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Chapter 46 Main Chapters Chapter 48

No Need for Calm Before a Storm

Dragonwiles announces, "I decided to be the DJ myself this time - it looks like everyone else has a lot of fun doing it. I'm going to play 'Bittersweet' by the artist Plumb. I of course, do not own that song, nor do I own the rights to most anything in this story." The song's dramatic notes begin.

1970 A. D.

Dinner that evening at the camp was done with a great deal of silence. The silence almost seemed natural, since there was not much to be said, but there was a tension hanging in the air. The eye of the hurricane rested upon them, for the moment, and an equilibrium was reached for that same moment. Mihoshi ate her food quietly. Tenchi was still, clearly, upset about not being allowed to see his mother. Kiyone would probably say that as long as this calm lasted through the mission, then they'd have time later to worry about when the storm resumed. Mihoshi didn't necessarily disagree, but she intuitively felt that the calm was not going to last that long.

The calm did somehow last through dinner. Stars were staring to appear in the night sky. Tenchi quickly moved off to his tent. He found the way blocked by Ryoko, as she teleported in front of him.

"You know, you're just too nice, Tenchi," she told him.

Ayeka's eyebrow quirked, but she attempted to not eavesdrop, as she also attempted to remain alert enough so she'd know if Ryoko were attempting to harm or subvert Lord Tenchi's mind. The camp wasn't large enough that there were many other places she could go, anyways.

Ryoko asked Tenchi, "This morning, why didn't you just say no? Tell them you were going to see your mother?" When Tenchi was silent, Ryoko pressed him, "I think you were right, you could've gotten reasonably close to her without anything bad happening. Why didn't you stand up for yourself?"

"We already made this decision," Tenchi sighed, putting a hand on his forehead, then smoothing it back over his head.

"Alright," Ryoko allowed, "but maybe I want to know why you made the decision. We all know your mother means a lot to you. Why didn't you stand up to us for a chance to see her?"

"Look," Tenchi snapped, "I don't want to go over this all over again. This is the decision we made, and now I have to live with it. I'd rather not think about it any more than I have to. And I'm tired." He gestured towards his tent.

Ryoko teleported back into her tent. Tenchi got inside his tent, leaving his sandals outside, and shut the zipper quickly, so quickly it jammed. He muttered imprecations at it until he managed to get it unstuck and the tent sealed.

In her mind, Ryoko asked Ryo-ohki, "I'm always on his side, this morning as well as any other time. Why didn't he stand up for me this morning?"

As Kiyone slept, she saw the first day of her classes at the Galactic Police Academy. She remembered looking around the room nervously. There had been the orientation yesterday, in the giant hall, crammed full of thousands of beings and their parents. That had been quite an eye-opener for Kiyone. She'd been sure that she had what it took to be not just good, but great, in the Galactic Police. Now, looking out over all those faces, and realizing that not a few felt as she did, she wondered at what she'd gotten herself into. In that crowd were scores of potential rivals and friends. How would she ever learn which was which?

Then, later that day, her parents had left. Kiyone had realized, much later, that she had wanted her parents to stay and talk her out of the whole idea, tell her to choose any of the other career paths that had opened up before her, that she'd surely excel in them. And she would, even if they weren't her dream jobs, and she'd find satisfaction and excellence in them. But her parents had wisely left, continuing on as they knew they had to do.

That next day, the first day of classes, as Kiyone had sat down at a seat in the empty room, Mihoshi had walked in, and said to her, "Hey, would you mind talking with me a little? I'm feeling maybe the teeniest bit lonely. My name's Mihoshi Kuramitsu, what's yours?"

In the dream reminiscence, time had streteched awkwardly before Kiyone responded, "I'm Kiyone Makibi. You mean, the great Kuramitsu family?"

"Thanks, I do like to think we're a pretty good family," Mihoshi laughed, "I get along great with all my relatives! Yup, my grandfather's the Grand Marshal, and my parents have worked here forever, or before I was born, about the same thing, and my little brother, his name's Misao, he's always saying how he's going to be joining me here at the Academy soon! But enough about me, what's your family like?"

All the rest of that day, Kiyone had waited for the other shoe to drop. In her dream, the other shoe did drop, several times, time restarting after each dreadful scenario- Mihoshi had turned out to be laughing at her, or trying to cultivate Kiyone as a sycophant, or perhaps just one of those endlessly outgoing and popular people who, for one reason or another, never end up being one's close friends. But the dream at last swept past these conceptions and settled again in the reality. Mihoshi had been popular, surrounded by sycophants, but not by Mihoshi's choice, and there had been true friends there as well. In time, when Kiyone had finally seen for herself that Mihoshi wouldn't ever dream of laughing at her, they had become close friends, a relationship that seemed destined to become even closer when they were assigned to be partners after graduation.

