"This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays."
– Douglas Adams
Have you ever overslept?
I don't mean slept past your alarm, or slept through the school bus one day as a kid. I mean really, REALLY overslept to the point where you actually feel worse than if you'd had no sleep at all?
If you have, I'm sure you recognize the signs. Stiff limbs, throbbing headache, and epic lethargy... You'd swear you had a hangover except you haven't been drinking.
Well, the symptoms of both actually stem from the same key cause.
The human body is over sixty-percent water by weight, which does just about every job imaginable. It doesn't just keep you cool. It keeps your blood thin and easy to pump, lubricates your joints, and removes waste materials. If you don't have enough water in your system, a lot of things are going to start going wrong, all at the same time. And you will know it.
I certainly knew it; it's what woke me up. This throbbing, hammering headache that reminded me of the many hours I spent locked into working on a music track without even realizing I'd spent half the day doing so.
At first, I wasn't exactly sure of anything except that I felt like shit.
I felt like shit, and my body just didn't want to move. And while I didn't want to move, I no longer felt like sleeping. I just felt like lying there, waiting for someone to come stop the nuclear testing occurring inside my skull. Staring idly at the most uninteresting ceiling.
Not my ceiling; not even close...
When I finally realized that, it all came flooding back to me.
Where was I?
WHERE WAS I?
Am I dead? This can't be heaven, hurts too much.
No, Hild's not here to rub it in. Would I even end up there?
Why do I feel like a small truck hit me? It's pain... Pain's good, that means I'm still alive?
Oh yeah! Tre punched me in the face. I got punched in the face because I almost killed Cinque with Venom. How'd I do that? I'm not sure. I can't use magic; I was faking it. Did Senbei do something?
I had to stop asking myself so many questions I couldn't figure out. I need to start with ones I can do something about. Like where I was.
I gave the room a casual inspection. It was oddly familiar. I was in the middle, on the floor, sleeping in a futon.
And the girl?
I froze, listening for her breathing.
Quiet, cool... There was nobody.
Nobody at all... Not even Luna.
No Luna? Luna? SENBEI! They were right there on my shoulder! I had...
I sat up abruptly, my head protesting the action as I gave myself the once over. I didn't have my backpack, or my shotgun, or anything else! Where were my things! Shit, did I jump without them this time?
No, NO! Right back to square one! No-
I damn near jumped out of my skin at the sound. I could have sworn the room was empty. But that voice, it sounded-
I turned to the source, and there, in a chair about six feet away near the door, was the future 'God Emperor of Mankind' in all his total normalcy, Tenchi Masaki.
There had to be several seconds of silence as I tried to process exactly what was going on. That was Tenchi... If that was Tenchi, that means I'm in Tenchi's house. That meant this must be Ayeka's room, which explains why it was familiar, and that must mean I appeared next to her. That would make this the second time, but...
"You're okay," he indicated before I could continue panicking. "Washu told me to keep an eye on you in case you woke up."
Really? How long was I –
"How long was I out?" I asked, trying to calm down.
"Twenty-eight hours," Tenchi indicated. "Washu said you'd probably sleep close to thirty after all the punishment you've taken."
Twenty-eight hours... Damn. No wonder I feel like shit incarnate.
Tenchi reached over to the dresser and picked up a large glass, then turned and handed it to me.
"Here," he commented. "Washu said you'd be dehydrated after your nap."
"Thanks," I replied, taking it. "She's right... As usual."
"As usual," Tenchi agreed with a small chuckle while I downed the water.
"So what happened?" I continued at length. Tenchi simply shrugged.
"What's there to tell?" he responded. "You appeared next to Ayeka again. Washu detected you before anyone even woke up, and was checking on you before your companions even had time to react."
"Companion- Luna's okay?" I asked. "And Senbei's here?"
Tenchi nodded. I sighed. One less thing to worry about...
"They're both just fine," he advised. "The talking cat, Luna, was very concerned for you. Said you just got punched in the face by some angry cyborg girl."
