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Chapter 9 Main Chapters Chapter 11

No Need For Escaping Ivory Towers

A Juraian noble sits impassively in a studio. "I am Yakage, and Dragonwiles requested that I be your DJ for this episode. I shall oblige, and the song selected by myself comes from an Earth television program known as 'The Prisoner.' Please enjoy it while bearing in mind that no claim of ownership is made of the song or series. Farewell." He stands and leaves as the music plays, full of danger and unexpectedness.

Circa 1245 A. D.

The trial of Washu Hakubi, Director of the Galactic Academy of Sciences, was taking place right in her office.

It was a large office, but not so large as to hold the vast jury, the expert witnesses, the defense and prosecution teams, the special panel of judges, or the throngs of spectators. Instead, all of these were located wherever was most convenient for them, in offices, conferences rooms, courts and homes, spread out over most of known space. Washu, of course, simply remained in her own office. Every single participant was linked together by vast arrays of cameras, microphones, transmission and reception equipment, and holographic projectors, all of which created an illusion that everyone was in a vast space as large as a stadium, tall as a skyscraper, and as dark and featureless as night.

The trial was nearly complete, the chief justice asking, "Washu Hakubi, do you have anything to say before your sentence is passed?"

"Yes, that this is an outrageous miscarriage of justice!" she said fiercely. "There are no laws against making destructive weapons. Many researchers here at the academy right now are engaged in just those tasks. Why, I remember back when I was one of the students here, there was that professor who created a biological virus, the one used on the moon of Dankulon's third planet. It got into the shipping lanes and started mutating, spreading to ten planets and three space stations, killing ten thousand beings. Was that professor put on trial? No, she was not!"

The lead counsel for the prosecution arose and informed all assembled, "Professor Dangreel, the woman you speak of, was kidnapped in retaliation by a militia organization and-"

"You've gotten plenty of time to talk- this is my last statement!" Washu shook her finger at him, and continued, "My point is, there is no law, and there are plenty of professors at this moment developing cell membrane disruptors, ship-to-ship antimatter rays-"

"While you," a junior prosecutor shouted in wrath, "have developed an enormous battleship-"

"Counsel will be silent," one of the judges ordered, and the junior prosecutor lapsed into her seat.

Washu looked around her. "I think I've made my point. This is clearly just a farce, persecution for reserving Souja for the Galactic Police and not giving it to people who just want to advance their own interests. My statement is complete."

The chief justice pronounced, "Your sentence is to be sealed in suspended animation for one thousand years on an uninhabited planet, to begin immediately. Upon expiration of sentence, you will be remanded to the care of a competent mental institution."

Pink gel began slowly to cover Washu's feet, then her legs, then her entire body. Her eyes were radiating undimmed hatred. When even her red hair had been totally encased, the gel was connected with a series of precise energy pulses, and its molecular structure shifted into that of a crystal. Washu now was unmoving, yet still alive, inside the gel. Usually beings shifted into a dreamless sleep when placed into suspended animation. There had been enough claims of permanent insanity and lawsuits for cruel punishments that mental reconstruction efforts were common afterwards. The morality and practicality of the sentence still remained a hotly debated political topic.

All the jury watched as the space capsule was brought forward to transport Washu to the place of her solitary confinement.

The real Washu waited patiently until the Galactic Police guards accompanying the capsule had placed her gelled duplicate inside the capsule and left her office. She quietly removed the panel below her and climbed down out of the ceiling and the netting she had recently installed up there so she could be more comfortably suspended- there weren't enough structural elements in the ceiling to bear her weight. The ceiling panels were supposed to be removable only to perform maintenance on the servers located in the ceiling, and the Galactic Police guards thought the sensors they had recently installed there were sufficient. Washu had to hand it to them, they were thorough. Unfortunately for them, with enough know-how, sensors could be deactivated.

