What Might Have Been Chapter One: In Dreams

Disclaimer: This fanfiction is not written with the consent of Pioneer/AIC. I do NOT own the characters, with the exception of Kei. Please do not sue me.

Comments, criticism, flames, and death threats may be sent to Platinum_Dragon@usinternet.com.

!!WARNING!! This is NOT mainline Tenchi. It is an alternate universe, and the characters at times will be VERY ooc, compared to those in the series. Please remember that the versions in this story line had very different experiences.

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It was a beautiful day out; the sun was shining, and there were just enough clouds in the sky to provide occasional shade so it didn't get too hot while remaining pleasantly sunny. The lake sparkled, disturbed only now and then by the light breeze that rustled through the leaves. There was a hint of autumn in that breeze; a hint of cool nights that might need a comforter or perhaps the warm caress of a lover to get through. Birds sang softly, almost as though afraid of shattering the tranquility with too loud a note, and butterflies were lazily flying from flower to tree to flower. In the far distance, the sounds of the city could just barely be made out, but even they seemed in time with the day, melding with it.

In the middle of it all was one Tenchi Masaki. He was making his way slowly down the old, carved-stone path; he had left for the bus early so that he could enjoy the morning. He was dressed in his school uniform; black shirt, black pants; held his book bag over one shoulder. Tenchi was smiling, mouth curved upward and eyes laughing as though at some joke only he could see. The only sound that he made was the steady clicking of his shoes against the stone of the path. The morning seemed to demand silence, beyond the singing of the birds and the sounds of the city, demanded it with all the authority of Nature.

And yet, as perfect as the day was, somewhere, deep in the back of his mind, Tenchi couldn't shake the feeling that something was... wrong, something was missing. That something just wasn't right. It was strange, as though a voice was telling him... what? He glanced up, at the black sky with its purple sun; the sparkling of the light of the lake of boiling blood; rubbed his hands on his bare arms in a vain attempt to shake off the howling, icy gale.

Abruptly Tenchi blinked; black sky, purple sun? A lake of boiling blood tossed by an icy wind? Eyes widening, he looked around himself to find that he was once again in a peaceful, tranquil forest. After a moment, he shook his head, dismissing it as a day dream, or rather, day nightmare, and began walking again. Somewhere off in the distance, he heard the deep toll of a bell, slowly calling the morning hour. He grinned again. It was too nice a day to worry about anything, he thought abruptly with a wry laugh. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a deer sprint along, out across the path and back into the woods almost before he recognized it. Tenchi laughed again. Too nice a day to worry about anything.

But now, he slowly became aware of the fact that he didn't feel at ease anymore, of a strange, creeping, silently whispering chill that started at the very base of his spine, and ever so slowly began a painful crawl upwards. The birds soft chirping, before seemingly afraid of being too loud, began to crowd in on him. It was a quiet, haunting sound; as it fell on his ears it seemed to change from one of beauty to a sinister, evil song that made his very marrow freeze. Slowly, he stopped, frowning, looking about himself warily. That sense of something wrong came back, and for some reason he found himself looking to the sky expectantly, as if waiting for something there.

Around him, the trees began to creak, change from ancient, holy things to twisted, gnarled claws. The leaves turned gray; they fell away from the oaks and sycamores and birch and cherry trees with a dead rustle. The bark darkened from healthy reds, browns and whites to dark, drab gray. The once gentle breeze now began to blow harder, whistling and moaning through the gnarled behemoths; cold chiller than the arctic winds began to sear Tenchi down to his very soul. He thought he saw the deer again for a moment, but even as he did, SOMETHING moved and the deer simply ceased to exist.

A shadow fell over the land; he looked up to see the sun being eclipsed, turning the sky black. For a moment, he thought that he could see something, some strange, indistinct kind of mask. Then the sun was fully eclipsed; a sphere of purple light somehow pushing through in its place.

Tenchi suddenly felt something hot on his face; with a trembling, shivering hand, he reached up and touched it lightly. His fingers came away stained with blood; he went to wipe it away on his clothes and suddenly realized that he no longer had any clothes. He looked down in surprise, and then blinked as a hand slowly started to grow out of the ground at his feet. For a moment, the hand just stayed there, and then abruptly it grabbed onto his ankle, fingernails becoming sharp talons. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out, or if it did it was ripped away by the howling wind. His life's blood sprayed away, somehow reaching the lake, and as it dropped in the water began to boil, became blood. Another claw sank into his other ankle, and he felt himself slowly begin to be dragged into the chill earth; struggle as he might, he could not get free.

