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The Lair of Dragonwiles
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No Need For The Crown Prince
Circa 1200 A. D.
His father was dead.
Azusa Masaki Jurai couldn't believe how often that thought returned to his mind. He wondered if the grief would ever leave, if the gnawing absence would ever disappear. There hadn't been enough time for proper mourning yet; it was only a few days after the battle. Azusa had lived long enough to know that in the life that awaited him, there would almost never be time to stop and reflect. Up until a few days ago, he had been a crown prince. Now an interstellar criminal had made him the King of Jurai.
To occupy himself, he again turned on the television in the borrowed spacecraft. Having to remember what buttons to press, instead of simply asking his spaceship and his friend Kirito to project the display, was a distraction he deeply valued at this time.
The scene which appeared on the holographic screen was a medley of aliens sitting silently in rows in a vast auditorium, and watching three particular aliens upon a raised dais. The rows of seats surrounded the circular dais on all sides. The three stood in a triangle, facing each other and with their backs to a portion of the audience, although Azusa knew that was misleading. These were debates for the future of the Academy, and it was to the audience that each one of them was playing.
One of the three was speaking, the man with his black hair and beard strangely curled around his entire head: "-in less time. In short, if I am elected Director, I will implement a new system for granting tenure, one which will more fairly evaluate the achievements of the applicants."
The second person, a short woman with floppy ears, and long blond hair that she let flow down her back more or less impeded, had been shaking her head and making the tip of her long hair flick slowly back and forth. Now she objected, "It sounds like you'd just let anybody in, Dr. Clay. There's only so many seats to go around. What's the problem with having high standards?"
Dr. Clay, ah yes. He'd thought the man looked familiar. He hadn't recognized the woman until the broadcasting network had displayed "Dr. Yume" beside her. Dr. Clay now steepled his fingers and retorted, "Perhaps we're keeping them higher than what anyone can achieve to protect ourselves. You aren't afraid of losing your job, hmmm?" He got laughter from the audience for that. Azusa shook his head as Dr. Yume balled her fists and her large golden eyes burned with anger. Azusa knew as well as anyone that nobody competing for the Director's chair was a layabout. These three were among the top scientists in the universe.
The third person he had recognized immediately: Dr. Washu. She practically was the Academy, because she had helped negotiate its separation from the Juraian government and helped expand its facilities and staff to their greatest height ever. Washu was only as tall as Yume, but she tended to wear her red hair rather shorter. Her green eyes flashed angrily at Dr. Clay as she said evenly, "Dr. Clay, all three of us have made significant contributions to learning." Yume flashed her a look of mingled gratitude and suspicion. Azusa guessed that they were friends, to some extent. Washu continued, "I have to ask, why the tenure process? It may need fixing, but there are more pressing problems. We haven't yet fully staffed the support teams for some of our newest buildings. Why has that taken so long? Why do we still have contradictory policies on research subjects' consent? Why do our scholarship funds' earnings keep dropping when the rest of the market is rising?"
Dr. Clay appeared to panic for a moment, then said smoothly, "Are you accusing the managers of mismanagement? Don't try to be too cute, Washu- we all know I supported their appointment. I want to know why you've been researching such dangerous weapons technology. A battleship that huge seems a little more high-powered than what a lone professor can use, hmmm?"
Washu put her hand to her temple and forehead in amazement. "I don't believe you are still repeating that silly charge," she sighed. "What about your camouflage battle robot-"
Azusa abruptly turned the television off. He was glad he wouldn't have to deal with academia too much, or any of those professors.
There was a chirp, and Azusa looked around in perplexity for a moment, before recalling that it was the sound of the communications equipment, telling him he was being called. He concentrated, remembered the buttons, and answered the call.
Capt. Kuramitsu, originator of the call, appeared with the screen. The platinum blonde, blue-eyed man appeared to be a vacuous fashion model, but he was really the Academy-educated scion of one of the richest families in the galaxy. The man had courage- he had actually volunteered to be part of the prisoner's escort. If the criminal were to break loose now, it would mean certain death for all those nearby. That took especial courage to face when one had a newborn son at home. He would, Azusa felt sure, go far in the Juraian Galactic Police.
