17. Drifting Away

Ryoko is at her lowest ebb. Seeing and Tenchi and Sakuya together destroyed the faith she had placed in his feelings, and no matter where she wanders, she cannot escape her misery- or her hope that somehow, Tenchi might want her after all.

Even as Ryoko wanders the streets of Tokyo, however, her solitude is interrupted when an unseen attacker fires a cluster of energy bolts at her. As she dodges her unseen enemy’s attacks, Ryoko finds herself forced to flee, and soon realises that her skills aren’t quite what they used to be. Could the famous space pirate have lost her edge?

Trying to avoid her unseen opponent takes Ryoko through the back streets and into the ground an eerily familiar old mansion. As Ryoko tries to get her bearings, she is confronted by another familiar sight- Hotsuma. As Ryoko tries to figure out just what is going on, her earlier pursuer launches another attack. Ryoko and Hotsuma are forced to take rapid evasive action, even as their enemy closes in.

A squadron of robots have surrounded Ryoko, and Hotsuma explains that there are bioroid enforcers, sent by the Galaxy Police to hunt down the galaxy’s most wanted space pirate. Explaining that he too is a wanted criminal, Hotsuma demonstrates his own power by vaporising the enforcers, and suggests that he and Ryoko would enjoy great success if they teamed up together.

Back at his apartment, Tenchi is planning his summer vacation with Sakuya. Tenchi recalls the fun he used to have when he went to the beach with his family, and suggests that he and Sakuya should go there sometime. It would be a long trip if they went to the coast at Okayama, but it would be worth it.

As Hotsuma tries to persuade a reluctant Ryoko to accept his offer, the two are interrupted by yet another wave of bioroids. As the bioroids ensnare Ryoko in their tentacle web traps, she tells Hotsuma that she can manage on her own, and that she has no intention of ever teaming up with him- not when there is something important for her here on Earth.

But even as Ryoko argues with Hotsuma, the memory of Tenchi and Sakuya flashes through her mind, and she realises that what she had on Earth is lost to her now. Filled with pain and anger at that realisation, Ryoko breaks free from the bioroids, her old power returning as she smashes them with her bare hands.

Meanwhile, in Okayama, Ayeka is also filled with melancholy thoughts. As she finds herself wandering out to the lake, the princess tries to convince herself that all is well between herself and Tenchi, despite his angry outburst at the carnival. Unfortunately, Ayeka’s fantasy is soon shattered by the arrival of none other than Tsugaru. Introducing himself as a sorcerer, he promises to help Ayeka see the truth- by showing her Tenchi and Sakuya’s first kiss. Ayeka is unwilling to believe that image is real, but Tsugaru suggests that she call Tenchi and find out for herself.

Back home, Ayeka decides to do just that, but finds herself standing over the phone, unable to even pick it up. Seeing her sister’s indecision, Sasami comes over and calls Tenchi herself. After a brief chat, she hands over to Ayeka, who shyly asks how Tenchi is getting on with his friends- and especially with Sakuya.

Before Tenchi can answer, however, the doorbell rings- Sakuya has come to walk to school with him. Ayeka can only sigh as Tenchi promises to hang up and call her back- she heard Tenchi talking to Sakuya over the phone, and it seems his actions confirm the truth she was unwilling to believe.

Elsewhere, a spaceship departs the Earth- with Ryoko and Hotsuma together on board. Watching from afar, Yugi couldn’t be happier. She was the one who sent the bioroids, and thanks to her actions, Ryoko is the first to leave the ‘happy family’. But if Yugi has her way, she won’t be the last.

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