A Tenchi Muyo story
by D.B. Sommer
Disclaimer: Tenchi Muyo!, its characters and settings, © Hitoshi Okuda,
AIC / Pioneer LDC, and Viz Communications, Inc.
All comments and criticisms appreciated. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Tenchi Muyo! Fic
This uses the OVA continuity.
A drowsiness stole over Tenchi as the soft vibrations from Yukinojou’s
engines began lulling him to sleep. It was an unusual sensation for him.
Generally, whenever he went into space, there was some matter of importance
on hand that prevented him from doing anything other than concentrating
on whatever danger had presented itself. From Kagato to Dr. Clay, always
there had been some situation that cried out, ‘If you get caught napping,
Tenchi, some outer space bad guy is going to blow you into your molecular
components; and then see if you’re going to get that book report in on
time.’ One would have thought he would develop a phobia about space travel
with that sort of thing happening to him so often.
However, this time was going to be different; he could feel it in his
bones. All he was doing was traveling to another planet to enjoy a quiet
seaside vacation. Like going to Okinawa, except for the three-headed aliens
that would be there too. True, Ryouko and Aeka could still catch up and
cause some sort of problem that would end up giving him a headache, but
at least for now, all was at peace and he could relax and enjoy the ride.
Perhaps he could even fall asleep, just like Mihoshi was doing. She looked
so peaceful, dozing at the control console, a tiny line of drool pooling
Mihoshi was asleep at the controls?
"Wake up, Mihoshi." Tenchi shook her by the shoulder, eliciting
a groan from the girl as her eyes opened by only the tiniest fraction.
"Whaa?" was the most coherent thought she could muster after
having been awakened so.
Hoping she would be awake enough to understand the question, he asked,
"Who’s flying the ship?"
"Autopilot." Mihoshi waved towards the far side of the console
and began snoring again.
Tenchi looked at the strewn mess of garbage that sat on top of the console.
He removed used napkins, empty coffee cups, candy bar wrappers, and even
a pair of thin, red silk panties (while somehow keeping the image of Mihoshi
in them out of his head) around so that he could actually look at the
ship’s board. It was easy to locate the autopilot control. It was the
one with the flashing ‘System Malfunction’ light right above it.
Again Tenchi shook Mihoshi, getting the same results. "There’s a
light that says the system’s malfunctioning."
"That’s because it broke down a couple of days ago and I didn’t get
a chance to fix it," she explained sleepily.
"So in other words, we’re flying aimlessly though space."
"Yep." Mihoshi thought about that for a minute. "Oops."
She sat up, blushing slightly at the error, and grabbed the controls.
After a few moments of Tenchi scowling at her, she tried reassuring him
by saying, "Well, we really weren’t in any danger. One thing you
have to remember is that matter is actually the exception in deep space.
Most of the universe is nothing more than vast emptiness, and the odds
of traveling in one direction, like we’re doing, and running into something
are very poor. I’d say it would only be about—"
"One hundred percent!" Tenchi shouted as he pointed at the
Mihoshi let out an exasperated sigh. "No. That’s not it at all.
Didn’t you hear what I was saying? Matter is the exception, not the rule.
It would be— AHH!" Mihoshi at last looked to the viewscreen
Tenchi was pointing at. Where there should have been the vast emptiness
of space, there was, instead, the picture of a large moon taking up the
entire screen and growing bigger by the second. Impact craters from thousands
of asteroid impacts dotted its surface and at the rate the ship was speeding
towards it, one more was about to be added.
Mihoshi continued to scream as she jerked hard on the controls and increased
the thrust of the engines, powering out of the moon’s gravity well at
the last second. Even with the evasive maneuver, the ship skimmed the
surface of the terrestrial satellite at no more than fifty feet above
it. It was only as the image of the moon drifted off in the distance that
Mihoshi let out a sigh of relief.
"Wow! There’s nothing like a near-death collision to get the blood
flowing, is there, Tenchi?"
Upside down in his seat, feet sticking up in the air, Tenchi could only
moan in agreement and began to question his judgment in agreeing to travel
with Mihoshi after all.
