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Chapter 68 Main Chapters Chapter 70

Chapter 69: No Need for Restoring Home

Nobuyuki takes a seat and says, "Hey, all you Tenchi fans! I'm Nobuyuki, Tenchi's dad. Thanks for supporting my son. He's been through some rough times, I know. Dragonwiles asked me to be the D. J. for this chapter, and here's the song I thought most appropriate. Not that Dragonwiles owns it, or the movie it's from, and he definitely has no rights in my Tenchi!"

The song from the end of 'Laputa: Castle in the Sky' begins to play - a song of melancholy happiness, of resolute resolution, and of beauty.

Tenchi was in the audience chamber with his friends, his bodyguards, and many Juraians. Ayeka was granting an audience to Lord Takebe, who presented something to the queen after a bow. It looked like a carved branch, but probably it really was some sort of message, Tenchi guessed. Ayeka received it with both hands and smiled, offering congratulations. Asahi Takebe next offered another to Sasami, seated nearby who squealed and said that she was so happy for her. Lord Takebe offered another to Grandpa, while Gohgei gave one to Tenchi, explaining in a low voice how to activate it. When he did, he was only slightly startled to find that a hologram of Lord Takebe appeared, inviting him to the wedding of his daughter and Gohgei.

"It'll be in a few Earth months' time," Gohgei said in answer to Tenchi's question about what the hologram had been saying about the date. Tenchi then remembered with embarrassment to congratulate him, but Gohgei didn't seem to have minded - of course, his happiness was probably invincible right now. He and Lord and Lady Takebe continued through the crowd of their friends, passing out branch after branch after branch.

It was probably only a half-hour or so later when Kiyone glanced significantly at Mihoshi as they approached Tenchi. Mihoshi said, "Tenchi, we have good news! Kiyone and I finally got promoted to Inspector!"

"Wow, congratulations!" Tenchi told them.

Mihoshi bawled, "I'm so happy!" She blew her nose loudly. Kiyone smiled nervously and apologetically at Tenchi, but he seemed more concerned about Mihoshi's plight than embarrassed by it.

"It is a good thing, right?" Tenchi asked tentatively, starting to wonder if he'd misunderstood.

"We won't get to be on Earth beat anymore!" Mihoshi sniffed.

Kiyone explained, "Our assignments will be based out of GP HQ for a while. We'll be doing some traveling, but I don't know if we'll have a chance to visit anytime soon."

"Oh," Tenchi said in realization. "We'll miss you both."

"I will too!" Mihoshi sobbed.

Kiyone's frowning mouth opened towards her friend, then changed into a smile as she turned toward Tenchi and said, "We have to report in tomorrow, but if you don't mind, maybe we could swap stories about everything that happened. We've all been pretty busy, and I doubt I've heard everything that happened to you."

"That's a great idea!" Tenchi agreed, as Mihoshi enthused, "Yeah!"

On the next day, Nagi entered Ken-Ohki's guest quarters in Tenju and found Ken-Ohki in humanoid form, the white being taking sips from a nearby glass.

"It's customary to drink something a bit stronger when you've got woman problems," Nagi teased.

He responded first with a growl which more ordinarily issued from his cabbit form, then added, "I was thirsty."

She sat next to him and after a bit finally told him, "It's not that I don't understand your feelings, and you weren't trying to be cruel with her. I just wish you two could get along better. You are the only members of your species, after all."

After giving her a look, Ken-Ohki returned dryly, "I doubt Ryo-Ohki would appreciate our relations hinging entirely on that." He took another sip, then sighed with a scowl. "I'm truly envious of you, and come to think of it, of her and Ryoko, too. Everyone's been able to move on after all that was done to them. I'm still the same young cabbit who was shoved out an airlock."

"Hey," Nagi told him seriously, "at least you know it now. Besides, feeling dead inside, having to struggle to move on - that's normal. We all had to go through it to get to this place where you envy us. You'll get through it fine."

Ken-Ohki looked at her a long moment. "You're really thinking about visiting your homeworld?"

"I know what you're thinking," she said, drawing a groan from him (that joke about their mindlink never got old for her,) "but seriously, this is one of those things I'm thinking I need to do to move on."