The claws pulled him down to his waist; suddenly the wind wasn't howling, it was laughing, laughing madly at him. Then, abruptly, two golden spheres appeared before him, and a hand that was stretching slowly toward him. Desperately he tried to stretch out to that hand; more claws grew out of the ground and sank into his sides and shoulders. Somehow, he kept reaching to that disembodied hand and those two golden spheres. Their fingertips brushed, and Tenchi felt a surge of hope, just before the claws yanked down hard, ripping their hands apart. Tenchi opened his mouth to scream as his eyes began to sink below the earth, but dirt poured into his throat like water, smothering him, drowning him...

"Ahhh!" shouted Tenchi, as he sat bolt upright, gasping for breath. Heart pounding, he began to panic as he realized that while he could breath again, he still couldn't see, and frightening as the world had become, it was sheer terror to not be able to see what might be coming after him. Scrabbling to get away, he found that he was tangled up in something; the blood pounding in his ears made it seem as though he was standing next to a thunderbolt.

Abruptly the lights came on; he stopped thrashing about as he realized that he was in a bed, and that he was only tangled in the sheets. His heart began to climb back down into his ribcage; as the blood stopped pounding so loudly, he heard his mother asking him what was wrong. Shaking his head to clear away the cobwebs, he looked at her.

At thirty-eight, Achika Masaki still looked like she was only twenty. Her long, black hair was tied back into a pony tail, and it hung just past her waist. He'd learned to watch for her to unconsciously tug at it when she got angry or very worried- which wasn't very often, but she had one hand wrapped about it at the moment. She stood perhaps half a foot shorter than Tenchi, and had the same gentle brown eyes as he did. Her cheekbones were slightly raised, and her nose ever so slightly hooked; sometimes, if the light was just right, you could see something of a hawk there. She looked at him with concern in her eyes.

"Tenchi, what's wrong?" she asked, coming over to the side of the bed. Shaking his head again, he smiled at her.

"Nothing, Mother, I just... had a really weird dream," he told her. "A really, really weird dream." The nightmare was already fading away as most dreams did, yet... it had felt so real. Abruptly, Achika gasped in surprise, and caught his head lightly in her hands. He blinked as she leaned down.

"When did you get this cut, Tenchi?" she asked. He blinked again, and looked at her.

"What..." He paused, as he felt something hot on his cheek. Blinking, he reached up and lightly touched it; his fingers came away smeared with crimson, and he felt the blood drain from his face. Achika looked at him, frowning slightly.

"Are you feeling well, Tenchi? Do you think you need to stay home today?" she asked. Shrugging free of her grasp, he shook his head, and smiled.

"No, I'm... I'm fine, mom. I must have scratched myself during that dream," he said. For a moment, she frowned at him consideringly, before nodding.

"Alright." She paused a moment, and suddenly Tenchi's alarm clock went off, making them both jump. Looking at each other, they laughed, as he reached over and hit the off switch. "Get cleaned up and ready for school," she told him, stepping back from the bed. "I'll make some breakfast while you do," she said, smiling, and he nodded, grinning. Smiling again, she left the room, and Tenchi began to untangle himself from the sheets. He paused a moment; how had he gotten that cut? Blood on his cheek had been in his dream... But no, that couldn't be. Probably he had scratched himself, and it had worked it's way into the dream.

Yeah. That had to be it. He hoped.

"Turn to your partner; study their face a moment, and then put them on your paper. You have the rest of the period to complete your assignment. Begin." Pencils descended to paper, as the students in Tenchi's art class began work on their latest assignment. He waited patiently as Kei lightly ran her hand over his face, and then looked at her, smiling. She grinned at him as she began to sketch out his face. Looking down to his own paper, he touched the pencil lead down, and slowly began to make a line.

Art was one of his favorite classes; usually he had no trouble with any of the assignments. Usually. But for some reason, today, as he heard the soft scratching away of the other student's pencils, he just couldn't get the lines to come together right. Half an hour had already gone by, and he'd only managed to draw one eye. Even that didn't look right. It was a perfect eye, he knew; the lashes were just long enough, the curves of the iris just sloping enough, yet it still looked wrong.

After a moment, he erased the iris lines, and drew them much less curved, more slitted, like a cat's eye, instead of ovals. Then he added sharply pointed ovals for the pupils too. Now it was just right; now he began to recognize the feeling that he sometimes got when he was deeply into a drawing, when his hands began to draw without him thinking of what he was doing. It was a feeling that he always got when he was doing his best work, and he let it take over.