Then the dream, as such things are wont to do, sped up the good times, and delivered Kiyone to that horrible season when things began to go wrong, when their careers went from success to success to partial success to failure, down and down that horrible path and -

Kiyone woke up. She lay in her sleeping bag for some time, as her groggy mind slowly recalled that she had been asleep, and began sorting out the dream from her true memories. Kiyone began to get ready for the day, and as she neared the end of her morning routine, she had recovered, but she shook her head. It was confusing enough that she was time traveling - did her mind have to time travel too?

She took a deep breath of the early morning air as she walked around the campsite perimeter. This was real: herself, the planet, the trees. But just as real were the things she had been seeing for so long and had become increasingly odd of late. She was good friends with Mihoshi Kuramitsu, heir to an immense family fortune. She had not simply seen or cursorily met a single Princess of Jurai - she had been regularly eating with both. She regularly visited the home of Tenchi, a descendant of the long-lost Juraian heir. Kiyone had been, to some extent, allied with the supercriminal duo of Ryoko and Ryo-Ohki against the greatest bounty hunters of their time, Nagi and Ken-Ohki. Now she had actually performed the physical impossiblity of time travel, thanks to Washu, a mad scientist who had not been heard from in centuries, and was hoping to defeat the supercriminal Kain, whose only defeat had come at the hands of a Juraian armada.

It didn't happen to real people. Kiyone knew she was bright, knew she had potential, but she was, more or less, a regular person. The sort of things that had been happening to her lately didn't happen to ordinary people. It went beyond coincidences or her own hard work, but she realized that the reason she was living this unbelieveable life might be something she could never explain. It was almost more than Kiyone could stand - she was a detective, and she always wanted to know the reason why. Kiyone squinted at the rising sun, and decided that if she couldn't know that answer, then she'd get an answer to the question that had been nagging at her for some time. She'd learn for herself just why Juraians had so much power, how they had gotten to know the space trees, and just who the Lady Tsunami that they thought so highly of truly was. She was going to uncover the secret of Jurai. It might not explain just why her life had grown so odd lately, but it was an odd mystery that she felt convinced that she could solve.

Ryoko looked across the aisle of the bus at Achika. This time, she had let Ayeka get the window seat while she got the aisle seat. They were here again, talking to Tenchi's mother even though he couldn't, again, because there had been no other choice. She still needed protection, and now that she knew they had been on the bus, their stories would be imperiled if they didn't get on the bus every day. Achika had looked for her and Ayeka as soon as she got on the bus, and had insisted on introducing her other friends to them. This had bothered Ayeka, but Ryoko didn't really care anymore - the target of their undercover mission had already identified them, there was little, if any point, to secrecy now.

"I was asking around at school about you," Achika said, and appeared slightly embarrassed about it. She quickly explained, "I had wanted to ask you two if you wanted to eat lunch with my friends and I. But I couldn't find anyone who knew you."

The conversation had drifted back into dangerous territory. Ayeka said nervously, "Oh, yes, we haven't met many people yet. That was very kind of you to ask. Perhaps we will, sometime."

Ryoko shrugged. Why not?

"I'd enjoy that, and I bet my friends would, too!" Achika said happily.

Ayeka felt even more bothered. The ground seemed tilted against them. At least they were here, only a short distance from her, and thus much more capable of defending her from Kain.

Achika considered them. Had they not both been wearing the school uniform, and had Ryoko not been so familiar with the area, she would've thought that they didn't go to her school at all. It seemed almost impossible that no one would remember them. Further, something seemed odd about their stated relationship of being siblings, beyond lack of family resemblance. Being an only child, she could rely only on observation of others, but Ayeka and Ryoko seemed to share most of the negative traits of being sisters, and few of the positive ones. She reminded herself that she was probably being paranoid. They might be stepsisters, and Ayeka's side of the new family might have only moved here relatively recently. Achika asked, "Are you looking forward to the trip to Tokyo Tower?"

"Not exactly," Ayeka said honestly. She and Ryoko had learned about this trip through their surreptitious observations of Achika's classroom. If there was one thing whetted Kain's appetite, it was agglomerations of people. This would be a field trip which the whole school was going on, to a major tourist destination, in a densely populated metropolis. Ayeka wouldn't be surprised if Kain showed up and tried to feed on every inhabitant of the city. If he did so, he'd gain strength and kill a good many innocents, as well as Achika and themselves, meaning their mission would fail.

