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Chapter 59 Main Chapters Chapter 61

Chapter 60: No Need For Cabbit Grudges

Tenchi sits in a chair before the studio microphone. "Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us for this year's part of the story! Our theme song this time is 'Shinjitsu no Uta' from 'Inuyasha'. Now, I'm guessing you know that Dragonwiles doesn't own either, but I'm supposed to say that part anyways. Enjoy the chapter!"

He pushes a button, and the stirring, bittersweet song fills the air.

Tenchi took a sip of water from a bottle he had set out of the way in Yukinojo's gym, and turned back to face his training partners. Ryo-Ohki had been participating in human form, but had retired for the time being. Without much fighting experience in that shape, she tended to be the one trained, and she didn't have as much endurance yet. Ryoko, Ayeka, and Mihoshi were all facing him, clearly ready to go.

Tenchi screwed up his face as an idea struck him. "Wait a minute," he said, "the Wings - I don't know why I never thought of this before! Ayeka, back when we fought Kagato, you taught me how to make the Light-Hawk Wings on a Juraian spaceship, so don't I make them on myself in the same way?"

Startled, Ayeka could think of nothing to say, but Tenchi was clearly concentrating. His mouth became a hard line, and his brow furrowed. In the next moment, the Light Hawk Wings unfurled before him. They were slower to appear than they had been, and only were present for a moment before disappearing suddenly again, but all three were present in their full size.

"Tenchi, I saw them! I saw them!" Mihoshi squealed.

"Most excellent!" Ayeka praised.

"All right!" Ryoko cheered.

Ryo-Ohki took a step or two closer, meowing excitedly, her eyes large as she stared at him.

Washu sat up straight in her bunk, missing the bunk overhead by only a centimeter or so, and cackled wildly. The phantasmal keyboard appeared before her as she began madly typing notes, and she shouted in delight, "More, Ryo-Ohki, give me more data!"

"It worked!" Tenchi exclaimed. "I almost didn't think it would."

"Do it again, do it again!" Mihoshi enthused.

"All right," Tenchi agreed. Now that there was some chance he could do it voluntarily, he definitely wanted to try it again, and again and again. He concentrated again, and the Wings appeared before him once more. This time he was able to hold them in place longer, but a few seconds after he finished the steps Ayeka had given him, they furled themselves back up and disappeared.

"Hm, I need to keep it going longer," he said aloud. The others looked at him. They had no advice to give here. Tenchi shrugged, "Well, if the space trees could keep it going, and I could those other times, I must be able to this time."

The others nodded and made affirmative noises. Again Tenchi concentrated, and the Wings appeared before him. Slowly, they moved towards him, and as they flowed over him, the armor coalesced on his body. "Wow," Tenchi commented, looking himself over, "thinking about what I wanted to do with the Wings helped a lot." The armor was still present on his body as he spoke. Ayeka saw that the Juraian symbol of three green wings, side by side, had appeared on his brow, just as they had when he had faced Kagato.

Ryoko pointed out, "Hey, what about the sword?"

"Yeah," Tenchi agreed. He created another set of Wings before him, but was astonished to see that the armor had disappeared. Frowning, he caused the Wings to reform the armor instead of creating the sword. Making yet another set of Wings, he formed them into the massive Light-Hawk Wing sword, but his armor disappeared just after making the sword. Tenchi made the armor again, then sighed in frustration but said determinedly, "Okay, if I can get the other set of Wings while I've still got the armor on, I'm pretty sure I can make the new Wings into the sword and keep the armor on, too. Maybe I just gotta practice some more."

"You know," Mihoshi pointed out, "your big sword is good in a real fight, but I'm glad we're using training weapons in here, among friends."

"Very true," Ryoko agreed. "But let's see how well that armor stops this." She began kneading her knuckles in anticipation.

"Uh-oh," Tenchi murmured in a small voice. With an act of sheer will, he picked up a training sword and prepared for the next hour or so.

