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Chapter 15 Main Chapters Chapter 17

No Need For Ultimate Control

"My name is Kagato," Kagato says simply, "and I am to be your DJ for this episode. The theme song for this episode is 'Gollum's Song,' not owned by Dragonwiles." He begins to play its mournful melodies.

1274 A. D.

Ryoko laughed and spun through the air, landing behind Ryo-ohki. Ryo-ohki hopped around to face her and meowed.

Washu smiled, looking up a moment from her phantasmal keyboard. She almost wished Ryoko could stay this age forever.

Kagato's face suddenly appeared in the middle of the room. "Little Washu," he said, "I wanted to let you know. The biological isolation system is finally ready."

"Hey, don't start your final tests without me!" Washu said eagerly. Kagato's face disappeared.

Kagato had made her nervous the day he changed bodies, and she hadn't trusted him quite as much ever since. Still, he hadn't made a single move against her. Washu had expected Kagato would make his move when Ryoko was youngest, making Washu most vulnerable as she cared for Ryoko. Instead, he had carried on with daily life as though nothing had changed, still helping her with some experiments and doing others on his own. The biological isolation system, for example, was one of Kagato's pet projects. Washu was only going to observe its final tests to support him and offer constructive criticism.

Washu made her keyboard disappear and looked around the room, checking to make sure there were no immediate hazards to harm Ryoko or the cabbits while she was occupied.

"All right, Ryoko, I'll be back in a little bit. Be a good girl now," Washu admonished her. Ryoko looked at her innocently and nodded.

Washu headed towards the door, and suddenly felt a pair of small arms close around her leg. She looked down to see Ryoko hugging her. Ryoko looked up and said happily, "Mommy."

Washu reached down and hugged her back. Through her connection to Ryoko's mind, Washu could also feel Ryo-ohki's mind. Something in Ryo-ohki's mind made Washu turn and observe her. She saw Ken-ohki offering her the last bit of his lunch, and she accepted it with a grateful meow.

"Isn't that nice," murmured Washu. "Sharing," Ryoko agreed.

Washu never really wanted to leave, but she knew that wasn't really a choice she had in this world. She slowly stood up and walked out the door.

"Are the cobras really necessary?" Washu asked for the thousandth time.

Kagato simply gestured at one of them with an open hand. "They're a security system."

Washu stared at the imposing pair of cobras, poised with their heads higher than a human's, and jaws open to reveal their immense fangs. Right now they appeared to be statues, but Washu knew they were ready to be animated at any moment by a complex stone-morphobot control system.

"I'm just saying if you really like the artistic effect of two giant cobras," Washu continued, "you could've made them statues, and had something more reliable for security, like a laser turret or a gel pit trap."

"This was best, within the overall design," Kagato told her.

Washu shrugged, "Hey, you made this system. They are very eye-catching. And I like how you put them into the motif of the security control system." She tapped the golden plaque, with two silver cobras turned away from each other on the sides. A silver chain at the top allowed Kagato to wear it around the neck. Washu looked beyond the cobras to the actual machine and requested, "Do you mind if I have a closer look at the stasis system? I want to see which implementation you finally chose."

"Be my guest, Little Washu," Kagato allowed it.

Washu walked closer to the biological isolation unit. The unit was actually made from complex polymers, but its blue hue and refractive index made it appear more like ice.

There was a noise of metal clinking, and Washu turned around just in time to see Kagato use his Mass powers to fly across the room and tackle her.

Kagato carried her towards the biological isolation unit, but Washu created a red energy saber out of thin air and thrust towards Kagato's chest. He created a massive blue sword out of thin air, used it to parry her strike and tried to out-muscle her, pushing back her sword to cut off her head.

Washu took advantage of the fact that he only had one hand to hold her now, and wriggled out of his grasp with incredible speed. She called into existence a duplicate of her, just like the one she had stand in for her during her trial, and prepared to jump away, fleet as a deer. The duplicate, combined with her rapid motion, should've fooled Kagato, but his Juraian power allowed him to see that the duplicate was not real. He swung out his sword to block the escape route of the real Washu.

She changed her leap, instead jumping on top of his arm, and grabbed the security control plate. As she leapt off of his back, she smoothly removed it from his neck and put it on her own.

Kagato whirled around, making his cape billow. He grabbed for Washu, and when she danced away, he swung his sword with his other arm. He floated behind her, and she ran to the side.

Juraians have the ability to instinctively create small forcefields, which ordinarily cover little more than their hands and feet. They are used to protect a Juraian's body when a feat of strength is being performed. Juraian bone density and configuration is such that the Juraian skeletal structure can withstand the power their muscles put out, but curiously their skin and blood vessels are delicate. Without the forcefields, a Juraian would experience intense pain, and cause damage to their hand, when using their full strength.

