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Chapter 42 Main Chapters Chapter 44

No Need For Summer Vacation

Ryo-Ohki meows happily at a studio microphone. In all likelihood, this measn that Dragonwiles has selected her as this chapter's DJ. She presses a button, and the ending theme song of the first Tenchi OVA, "Ren Ai No Sainou", begins to play. Ryo-Ohki adds, via further meows, that Dragonwiles owns neither the song nor the OVA in question. Then she happily takes a final bite of carrot, chews vigorously, swallows, and happily hops off.

The old man stumbled out of the prison a few hours after Lord Nomori Takebe was released. "At last I am free!" he muttered to himself. "But what am I going to do? Tatetsuki imprisoned me for speaking against him, when really I only meant to be thinking to myself thoughts about how wrong he was. But what am I going to do now that he's no longer in power! I mean, I never even got to even think to myself everything I was going to think about that tyrant! And now none of it matters! Oh, it just isn't the same if I think to myself about it now."

He continued muttering as he disappeared over the horizon, heading in the direction of his home.

Asahi and the others had Mimasaka teleport them from the prison to a hospital so that Gohgei could get treatment, and all of them could rest. Mihoshi dropped off to sleep in a chair outside Gohgei's room. Kiyone sat in a chair beside her, mentally reviewing what had occurred. Sasami was with them for a time, then later teleported away at Ayeka's request so she and Tenchi could further discuss recent events. Lord Takebe stared silently at the door, lost in his own thoughts.

Asahi was pacing outside of the treatment room in a widening circuit, gradually getting closer and closer to the chair where Washu sat, silent and far from the others. Finally Asahi paused in front of Washu, almost not daring to look into her eyes. "You knew when you set out from Earth that my father was the one who wrongfully accused you. Is that true?"

Washu smiled kindly. "It's funny. I knew you were his daughter as soon as you walked in the door. There's a strong family resemblance."

"And you still came to help us, to free him," Asahi choked.

Washu hugged her about the waist and said reassuringly, "Asahi, I forgave your father long ago. And none of it was your fault."

"Thank you, Little Washu," Asahi said quietly as she returned Washu's embrace and let drops fall from her eyes.

A bit later, Gohgei was discharged from the hospital, in his detransformed state, and with yet another haircut at his request.

Tenchi and the others were there to meet him. After the initial greetings and expressions of gladness that they had all survived, the conversation spluttered to a halt.

"So, what should we do now?" Tenchi asked. Go home, he supposed, but it seemed anticlimactic. Maybe Ayeka and Sasami would want to visit with their friend Asahi for a few days. In fact, since Ryuten was a lot closer to Jurai than Earth was, maybe the princesses would stay here and continue on to Jurai, while he went back to Earth. That was a sad thought.

"Why, there is only one thing that is right and proper for us to do," Lord Takebe said, standing up straighter and more proudly than he had before (though he still had tangles in his hair and beard). "We must honor and entertain our brave friends who have given us justice and restored our freedom!"

He addressed them each, one by one, "Princess Ayeka, Princess Sasami," and he bowed deeply to each in turn. They reflected him gladly.

"Gohgei, my dear friend!" Lord Takebe cried as he they embraced manfully.

Lord Takebe only barely flinched, but then shrugged, just before he bowed to "Ryoko, the space pirate!" She bowed with an ironic smile.

"The eminent and merciful Washu," he turned to her. "Hey, Little Washu will do, okay!" she replied chipperly as they bowed.

"Detective Kiyone, Detective Mihoshi," he honored them.

"And of course-" Lord Takebe turned to Tenchi and suddenly paused. "Oh, dear. In all the excitement, I never did learn your name. And here you bravely faced down Lord Ohsa of Yatsuka, and a horde of Tatetsuki's disciples for me!"

"No, I apologize, I never introduced myself," Tenchi waved his hand in negation. "I'm Tenchi Masaki." He bowed.

"Lord Tenchi Masaki," Ayeka put in significantly.

"If you insist," Tenchi agreed awkwardly.

Lord Takebe repeated, "Lord Tenchi Masaki, I thank you," and they bowed to one another.

A plaintive cry of "Meow meow meow!" erupted from the ground near Ryoko.

"Who are you?" Lord Takebe asked, suddenly spotting a brown humanoid child near Ryoko that he was almost certain hadn't been there before.

"This is Ryo-ohki," Ryoko said, fondly rubbing the black hair on top of the child's head.

Lord Takebe gaped, but Washu said, "Yes, she's serious."

"And of course, Ryo-ohki," he said, bowing to her.