The practice had no further breakthroughs, but also no serious injuries. After it was over, Mihoshi walked into the common room and saw Tenchi sitting there. She bounded closer, plopped down on the couch beside him, and asked him enthusiastically, "So, Tenchi, this is really exciting for you, isn't it? I mean, you're getting to be a real hero - well, a superhero, even! It's every little boy's dream, isn't it?"

Tenchi admitted, "I hadn't quite thought of it like that. I mean, I do like this power, and it's really cool. I've enjoyed it. But I hadn't really gone and thought of myself as a hero."

"Really?" Mihoshi asked. "Gee, it seemed like it was all my little brother could ever think about. He was always pretending to be some superhero or another. And I guess that's why I like the shows I do now - he got me into it a bit."

Tenchi smiled familiarly. "It's not that I don't like superheroes. Dad got me hooked on some of his superhero manga, and some of my friends introduced me to the modern ones I like. There's some really great stuff. It's just - that's other people. Me, I don't even think about what I can do half the time. Maybe cuz, half the time, it scares me, what I can do. Or maybe, I just don't like the situations I'm in when I have to use those powers."

"Oh," Mihoshi said. "But hey, now that you're a superhero, you've got a great life ahead of you!"

"Well, I guess," Tenchi shrugged. "I will like getting back home - that's always one of the nice parts about those stories."

"What do you mean?" Mihoshi said. "Doesn't the hero usually get all the rewards he deserves? I don't like those stories where the hero has to go home sad. It's really tragic."

"No, I don't like those stories, either," Tenchi said quickly. "It's just that going home is enough of a reward for me."

"Really?" Mihoshi asked, curious.

"Yes, really," Tenchi said with certainty. "You know, it always seemed like the heroes were most happy at home or going home. I always thought that was how it would be, and now that I'm living a superhero story, I'm sure of it!"

Mihoshi thought a moment, then said, "Yeah, I guess there are stories like that. I guess I just always thought about the ones where the prince becomes king, or the poor orphan gets a home, you know, things like that."

"Yeah, there are stories like that, aren't there," Tenchi said. "I like those too, but they're the ones I don't always think about."

"Funny world," Mihoshi smiled at him. "It takes all types, I guess."

He smiled back.

A horrendous noise broke out from her communicator. Tenchi covered his ears while Mihoshi nonchalantly tapped it, silencing it. She got up and said, "Well, I'd better get back to the bridge."

"Is something wrong?" Tenchi asked, bolting upright.

"No, that's just my alarm, reminding me to check on Yukinojo's autopilot every once in awhile," Mihoshi explained cheerily. "See you later, Tenchi!" She hurried off.

Tenchi remained standing, trying to get his pulse back to normal. Ayeka entered and said, "Lord Tenchi, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation just now."

From the next compartment, Ryoko called, "You really can't help it on this boat."

Ayeka no longer showed on her face whenever she needed to force down a retort. She continued speaking with Tenchi as though she hadn't been interrupted. "I thought it interesting, the style of story that you liked. Actually, for as long as I can recall, I've liked a similar story."

"Oh, really?" Tenchi asked. "What is it?"

"It's the tale of Azaka and Kamadaki, the namesakes of my guardian robots," Ayeka explained. "Some say the tales have grown exaggerated with time, but they were historical figures. In fact, Yosho and I were thinking of awakening them, if possible, and asking them for aid."

"Wow," Tenchi said. "They're still alive?"

"Yes, but asleep," Ayeka explained, looking pensive.

"So, how hard is it to wake them up?" Tenchi inquired.

Ayeka paused. Her face grew troubled, as she finally said, "It may require a certain amount of sacrifice. But it is not certain, and we are not near their resting place yet, in any event."

Tenchi wasn't sure what to make of this, so he asked, "Why did they go to sleep, anyway?"

Ayeka said with a rueful smile, "I enjoy telling their tale, but I fear I do not do justice to the story."

Shrugging, Tenchi said, "Well, I mean, you can still try, if you want to."

"We haven't much time before lunch," Ayeka said, though it was clear she was longing to tell the tale. "That's fine," Tenchi said encouragingly. "I can tell you a bit, then, I suppose," Ayeka said with a small smile, and they sat down.

