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

Disclaimer: Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, 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 = 20040127; draft1 = 20040131;

Chapter Three: Path

Ryoko watched the creature bound up and down the tree, bearing its cargo carefully into the shelter. The small pieces of fiber and protein would hopefully help it through the troubling times ahead, and whatever was left over could be used to lure potential mates in when the danger was past.

:I don't see how that squirrel keeps your attention for so long.: The unicorn snorted, startling the small mammal away from its task.

Ryoko sighed, and floated down to look Vaiylania in the eye. "Look, Brighteyes, how does the squirrel know when winter is coming?"

Vaiylania sniffed disdainfully. :It is not my concern why such low creatures act as they do! It probably just remembered what was going to happen from last year!:

It was Ryoko's turn to snort in derision. "Wrong, whitetail. If that were true, then there would be no squirrels, for they would all die in their first winter, not knowing what was coming ahead!"

:Why don't their parents teach them?: asked the unicorn.

"Because, like us so called 'higher' creatures, they kick their kids out of the nest as soon as they can fend for themselves. The kids survive because of their instincts, their pre-programming." Ryoko began to really warm to the subject, landing in front of the unicorn and looking him straight in the eye. "It's because of that they know what to do with acorns when they fall, and to store them someplace safe. But we 'higher' creatures don't really have that pre-programming. We have to learn from our parents, and if they don't…" She suddenly trailed off.

:And if they don't?: Vaiylania asked sarcastically.

Ryoko stared at the unicorn for a second, then tried to lightly read the mystical creature's mind. Openly displayed scorn for the entire subject was all she found.

:Well? Are you even listening to me anymore, Flyby?:

Ryoko returned her attention to the world around her. She glanced at the old tree hollow that the squirrel was poking his nose out of, staring at the two larger beings. "My apologies, Vaiylania, I've got to go."

The unicorn snorted as she disappeared, scaring the squirrel back into hiding.

NiteFlier looked up from the aged scroll he was reading. If he had felt that teleport burst correctly, then not only was Ryoko abandoning her post in the forest, she had forgotten what he had told her about the ease of tracking her movements with such loud energies.

Either that, or she was pissed at him again.

Right now he was betting on the latter, as she materialized in front of the cave. He watched her calmly, as she strode angrily towards him seemingly getting madder and madder until—

NiteFlier winced as she fell over the tripline that he had placed between two stacks of books. Now he knew that she was blocking out everything but rage, for the various lines strung here and there throughout the cavern were quite obvious to any who looked for them.

Ryoko had a habit of focusing on a single thing at a time, and he was endeavoring to break her of it.

:Well, young one, what brings you from your squirrel watching?: he asked lightly.

She slowly stood up and scowled at the tripline. "I really hate your tricks."

:That's what you said last time you barged in here, and you fell over the exact same wire.:

Ryoko glared at him for a moment, then her scowl cracked, and a small smile peeked through. "Arrgh. So what are you reading now, Oh Black One?" The dragon sat amongst shelves and racks of books and scrolls, on a stone couch. Several floating balls of light shed illumination inside the cave, but produced no heat or flame to damage the precious parchment in any way.

:Nothing as important as what you were supposed to be doing.: NiteFlier carefully rolled up the parchment and set it aside, focusing all his attention on the girl who had come to stay with him. :Now then, what brings you from your studies?:

Ryoko took a breath, thinking of how to word her next statement. "Nite, you told me to watch a squirrel prepare his den for winter, and told me where I could find such a squirrel."

:Yes, I did. Go on.:

"As usual, you also told me to keep watching until I learned why you put me to this task." She paused. "Before I go on, I have one question: Did you send Vaiylania to talk to me?"

:Vaiylania? No. I'm surprised that he came to you. I've gotten the impression that he's not too fond of you.: The dragon canted his head to the side. :What bearing has this on the matter at hand?:

"I was watching the squirrel when he came up and began conversing with me, and I told him what I had learned from watching." Ryoko shook her head. "I was in the middle when I realized that I was like the squirrel, acting off instincts because I had not been taught differently. But… I really didn't have the instincts that I needed to survive…"

:No, my dear, you didn't. From what I have learned about the time you spent with your mind your own, you weren't taught what you were needed, through both your own fault and others, but mainly others.:

"But why teach me something that's in the past?" Ryoko snapped. "You're teaching me what I need to know now!"

:But, child, you can learn more from your time in that household than I could teach you in the same span. To put it in simple terms, you have already had all the lessons I could ever teach you laid out before you; you have merely lacked the direction to take that teaching for yourself.: Nite brought his head down to Ryoko and poked her in the sternum with the tip of his snout. :My dear, perhaps you should go rest for a bit, and think upon what I have said.:

Ryoko nodded slightly, then lifted herself up off the floor and floated out of the cave.

She floated with the currents of air, letting them take her and move her.

She didn't worry about food or sleep. Even back at Masaki-ke, she had only eaten to appease Sasami of her worry, and since coming here, she absorbed enough energy from the environment that she didn't need to rest her body in slumber. The quality of energy between the Mountain, and the old shrine was astounding, for there she always had trouble waking, and now she never gave a thought to sleep.

Both eating and sleeping were some of the easier of her hard-won habits to break, for she had only done both after being awakened by Tenchi, so long ago.

The Static Tomb that sealed her away for seven hundred years kept her body in stasis, so she had not needed any energy from the outside, but neither received any either. She wondered briefly what would have happened if she had forgone creating a replacement Gem, and had first appeared to Tenchi as she was now, instead of a dried-up mummy.