Then he turned to Asahi and said, "And of course, I do thank my dear daughter. Thank you Asahi." Everyone smiled as she blushed and returned his deep bow.

"Please, you must all stay at my home," Lord Nomori said to the group. "I must have the opportunity to show my gratitude further."

"That'd be wonderful, thank you!" enthused Sasami. She took Asahi's hands and said, "Oh, it seems like so long since I've been to your house!"

Tenchi found himself strangely drawn to this offer. It seemed like it was too early for this adventure to end, and he had barely gotten to see Ryuten, what with all the fighting he'd had to do. He suddenly remembered something - "I'd really enjoy that, Lord Takebe," Tenchi said aloud, "but I was just thinking. I've been away for a few days, and I'd like to send my family a message. I'm just not sure how that'll be possible."

"Leave it to me and the Galactic TV I installed in your living room!" Washu said with a wink.

Nobuyuki was heating up some instant ramen for dinner when he heard a strange noise from the living room.

He walked into the room as it was being deserted by the last rays of sunset. He reached for the lightswitch, but the bulb flickered briefly before going out. He sighed, then realized the room was not as dark as it should've been. There was a strange, flickering glow.

Chills began to crawl along Nobuyuki's flesh. He was sure the TV hadn't been on before. And it sounded like noises were coming out of it, too.

He walked to stand in front of the screen, almost as tall as he was. It was crawling with static, but sometimes he could pick out the shadow of a giant humanoid in there. And it was moaning at him.

"Nobuyuki!" the giant shape crackled at him.

Unreasoningly, Nobuyuki screamed.

Then the picture slowly resolved itself into a bright and crisp picture of Washu, standing someplace where it looked like early afternoon. She said, "Nobuyuki, you reading me?"

"Oh, it's just you, Washu," Nobuyuki said, and laughed in relief.

"Yeah, your son wanted to talk to you," Washu continued. Tenchi leaned his head into the picture and said, "Hi dad!"

"Hi Tenchi!" his dad said enthusiastically. "How are you and the girls doing?"

"Oh, we're all fine," Tenchi told him. "We're finally on Ryuten, and everything's straightened out. Asahi's father has invited us to stay at their house. Is that okay with you?"

"Sure is!" Nobuyuki approved. "It's summer vacation, so be sure and have plenty of fun out there, Tenchi! Let us know when you're coming back, okay?"

"I sure will, Dad. See you later!" Tenchi waved.

Nobuyuki waved back, then the TV turned off. He headed back to the kitchen and said to himself excitedly, "Wow, that was really creepy! I ought to tell the grandkids this story! Soon as I get some!"

That evening, they enjoyed a great feast in Lord Takebe's mansion, shared with all of his disciples. Already it seemed that the house, only released by the government after Lord Takebe was cleared, was becoming a home once more. The dining hall's high and wide doors were open to stately woods in a deep valley below. The setting sun threw glorious colors over all the sky, and a breeze brought in the scent of flowering trees and rich sap.

Sophisticated robots that looked to have been intricately carved from wood served the food, under the direction of a capable butler. The meal was a joyous one, with much laughter. Many of the dishes were local ones, unfamiliar to most of Tenchi's group, but they soon developed quite a taste for it. Tenchi realized almost too late that he was growing piggish with the root pudding.

As the meal came to a conclusion, Sasami stood up. "I felt it was only right that we recognize someone very special who's been the key to all of this. If it wasn't for this person's courage and determination to find help, we probably wouldn't have been able to do anything."

Asahi modestly shrank into herself, but Sasami continued, "Let's all recognize my friend Asahi!"

There were many cheers around the table as Asahi smiled gratefully at them all.

On the planet Jurai, Sasami and Ayeka's father, the king, was working on the many complex tasks demanding his attention. Not needing his senior bodyguards at the moment, they had set about inspecting the palace's defenses. The senior bodyguards spoke to one another as they strode briskly down a corridor of the palace.

"Tatetsuki has shamed our entire clan," Tessei fumed. "Wrongfully imprisoning a fellow lord of Jurai! I never thought much of Tatetsuki, but to think he would so arrogantly take on Lord Takebe is incredible. What nerve! Had he no thought for our clan's honor?"

Tetta ventured darkly, "Perhaps that is what Tatetsuki was thinking of."

"Eh?" grunted Tessei, throwing an odd glance at Tetta.

"It was Tatetsuki who was first shamed by Master Houran," Tetta elaborated. "Master Houran supplanted Tatetsuki's rights as the senior and most skilled student when he picked Lord Takebe as new heir of the Hou school."