Yosho was sitting in the common room of Yukinojo on the next afternoon, as Ayeka had expected from his habits. She composed her mind, readying herself to bring up a topic that hadn't been broached before, but should be now. "Brother," Ayeka asked carefully, "when we reach Jurai, would you be willing to assume the throne?"

"It is still best that I do not," Yosho told her firmly. Seeing that she was troubled by this, he added, "I am still concerned that my half-Juraian heritage would still be a problem, and at this time, the last thing we need is another incitement to civil war. Our people have long lives and memories, and seven centuries may not be enough to erase some prejudices."

"Brother, I understand, but I do feel that their position is not what it was," Ayeka disgreed. "Besides this, my conscience would be troubled, knowing you lived, but taking the throne myself. In addition, if many others learned you were still alive, then they may also claim that I stole the throne from you."

"I do not relish that thought," Yosho agreed. "If that should come to pass, I will fully and publicly back you. But there is another reason why it is best that you be ruler. Ayeka, it is as I have said before - I am reaching the end of my life."

Ayeka was quiet before saying sadly, "It still does not seem possible."

"I have twenty more years, maybe thirty or forty, but not many by Juraian standards," Yosho told her kindly. "I've lived long and well, and I've gotten to meet you and Sasami again. But I have little time left in this world. From a Juraian perspective, almost as soon as I became king, I would die or have to relinquish the throne. You might as well just become the queen, and remain so."

At this point, Ayeka almost began to wonder whether her brother were not simply being difficult, but she dismissed this thought, as he was speaking sincerely, even if stubbornly. There was one point she was still concerned about, however: "What of Tenchi, brother? Why did you not mention him as a candidate for the throne?"

Yosho made a noise of surprise. "Naturally, Tenchi would fulfill the duties of the throne."

Ayeka stared at him a moment more, and said encouragingly, "Yes, of course. Both of us do have the utmost faith in him."

"Indeed," Yosho agreed. He looked at her and said seriously, "It is simply that it is not how he is used to seeing himself. It would be quite a change for him. But he could do it, if you would prefer."

Ayeka was stunned. She hadn't really thought that she would ever have a choice in this matter, but in this situation, she saw what he meant. There might well come a time when she could choose between advancing her own claim to the throne, or Tenchi's. Of course the Council of Elders would have some say in the matter, and in her own advocacy she would take into account what was best for Jurai, but that she would have any say in so weighty a matter was a troubling thought. But, of course, already as a princess, she had say in many weighty matters. This would simply be a continuation of that.

Yosho put a hand to his chin a moment. Then he took it away and stated, "A thought that has been on my mind of late is how we ought to keep Sasami safe, especially as we grow closer and closer to Jurai. Somehow we must provide for her protection, either from discovery, or from the battle that will ensue should we reach Jurai."

"Indeed, but with only two ships, I am not sure what options we have," Ayeka sighed.

"I can see only one other," Yosho agreed. "I think that we should leave her with our uncle."

Ayeka blinked. She had not considered that, even though both of them had gleaned from the news reports that he was still free and carrying on his usual responsibilities. "I am hesitant to place him or our cousin in that sort of danger," Ayeka said with concern.

With a slight wave of his hand, Yosho agreed, "As am I, but otherwise we should have to bear her into battle of one sort or another. Our uncle is in danger in any case, I should think - however free he may be now, he is probably under suspicion. I had been thinking that we would need his help to pass the checkpoints and reach Jurai. Unless there is another way to do that, we will have to ask him to take a risk in any case."

Her thoughts over the past few weeks had not led her to any other way of breaching the cordon around Jurai, either. She nodded.

Washu walked into the room, having changed ships for a change of scenery during a routine docking between Yukinojo and Yagami. "Hey," she put in, "as long as we're talking about who's going and who's staying, I wanted to make it clear that I wanted to stay and fight, all the way to Jurai."

