21. No Need for a Checkpoint!

With its territory surrounded by a superior defensive perimeter, the planet Jurai is able to ensure that any potential visitors must first pass through one of their security checkpoints. If they want to continue their journey to Jurai, Tenchi and the others must also go through the checkpoint, but as the universe’s most wanted criminals, it would be far from sensible to just go in undisguised.

Instead, the gang disguise themselves as a class on a school field trip, with Katsuhito and Kiyone as teachers, Nobuyuki as driver, Mihoshi as campus doctor, and the others (including Tenchi) as the female students. With new hairstyles, and contact lenses and clothes designed to give fake retinal, skeletal and DNA readings, the group are all set to take on even the most thorough of security scans.

Initially, everything seems to be going well. A slip of the tongue from Mihoshi is quickly covered up, and even the standard ship inspection goes smoothly after Azaka and Kamidake hypnotise the checkpoint officers into reporting that all is well.

As a final check, everyone must pass through the main scanner, but Washu’s preparations have been enough to fool this one as well- even if ‘Tenko’ (Tenchi in his female guise) seems to have an oddly masculine figure. However, as the checkpoint’s commander watches the group from the security cameras, it seems that Sasami sparks a glimmer of recognition- a memory of a time spent taking a certain young princess for a walk in the woods.

Despite this, the commander does not raise any alarm, and soon almost everyone has passed through the scanner, dispersing into the area beyond. Unfortunately, even the best of Washu’s plans cannot account for one catastrophic random variable better known as Mihoshi. As she passes through the scanner, she manages to set off the alarm, and a quick search of her pockets reveals not only a GP blaster, but her personal ID pen-screen!

By now the group have split up, but when the alarms start going off, everyone realises that it is time to leave. Fortunately for them, they have more allies than they realise. The old commander manages to corrupt the security system just enough to force the checkpoint officers to initiate a switch to the backup system- buying the gang just a little more time.

Whilst Ryoko and Mihoshi run from the checkpoint guards (with Ryoko trying to disassociate herself from Mihoshi every step of the way), Tenchi and Sasami are down in the café with Sagami, a young man who seems to have taken quite a shine to ‘Tenko’. Whilst Sagami buys them drinks, Ryoko and Mihoshi come running into the bar, pursued by a pair of security guards. Recognising them as being from the same group, the guards stop to apprehend Tenchi and Sasami. Tenchi tries to play dumb, but Ryoko tells him it is too late for that, and quickly overturns a table to stall the guards. As the four run for it, they knock into Sagami, who is sent spinning such that he accidentally (or perhaps not so accidentally) knocks down the two guards.

Meanwhile, Washu, Ayeka and Kiyone are running at full tilt back to Yagami when they are confronted by a pair of guards. The ever-prepared Kiyone pulls out her GP yoyo weapon and uses it knock them out, but is unprepared when a third guard comes running straight for her. Fortunately, Katsuhito and Nobuyuki have just caught up to the three girls. Grabbing a wooden staff from one of the downed guards, Katsuhito attacks the third guard, managing to deflect his blow and knock him down. By the slimmest of margins, Kiyone is saved, and the group hurries on.

Coming to a junction in the corridor, Ryoko and the others quickly debate which way to go- and when Mihoshi suggests going right, Ryoko decides that heading left is the bets bet. As it turns out, listening to Mihoshi would have been a better idea, for as they run down the left corridor, a pair of security gates slams shut. Mihoshi ends up with her leg caught in the gate, whilst poor Sasami gets stuck behind them.

The others try to break open the gates, but their attempts are thwarted when the backup security systems come online, causing the gates to become electrified. Unable to make it through, Sasami is forced to turn back and find another way out.

For Sasami, this whole situation is unpleasantly reminiscent of an incident that occurred during her early childhood. Young Sasami was walking in the woods with her uncle, but when the two of them got separated, Sasami ended up lost and alone in the cold, damp woods. As the memory of that time fills Sasami with fear and desperation, she calls out to Tenchi and the others, inadvertently alerting two nearby guards to her presence.

Fortunately for Sasami, an anonymous protector knocks out the two guards before they can find her, but even this protector (who, as it turns out, is Sagami) cannot help her when she gets trapped between two sets of gates and exposed to knockout gas.

Whilst Kiyone’s group find themselves lost in the maze that the checkpoint station has become, someone else has reached the gates where Sasami is trapped. It is the white-haired commander, and as he bends over Sasami to lift her to safety, it is reminiscent of another time, when a certain uncle found a young princess scared and trembling in the woods.

Meanwhile, Tenchi, Ryoko and Mihoshi find themselves in yet more trouble when they are confronted by a whole squadron of guards. Ryoko is ready to use her powers against them, but finds herself barely able to move when a terrified Mihoshi starts clinging onto her. Fortunately, Sagami is on hand to help out, by tossing ‘Tenko’ a wooden staff. Thanks to his training, Tenchi is able to take down the guards with a little help from Ryo-Ohki. But as he replaces his fallen wig after the battle, he notices that Sagami has disappeared.

Tenchi and the others soon find Sasami, who is lying safely against the corridor wall, and shortly afterwards they catch up with Kiyone’s group. Finally reunited, the gang head for Yagami, but just as they are about to reach it, the checkpoint station changes configuration, dumping Yagami out of the docking bay and into space. Fortunately, the team has an unexpected advantage in the form of Ryo-Ohki. The cabbit transforms into a spaceship, allowing the team to break out of the station and head over to Yagami.

As the team makes their getaway, Sasami looks back at the checkpoint station, and to her surprise, she sees a familiar face staring out of one of the windows- her uncle. He was the white-haired commander who helped the team escape (along with the help of his subordinate Sagami), and now, as they head to Jurai, he wishes his beloved nieces the best of luck.