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Chapter 57 Main Chapters Chapter 59

Chapter 58: No Need For Confusing Appearances

"Meow," Ryo-Ohki says brightly to the audience, "meow, meow mrrow!"

Azaka comments sagely, "Ryo-Ohki has just explained that she has been chosen to be the DJ for this chapter."

Ryo-Ohki dips her head in a nod, and continues brightly, "Mrow, meow-meow purrrrr!"

Kamadaki picks up the translation, "and so she has decided to pick 'Sayonara, Bye-Bye' from the 'Yu Yu Hakusho', which Dragonwiles doesn't own, just because she likes it."

As the music begins to play, Ryo-Ohki begins to dance. Azaka theorizes, "I believe this means that she is happy." Kamadaki agrees, "Most likely."

Ryo-Ohki agrees, "Meow meow!"

The commander of the GP fleet was frustrated. As it had happened, the word from Ken-Ohki and Nagi about Ryo-Ohki's location had come in while their fleet was on patrol in the opposite part of the sector. He'd tried to get one of the GP offices nearer to Ryo-Ohki's reported location to respond first, but they had refused, citing orders to strictly guard their own star systems. The commander had therefore had to take the fleet all the way back through the sector at top speed. Now, however, there was no Ryo-Ohki to be seen.

That was to be expected, really, but the report was that former Officer Mihoshi's ship Yukinojo had been disabled here, and it was also nowhere to be seen. Ken-Ohki had been alive long enough to know whether a ship was disabled or not, so where was it!

They tried various readings, but the battle and the time elapsed since had confused things enough that they couldn't trace where the fugitives had gone.

His lieutenant reassured him, "Well, sir, Yukinojo at least can't have gotten far."

"Right," he agreed, thinking hard. This was a sparsely settled part of the sector. If he were them, he'd try to limp towards the nearest uninhabited planet for repairs - in fact, it was about the only planet Yukinojo could've reached in the time since the report, even if it were being towed. He ordered the fleet to encircle the planet and keep a sharp watch.

Gohgei woke, his head much clearer than it had been in some time, to find gathered around his bed Lord Takebe, Asahi, Yume, Hishima, and Mushima. "Gohgei, good morning!" Asahi said happily.

"Good morning, Asahi," he returned. He looked around at the room, full of his future family and former foes, and smiled. "It's funny how life is sometimes," he said amusedly.

"No kidding," Yume agreed. She looked at Hishima and Mushima and said forcefully, "All right, you two, no more stalling. Time to get patched up." They agreed and shuffled out the door.

"I'm so glad you're getting better," Asahi said. Gohgei smiled wistfully at her as she began to tear up. "Yume did so much to help. I almost thought we would lose you."

Gohgei wet his throat with the cup by his bed, then took her hand and told her quietly, "Thank you, Asahi. I am feeling much better now. I'm very grateful to them, too. It's a relief to see that you and your father had help when I didn't have the strength to give it."

She nodded, small tears of sorrow and joy running down her cheeks.

Yukinojo and Yagami had docked for easier towing, and were now moving through empty space, not resting in orbit around a planet as their pursuers had assumed.

Ryo-Ohki was at the center of their new, daring plan. Ryoko had revealed to them that she had been practicing with Ryo-Ohki a new ability. Ryo-Ohki could now, in addition to transforming into a humanoid child, also transform into a humanoid adult.

Ryoko, while explaining this, had looked at Kiyone and mentioned, "You heard me coaching her in how to talk in that form, back that day when you were cleaning and wanted to know who I was talking to." It took Kiyone a few moments to remember that incident, but found it did explain things - though she hadn't seen Ryo-Ohki in that humanoid form, she had heard an unfamiliar voice. Ryoko continued, "We were keeping it a secret until she felt comfortable showing everyone, but she's doing fine as it is, and we really need her now. If she can sneak onto a planet and buy some replacement parts, then," she had here paused, and finally said the title with distaste, "my mother, Washu, can get to work building them into a working system for Yukinojo."

Sasami had said to Ryo-Ohki, "Wow, I didn't know you could do all that! Can you show us, please?"

Ryo-Ohki had meowed affirmatively, then concentrated until she took on the form of a woman slightly shorter than Ryoko, clad in a simple dress. Sasami had clapped as Tenchi commented, "That's amazing!"

"Thank you very much," Ryo-Ohki had replied shyly, bowing. Kiyone considered -that did seem like the voice she had heard. Ryoko then ruffled Ryo-Ohki's hair, saying, "I'm so proud of her!"