Ayeka blinked. "I am grateful but surprised, Little Washu. You and Ryoko seemed against the idea."

Washu disagreed, "All I was saying was that this isn't going to be easy, not that I was scared."

"That is not what I meant," Ayeka said placatingly.

"Yeah, I know," Washu said, peering at her quizzically. Ayeka managed to swallow a bit of pique in time to hear Washu continue, "But anyhow, those Juraians who attacked us at Tenchi's house were trying to kill Ryoko just as much as anybody else. Anyone who messes with her has to answer to me."

"We are most grateful for your aid," Yosho told her.

"Thought you would be," Washu grinned cheekily.

In order to get her mind off of Washu's antics, and affirm a piece of common ground she had recently discovered, Ayeka brought up a new subject of conversation. "I hope that Ryo-Ohki will be back with the supplies soon," Ayeka said concernedly. "She is quite brave to risk herself thus. I never thought I would say that of her, but I do want her to return safely."

Yosho nodded in agreement.

At Nagi's mental signal, Ken-Ohki looked up from the market stall at which he was browsing, and he smiled. That was Ryo-Ohki there, in an adult humanoid form, he was sure of it, and she was buying supplies for the fugitives, as they had suspected. It had taken them precious time, figuring out how the fugitives had managed to keep themselves fed, and then trying to guess where Ryo-Ohki would next take on supplies, but they finally had a lead on her. As they had arranged, now that Ryo-Ohki had been spotted here, Nagi would guard Ken-Ohki's back while he followed her. They were actually hoping it wouldn't come to a fight. Ryo-Ohki might unwittingly lead them to the rest of the fugitives.

Ken-Ohki looked up at the skies, not sure what signs would presage the onset of the tornados he had seen advised in the day's weather forecast. He wasn't really sure why a world so close to the heart of the empire didn't have weather control.

He started as a loud noise began to blare. People around him started similarly, then began to move into buildings and homes. Ken-Ohki realized it must be some sort of warning. Probably it was for tornadoes. Ryo-Ohki also seemed to have noticed it - she was looking about nervously. Ken-Ohki snarled inside of his head. With streets clearing and her more nervous, he might be spotted, and then they might lose her when she fled.

Then all other thoughts were driven out of his head by an incredibly loud roar of wind. Leaves were blowing around him, and the skies were dark with clouds. Looking back at his quarry, Ken-Ohki saw that she had apparently decided to seek shelter, as she was entering a nearby public building. It seemed to be some sort of transportation hub.

Impossibly, the roar was growing louder. Ken-Ohki hurried inside the building as well. It wouldn't matter too much if she saw him now, and it wouldn't matter at all if he were dead. He was relieved to hear inside his mind that Nagi had taken shelter nearby.

Inside the public area Ken-Ohki had entered, there was a pandemonium. Apparently this was some sort of major transportation hub, and all sorts of people were arriving and leaving - or trying to. The crowds were jostling each other in ways that seemed almost random. There were some local officials trying to take control, but they were few and too terrified.

There was a crash behind Ken-Ohki, and a great tree branch flew like a javelin only an arms-length from him, whistling and crashing to the floor. He looked back to see a broken window, and the tree which had lost the limb soaring down the street. Ken-Ohki began to run towards the crowd, shouting something like, "Get back!"

A screeching sound above him had him instantly on guard, energy sabers formed in his hands, but there was no foe. There was only the roof being peeled back and shorn away. A great black funnel was now visible, only a building or so away - and coming closer. Ken-Ohki tried to run further into the building, but the mob was blocking him - apparently there simply was not enough room for everyone to get to shelter. Not that there was much shelter, when buildings themselves did not remain intact.

Ken-Ohki saw a great piece of debris being hurled towards the crowds. Not wanting to be hit by it himself, he leapt and kicked it aside. As he fell to earth, however, he saw another piece of debris heading for the crowds. He couldn't stop it in time. It was small, but far from him, and traveling with great speed. It didn't matter how skilled he was, there was simply no time to reach it.

It wasn't fair.