"Your Majesty, Marshal Donagren and Lord Hokushin asked me to report to you that the imprisonment of supercriminal Kain is now complete." Capt. Kuramitsu normally smiled very broadly, but today he gazed somberly upon his bereaved monarch.
"The cell is completely secure?" Azusa asked. There couldn't be any mistakes, not with anything of Kain's power.
"The minefield, monitoring system, and early warning devices have all been tested, Your Highness," the captain answered readily. "Kain has been totally quiescent since his defeat, Your Majesty. We were able to successfully place him on the asteroid. Marshal Donagren, Lord Hokushin, and," at this his composure faltered and he gulped in awe, he who had stood in line of battle against Kain, "she, Her Ladyship, I mean, are inspecting the force cage personally, Your Majesty."
"I understand," Azusa nodded, understanding both what had been accomplished, the captain's awe, and the knowledge of who "she" was. "You have my commendation, Capt. Kuramitsu. Commend Marshal Donagren and Lord Hokushin for me, and," he paused, "thank Lady Tsunami for me."
Thanks was not nearly enough. What did one say to a person as powerful as Lady Tsunami? Many good beings had died in the battle against Kain. If Lady Tsunami had not agreed to accompany the fleet to battle, no one would've survived. They wouldn't have had the chance to bring all their weapons to bear on him, to weaken him critically. His father would never have had the time he needed to realize that conventional weapons wouldn't work fast enough, to channel all of his energy and defeat Kain. Every last erg of energy in his father's body- Azusa stopped the morbid thought.
"Your Majesty," Capt. Kuramitsu saluted, "thank you, and I speak for all of us when we express sorrow for your loss. King Kazuki was a great ruler." He signed off and the screen disappeared again.
Azusa himself, and his much-reduced bodyguard, were nowhere near Kain's cell and its uninhabited wasteland of space. Azusa had given his final orders at the battle's conclusion, then he and his bodyguard appropriated fourth-rate gunboats from the nearest base and began the journey to Jurai at top speed. It was important that the Council confirm his accession to the throne as soon as possible. His father's death was not only hard on him, but the whole empire. Everyone needed to know that Kain had been brought to justice and that there would be a future for the Juraian empire. A new king had to lead them now.
The sensors beeped for a few seconds before Azusa's borrowed gunboat was engulfed in a terrible blast. Azusa looked at the sensors and saw only one vessel, the one that had attacked, when suddenly many appeared, around and within his bodyguard's formation. Azusa clenched his long beard angrily. The enemy had evaded their scanners by using a paltry storming level of six! If only Kirito and his bodyguard's proud Juraian battleships hadn't been so badly injured and left at the nearest shipyards-but there was no time for that. He powered up the weapons on the vessel he did have and tore into his attackers, imagining that they were Kain. Several he destroyed, but he saw many of his warriors in their hastily requisitioned ships being sent to the grave with fire.
Seeing so many proud warriors, faithful friends who had survived the terrible might of Kain, being slain by what he now recognized as common space pirates, it was like a physical pain. These hideous corsairs were but opportunistic infections coursing through his once-proud empire's shipping lanes after a lethal virus had passed, plundering worlds Kain had massacred and enslaving the few survivors.
A transmission reached Azusa's vessel, from the brigand leader. He was adorned richly, and his bridge had a good deal of high technology. "Prince Azusa, my compliments on your victory. Or are you running from Kain? It hardly matters. If you submit now and come aboard my ship, you'll be treated well. Damaged noblemen don't fetch as high a ransom."
His transmission suddenly dissolved into static as two of Azusa's bodyguard destroyed the communications gear on the pirate flagship. They dodged its return fire and broadcast to the rest of the group, "That ought to shut their ugly mouths, and foul their assault pattern. We'll bring back their corpses for their cockiness." Azusa shook his head at the voice of Tessei. He recognized the next voice that spoke as Tetta, "Their insults to the king's bodyguard will not stand. Base scum will never conquer Jurai." His voice, Azusa reflected, was usually disturbing, when he cared to speak at all. Still, they were the most skilled of his bodyguards, and he vowed to reward them for their courage at this moment.