He looked at her, then looked away and said, "Don't be thinking like that. If anything, you're not being selfish enough about this. If you need healing there, get well there. If you find yourself wanting to retire there, go ahead and do it. I'll decide what to do about it when you know what you want to do. Don't get wrapped up in whether you're hypocritical when you worry about Ryo-Ohki and me."

"We both know that was what started this train of thought," she admitted, "but please, let me do this." She bowed from her seat.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said at last, putting his empty glass down. "The only bounty I need for this job is knowing that you'll keep up with your own recovery, body and mind."

"Done," she said, and they stood together. "Let's move on out now."

They walked out the door.

Ryoko finished her tale of why Ryo-Ohki was so upset with a dramatic arm wave and the words, "So then Ken-Ohki says something like he doesn't know how to regard her now. Ryo-Ohki's not liking that, of course. She tries to keep up her end of the conversation, but there isn't much more to say, so she leaves. And that's why she's upset."

Tenchi cleared his throat, rubbed the back of his head for what seemed like the third time, and said, "That is sad. I feel so bad for her." His bodyguards were standing only a few paces behind him, but they were considerate enough to not appear to be too interested in Ryo-Ohki and Ken-Ohki's private affairs.

Ryoko sighed loudly. "Yeah, it is. It's not like we don't know where he's coming from - we dunno how to regard him, either. I mean, we still give him the time of day, even though I'm still kinda mad at him and Nagi for chasing us for 700 years, and Ryo-Ohki is too, but not enough, I don't think -"

Tenchi held up a hand apologetically. "Excuse me, Ryoko, but are you sure you don't want to continue this in the room, instead of in the hall?"

"That's very gentlemanly of you," she declined, "but I can sit down fine out here." She demonstrated by levitating slightly off the floor and taking a sitting posture while hovering. Tenchi decided this wasn't a good time to clarify.

"Anyhow," Ryoko said reluctantly, in stark contrast to the free flow of her words to this point, "I think she needs to get away for a bit. Even if things weren't like this, we've been relying on her a lot," - Tenchi nodded - "and it'd be nice to thank her with a vacation." He nodded again, and she continued, "More adventurous than most vacations, though. Washu's been telling us about some really neat spots to explore on the fringes of space, things people have only seen from afar, no one's been before, and she wanted to see them up close. Anyhow, there's no time like the present, so we're probably going to head out soon."

Tenchi said with some concern, "When will you be back?"

"Oh, in time for Gohgei and little Takebe's wedding, at least," Ryoko said. Her informality towards Juraian nobility seemed to cause the most reaction in Tenchi's bodyguards that he'd seen in all this conversation, but they soon regained impassivity.

"Anyhow," Ryoko said, then paused, and finally told him, "this is goodbye, Tenchi. At least until next time."

"Until next time, Ryoko," Tenchi replied unhappily.

She walked down the hall, and Tenchi, at long last, entered his room. So that was it, then. Ryoko and Ryo-Ohki and Washu weren't going to be coming back home. It had only been beginning to dawn on Tenchi today that Jurai was Ayeka and Sasami's home, in addition to Ayeka being queen now, so there was no way they could be returning to his home. Now there was this. It looked like, even though they'd won, the gang had lost the home they'd left on Earth.

Of course, that wasn't quite what they had been fighting for - or at least not the main thing. Had he really been so selfish as to fight for that without even telling the others?

He sat down heavily, his bodyguards taking places beside him.

Nobuyuki huffed at Tenchi after dinner, "Are you really sure you want to leave everything like this?"

Tenchi sighed, "They made the choices they needed to make for everyone's sake, Dad! I can't impose my selfishness on them!"

His father groaned. "You're being too noble about this. If you want someone to stay, you need to ask her!"

"And plant doubt in a heart at a time like this?" Tenchi asked incredulously.

"Maybe you're misunderstanding what's in their hearts!" Nobuyuki insisted.

"Dad," Tenchi said, dropping his head, "I don't understand what's in my own heart well enough to ask any one of them the sort of question you want me to ask. I don't want just one to stay, I want them all to stay, like it was before, but it can't be that way, Dad. I know what you mean, I don't know how I can still not choose one of them after all this time. They're all great women. I know I could be happy like that with one of them. I just - I haven't got the words for it, Dad."