Washu crept carefully out of her office. The holographic cameras which had been transmitting the images of her duplicate over the course of the trial were only trained on her chair behind her desk. She didn't want the microphones to hear her sneaking behind the cameras and out the door.

She snuck down towards the docking bay where Souja had been berthed in preparation for its trial runs, just before the trial began. Washu shook her head. It had been a few months ago that it had finally arrived from the shipyard. How time flew.

Washu drew a stun gun and peeked around the corner to look at the airlock connected to Souja's main hatch, ready to knock out any Galactic Police, or even Academy guards. Instead, to her surprise, she saw Kagato, alone, reading something. Probably a technical manual, knowing him. Washu knew that he was a good fighter, and he seemed tense- he might attack her out of instinct if she simply rounded the corner. Whether or not his ultimate objective was to assault her was unclear at the moment.

"Kagato," Washu said loudly before she stepped out into the hallway, "it's me." She walked fully into view, relieved that he hadn't attacked, and asked. "What are you doing here?"

He peered at her through his pince-nez, his purple eyes holding a sort of dark triumph. He spoke, "I assumed you'd be coming eventually. It would've been terribly disappointing, for someone of your intellect, if you submitted to their whims, or worse, were captured while escaping."

"So I can assume," Washu said slowly, "that you're not trying to capture me, but instead decided to help me?"

"I am your student," he replied simply, putting away his reading material.

"I also assumed there would be guards around one of the most powerful battleships in known space," Washu added.

"Indeed, I assumed correctly that there would be many," Kagato nodded. "The humanoid guards will awaken shortly in the spacesuit closet," he nodded down the hall to the right, "the quadripedal guards in the Kazuki Conference Room," he nodded to a room out of sight on the right, "and the sentrybots are awaiting reconstruction in the maintenance bay," he gestured with his whole right hand at a room further to the right. He faced Washu again and suggested, "I've tuned the Souja's engines, and loaded our most prized experiments, Little Washu. We can depart whenever you're ready."

She wasn't surprised to find her eyes brimming with tears. "Thank you," she said softly, brushing at an eye. "I didn't expect anyone would want to help an old fossil like me." She boarded the Souja, and Kagato followed her.

They reached the bridge together, a gigantic room with a marble floor, walls apparently made of stone, and a vaulted ceiling. The room was very bare, except for Kagato's pipe organ on the dais near the back, and the two large command spheres near the front.

"It turned out well," Washu complimented him, and he bowed, replying, "Only with your guidance and your original blueprints to begin from." Washu looked around, and spoke sadly, "I wish we didn't have to make her maiden voyage one in which she kills beings, but I doubt the GP task force will let us through."

At that moment, a life-sized hologram of Yakage projected itself into the room, showing him standing on the bridge of his space tree partner, Shorai. The image spoke with his voice and commented, "Little Washu, I sincerely hope that the Galactic Police will be studying the blueprints of Souja that we gave them. Shorai finds it ridiculously easy to destroy the weapon power generators on their current gunboats."

Washu felt herself getting choked up with happiness. She looked at the marble floor, and in response to her commands, a display formed on the floor showing the Galactic Police squadron floating in space, disabled, but with all lifeforms intact.

"Thank you," Washu looked at Kagato and Yakage both, and that was all she could say for a long moment. She gave the mental command for the Souja to leave the system, and it did so, followed by Yakage in Shorai. "I didn't think anyone would come with me," she started dabbing furiously at her eyes with a handkerchief, "and to have you two here, it means a lot to me."

Yakage nodded, and told her, "You've supported my quest for the perfect sword for years, Little Washu. It only seemed right that I support you in turn."

