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Chapter 44 Main Chapters Chapter 46

No Need for Arriving Before We Left

"It's me, Mihoshi!" she says with an exuberant wave, "and Dragonwiles asked me to be your DJ for this chapter! It's a scary and sad chapter, so I've chosen as our theme song for this episode the Akatsuki's theme from 'Naruto Shippuden'! Dragonwiles wanted me to be sure to tell you that he doesn't own Naruto Shippuden. I don't know why anyone would think he would, but he insisted!" The dread-inspiring theme begins to play as she mashes the button.

1970 A. D.

The first thing Ryoko noticed as they arrived into the past was that her mindlink with her mother, Washu, was completely absent. And she thrilled at that realization.

The next thing Ryoko noticed was that they were all still feeling the ill effects of the time machine's centrifugal force. Tenchi stumbled backwards, tripped over a log, and fell on his back. He looked okay, so Ryoko was only worried for a moment. Meanwhile Sasami sat down heavily, Ayeka squatted with her fists clenched, and Mihoshi knocked over Kiyone. Ryoko herself closed her eyes and stayed very still for a few moments until the dizziness left.

Then Ryoko shouted, "All right! At least for a little while, Washu's out of my mind!" She grinned as she thought something mean about Washu, then something that would've annoyed Washu, then another mean thing, and cackled with glee.

"Meow!" Ryo-ohki remonstrated with her from her arms. Ryoko frowned down at her friend. Their mindlink was quite intact, and Ryoko could sense from Ryo-ohki quite a bit of criticism of Ryoko's present behavior, which Ryoko did not appreciate at all.

As Tenchi picked himself up and brushed some dirt off his pants, he asked the question that had been on his mind for hours, but never found time to raise, "Say, I've been wondering - can any of you tell me about Kain?"

"Oooh!" Mihoshi squealed frightenedly as she hugged herself, "Kain's scary!"

"Uh-huh," Tenchi prompted her.

"So we can't talk about him until we've got a campfire going!" Mihoshi enthused. "Scary stories are always best around the campfire!"

Tenchi gaped at her until Ayeka pointed out, "We should probably establish our camp soon. It looks like we only have an hour or so of daylight remaining."

Tenchi turned to the sun and saw that she was right. "You're right," he agreed. "Let's all get started, then."

It was not as simple as that, of course, but despite the petty arguments over the division of labor, the most necessary steps to prepare the campsite had been conducted within the hour, and the remainder were conducted by firelight.

They had determined to set up camp about where they had been sent by the time machine. Washu had set it to the area in the woods where Yosho had said few people went, and their specific landing point had turned out to be a clearing, large enough for a good-sized campsite. The stream was nearby, close enough for convenience, but far enough away and downslope, so that the risk of flooding was reduced.

The fire crackled and popped and wafted smoke into the sky. Sasami stirred the pot one more time, tasted it, and then declared, "It's ready!"

The others thanked her and began to eat. Tenchi noticed towards the end of the meal that the campfire was making not only their shadows longer, but also those of the tall trees that surrounded them on every side. Tenchi looked up at the sky and saw many, many stars. He smiled slightly as he saw a shooting star, then heard Kiyone gasp.

He turned to her and saw her watching the sky in awe. "You saw it too?" he inquired. She nodded, almost said nothing, then added, "It's the first one I've ever seen."

"All right!" Mihoshi clapped her hands to be sure she had everyone's attention, "it's time for the super-scary story about Kain!" Tenchi turned to face her, wondering what exactly Mihoshi was going to tell them. He trusted her good intentions, but he wondered if she were actually frightened of Kain enough to take his threat, whatever it was, seriously.

"Some people say," Mihoshi began mysteriously, "that Kain had always lain dormant there, always slumbering in the light between the solar systems, and he was waiting for the time when he would awake and feed. Others say that he arose suddenly out of the malice of a thousand unjustly killed spacers. Still others say that they saw Kain and spoke with him when he was a good and gentle giant in the wilderness of space, before a xenophobic wing of a local militia attacked him and provoked his wrath against all other forms of life!"

"None of these ideas have been corroborated," Ayeka whispered to Tenchi, already regretting allowing Mihoshi to begin the tale.

Mihoshi grew more somber and continued, "Whatever the truth, Kain came from nobody-knew-where and arrived at a nice, prosperous planet, Tendraken. He sucked the life out of their perimeter patrol ships, then drew closer and closer to the planet and began to feed on all the people there. Millions of people died, even some of the ones in the evacuation shuttles!"