"I don't claim to know anything about how to carve a space tree, except in battle," Tessei threw his hands in the air impatiently, "so don't begin that nonsense about whom was more skilled. And what the tree carvers do with their own school is their business, so long as they keep my Daisuke in top condition. If Tatetsuki felt embarrassed, he should've contained himself and retired instead of embroiling our family in scandal."

"There is no scandal in losing a political struggle against Lord Takebe," suggested Tetta coolly.

"There is, when you do it like Tatetsuki did!" Tessei scoffed. "I shall not be in the gallery at his trial. He can take his just deserts."

"You're siding with Lord Takebe against our own flesh and blood?" Tetta asked with an icy voice.

"Tatetsuki should take what he deserves for his foolishness," Tessei said in irritation. "I think an example would be made of him so our clan and all of Jurai doesn't degenerate further! But I'm no flattering knave to Lord Takebe. He should've trained his own students better. They left him in jail to rot!"

Tessa noted with frigid sarcasm, "I hear that he counseled patience and ordered them to abide by the law."

"That almost got his daughter murdered! When the safety of one's clan is at stake, you should have bigger concerns!" Tettei said incredulously.

A floating robot, shaped like an elegant branch with budding leaves turned into their path from a side corridor. It chimed at them as they came to a halt. They bowed as the robot projected a hologram of Queen Misaki, commander of the royal bodyguards.

"We shall be visiting Ryuten to confirm the new space tree carver soon," she informed the captains. "Get a security detail ready for the king, Queen Funaho, and myself."

"At once, your Highness," they said smoothly. The hologram disappeared, the robot flew away, and the two Juraians continued down the hall, with new destinations.

The next week seemed to pass in an instant. Lord Takebe and Asahi and Gohgei were eager to show Tenchi and the others around Ryuten. Ayeka and Sasami had been there many times, but not recently, and they found their own enthusiasm rekindled as they saw the others experience the planet for the first time.

They explored the woods near the Lord Takebe's home first, following a river to a magnificent waterfall. Washu noted some fowl, really flying spiral creatures, roosting on rocks. They were of the same species as Sasami's pets now living on Earth. Asahi later confirmed that she had given these to Sasami.

Lord Takebe took them to hot springs on the north edge of that continent, much to Mihoshi's delight, and in the evenings they all went out on the town. The whole gang soon learned of Kiyone's passion for karaoke, although in the eyes of some of them, it was a good thing, since it meant they had to sing less themselves.

Gohgei lead a hike up one of the mountains near the hot springs resort. Though the climb was challenging, the view was awe-inspiring, as Gohgei's leadership got them to a vista of the valleys below in time for sunrise.

As they began the climb back down, Ryoko retold to Tenchi - "for the eleventh time this week!" Ayeka noted under her breath - the story of her grand stand against the onslaught of Tatetsuki's evil students. "Isn't it great, Tenchi!" Ryoko asked enthusiastically, "I'm turning over a new leaf! Finally, I am becoming one of the good guys!" Tenchi replied politely, the sincerity having been dulled by the eleven repetitions, "That's great, Ryoko!" She giggled and beamed, and tried to put her arms around his shoulders, but as he was navigating a mountain path she soon found herself unable to continue this without imperiling him.

Ayeka felt her anger draining away to be replaced by sadness. What right did she have to be jealous? From what she could tell, Tenchi didn't regard Ryoko as more than a friend. Not as though he regarded her, Ayeka, as anything more. In all their adventures, he had been a fierce warrior, a faithful friend, a perfect gentleman. But he had never been more to her, and she was never anything more to him.

Why was that so? Was she not good enough? Did he not realize what she thought of him? Did he not realize that he himself had set her future free from the betrothal to that despicable Seiryo? Did he simply regard her as an alien, someone he could befriend, but not someone he would seriously intend to spend a lifetime with?

Ayeka wondered if she should say something to him, try to tell him, even give him a hint. But so far it did not seem to have worked, and she thought frustratedly that she did not know how to communicate such things. She was accustomed to direct action, and such subtlety seemed beyond her reach. And she feared the destruction of precious moments such as this should she say the wrong words.

So they all trudged down the mountain, remarking repeatedly upon the excellent view.

It was about a day or two after that that the royal family of Jurai arrived to officially confirm Lord Takebe as the next head of space tree carving. His space tree and Asahi's tree Mimasaka proceeded proudly overhead in spots of honor, flying in formation with the King and Queen's own space trees, while on the ground below Lord Takebe stood with Asahi and the King and Queens before a throng of well-wishers. In due course, the king officially thanked everyone for their role in uncovering Tatetsuki's plot. He called to his side at the podium, amidst thundering applause, Gohgei, Washu, Mihoshi, Kiyone, Tenchi, and even Ryoko. If there were uncertainties in the crowd about the safety of being so near the legendary space pirate, Ryoko's peaceable demeanor and constant waving to the crowd must have assuaged them, for the crowd cheered for her as well. Ayeka and Sasami presented each with medals.