They all had agreed to send off Ryo-Ohki alone - much depended on her being unrecognizable to their enemies, a trait that none of the others possessed. She would rendezvous with Yukinojo and Yagami at a distant point in empty space, to avoid bringing the two craft near to any planets or ships. Mihoshi had contributed the cash for the purchases Ryo-Ohki would be making, asking with a sniffle, "Please help make Yukinojo better!" Ryo-Ohki nodded and phased out, through the hull.

As they waited for her return, Tenchi said to Washu, "How long will it take you to make the repairs once Ryo-Ohki gets back?"

"A while," Washu said with a shrug, "and depending on what parts are available, I may not be able to get all of Yukinojo's systems up to 100%. But as long as she can get something, it'll be better than nothing."

Nobuyuki noted, "Washu, you brought your dimensional door from Earth, right? You're sure that you don't have any parts in there that'll do?"

Washu threw her hands in the air and said, "OK, so I've got a lot of stuff in there, but come on! I didn't know we'd be needing engine control circuitry for a modern GP cruiser!"

"Yeah, I guess not," Nobuyuki agreed. His thoughts were on a slightly different track now, as he opined, "There's a lot of stuff back home that I wish I had with me right now."

"No kidding," Tenchi agreed.

Minagi sat on the bridge of Tetsuya, watched closely by two guards. It had taken them precious weeks for Tetsuya to be repaired, and now there was word that Lord Tohru's expedition, while under Sir Kaien's command, had lost the Takebes in the sensor interference region. Minagi felt humiliated at having not been able to protect Tetsuya, even though her failure had not resulted in any change in treatment.

Indeed, Lord Haruhi walked up to her now and said encouragingly, "No need to look so put out, Minagi. We're getting closer to the last reported location of Tenchi. You'll have your revenge soon enough. You're looking forward to it, aren't you?"

"Yes, my lord," Minagi answered. That strange cloaked thing she had fought had been a fool to say that vengeance would dishonor the one she fought for. Had he ever even had something done to him that required vengeance? Had he ever been treated unjustly?

In any event, she was quite sure she would be at much more peace when that Tenchi had paid for killing her father.

"Right, you'll feel much better once all of that's done," Lord Haruhi agreed with his earlier statements, beaming. He walked away, inordinately happy over his ability to change Minagi's expression.

About an hour later, Minagi felt her father's sword grow warm, and she clutched at it. Shorai told her through it, "Minagi, the planet we're passing, it's under attack by pirates!"

Minagi looked around in alarm. There seemed to be no activity or gearing for battle aboard the ship. The guards had placed their hands on the hilts of their swords, perhaps perturbed by Minagi's action, but otherwise, there was no sense of alarm.

At that moment, Lord Mori happened to stroll by, apparently walking from one part of the ship to another. Minagi called out earnestly, "My lord Mori, may I please speak with you?"

"Yes, you may," Lord Mori returned, sauntering over to her with a quizzical expression.

"My lord, is not the planet we are passing under attack by pirates?" Minagi inquired.

"The militia is readying even as we speak," Lord Mori shrugged. "They're more than capable of holding off the pirates. This is especially true since the pirates are traveling in a smaller band than usual, to avoid being detected so near to the heart of the Empire. The GP is already moving in a fleet to cover their escape routes."

"But, my lord, what if something goes wrong?" Minagi protested, horrified. "They are only a militia, after all! What if the pirates are able to break through their lines and reach the planet?"

Lord Mori scowled, and told her impatiently, "We cannot act based upon a mere possibility. We are heading at maximum speed and storming levels towards the criminals we have been sent to hunt by the Emperor. The militia will have to hold on its own."

"My lord, may I have leave to-" Minagi plead urgently.

Lord Mori interrupted her, "No, you may not." Seeing she was nearly wild with concern and incomprehension, he continued harshly, "You were jailed for attacked a sentient species unprovoked. I do not intend to allow you an opportunity to do so again."

Minagi's mouth hung open as he turned on his heel and walked away. Attacking a sentient species unprovoked? She had gone with her father and dueled Lord Tenchi! They had committed no such crime!

Lord Mori stopped just before a grove of trees, turned and looked at her a moment, then grasped his own space tree's key and said something to Tetsuya. A moment later, Shorai reported delightedly to Minagi, "Tetsuya dropped his storming levels briefly, and the pirates fled!"

Minagi bowed in her seat and cried out to Lord Mori, "I thank you, my lord."

He nodded at her, gave her one last suspicious look, and proceeded along a path, out of sight.

As Minagi considered his implications, anger kindled. He had compared her father and herself to pirates, the scum of the galaxy! They had not deserved such treatments! Yakage had challenged Tenchi to a duel. Perhaps it was a bit sudden, but it was a far cry from an unprovoked attack, surely!

