A Dream Unrequited
Sleeping Seeker Child
All characters and settings are property of Funimation, not the author
"Almost… got it…" Washu grunted as she strained against the handle of an almost comically oversized socket-wrench, the socket itself buried at the end of a leverage bar deep inside of the crimson gauntlet that was attached to Grand Marshall Masaki Sasami's arm. The princess herself strained against the tension as she sat on a padded examination table deep inside Washu's lab, leaning against one arm as her savior struggled with the other. The massive gauntlets that enshrouded Sasami's arms had been disconnected from the power pack that fueled them but after such prolonged use had become locked in place.
Her cheeks flushed red and a faint sheen of sweat on her forehead, the scientist flexed her muscles and gave one final push, holding her breath as the faint sound of groaning metal issued from the breaker bar. "Come… on….!" She groaned through clenched teeth, her eyes squeezing shut as she planted her feet and pushed with all her might.
With a click, a hiss of decompressing air and a faint mechanical whine, the gauntlet released its hold as a trio of locking screws unwound up out of rear portion of the mechanical fist. An almost invisible seam in the glove's surface split open with a puff of steam, exposing the pistons, gears and pneumatic systems that powered the mechanized hands. Smirking faintly, the scientist wiped her brow and set the socket wrench aside as she leaned in and began to carefully pull away each half of the heavy red steel. Grunting with effort as she lifted each, she set them with a loud clangon the metal worktable beside her, their weight denting the sheet metal as they fell.
"Alright then, let's see…" She said softly as she took a close look at the guts of the gauntlet and turned back to her table, selecting a pair of screwdrivers from the pile of tools spread hastily across its surface. She set to work at an incredible speed, loosening the key screws that held together each side of the bristling array of diodes, gyroscopes and tension cords. While she worked, her eyes continued to roam over Sasami's arm, continually drawn back to the inch-wide ports in the metal sublevel of the gauntlet's workings. Through these holes the final layer of the mechanized gloves could be seen, a layer of super-resilient and absorbent fabric traced with control wires. She frowned as she saw the cloth scorched with the maze of wires underneath and soaked red from the raw flesh that the locking screws had forced themselves into.
She almost jumped as another whirring hiss sounded from the gauntlet's workings, the hydraulic cables disengaging and falling away and the gears unwinding to push the two halves apart. Sasami hissed in a breath through clenched teeth as for the first time in almost two days she could move her hand without the aid of the mechanized glove. Gingerly Washu pulled away the two halves of the gauntlet, pausing as the Sasami jumped and let out a stifled groan of pain. Moving slower this time, the scientist carefully pulled away the top half of what remained of the glove, wincing herself as she watched it tug painfully at the synthetic weave that stuck to Sasami's arm.
Using a thin metal probe, she gently held the fabric in place as she pulled away the top half, repeating the process with the lower section and slipped the articulated chrome 'hand' off of her patient's own. Fresh scarlet blooms began to seep through the dingy yellow fabric, a frown wrinkling Washu's brow as she watched the crimson trace along the scorched wire-marks. With a sigh she set the remains of the gauntlet aside and picked up her ratchet to begin working on the second of the pair.
It was the work of fifteen more minutes grunting, prying and carefully peeling away the hardened metal casing and the inner workings of the gauntlet's twin, leaving Sasami sitting on the operating table, her arms trembling slightly in their sweat and blood-stained half sleeves. Washu pursed her lips as she picked up a pair of shears from her workbench and gave them an experimental snip. "Alright, now for the fun part…" She said with a sarcastic twinge as she gently peeled back the edge of the fabric. A sharp hiss from the princess startled her as she watched the fabric cling and tug at the young commander's flesh, the material clinging to her skin after so long trapped within the overworked mechanical arms.