His father stayed still for a bit, then got up and clapped him on the shoulder. Tenchi looked up, and they shared sad smiles before Nobuyuki left the room.

As it ended up, the Takebes and Gohgei took Tenchi, Nobuyuki, and Yosho back to their home on Earth, and promised to pick them up shortly before Lady Takebe and Gohgei's wedding so they could attend. It was an uneventful trip, and a wonderfully restful one. Tenchi didn't want to say anything against Yukinojo and Yagami, which had seen them faithfully through such danger. Still, one of the distinct advantages of space trees was that he didn't feel like he was cooped up inside the whole time, because of their abundant interiors, resplendent with wildlife and simulated day and night cycles.

Tenchi, Nobuyuki, and Yosho found their house on Earth in surprisingly good order, but this was soon explained by Tenchi's aunt coming by the next day to check on the house and nearly jumping out of her skin to find people living in it. The day after that, cousin Taro was unceremoniously deposited with them, with the vague explanation that his parents had gone on an extended vacation of indeterminate length. The three took this in stride, or as much as they could when reduced to bachelor cooking and tending to a very young child. Taro contributed heartily to noises signifying domestic bliss, but Tenchi noticed that his own voice seemed to echo like it used to in the house.

Yosho, a few weeks subsequent to their return, after relating their latest adventures, mused aloud as he relaxed in a branch of his space tree Funaho, "When I first began to realize that Tenchi had become a swordsman who had the skills to face Ryoko and win, I was astonished, and, of course, proud. That his path was different from the kingship, though, I think I was beginning to realize - though I hadn't yet realized I had realized it." He grinned wryly.

Funaho would've frowned, if she had a face, and probed, "Long ago, when you were gauging the strength of those who hated us for your heritage, I know that there was a part of you that wanted to be the ruler, as was your right, and so you could prove their prejudices wrong. And as recently as Tenchi's birth, you were considering preparing him for the kingship. So why did you so radically change your mind?"

Yosho had told her the reasons he had told others. He hesitated only a moment before telling the last one. "I know in my heart that if Tenchi were to accept the throne now, all that is thought by those who hate me think would be proven right. Tenchi does not think of himself as a Juraian. He doesn't even think of himself as an Earthling before a Juraian, or of himself as a half-Juraian. He thinks of himself as human, totally and utterly. Tenchi would rule the house of Jurai to the best of his ability, but he would, in his heart, be doing someone else's job, ruling someone else's people. It would never stop him from doing his best. Nevertheless, it would be noticed, and to some extent, rightfully resented. Jurai deserves a Juraian king. Tenchi would never allow himself to be satisfied doing something halfway, but this is one task he could never achieve. So it's best for everyone that he be a man, not a Juraian."

Space trees did not sigh, not naturally, so Funaho instead told him, "Centuries watching humanoids, and I still understand you not. Yet, all's well that ends well, as that one human said. And you don't seem disappointed in this outcome, or Tenchi, so I shall be satisfied as well."

Yosho looked out upon the lands he now called home and spoke with contentment: "I am confident that I never shall be disappointed in Tenchi. Children make us proud, even if they don't take the paths we originally thought they would."

Tenchi soon found that between Taro and schoolwork, he didn't have much time for reflection. Somehow or another, after a lot of meeting and talking between himself and his father and grandfather and teachers and the principal, they managed to work out a way for him to continue his education. Even with all of the make-up homework and remedial lessons (and there were tons and tons of them), Tenchi faced the uncomfortable realization that he wouldn't be able to move on with the rest of his class.

At times, he wondered how much he wanted to move on with the rest of the class. He understood why they were so curious about what could possibly have taken him away for months, but it was frustrating not to be able to give good answers. Tenchi sensed his social status slipped with each of his vague replies and refusals to divulge any details, but since he had no time to spend with the others, he saw that eventually his standing would've plummeted anyway.

