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A Tenchi Muyo! fan fiction story
Chronicled by Dro'gan NiteFlier

Disclaimer: Tenchi Muyo!, its characters and settings, Hitoshi Okuda, AIC / Pioneer LDC, and Viz Communications, Inc. A warning: This is a SI, and my first one at that.

Begin = 20030408; draft1 = 20031226;

Chapter Two: Travel

Ryoko watched the sun dawn with majesty over the endless canyons.

She had been wandering around the Earth for fourteen months, sometimes working, sometimes just living off her savings and what Katsuhito had given her at the beginning of this jaunt. She had visited China, Australia, India, Egypt, the European Union, and was now in southwest America, preparing to wander down to the Amazon Forest, before hopping to Hawaii and back to Japan.

Each day, no matter where she was, she watched the sun rise as Katsuhito had told her to. Every place she had been, the dawning had shown its own special allure.

Like here, with the desert plains broken by the gaping chasms. It had been year and a half since she had last seen Ayeka, Ryo-Ohki, and the others. It was strange. She didn't think about Tenchi nearly as much as she thought she would, way back when. She missed him, but it was like she missed Mihoshi and Sasami, as a friend. Ayeka she missed more, for she knew that they had been, at some level, friends.

Ryoko stretched, seeing that the sun had cleared the horizon. She had changed, she knew, for something as simple as a sunrise would never have taken up her full attention before she began this tour. And indeed, it had taken awhile before it did. It had been in Cairo, looking out over the clay houses, that she had realized the dawn had swept away her worries with its coming.

She had promised that she would call Katsuhito once a week, and today was the day. She rose up in the air, checking that no one could see her, and sped off to the west, where her camp was. Once there, she began stuffing what little she had into her pack, making ready to head south.

Breakfast having been eaten before the sunrise, Ryoko floated up through the air, and looked around. Mountains to the north, west, and south, desert and plains to the east.

And something tugging her senses to the north.

It had been bothering her for a few days; something was wrong with the silhouettes of the mountains. Something about more shadows than there were peaks.

Ryoko decided that both the phone call and South America could wait. She was a close to the phenomenon as ever, and she was going to find out what it was about.

:There it is again.:

He looked closely at the Barrier, noting its pulsations in and out were getting slower. He had been awakened seven times since that first night, and it was a riddle that he was no closer to solving than at the beginning.

Or so it seemed. Three of those nights had been sequential, ending two moons ago. Since then, he had stayed awake, waiting for whatever was to happen.

He felt through his connection to the Mountain once more, and felt nothing. Whatever it was, the Mountain was reacting to him, not the other way around. This was puzzling in its own right, for it had never happened that way before.

Prodding with his senses, he could make out nothing from the Mountain. Not one single—

A slit pupil, framed by a yellow iris.

He shook his head violently. What had that been? A vision, to be sure, but why had it been so sudden, and alone? His other sight usually showed him strings of prophecy, not lone images.

:More and more puzzling this riddle becomes. I wonder what kind of being owns that eye.:

Ryoko floated in the air, looking at the air in front of her. There was nothing wrong with it to the normal eye. Fortunately, her eyes were not entirely normal. She kept picking up a shimmer in the air, as if a shadow was suspended without anything to lean it on.

She couldn't feel anything besides that, but she knew, in all of her experience, that here was something that she had never seen before. That awed her. Seven thousand years, and nothing was like this. She had seen holograms that came close, but she did not feel the energy movement or machines that heralded such images.

Was it moving? The shadow seemed to be doing so elsewhere, but here it stayed stable. Didn't it?

Ryoko cautiously approached the shadow, reaching out with her senses to touch the apparition. What she felt was two sets of differing air. One was the same as what she felt elsewhere near, where the shadow wasn't, the same air she had breathed in while watching the sunrise. The other was odd; it seemed to be distant somehow, as if she were feeling it at the edge of her senses.

"What in the seven star seas is this?" Ryoko murmured to herself. She hesitantly reached out with her right hand touched the shadow.

:What? What the hell is this?!:

:Who are YOU?:

Ryoko jerked her hand back from the shadow. "Wha… What the…?" When she had touched the shadow, it had felt as if her mind had touched another's. But how was that possible? Was the shadow sentient? In the brief touch, she had felt that the other wasn't evil or good, merely overwhelmingly curious.

Ryoko swallowed the fear rising in her, and moved into the shadow.

On planet Jurai, a red-haired woman and a catlike girl both looked to each other, as they felt the third person in their gestalt disappear from this universe.

Ryoko looked around herself in the semi-darkness. She had appeared above a springtime forest that was set in the foothills of a mountain. Further to the north was a plain in the grasp of summer, and to the south was a winter desert.

Ryoko blinked. She could have sworn that Terrans didn't have the technology to make three different seasons in so close a space.

She dropped down to the forest beneath her. The land seemed vibrant and alive, almost as if it were watching her. She started walking towards the mountain, searching for any signs of life. She spied several squirrels and birds, as well as a few ground animals, but nothing large.

Ryoko glimpsed a flash of white in the corner of her eye. Instantly she phased above the white object. She gazed down at beauty as she had never known it before.

