Sasami ran towards the house, Ryo-Ohki playfully chasing her. The warm, enveloping summer air swirled around, letting her pass, and the slowly rising sun in the eastern sky brought forth the start of a fresh new day.
"Hurry up, Ryo-Ohki, you're falling behind!" the young princess called back to her cabbit companion, who meowed cheerfully and ran a little bit faster, trying to win the spontaneous race between them. It was the sort of morning where fun little games such as this just seemed to fall into place, like ripe apples slipping off of their branches. The two raced each other over the final stretch of road, without a care in the world.
In a junction point between this dimension and trillions of others, existing in both space and time only with very liberal definitions of the words, Lady Tokimi watched this scene unfold without betraying any visible reaction. As the oldest of the three supremely powerful immortal sisters who, at least in theory, ruled the omniverse, she could not be less interested in the race, nor in the little cabbit. She continued to observe the Juraian with faintly mild distaste for what would have to happen to her, yet she remained stoic nevertheless, since the indomitable will of Tokimi would not be denied.
"Lady Tokimi." D3, her servant, phased into view before her. "I have checked as you requested; there is no other way to halt Tsunami's merging with this young girl. She is protected far too thoroughly."
Tokimi blinked, a reaction that, for her, was more than equal to an outburst of furious rage. "By Tsunami or by Washu?"
"Washu is still limited by her memory blocks against knowledge of our world," the ancient being intoned, "but Tsunami's protection will prevent any mortal attempt against the girl's life."
A silence arose between the two cosmic beings. The images from Earth continued to play out in the space around them, where Sasami won her foot race with Ryo-Ohki, and was cheerfully promising a tasty snack for the cabbit to make up for her second-place finish.
D3 continued, "So you do plan to make your presence directly known to them? What of the plans regarding the boy?"
"The boy called Tenchi is of some concern to us. He can be dealt with through other means." Her voice turned more sinister. "Tsunami, however, presents a much more serious problem. If she is allowed to merge with the girl, her power may surpass even my own. That, I will not permit."
D3 held a solemn pause, knowing well the gravity of this moment. "Then you will dispose of the girl personally?" Tokimi smiled at this, not out of personal malice, but merely at the knowledge of her soon-to-be-assured supremacy.
A Tenchi Muyo fan fiction story
Disclaimer: The characters of Tenchi Muyo are owned by Kajishima Masaki and AIC/Pioneer LDC. The events and persons in this fanfic are completely fictional and any resemblance to actual events or persons is completely unintentional, and the author is not responsible for any injury, trauma, or other detrimental condition resulting from proper or improper use of this fan fiction. Comments, suggestions, and other C&C will be greatly appreciated, and are accepted at the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep circulating the fanfics….
Ryo-Ohki ran around the house in a happy little cabbit dance. Sasami was in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on lunch for the few people who were still at home for the day. Washu was deep somewhere in the recesses of her multi-planet laboratory, while Tenchi was out looking for a nice, relaxing place to study. Nobuyuki had to go to work, as usual, and wasn't expected back for several more hours.
Ryoko, deciding that she would help Tenchi in his studies, went to Nobuyuki's library, picked out a rather sizeable pile of old textbooks buried behind the mountains of girls' comics, and flew off to provide him with plenty of useful reading material. Ayeka feared, somewhat over-dramatically, that this would distract Tenchi too much, causing him to flunk his entrance exams and be forced to live out on the street, cold and penniless. So she took Azaka and Kamidake with her and rushed off to protect Tenchi from plenty of useful reading material.
"Mihoshi, Kiyone, Grandpa! Lunchtime!" Sasami's voice rang out from the kitchen, causing Ryo-Ohki to halt her scampering dance and start dashing towards the meal.
Ryo-Ohki froze, looking around the living room in confusion. She couldn't feel her connection to Washu or Ryoko anymore; all she could sense in that direction was a painlessly severed numbness. She began to feel a vague, indistinct chill at the lack of that reassuring bond that she had held all her life, but just as abruptly a new mental link was formed, and the woman on the other end spoke to her, giving her a new and specific task, then urgently asking if she would carry it out.
Ryo-Ohki hesitated for just a moment, realizing, with some awe, who it was that was speaking to her, before sending back the only appropriate response she could give.
