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Chapter 36 Main Chapters Chapter 38

No Need For Justice

Lady Asahi looks up from a wooden sculpture she is carving. Still in a kneeling position, she turns and bows to the audience and says formally, "Please excuse me. I didn't see you there. My name is Lady Asahi Takebe, and I've been asked to be your DJ for this show. The theme song I've selected is the theme song from Earth's motion picture 'Lethal Weapon,' which Dragonwiles doesn't own. I thought it was a relatively close match to the theme of this chapter."

Tenchi paused for a moment while doing his homework, setting his pen down on his desk for a moment. He had been thinking for some days about the upcoming summer vacation, but a new association had occurred to him. When the summer vacation arrived, it would be one year since he had met Ryoko and the others.

Tenchi shook his head. Much of that time had flown by, but looking back on it now, it felt almost like a century ago. So much had changed since then. Now it was as impossible to think of life without his alien houseguests. Even their crazy adventures every so often had begun to feel normal. Somehow he'd grown accustomed to having a ten-legged lion prowling the deck every morning, Mihoshi napping on the deck in the afternoon, and Ryoko and Ayeka bickering on the deck in the evening. (Often their arguments moved to the deck so they could have more room to fly at each other.)

Well, these reflections weren't getting his homework done. He returned himself to dueling his homework, a battle that seemed unlikely to end anytime soon.

On the next morning, after breakfast, Sasami noted with interest, "You're very cheerful today, Mihoshi."

"Oh, yes, I am!" Mihoshi said happily. "I'm going to be taking a big vacation soon!"

Sasami's face fell. "You're going away?" she asked.

"Oh, I think I'll spend a good bit of it here," Mihoshi said reassuringly. "I mean, why wouldn't I? Ooh, maybe we could go to the hot springs again. Or, maybe, I dunno, Tenchi could show me what there is to do in town, tee hee hee! Hm, or maybe we could all go to the beach!" Mihoshi thought. "Kiyone's always been big on swimming. Did you know that she set the GP Academy record for the, I think it's called here, the backstroke?"

Mihoshi's wrist communicator began to flash a brilliant carmine, blare an ear-splitting klaxon, and visibly vibrate on her wrist. Mihoshi looked at it in surprise as Sasami covered her ears and Ryoko phased her head through the wall to demand, "Turn that racket down, Mihoshi!"

Mihoshi tapped at her wrist communicator, which thankfully ended the alarm. A transmission from Kiyone in orbit came through, and Mihsohi asked, "Kiyone, did you change the alert settings on my communicator? It's really loud."

"Yes, I did change them," Kiyone huffed, "because you've slept through every other alarm I've sent you through that thing!"

"Anyhow, what's the problem?" Mihoshi asked disappointedly. "I wanted to get ready for the vacation!"

"There's a Juraian space tree heading near the zone," Kiyone explained tersely. "We need to be ready in case it heads towards us."

"You know, for a forbidden area far from major settlements, we sure get a lot of visitors," Mihoshi reflected aloud.

"Just get back to your ship!" Kiyone shouted.

Sasami leaned towards towards the wrist communicator, and asked, "Hi Kiyone! Whose ship is it?"

Kiyone checked a readout and announced, "Princess Sasami, we just got the transponder signal. It's the Mimasaka, partnered with Asahi Takebe."

Sasami's eyes lit up. "Asahi!" she exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. "Oh, I haven't seen her in so long!" Sasami pulled out her key to Ryu-Oh and exclaimed excitedly at it, "Ryu-Oh, Asahi and Mimasaka are here! Can you please put me through to them!"

"Wow," Mihoshi reflected again, "and all the people who do come by here are people we already know somehow."

About an hour later, Mimasaka had entered Earth's orbit, and Asahi had teleported down to Tenchi's house.

"Asahi, it's been so long since I've seen you! You're practically grown up now!" Sasami exclaimed.

Tenchi stepped out of the house and stood behind Ayeka and Sasami. He didn't know whether Asahi was all grown up, but she did appear to be several years older than Sasami. She also appeared to be seriously worried about something.

"Sasami, it's good to see you too," Asahi said, making a valiant though doomed effort to hide how she was feeling. "Your mother told us you were here, and, we wanted to visit, but, we haven't been able to." She broke off abruptly.

"Is something wrong?" Sasami asked in concern.

"Oh, Sasami," Asahi sniffed as tears began to appear in her eyes. Then she ran forward and clasped Sasami tightly as she whispered, "My father's been imprisoned!"

