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Chapter 35 Main Chapters Chapter 37

No Need For Another Betrothal

Minagi bows to the audience and informs them, "Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Minagi, and I'm honored to have been selected as your DJ for this chapter. The theme song I've selected is 'Boku Wa Mo Itsuma Pioneer' from the second season of the original Tenchi Muyo show."

About a week after Yakage's death, Tenchi sat with his grandfather on the porch.

"You faced a tough opponent in Yakage," he mentioned.

Tenchi nodded. After a moment, he said, "It's still hard to believe that I actually killed someone."

"I know what you mean," Yosho cocked his head at his grandson, "but you did kill Kagato awhile before that."

"Yeah," Tenchi nodded, "somehow it felt," he waved his hands, helpless to say what he meant, then said, "different. He threatened us so directly. I hated him, so much that it scared me. But there was also righteous anger, too. When I fought Yakage, I only felt angry in the last few minutes of the fight. I just wanted him to leave us in peace. I didn't want to have to kill either Yakage or Kagato, but I felt I might've been friends with Yakage."

His grandfather nodded, and looked into the distance, reminiscing. "It's hard to fight someone like that," he agreed. "You always wonder what could've been done differently. Especially when you see the effects on the people left behind."

"It was hard finding the courage to kill Kagato," Tenchi thought aloud, "and it was hard finding the courage not to spare Yakage. He forced me into it, and I had no other choice. I wouldn't have wanted Yakage to kill one of us. But when I saw Minagi weeping over Yakage's body, I would've done anything to bring him back."

Tenchi looked off into the distance too, trying to focus on the distant sight of some of Sasami's alien flying spiral pets, but he couldn't erase his memories. Suddenly he turned to Yosho and asked, "Grandpa, does it ever get easier?"

"It does. Unfortunately it also gets easier to justify killing. You've made a habit, by that time, not to see the evil within yourself. When you become good at protecting, you also become good at killing. It'll always be hard to look at a situation, and know when violence is called for and when it is not, when it is your pride demanding satisfaction for an insult and when justice is demanding satisfaction for a wrong."

Yosho stood up and clapped Tenchi on the back, hard, rocking Tenchi forward slightly from his seated position. "I am proud of you, though, Tenchi," he told him.

Tenchi looked over his shoulder and smiled sadly, and acknowledged, "Thanks, Grandpa." His grandfather smiled with the same smile and left him.

Some time later, Tenchi was coming in after doing some chores. His father Nobuyuki was sitting inside. He looked up at Tenchi and commented, "You know, that sword practice you do with your grandfather, it's really paid off hasn't it? I mean, if it weren't for you, Kagato would've blown up the planet. Nobody would be alive right now. Not on Earth, anyways."

"I guess so," Tenchi rubbed the back of his head awkwardly. "When I was actually fighting him, I could hardly think of anything but what I was doing from moment to moment."

Nobuyuki stood up and told Tenchi, "Sometimes I just think you're too modest. I should apologize; I should've done this a long time ago. Thank you for saving all our lives." For once, his father looked utterly sincere.

"What can anyone say in response to that?" Tenchi wondered aloud. "You're very welcome, Dad."

"I'm proud of you, son," Nobuyuki told him, then quickly left with an embarrassed smile. It was hard for him to say that sort of thing.

Tenchi stepped up the stairs to his room, whistling one of his favorite songs.

Life at the Masaki residence had begun to settle into a new routine. Minagi had been taken away to her trial, after revealing that she and the late Yakage had learned of Tenchi's location and Light-Hawk Wings from a leaked Galactic Police report. There had been no disturbances in the months since Minagi left, leaving Tenchi plenty of time to get the carrots planted and his schoolwork in something resembling order.

One day, it was Officer Mihoshi's turn on duty patrolling the protected zone, and she was surprised to see the early warning net showing a large Juraian space tree pulling up to a stop just outside the protected zone.

A moment later, she received a communication from it. There was an image of a tall Juraian noble, standing with his wife and son. The son appeared young, only slightly older than Sasami. Behind them was what appeared to be a grove of tall, dark trees. Mihoshi guessed that these trees were part of the natural biosphere of their Juraian space tree.

The nobleman politely but tersely presented his permission to enter the protected zone and formally requested clearance to enter. Mihoshi quickly looked over his permission and saw that everything was in order. She wondered briefly why this family was entering the protected zone. It was hardly a vacation spot. Besides which, it didn't look like the lord or lady was very pleased. Their son looked neither pleased nor displeased.

"Um, okay, you guys can go on in! And do whatever you wanted to do!" Mihoshi cleared them.