"Yeah," I nodded. "I don't even remember the blow connecting. Just saw her reach back for it... I guess I flinched when I should have scurried."
Not even awake five minutes, and I'm already quoting movies.
"Yeah," Tenchi agreed. "Almost accidentally killing someone's sister has that effect on a person. I'd say you were pretty lucky it wasn't worse."
"Yeah," I agreed. "Lucky. Lucky I ended up here."
Actually, thinking about it. Luck had nothing to do with it. Call me paranoid, but I don't think I've been teleporting as random as I first thought. It's all too convenient. First I teleport to nothing but worlds I know quite well, into the beds of characters I know just as well based on some personalized mental favorites list. Then, when I finally hit a situation I can't cope with. I end up back in the safest world to date. That's not a natural phenomenon. It happened far too many times to be coincidence. Coincidence is when you meet your friend in the movie section of the grocery store in another city when you've been out of contact for three years. Not spontaneously teleporting to a compiled list of worlds based off your favorite fiction. On top of this, you have to think about the order of the worlds I landed in. I landed in a world that gave me something useful enough to make use of later, starting with Washu and her speech shot.
No, this was sapience at work. Something or someone was actively messing with me. I'm no genius, but it would take an idiot not to notice the pattern. And when I find out who or what it is, I'm going to sick every damn god, goddess, or demon I make friends with on them and introduce them to the idea of the curbstomp song. Boot first.
Until that happened though, I guess I'd better deal with the now.
"You said twenty-eight hours right?" I asked. Tenchi nodded.
I've been showing up between four and four-thirty...ish. So that's twenty-four hours. Which is a day, plus another four, so it's more like four AM plus four...
"It's about eight isn't it?" I asked.
"Eight-seventeen," Tenchi corrected. "But good guess. You hungry? Sasami's got breakfast for us."
Technically no... I have no appetite for about an hour after I wake up. But I just went a day without food. I'm eating. No questions asked.
Nodding, I stood up. Damn, stiff... To be expected after being asleep for a full day... I groaned a bit at my joints' refusal to bend as they should, but made to walk around the room a bit in order to work it out. That's right, stiff joints are easy. Walk it off, walk it off.
"You okay?" Tenchi asked. "Washu said to make sure if you woke up, you took it easy."
"I think I'm okay," I responded as I worked circles around the futon. "Just a bit... STIFF."
I emphasized the last line by stopping and yanking my head sideways. There was a satisfying CRACK and what was left of my headache almost immediately went away.
"Ahahahahaaa... awww..." I almost drooled. "That felt good."
Once I was satisfied with my personal condition, despite this throbbing running from my shoulder down to the tip of my fingers in my right hand, I turned to the de-facto god to be. Then I noticed something.
Tenchi was a blur. How could I MISS that?
"Glasses," I tapped my face, then looked back down at the futon, lapsing into English. "Dammit! Glasses! My things... Where the fuck-"
"Washu has everything," Tenchi instructed. "You brought back quite a few things she wanted to take a look at. And the glasses... They didn't exactly come out in tact. Washu was rather surprised you managed to get them broken."
"I got punched in the face by a cyborg SUPER SOLDIER," I pointed out. "I'm kind of surprised I'M not broken... Or maybe I was."
Tenchi just shrugged. "It's Washu. Knowing her, the next pair will be capable of taking everything Ryoko can dish out."
"Yeah, I know right?" I agreed as the Masaki stood from his spot and made to leave the room. "Washu strikes me as someone who would take a blow to her scientific prowess as a personal challenge. It'll probably end up being immune to contact nuclear detonations. And if it doesn't have thermal imaging, night vision, and an integrated heads up display capable of scanning for things I didn't even know existed, I'll be disappointed."
Tenchi let off a small chuckle at my humor as he led me to the stairs. On the way there, I remembered one important thing...
"Hold on," I stated, and disappeared into the bathroom.