Ryoko said enthusiastically, "I'm looking forward to it." Her remote observations from her seven centuries of confinement had been depressingly limited to the local vicinity. A chance to see something new was welcome. Not only that, but the crowds when they reached their destination would be the perfect bait to draw Kain out. Then their group would be able to kill Kain before he killed anyone or did something sneaky they didn't expect.

Achika smiled at their differing answers. Despite her reservations, they were interesting to talk to, and she did want to know them more. Achika responded, "I'm looking forward to it, myself. I think I'll like seeing the view from the Tower, but we're not only going to see the Tower. I'm actually much more interested in seeing some of the gardens. I hear they're very well-kept and beautiful."

"Oh? Planning on strolling with Nobuyuki?" Ryoko teased.

"Ryoko, mind your manners!" Ayeka snapped.

Achika laughed nervously and looked into the distance and allowed, "If he asked."

Ryoko insisted, "Why not ask him?"

"What if he wanted to ask?" Achika said, more as a suggestion than a statement. She considered and continue, "Besides, if he weren't ready or didn't want to, I'd embarrass or annoy him by asking."

Ryoko subsided, clearly unhappy. Achika offered appeasingly, "Maybe if I was more sure that was what he wanted. You see, Nobuyuki loves architecture, and seeing the Tower itself is what he's most interested in. He might enjoy the gardens once there, but he simply enjoys architecture more. So I'll let things fall as they may."

"Quite sensible," Ayeka nodded.

Ryoko leapt back into the conversation, as though she were compensating for losing the point earlier. She leaned forward and asked, "Say, leaving Nobuyuki out of the question for a moment, what do you want your son to be like?"

"My son?" Achika asked, bemused. "What if I have a daughter? Or several children? I'd like that. In fact, I think I'd like a big family."

Ayeka looked away uncomfortably. Ryoko leaned back, and said after a moment, "All right. If you had a son, though?"

Achika thought for a moment, then said, "I'd like for him to be kind and considerate. But, that shouldn't be all. He should be able to take whatever life throws at him with strength and equanimity."

"I'm sure he will," Ayeka told her.

"Thank you, Ayeka," Achika responded, then fixed a piercing gaze on Ryoko and asked, "Ryoko, what do you want your son to be like?"

Ryoko said in surprise, "My son?"

Ayeka's eyebrows rose. Could Ryoko even have children?

Ryoko found herself flummoxed. In the seven centuries in Kagato's grasp, she had been too miserable and too busy carrying out his dirty work to consider the future in any form, even for herself or Ryo-Ohki, let alone for any children. After some time of watching Tenchi, she had started to become convinced that he wanted some. Washu's thoughts, which Ryoko had been forced to listen to after Washu had been released from her prison, were certain that Ryoko could have children. Still, the question as it related to Ryoko personally had still not yet occurred to her. Perhaps, she thought to herself, she still regarded herself as too much of a curiosity to consider being so normal as to have children.

"I don't know," admitted Ryoko. Ayeka sighed at her for asking a question she couldn't herself answer.

Achika didn't pry, but instead asked, "Ayeka, would you like to answer the question?"

Ayeka answered readily, "He must be a man of good judgment: prudent, but willing to take necessary risks. I would not judge him for lacking natural talent in any area, but he must attempt to learn basics in many fields, so that he can understand them. He should be a man who can be both stern and merciful."

Ryoko whistled. "I sure would hate to be your kid," she commented. Ayeka deigned to ignore her.

Achika asked, "Thank you, but, really, supposing you had a daughter as well?"

"Naturally I must have a son," Ayeka said, as though it were self-evident. "If I had a daughter, for various reasons, I should expect largely the same of her."

"Those're high expectations," Ryoko commented, shaking her head. Annoying as Washu could be, Ryoko for the first time appreciated having her as a mother, instead of some demading Juraian princess.

"Some people do have high expectations," Ayeka said firmly. "In fact, some people even achieve them."

Achika smiled again. That sounded rather like the sort of thing that would be said by Ayeka, her father's sister, whom he often talked about. It was an odd coincidence, that she thought little more about. All that was so far removed from her world, anyway.

Tenchi looked at them all as they gathered for dinner. He swallowed, then stood up straight and looked at them, then said, "I have something to say to all of you. I shouldn't have been so irritated at all of you these past few days. I apologize." He smiled ruefully. "My mother didn't raise me that way."

Ayeka felt a strange heaviness lift from her as she said, "Of course, Lord Tenchi." She felt queer now, off-balance, as though anything might happen next, but things could finally be set right, and that was greatly encouraging.

"Tenchi!" Sasami wailed, and ran and hugged him. He ruffled her hair and said, "Sorry, Sasami."

Later, as they were eating, Ryoko pointed at Tenchi with a chopstick and said, "Well, I still think that it's safe enough for Tenchi to look after his mother."

