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Chapter 54 Main Chapters Chapter 56

No Need For Honor Wandering in the Murk

"I'm Gohgei, and I'm going to be your D.J. again," the giant Gagutian introduces himself. "Dragonwiles said I had to keep this short, and I said I understood. Brevity is a wonderful trait, and one we all admire, because it's so hard to find anyone who can express everything in very few words and still get their point across. I'm still working on that myself, and a lot of people I meet say they're doing that too…"

The sound from inside the D.J. room mysteriously cuts out, though Gohgei is completely oblivious to this. Some time later, a song proceeds out of its speakers; a forlorn melody that yet retains a moment of hope. The song is 'to nowhere' from '.hack/SIGN'. And naturally, Dragonwiles owns neither of those beautiful pieces of art.

Lord Takebe, Gohgei, and Asahi all hugged each other at the same time before Lord Takebe and Gohgei teleported off of Mimasaka, Asahi's space tree partner, and onto Lord Takebe's space tree partner. Lord Takebe's space tree partner moved away, towards the planet where Lord Takebe's friend lived.

Explaining earlier, Lord Takebe had said, "It's not on the direct route to Jurai, which means that there's a chance that it won't be so closely inspected for fugitives like ourselves, and they won't anticipate our vessels. That means that our storming levels should be sufficient to hide them from their normal scans. We can slip into an unoccupied parking orbit and monitor traffic control communications to be sure we don't collide with incoming traffic. Then it's just a matter of Gohgei and I teleporting onto my friend's estate and making contact with him without being detected."

All seemed to be going as planned. There was no indication that their arrival was detected, and there was indeed a space free in a parking orbit, and not only that, but it was close enough to the estate of Lord Takebe's friend that they could teleport to the entry to the friend's estate.

They did so, finding themselves at about midday in a summer season. Before them was a large gate composed of two massive trees that had grown together. Lord Takebe allowed himself a smile. They were still growing.

Gohgei followed him into the shade of their arch, where a seated Juraian quickly rose, bowed, and greeted them, "Welcome, my lords. Please, go in quickly, and I will inform my master you are here. He should be at the main house."

Lord Takebe and Gohgei bowed in return, thanked him, and went on their way. Beyond the arboreal gate was a large open area. This, Lord Takebe knew, was the main garden. He breathed the rich scent of the nearby flowering plants, but there was no time to stop and admire them as he usually did. Gohgei easily matched his pace - rapid, but not so rapid as to be rude or attract undue attention.

Both Lord Takebe and Gohgei noted, though, that one person did seem to give them some attention. He was a Juraian, and his clothes indicated that he was a servant of Lord Takebe's friend. In fact, Lord Takebe recalled him from many previous visits, and if he was not mistaken, that man's father had served his friend, also. It was not unusual to seem him in the garden, directing and monitoring the mobile computers and cultivation robots, but his staring at them, and the way he suddenly turned aside and went someplace else, was odd, and foreboding.

Mihoshi looked in Tenchi's room on Yukinojo, and saw that he wasn't there. She thought that she heard him grunt, so she went to the gym and found that he was there, doing something with his sword, probably practicing some techniques. He was swinging it in a very deliberate way, like he was fighting with someone invisible. Mihoshi smiled. She and her brother had done that a lot with play swords and each other as the opponents, but Tenchi was obviously a lot better than either of them.

Tenchi noticed her looking at him through the doorway to the ship's gym - very well equipped for its compactness, he had noted. "Mihoshi," he asked, "did you want something?"

Mihoshi shook her head cheerfully, "Oh, thank you, but not really, Tenchi. I was just curious about what you were doing with yourself so early in the mornings now that you don't have to work in the fields."

"Yeah, keeping up on my sword technique seemed the thing to do," Tenchi told her. "I didn't want to get out of shape, and it is important right now-" He suddenly squawked and exclaimed excitedly, "Mihoshi, if you're here, who's flying the ship?"

"Yukinojo," Mihoshi replied, completely relaxed.

Tenchi looked at her, still alarmed, then realized aloud, "Oh, OK. Wow. That's good! I forgot about the autopilot."

"So, is this more fun than working in the fields?" Mihoshi asked chipperly. "I bet it is, you're always tired after you get done with the carrot fields."

"Well, for some reason," Tenchi said, getting his mind back into their earlier conversation, "I miss the fields. Or maybe I'm just realizing how much work there's going to be that I'll need to catch up on when I get back!" He sighed.

"I could help with that!" Mihoshi volunteered excitedly.

"You would?" Tenchi asked.

"Sure!" she enthusiastically volunteered.

Tenchi took a deep breath, both because he still needed it after his recent calisthenics, and because he needed to push out of his mind some images of what mistakes Mihoshi might end up making in the fields. "I'd appreciate it, but you do have to patrol the Earth, don't you? I'd feel bad about making you work that hard during your rest periods when you're with us."