In that moment, Kagato suddenly discovered that his new body afforded a new use for this ancient Juraian ability. He fed the powers of the Masses into his hand, and the forcefield grew until it actually began to warp local space. He pointed his hand at Washu, and air streamed about her as space itself was pushed away from Kagato's hand. She found herself flung back into the biological isolation unit. Kagato immediately sent his mental command to the Souja, and the biological isolation unit was activated. The stasis field turned on, and a curtain of polymer descended and then solidified around Washu.

"A splendid compromise, don't you think?" Kagato commented as he deactivated his energy sword. "Now you're out of my way, but I can still revive you if I decide I need something more out of you. Perhaps if the research on those gems doesn't prove fruitful, I can revive you and torture Ryoko until you tell me everything about them."

He eyed the cobras. "It's a good thing I set you two to automatic attack. What on earth was she thinking, taking the security control from me?"

He started as Souja alerted him to a new program being run. The cobras began to sink into the floor, and he whirled around to see the biological isolation unit slowly slipping below the surface. He frowned and adjusted his pince-nez. "Was that all you had planned, Washu, in case I betrayed you? Just running away into the ship's antilayer? I'll cut off the accesses back to this layer just to be certain, but there's nothing you could've done to me from there anyway."

Kagato had thought that at this moment he'd finally experience joy again, but was surprised to feel nothing but vague irritation. Had he really been planning for years to beat this genius turned doting mother? She was so easily taken in by him, so quickly defeated, that he didn't feel any sense of triumph at vanquishing her. She had managed to outwit the entire galaxy, yet she was surprised so easily. If he believed in shame anymore, he would've felt ashamed that he had needed as much preparation to defeat her as he did. Washu still believed in outmoded concepts like shame, he recalled. Washu imagined that all the universe was as sentimental as she was.

That set off a new train of thought. "Did you ever wonder, Professor Washu," he commented aloud, intentionally using her least favorite title, "why it was that Yakage and I never killed anyone when we helped you escape from the Academy? It certainly would've been much easier for me to have disposed of the guards with lethal sword strokes, and Shorai would probably have taken less damage if its full arsenal had been used on those GP vessels, instead of letting them get off their tiny shots."

"It was because," he continued, "we knew that you didn't want anyone killed, and back then we all had to bend to your whims. Now, however, I have enough power that I can kill or spare life as I find it convenient."

There was a sobbing howling, he noticed, drawing steadily closer. Almost before he could see what caused it, a projectile suddenly slammed into him and knocked him into the floor.

Kagato peered through his pince-nez and looked at what lay on his chest, pounding at him with tiny fists. "You naughty little girl," he commented, "You didn't go into the anitlayer like Mommy wanted, did you?"

"Give me back Mommy!" Ryoko howled as the tears streamed down her face. "Mommy! Mommy! Give her back, bad man!"

Kagato ordered the Souja to pull up records of what had just happened in the nursery. He saw a massive bubble from the antilayer extending to encompass the room, but the tearstained Ryoko opened the door and fled it in fear, and the cabbits followed her out of the room. Once the bubble disappeared, the cabbits returned to the room. Perhaps they were afraid to confront him, or perhaps they were simply too stunned by recent events to do anything.

"Washu probably never told you to hide in the antilayer. Maybe she was counting on some sort of mercy on my part. Or maybe she simply never cared about what happened to you," Kagato mused. He stood up, ignoring the continuing pounding on his chest.

Kagato was about to reform his energy blade and rid the universe of the waste that was Ryoko when he had a sudden thought. She might be useful as a distraction, as a doer of dirty work, and in the last resort, as a human shield.

"Your mother's gone, Ryoko," Kagato told her. "Even if I wanted to, I couldn't recover her from the antilayer. It's impossible." Ryoko howled the louder and hit him harder.

"You rage as though somebody cares about your whining and crying," he said dispassionately. "No one does, Ryoko. As long as you live, you'll always be alone. No one knows quite what you are, some mad experiment gone out of control. Not a single creature like you exists in the universe-" he checked himself, looking at his own body, and added- "none that cares about you, anyway. You have the same worth as your emotions: none. From this day forward, Ryoko, you are alone."

"Mommy!" Ryoko screeched, trying to clap her hands over her ears to block out his terrible voice.

"Ryoko, you are only alive because I can use you. Now you will do exactly as I tell you," Kagato said coldly.

"No!" she screamed. "No! No! No! No! Give back Mommy! I'll be good to her! I no listen to you!"

"You cannot refuse me," he told her clinically. "The Masses respond to the strongest will. My will is stronger than yours."