Washu felt so happy that her heart seemed to burst, then looked at the receding star system and suddenly felt herself reliving her time at the Academy. She remembered those days long ago, when she had worked day and night as a student. She recalled her baby, and- but she forced that memory away. It was easy enough, others came to take its place. Washu recalled her graduation, and friends from that time whom she hadn't seen or heard from in years. She recalled her husband, torn from her- but she shoved that memory aside. She remembered her research projects at the Academy, and the classes she had taught, and her best students from years gone by. She recalled climbing the ladders of power there, with her friend Yume and their enemy Dr. Clay. Washu recalled how she had been the leader of the movement to make the Academy independent of the Juraian government, and the exhilaration of that success. Washu recalled the day when she had been elected as the Director, and the wild, wonderful feeling of triumph.

It was so hard this time, pushing away the memory of how she had wanted her beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed baby with her on that day of her election. She had called his hair dreamy, just like her husband's- but they had been forced to leave her long, long, long before, she made herself recall. She swallowed back her bitterness, and turned back to her friends in the present, for such she could now call them. They were unexpected, but that only made their presence so much more precious.

Yakage decided he had waited a decent interval, and the question would have to be asked sooner or later. "Little Washu," he requested obliquely, "Shorai would like to have a heading soon."

Washu smiled, that maniacal smile that her research could produce in her. "Do you two remember that news story a few months back, about the wrecking of the Dokiki?"

"Yes," Kagato said deliberately, uncertain where this was heading. Yakage nodded, "Indeed. You kept bringing it up, and Shorai here says you talked to her about it many times."

Washu chuckled. "You're both going to be hearing a lot more about it from me."

Yakage put a hand on his chin, looking to Washu for permission, and she waved her arm as if to say "Of course!" Yakage then added, "Since we are all in even greater confidence than before, I suppose I can now say openly that you asked me to pull some strings and get some of the research samples the Dokiki obtained from the last planet it surveyed."

Kagato was intrigued, and asked with great interest, "The Dokiki managed to capture some of the aliens who crippled it?"

"More or less," Washu agreed. "I learned more than what the article could tell me, from researchers who are doing studies not yet made public. The creatures, previously unknown, have been given the name Mass. The Dokiki was forced down on that uncharted planet by the Mass who inhabit it, but they stopped attacking once they no longer felt threatened. Some of the Masses even began to hang around the crew and help them survive until the rescue vessel evacuated them. A few Masses accompanied them on the rescue vessel voluntarily, and Yakage procured some of them for me. From what basic research I've done, it appears they're like smart animals with a strong desire to please others. They'll actually adopt the will and desire of whatever sapient being is closest."

"Intriguing creatures," Kagato mused aloud. Yakage told him, "Our specimens are aboard Shorai with me for the moment, although we could transfer them to Souja if you prefer, Little Washu. Shorai will be sorry to see them go, however- she has convinced them to help the mobile computers implement some maintenance tasks around the ship. Here one comes now."

Yakage ordered his holobot to pan its camera, and the transmission now showed one of Shorai's mobile computers, a wooden cube floating serenely. It was accompanied by a Mass: a palm-sized grey blob, with tiny yellowish-orange eyes. "That's a Mass, then," Kagato muttered, absorbed by the screen.

Washu looked squarely at Kagato and Yakage. "I'm planning to go to the planet the Dokiki discovered, and get more Masses. Yakage and I discovered that they have incredible properties of assimilation and combinatorial growth in addition to the fantastic energy reserves afforded by their internal structure. If the two of you accompany me, we might be able to accomplish something unprecedented in science- the melding of species into a more powerful form of being, one that could do great things and help people throughout the galaxy."

Yakage smiled, a rare occurrence for him. It was really more of a slight upward turn of the lips, but sill rare and to be treasured. He reminded her, "Little Washu, we've already become a band of condottieres for your sake. We accept your leadership. Besides, as renegades, we haven't much else to do."

Kagato tore his eyes away from the image of the Mass and looked at Washu and revealed to her, "Ever since Souja was finished, I was wondering what great project to take on next. Once again, you've shown me the way."

Washu beamed like a child at them, and pronounced, "Excellent!" She clapped her hands, and said, "Now, if you don't mind, Yakage, can I visit Shorai for a little while? I wanna play with the Masses a little while- they're just so cute!"