A minute later, I returned.
"Okay, I'm better," I commented.
Tenchi nodded and continued on. As he did so, I caught sight of the most interesting scene. At least, to me.
On the couch, watching TV, was Sasami.
In and of itself, it wasn't interesting. It was the arrangements that got me. Sasami was tucked into one corner, leaning against the arm of the couch with Ryo-Ohki propped up against her in child form. Situated on Sasami's shoulder between her neck and the side of Ryo-Ohki's head was Senbei, leaning against the couch. In Ryo-Ohki's lap, Luna was half curled-up but obviously staring at the screen.
The screen itself told me quickly what had their rapt attention, and it suddenly made sense. They were watching an episode of Sailor Moon. My DVD box set was lying on top of the TV.
Bunched up as they were, it was kind of cute. So cute I almost wish I had my camera on me. Especially with Senbei not actually being completely TACKY for once... Wait, Senbei's getting along with Team Cuteness?
I almost laughed outright where I stood, but managed to suppress it to a single, loud snort.
Ryo-Ohki's ear twitched, and instantly, the polyform-lifeform's head snapped around to face me. Then she began to exclaim in a series of excited 'Meow Meow!'
"He's what?" Luna's head followed suit. Her ears perking up alert the way only cats can do. "He is!"
"Hmmm?" Sasami raised the remote and paused the DVD, following everyone's gaze. Then her smile lit up the room.
"You're awake!" she chirped. The picturesque image of strange and cute dissolved as she jumped up from her spot. Senbei easily floated clear while Ryo-Ohki followed, Luna jumping up on the back of the couch effortlessly.
"Thank goodness you're alright," the feline commented as I reached ground level. "After all the stuff you managed to pull off, I was afraid you'd been killed when that one girl hit you. The sound it made..."
"Personally I'm surprised I'm not dead too," I nodded at the feline. "Considering what punched me..."
"So you DID know where you were," Luna tilted her head. "I wasn't sure what was going on, and I was worried when you never started explaining anything like you did before."
"I'm glad you kept your mouth shut too," I nodded. "If they knew that I know even HALF of what I really know about them, things may have been a lot worse."
"I was hoping that was the case," Luna replied. "You seemed to be keeping your head down, so I followed your example. Then, when that girl punched you, and we jumped, I just didn't know what to do. Then this red headed girl busts into the room, sees you, and starts yelling at the top of her lungs. The next thing I know, I'm being hugged by a girl in pajamas, the lights come on, and the red head's shouting about a skull fracture, another girl comes right through the wall like a ghost, Senbei's trying to use his little luck trick on this blond girl..."
"Whoa, whoa, wait a second," I threw my hand up. "Back up... SKULL fracture?"
"You were hurt," Sasami supplied helpfully. "Ayeka almost freaked out when she realized your nose was bleeding all over the futon."
"So I DID get broken," I looked at Tenchi, who shrugged.
"Washu said to keep things toned down, just in case you panicked," he waved it off.
Okay, fair enough. Don't need me having a mental breakdown after head trauma. I guess I got hit harder than I thought. Funny... I don't feel like a trauma patient. So Washu must have been pretty fast in the fixing. I'll have to ask her about the extent of the damage later.
"You want something to eat?" Sasami continued into my thoughts. "I've got breakfast ready."
"Sounds good, thank you." I replied. "Where's everyone else?"
"Breakfast," Sasami smiled.
As we stepped into the dining area, I understood. Today's morning meal wasn't the Family routine I'd been privy to last time.
The table wasn't nearly as packed as it had been the first time around. First and most importantly, Washu was absent. She was probably in the lab. Ryoko was also missing. Tenchi was obviously not there because he was standing behind me at the moment, as were Sasami and Ryo-Ohki. Of the cast that normally sat here, the table was sparsely populated by Mihoshi, Noike, and Ayeka.