A second eye was added, the same cat-like iris as the first. A petite, slightly up-turned nose appeared; then a gently smiling mouth. The first sketch of her hair went in, long and luxurious and flowing; Tenchi frowned, and erased it all. The second attempt started to take shape; long spikes of hair, and two long tails that hung down to her chest. He drew in her bangs, almost curled spikes that partly covered her eyebrows. He added a somewhat sharp chin, and slightly rectangular shaped ears. After a moment's thought, he softened the chin just slightly.

Setting his pencil down, his hand hovered over a brown colored pencil for a moment before settling on a blue so light it was almost silver. Slowly, he filled in her hair, getting the shade just right; setting down the cyan color, he blended in just a touch of blue-green. Her skin gained an alabaster tone. Tenchi stared at the drawing for a moment. Something was still missing from it; a sparkle caught his eye. Looking, he saw a gold colored pencil; grinning, he picked it up and shaded in her irises with it.

Leaning back in his chair as the feeling left him, he studied what he'd drawn. The girl there wasn't Kei... yet he was certain that he knew who she was. Her face was so familiar; though he knew that he'd never seen it before. His brow furrowed, as he sacked his mind for a name. "R... Ryoko..." he said softly, an then blinked as the picture was plucked from his grasp.

"Well, Mr. Masaki! I must say that this is an excellent effort!" boomed his teacher, drawing the attention of the other students. "Look class! See how closely Mr. Masaki has matched the shade of Kei's hair, and the color and shape of her eyes?" he said, holding up the drawing for them all to see. Laughter rippled through the classroom, and Tenchi blushed, as the teacher handed it back to him, grinning.

"I'm sorry sir, I don't know what happened," he said meekly. His teacher nodded.

"Sometimes you envision something that has to be drawn, and can't do anything else until you do. This one time, I will accept it and give you credit, just try not to do it again," he said quietly, grinning again. Tenchi nodded in relief.

"Yes, Sensei," he answered. The bell rang; his teacher told them that they were excused, and reminded them to pick up a permission slip for the next week's field trip. Tenchi packed away his things; after a moment's thought, he tucked the drawing of the golden eyed girl into his book bag too. Kei elbowed him lightly in the side as he moved toward the door. He grabbed a pair of the permission slips and placed one in her hand; she tucked it into her bag.

"So, who is she?" she asked, grinning. He winced.

"I... don't know. Honest. I was trying to do the assignment, and she just... you know... kinda appeared," said Tenchi.

"Then why did I hear you say Ryoko? I heard you say it just before Okai-sensei took it," she countered, with a dangerous glint in her eyes. Tenchi raised his hands defensively.

"She's probably just one of my mother's old friends. Her skin is too light to be Japanese; I probably met her when I was just a little kid and didn't remember her till just now," he said. Kei looked at him skeptically.

"Uh-huh." Tenchi took hold of her hands.

"I swear, I don't know who she is, and I've never seen her before," he assured her. After a moment, her skeptical look melted into a grin.

"Ok baka, I believe you. So, are we still on for tonight?" she asked. He grinned.

"Assuming that I can get grandpa to let me out of sword practice," he said lightly. Kei punched him on the shoulder.

"You told me you had everything taken care of last week!" she exclaimed, socking him again. He did his best to ward her off, laughing.

"Ok, ok! Ow, I was just kidding!" he said.

"Tenchi no baka!" Kei answered, scowling and looking away. He grinned.

"Are you saying that I would dare forget about our date at the carnival? How could I, you remind me every five minutes," he said dryly.

"I do not! Anyway, what about that time you forgot we were meeting at the mall to shop?" she countered.

"Ok, so I forgot one time. At least I had a good excuse, Kei," he said, grinning again. She glanced at him, smirking, as they stepped out the front entrance of the school. He reached into his pocket and got out his sunglasses; the sun was bright today.

"The convenient twisted ankle," she said. He shrugged.

"Grandpa tripped me, what was I supposed to do?

"Not be so clumsy?" she deadpanned. Tenchi grinned, as she sighed in mock exasperation. "How'd I ever end up with somebody like you, I'll never understand." He took a moment to look at her. Kei was a full foot shorter than he was, with reddish-brown hair, pale skin, and freckles spotting her cheeks. Her eyes were sparkling mirrors of teal; she had a little rosebud of a mouth. She was an orphan; her parents had just moved to Japan and were killed in a car wreak that somehow left her untouched. She'd been placed into the foster system and had been lucky enough to have grown up with the same two foster parents, rather than having been shuffled around.