He wanted to care more about that. The others all seemed so flighty, though, so full of foolish laughter and talk. His classmates didn't seem to have any appreciation of the wider world around them, or of how much hard work and protection was needed in order for them to care about the pointless stuff they obsessed over. On the other hand, he didn't want them to know what it took to keep someone safe, or what kind of sacrifices were needed to keep good men in power and bad men out. If it came down to it, he'd rather accept more battles, more blood on his own hands than to let any of his friends see what a battle truly was.

There just wasn't a good way to tell anybody that, and so the days wore on.

One day, after school, Tenchi stood in a doorway at his house and looked at his father a moment. "Hey, Dad, can I talk to you?"

Nobuyuki looked away from the view out of the glass door, and turned slightly on the couch as he said, "Sure, Tenchi. What do you want to talk about?"

Tenchi shrugged and said, "My future." Seeing his father's excited look, Tenchi added, "My career, not women." His father's face fell, but rebounded.

"So, what about it? What have you been thinking?" Nobuyuki asked.

"I've been trying to think about what I want to do, what college to go to, what to do next," Tenchi explained as he sat on the couch. "I don't know for sure. I've been thinking about art college, because math and science aren't my strong points. But art's not really my strong point, either, and I don't want to starve."

Nobuyuki nodded.

Tenchi continued, "I like working with my hands, and working outdoors. Maybe I could get into woodworking. But I have to wonder - is that really something that I'll enjoy doing for the rest of my life? I don't know. What do you think?"

Nobuyuki put a finger to his chin, and after a moment said, "If that's what you want to do, that's fine with me. I'm happy to support you in whatever you pick."

"Thanks, Dad," Tenchi told him. "There's another thing I've been thinking about, though. I'll probably need to move out for a while. Who's going to take care of the fields?"

Nobuyuki briefly looked out at the fields in question before saying, "You know, when you were younger, and we were just starting giving you chores out there, I asked myself that question. At the time, I figured I'd be able to do it. But, I'm not getting any younger, and it is late by the time I get home from the office. I think we'll probably just hire somebody from town."

Tenchi blinked. "It seems kinda weird," he admitted. Actually, now that he thought about it, it seemed entirely wrong for the fields to be tended by someone who hadn't been working them forever. Yet, his father made sense. Tenchi he had to admit that he hadn't actually been working the fields forever, despite how often it felt that way. Change always seemed to come, and really, of all the unwelcome changes he'd faced or would face, this was a fairly minor one.

"Actually, in a few years we could probably get your cousin Taro to start helping with it," Nobuyuki mused aloud. "Hm. I just had an idea. Tenchi, you have really turned out to be good at farming. Maybe you could get some sort of agricultural degree."

"I hadn't thought of that. Maybe," Tenchi said, surprised. "I'll think about it, Dad. Thanks."

"You're welcome," Nobuyuki said. Tenchi smiled at him and got off the couch, and went out the door.

Azaka and Kamadaki strode towards their rooted space trees, exchanging greetings with the guardians who were sweeping the paths. The knights stopped before their trees and clutched their space tree keys, feeling the heat in their hands as their trees spoke to them, breathed murmurs on the wind as they spoke back to them. It was still hard to only be able to speak to their old friends when they were on leave, but it was better than not being able to speak to them at all, as was the case with many other old friends. Further, these visits had given them the opportunity to properly thank the guardians who had been (and still were) preserving this place and teaching future generations about what had happened long ago. Azaka and Kamadaki had also been able to deliver the Queen's robots, named after them, back to her after they had been recharged, which she had greatly appreciated. Therefore the ancient knights were well content as they spoke with their space trees across the wintry air.

It was a few weeks after Tenchi and his family had been taken to, and returned from, Goghei and Asahi's wedding, that Tenchi was coming home from school and saw two figures standing on the other side of the lake, while beams of multicolored light stretched between the rooted Funaho and Ryu-Oh. Tenchi squawked and gawked, then beamed and walked quickly toward the other side.

"Welcome back, Sasami! Welcome to Earth, Azaka!"

Sasami had been resting her hand on Funaho's trunk with a faraway smile, and Azaka had been tracking Tenchi's approach with a friendly expression. Sasami turned soon after Tenchi's greeting and returned his smile, saying, "It's good to be back, Tenchi. Ayeka and Kamadaki send their regards, and that they were sorry they couldn't make it."