Ayeka stumbled back into her bedroom later than night, a long day of highly grueling protection behind her. Ryoko apparently mistook her many and varied attempts at making sure Tenchi could study in peace as some sort of challenge, and Nobuyuki's old college textbooks ended up getting thrown around the forest, turned into literary missiles.
She carefully walked by Sasami, who was already sound asleep on her futon, and slipped into her nightgown before unceremoniously flopping down onto her own bed and falling asleep within seconds.
A few hours later, as the dim glow of sunrise began to encroach into the retreating night, Ryo-Ohki entered the bedroom, phasing through the door so as not to make any noise. Walking with feline grace, the young cabbit softly padded over to Sasami's bed.
Sasami rolled over beneath her blankets, turning her face around as if to look straight at Ryo-Ohki, despite her being deep in one of her dreams. Ryo-Ohki stopped, and desperately tried to think of some way she could get out of her assigned job, but heard yet again the warning in her mind of what would happen if she failed now. Drawing a deep and little sigh, she moved in.
Sasami, in her dream, was busily getting ready to go out and tend the garden. It was the middle of the night, and the carrots were bound to leave if she didn't instruct them properly. After putting on her apron with the picture of a giant carrot on it (so that the crops knew who was boss), along with her pair of heavy, padded gardening gloves, she stood up and walked to the door, heading outside.
To her surprise, the inside was outside, and she ended up walking out of the house and into the kitchen, where a giant pot of something was already cooking on the stove. This confused her, as she was fairly sure that she didn't put it there. However, after a minute or so of internal debate she concluded that she must have done it; nobody else in the household seemed to be the sort to cook meals.
She walked across the kitchen and looked inside, discovering that it was a pot full of suiton. Just as she was about to ladle some out with her glove, so as to taste it and see how it was going, Ryo-Ohki also walked out of the house and into the kitchen, causing Sasami to turn around in surprise.
"Mya-myaaaaa!" she cheerfully greeted Sasami, with extra volume being provided by her increased size. The little cabbit had inexplicably grown to a large cabbit, almost as tall as Sasami herself, but both of them were okay with that.
"Evening, Ryo-Ohki! Did you want some soup?" Sasami scooped out a large portion of the pot's contents, seeing that it had silently been transformed into carrot stew, made from light blue carrots, but figuring that it was still edible anyway. She poured a bowlful from her gloves into a conveniently located plate on the floor, and Ryo-Ohki eagerly began nibbling the proffered meal.
As she ate, picking and choosing the tastiest morsels with skill, the house itself began loudly buzzing, as if reality itself had decided to set an alarm clock for right that instant. Sasami heard this noise subconsciously, but was taking off her gloves to wash them in the sink, and didn't notice. Ryo-Ohki also heard this noise, but was apparently too busy eating to notice.
At that moment, the door slid open, and both Sasami and Ryo-Ohki stopped what they were doing to see Ayeka, clad in Tenchi's jeans and T-shirt, walk out of the house, point dramatically in the window towards the horizon, and declare, "Look there, my sister! The time is becoming late in our regally bestowed morning!"
With a jolt of realization, Sasami turned around in panic, realizing that, indeed, the sun was rising over the eastern hills. It was also growing darker, increasing in size, swallowing up the landscape, and beginning to shift into the silhouette of a woman who Sasami thought she recognized, but she couldn't quite get a handle on who it was. The sun's cackling laugh suddenly rang out across the land, and Sasami woke up.
Sasami suddenly sat straight up in bed, blinking unsteadily at the mid-morning light streaming through the window and filling the bedroom. Ryo-Ohki stood by her pillow, giving a quizzical meow at Sasami's abrupt awakening, but Sasami ignored her, scrambling out of bed and getting dressed in a hurry.
"BREAKFAST! I forgot breakfast! Everybody's waiting!!" she shouted to herself, putting on her usual kimono with quite remarkable speed before dashing out the door and down the stairs. Ayeka, having been roused by this noisy outburst, groggily sat up in bed and glanced questioningly over at Ryo-Ohki, who merely gave a cabbit-sized shrug in response and turned to follow Sasami down to the kitchen.
"Uh…" Sasami commented, upon pulling a pan of something strangely unrecognizable out of the oven. It was meant to be something fresh, nutritious, and tasty, but she couldn't seem to remember how to make it. Even stranger, she couldn't remember what it was she was trying to make. She carried the pan of brown and white custard-like substance over to the kitchen table and put it down, not knowing what else to do with it.