"You do realize they could be anywhere in the universe?" Ryouko
said as she guided Ryo-Ohki into deep space. Their search of the majority
of Earth’s beaches had turned up nothing. It was not as though they had
to actually search each individual on the various beaches, which would
have taken them years. Instead, they searched for the much more obvious
sign that would be easy to spot in the air: Mihoshi’s crashed spaceship.
"I doubt Mihoshi is particularly imaginative," Aeka said, her
voice trying to project confidence while her true feelings of concern
were obvious with the wringing she was doing with her hands. "They
probably went someplace well known, like YuriKei 4, or Aqua Regia."
Ryouko placed her hand to her chin in thought. "Maybe not."
"What do you mean?"
"Well," Ryouko said slowly, "if you or me had a shot at
spending some time with Tenchi alone, would we go somewhere it was crowded?
Or would we take him to a nice secluded spot where we’d have a little
privacy, so we could get him to know him more intimately?"
Aeka blushed slightly at the idea of her and Tenchi being alone on a
beach, opening their hearts to one another without anyone, especially
Ryouko, Washuu, Sasami, or (that insufferable conniver) Mihoshi, interrupting
Ryouko watched the blush rise to Aeka’s cheeks. "Now do you get
"But where would we start?" Aeka asked, more intent than ever
to find Tenchi in order to protect him from Mihoshi and not from any plots
she had developed on her own.
"We’ll hit some of the more secluded spots near the Earth’s sector
and work our way out from there. If that doesn’t pan out, we’ll try some
of the more popular resorts like you thought at first." Ryouko began
going over Ryo-Ohki’s impressive collection of star charts.
Aeka looked out into space again. She fell to one knee, envisioning Tenchi’s
face in the star field. "Fear not, Lord Tenchi. I swear by the royal
blood that runs through my veins that I will protect you from whatever
trouble Mihoshi will get you in. If I should fail, may I die in the most
horrible and painful way possible, for my love is so great I could never
live without you."
A well-thrown metal skillet connected with the back of Aeka’s head.
"Knock it off with all that melodramatic crap!" Ryouko warned.
"If it gets any worse, I’m going to barf."
Aeka’s face began twitching. "How dare you assault my august personage
when I am aiding you in our mutual quest for Tenchi! If Ryu-oh was still
functional, I would have left you behind and gone to rescue Tenchi myself.
It’s not as though you could handle matters this important on your own."
Ryouko’s face began twitching in response. "Look, you. We haven’t
been searching for Tenchi for even a day and you’re already asking to
get spaced. So you’d better accept that fact that I’m going to be leader
of this expedition, or you’ll find yourself dropped off on some backwater
world where there won’t be anything but trees to talk to, and I don’t
mean the Juraian kind. Got it, Princess?"
Aeka began glowing brightly. "Oh, I ‘get it’ all right. Allow me
to show you the manner of my acquiescence to these asinine demands."
They say ‘in space no one can hear you scream’. However, space-traveling
cabbits have mastered the technique of ‘Miyah’ing quite audibly in protest
to fights that go on in the bowels of their starship forms, as Ryo-Ohki
was currently doing as the first day of the ‘Aeka and Ryouko Save Tenchi
From Mihoshi’ expedition began.
Tenchi was surprised to discover that he had calmed down fairly quickly
from what was yet another near-death experience for him. The calming had
happened so fast, that he began to wonder if he had simply become used
to the whole thing. A year ago, nearly getting run over by a car had been
enough to unnerve him for nearly a week. Now, almost slamming into a small
planetoid at several hundred thousand miles per hour was only worth fretting
about for five minutes. He was either becoming more courageous or more
His stomach grumbled in agreement, though for which idea he wasn’t certain.
"I’m sort of hungry," he told Mihoshi.
"Sure. I can get some food for…"
Tenchi looked at her curiously, wondering why she had trailed off like
that. Mihoshi stood straight up and gave a little squeal of terror.
"What is it?" Tenchi asked in concern.
Mihoshi said, "There were a couple or prisoners on the ship. I haven’t
had a chance to take them to the nearest Galaxy Police headquarters yet,
on account of how low my batteries were. And then, while I had to wait
a long time for the batteries to charge up, I got the call from my superiors
that ordered me to go on vacation."