"Imprisoned?" repeated Sasami.

Tenchi rubbed the back of his head. He felt like he was intruding.

Ayeka stepped forward in surprise. "Your father? What has been happening on Ryuten?"

"They think he's a murderer!" sobbed Asahi.

Tenchi's eyes widened, and Ayeka and Sasami gasped in shock. Then Ayeka strode forward and gently took Asahi and Sasami by the shoulders and said, "Please, come inside."

Tenchi ducked into the house just ahead of them to make some tea. It seemed pitifully inadequate in the face of the suffering the young woman was going through, but it was all he could think of at the moment.

Some time later, Asahi had calmed down somewhat, and begun pouring out her heart to Sasami and Ayeka. Tenchi felt his own presence in the room to be terribly embarrassing. He had only known Asahi for a few minutes - he didn't feel he had the right to be suddenly acquainted with her most crushing problems. Yet he stayed because he felt it might be offensive to leave, and he did want to help, somehow.

"The old master," Asahi said, drying her bloodshot eyes on a handkerchief that had been given her some time ago, "died recently, naming my father head of the school."

Sasami and Ayeka nodded with total comprehension while Tenchi tried to process what she was saying without any sort of context.

"But the master's other, older student, Tatetsuki, he refused to respect the master's decision! He accused my father of murdering the old master!" Asahi came close to tears again. "Tatetsuki has a lot of money and friends, so he was able to get my father locked up. And there are these three men working with him, that have been following me. I had to escape, and find help, but my father's friends told me the route to Jurai was being watched. I didn't know what to do, I had to go somewhere I wouldn't be found."

Sasami said sympathetically, "I'm certainly glad we found you, Asahi. You've had an awful time." She held out her hand, and Asahi grasped it tightly with a shy smile.

A worried expression soon returned to Asahi's face as she asked Sasami, "Sasami, what can I do?"

"We can help!" Sasami said with firm encouragement. "Can't we, Ayeka?" Sasami asked, confident that the answer would be yes.

"I should think so," Ayeka said determinedly while she stood up. "I'm surprised that all this has occurred on Ryuten without anything being done. I shall speak with Ryu-Oh and Washu about establishing communication with Jurai." She left the room.

"Thank you Ayeka, Sasami," murmured Asahi gratefully. She shifted slightly on the couch and noticed Tenchi standing by the door to the kitchen for the first time. "Oh, I'm so sorry! I must not have seen you there. Who are you?"

"He's Tenchi Masaki, our host," Sasami introduced them. "Tenchi, this is Asahi Takebe, one of our oldest friends. She's from Jurai's sister planet Ryuten."

"Pleased to meet you," Tenchi said affably, trying to act natural.

"And you as well," Asahi said quietly. "Your name is Tenchi? Like the legendary royal sword?" She sounded surprised.

"Yeah," Sasami chuckled, "Not only that, but he's one of Yosho's descendants!"

"Your brother Yosho, who's been missing all this time?!" Asahi put a hand in front of her mouth. "Is he alive? Did you find him? And you, Tenchi, are really one of his children?"

Sasami nodded happily. "Tenchi is definitely one of his descendants."

"But did you find Yosho after all this time?" Asahi asked. "I know you and your sister have been looking for years."

"Um," Tenchi began, trying to think fast. His grandfather had seemed to want his identity kept secret for the good of the empire. Asahi might be an old friend of Sasami's, but was it a good idea to just go ahead and tell her?

"I'll tell you just betwen us, OK?" Sasami told Asahi.

"Erm, I think I'd better make some more tea," Tenchi excused himself, still not sure whether or not it was a good idea to tell Asahi.

Tenchi found Ryoko hovering moodily in the kitchen. As soon as she saw him, she plead, "Tenchi, are you going to be stuck with those Juraians all day? Why don't you hang around with people your own age? Like me?"

"Um," Tenchi started to say, then thought better of it and finished, "Never mind," as he started to prepare another pot of tea.

Ryoko crossed her arms and huffed at his back, then stepped forward, phased through the counter, and walked until she was facing him, her legs inside the counter and her torso above it.

"They're all at least 700 years old too, Tenchi!" she pointed out.

"They are?" Tenchi said, then realized how stupid he sounded.

"Yeah, that's how Ayeka and Sasami and I knew each other from that long ago," Ryoko nodded.

Tenchi said irritatedly, "I do understand that, it's just easy to forget when they don't look like it."

"You never forget that with me," pouted Ryoko.

"Ryoko," Tenchi cajoled.