The planet of the Masses was a vast distance away from the Academy, but Shorai and the Souja were fleet. Their pursuers were disorganized. At first they thought that Yakage and Kagato were acting independently. The Galactic Police didn't learn that Washu was missing until they thought to recheck the crystal and discovered only a small doll inside, its illusion of Washu's form sloughed away by that time.

It was not long before the few ships that had kept up pursuit fell too far behind and gave up the chase. For six months after that, the Souja and Shorai traversed vast oceans of space, moving beyond the reach of galactic civilization, then past the settlers expanding galactic civilization, then past the frontier, on a course for a system only the scoutship Dokiki and its rescue vessel had ever visited.

The day finally came when they would near the planet. Kagato carefully powered down his latest stasis experiment. "It went well," he responded to Washu's query, as he turned it off, "I got all the data that I need. Soon I can begin constructing a stasis unit on a much larger scale."

"Shorai and I still don't comprehend your interest in stasis," Yakage commented from Shorai. "Suspended animation has been explored almost to death. Your Juraian biodome, though; that's incredible. We agree it is an almost exact replica of the Royal Arboretum's atmosphere; ideal conditions to grow a Juraian battleship."

Washu put in, "I am impressed with it." Kagato nodded and commented while adjusting his pince-nez, "Just a bit of," he paused, then continued with the word, "homesickness, I started to indulge in before Souja was delivered to the Academy."

As commanded by Washu, Souja began to power down as many systems as possible, while Shorai slowed her biological processes, reducing energy output. Great care had to be exercised, and the Masses had to feel unthreatened. If all of them attacked, it was possible even these two mighty ships could be destroyed.

"I suppose this part would be difficult for some people," Washu commented softly, "but we're among the strongest-willed beings in the galaxy. All of us have concentrated on our goals, had the dedication and discipline to pursue them, and disregarded naysayers who sit on the sidelines. Now, all we should have to do, is convince enough of the Masses to follow us and join us in this great experiment. They should sense our minds, and if we concentrate, they should be able to hear us and agree."

She closed her eyes to concentrate more fully. Yakage narrowed his eyes to slits as he thought, his hands spread outward in openness and mouth curved in desire. Shorai called out softly with all of her intellect.

Kagato stared hungrily forward, his hands closed tight, and commanded.

Several large agglomerations of Masses began to leave the planet, traveling unafraid through the vacuum of space. They whirled and collided, jumping and weaving randomly, sure signs of their friendliness to these visitors. Some of them began to collect in the cargo bay of Souja, which Washu had left open to admit the Masses.

Yakage fully opened his eyes and stared in shock as he watched a Mass wobble not six inches before him. He stepped toward it, and it zoomed rapidly away, but did not attack. He took out his key and held it at the ready, but didn't extend the blade yet. He called to Shorai, "Did you not feel that! One of them has boarded us!"

"What do you mean?" she replied, "nothing has forced entry, there's no venting-" then she listened to a mobile computer chattering, "They're near the lower bank of the river!" Another clattered, "There's five hovering about near hillock sixty-eight!"

Washu made a bizarre noise of astonishment as Masses began to cling to her, some coming through the walls, others appearing from the floor. They treated these solid objects as though they had no substance, but now they were buoying Washu, raising her higher and higher off the floor. "Stop it!" she squawked, and they gently returned her to the floor.

Yakage stared as more and more Masses began flooding into Shorai, and stood amazed as two Masses in rapid succession passed through his right arm. He whispered, "The Masses treat the physical world as a porous membrane. No, as though their power exceeds solidity."

To his surprise, off to his right, the Masses began to assemble into a thin line. More joined them near the end, creating the hilt for a sword. "No, that's far from perfect," Yakage berated them, and they flew apart and cowered twenty feet away. He shook his head and insisted, "Come back and try it again. We'll achieve it together, no matter how long it takes."