As she set it down, some grease resting uneasily on top happened to splash off and land on the table, where it started to boil into the wooden surface, giving off a deceptively appetizing sizzle that could be heard throughout the house.
"Oh, good morning, Sasami!" Tenchi came in from outside, Ryoko and Ayeka following him. The two girls glared at each other momentarily, remembering the previous day's disagreement, but were quickly distracted by the sounds of breakfast emanating from the dining room table.
Sasami looked down, still uncomfortably confused over the "meal" on the table. Ryo-Ohki hopped up, took an exploratory whiff, and gave out a loud screech, promptly phasing right through the bottom of the table and running back into the kitchen.
"Huh? What was all that about?" Ryoko wondered, watching the cabbit's panicked flight, "I mean, Sasami's cooking can't be that bad, can…?" She trailed off, finally noticing the pan of extremely cooked wannabe casserole. The soggy crust appeared to be moving of its own volition, sending rivulets of greaselike liquid running about the constantly wobbling surface in protest of its own existence.
Ayeka stared at the food in shock, then over at her sister. "Sasami, are you all right? What happened?"
"I'm fine, Ayeka, just feeling a little light-headed…." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to calm down. "I guess I just forgot the recipe."
Ryoko gingerly poked the surface of the breakfast with some chopsticks, and was rewarded with a sudden explosion of orange and black molten potato sauce bursting out of the pan and splattering all over her face.
Tenchi and Ayeka shared a glance, evident worry on both their faces. Tenchi spoke up. "Sasami, maybe you should go lie down for a while, until we figure out what's happening to you…"
"I agree, Lord Tenchi." Ayeka spoke with practiced confidence, most of it faked. "Don't worry, Sasami. I'm just going to go talk with Miss Washu and see if she can find out what the matter is. I'm quite sure she can get access to Jurai's medical banks for a proper diagnosis."
Sasami nodded slowly. "Okay…." She and Tenchi began to head back to her bedroom, but then she stopped, turned, and asked, "Ayeka?"
Tsunami shook her head sadly, watching the situation in the Masaki household unfold through the pond of water surrounding her onboard her starship. Why was Tokimi doing this, she wondered? How could she be so power-hungry that she would be willing to kill a young girl just to maintain her dominance? She thought back to that day all those years before, when Sasami fell in the Royal Tree Chamber back on Jurai, and wished that there was some way, with all her power, to explain to her older sister that it was a just an act of mercy, not a….
She sighed. It wouldn't work anyway. Once Tokimi set her mind to something, she would eventually prevail. Even if Tsunami put her entire essence into shielding Sasami, she would end up as close to being fatally wounded as an immortal being can be, and Tokimi would take Sasami out anyway.
No, this plan had to succeed. Tsunami resolved to give it everything she needed to give in order to make it work. She might be weakened quite severely, and Sasami might die after all, but if the extra effort succeeded in weakening Tokimi enough that she couldn't launch another incursion into this dimension for quite some time, then it was by all means worth it.
With a mental command, she powered down her ship, a virtual extension of her own self, to its minimum power. She was doing all she could for the time being, and until Tokimi made her initial assault, she would have to gather every bit of strength she could muster.
Washu shrugged. "Closest diagnosis I can make before I do a scan. Juraians aren't really known for these types of ailments, but they do occur with greater regularity among certain other species, humans among them." She began typing several commands into her ethereal computer control panel with astonishing rapidity, but she stopped with a frown as the display buzzed back at her.
Ayeka paled. "Humans? Do you mean it's contagious?"
"Probably not… Huh?" She quickly typed in some more commands, but kept getting the same remorseful buzz back at her. With a scowl of purpose, she started to pull up dozens of additional readouts on extra displays that materialized before the two of them. Ayeka looked over her shoulder, though she couldn't make any sense of the fast-scrolling data.
"Is something wrong?"
The red-haired super genius sat down heavily, a puzzle of her caliber revealing itself before her. She glanced back at Ayeka with annoyed determination. "Apparently, all my medical diagnostic routines are offline. The thing's supposed to be infinitely redundant, and there's no response." She turned back to the screens. "There is absolutely no scientific, logical way that can happen! And yet… there it isn't."
"Miss Washu, what about Sasami? Could we please concentrate on helping her?"
Washu took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and thought. She tried opening her telepathic link with Ryo-Ohki, and shortly thereafter heard that familiar cheerful "Myaa!" ring in her mind. She gave only one question, "Have you seen anything out of the ordinary happen to Sasami in the past week?" An inconspicuous moment or two passed, then a meowing response came back, indicating that she hadn't.