The crown prince's protectors were almost entirely dead, and the overwhelming numbers of pirates had managed to cut him off from Tetta, Tessei, and the other friends who still lived. Azusa readied himself to make one attempt to break through the ring around him when an envelope of blue light enveloped him. The hail of deadly energy ceased as the blue light absorbed all of the attacks without faltering in the least. Azusa's vessel was drawn by the blue light, pulled inside a hole in space.
When the message came to Azusa's vessel, he knew who was sending it to him. "Lady Tsunami, I thank you," he said, bowing to the glowing blue light that appeared on the screen.
Tsunami laughed sadly as she raced beside him in the distant part of space where the hole had deposited them. Azusa wondered at that, how such a powerful being, the progenitor of all Jurai's spaceship trees, could laugh and feel pity for someone as weak as he. She told him sadly, "I only wish I could've been more help to your father, and your warriors."
Azusa was quiet a moment. Very few people dared to speak with Lady Tsunami in any case, and long-standing tradition limited access to her enclave. Only the royal family's four clans, or the Council, could speak with her. No one dared to speak with her often. The request of his father and the Council to join the action against Kain was the third time in Azusa's life he'd ever been in her presence. Juraians were mighty, but power of Tsunami's magnitude was disquieting to be near for prolonged periods of time.
Yet grief overwhelmed his fear, and he asked, "Lady Tsunami, I owe you my life, and yet, I must know. Why couldn't you help us more? We trusted you, and yet so many good beings died."
Terror returned as soon as the words had left his mouth. Yet when she spoke, it was soothingly, and with a strange sympathy that Azusa hadn't expected to find from a being who was far above his own level. "The answer, to your question, King Azusa," she told him, "is threefold. First, I am not as powerful as it is always assumed. I am not omnipotent, and many things happen, good and evil, with neither my knowledge nor my consent."
"Secondly," and now she was angry, and Azusa was ever so grateful that she was angry at someone other than himself, "Kain chose to remain in densely populated areas of the galaxy to murder and cause mayhem. If I had used the power necessary to kill or wound him, many innocent beings would have been snuffed out, in cataclysms that would shake stars. I agreed, therefore, to accompany and shield your fleet while your father used the strength I gave your family long ago to stop Kain. I regret that not even my Light-Hawk Wings could protect all of you."
"Thirdly," she finished, "long ago when I helped your ancestor and the four clans of your royal family found the empire, I did indeed pledge to help them when they had need. I gave them their power, and I gave them the spaceship trees which are like unto me. I know you have been taught this. But I have never told anyone why it is rare that I move actively to help Jurai. Can you guess why?"
Chiding himself for being a knight of Jurai without the courage to speak when spoken to by a lady, he forced a reply out of his mouth. "No, why?"
"If I did everything for you," she replied, "you wouldn't be worth helping."
Azusa forced himself to stop second-guessing what her mood and meaning was when she said that.
"So, where shall I deposit you now?" she wondered aloud. "I could get you home to Jurai. Or we could try to raid a pirate stronghold, though we'd have to get you another ship first. Of course, this sort of opportunity doesn't come every day. Perhaps I could let you have a few hours on an idyllic world. You need to remember what happiness is, if only for the sake of your subjects. Do you have anywhere in mind?"
Azusa wondered if she knew what he suddenly and wildly hoped, and what she would think of him when he asked it aloud. It was the last opportunity he would have, for after the coronation he would have no spare time for a long time. He desperately longed to see Earth, a world he heard of only in the old stories. The stories told of how the founder of Jurai had sisters who had made a colony on Earth, and never been heard from since. Azusa wanted to see his people there, what kind of world it was, what its inhabitants had made of it. His greatest and most secret hope that he had shared only in the quiet beating of his own breast was that on Earth perhaps he could find a woman to love, far from the haughty Juraian elite, far from power and riches and politics and backstabbing and gossip. It was a bizarre, uninspired, unexpected fantasy, he knew, but it was his and it wouldn't leave him despite his attempts to kick it out.
