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Chapter 52 Main Chapters Chapter 54

No Need For A Grudge

Sasami says, "Hi, it's me, Sasami Masaki Jurai again! I've been asked to be your DJ another time, and I'm very glad."

"For this chapter's theme song," Sasami says as she queues it up, "we'll be doing 'Anna Ni Issho Datta No Ni'. You may recognize it as the first ending song of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, but I think it's very appropriate for this chapter. Naturally Dragonwiles doesn't own either."

"You know, when I was doing this chapter," Sasami admits, "I cried, I was that sad. So, I hope you all enjoy this chapter very much!"

The melancholy strains of the opening violin piece for 'Anna Ni Issho Datta No Ni' begins to play.

Tenchi and Nobuyuki stood near the door of Yukinojo. Tenchi asked one last question of Mihoshi - actually, it wasn't really his last question, but it was the last one that he had time to ask. "And, the ratings for inertial dampeners are different from the ratings for the time dilation compensators? So high numbers are good for compensators but not for dampeners?"

"Almost, Tenchi," Mihoshi said encouragingly, "but dampeners need high numbers, and compensators need lower numbers. You can remember it like I do - dampen more, compensate less!"

"Um, OK," Tenchi said. He could still only barely follow the logic, and her statement didn't really make any sort of sense, but for some reason it did seem memorable.

"I know you'll do fine, Tenchi!" Mihoshi reassured him, clapping him on the back. "Just come back in one piece!"

Nobuyuki reassured her, "I'm sure we will."

Mihoshi waved at them both and moved out of view. The others had already said their goodbyes. The hatch opened, and Nobuyuki and Tenchi stepped out into the spaceport.

The spaceport, contrary to what they expected from a criminal refuge just outside the Uninhabitable Zones, was rather clean and brightly, though starkly, lit. The various aliens all seemed to be briskly walking about or talking and doing business. The furtive behavior of the people, as well as various ugly looks and occasional shouts, hinted that many of the problems here lurked just below the surface.

As they passed a wall screen showing various portraits, Nobuyuki nudged Tenchi in the side gently. "Hey, son, check it out! We're famous!" He chuckled softly.

"Dad," Tenchi murmured.

The two of them kept walking, but Nobuyuki chuckled and said, "I'm worth 40 billion of something! I don't know that I've ever been worth that to anyone before!"

"40 billion?" Tenchi shook his head.

"Hey, don't be disappointed, you're worth 60 billion," Nobuyuki pointed out cheerfully. "Yep, sixty billion...I wonder what that little symbol means? We should've gotten them to explain the monetary system around here." He glanced at his son again. They were both wearing disguises - Washu had been insistent, and Tenchi and Nobuyuki had to bow to the necessity. Nobuyuki said, "Hey, you don't seem too happy about this."

"I don't think being worth 40 billion, or even 60 billion, is that great if you're worth it dead," Tenchi pointed out.

"The bounty's good if we're alive, too!" Nobuyuki informed him optimistically.

Tenchi shook his head. It was nice of him to try to be cheerful, but it was still disconcerting to see Ayeka, Sasami, Ryoko, Ryo-ohki, Grandpa, themselves, and even Mihoshi and Kiyone on bounty screens. What had happened to the world when there was a bounty out for cops?

The two of them walked side by side, past a small restaurant. "You hungry?" Nobuyuki asked, seeing that Tenchi examined it.

"No, not really, and we probably oughta do this first," Tenchi said.

"Maybe we can stop by on the way back," Nobuyuki agreed.

"Are you sure we can eat it?" Tenchi asked. "We lucked out with Sasami, but that's because she cooked Earth food. We could die of poisoning or something." A moment later, he was glad they were talking in undertones - he probably shouldn't have said Sasami's name.

"We'll figure out something, I guess," Nobuyuki shrugged.

"I think it's been enough time," Kiyone said aloud.

