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Chapter 13 Main Chapters Chapter 15

No Need For An Experimental Daughter

Washu says into a studio microphone, "Well, I'm the DJ for this chapter's theme song, and we needed something dramatic and ominous, but I thought, why not give it a touch of class? I went to the classics for this one, sure, but this is something even a kid like me can appreciate. It's Beethoven's Fifth, everyone, and obviously, Dragonwiles didn't do a thing to make and does not own it." The dramatic music plays.

Late 1270 A. D.

The trio of researchers stood around the vat. An outside observer would've said that it looked like a coffin, despite everything Washu had done to offset that impression- the warm red coloration, the reflective surface, and its gently sculpted sides that melted and locked into the floor.

Washu and the others stared at the silent, motionless, humanoid form in the vat while scanners and analysis tools analyzed it. Washu remembered all of their previous failures, and remembered with guilty relief that they had been able to reuse all of those failures in the next experiments. She didn't want to think about the too-real possibility of getting some poor Mass stuck in an nonviable life form, just for the purposes of her experiments. Dr. Clay had always said that made her an ineffective researcher, her concern with trivial matters. Washu had always responded that concern for others was more important than science.

Kagato looked at a screen hanging in midair, and the others turned their attention to it. The screen held the just-completed analysis results. Kagato's lips inclined upwards somewhat, while Washu sighed in relief and Yakage read with maniacal excitement, "No mutations, no arrested development, all biological systems in perfect working order, ready for the command to begin full functioning as a life form!" He spun towards Washu, and asked urgently, "This is it, correct? We've finally managed to grow a humanoid to full size, in perfect working order! We can begin the next stage now, can't we?"

Washu stared at him- he was actually panting. She saw Kagato's sidewsise look at Yakage. He had noticed Yakage's state as well. Sensing this scrutiny, Yakage began to calm down, and soon appeared his usual stoic self.

She had been putting his unusual behavior down to the stress of being nearly alone out here for so long, and for the amount of hard work they had to put in. It wasn't wrong for him to be this excited. They had been working very hard, and all they had produced so far in the way of humanoids had been a hundred and twenty-three flawed mockeries that they had to recycle for later experiments. Washu wanted to do a handstand and get out her robots for some well-earned cheerleading. She had always been that way. Yakage, on the other hand, even when he was happy, always kept a dour demeanor- until the past few months, when he began to exhibit emotional volatility almost to the degree of mood swings. She was starting to get worried about him.

"Exciting, isn't it?" she said conversationally to Yakage. He nodded warily. She continued, "Yeah, we can go on to the next stage, but let's wait a little while!" His mouth almost opened, but he sensed Kagato's gaze again and shut it. Washu jumped in the air, cartwheeled, and stood on her hands and said, "For now, we've done something to celebrate!" A and B appeared and began to chorus, "Who are the three greatest researchers in the universe? You are! Hooray, hooray, hooray! Geniuses can't help it, they do great things all day!"

Two days later, Washu emerged from the lab. Yakage joined her and asked quickly, "Have you done it?" Washu grinned at him, "I told you I'd get it done if I started this morning. It was easy- the one chromosome is mine, the other is a Mass I convinced to change shape into a chromosome!"

"Then you have a fertilized egg?" Yakage said steadily.

"Yes, it's one of mine, like we planned," Washu agreed. "I've already implanted her in myself, and she's doing fine."

He smiled slightly and bowed deeply, congratulating her. She grinned and said, "Thanks. I really appreciate it." She examined him and said with concern, "What kept you so long this morning, anyways? I know I told you two to scram for a little while, but I didn't mean all morning."

"Another thing I had to see to on Shorai," he explained. Washu wondered at him and asked, "Is there anything I can do to help? You've been seeing to Shorai a lot lately." He shook his head, and Washu shrugged, acquiescing, "If that's how you want it. Why don't you go and join Kagato? He's just finishing reviewing the data from the procedure. I'm going to take some well-earned rest!" She patted her abdomen fondly and walked away humming.

Yakage entered the lab.

An hour or so later, Washu hurried onto the main bridge of Souja, alerted through its telepathic relay system. Shorai had just left at high speed.

Kagato was already on the bridge, and had called up the relevant projections on the floor screen. He looked up at Washu with a deader expression than usual and commented, "He didn't give me any messages, nor did Shorai. They've abandoned us."

"This has to be a mistake, right?" Washu asked, though she knew the answer. "Maybe he's just gone someplace for a short time."

"Please, Little Washu," said Kagato, disappointed in her. Washu groaned and finally admitted, "Fine, fine. What did he take?"

"He only took a copy of the experimental DNA, and a large cluster of Masses," Kagato said with distaste. "He can use them, though, can't he?"