"No!" she screamed again, "Stop! Stop!" For she could feel the horrible touch of his mind. Ryoko tried to summon up every ounce of-something, she had not yet learned the word will. She hadn't learned the full extent of real anger or sorrow or fear, though she felt them now for herself and from Ryo-ohki. Ryoko pitted herself against Kagato, trying to resist him, but the Masses that composed her body bent and bent to his stronger will, for she was young and hardly even knew what was happening. She was so horribly afraid of him. She wanted her mother back, to hold her and comfort her, to teach her and play with Ryo-ohki and Ken-ohki, but her mother was gone- she could no longer hear her mother in her mind. There was nowhere Ryoko could think of to hide where Kagato could not find her, so she cringed and hid in the deepest corners of her mind until he took over it all.

Ryoko stood up straight, and tears stopped flowing out of eyes that now glowed bright green. In her mind, she could see through Ryo-ohki's eyes, could see Ken-ohki staring in confusion at Ryo-ohki. He stared at Ryo-ohki's eyes and her gem which now glowed green.

Kagato proceeded to the nursery. "Come," he ordered coldy, and Ryoko followed.

The door opened, and Ken-ohki, startled, hopped back. Kagato looked down at the cabbits with disgust. "A breeding pair," he muttered as he shook his head in disbelief. Washu did hold to some odd notions. She was so enchanted with biological ships, just like Juraian spaceship trees, and with creating new forms of sentient life, to engage in some sort of mushy, impractical, nonsensical relationships with. He preferred the design philosophy that he had built into Souja- instant, unthinking obedience. Possessing more than one spaceship could be useful, but he did not wish to be buried beneath a sea of cabbit offspring. One of them had to go, and as the child had already formed a mental link with the female, it would be the male who would be eradicated.

"Pick up the male," he ordered Ryoko, and she tried to do so. Ken-ohki fled even her rapid grasp. "Worthless," he insulted Ryoko. She did not react.

Ken-ohki twitched his nose in the middle of the floor for a moment. Washu had installed powerful forcefields based upon gems in this room, so that Ryoko couldn't phase out as an infant and get into trouble, and they blocked the cabbits' phasing abilities as well. Kagato stood confidently in the middle of the main doorway to block that escape route, certain Ryoko's next attempt would capture the cabbit.

Ken-ohki suddenly leapt at Kagato, for no reason he could determine. He snatched it out of the air, holding it by the scruff of the neck so that it would not be able to bite him. He marched out of the room and ordered Ryoko and Ryo-ohki, "Come." They obeyed.

Kagato ignored the hissing noises that the male cabbit seemed to be making at himself and his new slaves. It hadn't yet grown enough to fire its laser weaponry, so it didn't really matter what it thought of them.

He considered how to dispose of the creature. The cabbits appeared soft and fluffy, but had been designed to withstand assault from advanced weaponry. He thought it wasteful to expend the large amount of energy it would require to destroy the cabbit by conventional means when there was a much easier solution at hand.

As spaceships, they could survive indefinitely in the vacuum of space. Washu had found, however, that it was best to allow those abilities to fully mature only once the cabbits had reached a certain age.

Ken-ohki was not yet of that age.

He proceeded to the airlock and set Ken-ohki down. Immediately Ken-ohki tried to dash off, but Ryo-ohki, her eyes and crystal glowing green, body-blocked him and shoved him back inside the airlock. He gave a fierce yowl before Ryoko, at Kagato's behest, sealed the airlock. Kagato proceeded to immediately vent it before Ken-ohki could react. He watched out the window only long enough to note the new, small, white star spinning off into space before heading to the bridge, carelessly ordering Ryoko and Ryo-ohki, "Come." They followed immediately.

Next Chapter

Ryoko is staring off into space very quietly.

Tenchi is nearly moved to tears, and chokes out, "That's so sad! I had no idea, Ryoko!"

Dragonwiles points out, "And technically, you still don't. Only the audience and the characters involved know what happened in this chapter. Nobody else has been told this part of the story."

Tenchi points out, "But it's still awful!"

Dragonwiles nods, "Lots of people say they had a terrible childhood, but how many of them had to actually experience something like that? What's almost worse to think about is how many children experience things just as awful."

Dragonwiles, with a shake of the head, states, "Sometimes, it almost seems unbearable that life should keep on going after such tragedies, and yet it does. Our story continues as well, into the next chapter, No Need For A Search Pattern."

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."

"Yes, I totally made up the whole thing about forcefields in the hands of Juraians. And I don't know that anybody knows what the snake pendant is, so I decided it was a control pendant."

"In addition, I made up the life cycle of cabbits, since we don't know very much about them."

"More to the point, I made up not only the details, but practically the entire sequence of events in this chapter. There was no base material for it, so far as I knew, so I created something that seemed appropriate. I hope you liked it. Or rather, I hope you didn't like it- you're not really supposed to like what happened."

Chapter 15 Main Chapters Chapter 17