She suddenly recalled Tenchi saying, when her father had first challenged him, "What did I ever do to you?"

No, no, Minagi insisted, it was a fair challenge, even if they hadn't had any grudge against Tenchi before. It was a noble Juraian tradition, her father had explained it all so well.

"You guys just showed up and picked a fight with us!" Tenchi had also said, she recalled. Minagi physically shook her head in negation. That wasn't it at all, he was refusing to understand!

"I'm not going to wait until you kill us all to get what you want," he'd said, just before the final phase of the battle. But that was impossible, couldn't he see that it was just a duel, even if it had been getting quite out of hand with everyone joining the melee?

Surely, Minagi reasoned with herself, Tenchi was just posturing, trying to make himself look better. Whatever he might have said about killing, it was he who struck the blow that felled her beloved father!

"I only wish there could've been another way," Tenchi had said so sadly. Could that really have been faked?

Minagi swallowed, her eyes forming tears at the memory of that moment. No, she decided, it wasn't possible that he had been faking that, he had been sorry. But she could not allow herself this weakness. It was too late now. It didn't matter what anyone had meant, Minagi decided. Now that the deed was done, Minagi had to end what her father had started. She had to wield his ultimate sword, and kill his killer. The world had judged her father and stripped away his honor after his death, when they had placed her and Shorai on trial for carrying out her father's will. Since Yakage was dead, the only chance he had of regaining that honor would be if she proved him right and victorious in the end.

The Takebes and Yume had managed to lose their pursuers inside of the navigational hazard, partly due to some tricky maneuvers and Yume's sensor ghosts, but also because of the intense sensor interference inside the area. Having been sheltered by this area, they now faced the problem of how to emerge from it. There would almost certainly be forces arrayed outside of it, but the area was large enough that they couldn't effectively cover every point at once. They had seen glimpses through the random sensor noise of various active sensors that would detect them even through high storming levels, but only once they left the navigational hazard. Probably there were also passive sensors covering other areas, but these sensors would not be able to see through their storming levels.

"And I'm guessing that a fleet would probably be stationed at the passive sensors' locations, to make it more likely that the fleet's active sensors could catch us," Yume mused aloud.

"I would expect so," Lord Takebe agreed, fingers deep in his beard. He looked over at Asahi. She looked back at him, and at Yume.

"This almost makes it easier," Yume said. "I was trying to figure out how to suggest that one of us be the decoy. Now the best choice is clearly for me and my Shimas to be the decoy, since my ship doesn't even have enough storming levels to get past the passive sensors. We'll pop out of the navigational hazard first, near an active sensor array, and attract some attention. You guys will then be more likely to be able to slip by the passive sensor arrrays. No guarantees, but..."

Lord Takebe told her, "That, then, is what we must do."

"Are you sure you'll be all right?" Asahi asked concernedly.

"No," Yume said frankly. "Are you sure you'll be all right? I'm not, either. But I am sure that I'm not planning to make some sort of heroic last stand - I'm going to be running as fast as I can. If we make it, we'll try to meet you near Jurai."

Lord Takebe nodded. "That does seem to be the best plan, Yume."

"It's been good working with you," Yume told him. "I really hope we get to help you again."

With little ceremony and great haste, Yume boarded her vessel, along with the Shimas, and left.

Only an hour afterwards, Asahi was looking out at the softly burbling brook, and some of her flying spiral pets circling silently in the distance. She commented to her father, "It is strange that the only people I need in the whole world are still with me on this ship, and yet, I begin to feel lonely."

"I had not expected it, but I feel it too," he replied. He wouldn't have thought before that he could miss Yume and the Shimas, but their sincerity and helpfulness had reassured him of their intentions. Besides, their presence had provided a reassurance that his family was not friendless in their struggle. "I suppose we shall just have to reach Jurai in order to get company again." He smiled at his daughter, trying to lift her spirits, and she managed a smile. He was sure it was for his sake, but in some ways, that made it the more precious.

Out from Yukinojo's gymnasium came several tired figures. "Thank you, everyone, that was a good practice," Tenchi told them.

"Thank you, Lord Tenchi," Ayeka replied.

"It was fun!" Ryoko exclaimed.

"Yeah!" Mihoshi cheered.