After that, the Royal Family and the honored guests took a tour of some of the main tree nurseries and carving workshops. Lord Takebe and Asahi were quite obviously pleased by the royalty's admiration of the next generation of space trees. They also couldn't help but be amused by Washu's enthusiastic examination of the labs where computers, shield enhancers, and extra weapons were deftly and painlessly integrated into the sentient space trees.

On the next day, it soon became clear that the royal family was also seeking a vacation and precious time with their daughters Ayeka and Sasami. Everyone soon found themselves at a gorgeous seaside resort, the most expensive and exclusive on Ryuten.

On their first afternoon at the resort, King Azusa headed into the personal fitness concourse, his feet treading the familiar path to the sparring room. He was surprised to find it already occupied by Tenchi. He stepped into the room quietly as Tenchi completed a routine. He was facing the other side of the room and had been executing some complex maneuvers, so did not notice his visitor until then.

Azusa asked abruptly, "Would you do me the honor of sparring with me, Lord Tenchi?"

Tenchi blinked. Then he replied, "The honor would be mine, Your Majesty."

Azusa nodded, and without further ado, began to warm up with traditional Juraian calisthenics. This Tenchi, he thought to himself, had to be good in order to defeat Kagato and Yakage, that went without saying. But of course one always had to see for oneself. And of course, even if he was good, that didn't mean that he was good enough.

Certainly, Azusa mused, his own son Yosho would have trained Tenchi well in the techniques, but Tenchi had no one else to practice against on Earth. That could prove dangerous for Tenchi. Juraian swordplay techniques were not the only ones in existence, and being unable to defend against unfamiliar tactics could prove deadly. Better to expose such weaknesses now than in circumstances in which his daughters' lives could hang in the balance.

So, after they bowed, Azusa came at Tenchi with a heavy swing favored by some of the pirate scum - inelegant, unsubtle, but all too effective upon far too many travelers. Tenchi's face registered his surprise, and Azusa smiled. A moment later, Tenchi had neatly parried the attack and moved backwards, circling to the right of Azusa.

They continued in this way, unfamiliar attacks meeting familiar defenses. Sometimes Tenchi wasn't able to counter the blows, but he never complained. After a few minutes, Azusa could clearly see that Tenchi was remembering as well. He saw Azusa coming in with an attack that previously had scored, and Tenchi responded with a different block than his usual block, which had failed previously. Though this block also would not have prevented bodily harm, it did at least reduce the damage from a fatal blow to a glancing wound. Tenchi even once used upon Azusa a new attack that Azusa had used upon him. It didn't work quite correctly, but it did score. In any case, it wasn't as though the pirates who had used that technique against Azusa cared about exactness of their form.

They were both breathing heavily when they finally ended the practice and began their cool-down stretching. As Azusa faced the door to leave, he said, "Well done, Yos- Tenchi." He left before he felt too foolish for his verbal slip-up.

Tenchi stared at the door, surprised but, after a moment to process what had occurred, pleased.

Azusa walked quickly away. Tenchi was definitely a credit to Yosho. But he wanted to see Tenchi prove himself much more. Clearly he'd have to come up with more tests.

Many glorious days of sunshine were spent at that resort. They went to the beach almost as soon as they arrived, enjoying the salty spray and the cool ocean, and the warm caress of the sun. The sand was incredible, with a light, smooth touch like flour or talcum powder on their bare feet. They all spent a great deal of their time outdoors on that waterfront, swimming or relaxing on the beach.

Tenchi was confused one day when Ryoko suddenly developed an interest in sunbathing. She began to lie on the beach for hours at a time, and unexpectedly would languorously rise onto her elbows and ask Tenchi for a drink, or a magazine to lie on her face, or suntan lotion (but there was none on Ryuten - they used nanobots which simply swarmed over a person's body and applied a biodegradable and organic solar radiation shield.) Eventually, seeing that Tenchi was only bemused, Ryoko abandoned this idea she had gleaned from Earth TV, and that was the last time that week Tenchi ever saw her inactive. It was quite a relief to him - he'd almost started to wonder if Ryoko were ill or bored.

On another evening, he noticed that while he and the others went out to various activities, Gohgei and Lord Takebe stayed behind at their room on the resort. But they talked a lot with each other, so he didn't think it odd.

On the next evening, Tenchi noticed a few minutes into dinner on the balcony that Gohgei and Asahi still weren't back from their walk. He shrugged. Perhaps they were enjoying the scenery. It was a beautiful sunset.