Ryo-ohki looked at Ryoko a moment, then meowed and phased through the table she was standing on, out of Yagami's hull, and then regained solidity in time to thump safely onto the ground below the ship. She slipped past Yukinojo, parked nearby, and then dashed along the corridors of the spaceport. The plan was for her to serve as a sort of communications relay between Tenchi and Nobuyuki, but to leave slightly after them, so as to make it appear that they were unrelated. Ryo-ohki would stay a safe distance away from Tenchi and Nobuyuki, but if anything happened to them, she'd be able to alert Ryoko, who could teleport there immediately, and the others could follow as soon as possible. As a precaution, Washu had fitted some fake horns on Ryo-ohki's head and back to serve as a disguise.

Tenchi and Nobuyuki entered the shop of Muk'ta, the junkyard and used-spaceship lot owner. A tall, eight-armed humanoid, with something that was either a goatee or a tentacle, stood up to greet them. The being had ochre skin, banded with purple stripes, which glistened slightly. "Welcome to the shop of Muk'ta," the being called out. "I am Muk'ta, the proprietor. What are you here for?"

Nobuyuki called out, "Hello, we're here to buy a spaceship."

"Oh?" Muk'ta inquired. He made a noise and said, "Are you sure you aren't here for better disguises?" The other beings in the shop laughed or slapped themselves rhythmically, then continued their tasks. Muk'ta went on and said, "That was a joke, of course. I just got out of jail, and have no desire to return, so I'd never suggest going against the law. You've come to the right place for legal used spaceships. I'll be happy to show you around myself. For my time doing so, the going rate is 50."

Tenchi was slightly disappointed that the man was so used to talking about money that he didn't bother specifying what sort of money it was. He was not surprised by the demand - the others had told him that such businessmen didn't want to be robbed or cheated by their customers, nor did their customers want to show off how much money they had, for the same reason, so this was the compromise that modern black markets had come to. The briefing had also informed him that 50 was far higher than the going rate - apparently he'd concluded that their poor disguises meant they were ignorant customers.

"That seems high just to show us around," Nobuyuki noted. "There are other places around here, I'll bet, with lower going rates."

Muk'ta snorted through a trunklike nose. "Yes, and those other places will sell you a spaceship - which just happens to have a bad computer, for which they just happen to have a replacement you can buy, and so on."

"Maybe we know enough about ships to spot that sort of thing for ourselves," Nobuyuki suggested.

Muk'ta made a louder snort, but in the interest of getting the negotiations going, said, "I could give you a discount, since you're new customers. How about 40?"

Nobuyuki agreed. Tenchi blinked, for it was still somewhat high, but he decided it made sense - they weren't going to go anywhere else, and negotiations wouldn't proceed until they did this. He hoped they weren't wasting too much of Mihoshi and Kiyone's cash. He and Nobuyuki had been surprised to hear that the two had enough cash to buy a spaceship, so there was no need to risk accessing frozen or monitored bank accounts, but Mihoshi had assured them that there was. Having some idea of her family fortune - and more idea of her family's recent misfortunes - he hadn't pried further.

Muk'ta had an employee validate the cash, then showed them outside, to his lot.

Ryo-ohki hopped along in her cabbit form, the fake horns staying in place as she bounded. The aliens she met paid her little mind. She proceeded towards one of the buildings that was next to the used spaceship lot of Muk'ta. It might have been a residence, or perhaps a business, or perhaps a den of crime, or perhaps all three. It was hard to say on this world.

She rounded a corner to reach the building, and as she continued hopping past the corner, she saw a being leaning against the building. It was a tall, barrel-chested humanoid, wearing a white and grey jumpsuit. It had skin far whiter and purer than even the immaculate jumpsuit, and its hair matched exactly. It was leaning casually against the building, arms folded across its chest, head down, but one of its feet was braced against the wall, suggesting that it was more alert than it seemed. Ryo-ohki felt odd, and her nose twitched. He seemed so familiar, if that was possible.