Father discouraged going to Earth, Azusa determined, and I respected him, but he is dead now, and I know I must go there now or I will never be able to focus myself on my duty. Azusa decided it would be best to go and let all his hopes be shattered, and return to Jurai with his heart as shattered as Jurai, grieve and then repair Jurai, and even more slowly, heal his own soul.
"If it is not an inconvenience, would you please allow me to visit Earth for a short time before I return to Jurai?" he asked politely.
"Of course," she replied. "Earth is a wonderful place."
Azusa coughed in surprise. He was helpless to prevent the childlike grin spreading across his face. He was actually going to Earth.
Tsunami opened another hole in space, and soon Azusa found himself at the planet Earth. There was always something wonderful, he reflected, about the glow of a life-bearing planet from space.
He landed his spacecraft, noting that Lady Tsunami remained in orbit. Azusa breathed in the air, and with his exhalation forced his sorrows out of himself so he could enjoy the moment. Jurai deserved a king who could inspire people to joy after the time of mourning that was coming. Here he could learn how to find solace after the black hours.
He walked some distance, making a technically deficient but exuberant attempt to whistle a happy tune, feeling the wind and looking at the fascinating ground cover and the segmented plants with single stalks which sometimes rose twice as tall as he did. Azusa shook his head in wonder. He would never have imagined such a plant existed.
Eventually he found himself near the top of a hill, and he heard shouts and the clash of metal against metal. His mood changed from happiness to readiness, though it would be wrong to say he was unhappy. He stealthily crawled around the side of the hill towards the noises.
A small party of Earth natives was being attacked by another group of Earth natives. A small cluster of relatively well-armored people were fighting off a larger force of rather dirty-looking men. Azusa inferred that the dirty men were bandits. The bandits had surrounded the party so that no escape was possible, and many of them had the advantage of high ground on the lower part of the hill. They were probably going to win. He noticed in the center of the circle a richly-dressed Earth woman, with dark hair. She looked frightened and angry.
Making up his mind to intervene, Azusa stood up and drew his spaceship's key and nothing happened. He remembered to his shame that Kirito was thousands of light-years away, too far to provide power to the key and crown it with a blade.
For that reason, Azusa was standing still on the hillside, his long purple hair and long purple beard waving in the wind, and his feet and hands planted in a hostile pose, when the humans began to notice him. Silence worked its way across the battlefield as everyone turned to look.
Azusa replaced his key on his belt with poise and charged the three bandits nearest him. They turned fully around and charged him back, emboldened by their overwhelming numbers and a fierce battle cry. Azusa sidestepped their wooden poles topped with blades, seized the heads of the outer two bandits, and dashed them both against the skull of the bandit in the middle of the line. The crown prince nodded to himself. This confirmed his inference they were weak enough that he could take them barehanded. He ran towards the closest bandits, faster than a human could've run.
It was horrifyingly clear that every person he reached was being slain by his incredible strength. "Demon!" the bandits cried, and they fled from the carnage in every direction. The lady's ashenfaced guards clustered around her. She frowned as she watched the man that had appeared from behind the hill. She observed that whatever else he was, he did bleed red.
Azusa made no move to follow the retreating bandits. He'd only gotten a few cuts, but he didn't want to risk any more serious injuries.
The lady made up her mind and began to walk towards the purple-haired man, and the guard tremblingly assembled a line in front of her.
He was surprised that they approached him. He turned to face them as they bowed, some of them raggedly from their injuries. "We thank you for protecting us," the lady said for all of them.
Azusa cleared his throat. "Not at all. Hm. I understood your situation."
He waited a moment, but couldn't think of anything else to say. The guards tried to pant and sweat as quietly as they could. Azusa looked at them and their dead comrades and remembered his own bodyguards who now drifted lifeless in space. The memory still hurt, but he felt much better knowing his friends had been able to protect him as they had wished, and that their sacrifice enabled him to spare these guards a similar fate.