And on the following morning, he woke up and could've sworn that he heard Asahi and Sasami talking in low, excited voices, and Sasami was giggling quite a bit. He meant to ask about it later, but he forgot.

Mihoshi and Kiyone walked along the beach, parallel to the crashing foam. Some meters behind them, Sasami and her mother, Queen Misaki, were chattering excitedly as they set up a trap to catch crabs and other crustaceans of Ryuten. Kiyone told Mihoshi, "You know, that was good work you did. It's been awhile since we had to do Riot Formation, but you did it perfectly. I'm glad you're backing me up."

"Oh, thanks, Kiyone!" Mihoshi gushed. "I'm so glad you're my partner too! You've always done so great at that sort of stuff. And me, I just barely scraped by! I know you've been kinda disappointed with how I've been doing lately, but, really, I am trying! So I'm glad to hear you say that."

Kiyone smiled and shook her head. Mihoshi was something. "I know you are, Mihoshi, I know." And she knew that trying wasn't enough for Mihoshi sometimes. Or rather, trying was more than enough of a description of what Mihoshi was. But still, someone who would stand shoulder to shoulder with you, be friend through thick and thin, that was worth something. Worth some annoyance, anyways.

"So, when are you going to find a nice guy, Kiyone?" Mihoshi said inquisitively.

But not worth too much annoyance.

"Mihoshi!" Kiyone shouted.

It was the next to last day of the trip. Tenchi paused as he saw Ayeka coming out of her room in the megasuite the royal family had rented for everyone. She turned to face him, curious, and he said awkwardly, "Actually, I've been meaning to say this for a few days, but I wasn't quite sure how," he said awkwardly. "I was very impressed with how you handled everything. I mean, it must've been hard for you, what with your friend Asahi involved. But you were very impartial, and you were decisive. I admire that, and I thought I ought to tell you."

"I appreciate that, Lord Tenchi. You're very kind," Ayeka said, dropping her gaze a moment, then giving him a grand smile.

How ridiculous it had been to despond so! He esteemed her! He regarded her! He had been watching her, even when she hadn't realized it! How could she have thought there was no hope?

This was only a beginning, of course, she reminded herself. He still saw her only as a friend. But perhaps there was hope. And certainly there was everything to gain from persistence. Maybe, if she were patient, he would come to see her as more than just a friend.

The same way, she was certain now, that she saw him.

On the day that Mimasaka completed the trip and returned them to Earth, Tenchi drew increasingly despondent. He managed a cheerful smile goodbye to Asahi and Gohgei and Lord Takebe, who had insisted on escorting everyone back, and he waved cheerfully at Mimasaka, who beamed her own farewell through the communications equipment in the key on his belt.

But it was still with a pallor and gloomy countenance that he trudged up the stairs to his room.

"Is something wrong with Tenchi?" Mihoshi anxiously asked Nobuyuki, and Ayeka and Ryoko listened closely for the answer.

"Oh, no, just the last day of summer vacation." Nobuyuki reassured her. He put down the newspaper a moment and sighed, reminiscing. "Those always were the worst."

Upstairs, in his room, Tenchi stretched, retied the white bandana to his forehead, and bent to the immense load of summer homework that still remained.

Next Chapter

"What is this, a romance novel?" King Azusa asks, flipping through the script of the chapter just completed. He glares at Tenchi.

"Um," Tenchi says awkwardly, since of course he didn't write the script, "anyhow, we'd better go on to the next chapter now. See, in the next chapter, we go on to a new arc."

"I'm still exhausted from the last one!" Mihoshi complains.

"We just had weeks of R & R!" Kiyone says in astonishment.

"Anyhow, in the next arc, we face off against another dangerous being, but we're going to do it in a totally unexpected setting," Tenchi continues.

"And guess what!" Nobuyuki exclaims. "This time, my help is going to be important! Yep, I'm still valuable and useful around here!"

"Of course you are, Dad," Tenchi says reassuringly. "The next chapter is No Need for the Arrow of Time".

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.

"I don't believe we ever know the names of the space trees that partner with Tessei and Tetta, so I made up the name of Daisuke for Tessei's space tree partner. In fact, I don't believe that we ever know for certain if they have space trees of their own in canon. I've decided that they do.

"Pretty nearly everything in this chapter didn't occur in any canon Tenchi, especially not the manga. But I wanted to wrap up the arc, feeling it needed more resolution, and I had some ideas I really liked, some which I had for awhile, others which I came up with on the spot. So I made the chapter!"

Chapter 42 Main Chapters Chapter 44