Clicking her tongue against her teeth, Washu eased the blade of the shears under the lip of the fabric and carefully began snipping down its length. The thick synthetic fibers crunched under the scissoring blades and curled apart, exposing sweat-soaked skin, pale and pasty in the bright overhead lights. As she peeled the split fabric back, she sucked in a breath, wincing as she watched it pull away from Sasami's skin, leaving a maze of coppery traces behind on her forearm. The copper traces echoed a thin scorched line on the underside of the corded fabric, each line a wire that had gradually overheated from excessive use and burned itself into Sasami's flesh, intertwined into a web that wrapped all the way around the commander's arms. Each wire that had burned itself into her flesh was outlined in blistered, angry red flesh, cracked and seeping blood over the seared edges of her skin. With a sigh, she finished the first arm and moved on to the second, finding it no better than the first as she pulled back the fabric to expose the copper wires imbedded within had burned their way into that arm as well.
Washu set the shears down with a weary groan, rubbing the bridge of her nose as she turned away and pulled open a drawer on her worktable. "I really don't see why you used those things, you knew they were an experimental model…"
"I didn't really have much of a choice, did I?" Sasami spat back, gritting her teeth as she flexed her arms and curled and uncurled her hands, each movement sending twinges of pain coursing along her nerves as her blistered and scorched flesh cracked and oozed fresh blood from the yards of copper wiring that wove a circuit map across her skin. "Besides, they've been useful." She smirked, then winced again as she hastily lifted back off of the arm she had casually tried to brace herself with, frowning at her own foolishness.
"Well, let's go ahead and get those out…" Washu said with a huff, screwing a vial of watery purple liquid into a pistol-like device that she pulled from the drawer she had opened. With all the care of a trained nurse, the scientist carefully swabbed the princess's arms and pressed the machine against the unmarred flesh of her biceps. A quick, sharp hiss escaped the jet-injection gun and sent a flurry of bubbles up through the clear vial. She paused for a moment, tapping her foot as she silently counted out the seconds before reaching out and giving Sasami's scorched flesh a firm poke.
"HEY!" She jumped back, pulling her arm away limply.
"What, did it hurt?" Washu asked, an eyebrow arched as she turned back to her worktable and retrieved a scalpel and small metal dish.
"Well, no…" Sasami replied as her cheeks flushed slightly.
"Very well then, stop being such a baby."
Sasami huffed and pouted in a very un-military fashion as Washu neatly arranged her tools and supplies onto a rubber-lined metal tray and set it beside the battle-worn princess. The faint squeak of wheels brought an antique rolling chair in next to the table as Washu slipped into the seat and leaned in at eye-level with the scorched mess that was Sasami's left forearm. Her mouth twisted down as she gently laid out a thick white towel on the examination table and selected a pair of thin-tipped pliers from the tray along with a paper-thin blade, using the pliers to catch an oxidized tail of wire that jutted out awkwardly from Sasami's arm.
Delicate and precise sweeps with the blade slowly worked the wire loose from the Grand Marshall's arm, leaving a raw furrow in her flesh as the thin copper tracing peeled back. Sasami watched her work with a stoic expression, the anesthetic agent making her arms feel thick and heavy. Every so often Washu would use a pair of snips to cut the curling lengths of wire away, setting them aside before continuing the slow progress. The minutes ticked by in relative silence as she meticulously sheared the lengths of copper from Sasami's arm, the only sound in the small room was the faint scraping of metal against metal and the disquieting sound of shearing skin.
"So how did she do it?" Washu asked, breaking the silence as she set another tightly coiled length of wire aside and dabbed the angry red lines in her patient's arm with disinfectant.
"What?" Sasami asked, quirking an eyebrow up as she watched the scientist work.
"Ayeka, how did she save you?" Another slow sweep of the blade brought a tail of wire curling out of her scorched flesh.
The young princess chuckled, a smirk crossing her face. "It was… surprising, to say the least." She sighed, rolling her shoulders absent-mindedly and making Washu curse and glare up at her. A puzzled look crossed Sasami's face before she noticed the rivulet of deep red running down her forearm and saw the gash her movement against the moving scalpel had made. She smiled awkwardly, her nerves deadened against the pain of the wound as Washu took a folded piece of gauze from her tray and pressed it firmly against the fresh cut.
Her cheeks reddened slightly, Sasami cleared her throat. "Sorry, but Ayeka… she never really showed just how strong she always was…" She smiled softly and scoffed, shaking her head. "I suppose she didn't think it was lady-like."