"I understand - they're working hard for everyone's sake," Tenchi assured her.

"Your world is most beautiful, Prince Tenchi," Azaka told him. "I am glad to finally visit you."

"Do you mind that we didn't ask in advance?" Sasami said sheepishly.

"This is a good surprise," Tenchi assured her, "and all of you are welcome whenever you can come. How long can you stay?"

"Not long enough," sighed Sasami. "But I had to look after the pets." As they spoke, the turtle octopi had ambled up to them, and she squatted and petted their heads familiarly. "So I'll probably come back again soon." Looking up at him, Sasami asked, "Do you need help with dinner?"

"Definitely," Tenchi agreed heartily, "but we ran out of most of your favorite ingredients. I think."

"That was the other reason I knew I had to come back," Sasami laughed. "We brought some." Azaka produced from within his cloak a pouch with a scent that made the memories in Tenchi's mouth start perspiring.

"I'll do my best on it" -Sasami assured him- "after I get done looking after more of the pets."

Tenchi nodded and held out his hand to Azaka, "Why don't I take that to the kitchen for you? I'll tell Grandpa you're here, and get your room ready, and one for Azaka, too."

"A most considerate host," Azaka spoke gratefully as he entrusted the pouch to Tenchi, while Sasami cheered and hugged the turtle octopi.

Tenchi walked towards the house, and after reaching the porch, looked back to see the lake and the trees, lit both by their conversation and the afternoon sun. Azaka stood by the shore, watching the surroundings protectively while reveling in the breeze. There also was Sasami, now found by Mik, the ferret-like pet, who quickly clambered onto her shoulders as she laughed. The scene fixed in his mind, Tenchi went indoors.

Lady Tokimi's chosen one paused deliberately on the street at a moderate distance from the two beings who stood in his path. The chosen one noted without distraction the other beings who came out of hiding places to his sides and behind him, and their reinforcements who remained hidden until further orders.

"Ladron," the chosen one said in greeting to the first of the two beings who had been waiting for him, "how unexpected to find you and your subordinates waiting for me on my customary path from the meeting hall to my domicile."

With only a brief pause to fold his arms importantly, Ladron asked the chosen one haughtily, "Z, why did you let this opportunity slip through our fingers?"

"You were paying better attention than that in the briefings, Ladron," Z reprimanded him calmly. "We simply were not ready. Without the power to take an opportunity, it's not truly an opportunity."

"This was Jurai's greatest time of weakness," Ladron disagreed. "Our power would have been quite enough! We could have seized-"

"Spare us the speeches of myriad defeated revolts," Z interrupted with a chopping motion of his hand. "All of them assumed that passion could substitute for power. Melding passion with power has always been the goal of our cause. We don't even have enough ships to bring the numbers we do have to battle - meaning the much larger Juraian navy could've put aside this recent civil war long enough to crush us, as usual."

"And whose fault is it that we do not have enough ships?" Ladron's question was both accusatory and triumphant.

"Dr. Clay's, obviously," Z replied dispassionately. "He put his own agenda ahead of ours. Now that we are rid of him, those devoted to our cause shall be in complete control of building our strength - as it should be."

"And who picked Dr. Clay as our merchant?" Ladron asked, with a great smirk.

"Not that it matters at this juncture," Z commented, examining again the gathered assassins, "but we both know that it was neither you nor I who picked him. What is your purpose in asking these questions when you have already determined both the answers, and what you plan to do in light of them?"

Ladron gestured in a circle at his men. "I wanted to show them," Ladron explained, "why it is that you cannot be allowed to continue crippling our cause."

"I suspected you lacked confidence in their loyalty," Z said calmly, infuriating Ladron. Z continued, "Thank you for your honesty. In return, I had hoped to convince your subordinates not to throw away their lives for your poor judgment." He examined the faces of the men around him. "How unfortunate," he commented. "Let us begin, then."

Z concluded arranging the funerary rites for Ladron and his subordinates from the privacy of his domicile. Ladron and his men had, after all, been part of the cause. Besides, the symbolism would inspire those who did not know of his treachery, and the confidence of presiding over a funeral for his enemies would cow Ladron's remaining allies. The cause did need all of the willing hands it could get, after all. There was still so much to do in the coming years.