The lord and lady looked at each other quizzically. After a moment, the lord shrugged and said, "We thank you, Officer Mihoshi, and good day." With that, he signed off, and their space tree began to move into the protected zone.

Sasami was brushing the fur of her ferret-like pet Mik when she felt her key grow warm. Grasping its wooden handle, she heard the space tree Ryu-Oh inform her, "Sasami, you'll never guess who's arrived. It's Lord Koji, and he's requesting a private audience with you."

"Lord Koji came all the way out here?" Sasami said in surprise.

"With his parents," Ryu-Oh agreed. "But I get the impression that the trip was his initiative."

"Hm," Sasami said thoughtfully. She considered where best to receive Lord Koji. "The living room would probably be fine," she decided. He was coming here? She would never have expected that. It almost seemed impossible.

A few moments later, Lord Koji and his parents teleported into the room. "Princess Sasami, we greet you," they said together, bowing.

Sasami bowed in return, "I greet you as well. This is such a pleasant surprise. Shall I bring in some tea?"

"Thank you, Princess," the father of Lord Koji agreed. He said quickly, "Afterwards, of course, I imagine you and our son would like to speak in private."

"I would be honored," Lord Koji said with a smile. "We're all quite relieved to find you and your sister alive after your disappearances, and I suppose we were hoping that we could catch up."

Sasami hoped she wasn't showing her nervousness - she wanted to make a good impression in front of them. She readied a fresh pot of tea, then served it to everyone. Lord Koji's parents sat stiffly on the living room couch. Sasami and Lord Koji faced each other across the living room as they sat on chairs.

Lord Koji complimented Sasami on the tea, and Sasami thanked him chipperly, relieved that he approved.

"This is a very tasteful home," Lord Koji noted. "I understand it belongs to Lord Tenchi? A descendant of your long-lost brother, Prince Yosho?"

Sasami explained, "It really belongs to Tenchi's dad. But it's very nice of you to say so. I like it a lot too." She was glad that he liked it, but it almost seemed as though talking about it was annoying his parents somehow. Koji seemed to notice it, too, and frowned at them.

His father smoothed the annoyance out of his face and said blandly, "Yes, quite, indeed." His mother smiled almost ferociously and said in a too-cheerful voice, "Yes, it's exactly as our good friend's son Lord Seiryo described it."

That explained it - but how could she call to mind again Seiryo's insults when they were taking shelter in the house at the moment! She was relieved to see that Koji was also displeased with his mother's answer, and that Koji added, "Even better, perhaps." This, in turn, earned him a dirty look from both parents. His father rose and said, "Princess Sasami, perhaps we ought to leave the two of you for a moment while we walk outside."

Sasami leapt up and escorted them to the sliding glass door, which she operated for them. Lord Koji's mother managed to insert, "How quaint," with a false smile, before leaving. Sasami concentrated on closing the door as carefully and gently as possible. She then collected the drained teacups of Lord Koji's mother and father and made herself take her time putting them away for washing.

Upon her return, Lord Koji seemed both discomfited and relieved that she was not showing much anger. He said, "I hope that you will excuse them."

"Of course, don't worry about it," Sasami reassured him.

He nodded in appreciation, then continued, "I was concerned when you and your sister disappeared," he said, "but now that I'm here, I can see why you wanted to stay. It's an intriguing planet. This world reminds me of Jurai in its bounty of life."

"Yes, the animals here are such wonderful creatures," Sasami agreed enthusiastically.

Koji smiled, and had another sip of tea. Then another.

Sasami asked concernedly, "You're not in trouble, are you?"

He appeared startled, and hurriedly said, "No, no." Recovering somewhat, he explained, "I had hoped not to trouble you with this, but my parents are unhappy with me, because of what happened between your host and Lord Seiryo, and what they view as a betrayal on my part."

"What betrayal?" Sasami asked in confusion.

Lord Koji informed her wryly, "Not a real one. It's just that I've made it clear, not in so many words, that I do not agree with him, and do not intend to support him."

"Good," Sasami told him firmly. "The duel was final, after all. What more is there?"

He relaxed more, apparently finally convinced that his parents' misconduct had not escorted him out of Sasami's good graces. "During and after our visit with Lord Seiryo and his family, my parents have been heard to say repeatedly, 'Fiances should stick together.' Upon one such repetition, I chose to remark to my parents that Seiryo was no longer Princess Ayeka's fiance, and so they are displeased with me. It will pass.