The others had fairly quickly stumbled onto Tenchi's new training habits, and variously pleaded and insisted on becoming part of it. Tenchi had agreed, and so the training began in earnest. At first he had mostly done one one one sparring, but sensing the inability of some members of the group to wait their turn, this more and more gave way to group sparring. Sometimes they'd be on teams of two against two, and sometimes they'd be three against one. Tenchi at first found that when he was the one, he was fairly quickly, and painfully, beaten. That had been a rather embarrassing day, with the girls constantly apologizing, fawning over him, and blaming each other. After that, he had wondered whether it was a good idea to continue with that style of training, but he had reasoned that it would be more likely than not that he would find himself in just such a situation. He had persevered and managed to put off the time of his defeat, but to prevent further accidents, and inspire teamwork, they mostly stuck to other forms of sparring for now.

This day, there had not been any terrible accidents, and all had gone rather well. Ryoko and Ayeka had only traded verbal barbs twice, in fact.

Tenchi noticed Ryoko perk up, and she said happily, "Ryo-Ohki's back safely!"

Washu was walking to join them, and was entirely unsurprised when Ryo-Ohki's humanoid form phased into the hallway, bearing a metallic box. This she presented proudly to Washu, and Washu thanked her profoundly. There was much congratulations for the cabbit from everyone, and Ryoko perhaps applied more head-rubbing than was necessary to Ryo-Ohki, but the pleased humanoid didn't mind. Washu quickly scampered off to her laboratory, accompanied by an overwrought Mihoshi.

The others eventually dispersed, but Tenchi stayed, partly because he toweling off, and also partly because the others had wanted to watch the nearby starfields live on the Galactic TV's screen. Tenchi didn't want to dampen their fun by actively refusing to do so. He found the stars beautiful, but unrelaxing. They only reminded him of how much different they looked than they did at home - than they looked when seen from any planet at all.

He dropped off his towel in a miniature mechanized dumbwaiter in the gymnasium, and emerged again to find Ryo-Ohki still standing in the hallway in human form, marveling at her own hands. Tenchi told her, "You did a very good job today, Ryo-Ohki."

"Thank you, Tenchi," she said, slowly, pronouncing each word with care. "I was glad to be able to help in this way. I really enjoyed getting to do the sort of things that you and Ryoko and the others always get to do!"

Tenchi smiled at her enthusiasm. "It can be easy to take for granted some of the stuff that we do. I hadn't really realized until now that we couldn't talk before this."

"It's really neat!" Ryoko agreed cheerfully.

"Why did you decide to practice it?" Tenchi asked.

"I thought that Ryoko would be best at helping me to learn how to be like the rest of you, and she was very excited about doing it," Ryo-Ohki explained.

"Well, I guess I really meant why you wanted to be like us at all. I mean, you were fine as you were," Tenchi clarified.

"Oh," Ryo-Ohki said. She looked at him with determination, and told him, "I won't lose to Ken-Ohki."

Tenchi nodded, having suspected that was the case. "I'm sure you won't," he assured her.

Next Chapter

"The next chapter is 'No Need For Ambush'," Ryoko announces, then tosses aside the script and strides briskly away from the front of the stage towards the back.

"Where are you going?" Ayeka asks furiously.

"Aren't you going to say more than that?" Mihoshi asks.

Ryoko retorts, "Didn't you hear that? There's going to be an ambush! We have to get ready so it won't work!"

Mihoshi scratches her head and objects, "But I thought Dragonwiles established a fourth-wall barrier to prevent us from using information we gain here about the next chapter in the actual story."

Ryoko swears, then says, "Well, barriers were made to be broken."

"I think you're confused, they were made to keep things separate," Mihoshi notes, but Ryoko has already ignited her energy saber and is flying at the front of the stage.

"Come back here before you frighten away the audience!" Ayeka insists, rushing after her.

"I hear they like this sort of 3-D performance," Mihoshi suggests, "the performers and the viewers mingling and sharing the passion of the performance." She sees the audience fleeing in terror as Ryoko prepares to proceed outside of the theater entirely. "Well, I know I like audience-participation theater," Mihoshi shrugs.

Continuity With Dragoniles

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.

"Ryo-Ohki can transform into a child after she receives the Masses in the OVA, and at first she is a humanoid adult. I covered those events way back in chapter 28. Wow, thirty chapters ago, can you believe it? The manga by Hitoshi Okuda has a short segment in which she can transform into an adult, as well. However, I decided that she would not use either form much because she is unaccustomed to them. It seems like babies need a good bit of practice to get used to walking and talking, so I figured that Ryo-Ohki would, too.

"Otherwise, this chapter is almost entirely made up, and corresponds to almost nothing in canon Tenchi. This arc in general still corresponds to the major arc in Tenchi Universe in which the gang tries to reach Jurai to clear their name of rebellion."

Chapter 57 Main Chapters Chapter 59