Washu clenched her fist and said angrily, "Yes. He bought some cloning equipment centuries ago through one of his contacts." She wandered away to another part of the bridge, not wanting to look at anything, not even the stone decor of the bridge. Yakage had been a friend, not a romantic interest. That made the betrayal hurt all the worse. She had thought that if she hadn't committed her whole heart to someone, it would make pain easier to bear. That was another thing she had gotten wrong, and the stinging obviousness of it was piled on top of her pain from being betrayed.

"We're completely self-sufficient. He is of no further use to us," Kagato said dismissively in her general direction, though he kept his eyes on the information contained in the floor charts. "To be safe, I'll move us to an entirely different region of space, but he knows Souja is a match for Shorai. He won't try to attack us or betray our location to the royal family."

Washu had a fleeting mental image of the blue eyes of her son watching her as he receded into the distance, taken from her by circumstances as binding as those she now faced. Washu patted her abdomen again and muttered, "Why didn't you tell me that was what you wanted, Yakage? I don't even know what you'll name her twin. Ryoko," she rubbed her abdomen, "you may never get to meet your sister."

1271 A. D.

Kagato stared down at Washu and the infant in her arms. It was crying again, wailing very loudly, loudly enough to disturb the profound silence he preferred on Souja. He supposed he'd just have to resign himself to never having that silence again. It had only been delivered a few hours ago, and yet it had managed to disrupt his life this much already.

"Did you bring them?" Washu asked softly.

Since Washu was still staring with that idiotic gaze at the infant, unable to see his affirmative nod, Kagato said aloud, "Yes, Little Washu." He raised his hands higher, to reveal the tiny bodies of two young cabbits, one sleeping on each of his palms.

She finally looked up, and said gratefully, "Thank you."

Nodding brusquely, Kagato placed them inside the cage on a nearby table. The motion made the male awaken, and it slowly opened its eyes.

"Look, Ryoko," Washu crooned to the infant, "we got you some friends. We can hear each other in our minds. Can you hear your new friends in your mind yet?"

The male had gently nudged the female with its nose to wake it up, but the female was already beginning to awaken. The two cabbits sniffed each other, then turned towards Washu and the infant, then began to mewl piteously. Kagato's eyes narrowed with interest when he saw them start and stop their cries simultaneously with the infant.

"So you can hear them," Washu rocked the infant slightly, "that's wonderful, Ryoko. You're such a darling little girl."

The cabbits seemed to lose some interest in this mindlinked howling. The white, male one broke off first, to begin an investigation of the cage by tapping it with its paws. The brown one mewled a little bit longer, then made a mewl that some people would've called happy. It then followed the male around the cage, occasionally phasing through it or stumbling into it. Kagato wasn't sure whether this was because the lifeform was naturally clumsy, or because it was young, or perhaps because it imagined this was play. He thought Washu should've looked into that sort of aberrant behavior earlier.

Washu, he could see, was still wrapped up in gazing at the thing that she insisted on referring to as her daughter. Kagato saw no point in calling a child something that was really an experimental amalgamation of Washu's tissue, Masses, and three of the mysterious energy gems. She hadn't even made a particularly impressive specimen, from what he could see. Obviously this was supposed to be some sort of substitute or replacement for the child that had been taken from her long ago. Still, he had his own plans to continue with, and there was no reason that her sentimentality should impede his progress.

He turned to leave, commenting, "As you asked, I've kept our communications receivers at maximum, but there's no word of where Yakage has gone. I think we'd need to be a few hundred light years closer to have any chance of receiving the news broadcasts."

Washu called out, "Kagato, wait. Don't you want to hold Ryoko?"

The universe didn't care about anyone's feelings, but it was best not to make an enemy of her needlessly. He turned back and took the experiment from Washu, securely and properly holding it in his careless strength.

Ryoko's howls intensified as Kagato regarded her. He sardonically looked back to Washu, who shrugged and advised, "Don't take it personally."

"I don't," he said truthfully. Ryoko was entirely powerless to affect him, so he didn't care what she thought of him.

Kagato looked around the laboratory for something he could make noise-canceling equipment from. The laboratory door had been properly sealed and locked, but the infant's cries still came through, as they did to practically every room on Souja. He had thought he had soundproofed the ship better. How could that child's voice carry over the long corridors? He wished he had located the lab further from the living quarters, but Washu wanted them proximate.

Ryoko's cries finally ebbed and ceased. That favored his purpose, for he needed extreme concentration.

He pulled a floating chair over towards the vat, arranging the chair and himself so that his shins nearly touched the vat. Almost his entire field of vision was taken up by the first working humanoid body they had made, lying still in stasis in the vat. He pressed some controls and released the body from stasis. He read the floating screen and confirmed that the body had come to life. It had grown itself from embryo to a young male adult, and it had all the organs necessary to sustain life, but it had no intelligence apart from the Masses, and they'd keep still if he or the others ordered them to. The body therefore lay motionless, not even breathing since it didn't actually need oxygen.