"And I'm much cuter than them!" she continued petulantly.

"Now look," Tenchi insisted, "I don't want any trouble today. Asahi's been through a lot. We ought to be considerate of her."

"Ayeka's the one who makes the trouble, not me," Ryoko insisted.

"Look, Ryoko, please, don't make this difficult, not today," Tenchi said, tiring of the childish argument. "We ought to be helping Asahi figure this out."

"Figure what out?" Ryoko asked, miffed.

Tenchi tried to think of what he meant, and not coming up with much, said, "Figure out what she should do about her problem."

Ryoko put a hand to her chin. "Tenchi, how much do you know about her problem?"

"Only what I've heard," Tenchi said absently as he noticed the the tea was nearly ready.

Ryoko nodded, the answer being what she expected. "Tenchi, you're way too nice. When most people hear about a Juraian problem, they cower in fear and hope it doesn't mean some sort of crazy blood feud will result in problems for their lives."

"That's awful!" Tenchi said.

Ryoko explained, "That girl in there is daughter to the space tree carver of Ryuten. You've probably realized by now that Juraian space trees, along with being the most powerful battleships in known space, are just as smart as you and Ryo-ohki." She reconsidered, "The trees are not quite as smart as Ryo-ohki."

"Tree carver?" Tenchi repeated. "Wait, let me bring this in to them."

He hurried off with the tea, and then returned. "So, her father is a gardener, except the plants have feelings just like we do?"

"Not quite like we do, but you get the point," Ryoko nodded. "It's a bit tough to carve something that's alive and that can fry anything in known space."

"So that's why it's so important, important enough to have a formal school," Tenchi deduced.

"Also, whoever holds that position," Ryoko informed him, "necessarily wins the trust of whatever trees they work with, just like you trust a doctor. Ryuten has long been the exclusive space tree nursery."

Tenchi paused. "Ryoko, how do you know all this?"

She frowned and bent her head. "It was taught to me long ago. In an unpleasant way." She raised her head again and rapidly shifted the subject. "Tenchi, don't get me wrong. I'm always up for taking out a few cocky Juraians. Are you going to help this girl? You can count Ryo-ohki and me in."

He blinked. "Really, Ryoko? Thank you. I think I'll have to take you up on that, since we haven't really got many other spaceships." He started to head back to the living room, but paused and added, "I'm sorry, about bringing up Kagato."

Ryoko shook her head. "You didn't know. Kagato taught me a lot about Jurai and its upper crust, to make me better at breaking them. Don't feel like you have to apologize. You did nothing wrong."

Tenchi nodded and went in.

Ayeka watched with relief as Washu stretched. "Okay," Washu declared, examining the device, "I think that last little bug is worked out. Now that we've got the signal rerouted through a different relay station, we should have enough range to get communication with Jurai."

"Many thanks, Little Washu," Ayeka said gratefully.

"No problem! I knew I could do it! I am a genius!" Washu cackled as she ambled away to another part of her massive lab.

Ayeka used the communications device, synchronizing it with her sunken Ryu-Oh's transmitter, entering the proper communications protocols, and finally got through to her father. King Azusa's image appeared on the large screen before her. She recognized the background - he was seated in one of his secure communication rooms at the palace.

"Father," she said, bowing politely, "it is good to see you."

He bowed back, saying gruffly, "You as well, daughter. I was wondering when you would call."

"I am afraid the reason is somewhat unpleasant, Father," Ayeka said, somewhat discomfited by his last comment. "We have just heard disturbing news from Lady Asahi Takebe."

King Azusa frowned. "Ah, Lady Takebe. Yes, the troubles on Ryuten have been weighing on me. The situation will be difficult to resolve."

Ayeka in turn frowned. "Father, I am not sure I understand what is so difficult about the situation."

"I imagine you have already heard her side of the story," King Azusa surmised. "And I grant that there are valid points against Tatetsuki. Those three helpers of his are suspicious, as is his refusal to accept his master's decision about who would carry on the school. It sounds just how we should expect a jealous and rebellious student might act to gain power not granted him by the old master."

"On the other hand," the king continued, "there are suspicious points against Lady Takebe's father as well. Tatetsuki was the senior student, and many held him to be more technically skilled than Lord Nomori Takebe. Yet the old master suddenly reaches his deathbed, and suddenly names Nomori to be the one who will solely carry on the school. This is all extremely convenient for a junior student who had no apparent hope of having any portion in the power of the tree carvers."