"Oh yeah," Mihoshi agreed sadly. "Well, maybe I could help you now!" she said with renewed enthusiasm.

Lord Takebe and Gohgei were still out of doors, some ways away from the house, when the friend of Lord Takebe was spotted on the horizon, striding towards them. Lord Takebe felt a knot in his stomach at his friend's furious expression, then felt himself relax. At least he knew now what his friend's attitude was.

When he was rather closer to them, he shouted, "What are you doing here?"

He strode closer. Lord Takebe was at a loss. Maybe he could explain things, but it didn't look like his friend would listen. It was odd - he'd never seen him quite this angry before. His friend demanded in a loud voice, "What is your purpose!"

The friend stood nearly nose to nose with Lord Takebe, which startled him, as he'd never seen his friend this angry before. The friend, staring angrily into his eyes, said in a whisper, "I found out only recently I was being watched. Hit me, and run."

"What?" Lord Takebe said, louder than he'd meant. Then he did understand, but surprise and a lack of desire to hurt his friend mingled in his mind. But the look in his friend's eyes briefly changed to pleading before going back to fictitious anger, and Lord Takebe knew what the stakes here were. They had to be going even faster than he had thought.

He wished he knew, as he struck his friend in the midsection, how to soften a blow, or how to act as well as his friend did. The best he could do was try to whisper in his ear, "Forgive me." He thought he saw his friend nod, then hoped he didn't, in case they were watched right at this moment.

His friend was still standing, so Gohgei shoved him to the ground. "No!" Lord Takebe shouted, then hoped he was still being in character, though quite what sort of character he was supposed to be he wasn't sure. Gohgei looked at him in confusion before seeming to understand - it was good to know that none of the three were alone in confusion. Lord Takebe said loudly, "Let us leave!" That, at least, was something he could say sincerely, and they could all agree with.

They began to run from his friend, who was picking himself up off the ground and shouting something that sounded belligerent at them. Lord Takebe ran towards a gate other than the one they had come in, to which they were now nearer. He and Gohgei noticed during brief glances over their shoulders at his friend that another person had arrived. It was the servant who had turned quickly away from them in the garden. He was running in their direction, shouting, "Lords, lords, there they go, there they go!"

Then Lord Takebe and Gohgei saw the telltale lights that showed two Juraian lords were flying through the air with their magnificent powers, skimming the ground, going past his friend and towards the servant - and towards them.

Tenchi brought the wooden practice sword down much harder than he had meant to on Mihoshi's arm. "Ouch!" she exclaimed.

"I'm sorry, are you all right?" Tenchi asked in concern.

"I'm fine, this happened all the time at GP Academy sparring practice!" she replied chipperly. "See, my arm's fine!" She punched him in the shoulder good-naturedly.

"Ow!" Tenchi exclaimed. That really did hurt. He had to laugh, though, "Yeah, I guess you are good!"

Lord Takebe didn't remember running being this hard. Perhaps he was closer to the final stage of the Juraian life cycle than he had thought. Beside him, Gohgei had shifted into his Gagutian form. That might've been enough to outrun them if Gohgei was on his own, but he was nobly keeping pace with Lord Takebe. In some ways, Gohgei was better off than him, being younger, larger, stronger, and faster. However, he had only a staff for a weapon where the Juraians would have key blades, and he had the Gagutian's traditional disadvantage against a Juraian - he couldn't fly. It would be best overall if they didn't fight at this time, in any case - there might be more Juraians on the way, or GP.

"We can't outrun them!" Lord Takebe shouted. Gohgei nodded. They kept running nonetheless, as Lord Takebe tried to think of a plan.

He'd only ever completed the basic tier of combative sword technique, but the basic tier had much breadth. His master had taught him at one point that foes attacking from the air could be forced not to attack if one used their flight against them- of course. Lord Takebe saw the familiar grove of fruit trees ahead. He ran towards it, and Gohgei went with him.

As his master had said, this foiled their enemies' assault pattern. They had nearly been upon them, but now they were forced to alight. The two attacking lords appeared frustrated, but ran at them with the great speed of a Juraian. Gohgei and Lord Takebe looked at each other, then took a stand side by side, with a great tree at their backs. The grove didn't reach to the outer gates, but was instead like an island in the grounds - meaning that fleeing on foot would eventually lead them to an open area, where their cover would be gone. Their only chance was somehow to defeat these two lords quickly, before reinforcements came. Then there could be no more thought - the foes were upon them.

Gohgei bashed with his staff at the head of his attacker, his reach and his staff enabling him to hit his opponent just before his opponent could strike. He swung his staff back around, hitting his foe in the leg, toppling him.