"Well, good morning," Noike was the first to spot my entrance and promptly addressed me like a hostess would. I hadn't really interacted with her much last time. Nor Mihoshi for that matter... Then again, most of my interactions consisted of unintelligible conversations that had to be run through Washu. I guess the first thing I should do, would be to give a better impression of myself now that I could actually, you know, have a two-sided conversation.
"Morning..." I replied. "I hope my sudden appearances haven't been causing more trouble than normal around here."
Noike blinked, and I realized I'd inadvertently acted a little more familiar than was polite. Confounded! It wasn't much, but I knew it was the 'more trouble THAN NORMAL' part of the statement.
"Not too bad," Ayeka cut in before anyone else could respond. "At least you have the decency to keep your hands to yourself. And you're quiet. I probably wouldn't have even noticed you were there, save for Washu waking us all up at four in the morning..."
Uh... Did I just get complimented, insulted, or was she making genuine small talk? I'm pretty certain by a combination of how I knew Ayeka to act, and the way she never made eye contact that her comment wasn't intended to be nice. Did I lose ground with her? I could have sworn we ended up on friendly terms. Maybe it was because I landed in her bed a second time. Dammit, now she's pissed at me again.
"I'll be sure to find the deity responsible for this mess and give them a good slap with a VLR for daring to interrupt your beauty sleep," I advised.
There... That should let her know I got the gist of it. Princess not happy, but Princess understands the situation and doesn't want to lose face pressing the issue.
I was rewarded with the princess actually giving me a sidelong glance before she asked a question.
"What's a VLR?"
Oh... I shouldn't use personal science fiction terms in speech. It confuses people.
"Very Large Rock." I answered. Still a confused look... "Asteroids. They make wonderful bludgeoning tools when you get them up to ninety percent light speed."
"Mmmhmmm..." Ayeka nodded, feigning interest. "Well, after what happened it's nice to see you're awake now."
Then she turned back to her half-eaten meal. Attempting to translate from Preposterously Proper Princess into Normal Speak... 'You're not out of the doghouse yet, but you show promise. You are dismissed until such a time as I'm not in a foul mood.'
I don't think I'll be attempting to talk to her any more this meal. I've been down this road. Don't bug her.
Mihoshi stared at me blankly for several seconds before returning to her meal. In the little time I'd seen her, she'd been curiously quiet. I would have expected her to barge in with a dozen questions, or throw us off on a tangent, or something non-sequiter.
Mihoshi being quiet and almost brooding was so unusual it was downright creepy.
Luckily for me, the moment was broken when Senbei suddenly teleported half way across the room and immediately engaged the blond in a rather animated conversation about a high-speed interplanetary chase she'd participated in. From the way it sounded, they must have been going on about this previously. Nobody seemed the least bit put out that he was half a foot tall and dressed like a fashion nightmare.
Then again, look at who we have for residents.
I didn't catch much more of the conversation as Sasami suddenly tugged me by my arm over to a spot at the table and started preparing dishes. Now that we could actually understand each other, she took it upon herself to make comments of each dish she placed in front of me.
I was being treated to a traditional Japanese breakfast. Main course... Steamed rice. And.. Oh Look! Miso Soup. Well, the stereotype menu wasn't completely inaccurate. Then again, I guess it had to show up some time.
Then there were side dishes. I was prepared a kind of sample platter. Sasami pointed out items quickly. Tamagoyaki... Essentially, rolled omelets. Nori, dried seaweed, which smelled 'off' to me, but that was probably just the way the seaweed smelled. Some broiled fish... That looked tasty. And Tsukemono... Pickles
"And no onions in this," Sasami concluded with a smirk. "I noticed you pick those out of the omelet last time."
Did I do that? I honestly couldn't remember doing that. But then again, I was a little preoccupied at the time.