She closed down the link and looked back at Ayeka. "Ryo-Ohki says she hasn't seen anything unusual with Sasami lately, so that's out. Current technology wouldn't be adequate to handle this sort of job, the native Earthling tools would be useless, and my computer's acting buggy, so this may take a little while. I'd advise making sure she gets plenty of rest and no stressful shocks to the system for the time being. In the meantime, I'll try to jury-rig some sort of replacement scanner to get a better idea of what's wrong with her. Don't worry, this shouldn't take long at all; just take care of Sasami and I'll think of something," she finished, giving one of her determined grins to reassure the Juraian princess.
Ayeka bowed respectfully and left Washu's lab, leaving its owner to look around the massive mainframe computer, genuinely disquieted. The chances of the system "accidentally" glitching, despite diagnostics and alarms in place to prevent such a thing, at the same time that Sasami fell ill to a condition that she was not supposed to be able to get were simply zero, and if whoever was behind this had the sheer power necessary to disrupt her systems…
"…we're in big trouble."
Sasami opened her eyes uncertainly, seeing the ceiling of a room she couldn't quite place. It was home, she understood that much, yet for the first time, she was keenly aware of the fascinating flatness of it all. It ran from wall to wall and wall to wall, remaining suspended several feet in front of her face without so much as a single visible effort. She smiled forlornly, knowing that she shouldn't be surprised by such an obvious truth, but still… it bothered her.
Her pillow rustled briefly, and Ryo-Ohki came scampering around her shoulder, climbing onto Sasami's chest to look at her with a visibly concerned stare, her small amber eyes reflecting the reddish tint of those of the bedridden princess.
"Ryo-Ohki…" Sasami slowly lifted up a hand to give the cabbit a reassuring scratch behind the ears. "Thanks for watching me, but I'll be fine, really." She closed her eyes again and tried to make the moment last as long as possible, aware that she had absolutely no idea what was happening to her, but hanging on to a shimmering sliver of pure confidence in that whatever it was couldn't last very long.
The sunset's light began to fade, dimming the room with gradual yet deliberate pacing. Sasami, falling asleep, rested her hand on Ryo-Ohki, who merely waited patiently, purring with anxiety.
With simple quickness, the ground-hugging tiny fluffy clouds passed by a seated Sasami. They looked so gentle and round that she wanted to name them, but couldn't think of where to start. The ever-present crackling buzz had returned, shaking the foundations behind her dream, but it didn't seem to matter much anymore.
She turned, and saw various indistinct and vague shapes walking towards her as she sat in the midst of a field by her home, or what was left of it. She was sure that it used to be a lot larger than the slowly melting mound of plastic and metal that it appeared as now.
"Myaow?" Ryo-Ohki, in her child-sized humanoid form, ran towards her, going around the grey walking blobs, and hurried over to her side. Upon seeing the cabbit, Sasami finally noticed just how badly her situation had deteriorated, and began to cry softly. Aside from Ryo-Ohki, so much had changed. Nothing else felt correct anymore. It was as if all that Sasami knew was just boiling away into space, leaving her trapped within an empty shell, and even worse, her previously secure glowing spark of confidence had vanished without her knowledge, leaving to make its home in some other, more fortunate person.
She collapsed to her hands and knees, trying to shut out the dream as well as the reality it was contained in, and desperately hoping to fall asleep while in here to find an even better dream on the next level up, but knowing, oddly enough, one other fact clearly in her ever-draining mind: that only one person could truly help her out at this point.
"Tsunami, where are you?"
Sasami's prone figure lay on her bed, her eyes only half-open and unfocused, while Washu ran her newly-improvised scanner over her head. Ayeka stood close by, as Tenchi and Ryoko watched from behind them. Ryo-Ohki, seemingly impervious to the sense of despair soaking the room, merely watched curiously from the foot of the bed. Washu ran one last foot-to-head scan over Sasami and checked the unit's display.
"From what I can tell, physically she's fine. No chemical imbalance or synapse deterioration of any kind." She spoke in a calm, clinical voice, struggling valiantly to keep back the raw emotion that threatened to crack her voice. "Her brain shows absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, save activity being only seven to eight percent that of a normal Juraian girl her age."