"You mean—" Tenchi began.
"—I completely forgot they were here and didn’t feed them. Do you
think you could go down to the cells and check on them? I’m afraid they’d
be angry at me for not feeding them, and I hate it when people shout at
me for something like that."
Not that they weren’t already angry with her for arresting them, Tenchi
thought. Still, he supposed she was concerned because their anger would
be justified this time. Somehow, looking into her pleading eyes, he knew
he would not be able to refuse the request.
"Where are the prisoners located?" Tenchi asked.
"Thank you, Tenchi! You’re a lifesaver." She beamed a smile
at him. "You go down the main corridor fifty feet. Then you take
a left and go past three doors and then you take a right. And then you
go past a couple more doors, but stop before you get to the infirmary.
And then you’re there."
The door to the bridge automatically opened as Tenchi started to leave
the room. He was in the middle of the doorway when Mihoshi said, "Wait!
It’s go down the main corridor sixty feet, then take a right, then go
past two doors and take the right. And then you stop before you get to
the armory. And then you’re there."
Tenchi memorized the directions again. Just as he turned to go, Mihoshi
again stopped him. "Wait. That’s to the power reactor. Let me think
about this." She placed her hand to her chin in thought. Just as
Tenchi was about to ask her again, she spoke. "I’ve definitely got
it this time. Here’s what you do. You go out into the hall and look to
your right., you should see a map of the ship on the wall a few meters
away. The corridor across from that is the one you want to take. Just
go along it until you come to some stairs and…"
As Mihoshi droned on, Tenchi walked over to the map and studied it. Yelling,
"I think I’ve got it!" he made a beeline to the location marked
As Tenchi walked down the corridors, following a path of signs that said,
‘Follow the white arrows to the prisoner cells,’ he began to wonder if
Mihoshi was getting worse over time. Sometimes she was okay, but forgetting
about her prisoners really was unforgivable. The one thing she had always
seemed to do was take her job seriously, but it seemed to him this was
a too major of a mistake on her part.
At last he arrived at the cells on board the ship. Looking into an empty
one, he noticed that the beds within were quite nice, with padded white
mattresses and frilly comforters on them. There even appeared to be a
small voice-activated radio stationed on the outside of the cell, just
beyond the forcefields that kept the prisoners confined to their cells.
He supposed it made sense, since Mihoshi had told him that when on long
range patrols, it could take up to a week for a ship to make it back to
an inhabited world where a prisoner could be dropped off at a branch of
the Galaxy Police for processing. It was nice to see that the Galaxy Police
at least tried to make the prisoners feel comfortable.
He examined each cell, trying to find the prisoners, but ended up rewarded
with nothing. It wasn’t until he got to the eighth cell in the corridor
that he noticed it was occupied by what was presumably Mihoshi’s prisoners.
Or at least what was left of them.
For as Tenchi looked in, he was able to clearly see that only occupants
were two complete skeletons laid out on their beds, looking for all of
the world like some kind of Halloween decoration.
Tenchi backed out of sight of the cell and caught his breath. It was
some kind of mistake. Even Mihoshi could not have forgotten someone for
the amount of time it would have taken for them to end up in that state.
The real prisoners were probably in a cell farther down, he assured himself,
and went to make sure. Unfortunately, all of the other ones were vacant.
That meant the one with the skeletons had to be it.
Tenchi afforded one more look into the cell, assuring himself it wasn’t
an optical illusion. The skeletons were still there. This time Tenchi
backed out of the cellblock altogether and into the corridor beyond. Could
Mihoshi have been wrong about having prisoners at all, having dropped
them off and forgetting altogether about it? That didn’t seem likely either.
She had been certain they were still on the ship. With a hesitant hand,
he activated one of the communicators in the wall. "Mihoshi?"
"Yes?" The sound of munching could be heard over the reply
that came crackling over the unit.
"There’s a little problem with the prisoners."
"Are they being loud and unruly? If they are, just ask them nicely
to please keep it down. And if that doesn’t work, start to explain to
them Lord Fillybuster the Gregarious’s theories on how the universe actually
revolves on Urianan Banana peels and is held together with duct tape.