"But," he said hastily, "enough about me. What has happened to you during your time away? Your long-lost brother found, Kagato defeated, and Ryoko the Terrible not evil? I haven't even learned yet how it is that Ryu-Oh was bested. I have been in some suspense these months."

"Oh, I'm so sorry about that!" Sasami told him. "Really, I am. Well, where to start?" She began her tale.

Some time later, they finally fell silent. Ayeka entered the room and greeted Lord Koji with the words, "Please excuse me, I was helping our hosts with some chores." The young lord politely told her that it was quite all right.

"How are things on Jurai? " Ayeka asked after she had seated herself.

Sasami poured some tea for Ayeka while Lord Koji answered, "I fear I must tell you that the mood is dark. The Empire was greatly concerned over the disappearance of you and your sister some time ago. We were all relieved to hear from your father that you had merely been marooned and were now resting in seclusion, to recover from your ordeal. But the situation still greatly unsettles us. Some people are beginning to speculate that there is some sort of court intrigue afoot."

Ayeka shook her head, "Intrigue! Why, what sort of rumors are being spread?"

"I shall not trouble you with them, Princess Ayeka," Lord Koji said, "for they are unflattering. But I must admit that I found it disturbing that I had to have a private audience with your lady mother, the good Queen Masaki, merely to learn of your location. I must humbly and sincerely advise you to make public appearances soon. Your absence worries us."

"I see," Ayeka said worriedly. "I had no idea."

"Please forgive us," Lord Koji said earnestly, "for I am sure you have good reasons for your actions, but we are tired of supercriminals and pirates and rogue lords. We want peace and an orderly succession. Just seeing you in public a few brief times would greatly reassure our people." He reined himself in. "I am sorry. I have said too much."

"No, I appreciate your telling me these things," Ayeka shook her head. "It is my duty to comfort our people." She looked away pensively a moment, then back at Lord Koji, and inquired, "So, what brings you to this planet?"

"I had desired to come earlier, but I thought it best for both of you to allow you rest after your ordeals. When Lord Seiryo returned from Earth and began to…" He frowned and concluded, "…speak, about his doings, I became somewhat concerned. It also seemed high time that I visited you both. So I asked Her Majesty for your location, and my parents consented to bring me here for this visit."

"How long can you stay?" Sasami asked him.

"My parents insist that we have pressing business elsewhere," Lord Koji said with an apologetic smile, "so we must leave very soon."

"Before one of Sasami's meals?" Ayeka said, quite shocked.

"I must forgo the pleasure for the sake of family bonds," Koji sighed reluctantly.

Ayeka internalized her frown. His parents' pettiness was quite disturbing. Was it all some sort of protest against Seiryo no longer being her fiance? It was absurd! He had disgraced himself!

At that moment, Lord Koji's parents approached the sliding glass door and looked in at her with thin-lipped smiles. Ayeka kept her cool.

About a quarter of an hour later, Tenchi let himself into the house, calling out, "I'm home."

"Tenchi!" Ryoko materialized in front of him.

"Lord Tenchi, welcome!" called Ayeka, and Sasami piped cheerfully, "Good afternoon, Tenchi!"

Tenchi started to take off his shoes and said over his shoulder to Ryoko, "There's a lot of homework today. And right before exams, too!"

Ayeka, Sasami, and Lord Koji and his parents filed into the room and bowed, saying, "Greetings, Lord Tenchi."

Tenchi turned around, surprised, and bowed, gulping, "Erm, greetings to you, too."

Ayeka introduced them all with forced and ferocious politeness, and a few moments of uncomfortable pleasantries ensued. Tenchi inquired, partly to regain his bearings, "So, did you come here to visit the princesses?"

"Yes," Lord Koji's mother said, so firmly she was almost antagonistic. "Our son is Princess Sasami's betrothed, and of course he was anxious to see her after she had disappeared for so long."

"Indeed," her son agreed with a neutral tone and face.

"Really? Ah. Oh, that must've been terrible, not knowing where she was," Tenchi said. "I feel bad that I couldn't help her get home."

"Oh, no," Lord Koji disagreed. "You've been very kind to her, not least in offering her such hospitality. Were it not for you, the princesses would've been friendless and destitute in an unknown place. We should be grateful to you," he said, bowing and shooting his parents a pointed glance.

"As we are," his father said tightly, bowing, and Lord Koji's mother followed suit.

Tenchi returned the bow, protesting, "Oh, it was the least I could do."

Lord Koji's father announced, "I'm afraid we can't trespass on your hospitality any longer."

The young lord smiled sadly as he said, "Lord Tenchi. It has been an honor to meet you."