Lord Takebe was quickly finding himself outmatched by the nobleman facing him. For a moment, the opponent almost liked like his old fighting master. Maybe he was related, or maybe it was just the displeasure in the expression. Lord Takebe wasn't really surprised, but carried on as best he could, disheartening as it was to know that not only had not grown in the centuries since he last saw his fighting master, but also that his age was now causing him to lose what little he had gained.

His opponent was falling back now, but it was clearly not because of his skill, but instead because of the plight of his comrade. Lord Takebe's opponent was too late to be of any assistance, as Gohgei delivered a resounding crack to the comrade. Gohgei's face crinkled in disgust and horror at his own deed, but he held his staff resolutely.

The remaining foeman snarled at them. "You vicious blood-traitors!" he ranted. "Lord Takebe, you call yourself a tree-carver, a preserver of tradition, and you would allow filth like this Gagutian to pollute your clan, your daughter? I have no doubt now that you both aided in assassinating King Azusa!"

Gohgei said sternly, "I have always been loyal to King Azusa. And you have no right to taint the honor of Lord or Lady Takebe."

The opponent snorted derisively and charged back at Lord Takebe, holding his sword horizontally to impale his fellow nobleman. Lord Takebe used a standard downward parry, hoping he'd have enough time to use the counterattack that followed. However, the thrust had been a feint - the nobleman moved his sword to his right, scoring on Lord Takebe's forearm, which was holding his sword. It would've been a worse injury, but the nobleman was not an expert swordsman, and he also had to move to stop Gohgei, who was now advancing. Gohgei came in low, in his massive Gagutian form, swinging his staff at the foe's legs. The nobleman went flying, but as he did so, his last attempt at a counterattack caused a great injury in Gohgei's shoulder. The nobleman landed heavily. Lord Takebe barely managed to stop staring at Gohgei, who was kneeling, and hurried over to their opponent. The stunned nobleman raised his blade from his fallen position, but Lord Takebe struck true, and twice, just to be sure. He felt queasy, so he turned away quickly, remembering as he did so Gohgei, and the urgent need to escape. He strode back to the man he hoped would be his son-in-law. Gohgei had risen, but his wound was bleeding terribly. They asked after each other's health rapidly, then turned to flee as fast as they could.

Tenchi took a small towel from a handy dispenser on the wall of the ship's gym. He looked with concern at Mihoshi, who had pulled back her sleeve to reveal a bruise. She looked over at him and saw he was looking at it sadly, so she quickly said, "You're nice, Tenchi, but don't worry! I should probably be training more often anyways, and it was fun today! We should do it again!"

"I'd like that," Tenchi said, relieved. "I guess we'll need to keep our skills sharp."

"Yep, it's still a long way to Jurai," Mihoshi agreed. She paused at the door and added, "I guess I could get hurt worse when we get there. So don't go easy on me, OK?" Tenchi nodded, and she left. He wished that she weren't right, but it was true. There was no way he could guarantee everyone's safety.

Gohgei and Lord Takebe continued running, but Lord Takebe was becoming seriously alarmed. Gohgei had taken a terrible wound, was moving more slowly, and now he had come out of his Gagutian form. Perhaps it was just to keep a lower profile, but perhaps it was something more serious.

Gohgei managed a smile for the lord's sake. "It's only a little bit farther, isn't it?" he wheezed.

It should've only been a bit farther, but Lord Takebe was realizing that guardbots would probably be active now, and other Juraians might be coming to secure the gates of the grounds. Still, if they could make it to a gate, then they should be able to teleport away.

The two of them charged ahead as best as they were able. One of the side gates to the grounds came into view, a little-known one. Gohgei turned his head, and when Lord Takebe looked in that direction as well, he saw guardbots on the horizon, streaking towards them. They were going to take up posts at the gate, but when they realized the two of them were there, they would probably attack as well.

"We'll have to run," Lord Takebe said, wondering if Gohgei could make it. Gohgei was looking pale, but nodded, and ran with him, still in his normal form. The whine of the guardbots grew louder. The gate, through which a neighboring forest and a dirt lane could be seen, beckoned to them.

"Slow down here!" Lord Takebe shouted. Gohgei did as bidden, and though he was clearly too tired to speak, Lord Takebe saw his thought - the forcefield was surely up. An invisible curtain was cutting them off from the outside, from the beckoning gate.

Lord Takebe moved forward to the wall. He almost imagined he heard the guardbots' weapon systems powering up. They were surely almost in range. Lord Takebe found the emergency override for the gate's forcefield, a device that looked wooden, for all the world like the part of the hedge that made the outer wall. He pulled on it, and shouted, "It's down! Run now!"

Gohgei turned, surprised, but moved at the fastest pace he could manage, an uneven lurch. He and Lord Takebe ran for the open gate, and now Lord Takebe was sure he could hear the guardbots reaching full weapons charge. Before, them, the beckoning gate now showed two Juraians running along the path leading in from the outside. The Juraians looked surprised to see the two of them, but in moments they had raised their keys, and energy blades appeared.