Usually I don’t get more than two minutes into the first part of the theory
when they get all quiet and apologize for causing a problem. Personally,
I don’t think much of the theory myself, but it does seem to be a useful
tool in calming prisoners down."
Tenchi felt the sweatdrop form behind his head. "Ah, no. They aren’t
being unruly at all. In fact, I’d say they’re the quietest people I’ve
seen in a real long time." He chided himself for his cowardice in
trying to dodge the issue. He forced himself to say, "I don’t know
how to tell you this, so I’m just going to come out and say it. I’m afraid
"Oh. Okay. As long as they aren’t giving you a hard… WHAT?!"
Tenchi listened to the sobbing on the other end as Mihoshi blubbered
out, "That can’t be. I’ve never had a prisoner die on me before.
My record is flawless in that respect. Sure, sometimes they complain about
me mentally torturing them, but everyone knows I would never do that sort
of thing to anyone. It’s just talk."
"Well, it’s true. I guess you’d better come down and check it out
yourself." Tenchi’s heart felt as though it had sunk to his stomach.
Things just didn’t make sense.
In less than a minute Mihoshi had joined Tenchi, bawling her eyes out
and sobbing about how she was now guilty of murder and was going to have
to arrest herself. The crying girl entered the cellblock with Tenchi,
allowing him to lead her to the room with the bodies. Tenchi watched Mihoshi
carefully, gauging her reaction as she laid eyes upon the remains for
the first time. He hoped she wouldn’t try to do anything rash.
She took one good look through her tears, then stopped crying. A look
of confusion passed over her features. "Umm, Tenchi. The prisoners
look perfectly fine to me."
"What are you talking about?!" he nearly shouted. "They’re
nothing but skeletons!"
"Hey, you’re not so fat yourself, jerk!"
Tenchi recoiled in horror as one of the skeletons sat up and spoke. A
moment later, its companion followed the example. Together they headed
towards the forcefield to the cell, stopping right in front of it mere
inches away from Tenchi. His reaction was automatic as he jumped back
and hid behind Mihoshi, who remained where she was as though two skeletons
coming towards her was the most normal thing in the world.
Mihoshi looked over her shoulder to stare at Tenchi in confusion. "Ah,
Tenchi. They’re Kallista Flockhartens. They all look like skeletons. Their
skin and internal organs are transparent. Although if you look real close
under the light, you can just make out a blue outline that surrounds their
bodies. That’s all you can see of their skin. Also, there is just the
faintest red glow in front of their eyes. That’s their optical nerves.
So you see, these two are perfectly normal."
Forcing himself to stare closely at the two animated sets of bones, Tenchi
could see that Mihoshi was correct and that both things were present on
the prisoners. He blushed in embarrassment.
"Tenchi, you’re so silly," Mihoshi giggled. "You were
just trying to scare me, weren’t you?"
"Sort of," Tenchi said, placing a hand behind his head in further
Mihoshi got both of the Flockhartens their food. Tenchi was relieved
to see that the invisibility effect extended to what they ate; grateful
he didn’t have to go through watching their digestive tracts in action.
As Mihoshi and Tenchi left the cells behind, she began to voice some
concerns. "I have something of a problem here. Headquarters specifically
said they didn’t want to hear my name at all. If I take the prisoners
in, then they’ll hear my name and I’ll get into trouble. Of course, I
don’t think we can take them on vacation with us either. I don’t know
what to do," she wailed.
"I don’t think your headquarters would mind if you’re dropping off
prisoners you already had in your custody before you went on vacation.
I’m pretty sure they meant not to make any arrests after you went on it,"
Mihoshi shook her head. "Nonono. You don’t understand. My orders
were very specific, and my superiors will be really angry if I don’t obey
them. I have to come up with something. Maybe if I ask Yukinojou he can
With a course of action decided, Mihoshi set off back to the bridge and
reactivated the artificial intelligence that served as her only companion
on long-range flights. Once activated, Yukinojou lowered his primary communications
unit; basically a mechanical head that lowered from the ceiling that allowed
Mihoshi to talk to him face-to-face.