"And you," Tenchi said slowly.

"Farewell," the father bid them, and everyone bowed to each other. A moment later, Lord Koji and his family had teleported back to their ship.

Tenchi paused thoughtfully. So Sasami was betrothed too.

Ryoko groused, "Glad that visit was short. Ayeka here is sweetness and light next to those people. And what is with all of these unannounced guests, anyways? Next Juraian who shows up here for any reason has to buy an admission ticket."

"What impudence!" Ayeka said angrily. "This isn't your house! Not that I particularly approve of these visitors, but it is Lord Tenchi's decision about who remains here as a guest!"

Tenchi slipped up the stairs, mumbling, "I just wish someone would tell me when another spaceship arrives!"

Meanwhile, King Azusa of Jurai, standing before a crowd in a memorial park just outside the capital, concluded his tribute by saying, "And so we remember the victims of Tendraken, the first to fall before Kain, as well as all those who perished at his hand, as we remember those who stood against him, and the victory we all won together so long ago."

After they had a moment of silence, the king took a wreath from Queen Masaki. He and she, and Queen Funaho at his other hand, walked towards the memorial stone for the planet Tendraken, which had come to symbolize all who had fallen against Kain. He laid the wreath before the stone, remembering his father, and waited while the queens placed their own wreaths.

Close behind him were his bodyguards, Tetta and Tessei. The king and queens turned to face them, and they stepped forward. King Azusa took each of the bodyguards' hands in turn, saying, "I'm sorry," to each. They replied in turn, "Thank you, your Majesty." Queen Funaho and Queen Masaki smiled sadly at each other as they and the king stood aside and Tetta and Tessei placed their own wreaths on the stone. Brusque as he was, they knew how much even that gesture of empathy meant coming from their reserved king. The bodyguards surely needed it, the queens thought to themselves, since their betrotheds had been among the billions who died on Tendraken.

The royal party and the bodyguards left the area together, clearing the way for the others in the crowd who wished to pay tribute. The queens expressed their sympathies to the bodyguards, in rather more words than their husband.

Tessei told them, "Thank you, Highnesses, but it was a long time ago." Tetta said simply, "We are grateful, your Majesties."

Some time later, after they had returned to the palace in silence, the king asked, "Any word yet from Lord Koji?"

"No, Your Highness," Queen Masaki responded. "Oh, I wish we could've gone with him and stayed awhile - a visit with a nice future son-in-law! - but I know we couldn't with the anniversary of Tendraken about to come."

"In addition," King Azusa added, "we have to be ready to step in and handle matters on Ryuten at any moment. Earth is simply too far from it to visit just now." He looked at Queen Funaho and asked, "Any news on that situation?"

"Only one item of news since the High Coroner went missing," Queen Funaho said with a frown. "There are reports that three beings in black cloaks are directing Lord Tatetsuki's disciples. Apparently, no one has ever seen them on the planet before."

The king took this information in with a grim expression. "Keep alert for any communication. We must all be ready to leave for Ryuten at once. For now, I shall review the legal data already uploaded to us." He turned to Tetta and Tessei. "Unless word comes from Ryuten, you are free this evening."

"Your Majesty, it is not our shift ending yet?" Tessei said quizzically.

The king shook his head. "There are others on duty, and the two of you need this time, no matter how long ago Tendraken was."

"Indeed," Queen Masaki insisted.

Tetta and Tessei bowed and thanked them. Then they set off away from them, down the hall, together.

After some time, Tessei spoke, saying, "Beings in black cloaks? I wonder what that kinsman of ours is up to. I never understood Tatetsuki."

Tetta said nothing. Tessei waited twice as long as usual, then finally tried another topic of conversation. "That Lord Koji, who came to see the Queen about Princess Sasami's location, he turned out to be a decent sort of lord. We need more like him. He's a credit to his parents."

"A credit they did nothing to earn," Tetta uttered darkly. "We grew up with his parents, if you recall."

"Oh, every hateful moment of it," Tessei grunted. "Still, not being that close to them, the moments were few."

Tetta lowered his head, then raised it again and asked abruptly, "Tessei, do you ever wonder if the wrong people died?"

Tessei looked at him, surprised. "What, at Tendraken?"

"Yes, at Tendraken, and elsewhere, everywhere we stood against Kain," Tetta said. He was speaking with bitter rage, which Tessei was used to, but there seemed almost a note of sadness in his voice, which was unusual. "Everywhere he turned, the brave and bold rushed to face him, those given to healing and compassion to help. But they all perished for it, and we even lost King Kazuki. King Azusa stepped into the breach, but he was only one man, and he had to work with the nobles we had left. And what had we left? All we had left were dogs of lords, fit only to give birth to pathetic offspring. That is when we began to go wrong, that is why this generation has so few of merit or even note. Kain stole our future."