Thankfully, I wasn't expected to try and master chopsticks, and was provided with a fork and a spoon to compensate for my lack of skill in that department. As I ate, Sasami bombarded me with questions about what was good, what I liked, or didn't like, why I hadn't touched the Nori. (Seaweed upsets my stomach, so I've come to notice with my few attempts at Sushi.) And generally pestered me and built a profile of my personal tastes in food while I sat there, fully aware of it. Mainly what it boiled down to was the fish, the rice, and soy sauce getting turned into a casserole, with the Tamagoyaki as a side course, and the pickles as an oderve.
In short, I took a meal Sasami had carefully prepared in traditional style, and mashed it together in a bowl.
On the plus side, I didn't get stared at this time around. Noike was occupied with her own breakfast, Mihoshi was having an animated chat with Senbei, and Ayeka was doing her best to pretend I didn't exist.
Lord only knows where Tenchi wandered off to once Sasami took over, but he was nowhere in sight. And off in a corner, Luna was talking quietly to Ryo-Ohki, who responded back with her characteristic meow noises.
It took a few seconds, but then I realized something.
"You can understand her?" I asked the feline.
"Yes," Luna managed to shrug. "I do speak cat you know. She's got a very sophisticated and humanized dialect, but it's definitely Felix."
"Mew-Meow, Meow?" Ryo-Ohki tilted her head to the side.
"Not really," Luna continued to Ryo-Ohki. "I live with a bubble brain as it is."
"He's not that bad actually," she continued. "Though after what I've seen, I'll admit he is fumbling around a bit too much with risky plans."
"You have no idea..."
"Okay," I interrupted, stopping from my meal. "All I hear is 'meow' over and over again. Is it some kind of feline mores code? Or what?"
"Don't be silly," Luna chided, her posture suddenly picking up. "Felix isn't structured around sounds produced by the mouth. It's considered vulgar by cats to make sounds with the same part of your body that consumes flesh."
"Not to mention give yourselves a bath I take it?" I asked.
"I wasn't going to mention that," Luna looked off to the side. "But yes."
I put my fork down.
"So how does it work?"
"Felix is based on precise pitch control, and perception of subtle tonal differences." Luna advised. "A single 'meow' can carry as much information as a paragraph in human languages."
Damn, that's saying a lot. I mean, literally.
"So why are you talking to her using human language?" I pointed out.
"Habit," Luna shrugged.
"Mind if I give it a shot?" I asked. I was curious. It's not every day you actually get a chance to speak animal. Turning the tables on all these 'talking cats' would be hilarious.
"Meow... Meowow," Ryo-Ohki bubbled.
"What'd she say?" I asked.
"She said, more or less," Luna began. "She sells sea shells by the sea shore."
Cat language trainer eh? I can produce that sound.
"Okay," I began. "My turn..."
Luna started giving off a wry smile.
There was a pause.
"She sells skittles, ferocious sea monster with slap of five chunky dancing" Luna translated. Sasami burst out laughing, and even Ayeka seemed to be shaking in her spot.
"Not even close," I sighed.
"Better than most humans," Luna shrugged. "At least you got the right tone for 'sea' down in the middle. Most people will hit the first tone spot on, and slaughter the rest."
"Maybe I can get Washu to program me to speak cat," I mused. "The same way I learned to speak Japanese."
"Don't bother," Luna shook her head. "It's physically impossible for you to speak Felix. You couldn't hear half the tonals in that sentence alone since they're ultrasonic. And you couldn't hope to reproduce the sounds with any degree of accuracy. Trust me, I've known plenty of people who've tried. At best they come off as mentally handicapped kittens. It's as hard as a feline speaking human is. Stick with what you can do."
"But you speak human," I pointed out.
"Have you ever noticed I don't move my mouth the way you do to produce certain sounds?" Luna asked. "I have to be magically assisted to produce certain sounds. You should recall from the information you know about me that I had to have a Band-Aid taken off my head to speak to Usagi. Otherwise all that would come out would be garbled gibberish. I'd rather not make a fool of myself like that."
"Point," I shrugged. "I honestly didn't think about it."