The figure looked up at this point, and observed its surroundings. Its expression upon seeing Ryo-ohki was one of startlement that quickly gave way to triumph. "I was just going to begin looking for you, and here you are," it said with assurance. "Come closer until I stay to, and then stay exactly there, Ryo-ohki."

Ryo-ohki stopped moving, and stared. So it was him. She wouldn't have thought it possible.

"Don't pretend, Ryo-ohki," he said to her. "Those horns aren't enough to fool me."

Ryo-ohki did come forward, but his taunting tone, his smug appearance, annoyed her. Somehow, that being standing before her was Ken-ohki, her lost playmate, one of her best friends besides Ryoko, the only other one of her species. Knowing what he still thought of her, anticipating his anger, seeing his aloofness, it all made her boil. Ryo-ohki stopped and changed into her child humanoid form.

Ken-Ohki towered over her, and for a moment wondered at her. Ryo-ohki began to meow at him, asking what he was doing here. His expression changed to contemptuousness. "You haven't even learned to speak the humanoids' languages, have you?" he asked dismissively. "Have you lived all this time and not seen how many more of them there are? How useful it would be, to not be dependent for communications with every other race in the galaxy?"

Ryo-ohki reminded him that Ryoko and his companion, Nagi, could communicate and he scoffed, "So you continue to place the burden of all your communications on her? What more could I expect from you?"

Ryo-ohki balled her fists a moment. The first time she had seen him when not under Kagato's mind control had been back when he and Nagi had kidnapped Tenchi in order to draw Ryoko out. She had seized the opportunity, she had tried to explain that Kagato had mind controlled her into attacking him all those centuries ago. Ken-ohki hadn't believed her then. At the time, she had felt a profound sorrow, for what had happened, and that he had been so scarred that he would not believe. Now Ryo-ohki found that both sorrows were nearly gone, that she was enraged at his disbelief. Nevertheless, she would tell him again - she had to, she couldn't allow him to go on thinking that, she couldn't allow that horror from the past to be uncorrected. She meowed at him, telling him over again that it was not her choice, and she was surprised when, at the end of her statement, a tear of her muted sadness splashed onto the ground.

From the expression on his face, she could see that he was still unconvinced. Her anger grew. He replied, "Even if that were true, you are surely a criminal now. You knew from the moment you saw me what I was here for. I am here to bring you and that Ryoko, and all of you criminals, to where you belong. You will finally meet the justice you've evaded for 700 years, Ryo-ohki."

Ryo-ohki's fists were flung behind her as she leaned forward confrontationally and yowled at him, screaming that he was twice a criminal himself - before for kidnapping Tenchi, and now for supporting the conspiracy that had falsely accused them.

His facade of calm was shattered by these words. He stepped forward from the wall and pointed at her accusatorially, shouting, "Do not dare to say such things to me! You were the one that helped Kagato in his attempt on my life! You're the murderer! You're the criminal!"

Ryo-ohki's palm slashed through the air as she meowed her insistence that she would never have done so without Kagato's mind control, that she was an unwilling slave at that time, and that the present charges against her were false ones furthered by conspirators. She raged at Ken-ohki for willingly choosing to do evil.

Ken-ohki's breathing became ragged, and both of them trembled with rage. Ken-ohki stepped towards her slowly, coming closer and closer, but she stood her ground. He stopped suddenly, as his eyes slid upward - a particularly important message from Nagi, she guessed, who naturally had been seeing the whole situation through his eyes the entire time, just as Ryoko had seen through her eyes.

Ken-ohki's eyes returned to normal, and he tried to relax and regain his cocky air from before as he said, "But you forget, that Nagi and I paid for our crimes. Now it's time that you paid for yours. As you may have guessed, that was Nagi talking to me, just now. She and the local bounty hunters and police have surrounded your friends' vessel at the spacedock. We'll catch any of those who are out about on our own, or when they return to the vessel. Now all that remains is for you to join them in confinement."