Tessei waited a moment, then shrugged and pontificated, "I still think it's the educational system these days. It simply hasn't been the same since the Academy became independent of Jurai - foolish academics don't know how to teach people of gentility."

Tetta was quiet a normal amount of time, then asked, "Are we heading to our estates, then?"

Tessei responded, "Yes, let us be off." As they walked out of the palace, he said, "I always hate this dark day."

Next Chapter

Tenchi and Koji stand beneath a banner saying, "Welcome, Koji!" Tenchi finishes giving a short speech in front of the assembled cast, and concludes by saying, "So, let's all give a warm welcome to our new comrade Koji!"

"Welcome!" everyone says as they clap. There is an exchange of bows, and Koji states, "It is an honor to join you all."

"Let's start eating this wonderful food Sasami's made for the occasion," Tenchi suggests. Mihoshi leads everyone in a cheer before they begin to file over towards the table.

Ryoko walks up to Koji and asks mischievously, "So, Koji, what's it like, being an OC? Knowing that there's no backstory or appearances in actual anime or manga to give you substance? Nobody actually knows who you are, and if this fanfiction disappeared, you'd stop existing - what's it like?"

"Ryoko!" Washu snaps.

Ryoko, of course, continues disobediently, "Knowing that for some, you're just a barely tolerated whim of a dilettante-"

"That's enough!" Tenchi says angrily.

Koji says in an unexpectedly calm voice, "What are we all, if not the whims of authors? Backstories or appearances in an actual published work are nothing more than the fancies of compensated artists."

"Yeah, you're right, you've got it, we are all just whims," Ryoko laughs, putting an arm annoyingly over his shoulders, and whispers in his ear, "But, honestly, the paid ones do tend to be better at making characters. Of course, it doesn't take much to be better than this hack!" She gestures over her shoulder at an irate Dragonwiles. Dragonwiles snorts, resulting in an unfortunate noseful of soot for the innocent Nobuyuki and Ryo-ohki.

"Even if I am a mere whim, I choose to go along with the whims of my maker, and my fellow 'whims', the other characters," Koji states.

Ryoko disagrees, "Naw, don't get suckered in. You've gotta stand up for yourself sometimes, don't always go along with what other people say you've -" She stops short and asks, "How'd you get that food already?" Both she and Koji are still a few meters from the table.

"I brought him some," Sasami explains cheerfully. "It would've been sad if he hadn't gotten any food at his own party!"

"Hadn't gotten any - I haven't gotten any-" Ryoko sputters.

"Hm?" Yosho says, pausing in the midst of chewing on the last item of food, which he had retrieved just moments ago.

"My philosophy does have some advantages," Koji says, somehow managing not to look smug. Ryoko wanders away desolately.

Dragonwiles chuckles appreciatively, then asks, "Wanna take the preview?"

"I'd be honored," he says with a bow. He then addresses the audience and announces, "Tenchi's summer vacation looked like it was going to be normal, until he found himself in the midst of an interstellar quest for justice! The next adventure begins in 'No Need For Justice'!"

"Lousy brat," Ryoko mutters as her stomach roils.

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."

"Yes, Koji and his family are the first otaku characters to make an appearance in this fanfiction. Well, not counting various extras.

"Otaku characters are also known as Original Characters, or OCs. They are characters that a fanfiction author or fan makes up, which don't exist in the series itself.

"I made up Lord Koji and his family because they made sense. Ayeka has a betrothed, and it would only make sense that Sasami would, as well. It's not as though she would've been forgotten just because she's younger, after all! However, we've already had enough 'evil fiance' fun with Seiryo, so I decided Sasami's betrothed ought to be a more decent sort.

"As you probably know, Tetta and Tesei are both just minor characters in the Tenchi Universe arc, but I have always felt that they needed more elaboration. Also, as I was writing the chapter, I realized that we seemed to need more explanation of just why it is that we seem to meet so many single noblemen in the Tenchi universe - Yakage, Tetta, and Tessei at least. I haven't quite settled on Yakage's reason, but I thought that this made sense for Tetta and Tessei, and it gave me a chance to give them backstory and explore their characters.

"Finally, Tendraken is a planet that I made up, and I made up the anniversary ceremony for its destruction, as well. We never are told where Kain first struck."

Chapter 35 Main Chapters Chapter 37