"I would like that, but maybe we should be careful," Tenchi said slowly, not wanting to repeat the same mistakes as before. He thought aloud, "I don't know. Could, maybe, I just keep a fair distance between us, so she doesn't see me, but I could still act if she's in trouble?"

Kiyone's eyes bulged and she fought an urge to scream which she usually only felt around Mihoshi. That was exactly what they had been saying the other day and he didn't like it then! After a few seconds of clenched teeth and fists, she had calmed enough to remind herself that Tenchi was trying to make a fresh start with them and trying to make a reasonable compromise about something that touched him very personally. It still rankled to think that he hadn't been listening, or else that she had been so seriously misunderstood, but if he was trying to be mature enough to make up for his mistakes, she could surely be mature enough to give him another chance.

The next day, after school and the long bus ride home, Asahi was walking to her house from her bus stop and was surprised to find Nobuyuki on the path. He was at one of its most scenic points, at the top of a small hill in a clearing, and he was sitting down with a large sketch pad in his lap, with his left side facing her. His arms were moving in a very detailed and deliberate manner, different from his doodling in class, and more like he was when he was designing a building. She wondered what he could be doing all the way out here. His house was in town, miles in the opposite direction.

Nobuyuki's concentration was so intense that he didn't hear Asahi coming, so she called out to him. When she did, he looked up at her in surprise, whipping his ponytail about, as though he hadn't expected that she'd be walking along the path to her house after school. Perhaps, she thought with a smile, he'd been so caught up in his work that he hadn't realized how late it was. Perhaps he'd thought it would take her a while longer to finish cleaning the classroom, and he'd be gone before she came along. His next actions, as she continued walking toward him, were to flip his sketchbook out of his lap to the side away from her. Now she was very curious.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Nothing very interesting," he said at first. As she kept approaching, he saw that she was unsatisfied and elaborated, "Oh, you know me, just some more of my drawing. I'd better be getting back, long way and lots of homework to do." He stood up hurriedly.

Achika said, "But I want to know what you're drawing." She smiled impishly and, somewhat unusally for her, acted on impulse by darting behind his back and taking the sketchbook from his right arm. She quickly flipped it toward her, thankful in retrospect that she hadn't accidentally torn it. "This is a house," she said in realization.

He sighed, seeing the game was up. "Yeah." He gestured out at the open field he'd been looking at. "It just seems like a perfect place for one - a good view, good drainage, plenty of level ground for a nice big one. Two stories, did you see?"

"Oh," Achika said, nodding. Inside, she wondered what this meant.

She actually thought there was a fairly good chance that Nobuyuki would not care, if he knew she was half an alien, that she wasn't entirely a human. He was shy, and didn't let people get to know him easily. Would he think she'd been deceiving him? He might feel betrayed and rebuff her. He was very kind, though, and he did seem to have a gift for looking beyond appearances. He'd probably still acknowledge her. But what would he acknowledge her as? Perhaps as a classmate, and nothing more.

How had her father ever managed this sort of dilemma in all his years of existence? He'd told her many things about his true life, but not that. She wasn't sure she wanted to know.

"Yeah, you know how I," he said slowly, looking out on the field, "how I love," he paused, "making the plans, drawing up a house. I really like this one," he said, turning away from the view and towards his sketch pad. Achika let out a breath. Nobuyuki pointed out a few features on the house and concluded, "I've combined some of my favorite ideas into this plan."

Achika suggested, "A skylight in the upper story would be good, too. It'd make sure there was plenty of light up there." Nobuyuki smiled and agreed, complimenting her on it, "You always have such good taste."

Nobuyuki looked from the field to the sketch pad again and said, "I really want to build this one, someday. Here would be good, if your father would let me."

"We might allow it," Asahi said, "but you'll have to let me visit sometime."

"It's a deal, then," Nobuyuki said, grinning.

In the woods nearby, Tenchi and the others were watching, clad in contemporary clothes in case they were seen. Tenchi smiled at his parents in the distance, then turned to the others and said, "Thanks. This really means a lot to me."

"You're welcome, Lord Tenchi," Ayeka acknowledged. "We'll all be able to protect your mother now."

Next Chapter

"Hi," Washu says to the audience, "remember me, the scientific genius who made this whole story arc possible by sending Tenchi and the gang back in time? Tenchi and the others are going to be in a lot of trouble in the next chapter. Yep, Kain finally makes his appearance in the next chapter, and a lot of things are going to change. What things? You'll just have to read 'No Need For Troubling the Tower' in order to find out."

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 was not in the 'Tenchi Muyo In Love' movie, although the last scene was altered slightly from one of the scenes in that movie."

Chapter 46 Main Chapters Chapter 48