He began to step forward, more confident now. This was the crucial part of the plan. Without a Juraian space tree to power Princess Ayeka's key blade, Nagi would be able to restrain her, and the bounty hunters and police would be enough to handle the others, except for Ryoko. Ryoko by now would've warned anyone who was away from the vessel of Ken-ohki, and therefore Nagi's presence. If the fugitives fled to the ship, they would be captured, and if they fled elsewhere on the planet, he and Nagi's experience would be enough to run them down before they went to ground. Ryoko herself was the greatest variable, but one he and Nagi had finally been able to plan for by having himself be the one to find and corner Ryo-ohki, wherever she might be. It wouldn't be long before Ryoko came to save Ryo-ohki, and then Ken-ohki would take Ryoko, for that was now within his power. Then he would have Ryo-ohki and her partner Ryoko, and they would at last face justice at the hands of the new Emperor of Jurai. However that emperor had gained the throne, his justice could come later. Ryo-ohki and Ryoko were finally in his grasp here and now.

Ken-ohki heard a noise behind him, and pivoted just enough to see something he did not expect. He saw Tenchi running out of a side gate of the fence of Muk'ta's junkyard, with Nobuyuki and Muk'ta looking on after having unlocked it. Tenchi ran towards Ken-ohki, saying, "So you're Ken-ohki?"

Ken-ohki growled. Perhaps they'd overheard him with Ryo-ohki, or perhaps Ryoko had told them. In either case, the astonished glare that he was receiving from Tenchi was utterly powerless. "Stand where you are, criminal," Ken-ohki ordered.

Tenchi did, but more out of confusion and a healthy respect for danger than fear. He looked at Ken-ohki and wondered how he had changed from a cabbit to a full-grown male humanoid, albeit one with an oddly high voice. Probably he was even more dangerous than before. "Let Ryo-ohki go," Tenchi demanded.

"Don't be a fool, Tenchi," Ken-ohki advised him roughly. "That key blade you probably still have hidden on you is useless without a nearby Juraian space tree to power it. We both know from our last encounter that you don't have enough strength to stop Nagi and I. So submit to the law. You are under arrest."

"Oda is lying!" Tenchi insisted. "We've done nothing wrong. He's the one who stole the throne from Princess Ayeka's father!"

Ken-ohki moved to a position where he could better see both Ryo-ohki and Tenchi, then he demanded in a growl, "Stand down, Earthling."

Tenchi shook his head. "Leave us in peace, Ken-ohki, and Nagi, you, too." She wasn't there, but he guessed she was listening through Ken-Ohki.

Ken-ohki began to stride towards Tenchi, and said, "You're both facing justice, if I have to drag you myself!"

With a frown, Tenchi shook his head. "We are not going, and we are innocent. If you don't believe us, then I'll just have to stop you."

The harsh laugh that Ken-ohki was about to emit died in his throat as three Light-Hawk Wings appeared in front of Tenchi. Almost as they appeared, they moved backwards, covering him in armor. The three Wings disappeared, but a single Wing reappeared in front of him, and he grasped it as it morphed into a sword.

Quickly, Ken-ohki formed two orange energy sabers in his own hands, while his mind whirled, trying to process what he had just seen. What on earth had that boy done? When had he learned to do it? It looked very different from Juraian key blades, or the energy sabers he or Ryoko wielded. Though it had looked like Juraian space trees' Light-Hawk Wings, he'd never heard or seen any person doing it - certainly not a human whom Nagi had managed to restrain without much effort only a year or two ago! The natural conclusion was that this was some sort of trickery, perhaps a hologram or other illusion, but Ken-ohki's intuition and caution told him that it was best to consider them real.