Of course, what most people didn't know was that she was also blind, and had been since birth. The reason that most didn't was that she didn't act blind; she looked at people when they spoke, and seemed to have some sort of personal sonar that kept her from running into people and things. And she could draw! She could draw things from simple descriptions; all she had to do was touch a person's face once and she could draw it in perfect detail. He had never once seen her need to erase a line or alter a drawing because she'd made a mistake on proportioning.

"An uncanny sense of character?" he asked. She grinned at him. Lately they'd had special cause for celebration. Because she could differentiate between different levels of light, his aunt Washu, a doctor and researcher at the hospital, thought that there was a chance that she might be able to cure her condition, that Kei might be able to see. The operation was scheduled for Friday, two days from today; tomorrow she would go in for several pre-operation tests and exams.

Her bus pulled up, and he tapped her shoulder. Kei turned to him, and stood up on tiptoes to give him a quick kiss on the cheek. Then she smiled and hurried over to the bus. As she climbed on, she looked toward him.

"You better be ready at 3:30 Tenchi Masaki, or else!"

First Princess Ayeka, of the royal house of Jurai, screamed as she sat up in her bed, and curled into a fetal ball, as she had done on so many nights, and would do on so many more. The sweat on her skin felt like ice; her bed sheets were soaked with it. She took in several deep breaths, and calmed herself, as she had had so much practice in. A light came on, as the Guardians looked in on her.

"Are you alright, your Highness?"

"That same dream again?" She nodded, waving them away. Every night, like clockwork, she had the same nightmare; every night, reliving watching the little cyan-haired girl being she had just met in the flower field being torn apart by a strange, black blob.

So many nights, waking up, screaming, as the blob turned toward her.

Sighing, she uncurled, and stood, making her way to her washroom. Turning on the faucet, she splashed herself with cold water, letting the chill wash away the last of her dream. Ayeka looked up at the mirror, at a miserable looking woman. Her nightgown had come partly undone, enough to show a fair amount of the thick, slashing scar she had received on that day. It ran from the tip of her chin, along her jaw line and down, over her right breast and under her left, then terminating after making a sharp turn and running down her side to just above her waist. It was her other reminder of that day.

By far, she preferred the scar.

The experience had been a shocking one; she had only survived by the chance arrival of the guardians. The blob had fled as they fired on it. To this day, she still found herself very afraid of sounds from dark places. And every night, that same, terrible dream, over and over. Doctors from thousands of worlds had tried to dislodge it; psychics to simply erase it, but without fail, every night it returned.

Some nights, it seemed somehow worse, such as this night; she would wake up screaming in terror, as she just had. Other nights Ayeka would sleep through it; it would seem muted, far away, as though she was watching a grainy recording.

"Princess Ayeka, we are receiving a signal from Princess Sasami," said Azaka, poking his single electronic eye around the corner. She glanced at him.

"Thank you, Azaka. I will take it in my bedchamber. Tell me, what is our current position?" she asked.

"We are presently three light years from our meeting place with Princess Sasami. At our current rate of speed, we will arrive one day ahead of schedule," he replied after a moment. She nodded.

"Please decrease speed so that we arrive at the appointed time," she said.

"Yes, your highness," he replied, before floating away. Nodding, Ayeka reached out and grabbed a towel, drying her face. Straightening, she composed herself, rebuttoned the nightshirt, and went back out to sit on her bed.

"Open communication." A wide screen appeared, with Sasami's smiling, freckled face.

"Hi sis! I'm sorry for calling so late," she said almost before the screen was done forming. Ayeka shook her head.

"I was awake anyway, Sasami. What is it?" she asked, smiling slightly. She lost some of her smile.

"I just had the strangest dream... and now I've got this feeling that I need to be somewhere else... and that you should be there too," she said slowly. Ayeka frowned slightly.

"What sort of dream, Sasami?" she asked. Sasami sighed.