A brilliant flash of teal cut through the ever-grinning Tenchi clone, sending it scattering into a thousand points of light that twinkled with a surreal beauty for an instant before two more of the doppelgangers filled the space where it once stood. Sasami looked over her shoulder quickly, watching the sub-dimensional gateway Washu had opened fade once again into the wall of her lab. A faint smile crossed her lips as she turned back to the wave of Tenchi's, a tear rolling down her cheek as she strode forward, her blade flashing again and again as she mowed through the waves of clones that surrounded her.
"It is a brave thing you have done…"A melodious voice echoed through her mind as she danced around the clones attacks, her broken body screaming with every step. She smirked as she reached out, grabbing the face of one of the Tenchi's in her heavy, gauntleted hand and squeezed suddenly, the flesh warping disquietingly against her mechanized grip for a moment before the sharp crack of bone sounded out in the lab. Her fingers closed into a fist with a clang as the clone exploded into motes of light to fall around her like stardust.
"Tsunami-Kami-Sama…" She hissed through bared teeth, her blade flashing in intricate arcs as her free hand shot out again and again, finding its mark against the heads and chests of the clones. Each blow erupted with light as their ever-grinning bodies crumpled and caved in under her strength, her blue-green saber trailing the slowly dying embers of its last victory as it cleaved into the next. "I don't suppose you've shown up to give me a hand here? You've always got a knack for turning up when I need you the most." She half smirked as a small line on her scalp began to tingle slightly, the only remaining evidence of her fall during the attack on Jurai.
The tingle grew into a shiver that rolled down her spine, setting fire to her nerves as she tensed slightly at the sensation. All at once, shuddering ripple of turquoise energy flowed down her body and rushed outwards in a scintillating dome, pushing back the tide of Tenchi clones that roiled and clawed over each other in their voracious attempt at Sasami's life. The dome of power boomed with each hammer-blow strike their fists made against the barrier as the royal tattoo on Sasami's forehead shimmered and split apart, swirling into a pair of light blue circles on her brow.
The piercing pain from her snapped ribs and bruised lungs abated suddenly as an ethereal mirror image of the Juraian Princess stepped out of her. Tsunami-Kami-Sama turned on her heel, her flowing white robes shifting gently in some unseen breeze as she pursed her lips and 'spoke', her divine voice echoing faintly with annoyance. "Sasami, we both know I never 'turn-up'…" The goddess crossed her arms, shaking her head as she let out a sigh. "While you have been down here playing warrior-princess, Lady Tokimi and I have been focusing our efforts on how to determine a weakness in this… being."
Relishing the far-underrated pleasure of taking a lung-full of air, Sasami groaned as she felt the tingling ache of her weariness make itself known despite the divine peace of Tsunami-Kami-Sama's presence. "Forgive me for being snappish, we've all been through a lot today…" She looked out at the sea of grinning faces a few feet away, held at bay by her kindred-goddess power. "Tsunami, what are we going to do?" She asked quietly, her iron-clad façade fading as her brow furrowed.
Tsunami's brow furrowed slightly and a frown crossed her divinely beautiful features as she too looked around at the riotous mass of single-minded clones. "That has yet to be determined…" She said after a moment, the worry that wrinkled her brow clear in her eyes. "The progeny of Mikaboshi are relatively weak, save his true sons, but they are numerous." Her ecclesial eyes turned upwards, seeing beyond the steel and concrete shell of the building and into the far reaches of space. "Even now more approach… We can fight and destroy as many as we please, but unless we stop the source we will surely be over-run."
The turquoise haired goddess returned to her astral form alongside Sasami, shaking her head. "And as of yet we cannot touch him…" Her hands twitched and curled into tight fists as the protective dome flared for a moment, an unusual grimace of frustration flashing across her visage as the clones in close proximity to the dome suddenly flashed into motes of light. "It was foolish of us to assume that we could control or reason with what we were creating within Tenchi. We should have considered a failsafe…" She relaxed slightly and a mirthless smile curved her lips up. "Then again, we also assumed what we would be dealing with would BE Tenchi."