He charged forward, swinging both his blades at once, but Tenchi sidestepped both attacks and swung his sword at Ken-ohki's midsection, exactly where his guard was down because of the earlier strikes. Ken-ohki was forced to phase through the blade, leaving him unharmed but unable to harm Tenchi until he reformed. Ken-ohki did reform, and tried to turn towards Tenchi and swing his blades together, where before he had been swinging outwards. Tenchi, however, stopping on his original stroke, which had proceeded out of the unsolid Ken-ohki, added a backstroke which aimed to cut Ken-ohki diagonally, from the left torso to the right shoulder. Ken-ohki was forced to phase through that as well. When he solidified, he stepped back, in case Tenchi tried to add another backstroke to take off his head.

Ken-ohki teleported behind Tenchi, but Tenchi seemed to have anticipated this, because he had partially turned. He blocked one of Ken-ohki's blades and moved his leg to avoid the other, then jumped backwards. Ken-ohki moved to follow him when Tenchi jumped forwards, sword outstretched. Surprised, Ken-ohki stepped back, but found himself in danger again when Tenchi landed and swung his blade. Ken-Ohki teleported to a point above Tenchi and hovered in the air, then thrust his blades down, but Tenchi stepped out of the way and leapt upwards. Ken-Ohki retreated to the ground. Tenchi landed and pivoted to meet him, swinging his blade in an attack. Ken-ohki used both his energy sabers to block the massive Light-Hawk Wing Sword, and Tenchi pulled the blade back and swung at another angle. Ken-ohki rushed to block it with both blades. Tenchi feinted to swing at him in yet another way, and Ken-ohki shifted his blades to block it, but Tenchi had actually altered his swing just slightly. Ken-ohki barely saw it in time and began to move his arms so his blades could counter it.

Tenchi saw his blade sever one of Ken-ohki's wrists, and then there was a sudden explosion from Ken-ohki's arm. He picked himself up - his nose and one of his cheeks hurt, and so did the back of one of his hands, but the armor seemed to have protected the rest of him. Ryo-ohki had been blasted down the street, and morphed out of her humanoid form into her cabbit form, uttering a confused meow. Tenchi looked at Ken-ohki, whose jumpsuit was burned all over, and who was clasping his hand. Tenchi had expected that he, like Ryoko, would have regenerated that hand, but maybe Ken-ohki was in too much pain to think of it just now. Scanning the scene, Tenchi tried to find someone who might've tossed a grenade or done something to cause the explosion, but he couldn't see anyone other than his father and Muk'ta, still behind the fence some distance away, both of whom looked as shocked as he did.

Returning his attention to Ken-ohki, Tenchi felt a sudden burst of anger. Ken-ohki had menaced Ryo-ohki, and he was a danger. They were all in danger now, though, and the others might be in worse trouble than he was. They had to return. "Let's go, Ryo-ohki," he said to her.

As they strode away, Ken-ohki stirred, and both Tenchi and Ryo-ohki whirled around. Ken-ohki was still on the ground, but had turned towards them. He didn't look capable of moving much further, however. He rasped at Ryo-ohki, "How many people do you have to ruin before you're satisfied?" Tenchi blinked. He wasn't sure how Ken-ohki had meant that, but the way he had said it and the look in his eyes - he looked so lost.

Ken-ohki's eyes closed. Tenchi wasn't sure what had happened or what was going to happen, but he knew they had to get out of here. He began to run towards his father and Muk'ta, and Ryo-ohki ran with him.

Nagi and the group of bounty hunters stood around the closed hatch of Yukinojo, weapons at the ready. There hadn't been any movement for some time.

One of the bounty hunters shook his head. "I just never figured it would come to this. I mean, I helped Officer Mihoshi and Officer Kiyone bust that ring years ago, you remember, trading in stolen ion-cores?"

A Juraian helping them, a son of a lord who lived some star systems away, grumbled, "What are we waiting for? Let's board this vessel. They're criminals, it's quite within our rights."