Kagato manipulated every control he could think of to reduce the amount of noise in the room, and temporarily changed Souja's impending danger alert notifications. He ordered Souja to remove himself from the notification list and notify only Washu of any impending catastrophe. If the alert notifications, or anything else, disturbed him during this process, it could be disastrous for him.

He fingered the scar on his arm. Juraians regarded their dueling scars as a badge of honor. Yosho was a good opponent, but Kagato had outgrown the need for Juraian honor. If all went well, he would soon transcend that scar, and be closer to power that could squash even a Juraian like a bug.

For a quarter of an hour he concentrated, and in response to his commands, the Masses morphed from the generic, anonymous body into the form he desired. Once that was complete to his satisfaction, he thought carefully and constantly for hours.

Washu walked along the ship's corridors, taking a bit of needed rest and relaxation. Ryoko had finally gone to sleep, allowing Washu a bit of time for her own sleep. That meant, of course, that Washu wasn't able to sleep at all. She therefore decided to walk the corridors alone and unencumbered, knowing from experience that in the years to come, such moments would be rare.

Washu took a step backward as she saw someone. "Kagato? Is that you?" she asked in surprise.

Kagato's lips quirked. "Little Washu. I didn't expect that you'd notice."

He looked exactly the same. Kagato was wearing the green cape and robes and the white gloves that he had been wearing before. His long black hair was neatly coiffed and proceeded calmly down his back. His purple eyes looked out at her from his pince-nez as usual. Washu couldn't quite say how she could tell; she just knew that he was different. Perhaps she had sensed that in addition to his powers garnered from the Juraian royal family, he was now suffused with the life and power of many Masses.

Washu's mind whirled. "Kagato, I thought we agreed that we weren't going to use that body. It works, but we don't want to have just fully formed beings popping up out of nowhere. They need to grow up, to have been children."

"I understand, Little Washu," he agreed, adjusting his pince-nez, "that's why I didn't create something new. I only transferred myself."

Washu stared at him. "I didn't think that was even possible."

He waved his hand, "I simply concentrated very hard and gave the Masses my strong will to place my intelligence in that body."

"Uh, yeah, how did that work out," Washu uncomfortably wondered aloud, "you know, with your already having a body?"

"My old form became a lifeless husk once the transfer was complete. I vented it out the airlock," he said calmly.

Washu made a sound of disgust, but he didn't react. This wasn't like him, Washu thought, he's usually more careful. No one had ever tried anything like a soul transfer before, but he did it without telling anyone? Why did he cut off his only escape route by destroying his own body like that?

Why had he felt the need for a new body in the first place?

And why had he not told her about any of this?

"I had to see if it was possible," he explained. "Is Ryoko sleeping now?"

"Yeah, why don't you come see her! She's so adorable when she's asleep!" Washu tried awkwardly to play the part of an adoring mother that Kagato seemed to want out of her, but this shock was too great to let her voice remain steady. She wondered just what he would do next. She thought she had known him. Of course, she had thought that she'd known Yakage too.

Yakage held the child in his arms on Shorai's central plain. On a rock before them rested one of his best swords. A mobile computer unit drifted by, repollinating the grass, and a small cluster of Masses followed and carried the pollen across a wider area than the computer alone could reach.

"It is a good sword, that one," he spoke to the infant while he contemplated the sword. "But you and I, Minagi, will find the best one."

The mobile computer unit carefully avoided Yakage's path, moving so as to be almost invisible to him. Shorai didn't want to risk another argument with him. Yakage noticed it anyway, and told it again, "Washu will understand. It will just take some time. But when we've done it, I'll be able to show her the perfect sword, and thank her for all her help. I couldn't slow down her researches. She'll understand that. She will!"

Shorai said nothing, simply created a gust of wind to help spread the pollen further.

Next Chapter

Ryo-ohki steps onto the stage and says, "Meow meow! Meeeooow meow meow meow mrrroww!"

Everyone stares at her blankly. Ryo-ohki sighs and hops over to a keyboard. Dancing happily on it, she causes a giant screen to appear in midair and read, "The next chapter is No Need For A Showdown!"

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."

"Hopefully I've mentioned this before, but while the OVA gave the theory of how Ryoko was made, I had to make up the specifics for myself, as I couldn't find them anywhere, and as I was also combining this with the Universe and manga storylines."

"There's a fairly involved story for Kagato in the OVA, but it has an intentional bit of mystery as to what exactly he is and how he got to be that way- at least I hope it's intentional, because otherwise it's just plain confusing. And the Universe series has a completely different backstory. I hope it's clear by now that I've tried to blend the best of both the OVA and Universe backstories."

"I've also made some changes to the characters of Yakage and Minagi, who are from the manga by Hitoshi Okuda, but they are mostly the same. Or at least I think so. Also, I've named Yakage's ship, a Juraian space tree, 'Shorai', as I've mentioned before, since I can't recall its real name."

Chapter 13 Main Chapters Chapter 15