"Miss Washu," Ayeka said in a wavering tone, not bothering to even try to remain cool and collected, "what can we do to help her?"
"Not much, I'm afraid. It's almost as if Sasami's mind itself was being eaten away, leaving everything physical untouched. If that's the case, then…." She trailed off, powering down her scanner and placing it aside of the bed. "Let's just hope that's not the case."
Ayeka looked at Sasami on her bed, a vacant expression staring out through half-lidded eyes, and she couldn't bear to see her sister in this condition any longer. With a halfheartedly-muffled sob, she hurried to the door and headed downstairs. Tenchi turned to follow, but then stopped and looked to Washu.
"Washu, please… do whatever you can. I'll go try to talk to Ayeka." With that, he too left the room.
Ryoko and Washu stood by Sasami's bed, saying nothing for several moments. Ryo-Ohki walked alongside her to peer into the young girl's dull eyes.
Washu watched her young creation and came to a startling realization. Normally, she'd be able to see everything Ryo-Ohki saw in real-time, and yet, as Ryo-Ohki sat right below Sasami's face, Washu's connection was still giving her an image of the view from the foot of her bed, with a suspicious lag time involved.
She decided to test out her hypothesis with a simple mental test, opening up the psychic link and trying to get her attention. "Ryo-Ohki?"
The cabbit kept sitting there, unmoved. A hesitant, "…M-myaa?" came back along the channel, but Ryo-Ohki hadn't budged at all.
"RYO-OHKI!" Washu yelled even louder with her mind, causing Ryoko to wince in pain next to her, but Ryo-Ohki seemingly didn't notice a thing.
"Washu?! What do you think you're—?" Ryoko began complaining to her mother about having to yell at Ryo-Ohki so loudly that even she could hear it, but abruptly fell silent as she felt someone new enter the house.
They all felt it. A primal force of the universe, seeming to dim the very sunlight away, made its presence known loud, clear, and close. Ryo-Ohki stiffened and her fur involuntarily puffed up out of fear. Ryoko's mouth fell open, suddenly feeling pathetically weak next to the power she was sensing from downstairs. Even Sasami, barely conscious of any of what had been said around her the previous several minutes, opened her eyes widely and felt the same thing that Washu, for the first time in millennia, felt at that moment: abject terror.
Ryoko stammered, looking in the direction of downstairs, where the indescribably powerful figure had suddenly appeared, entering the dimension as easily as sticking one's head into a doorway. "That's… that's insane!! H-how can anyone be that…?!"
Washu knew who it was. She didn't know how she did, but she recognized the newcomer. Ryo-Ohki also knew, but through quite different means. In either case, there wasn't even any question as to what had just happened.
Tokimi had arrived.
Tenchi fell flat on his back after Tokimi instantly materialized a couple of feet in front of him in his living room, flooding the room with inconceivably bright light along the entire electromagnetic spectrum at once. Even if anyone present was capable of rational thought at the moment, none could mistake this apparition for being a mere projection or vision; this was the real thing. When she spoke, her voice seemed to resonate throughout the very fabric of space and time, echoing vocally, telepathically, and through every other medium imaginable.
"Tenchi. The boy who can create the Wings of the Light Hawk. How very nice it is to finally meet you." Her piercing multi-hued gaze turned upwards, in the direction of Sasami's bedroom. "However, I'm afraid that I'm here to execute an entirely unrelated task. Please stand aside." She began levitating slowly, almost leisurely, towards her young target upstairs.
"N…NO!!!" Tenchi, out of sheer panic, exploded with power, his battle suit forming around him, as he leaped up from the floor to place himself directly in front of Tokimi, his own trio of Light Hawk Wings glowing brilliantly in an effort to block her, and yet, the force he was generating wasn't nearly close to being enough to drown out the raw power before him.
Tokimi kept advancing, her velocity completely unchanged and a bored look on her face. As she got closer, Tenchi's Wings began to sputter and dim, despite his fevered attempts to hold her back. With a final pop of exhaustion, they disappeared completely and Tenchi fell to the ground, reverting back to his normal form partway down and landing in a noticeably painful position.
"TENCHI!!" Ryoko shouted as she and Washu ran downstairs and to the balcony over the living room, just in time to see Tenchi's Light Hawk Wings, previously thought to be practically indestructible, fizzle out like a cheap light bulb before the awesome onslaught coming their way. Growling out a curse and ignoring Washu's shouts to stop, Ryoko leapt at Tokimi, energy sword blazing into existence in her clenched fist, and took a wild swing at the immortal's head.