Nagi eyed him critically. "So, you're that eager to cross swords with your old princess? Or Ryoko? Just stick to the plan and we'll all have a chance of actually living to enjoy the bounties."

"I'm more than ready to face Ryoko," he boasted, puffing out his chest.

Nagi didn't seem to have heard him - she seemed preoccupied. The Juraian stroked his beard, mildly irritated, then dropped his hand to his sword when Nagi screamed and clutched her wrist. The bounty hunters whirled to face her as she fell to her knees. They stared a moment more, then began to ask her what was wrong. She stood up slowly, and all of their attention was drawn to the ramp of the ships, where they saw Azaka and Kamadaki teleporting in. "Do not move," Azaka said, and Kamadaki added, "Bloodshed is unnecessary here."

The young Juraian seemed unhappy about this, but Ryoko teleported behind him and said, "Well, are you ready to face me now?" She held her energy saber near his neck. The Juraian exhaled slowly and followed the others, who were putting their hands up. A few minutes later, Tenchi, still in his Light-Hawk Wing armor, Nobuyuki, and Ryo-ohki ran into the hangar. They passed swiftly through the ring of bounty hunters, ran up the ramp, then retracted the ramp and closed the hatch. Azaka, Kamadaki, and Ryoko teleported away as both of fugitives' ships took off.

The young Juraian snarled, seized his key blade, and teleported to his space tree. The other bounty hunters stared at Nagi, who massaged her wrist, even though it was uninjured, and muttered, "I'm coming, Ken-Ohki. We'll make this bounty yet. We've waited 700 years. A short time to heal up won't weaken our resolve."

Next Chapter

"All right!" Nobuyuki enthused. "My son defeated a souped-up alien shapeshifter!"

Washu pointed out, "Ken-ohki's got three forms, that hardly makes him a shapeshifter."

"True," Nobuyuki allows, "but that's two more than most people have got."

"That's great, guys, but we've gotta figure out how the shapeshifter went from being a cabbit that turns into a spaceship, to being a cabbit that turns into a spaceship and a humanoid," Tenchi pointed out.

"And I want to study the Light-Hawk Wings you make some more!" Washu shouts greedily.

"Oh, no," Tenchi groans. "The next chapter is 'No Need For Questioning.' Right now, I'm questioning why we're all on the run!"

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 can't recall that the monetary system in the galaxy Tenchi inhabits is ever explained, or any currency ever named, though the Juraian Royal Family and the Kuramitsus are known to be rich. I don't really mind not having the name of a monetary unit, since it's not always so important, so I just decided to have fun with not knowing the name.

"Naturally I have no idea how criminal or shady deals actually do go down, and I didn't do any research on it for this chapter, so I'd be highly surprised if anything in this chapter, for example, having to pay a fee to be shown around the used spaceship lot, resembles reality. It's entirely a work of fiction, and any resemblance to anything real is coincidental. Mostly, I tried to figure out just how two parties, both untrustworthy and untrusting, could possibly manage to make a deal on anything.

"Finally, this chapter, as you may have recognized, is an almost total divergence from Tenchi canon. In Tenchi Universe, neither cabbit can assume humanoid form, and in the OVA and manga, only Ryo-ohki can because Ken-Ohki does not exist. I've made Ken-Ohki recently become able to assume this form, and I'll explain it more in the next chapter. Further, the events in this chapter don't really happen in Tenchi canon. I believe that near the beginning of the Tenchi Universe main arc in which Tenchi and company become fugitives, Nagi and Ken-Ohki are introduced when they kidnap Tenchi to force Ryoko into a showdown in a Western town, but I could be misremembering details. It may have occurred earlier than the main arc. However, technically, we already had my version of that episode in chapter 13, so while this chapter is definitely inspired by the cabbit side-plot that Tenchi Universe started, the details are very different."

Chapter 52 Main Chapters Chapter 54