Tenchi stared at Mihoshi and asked, "Kain eats people?"

"No, no," Mihoshi disagreed hurriedly as everyone added a negatory. Ryoko clarified, "He doesn't eat people's bodies. Kain can drain a being of energy in a surprisingly short amount of time."

"That planet was just the beginning," Mihoshi shivered as she continued the tale. "Kain left there and began to feed on other worlds. His energy grew each time he ate someone, stronger than ever before!"

"That's horrible!" Tenchi exclaimed.

Kiyone nodded. "Yes, it was. Many of my ancestors died during his attacks. That whole region of space, though it was once among the most civilized areas of the galaxy, was nearly wiped out, and it's only recovering today. The pirates who started springing up, plundering the ruined worlds and enslaving refugees, didn't help," Kiyone said angrily.

Ayeka agreed, "It was a dark time for everyone. The sudden rise of the pirates and the depredations of Kain tested the mettle of Jurai. Many of Father's family and friends, and their space trees, perished in fierce battles trying to end these threats."

"What about the Galactic Police? Didn't they help?" Tenchi asked in confusion.

"The GP wasn't separate from Jurai yet," Mihoshi explained. "Hm, now where was I?"

Ryoko prompted her, "Death and destruction on a massive scale?"

"Of course, that's what you'd say, for that's all you know," Ayeka tittered.

"Yeah, wanna try some destruction?" Ryoko asked with a savage smile. Then she feigned reconsidering it and said sarcastically, "Never mind, you probably can't handle it."

Sasami said firmly, "Please continue, Mihoshi."

"Well, anyhow," Mihoshi said, re-finding her place in her narrative, "it all ended with a big battle. Lady Tsunami herself had agreed to accompany the Juraian fleet and, of course, the GP forces too. It was such a difficult fight that even Lady Tsunami was mostly forced to be defensive, defending as much of the fleet as she could. Even so, my great-granduncle died in the battle, along with lots of other people. But at the end of the fight, King Kazuki of Jurai subdued Kain. My great-great-grandfather, and Lord Hokushin and Marshal Donagren of Jurai, and of course Lady Tsunami, took Kain to a prison in an asteroid field far away from everything."

The fire popped. Tenchi threw a log onto it absently, then asked, "Okay, but what was Ayeka's father talking about today? What happened to her grandfather?"

Mihoshi said, "Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. It's something everyone learns." She was about to go on when she had a thought and looked deferentially at Ayeka. Ayeka nodded in appreciation and said gravely, "King Kazuki was my grandfather. As the battle pressed on, he realized that Kain was growing weaker, but not fast enough. The fleet was on the verge of collapse. My grandfather realized that it would be possible to use all of the energy in his body to overwhelm Kain, leaving him weak and insensible long enough for Lady Tsunami and the fleet to enforce hibernation. King Kazuki, as he expected, had to use all of his energy to do this."

"That's very brave, and very sad," Tenchi said thoughtfully.

Ayeka agreed, "We are very proud of him, though Sasami and I never knew him."

"Hey," Ryoko suddenly suggested, "we've got a time machine now. Just convince Washu to send you to that time, and you can meet him."

"We shouldn't use it simply to gratify ourselves," Ayeka disagreed distastefully.

"Thought you didn't really want to meet him," Ryoko muttered to herself.

Ayeka glared at her, but Tenchi protested, "Hey, who says it'd just be gratifying yourselves?"

There was a beeping noise from one of the tents, and then they heard Washu's voice saying, "Hey, is anyone there?"

Kiyone and Mihoshi headed towards the tent, since it was theirs, and finally managed to find an odd device amongst the other equipment that had been packed. It was the device from which Washu's voice was coming, and it turned out to be able to project a three-dimensional hologram of her as well, rendering her form roughly life-sized. Her holographic form calmly sat down near Ryoko and said, "Well, hey everyone, glad to see my time machine didn't blow you up or drive you insane."

"We just ate, Little Washu!" Ayeka said indignantly.

Sasami said to the hologram, "Little Washu, you are still in the future, aren't you?" Washu nodded, and Sasami went on, "My science teacher always said it was impossible to send information back in time."

"If I can send you guys back in time, information is no problem," Washu said matter-of-factly.

Nobuyuki's disembodied head appeared next to Washu suddenly as he leaned into the range of the distant camera, and he waved and said, "Hey, everyone!"