The dome of energy fluxed and rippled with power as the clones threw themselves at its shimmering surface, each one diffusing into a starburst of embers as soon as they touched it. Sasami sighed, slowly slipping to the floor of the lab, attempting to relax her broken body. A sharp hiss of breath escaped her lips as she sat, feeling tightness spread across her torso that if not for the calming presence of Tsunami-Kami-Sama, would have resolved itself into searing pain. She checked the storage pouch sewn into the leg of her GXP-PDF uniform, finding only one more of the chemical cocktails within, still sealed in its hard plastic blister pack. 'I'll need this later…'She thought as she replaced it and shook her head, futilely fighting off the buzzing weariness that threatened to overtake her.
As her eyelids drooped heavily and the world around her quickly faded to black, an echoing boom rattled her awake. Her eyes snapped open and she looked around, expecting another attack from the overpowered Tenchi clones, the sons of Mikaboshi. Instead, she watched as one of the ever-grinning clones slammed itself against the dome of energy, fighting against the pulsing power of Tsunami to strike against the shield. The waves of power licked at its flesh, stripping it away in flaking sheets as it struck again and again, finally bursting into motes of light. The other clones watched them as they fell to gently smolder against the floor of the lab before they too stepped forward tentatively and beat themselves against the dome.
Soon the dome was once again ringed in Tenchi clones, each pounding their fists against the faintly blue-tinged surface as it seared the flesh from their bodies with each pulse. "W-what's happening?" Sasami asked as she slowly stood, her body groaning in protest. "Is your shield weakening somehow?"
The Grand Marshall turned and felt a shiver of terror ripple through her very core. Never before had she seen the glint of fear in Tsunami's eyes. The goddesses face was tight, her mauve eyes wide as she too watched the clones pound against the shield of energy, all eventually exploding in their brilliant death-throes, but each successive wave lasting longer than its previous. "N-no… they are adapting somehow… growing resistant to my power…" She closed her eyes and brought her hands upwards, palms facing up as the pulsing of the dome grew brighter and more frequent.
Once again, the clones were held at bay, but only momentarily as they adapted faster and faster with each of their rank that fell to the rippling waves. "I-I don't understand… how can they..?" She closed her eyes again for a moment, reaching out towards the un-ending sea of unblinking Tenchi clones. Her breath caught in her throat as her eyes snapped open, her lips trembling slightly. "T-Tenchi…?"
Sasami gaped at the shaken Choushin, her mind racing as her mouth moved, searching for some clue to grasp onto. A screeching tearing sound startled her and threw her thoughts into disarray as Tsunami cried out, falling to her knees with her arms across her chest. All at once the pain of Sasami's injuries came rushing back and set her nerves on fire, her vision blurring and stomach lurching.
Through half-closed eyes, she watched as one of the Tenchi clones had stepped forward, pushing its hands slowly into and through the flickering dome of power. Smoke curled from its fingers as the first few layers of skin were seared from its flesh, leaving them raw and angry red as it gripped the interior wall of the energy shield. Its arms flexed and bulged as it tensed, the divine barrier flaying smoldering strips of its skin and flesh away with each pulse as it pulled its hands apart, forcing a ragged tear in the sky-blue shield.
As Sasami watched, hunched over in pain, the clone was suddenly suffused with light. Not exploding into tiny motes, but pouring light out from every pore. As the light grew to a blinding crescendo, its body began to puff up, bulging awkwardly like an over-filled balloon. Her eyes widened in shock as she brought her arms up to shield her face just as the clone burst in a rush of power. The explosion rocked the lab, sending its brothers flying backwards and throwing Sasami against the wall behind her as the dome of energy popped like a soap bubble.
Tsunami's form dissipated, her astral projection disjointed by the blast of energy as the clones slowly moved in closer to Sasami's crumpled form. Stars burst in her vision as she slowly climbed to her knees, her back tingling sharply as she felt a bruise beginning to form along her spine and shoulders. Her lips parted in a grimace as she bared her teeth, fighting against the pain as she stood and rushed forward in a burst of speed, her gauntleted hand rocketing forward and the power-pack on her back emitting a high-pitched whine. The clone ahead of the Princess lifted its hand, palm open as she tore forward, letting out a howl of fury.