"Father, I am not sure what to say," Ayeka replied, confused. "I can see how some might be taken in by this reasoning, but Lord Takebe is a man of character. Sasami and I know this, and you do as well."

He shook his head, "That almost makes it worse, Ayeka. Lord Takebe is my friend and a supporter. If I have him freed, it will appear that I perverted justice for a friend's sake. It might actually weaken his position and strengthen Tatetsuki."

"I understand your meaning father," Ayeka paused for words, "but surely the situation cannot be left as it is!"

"I agree. We must see that justice is done. And the tree-carver is too important a role to be filled by an unjust man," nodded the king. "But if Jurai appears to be partial to one side or the other, everyone will become convinced we are unjust, even if we actually do acquit the right one and punish whomever is wrong."

"Father," Ayeka asked after thinking carefully a moment, "how if I were to set out for Ryuten and investigate these matters myself?"

"You would have to do so very carefully," the king told her. "You will be a target of criticism, as well as a target of physical attacks. I have heard ugly rumors from Ryuten of Tatetsuki's aides, and of Lord Takebe's followers meeting in secret. But things are too important for nothing to be done, and you can never have too much experience treading delicately. Go with my authority. Use it well."

"I shall, Father. Thank you. Whatever the truth is, I will act upon it," Ayeka bowed.

Her father returned the bow and closed the communication.

Asahi looked up nervously as Ayeka reentered the living room. "What did the king say?" Asahi asked fearfully.

Ayeka smiled confidently for Asahi's benefit. "Father has commissioned me to investigate the matter fully. I shall leave for Ryuten at once."

Asahi eyes grew moist as she clasped Sasami's hand and said, "Thank you so much, Ayeka."

Sasami asked quickly, "Can I come too?"

Ayeka hesitated a moment. Tatetsuki's three mysterious henchmen cast shadows on her thoughts. And what if Asahi's father were guilty, and Sasami had to watch her friend's father be condemned?

However, Ayeka considered further, her sister was a princess of Jurai, who was growing older. Distance would not shield her from such possibilities forever. Sasami was ready and willing to grow into her responsibilities, and Ayeka wished to help her.

So Ayeka nodded to her younger sibling, who smiled and hugged Asahi.

Tenchi leaned forward from his seat and cleared his throat, startling Asahi. Tenchi offered uncomfortably, "Ayeka, I'm about to go on summer vacation, so I'll be off school for a while. I was thinking; would it help if I came?"

"Why yes, Lord Tenchi," Ayeka replied, surprised but pleased. "We'd be very grateful for your protection."

Asahi blinked at Tenchi, "We've only just met, and you would do this for my family?"

Tenchi said thoughtfully, "Well, no, I haven't known you long, but, well. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't like the thought of someone being falsely accused."

Asahi bowed from her seated position and said weakly, "Our family is deeply grateful, Lord Tenchi."

Tenchi smiled weakly and said, "You're welcome." In his head, he was thinking about how now another Juraian besides Ayeka was calling him Lord Tenchi. He still felt like a normal guy from Earth.

At that moment, Mihoshi bounded into the room, trailed by Kiyone. At first Kiyone looked more sedate than her partner, but scrutiny of her face revealed deep thought and a ravenous, almost frightening, hunger.

"We're ready to go!" Mihoshi announced.

Ayeka asked warily, "Ready to go and do what?"

Kiyone said to Ayeka and Asahi, "Princess Ayeka, Lady Asahi, although this case is Juraian and therefore outside our jurisdiction, we would like to accompany you and bring this matter to justice. We would be off-duty, since we are obliged to take our accumulated leave, but we can still be of aid."

Mihoshi said cheerily, "I knew Kiyone would do it if I told her it was a mystery! She can't resist a good case!"

Kiyone clenched her fists and snarled, "Mihoshi!"

Ayeka offered, with desperate gallantry, "Really, I wouldn't dream of imposing on your vacation. Please, you do work so hard to protect this planet all the time, you really do need some rest."

"Oh, that's so kind of you!" Mihoshi acknowledged perkily, "but our bags are already packed and our substitutes just eased into orbit, and really, it's no problem for us, we like busting crime! Right, Kiyone?"

"It's a reason I became a Galactic Police officer," Kiyone said, the hunger returning to her eyes. She didn't blame Ayeka for not wanting Mihoshi along, but Kiyone had to be in on this one. It had been years since she had worked a real case, and she wasn't about to pass this opportunity up. Mihoshi would never dream of leaving Kiyone, and though it was sometimes annoying, loyalty was one of Mihoshi's traits Kiyone could never hate. They were in this together, and so everyone would simply have to endure Mihoshi's other traits on this trip.