There was a crashing sound, and a great scream. As he landed, he curled into a ball and lay on the floor. The howling wind seemed to move all air, even all space before him, and he curled tighter. In another moment, he realized the cyclone had swept on, farther down the street by the sound of it, but still receding, until suddenly it was no more.

Ken-Ohki stood slowly, then turned to look behind him, at where the small, unstoppable debris must've hit, morbidly interested in seeing how much damage had been caused by another senseless tragedy, another horrible act of violence, like many he had seen over the centuries, but been unable to prevent.

A woman lay spreadeagled over a child, trying to protect him from the debris, which had crashed upon her back. Ken-Ohki swallowed, no child should have to see that - but then, he recognized who it was, moments before she shook off the debris and arose. It was Ryo-Ohki.

The child's true mother was only inches away, shielding another of her children with her body, but with an arm outstretched, grasping the hand of the child Ryo-Ohki was shielding.

As Ken-Ohki watched, Ryo-Ohki looked about and then stood unsteadily. The child's mother, tears in her eyes, swept all of her children and Ryo-Ohki into a fierce embrace, weeping, loudly expressing her relief and fears in incoherent terms, overwhelmed by her emotions. Ryo-Ohki returned the embrace, at first awkwardly, but apparently with true sympathy. It seemed Ken-Ohki had either been forgotten, or never detected in the first place.

He swallowed. This was ridiculous. Surely it had been some instinct of Ryo-Ohki's to shield that child, and nothing more. It said nothing of her true character.

Or did it? Wouldn't her instinct in a time like that show what sort of a person she truly was?

Then it had to be an accident. She might've simply gotten bowled over by high winds or debris. Covering the child like that had simply been serendipity.

He wasn't sure he believed that. He didn't know what he believed.

After some minutes, Ryo-Ohki said something, and disentangled from the family. She and the child talked a moment. Ryo-Ohki started to turn to go, but the mother hugged her again, and they exchanged more words. Ryo-Ohki turned, to walk out of the building and resume her journey.

She and Ken-Ohki's eyes met for the first time that day. Ken-Ohki saw surprise, fear, and defiance. He braced himself. If she chose to fight now, he'd match it, out of sheer determination. She matched his stance. Her eyes moved nervously toward the family she had saved, and she took a step forward. Surely she wasn't trying to take the fight further from them? She had never been concerned about that before - but then, that had been seven centuries ago, when her cabbit eyes glowed green.

The child she had saved ran up. It appeared to be male. "You aren't going to hurt her, are you?" he asked, concerned.

Ken-Ohki looked down at the child, back up at Ryo-Ohki for a long moment, then back down at the child. "No," he said slowly. "I was mistaken."

He turned on his heel and walked quickly out of the building. He had to get out of here. Nagi was similarly silent in his mind as they rendezvoused. Still, they were both looking at the destruction around them, and the people around them - some stunned, some trying to do something to make it better. The two of them stopped and looked at each other. Their minds and glances admitted that they didn't have anywhere to go for a time, having no idea what they would do now that they could not continue the pursuit in good conscience.

They turned back towards the worst of the destruction. As was natural for the bounty hunter pair, they gravitated towards the uniformed policemen and rescue workers who were arriving, and thew themselves into assisting them, without much explanation or introduction. This provided many hours of good, mind-numbing manual labor, so that neither Ken-Ohki nor Nagi would have to think about seven centuries of having been mistaken.

Two days after first accessing the Wings consciously, Tenchi was able to create Wings fairly easily, and make the armor, but had been unable to make the armor and the sword at the same time. The armor, however, stayed in place until he was done with it - he never quite noticed when it was gone, but it hadn't yet left when he needed it. He wondered what would happen if he tried again to make the armor and sword together today. Hopefully not another scan by Washu - she'd done at least three of those already.

He looked around at the others in the gym at the start of practice. Ryo-Ohki was there in cabbit form again - she had been fairly quiet ever since revealing the extraordinary actions of Ken-Ohki on her last trip out. Mihoshi was there, looking eager and excited, as she had been all the past few days. Ryoko was looking about with the feral light in her eyes that tended to appear before and during their sparring. Ayeka was determined, but now and then she appeared concerned. She'd been looking more and more like that, lately.