Blinding light and searing pain welcomed her as her feet left the ground and she felt herself fly, twisting through the air to land on her chest, her ears ringing as she slammed into the floor of the lab. A scream tore up her throat as her broken ribs torqued under the impact, threatening to push in and pierce her organs. On trembling arms, she pushed herself up, feeling something warm and thick trickle slowly down the right side of her face. Slowly she opened her eyes, a cry of agony escaping her lips as she felt her right eyelid stretch and split before it refused to open, her nostrils filled with the putrid stench of seared flesh.
A low-pitched whine rose above the ringing in her ears and she scrabbled onto her back, her good eye opened wide in fear and pain. The 'lead' clone had its hand up once again, a shimmering orb of cyan light pulsing gently against its opened palm. Those unblinking eyes pierced into her and for the first time in many years, she felt her heart grow cold.
"I'm sorry… Tenchi…"
She took a labored breath, her ribs searing with pain as they stretched and a tear slowly fell down her cheek as she said her last goodbye. As the whine rose to a trembling plateau, she closed her eye, accepting her fate. A sharp whistle cut through the air, only her courage allowing her to remain still as she heard death whine through the air towards her.
Sasami opened her eye to see the place where the 'lead' Tenchi clone had stood empty, a single mote of light still flickering in the air as it fell. In a symphony of whistling energy, threads of light-blue power criss-crossed the room, sweeping through the clones and leaving rapid bursts of light in their wake.
"YOU LEAVE MY SISTER ALONE!"
Out of the corner of her remaining eye, Sasami watched as Ayeka flew through the air, her robes of office already scorched and torn in places and a thin cut above her eye sending rivulets of crimson down her cheek. Energy blasts flew through the air towards her from the open hands of the adapted clones, only to ricochet off of her projected shield, her wooden Juraian guardians hovering alongside her and keeping pace. She hovered for a moment mid-air, arching back and baring her teeth as light gathered around her, feathers of electricity arcing from the dozens of floating guardians that surrounded her.
In a flash of brilliant light, beams of energy cut through the air, streaking towards the mob of Tenchi clones. Each thread of power burned and seared into its target, shearing them into halves and quarters as the guardians twisted from one target to the next. Her ruby colored eyes flashed with rage as she dropped from within the cloud of guardians and hefted a jagged piece of fallen plasteel from the rubble of Washu's lab, brandishing it like a sword as she tore into the crowd. Explosions of light followed each swing of the makeshift blade, her teeth grinding as she drove it into and through anything in her path.
Another burst of power hummed and buzzed through the air, sending static electricity crackling along Sasami's arms as Ayeka howled. The demure princess stood with her feet apart, her palms cut to ribbons from the jagged edges of the lightweight metal as a billowing rush of fury-driven power flowed out from the guardians that had flown back to surround her. As it passed over and through the Tenchi clones, the room was suffused with blinding light as the hundreds of grinning clones that remained burst as one.
Her breath coming in great heaving gasps, Ayeka let her blade fall to the floor with a clatter, the faint plop of blood dripping from her fingertips to the floor the only sound in the room. The clones dispatched, she ran to Sasami's side, gathering her up into her arms and holding her tight. "Oh, Sasami, what is happening?!" She wailed as she buried her face into her younger sister's hair.
Her arms slack at her sides, the Grand Marshall looked out at the criss-crossed scorch marks her sister's assault had burned into the floor, walls and ceiling of the ruined lab. Her lips twitched and then spread across her face into a grin, her lips splitting painfully as a chuckle rose up her throat.
Ayeka pulled back slightly, looking down at her broken sibling with a confused expression, her breath caching in her throat as the extent of her injuries gave her pause. Purpling bruises peeked out from under her disheveled uniform, and her chest rose and fell awkwardly as her laughter grew more forceful. Worst yet was the black and red scorch-mark across the right side of her face, her eyelid fused shut and trickling bright red blood, the hair burned short across the side of her head and her ear blistered horribly.
"H-how can you laugh at a time like this?" Ayeka asked sharply as tears formed in her eyes and fell down her cheeks. "We have to go, we have to get you help!"