"Hi, Dad!" said Tenchi.

"We wanted to make sure you arrived there OK," Washu went on, "and give you some news. Your time travel gave me another data point, so I reanalyzed the records of Kain's time travel. Looks like you've got about three weeks, at most, before he arrives."

"So it very well could be when we go to Tokyo," Nobuyuki reminded them.

"And with that comforting thought, we bid you all goodnight!" Washu said cheerily. "Goodnight, little Ryoko!" she said in a too-syrupy voice to her daughter.

"Goodnight," Ryoko said neutrally.

The hologram faded away, and the strange device switched into a powersaving mode. Tenchi stood up slowly and stretched. "I'm going to get some rest. It's been a long day."

Sasami said brightly, "I'll watch the fire tonight."

Ayeka thought to herself wryly, "Anything to stay up a few hours later."

"I'll spell you," Mihoshi offered eagerly. Apparently she, too, wished to enjoy the night.

Shortly afterwards, Tenchi had settled into his sleeping bag in his tent and was feeling drowsy when Ryoko literally phased her head through the door of his tent and said inquisitively, "Hey, Tenchi, you awake?"

Tenchi grunted something and hauled himself to a sitting position, blearily blinking at her. It was worse, he decided sluggishly, when she did that disguised as a human. At least when she looked like herself, he could accept her ability to literally walk through walls. When she was disguised as an ordinary human and did that, he almost couldn't handle it.

"Don't let all our talk this evening discourage you," Ryoko said encouragingly. "Being captured weakened Kain, and he still hasn't recovered from that. So you and I can take him on. I won't let anything happen to you."

His thoughts seemed to be moving through syrup, and he finally came up with a slurred, "Thanks."

Next he heard Ayeka's shrill exclamation, "What are you doing, Ryoko?"

"Giving Tenchi a goodnight kiss," Ryoko teased as her head swiftly retreated from the tent to face Ayeka.

It was a testament to Tenchi's tiredness that he simply collapsed back into his cot and fell asleep, oblivious to Ayeka sqawk of indignation and subsequent argument.

The next morning, tremendously refreshed, Tenchi put on clothes, opened his tent, took a deep breath of fresh air, smiled, listened to the birdsong, took a big step, and tripped as he belatedly realized he had somehow stepped on a person.

He picked himself up and found Ayeka and Ryoko stirring. Both had apparently been sleeping in front of his tent, instead of in their tents. Tenchi, after a confused apology, considered asking about the reasons for this, but his stomach eloquently argued that acquiring breakfast was a wiser course of action.

He headed towards the fire, which was still going. Sasami was sitting on a log, facing the fire, with her back to him. Somehow he had managed to recognize her despite her newly black hair. She turned to him as he approached and said, "Oh, you're up already, Tenchi? I'm sorry, breakfast isn't ready yet." Tenchi saw that she was arranging items from one of the food packs.

"You don't need to apologize," Tenchi shook his head in amazement. "Didn't you get any sleep at all? I thought Mihoshi was going to take over."

"Oh, she did, so I slept plenty," Sasami assured him quickly. "This is about the time I always get up at home to make breakfast, so it's fine for me."

"OK," Tenchi agreed. He sat down on a log to her right and helped her go through the food.

They prepared breakfast for a bit, then Sasami mentioned while continuing to work, "After I woke up this morning, I had a conversation. I talked to Tsunami."

"Oh?" Tenchi said, blinking at her. Tsunami had revealed to them some time ago how she was assimilated, or perhaps was assimilating, with Sasami, as a side effect of saving Sasami's life in childhood. Tsunami had said that Sasami didn't fully understand their relationship to each other, which had left Tenchi wondering who else possibly could. Probably for that reason, Sasami hadn't mentioned Tsunami since then. What was bringing it up now?

"She needed to know how I was here, in the past," Sasami explained. "I guess she knew I was here. So I told her." She looked in Tenchi's face and saw his attention suddenly shift to something over her left shoulder.

Tenchi got up and moved in front of Sasami, just as a precaution. This woman approaching the camp probably was just an ordinary hiker, but it was still an odd coincidence that he didn't fully trust. Even if it was innocent, questions might prove awkward, especially if Ayeka and Ryoko continued their quarrel from the previous evening.

She had, as she approached, been staring at him in concern, but then she realized what had happened and called out, "It's me, Kiyone."