It never even got close. With a flash of light, Ryoko was swatted aside effortlessly, crashing through the wall right above Ayeka, who had started gingerly backing up the staircase at Tokimi's first appearance. It all seemed to fall into place for Ayeka; whoever this was, she had shown up right when Sasami was at her very weakest, and as soon as Ayeka heard the word "execute"….
She tried to run, but her legs felt like they had locked up with fear, causing her to slip and slide back down the stairs a few feet, but she quickly got a hold of herself by thinking of Sasami's helpless form, lying upstairs, without anything at all to protect herself with. This image focused her resolve just enough to get her moving, scrambling up the stairs to try and protect Sasami.
Tokimi floated a little further, then stopped, face-to-face with Washu. The brown-haired immortal smiled triumphantly at her little sister. "Well, Washu, it has been a while, hasn't it? I presume you've forgotten me completely in that physical shell of yours, haven't you?" Washu just glared back at her, desperately trying to think of something that would end this, but coming up blank. Tokimi continued, "We will have to talk at length some other time, but this dimension is very… inconvenient for me. I would prefer to leave you unharmed until then, so do not put up a struggle here and now, all right?"
Washu said nothing, since she knew there was nothing that could be said to stop what was soon to happen. Anything she did would cause her to end up like Tenchi or Ryoko; in her mortal form, she was completely and hopelessly outmatched.
She stepped aside.
Ryo-Ohki had waited for Ryoko and Washu to leave before springing into action. With Tokimi actually having arrived, the secrecy wasn't quite as important as before, but the job had to be completed before she got to Sasami, which was now only seconds away.
She scurried over Sasami's head and took up position above her pillow, phasing her small furry head through the young girl's bluish hair and looking around to see the last few bits of her mind that had yet to be caught. As she nibbled the remaining portions of energy out of Sasami's mind, Sasami gave a weak smile and whispered, very faintly, to Ryo-Ohki.
"Thank you… Ryo… Oh…."
Ayeka burst through the door right as Ryo-Ohki finished, looking up in alarm. There would be time for explanations later, she realized, and with her ethereal guide psychically screaming at her to get out of the room immediately, she tried to give off as much of a "I'm just a cute li'l cabbit!" aura as she could, making a run for the wall and phasing right through it, landing outside.
Ryo-Ohki's departure barely registered in Ayeka's mind, as she rushed over to Sasami's side, standing before her in a desperate defensive posture, and waited.
Within seconds, the door literally melted away into nothingness, as well as part of the door frame, as Tokimi floated triumphantly into the small bedroom. Her power, already unbelievably intense even downstairs in the much larger living room, made Ayeka feel as if she were trapped in a cage with a supernova. Sasami, on the bed behind her, gave no reaction.
"Stand aside. Now." Tokimi intoned, as she raised her hand towards the two Juraians, focusing her power into one decisive attack that would ensure Tsunami's "proper" position in the cosmos for an extended and manageable period of time.
Ayeka, drawing upon deep reserves of courage she never previously dreamed she had, spat back, "STAY! AWAY! FROM! MY! SISTER!!!" She flung her hands forward, and instantly the room was filled with dozens of her mini-Guardians. Each floating log crackled with raw Jurai energy, and without further delay, she launched everything she had.
To both of their surprise, the unleashed fury of Ayeka actually knocked Tokimi back a couple feet. As the lightning from her network of Guardians pushed the goddess back, it seemed to intensify at a quickly increasing rate.
Tokimi's expression shifted to one of very real concern. She recognized the Jurai power that was being channeled through the princess and her attack; Tsunami herself was on the other side, actually attacking her. Indirectly, to be sure, but she was definitely putting up a fight, and if she managed to actually become stronger than….
"No. Enough." Tokimi thought, realizing that this must be completed, no matter the cost, "Tsunami cannot become stronger than myself…" Her eyes flashed, and she accessed the emergency reserves of her power. "Tsunami shall not surpass me!!"
Immediately, Tokimi's assault increased by several orders of magnitude. Ayeka, who had previously been pushing her opponent back, suddenly was stopped. Tsunami's influx of power leveled off and began to decrease, leaving her progressively defenseless. As Tokimi advanced, some of the mini-Guardians in the room began to warp, deforming and transmogrifying into shiny metallic orbs, whose energy, instead of going to halt Tokimi, actually began helping her, moving in towards Ayeka and binding her with her own energy.