The crown prince of Jurai reached for a small first aid kit he had taken to the battle against Kain. "Perhaps," he began, paused, then walked towards the guard who looked most injured, "perhaps I could help treat your-" The guards he was walking towards had begun to tremble and crawl backwards, bowing even lower to him. Azusa stopped, nonplussed.
Their lady interposed, "Thank you, but they are used to caring for each other's wounds. Allow me to repay you by treating you." There was an almost audible swish of air movement as the guards' heads swung back, to look at her in surprise, and then forwards as she crossed their line of protection and into arms' reach of the purple-haired demon.
Earth native body language was something that Azusa suddenly wished he knew much more about. For all he knew, he could be misinterpreting everything that was occurring. He thought the woman would be more frightened. Was she unafraid or masking her fear or expressing it in some way he did not know? Did the gleam in her eye as she examined his wounds mean curiosity, as it did in Juraians, or something else, like disgust?
The guards tentatively gave her some bits of cloth from the baggage, and quickly fell back many paces to tend themselves.
Azusa watched as she bound his arm. It was primitive treatment, but it ought to work, and Juraians never complained about courtesy. This woman was probably some sort of nobility, and yet she was deigning to get her hands dirty. He felt a great deal of respect for her.
"My name," Azusa told her abruptly, and she looked up, startled. Azusa grunted with pain as the second bandage she'd been tightening was loosened, then remembered and retightened. "My name," he began again after she'd finished with it and looked at him expectantly, "is Azusa."
"Well met, Lord Azusa. I am the Lady Funaho Masaki," she replied, and she actually smiled at him.
Katsuhito Masaki, grandfather of Tenchi Masaki, sits at the microphone of a studio and says, "Welcome, everyone. Dragonwiles asked me to begin a recurring feature that he hopes will add interest to the fanfiction. A character from the fanfiction will select an appropriate song with which to open or close the chapter. I'm the first character so selected, and I felt that this chapter might be well served by the 'Lothlorien' theme from the recent movie 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.' Oh, and please remember that the author does not own, and does not claim to own, anything copyrighted, trademarked, or otherwise owned by anyone else."
Katsuhito pushes a button, and the majestic but sad theme of 'Lothlorien,' begins to play.
Tenchi gulps and says, "Hey, readers, everybody in the audience, my name is Tenchi Masaki. Yes, I am the protagonist of this story, and no, I didn't appear in this first chapter at all. I will be in the next chapter, it appears, because I'm going to be fighting Ryoko. Even if I have been training with Grandpa all these years, that still seems rather dangerous! On the other hand, Grandpa is right. I'd rather not leave something that dangerous living in a cave near my house. What if Ryoko got free someday and blew us all up?"
He continues, "Anyhow, that's what'll be happening in the next chapter. If you keep reading this chapter, you can read another one of Dragonwiles' long-winded introductions, appropriately called 'No Need for an Introduction.' Then, after that, Dragonwiles talks about what Tenchi canon this story is based on, and how this chapter deviates from it, in 'Continuity with Dragonwiles.' "
Tenchi shakes his head. "And, as you may have guessed, little to nothing of all that has nothing to do with the protagonist of the story. But I really don't mind that - it's embarassing to hear about yourself all the time. I'm going to do some homework and get some stuff done in the fields until you get to the next chapter, 'No Need For Legends'. Somehow, I get the feeling that I won't have much time for my chores soon!"
No Need For An Introduction
A large black dragon slithers to the center of the stage and addresses an audience, which consists of the readers of the fanfiction and the entire cast of the fanfiction. The dragon is Dragonwiles, the author, and the dragon pronounces these words:
"Why write a Tenchi fanfiction like this?"
"Tenchi Muyo has always existed in a highly fragmentary form. A great deal of understanding Tenchi is understanding its many television series, manga, and novels, and exactly which plotline and backstory each corresponds to."
"Needless to say, very few people ever do this, including myself. I haven't even read or seen most of the Tenchi series and spinoffs. A pessimist says Tenchi has been stirred by too many cooks and baked too quickly so it'd be ready for market. An optimist says that one can enjoy its good parts and skip over its bad parts."
"One can't help but feel that with a little bit more polish, it might be even greater than it already is. That'd be saying something for one of the more popular anime series ever."