Tenchi took a deep breath. He announced, "I'm going to try it again." No one needed to ask what he was going to try. Before him appeared the Light-Hawk Wings, and faster than before, they flowed over his body, leaving him coated in the armor. He created another set of Wings, and slowly formed them into the enormous sword, and this time his armor remained. Tenchi stared at the sword, then at his armor, hardly able to believe that he had finally reached this point. He looked around, seeing elated faces, hearing jubilant laughter and Ryo-Ohki's merry meows. Tenchi performed a few of the moves from the first swordplay lesson that Grandpa had ever taught him. He grinned broadly.

"OK, now, how do I turn it off?" Tenchi asked.

The room was silent.

Nagi and Ken-Ohki were walking through an open field, having decided to hike since there were still delays with transportation back to the spaceport. Ken-Ohki, of course, could have reformed into a spaceship at any time, but both of them felt the need to perform some physical activity still. Besides, they had no idea where they were going to go next.

Ken-Ohki knew Nagi needed to rest, he knew he needed to rest, but he didn't know what to do now. It hurt so badly, it made him so angry at himself, realizing that he had been mistaken all of this time about Ryo-Ohki and Ryoko. He was so angry he actually that his mental link with Nagi wasn't enough, he balled his fists and shouted at the skies above them.

Nagi grabbed him by the shoulders and shouted, "Ken-Ohki, don't you do this to me!"

He looked at her, astonished to see her crying. He almost couldn't remember the last time he had seen her cry. She continued, "If you go to pieces, what will I do? I made just the same mistakes. Who will help me put myself back together if you fall apart?"

The cabbit in humanoid form clasped her shoulders as tightly as hers. For the first time in his life, he was able to shed tears.

Next Chapter

Tenchi and the others stand before the audience on a stage. "We're looking forward to next year," Tenchi says, "since we've got some really great stuff coming. However, we wanted to be sure and thank you for reading all that you have this year. It's been very encouraging." They all bow.

"The next chapter is 'No Need For The Ancient Guardians'," Tenchi informs the audience. "The next chapter will not be until after the new year, on Saturday, January 19, 2013, assuming that Dragonwiles is still alive. Thank you for your interest, and we invite you to join us as the story continues next year!"

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.

"Although this chapter does involve a weather disaster, it was not intended to be any sort of analysis of Hurricane Sandy. Actually, it was more consciously inspired by a Weather Channel production about people who survived a tornado. Any errors in facts about tornadoes are my own.

"This chapter doesn't occur in the Tenchi Universe arc, once again. Nor does it occur in the Tenchi OVA.

"As far as I know, Tenchi never learns to consciously access the Wings - unless that is somehow what he is supposed to be doing in the fight with Kagato. But since he didn't know he had that power before then, and possibly didn't even have it before then, it seems unlikely. I suppose it may not be strictly necessary for Tenchi to learn how to consciously control the Wings to face what comes, but I thought that it made sense that he would try to.

"Also, Tenchi's method for consciously controlling the Wings is not canon, at least not as far as I know. In the OVA, Ayeka does teach him (evidently within minutes) how to make a Juraian space tree manifest the Wings. It just occurred to me one day that Tenchi might be able to access his own Wings in the same manner. This may be totally wrong.

"Further, Ken-Ohki and Nagi's decision to no longer pursue Ryo-Ohki and Ryoko was achieved in this chapter, very, very differently from how it was done in Tenchi Universe. In Tenchi Universe, Ken-Ohki and Ryo-Ohki fight at first, but give up as soon as Sasami says not to. (My memory of this is fading, so I may be wrong or missing important details.) Here I made it rather more difficult for them to let go of the past - my version of the past, which isn't entirely canon since I included Ken-Ohki into the mostly-OVA backstory I made, and filled in some details.

"Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!"

Chapter 59 Main Chapters Chapter 61