"Fair enough," Luna nodded back.
"You mentioned Ryo-Ohki speaks a sophisticated dialect," I continued on a near tangent. "And humanized. What do you mean?"
"Oh that?" Luna looked at the weapon of mass cuteness again. "She actually says 'meow' whenever she speaks. She has no reason to since it's just a coincidental sound, but she does. As for her dialect... If it were to be put into a form you could understand, she has a very classy English Accent, and speaks using complicated statements"
"Erhem," Luna cleared her throat. "For example: Visualize Spot. Visualize Spot sprint. Sprint Spot sprint. Spot sprints expeditiously."
That was... Wait.
"Was that 'See Spot Run'?" I asked. Luna nodded.
Okay, so that was one thing interesting about Ryo-Ohki. Part critter, part super weapon... Personality of a child, intelligence of an MIT graduate. Well, she's an organic super computer too, so I should have seen that coming. Still... English accent? Great. Now I'm going to keep imagining her in a top hat and monocle every time I see her.
"Learn something new every day," I concluded.
"Well," Luna bounded up on the counter nearby and sat down. "At least you pay attention. Lazy bones would just be lost by now."
"How long are you going to keep comparing me to Usagi," I asked out of the blue.
"At least until I can figure out who's crazier," Luna replied pointedly. "Usagi for her childish antics despite how dire things are, or you with your downright suicidal stunts."
"Hey now," I started to glare, insulted. "I took calculated risks with what I was doing. I'd like to see you put your ass on the line against-"
"Ow!" I snapped, turning to see Sasami retracting a balled up fist. Did she just hit me in the back of the head?
"We don't use that kind of language at the table," she chided.
She did! Sweet little 'never hurt a fly' Sasami just smacked me in the back of the head for swearing at the table.
"Okay, okay!" I returned at the glaring child. "Sorry."
Maybe I should just finish eating. Good idea... Sasami might not look it, but she could be pretty bad ass herself. Considering she beat the living shit out of Mashisu, a well-armed and well-trained GP officer. And this didn't even include the fact that she was Tsunami. Comparatively speaking, I was a mosquito.
I doubt she'd do more than bop me on the head until I was sick of it, but I've already blown my luck once. I don't need to get bitch slapped by Tsunami.
Before long, Noike finished her meal and quickly stood up from the table, excusing herself as she did so. Ayeka similarly dismissed herself a short time after that and washed her plate. That left just Mihoshi, who'd been preoccupied with her conversation with Senbei, and me.
Sasami continued to profile my food preference, and Ryo-Ohki returned with Luna to the living room, where the sound of Sailor Moon episodes resumed on their own.
Noike returned, dressed for travel as she popped open the fridge for the moment.
"I'm going to make a run up to the store real quick," she advised. "I think Tenchi took off to the field on foot again, so I'll use the truck."
"Okay," Sasami nodded. "I'll let him know if he pops up."
Noike nodded and turned to leave, but paused and looked at the table.
"Mihoshi," she snapped. The blond officer stopped talking to Senbei and glanced at the green haired woman curiously.
"Don't you have a report to send out?" Noike asked.
Mihoshi stared blankly, turned her head, looked at the clock, and then looked at Noike again. Then suddenly, her eyes widened and she looked at the clock again.
"Eek!" she yelped. Hastily leaping to her feet. "I'm going to be late!"
This was the Mihoshi I recognized. Bumbling, bubbly, clueless Mihoshi... She fumbled around on her body before producing what looked like a pink cube that looked like it was made of Jell-O. Ah, the control cube. Another insanely awesome piece of gadgetry from an already awesome setting full of really cool gadgets.
With a few deft twists, several items randomly appeared in mid air and came crashing down in front of her. Senbei dodged a suddenly appearing teakettle and several pieces of rather expensive looking china before he teleported into the air and gave the officer a surprised look. Then with a flash, Mihoshi was out of her casual clothing, and into her uniform.