Lord Takebe raised the key which he had been clutching since he had released the emergency override. He ignited his key blade, and he and Gohgei went into the gate.

The Juraians yelled, and the guardbots took up firing positions.

With a brilliant show of light, Mimasaka beamed aboard Lord Takebe and Gohgei, as soon as they cleared the grounds' anti-teleportation field.

The guardbots, whose firing protocols had been on standby since they had detected the Juraians running onto the grounds on a trajectory that could result in friendly fire, now fully powered down their weapons.

The two Juraians looked at each other. "They came on their own Juraian ship? They didn't smuggle themselves here on a pirate vessel?" one said in astonishment.

"Should've expected it from the Royal Tree Carver," the other spat. He used his key to communicate to other Juraians in their search party across the planet, "They've teleported to an orbiting space tree! Power up sensors to maximum!"

As soon as they were aboard Mimasaka, Lord Takebe shouted, "We must leave at once! Use our highest storming levels!"

Mimasaka, clearly understanding the danger, pulled away at once. The sensors of the planet, and the space trees of the Juraian search party, nearly saw some of Mimasaka's energy signature. However, once she activated her latest storming levels, these and all other signals faded away. Here, in this little-traveled province, the Juraian noblemen in the search party had seen no need to get sensors refitted by the tree carvers in some time. Mimasaka had the latest equipment lovingly installed by Lord Takebe.

"Father!" Asahi cried worriedly. "You and Gohgei, you're injured!"

"I'll live, we must save our concern for Gohgei," Lord Takebe said quickly. He and Asahi helped Gohgei to sit on the ground. Mimasaka whisked to them a medical mobile computer that resembled a floating, wooden cube. It examined Gohgei for some time.

Lord Takebe had to work hard to keep his face calm for Asahi's sake. If only he had been better at combat, then Gohgei wouldn't have gotten this badly injured. His frustration was tormenting him, just like it had when he had gotten himself injured during sparring practice.

Of course, it was while he was recovering from that injury, wondering if he could ever face his instructors again, that he had met Master Houran. Master Houran had clearly been entering the last stage of the Juraian life cycle at that time, and it was becoming evident in his movements, but he still executed a capable and graceful demonstration. It wasn't only that - everyone knew that Master Houran was doing something useful, that his techniques were used to maintain something vital. His work counted for something, even if not all of it was channeled into combat, and that was one of the things that made Lord Takebe seek him out as his new master.

Lord Takebe seated himself slowly on the grass as the medical computer continued to examine Gohgei. Maybe he ought to revisit that time from the past, and remember the lesson from it. Combat was clearly not the thing he could do best at this time, but perhaps there was something else useful that he could do. Gohgei had done his part to keep them safe, and now it was up to Lord Takebe to lead them on a path that would help them to restore the true king to the throne of Jurai.

He hoped dearly that choosing that path would not mean forsaking a path that saved Gohgei's life.

Next Chapter

Tenchi says dubiously, "Well, we didn't know any of the enemies in this chapter, but that doesn't mean one won't come up soon that we know already."

Dragonwiles puts in, "Yes, I decided to throw in some enemies that you didn't know about beforehand. Ones we've met before will come soon enough."

Oda announces, "My pick for the next antagonist will be revealed in the next chapter, 'No Need For Pursuit'."

Dragonwiles concludes, "Even though you'll have to wait two more weeks than usual for it, I have confidence that it will be marvelous."

Washu says sarcastically, "You're so right, Dragonwiles, modesty is overrated."

Her A robot climbs onto her shoulder and chants, "Forget modesty!" Her B robot climbs onto her other shoulder and agrees, "Proclaim your own greatness!" The robots both agree, "And the greatest is Washu!"

Dragonwiles grumbles and slithers off the stage.

Continuity with Dragonwiles

Dragonwiles reposes in state in the library of his lair. Looking up from his book, he greets, "Welcome to this special segment, in which I give a few brief continuity notes.

"Almost nothing in this chapter happens in Tenchi canon. The friend of Lord Takebe, his servants, and the Juraian pursuit team that invades the friend's estate, don't even exist in Tenchi canon. Also, I don't recall Mihoshi and Tenchi ever engaging in sparring practice, or that there was sparring practice at GP Academy. It seems very likely that there would be sparring practice at GP Academy, and it seemed fairly likely that Tenchi would keep up his practice on the ship, so I combined the ideas.

"In addition, to be clear, we know very little about the backstories of Lord Takebe or Master Houran, so I made up the backstory in this chapter about how they met. So far as I know, we know only that Lord Takebe is a widower, I think from very soon after Asahi was born."

Chapter 54 Main Chapters Chapter 56