As more and more of them fell prey to Tokimi's relentless advance, they started to shove Ayeka out of the way. Finally, enough of them had been subverted that she was now suspended in place, pulled out of the way of Tokimi's line of sight with Sasami, and Tokimi raised her hand and prepared to finish the girl off once and for all.
Ayeka gave one last scream of rage and frustration, ringing throughout the house even through the haze of Tokimi's presence, and shut her eyes tightly to avoid seeing what happened next. A bolt of pure energy lanced out of Tokimi's hand and struck Sasami, causing her to glow with an unearthly light. After a flashing instant that felt to Ayeka as an eternity, the light from the girl's body faded, and her blanket slowly settled down into an empty bed.
Tokimi lowered her power slightly, no longer having to fight through Ayeka's and Tsunami's vicious defense, and was still genuinely impressed with her younger sister. Tsunami had actually forced her to use her whole strength to finish this job. She would have to be running at a fairly limited level for quite some time, but on the other hand… Tsunami would definitely be the worse off between the two of them.
She looked over to Ayeka, who was still shaking in hysterical shock, suspended off the ground by her own converted Guardians. Tokimi realized what she had just done to this girl, killing off her sister before her eyes, and felt just the slightest twinge of remorse before it became trampled by her overriding sense of purpose. Nevertheless, she felt it proper to give one final message to the girl.
With that, Tokimi appeared to glow even more brilliantly than before, and with an inaudible flash, vanished from the room, her departure causing the orbs to disappear and drop Ayeka roughly to the ground. She gave no resistance, and collapsed into a sobbing fit in the middle of the bedroom that was now hers and hers alone.
Tsunami fell to her hands and knees aboard her ship, the unbelievably massive levels of exertion she had to maintain finally ending upon Tokimi's return to her own dimension. She grinned in cautious triumph, seeing that Tokimi was completely gone, and knowing that, after all the reserves she had to burn to push through Ayeka's boosted shield….
Tokimi couldn't return. At least, she noted, not for a very long time, and in the meantime, the Masaki household on Earth was now safe. Wasting no time, she contacted Ryo-Ohki and gave the all-clear signal.
Downstairs, Washu tended to Ryoko and Tenchi, both of whom were slowly recovering from their wounds. Tenchi's were worse, after being slammed into the ground in his normal human form, though all three of them knew immediately after hearing Ayeka's scream what had happened upstairs. Sasami was gone.
"This can't… be real…." Tenchi moaned, a cold compress over his forehead where he slammed into the floor. Ryoko paced around, looking at Tenchi, towards upstairs, then finally at Washu, at whom she yelled furiously.
"Washu!! Why didn't you do anything?! You could have stopped her, and Sasami might still be alive now!!"
Washu fixed a stern gaze on her daughter. "There wasn't anything I could have done to save her. We just faced a being even more powerful than Tsunami, and I hate to admit this, but I just don't have that kind of ability! Now, let's…."
Mother and daughter looked at each other in surprise, feeling the lagged fake link to Ryo-Ohki fade out and the real signal come back in, loud and clear. However, something was definitely different with this one.
"Washu," Ryoko breathed, scarcely believing what she felt, "is… is that…?"
Washu stood there, a slow look of realization washing over her. She whispered, "Way to go, Tsunami… Hey, Lord Tenchi!" She leaned over him, an elfish grin on her face. "Cheer up! Just give me a day or two and I'll have a new Sasami ready, exactly like the old one!"
Ayeka had not moved from her spot on the floor for several minutes, so she didn't notice Ryo-Ohki enter the room through the window, hop down to the floor, and pad softly over to the grieving princess. After watching her for a short while, she spoke up.
"Don't worry, Ayeka, we're safe now."
"No, no…" She brushed the cabbit's reassurances aside, too deep in sorrow to accept them. "Sasami is… is…"
"She's okay. Tsunami already planned for this sort of thing, and was able to save her just in time. Washu can make a new body, and I'll be good as new in no time!"
Ayeka froze. That tone of voice shook her to her core, and she looked up in incredulous surprise at the cabbit that stood next to her. The same red eyes… the bluish tinge in her fur… the two triangular gems in her forehead, all slowly drawing Ayeka out of her despair and into newly reborn joyous hope. The small Juraian-infused cabbit smiled warmly at Ayeka.
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