"I therefore set out to reconcile many of the divergent backstories and plotlines, and hopefully tell a good story while I'm at it. At some point, I had to make some sharp editorial decisions about what to discard. Many of them- in fact, I'd say pretty much all of them- were easy, because I hadn't liked those parts I discarded anyway." A few laser bolts from outraged fans impact on Dragonwiles' scales, but Dragonwiles continues unperturbed. "I'd like to think that I have a sense for which parts are weaker and stronger, but in reality it's probably just the arbitrariness of my tastes. If you disagree with my choices, then please feel free to write a fanfiction in a similar vein including the parts you like."
"I'd also like to emphasize that I have no special claim to understanding the intentions of the creators of any Tenchi product. At some point, while synthesizing my backstory, I had to come to my own conclusions about what some things meant, and in the absence of any data whatsoever I had to make up some explanations whole cloth." Draonwiles pauses to smile reminiscently. "That was fun." The author then returns to the moment by saying, "I recommend that no one assume that anything in this fanfiction corresponds to the true backstory or character or interpretation thereof for any Tenchi Muyo anime or manga or novel."
"Don't worry. There will be some very original content here, not only in the sense of otaku characters, that is, fan-made characters, but also in new scenes and dialogue and plots. Or perhaps that will make you worry."
"Ah yes, and don't forget that the following disclaimer shall be construed so as to apply to all the fanfiction. The author does not own, and does not claim to own, anything copyrighted, trademarked, or otherwise owned by anyone else. The author does not claim to own Tenchi, its characters or events or jokes or concepts or dialogue, despite any usage of the above. All intellectual properties, copyrights, trademarks, and other items are the property of their respective owners."
"Ah yes, and everyone's supposed to be speaking Japanese here, unless otherwise noted. We're assuming that the dialogue has been perfectly translated into English."
"In conclusion," his slit pupils scan across the rows of seats a moment, "I, Dragonwiles, thank you for your interest."
With a nod of the snout, Dragonwiles langorously departs the stage.
Continuity with Dragonwiles
Dragonwiles reposes in state in the library of his lair. Looking up from his book, he greets, "Welcome to this special segment, in which I give a few brief continuity notes."
"Although I have already stated I'm writing a fanfiction which is a combination of several 'Tenchi Muyo' series and manga, you may yet wonder what exactly I'm writing a fanfiction of, and where I did get most of the material. Most of my story depends on a synthesis between the first two OVA (original video animation, although the term isn't nearly as definitive as one would hope) and the Tenchi Universe series. There's also a strong influence from the manga by Hitoshi Okuda, which pick up after the first two OVA. I took only a very, very few things from the third OVA. I took nothing, so far as I know or recall, from Tenchi in Tokyo or Tenchi Muyo GXP (I can only hope that stands for Galaxy Police.) I think I've only borrowed from the first Tenchi movie, 'Tenchi Muyo In Love,' the one which revolved around time travel and actually had nothing at all to do with Tenchi being in love."
"All of the named characters in this segment, except for King Kazuki, Lord Hokushin, and Marshal Donagren, are really in some Tenchi canon. Yume is from the manga, and Kain is from the 'Tenchi Muyo In Love' movie."
"Wikipedia claims that Azusa and Funaho met in somewhat similar circumstances to what I've described above, but I didn't understand how the chronology was supposed to work. So I mixed it with other events and canons to suit my own needs and desires. Aren't fanfictions great?"
"I named Azusa's dad Kazuki because I read but did not really understand some information I once read that was attributed to an interview. The interview was with a writer who worked on both the 'Tenchi Muyo' OVA and another anime series called 'Dual: Parallel Trouble Adventure.' On one of the extras on one of the 'Dual' DVDs, it is stated that the interview mentioned some sort of connection of the name Kazuki (the name of Dual's protagonist) with 'Tenchi Muyo', but I didn't understand what the connection was. So I am declaring that, in this fanfiction, coincidentally, the first name of Azusa's father, Kazuki, is the same name as the first name of the protagonist in 'Dual.' They are not intended to be the same character."