Shorai watched as the newly arrived Masses began to follow around her mobile computers and transfer small amounts of energy to them, recharging the computers' batteries. At the behest of Shorai, the computers began assigning tasks to the Masses, and with abandon the Masses set off trimming and pruning throughout her biosphere.

A large clump of Masses began to assemble near Washu, in a mound five feet in radius and three in height, still growing. She cackled, "I never thought they'd have that power! Phasing through solid objects, and lifting power far exceeding their own weight!" As she concentrated on the mound, it suddenly formed itself into a giant image of her head spread out over the floor in relief. Excited, Washu gasped, "Now try a rock!" They immediately shifted into a representation of an indomitable mountain. "Close enough, that is what I was actually thinking of," Washu threw her hands in the air. Bending low, she petted those Masses nearest her, cooing, "You guys are great, some of the most amazing creatures I've had the pleasure to meet." More and more crowded around her, until she had to use both hands and turn in circles to pat them all affectionately.

Masses were also accelerating towards Kagato, many Masses joining his throng. They whirled about him in incredibly fast orbits, their periods growing longer as their ranks increased. The Masses, in order to accommodate their orbits, flew through the floor, the ceiling, the walls, even other Masses. He concentrated harder, and they began to oscillate as they orbited. Kagato was unruffled and surrounded in a blizzard of effortless energy, unbuffeted by this storm of boundless potential, his face nearly screened from view by the vast cloud of living beings obeying his will.

"I should think they've agreed to our proposal, at least as far as animals can," Washu said, standing up, and the Masses dispersed to fall into a train behind her. "We should start heading back to known space now."

The two vessels left the system, with those Masses that had joined them careening around the interiors of their vessels, and occasionally zipping about in the vacuum outside the ships' confines. The teeming throngs of Masses that remained on their homeworld peered after them but did not interfere.

The Souja and Shorai began to slowly head back towards familiar space. They needed time to unlock the full power of the Masses. When that was done, they would unleash a new, powerful form of life upon the galaxy.

Next Chapter

Ayeka stands with her arms folded, griping, "I can't accept this, staying here with that monster woman and these deluded Earthlings."

Ryoko rolls her eyes, stating, "If you can't accept it that much, just go away."

"I can't go away! I can't leave the planet!" Ayeka shouts at Ryoko, "It is because you destroyed Ryu-Oh!"

Ryoko laughs, "How sad. Well, I've got unexpected good news about my precious Ryo-ohki!" Ayeka bellows, "What!" and advances on Ryoko.

Tenchi steps forward nervously, and states, "Grandpa told me to show you around."

Ayeka turns and glares at him.

Frightened, Tenchi steps back and says in an aside, "Oh, and he said to tell you that the next chapter is No Need for a Cabbit."

Continuity with Dragonwiles

Dragonwiles reposes in state in the library of his lair. Looking up from his book, he greets, "Welcome to this special segment, in which I give a few brief continuity notes."

"I made up the part about sealing criminals in gel being alleged to cause insanity. But when you think about it, it seems possible."

"This chapter is basically a merging of two entirely different backstories for Washu. In the Universe series, she's put on trial and sealed for making dangerous weapons, and in the OVA, she experiments with Masses. So I combined the two. I'm not really sure how she ever got the Masses in the OVA, and she never escaped in the Universe backstory, so as you can see, I'm taking quite a few creative liberties. That's what makes writing a fanfiction fun!"

"Oddly, I found not so fun the fact that I couldn't remember the name of Yakage's ship, so I'm naming it Shorai. I may change it if I ever find out the real name. If it turns out not to be a Juraian space tree, though, I'll probably leave this fanfiction's ship as a space tree and still name it Shorai."

"Professor Dangreel and the other professors' research projects were made up."

"The story of the Dokiki and the Mass' discovery was totally made up, but most of the basic information is what the OVA said, or how I interpreted it, at the least."

Chapter 9 Main Chapters Chapter 11