White, gleaming skin; silver mane and tail. A spiraling horn jutting up from above two pools of deep blue. Even though Ryoko had never had a unicorn described to her, she could see that the creature below her was beauteous beyond description.

At her gasp, the white beast canted its head to the side, and looked up at her. The unicorn snorted softly, then began to head toward the mountain, picking its way through the forest with ease.

Ryoko followed it, hovering around the trees and brush, never taking her eyes off the creature that had captured her attention, never noticing when the trees turned from oaks and dogwoods to more coniferous types.

The follower and the followed came at last to a shelf of rock, a third of the way up the mount. The unicorn stopped abruptly, and tossed its head in a negating manner.

Ryoko suddenly felt something snap, and shook her head. Where was she? How had she gotten all the way up here? Why could she not remember anything but the beauty of the white beast? And most importantly, what in the world was that?!

"That" was a dragon.

Some ten meters long, plus tail, the creature's night-black scales glistened in the moonlight. The smooth contours of its head continued down a long neck, before spreading out into its body. The black beast was curled like a cat, with its forelegs lifting its upper body off the ground. As she watched, it lifted its right foreclaw up to its head in a very human gesture, and closed its eyes for a moment.

Ryoko gently landed on the ground, well away from both creatures. She still wasn't quite sure of what happened, but felt confident that she could get away if either of the strange beasts began acting hostile.

:Strange creature, isn't it?:

Ryoko jumped. The voice that appeared in her head was not Washu's or Ryo-Ohki's, but someone that she did not know. Her head swiveled to find the unicorn watching her with both of its eyes.

:I've never seen a humanoid fly without wings or spells.: The Unicorn looked back at the dragon. :What do you make of it?:

The dragon sighed. :Vaiylania? Remind me to string you up by your horn next time you come asking for favors.: Ryoko jumped again. That was the voice that she had heard before crossing the shadow! :Be calm, Child. I mean you no harm, and even though Vaiylania does not understand your kind too well, he means none either.: The dragon put his claw back down, and looked to Ryoko. She saw its… no, his eyes clearly for the first time.

Where the Unicorn's eyes were a sea of blue, the dragon's eyes conveyed the depth of the ocean, and all the troubles and joys that could be found in life. She shuddered slightly, a part of her fearing what he might have seen in her own mind.

When she looked at the dragon again, his head was canted to the side, as if pondering something. :Slit pupil, framed by yellow iris.:

:What do you mean by that, Nite?: asked the Vaiylania.

Nite turned his head to the unicorn again. :It means you go away for now. I wish to speak with her alone.: The unicorn lowered his head and plodded off slowly. :NOW, Vaiylania!: As if struck across the flank, the white creature shot out of the clearing.

The great beast took in a breath, and let it out slowly. :Now then, Child. Come here.:

Ryoko looked at the dragon cautiously. "How do I know that you're not going to try to harm me?"

:I promise you, Child, by the very rock this Mountain is made of, that you will come to no unnecessary harm here in my realm.:

She blinked. "Unnecessary harm? That's a nice loophole." She frowned, but walked over and stood in front of the strange creature.

:It is, isn't it? But I mean what I said. Now, will you let me see your eyes?: The dragon lowered his head to her eye level. Ryoko grumbled for a second, then looked straight into his blue eyes.

:What?! This is what happened when I touched the shadow!:

:True, Child. This is a link between minds, and had I not been actively searching for you the moment you touched the Barrier, it would not have happened. Here I can explain things to you without worrying about the time it takes to make you understand fully.:

:Grrrr… You must know that I have no clue as to what is happening!:

:Actually, no, I don't. You see, some eighteen months past, I was awoken from my sleep with no explanation or reason. Six more times over the intervening time has it happened, and only recently, not two hours ago in fact, did I receive some knowledge of what was troubling me. I received a vision, of an eye. Your eye. Surely there must have been something that drew you to this place, some vague feeling of something leading you to some unknown destination, perhaps?:



:No! There has been nothing! I only came to the shadow because the mountains looked odd! There was nothing else leading me here.:

:But… I was so sure… Do you know, perhaps, of someone else that might share the same eye as you?:

:I… No. No one I know.:

:A pity… I suppose I shall have to go back to my vigil.:

:So. Are you going to let me go?:

:Child, You have been free to go ever since Vaiylania released you from his spell.:

Ryoko jerked back from the triangular head in front of her, and landed on her rear. "Wha…? We're back here?"

:Yes. I do not wish you to feel a prisoner, even though our meeting of minds was quite shallow. Every creature must be free to make their own choices. I will not begrudge you yours just because you seem the end of a riddle for me.:

She blinked at the dragon again. Here was something that she had had very little experience with. Choice. Even in the past few years, she had not gotten much choice, and here was a complete stranger, of a species that she had never seen before, offering her choice as if it were a sovereign right of a living being.

"Who are you?" she blurted out.

The dragon canted his head to the side. :Ah. My apologies, Child.: Ryoko could almost feel the small grin in the other's mindtone :My name is Dro'gan, and I am called NiteFlier.:


To be continued.

Chapter 3
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