"What?" Tenchi explained. Then he realized that it was Kiyone, only in different clothes than he had expected. With different clothes and blonde hair, she had proven almost unrecognizable to him. Tenchi felt embarrassed, since really she didn't otherwise look any different.

"She's been up a while too," Sasami commented.

"I didn't mean to startle you," Kiyone said as she came closer. "I wanted to look around the area. It appears we are alone for quite a ways. I saw your grandfather's old house in the distance. It was very odd." Kiyone smiled ruefully. "Seeing that there, and just trees and grass where the new house was, or rather, will be, it was the first time it actually hit me, that I was in the past."

"I see what you mean," Tenchi agreed, almost feeling goosebumps. "Don't worry about me, I'm just still not used to these disguises."

Kiyone either had misunderstood him, or had understood him already and was a few steps ahead, because she replied, "These," gesturing with her hands at her T-shirt and jeans, "won't do for a long-term disguise, your father simply lent them to us at the last minute when we were all securing the equipment. One of the first things we'll have to do today is have you, Ayeka and Ryoko buy local clothes for the rest of us."

Behind them, Ryoko yawned and slouched to a seat on a log as she asked, "Sasami, what's for breakfast?"

Kiyone looked around and frowned as she crossed her arms and said irritatedly, "Is Mihoshi still not up yet?" Her frown deepened as Tenchi shrugged, and she stalked off to the tent she had shared with Mihoshi.

Ayeka seated herself daintily on a log, much to Ryoko's amusement. "You know, I think I saw a big snail slime right where you deigned to sit," she purred.

"I suppose this is nothing more than I should expect from someone as unrefined and undisciplined as you," Ayeka retorted. "A princess can sit anywhere as though it were a throne, and act appropriately."

"Yep, you're right, because the pomposity travels with a princess, wherever she goes!" Ryoko snorted in agreement.

"Mihoshi, get up already!" Kiyone yelled into their tent. Tenchi reckoned that Mihoshi must've made some reply, because Kiyone next shouted, "Just because we have time traveled, doesn't mean we have all the time in the world!"

"Can we just try to eat?" Tenchi asked plaintively as he helped Sasami hand out their breakfast. "Even better, figure out what we're going to do today while we eat?"

It wasn't quite so simple, of course, but by the time that Mihoshi showed up at their meal, Tenchi's dogged effort had finally brought the conversation to the point where they could begin planning the day.

"We'll have to be careful, since we pretty much look school-age," Tenchi said. "So I don't think we can be seen too openly around town until after school lets out."

Kiyone added, "After school lets out, I think that Ayeka and Ryoko should buy the rest of us clothes from this time period, so that we can move more freely. Until that time, we'll remain here, working further on the campsite and keeping a watch on the house of Tenchi's grandfather."

"And in the meantime," Ryoko said after she sipped a drink, "we'll be watching Tenchi's parents at the school."

Ayeka wondered aloud, "How close to the school can we risk getting? Ryoko and I have the proper uniforms, but none of the proper documents. If anyone were to question us, we couldn't explain our presence."

"We'll just have to work something out," Tenchi said. "Maybe we can just try to hide near the school and watch from there."

"You're coming too, Lord Tenchi?" Ayeka asked carefully.

"Of course," Tenchi said. "My mother, my father, I can't risk Kain getting them. Or anyone else at school, for that matter."

There was a pregnant silence, then Sasami said anxiously, "But Tenchi, if somebody sees or hears you, especially your parents, won't they realize something? You have a strong resemblance to both your parents, and your voice probably sounds similar to your father's at this time."

"Well, then I'll just hide really well," Tenchi said, starting to feel defensive as he saw awkward disagreement gathering in her eyes.

"Of all of us who could be questioned or held by the police as truants from school," Ayeka said diplomatically, "you are the one most at risk. And if your parents were somehow to realize your anachronicity, even intuitively realizing your identity, the future could be profoundly changed."

Tenchi began to feel profound indignation rising in him as he looked at Mihoshi and Kiyone and saw that they were agreeing, so he felt profoundly relieved when he heard his indignation echoed in Ryoko's voice when she exploded, "So what is he supposed to do, sit here?"

"He can best help his parents at the camp," Kiyone said quietly.

Ryoko spat, "You all can talk callously about it. It's not your dead mother we're talking about. She's been gone for about a decade now. He hasn't seen her in years, she's only a few kilometers away now, and you all want to keep them apart!"