"It was weird... I felt like I was flying, and I saw this house. There were people there... the only two people that I could make out were you and I, but there were seven of us in all, four other girls and one boy. I couldn't see their faces, but... It felt... happy there." Sasami paused a moment, looking at her. "And... you didn't have..." Sasami trailed off, but her hand traced the line of Ayeka's scar on her own chin. Her sister had always been a little uncomfortable talking about it; Juraian tradition put physical beauty on a high pedestal, and it was something that she intended to change. Perhaps that was something she had learned; the silver lining of that dark day. The ability to see the hypocrisy of the government she had been raised to one day take over.

"You know that couldn't be, Sasami; no one has been able to remove it." She sighed, but smiled slightly. "After this long, I probably wouldn't let them do it anyway. It's become as much a part of who I am as my training. A valuable reminder of a lesson that I was given."

Sasami sighed, "I know, but... It just felt so... real, so..." She trailed off, sighing again, and Ayeka smiled, as she got an idea.

"I'll tell you what. How far are you from the rendezvous?" she asked. Sasami blinked, but looked to the side for a moment.

"I'm about a day ahead, why?" she said.

"So am I. There are a couple of inhabited planets in the area. We'll go to one and take a look around. Maybe we'll find that house; who knows, perhaps we'll see the people you saw. How does that sound?" she asked, smiling again. Sasami's eyes widened.

"Really?" she asked, excitement in her eyes. Ayeka nodded.

"Really. We'll rendezvous, and then take Ryou-oh in, ok?" she said. Sasami laughed in delight, and nodded.

"I can't wait! This is gonna be great!" she said. Ayeka grinned slightly.

"Alright. You get back to sleep; I'll see you in a couple hours," she said. Sasami grinned, and then closed the communication. Ayeka smiled as it did, and then sighed once it was closed. For a moment, she pictured herself without the thick, slashing scar.

"Azaka, Kamadake. Return us to our previous speed, and please give me scans of the nearby inhabited planets. We will be taking short side trip," she called; ignoring the confirming "Yes Ma'am!" she sighed, and began to pick through her drawers for something to wear.

"Hey Mihoshi, what did you do with my hairbrush?" called Kiyone, as she sleepily looked around for it.

"I think you might have left it in the bathroom, Kiyone. Didn't you?" came the answer. Kiyone stretched out luxuriously, and then stood, padding over to the Yagami's bathroom. Sure enough, it was siting next to the wash basin.

"I'm going to take my bath. Think you can handle keeping watch for a little while?"

"Yeah sure, Kiyone!" answered the blonde. Kiyone sighed, grinning, and ran some wash water. Closing the door and stripping out of her nightgown, she sighed again, this time in pleasure, as she stepped into the steaming water, and let it cover her to the chin. Closing her eyes, she let herself soak for awhile.

When they had been assigned to this remote sector, at first, she thought her career was over. Nothing ever happened beyond the occasional breakdown of a ship or minor traffic infraction. And she'd been stuck with Mihoshi! All alone with her... she'd seriously considered deserting. But once they'd gotten there, something had happened. Kiyone wasn't sure if it was the peace and quiet, or what, but she felt like she - and Mihoshi - belonged here. It was like they were there to wait for something... Something important.

The water splashed a little as she started to soap herself up; things out here were so quiet... She'd never liked keeping still, yet here... She wondered what it was they were waiting for, wondered when it would happen. It had to be something important, she was sure of it. Otherwise the feeling wouldn't be so strong. Sighing again, she rinsed herself off, and stood up, draining the water and getting a towel to dry herself off.

Stepping back into her room and letting the towel drop, she set about trying to find her uniform. She wasn't entirely sure where she'd tossed it all when she'd staggered into her bedroom the night before and dropped onto her bed almost before tugging on her nightshirt. Bit by bit, it did come together though. Bra, shirt, pants, socks, panties and her black and blue vest; she found her shield under a book and pinned it on. Kiyone paused a moment, in front of the mirror, and took a close look at herself. A young, healthy woman in a tight Galaxy Police uniform looked back at her. She looked ready to go conquer all the criminals out there.

Kiyone sighed again. Ready or not, she still had to wait for whatever that something was. Taking a second to straighten her collar, she walked up to the cockpit to find Mihoshi in her favorite pink sweater and blue jeans. "Mihoshi, why aren't you in your uniform? If HQ called with you wearing that, do you have any idea how much trouble we'd be in?" she asked. Mihoshi grinned.

"It's our week off silly, remember? They're sending Mitzuki up to cover for us?" she reminded her. Kiyone blinked, as the blonde turned back to her console. She sat down slowly.

"I forgot, totally," she said, and then laughed. "They hardly need to send anybody up. The sector has been even deader than usual this past couple weeks," she mused. Mihoshi nodded.