Sasami's laughter slowly changed from stumbling chuckles to harsh sobs as she curled against her older sister, the pain and exhaustion of her flight finally breaking her iron will as she let go and cried against Ayeka's robes. The world around her rushed in, hot and thick inside her skull as she felt darkness overtake her and pull her down into its sweet embrace.
"And when I came to, Ayeka had gotten me up to the GXP-PDF headquarters. Mihoshi and Noike were there already, Noike dealing with getting troops outfitted and put on the assault while Mihoshi was putting in some kind of distress signal." Sasami shook her head, smirking slightly while Washu finished wrapping her arm in gauze. "They had fixed me up as best they could, set my bones and bandaged up my eye." She chuckled and lifted her hand to run through her short-cropped hair. "Though why they cut off all my hair I'm not quite sure. Maybe they just thought I'd rather match?" She pointed to the streak of curled, singed hair on the right side of her head with a mirthful grin.
Washu chuckled and shook her head as she tucked the gauze into the final loop of Sasami's bandaged arm and pasted it there with surgical cement. "Perhaps. You're taking all of this very well, I've got to say." Her smile faded quickly as she sat up and nodded to Sasami's bandaged eye. "What was the verdict on that awfulness?"
The princess shrugged and shook her head. "It's a 35% chance I'll be able to keep my own eye. The blast hit me right in the face, almost a direct hit to my right eye, so it's pretty bad." She lifted her still-numb arm and tried to wave away Washu's concern, only managing to flop her hand around at the wrist for a moment. "Either way I'll probably wind up having it replaced after this is all over… The damage to my sight would be damn near unbearable anyways."
A knock at the door caused them both to turn. "It's open, come on in." Washu called as she set aside the overflowing basin of coiled wire and organized her tools on the tray. The sliding door opened with a quiet hiss, revealing Tenchi standing in the hallway outside.
"Ah, Sasami, how are you feeling?" He asked as he stepped inside, smiling warmly at the battle-worn Grand Marshall.
She nodded slightly, having to turn awkwardly to look at him. "I've been better. Is everything okay?"
He smiled wider and nodded in return. "Yeah, everyone is getting pretty well set up. Mihoshi and her crew are taking care of the wounded, and Washu, Ryoko was looking for you if you're done." He turned and looked back at the doorway out to the hall. "And if your patient is in good enough condition, she has a visitor."
The scientist and battle-princess leaned to look past Tenchi, seeing an angular tan face peek around the doorway, messy shocks of brown, cyan and white hair poking out at odd angles. Sasami's face broke into a grin and her eye watered as she nodded happily, gesturing for Ryo-Ohki to come in. Her eyes bright, the lanky teenage girl rushed into the room, nearly throwing herself onto the medical table beside Sasami and wrapping her arms around her. Sasami leaned against the young cabbit-morph, encircling her awkwardly with her numb arms as Washu stood from her seat. She and Tenchi shared a smile as she walked around the table and headed for the door.
"You're on permanent bed-rest until I say otherwise, you understand, Sasami?" Her motherly tone made Sasami chuckle and nod as she and Ryo-Ohki sat on the medical table. Washu and Tenchi took another look back at the pair, sisters from different paths of life reunited in such turmoil. A sad smile crossed his face as he turned down the hallway and started walking as Washu closed the door to the medical bay.
"She's going to be alright, Tenchi."
He nodded and sighed, pausing as the scientists caught up. "I'm not worried about her."
Washu's lips tightened into a stern line as they continued walking down the metal-plated hallway.
Ladies and Gentlemen! Thank you all for being SO patient with me on this story and my slow updates, as many of you know I'd been spending that time re-writing 'Morpheus, the Reaper' which I recently finished[if you haven't read it, please go do so and let me know what you think!]! This chapter is actually quite truncated from what it was originally to be, but that just means I've got plenty more work ready to upload in the next couple of weeks. As always, please let me know if you have ANY questions, concerns, ideas, grievances, or just something you want to say about the story and how it's progressing, just hit me up on PM or write me a little note in the box right at the bottom of the page! Once again, thank you all for your support, your suggestions and your loyalty to my stories! Keep reading, review and I'll have my next chapter out ASAP!
Once again, thank you all for your support, your suggestions and your loyalty to my stories! Keep reading, review and I'll have my next chapter out ASAP!