Next Chapter

"We're finally done with the Universe arc, everyone!" Tenchi calls out to the entire cast. "Thank you for your hard work!" There is much congratulating and cheering. The cast begins busily enjoying their arc-wrap party feast.

"So, Dragonwiles," Nobuyuki asks, "are you planning on continuing the story? We still haven't found out who Tenchi ends up with!"

"I'm planning on continuing the story," Dragonwiles confirms, "and even ending it eventually."

"Ending it!" the cast exclaims in horror.

"This is me we're talking about," Dragonwiles reassures with a roll of the eyes, "it'll take awhile." He almost blows a bit of smoke out of his nostrils, but remembers that they're in a crowded room in time.

Tenchi stands up again in front of everyone and says, "It's my turn once again to do the next chapter preview. As you saw, in the next arc we'll be confronting another new enemy - well, he's new here, but you already knew he existed - ah, whatever. The next chapter is 'No Need for Knowing Thy Enemy'."

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.

"As I mentioned in the last chapter's continuity notes, I think that a story about Tenchi becoming and/or being king of Jurai would be an interesting story, and as I am aware of at least one such fan fiction, clearly others agree. During my initial conception of the story, Tenchi's ascension to the throne was one of its elements, but fairly early on, I decided to remove that element, and characterized Tenchi differently to match - or did I characterize Tenchi differently and, realizing that, remove from my story the idea that Tenchi would become king? I hope no one is too greatly put out by this, but I find it necessary with my characterization of Tenchi. I think it was his connection to the land through his farming that first began to convince me that he ought to be fairly closely connected to the earth. In addition, I couldn't particularly remember either in the OVA or in the Universe series or the manga, that he ever showed much curiosity about the wider galaxy, or Jurai in particular. He never inquired about or considered own place in Juraian or galactic society, or any of the medical, cultural, or philosophical implications of his partial alien ancestry. A lack of curiosity about these drastic revelations about his own identity and the existence of aliens suggested that he had already developed a very firm sense of self as a normal human - such a well-developed sense that the other revelations have barely shaken this sense, if at all.

"My characterization, therefore, is not that he's stupid, but instead that he is content with his life as a human. If you were to ask Tenchi whether he realizes he is in fact part alien, he'd probably stare at you bemusedly before agreeing that you're right and he hadn't thought about it much - and then go on with his everyday concerns. He fights for the galaxy because it's right and people need him to do it, and so he can have someplace to go home to - but he does not consider himself special, just the man who was called on to do it.

"This also influenced my choice of suggesting agriculture as a career path for Tenchi rather than art college. We see him in the OVA, working alone, managing to cultivate enough fields for Ryo-Ohki to get at least a fair number of carrots. I'm rather ignorant on the subject, but I suspect that this would take more than responsibility and industriousness, but also some degree of natural talent. I believe it was the 'Tenchi Muyo In Love' movie that suggested that he would go to art college. I'm very ignorant about the Japanese educational system, so there may be implications that I'm not grasping in that phrase which was probably translated from a Japanese one. However, if the anime series 'Honey and Clover' is any guide, one is expected, at least in some departments, to pursue the arts in a Japanese arts college. This poses a problem for me, as I'm not aware of Tenchi displaying interest or talent in the arts in the OVA or Universe series. Why, then, would he want or be encouraged to pursue that? There may well be a reason I don't understand, but putting all these reasons together, for this story, I plan to send him towards agriculture instead.

"The end of the Universe arc did have everyone leaving Earth while Tenchi returned to it, but for somewhat different reasons than they did in this chapter - Ayeka, for example, never became queen in canon, and Ryo-Ohki and Ken-Ohki didn't have a confrontation like the one I made them have. The Universe arc also had the characters return - although they didn't spend a lot of screen time on this, and it was the end of the series, at least as I recall.

"Ladron is a character I made up - I know of no canon character with that name. Z is the canon name for Lady Tokimi's chosen one. How much of the rest of him will be canon? You'll just have to wait to find out."

Chapter 68 Main Chapters Chapter 70