"So where do you want to go? I was kinda sorta thinking about the Sol system..." said Mihoshi. Kiyone looked at her blandly.

"You know we can't go there, Mihoshi, it's off limits to inter-stellar traffic by the order of Jurai," said Kiyone.

"I know, but it's practically home! I mean, it is the nearest planet on our patrol route... We could just say we had an emergency and needed to get supplies!" answered her partner. Kiyone frowned.

"Mihoshi..." The blonde looked at her with huge, blue puppy dog eyes.

"Please Kiyone? Please?!?" she begged. Kiyone sighed; she knew she couldn't resist that look.

"Oh, alright. But only for two days! Anymore than that, and we might be picked up by Jurai's scanners," she conceded. Mihoshi grinned.

"Yay!" The blonde pressed a button on her console, and Yagami started moving. Kiyone frowned at her.

"You already had the course laid in?" she asked. Mihoshi grinned slightly.

"Well, only kinda sorta. I was practicing plotting courses - you told me to, remember! - and just... happened to use Earth as a destination." Kiyone sighed again, and then laughed.

"What am I gonna do with you Mihoshi?"

"Hey mom, dad, I'm home!" called Tenchi, as he opened the door. Setting his school bag on the table and taking off his shoes, he walked upstairs.

"Don't forget about the carnival, Tenchi!" came Achika's reply. Tenchi grinned.

"I know mom, I was just about to get cleaned up. Oh yeah, in my book bag there's a permission slip that I need you to sign for my art class field trip," he said, before pulling the bathroom door shut, and running some water. Twenty minutes later, he came back down, dressed in a pair of slacks and a white T-shirt. Entering the kitchen, he opened the fridge and grabbed a pop before going into the living room.

To Tenchi's surprise, he found his mother, father, grandfather and aunt Washu sitting there; the picture he had drawn earlier that day between them. Achika looked up as he came in, an odd look in her eyes. The mood in the room was somber; finally, the silence grew too much and Tenchi spoke.

"What's wrong?" he asked. The four of them looked at each other, and then his grandfather spoke.

"Tenchi, have you seen this woman?" he asked, indicating the drawing. Tenchi shook his head in confusion.

"No... She just sorta appeared on the paper today in class. I thought that she might have been one of mom's old friends that I met a long time ago," he answered. They looked at each other again.

"Do you know who she is?" Tenchi frowned.

"When I finished it, the name Ryoko kinda popped into my head. What's wrong anyway? You're acting like you've seen a ghost," he said. His mother smiled, but that strange look wouldn't leave her eyes.

"Nothing, Tenchi... It's... just such a good drawing, we were afraid that Kei might have some competition. That's all," she said, and then laughed. "But I know you wouldn't do something like that to Kei." Tenchi blushed slightly.

"Mom, you know me -" He paused as his wrist watch beeped. "Oh man, I gotta go, it's quarter after three. Kei will kill me if I'm late!" he exclaimed, looking at the watch. Nobuyuki dug into his pocket, and pulled out the mini-van keys.

"Here, Tenchi," he said, tossing them to him. "Have a good time."

"Thanks, Dad!" answered Tenchi, as he spun and hurried out the door. "I'll be back around ten!"

As Tenchi disappeared out the door, Achika sighed in relief. Her eyes were drawn back to the picture again. It was perfect; Ryoko in every detail. She still wasn't quite sure how that could be; Tenchi had never, and would never meet her, as far as she understood it. She looked at Washu as she spoke.

"So it's finally starting... I have to admit, when my double released me, I didn't really believe her, but now there is no doubt. Multi-temporal dimensional residue; he's picking up images of what should have happened," she said. "It would be interesting to find out if they are picking up any of what we're going through, wouldn't it?" Katsuhito nodded slightly.

"Then if she was right, the others will be drawn here as well."

"And once they arrive, what then?" asked Achika. Washu shrugged.

"If their Washu was right, and since I always am she must be too, we'll be tugged in the right direction until we can find a way to repair the damage done by Ryoko's death. Once we do... who knows? We may vanish, or we may continue on," she said. Achika shivered at the grim pronouncement.

"What is important now is that we are ready when the time comes," said Nobuyuki, and Washu nodded.

"Right. I've already got things set up in my lab. We'll only have one chance. I just hope they're ready on their end," she said. Katsuhito nodded, and then stood.

"If you'll excuse me, I need to go get something."