"Because if they do come together, the knowledge could do serious harm!" Ayeka insisted.

"What'll I even do if I stay here?" Tenchi exclaimed. "Sure, the campsite can be improved, and maybe we should improve it, but is that what we came here to do? Kain's going to come sometime, and if he does target Mother I'll have to be there to protect her!"

Mihoshi suggested with a front of enthusiasm, "Maybe you could just watch over her from a distance? You can protect her then, can't you? I bet you can be far enough away to make sure she's okay-"

"That's not enough!" Tenchi shouted, and Mihoshi flinched. "Far away? This is Kain we're talking about! All of you told me last night how dangerous he is! We can't be playing it safe with maybes and what ifs! We've got to be right there or else nobody's going to survive when he comes!"

"There's more than one way in which the future can be ruined," Kiyone pointed out.

"If that's how you all feel, then I guess I'd better start practicing being useless," Tenchi muttered sullenly in the silence in the clearing, and stalked away, beyond their tents. Sasami rested her head on her fists and stared sadly at the fire, sighing as she saw it had gone out.

Ayeka said sarcastically to Ryoko, "That was very helpful, monster woman!"

Ryoko shook her head and asked, "When did you form a conspiracy to stab Tenchi in the back?"

Ayeka leapt to her feet. "That is going too far, even for you!" she shouted.

"None of you would even think of such a thing if it were your mother!" Ryoko shouted back.

"It's because she's the mother of someone we all know that we're not thinking rationally about this," Kiyone pointed out.

Ryoko asked angrily, "So you're comfortable with risking her life?"

"I didn't say that," Kiyone replied irritatedly. "And we're talking about how much risk we can take of Tenchi being discovered. No one is proposing abandoning anyone, least of all his mother. We're only saying that it's best if they don't meet, and trying to determine-"

"You don't any feelings at all, do you?" Ryoko asked savagely. Kiyone crossed her arms and stared sullenly at Ryoko.

Tenchi appeared suddenly from behind the tents and called, "Just knock it off! It's fine, OK? Let's just stop this."

Ryoko looked at him in shock, and Mihoshi asked concernedly, "Are you sure, Tenchi?"

"It's fine. Do as you please," Tenchi said dully, and shuffled away with his hands in his pockets, regarding the ground.

Ryoko looked steadily after him, hurt, while the others alternated between uncomfortably at him and uncomfortably at each other.

They all carried out the morning routines - ensuring the campfire was out, putting away the breakfast stuff, brushing teeth - in a sort of stunned silence. After this was finished, Ryoko laid down beneath a tree at the edge of the clearing, facing the house of Tenchi's grandfather.

Ayeka walked quickly towards Ryoko and asked archly, "Ryoko, are you coming?"

"Where?" Ryoko asked, coming out of her thoughts.

"To protect Lord Tenchi's mother. We'll be following her from a short distance. Right now we're the only ones who can," Ayeka said frustratedly as she gestured to the school uniforms she and Ryoko were wearing. Her vexation grew as Ryoko simply looked thoughtful.

Ayeka told her, "If you're going to mope like that, it's best if you stay here."

Unusually, Ryoko didn't seem to have taken any offense at this remark, and instead said slowly, "It just doesn't seem fair. That we get to see her and Tenchi doesn't."

"That is precisely why we must protect her in his stead," Ayeka said decisively. Ryoko made no move, so Ayeka turned and walked in the direction of the town.

Ryoko got up, threw a longing glance back at the camp, and walked quickly to join Ayeka.

Next Chapter

"That was terribly, terribly awkward," Azaka comments, light from his jewel brilliantly illuminating his loglike body.

Kamadaki agrees, "Indeed, it was, and it'll only get more awkward when they actually meet Lord Tenchi's mother."

"It's coming soon in our next chapter, No Need for Schooling," Azaka concludes. The two robotic logs bow to the audience.

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, as you've probably noticed by now, pretty nearly nothing in this chapter actually occurred in the Tenchi Muyo in Love movie. And you're probably thinking that I'm a very cruel author not to allow Tenchi to see his mom just yet. But she does at least recognize that there's something odd about him in the movie, even though she only sees him for a moment and he quickly leaves."

"Also, the planet Tendraken is something I made up back in Chapter 36. We're never told where Kain first struck, or quite how his rampage went."

Chapter 44 Main Chapters Chapter 46