"We do so appreciate your willingness to help," Ayeka said with a strained smile. There was no point in upsetting Asahi with an argument, and she was interested in seeing Kiyone at work.

Ryoko floated into the room, carrying Ryo-ohki in her arms and petting her. Ryoko looked at Asahi and asked, "So, whose ship are we taking? Mine or yours?"

Asahi was petrified.

"Okay, then," Ryoko grinned, "Tenchi and I can go on Ryo-ohki, and all the rest of you can go on Asahi's ship."

Ayeka nearly spat in outrage, "Juraian space trees are not soulless vessels! Mimasaka will decide, along with Lady Asahi, who shall board her!"

"Hey, Ryo-ohki isn't soulless either," Ryoko said mischievously, "and we already decided that between us. I was just trying to find out what Mimasaka and Asahi had decided."

"That is not what you were doing!" Ayeka retorted.

Asahi blanched and spoke in a strangled voice. "Ryoko? The supercriminal who assaulted Jurai?" Her stare had turned nearly cross-eyed.

"Relax, Asahi!" Sasami encouraged her. "There's nothing to worry about."

"Yeah, she's different now," Tenchi assured Asahi.

"Thank you, Sasami, Tenchi dear," Ryoko said in a syrupy voice.

Ayeka demanded, "How dare you be so familiar with Lord Tenchi!"

"But," Asahi squeaked, "what is she doing here?"

"Annihilating all things good and true," Ryoko teased.

"I am almost ashamed to agree with you," Ayeka shuddered.

"Hey," Tenchi said, getting up and going towards Asahi, who was on the verge of hyperventilation. "Really, you're not in any danger. Ryoko's on our side. You can trust us on this." He cast about for some means of further reassuring her, and decided to try clasping her shoulder reassuringly. As soon as he did so, however, her eyes fully crossed and her head slumped back against the couch.

Tenchi snatched his hand back and asked with guilt and dismay, "Is she okay?"

"Asahi?" Sasami asked, cradling her friend's head. Ayeka and Kiyone crowded closer, so Ryoko floated upwards for a clearer view.

Kiyone finally said, "I think she's just fainted."

"She does that sometimes when she gets really nervous," Sasami said apologetically to Tenchi.

Tenchi sighed. "It never works when I do stuff like that."

Ryoko floated towards him and said eagerly, "Hey, you can practice-"

"Not now, Ryoko," Tenchi sighed again as he headed towards the stairs, "I need to get my stuff together and leave a note for Dad and Grandpa."

Next Chapter

Washu looks at her detailed notes and says, "Well, it looks like we're going to be starting another arc now. Finally! I thought we were going to be stuck in episodic chapters forever!"

Kiyone demurred, "I rather like the discipline that a shorter story forces on the author. It forces the author to put more thought into every line. I was enjoying seeing the story develop within each chapter, as well as its connections with the preceding and succeeding chapters."

"Well, let me tell you one thing," Washu informed Kiyone, "if you like short stories, you never should've signed on with Dragonwiles. Long-winded should be part of the pen name!"

"How would you know?" Dragonwiles unexpectedly slithers close and demands. "This is our first fanfiction together."

"Simple, I've been reading your other fanfictions on the site," Washu says unperturbed.

"I've got some one-shots on there!" Dragonwiles points out defensively.

Washu shakes her head and comments, "Compared to how many multichaptered stories?"

"Are either of you actually going to do a chapter preview here?" Dragonwiles grumbles.

"I'm on it," Kiyone offers. She begins, "In the next chapter, we board Mimasaka, and begin our interstellar quest for justice. Some detective work reveals an unexpected angle to the case." "Oh, a plot twist!" Washu says with interest. "Dragonwiles doesn't usually try those." "No, I think it's just a way of introducing another setting," Kiyone demurs. Dragonwiles says through gritted teeth, "Thank you, ladies, that's quite enough." Kiyone and Washu walk off together, Washu explaining more things that she's observed about Dragonwiles' writing style.

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."

"Well, I totally made up Kiyone setting the GP Academy backstroke record. It just seemed vaguely appropriate. Hey, I was just making up some dialogue.

"I totally modified the way that Asahi arrives on Earth. In the manga, she arrives because she thought Minagi was chasing her. But I've got Minagi on trial at the moment, so I needed another route. I think this worked out."

Chapter 36 Main Chapters Chapter 38