She glanced at the Gem on her left wrist. If she tried, she could feel the pull it generated to be with her fellows, the same pull that had let her track down Tenchi after he had gone back to Tokyo. She now felt the pull omnidirectionally, for the Barrier was anchored to the place in her home dimension where she had crossed over from the American Rocky Mountains into this sub-universe.

Nite had told her that if she left the Mountain, the Barrier would likely place her in the same spot, unless there was another place in her home Universe that the Mountain was anchored. He had also said that if she concentrated, she might be able to exit the Mountain into an entirely different Universe!

Multiple Universes. Multiverses. And, if Nite was correct, Multiple Multiverses. The Otanverse. He hadn't been to clear if there was more than one Otanverse, but she felt that there were more than enough Universes to deal with from just one.

Other Universes. Universes where he had gotten those books and scrolls that he kept in that cavern he spent so much time in. If he wasn't there, he was sitting on the Spire, or out hunting his dinner. She had searched through some of the books while he had been gone from the Mountain, foraging afar for food, and had found something that shocked her.

Among the records and stories was a simple sheet of paper, a letter from an unknown person to NiteFlier, arguing that there was a possibility of other versions of the black dragon existing!

Confused and curious, she had delved deeper into the mounds of books, searching for more letters between Nite and the mysterious debater. What she found was even more astonishing.

A picture, drawn in cartoon style, of her.


The great dragon shook himself out of his meditation. As he opened his eyes, he saw Ryoko floating in the air before him, her manner cautiously polite, and her hands held behind her. He was mildly surprised. She had never interrupted his reflection upon the Spire before.

:Yes, child? What brings you here?:

The girl hesitated for a moment, then brought out the sheet of paper hidden behind her back.

NiteFlier blinked. Then blinked again. His mind ran through a myriad of responses, ranging from demanding why she had been snooping around in his collection to telling her outright what it was.

:Child… Ryoko.: He shifted slightly, and nodded to a bare red stone by his foreclaw. :Sit, Ryoko.: The girl settled down on the impromptu seat. He sighed at her expectant look. :My dear, may I see it?:

Ryoko warily handed over the paper, "Nite, what is this?"

:Ryoko, you remember what I told you of other Universes?:

"Yes." She hesitated. "I sortuv looked around in there and found a letter to you… saying that there could be other versions of you in the Otanverse…"

:That—!: Nite paused. :That actually makes things a bit easier. You see, I am something of an anomaly, as is my friend who sent that letter. There are many, many Universes, as you know, but a great deal of them follow along a certain pattern or another. These are mainly grouped around Nexi, which can be certain people, places, or even concepts.: The dragon hesitated again. :Tenchi was one such Nexi.:

Ryoko blinked softly. "There are other… Tenchis? And other Ayekas and Sasamis and all the rest?!"

:And other… Yous.: Ryoko opened her mouth to say something, but closed it slowly. :Can you imagine what Tenchi's life would have been like without you? Think for a moment. If you had not been there, it is quite likely that Tenchi would not exist as you knew him! There would be no aliens to bother you, or crazy adventures to enlighten him as to the ways of this Universe, had you never come out of that cave.:

"But the same is true for any of the others!" Ryoko said.

:True: But if you cannot imagine Tenchi differently, then perhaps you can imagine yourself.: Ryoko looked shocked again. :Think again on this, what would you be like without Ayeka, or Mihoshi, or Washu?:

Ryoko's jaw was open, and suddenly she realized something, "HEY! I never told you about anything of myself before I got here!!"

Nite looked at her oddly, and she got the feeling that if he were human, she would se a small secretive smile. :No indeed, you did not. But there is one thing that I did not explain about Nexi.:

"That being?" she asked dryly.

Nite nodded at the parchment in her hands. :Would you believe that there are those that write and draw and know of Nexi, yet have no inclination that such… Chronicles… are real, elsewhere in the Universe? Not even heaven and earth, turned upside down, can know of all the various Chronicles. The Nexi of Tenchi is not quite as rampant as others, but is present in a good deal of Universes.:

Ryoko took a deep breath and focused on what the dragon was saying. "How do you know what is a 'Chronicle' and what is not?" She heard a bass rumble from the dragon, and realized that for the first time since they met, he was laughing.

:My dear Ryoko, if it is written down, or drawn, or even merely stored as bits of data, it is a Chronicle. Somewhere, somewhen, the events recorded took, will take, or are taking place. It is not to say that when something is Chronicled before it happens means that such Chronicle is a 'scrip' that the actors play out, but merely a record of their actions, made before they performed them.:

Ryoko stood and floated eye to eye with the dragon. "So somewhere someone is recording this?"

:Yes. It is merely a question of where and when that someone is doing it.: Nite chuckled again. :I really must have you read 'Journey to the Past', something I wrote Chronicling my own adventures quite some time ago… Just shortly after I was involved in a concern with three beings that normally are involved with a Tenchi Nexi. Thinking back on it…:

Ryoko's interest was piqued. "What three beings? Do I know their… Analogues?"

Nite focused on Ryoko again. :They were three sisters, and that is all I shall say. What is more important now is, what are you going to do with the information you have been given?:

Ryoko began to protest, but acquiesced. "Keep learning, Oh Black One, and keep remembering. I get the feeling that there is much I still need to know."

The dragon looked as if he were smiling again. :And that, child, is the first step in understanding.:


To be continued.

Author's notes: It was about halfway through the first conversation between Ryoko and Nite that I realized that I stole several key points of the first scene from Andre Norton & Mercedes Lackey's ElvenBane. Since I've now admitted to it, and because I didn't realize I was doing it while writing it, I'm going to keep it as it is, rather than changing it to some other lesson… since I'll prolly take that from something else.

Chapter 4
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