a stream nearby that you could use for water, and you could get food in town. Tenchi, you got the camping gear, right?"

"Yeah, I put it outside Washu's lab," Tenchi agreed. "I'll move it in when it's time to go."

"Okay, now it's my turn," Nobuyuki grinned. "But before I give you my top-secret briefing on 1970, I've got to give Tenchi something that I found while I was in the attic!"

He hustled Tenchi off into another room, and when they returned, Tenchi was wearing some of his father's casual clothes from the era.

"Yay, now Tenchi's all ready to go too!" Sasami cheered.

"You're very handsome in them, Lord Tenchi," Ayeka complimented him.

Ryoko pointed out, "Of course he is. He always is."

"Indeed, that is true," Ayeka agreed, turning away slightly from Ryoko while crossing her arms.

"Um, thanks," Tenchi said feebly, feeling rather embarrassed himself.

After Nobuyuki finished telling them everything there was to know about 1970, the group began to disperse. While the others went to the lab, Ayeka called her robots Azaka and Kamadaki inside, ordering them to closely guard Yosho and Nobuyuki in her abscence. Azaka and Kamadaki immediately responded, "Yes, ma'am!"

After the others had gone, Tenchi lingered, then asked, "Dad, Grandpa, are you sure you don't want to go, too? I mean, there's a chance, that we could see Mother."

Nobuyuki and Yosho looked at each other, then Nobuyuki began to speak. "Son, I can't tell you how many times I've wished for that over the years. But now, I'm content to have met her, and known her for as long as I did. You go on, Tenchi, and don't worry about us."

"Okay," Tenchi agreed, and they all exchanged goodbyes, then he went away, down the hall.

After a few moments of stillness, Nobuyuki turned back on the projector, and he and Yosho sat in the dark, watching Achika.

Tenchi finished loading the camping gear and supplies into the part of the time machine Washu had indicated, then asked, "Are you sure you don't want to come, Washu?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Washu waved it off. "Besides, you do want to get back, don't you? Somebody's got to stay at the controls here."

"Are you sure we have to be strapped in?" Tenchi next asked.

For there were large, person-sized straps attached to the monolith-like things that Washu had said were to be their "conveyances" in her time machine. The whole thing was arranged in a circle, mounted on rails. Everyone was to stand straight up, Washu had told them, and be strapped into one of the monoliths. Their equipment was riding in large pouches on the backs of the monoliths.

"Yeah," Washu confirmed, "this'll be rotating at a pretty high speed, so I'll be strapping everyone in nice and tight!"

"Yay!" Mihoshi exclaimed, "just like an amusement park!"

The time machine did indeed ride just like an amusement park ride. The others began to experience severe discomfort, though Mihoshi enjoyed it greatly. Sparks began to fly from the rails into which the monoliths and equipment pouches were set, as they spun faster and faster and faster.

Tenchi was trying to keep his mind off his queasiness by desperately trying to think of other things, such as speculation on who Kain was, the chance of seeing his mother and father when they were about his age, and considering simply how amazing it was that he and the others were going to be time traveling.

His last thoughts as the time travel began were of trying to remember something. The idea of going back in time, to his parent's youth, protecting them, and by extension himself, from imminent danger, seemed familiar. But from where?

Next Chapter

Tenchi says, "Well, we made it."

"What shall we do now?" Sasami inquires.

"Wait for Kain," Ryoko responds. "And when he gets here, pulverize him." She punches her fist into her open palm.

"I should ensure the safety of Lord Tenchi's mother," Ayeka suggests, "since she may be targeted by Kain."

"Can I come protect her, too, please, please?" Mihoshi begs.

Kiyone protests, "We can't just all go all over the place! Who's going to set up the tents?"

Tenchi sighs. "I hope I can keep us from breaking the space-time continuum in the next chapter, No Need for Arriving Before We Left."

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."

"Well, first things first. Azaka and Kamadaki usually end up as logs at Tenchi's front gate. But I decided they might do morning security sweeps, too. It made sense, and it was a good excuse to work them into the chapter, so I went with it."

"I have no idea when Nobuyuki and Achika ended up in the same school, so I made it up. That was easy," Dragonwiles smirks. "Here I can create reality from mere words!" Dragonwiles laughs a bit too maniacally, and a bit too long.

"Anyway," Dragonwiles settles down and resumes, "I may've mentioned this before - I made up the bit where Achika takes the infant Tenchi to Ryoko's cave and asks her to protect him. She does ask the question, in another setting, at one point in the 'Tenchi Muyo in Love' movie, which is where I got the idea for the scene from, but otherwise there is no canon which contains that scene."

"Oh, and the song from the beginning, that Azaka and Kamadaki were playing? Well," Dragonwiles smiles coyly, "if you remember what Tenchi was trying to remember at the end of the chapter, you already know what it is and where it's from."

Dragonwiles thinks a moment, then sighs and says, "Actually, I don't want to get sued, so fine: it's from the first 'Back to the Future' movie, and of course I don't own the rights to the movie or the song. While we're on the subject of things I referred to but don't own, I also don't own 'Star Trek' or the movie 'Star Trek V: The Voyage Home' in which Mr. Spock wears a headband so 1980s earthmen won't realize he's got pointed ears. It's actually a very practical solution, I think."

"And lest I be misunderstood, I'm not trying to be too mean to the movie upon which this arc is based, 'Tenchi Muyo in Love.' It's hard to describe the movie without it sounding like a ripoff of 'Back to the Future.' But as with 'Back to the Future' itself, most of the success of the movie is based on what it does when the characters do actually get back in time. I hope to expand on the movie's main theme of the tragedy of Tenchi's mother, as well as possibly introduce some new themes, and as has become apparent, remove some elements, such as Tenchi being in continual danger of disappearing. The reasons why he is not in such danger will become clear only at the end of the arc. Other changes I'll be making will become apparent much sooner."

Chapter 43 Main Chapters Chapter 45