"Okay!" she chirped happily. "I've got to run, but I'll be back in a few hours! I just have to give a quick report to central and I'll be home in time for dinner okay?"
"Okay," Sasami smiled, trying to hide her chagrin at the mess that had suddenly developed. "I'll make sure to set your place."
"Hey boss," Senbei suddenly spoke up, teleporting over to me. Since when did I get called boss?
"You don't mind if I go with her do you?" he asked. "For some reason, she's insanely rich. It's nothing I've ever seen before."
I almost stopped thinking. Senbei was actually being serious. I mean, when was that goofball ever serious? Then it clicked. Senbei, master of probability... And Mihoshi, idiot savant of probability... It makes sense, in a weird, twisted kind of way.
"Sure," I shrugged. "Go ahead. She'll be back in a few hours anyway. But don't come crying to me when she puts your abilities to shame."
"What?" Senbei asked, his character returning. "Better than me? Non-non! I am the best at what I do."
"You just keep telling yourself that," I rolled my eyes. "But it's on the record. I warned you."
"We'll see," he nodded, teleporting over to Mihoshi's shoulder with a quiet pop.
"Okay!" Mihoshi looked at the devil on her shoulder. "Let's go!"
She gave her control cube another twist, and they both disappeared with a pop.
It was quiet, just like that. Now I think I was starting to get it. Unlike fiction, which lead you into a joke by cutting back and forth, Mihoshi ran on no such poetic schedules and nobody got any warning. Her chaos was sudden, random, and quite unexpected. Nobody could get away from the gag because you couldn't see it coming until it hit you in the face. That had to be why it drove everyone bonkers. No setup for the gag... Of course!
I stuck another bite of tamagoyaki in my mouth and chewed thoughtfully. Senbei was going to be in for the ride of his life on-
I stopped chewing.
A moment later I tore out of my spot. There was no way I was going to miss a spacecraft take off! I might never get to see another one!
I made it to the sliding door and dashed out onto the deck by the pier as Yukinojo settled into a hover just above the lake.
One word, 'AWESOME'.
A little larger than a Learjet, but with odd similarities between that and an SR-71, the shuttle Mihoshi flew was triangular, twin-engined, and seemed to defy logic as it floated almost silently above the lake.
I sprinted around and out on the pier to get a better look at the underside. Maybe it had some kind of repulsor plate on the bottom. It wasn't riding any retros.
"IDIOT!" Ayeka's voice suddenly shouted from nearby, causing me to almost fall off the side of the pier. The princess was waving frantically at me.
"Mihoshi's takeoffs are as bad as her landings!" she continued.
What? No they weren't. From what I remember, her takeoffs are nowhere near as bad as her landings. I mean, all it does is kick up some water when she-
Oh shi- WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?
"Kzinti Lesson!" I snapped, slipping a little as I spun around to sprint toward land. "KZINTI LESSON!"
The engines started spooling up deceptively fast. Reminding me that this was NOT a jet, it does NOT take two minutes to warm up. It started up as fast as you could start a car, and it took off like a coiled spring. The engine power coming out of something that accelerated that fast would be enough to- GOD DAMMIT! I REALLY need to stop getting caught up in the cool stuff and think about it a little more!"
I didn't get very far unfortunately. With a thump and the roar of wind, Yukinojo took off like a rocket, the back blast knocking me over the side of the pier into the water.
I came up a moment later, wiping the water out of my eyes and shivering. DAMN this was cold! Yukinojo was already clear of the nearest hill and climbing rapidly up out of sight. Damn! I wonder what the thrust to weight ratio on that thing was.
"You really are hopeless aren't you?" Ayeka commented as she reached the edge of the deck nearest me. "The way you were talking and acting, I didn't think you'd be dumb enough to actually walk up behind a spacecraft. Especially with Mihoshi at the controls."
"You'd THINK," I shrugged. "But I've been having an attack of the stupids lately. Too many cool things to look at around here. I forget to think about the obvious consequences."
Ayeka shook her head.
"It's like you've never seen a space ship before," she rolled her eyes.
"Actually," I began. "I haven't."
The princess paused.
"Not up close anyway," I revised.
"Well," Ayeka lowered herself to one knee and reached out. "I assume you've learned your lesson quite well."
"If I had actually been thinking," I began. "I wouldn't have done that in the first place."
Taking Ayeka's invitation, I grasped her outstretched hand and began to use my free hand to pull myself back up on the deck.
"Don't!" she snapped. "You'll get this outfit wet, and I just washed it."
Well, what am I supposed to do? Let you haul me up with your own- wait she was lifting me out of the water with one hand!
The princess hauled me up almost deftly. An obvious reversal to the situation a few days ago when I had struggled to haul her out of the lake. Of course, she was Juraian, who had body enhancement strength to make the GP body enhancement treatment, which made trained athletes look like weak children, in itself, look weak.
Everyone is stronger than I am, or faster than me, or more powerful, or more durable. Dammit, I don't even get fucking durability bonus out of all this. I go squish from a punch in the face.
"There," Ayeka commented. Satisfied as she deposited me on the deck.
"Thanks," I replied.
"Don't mention it," she replied disdainfully as she turned away towards the far side of the house.
"Why are you so pissed off at me?" I asked, causing her to stop. The princess looked over her shoulder for a moment, then replied.
"I'm not angry with you," she shrugged. I call bullshit.
"If you're not angry, you could have fooled me," I replied. "Cold shoulder, clipped tone, double meanings in some of the things you've said, and just now... Behaving as if I'm a stray puppy that almost drowned. Is it because I teleported right into your bed? I told you that wasn't my fault. WASHU told you that wasn't my fault..."
Ayeka sighed, then turned around, her eyes looking a little less determined than they did before.
"It's not that," she shook her head. "It's just..."
She stopped, flushing, and looked at the ground in front of her.
"It's just that, I was just certain Tenchi was getting comfortable around me," she commented demurely. "I thought I'd finally made some progress."
Oh great... Love Story Blues. I need a country song for this. Wait, didn't Ayeka resolve her issues around Tenchi before Noike even arrived? Or, no... Tenchi comfortable with her, oh... OH! 'COMFORTABLE'. I get it. She was hoping to 'GET SOME!' from Tenchi.
"So you're worried about what he thinks of you now?" I asked. The princess flushed another shade darker.
"You're worried about that?" I turned my head to the side. Snorting a quick laugh. "About what mister 'I can't even hate the guy who tried to KILL me' Tenchi Masaki thinks about you?"
I laughed. I shouldn't have, but I did.
"It's not funny!" Ayeka snapped, turning with a huff.
"You'll be fine," I jogged up next to her. "Tenchi knows just as well as you do what's going on."
Then I paused.
"Which, quite frankly, is next to nothing," I added at length. "But if you're worried that my appearance is ruining your image... Don't worry."
'Humph!" she scoffed. "Not exactly encouraging words there."
"Well," I shrugged. "I'm not good at pep talks, sue me. But I think you're getting all worked up over nothing."
"I suppose," she sighed, relaxing a little. "It still doesn't make me feel better.
"At least do me one favor then," I stated.
"And what's that?" she asked.
"Please stop taking it out on me," I pleaded. "I've had a really bad week."
The princess eyed me for several seconds, then turned over, and walked to me.
"Fine," she nodded. "It's not your fault anyway."
"So," I began. "We cool?"
"Yes we're..." then she blinked. "Cool."
"Awesome," I snapped in English, then spun to head for the house. I had breakfast to finish.
"STOP! RIGHT! THERE!" she suddenly thundered behind me. I froze dead still.
"What'd I do?"
"You will wait out here in the sun until you've dried off," she commanded regally. "I will not have you walking around inside dripping water everywhere. Do you understand?"
I think I liked it better when she was avoiding me.