"Good morning, Yukinojou," Mihoshi greeted happily.
"My chronometer indicates it’s six P.M. Juraian Standard Time. That
would place it as early evening."
"You know what I meant," Mihoshi said. "I have a problem."
"I see," the mechanical head answered almost drolly, if one
could attribute a droll tone in the unit’s mechanical voice. "It’s
only been one standard day since you were ordered on vacation and I had
a chance to shut down. And here I was hoping to get about six months rest
from our usual bouts of chaos. That was why I wanted most of my higher
functions turned off."
"Sorry about this," Mihoshi said, looking a little embarrassed.
Yukinojou continued without pause. "You do know that the last time
we were at headquarters the main computer diagnosed me with burnt out
logistics and worn out acceptors. You know, the important things I need
to interact with intelligent beings in a logical manner. It’s supposed
to take a minimum of fifteen years for that sort of problem to creep up
in my series of AI. It’s only taken four years of being under your command
for me to start to having massive break-downs of this sort. It’s all highly
traumatizing for me."
"Well, we are pretty busy and have had a high case load. That’s
probably why you’re having breakdowns in your higher functions,"
"Or it could be you are lazy, slovenly, conduct business in an offhand
and consistently illogical manner, cause massive amounts of damage to
the ship in senseless accidents that could easily be avoided, have no
sense of discipline…" Yukinojou trailed off as Mihoshi’s eyes began
to tear. Every time he tried to seriously berate her for her attitude,
she’d began to cry, and then his empathy programs would creep and he’d
"I’m sorry, Mihoshi. Our record of arrests is outstanding. We’ve
single-handedly brought down entire criminal organizations, like Keyser
Soze’s outfit. We always score high marks in concluding our cases in timely
fashion, and not once have we ever had to be disciplined for any violations
of prisoners’ rights. And," Yukinojou almost hated himself for this
part, mostly because it was true, "I like working with you because
you show such heartfelt enthusiasm for getting the job done and always
uphold the spirit of the Galaxy Police." Even if she did also screw
up things a lot of the time, drive him to distraction, and made him want
to lobotomize himself on more than one occasion.
"Thanks." Mihoshi’s attitude brightened considerably. "Now,
I’m sorry for interrupting your rest, but I have a little problem."
She outlined the dilemma of the prisoners.
Yukinojou said, "We’re going to have to drop them off and take our
chances that headquarters will let this slide." Logically they should
not have had a problem with the situation, but Mihoshi’s superiors had
been enthusiastic about not having any contact whatsoever with her for
six months. It was possible some problem could creep up, even if it was
through some misunderstanding about when the prisoners had really been
He was still reviewing the possibilities when he picked up a communication.
"Mihoshi. I have a distress signal from a Galaxy Police prisoner
transport in our sector. They say there was an attempted breakout by some
of the prisoners, but the situation is now under control. However, their
long-range communications have been damaged and they can only contact
others with their short-range communications systems."
There could be no doubt about their course of action. It was a common
fact that any space faring vessel receiving a distress call was obligated
to respond. Mihoshi set a course for the source of the signal.
It only took them ten minutes to reach the coordinates. Yukinojou’s sensors
matched the ship’s configuration to the transponder signal it gave off.
The ships linked with one another without difficulty, and Tenchi and Mihoshi
both went over to the transport to look over the situation. The transport’s
captain, Terrace Azsore, was waiting for them as they arrived. He and
Mihoshi saluted one another and began to talk.
"We were bringing in some Class C criminals from some of the outer
territories when they attempted a prison break. We got them under control
quick enough, except for one guy that managed to overload our sensor array
and blow apart some of the main engine controls. We’ve managed to repair
most of the damage. The main engines are still off-line, but my engineer
assures me he can have them fixed within the hour," Azsore explained.
"Our main problem is that our CGG-60B long-range antenna was severely
damaged. Our backup was destroyed as well."
"Without it, you can’t communicate outside a single star system,"
"You see the problem," Azsore said. "As a ship belonging
to the Galaxy Police, we are required to maintain a constant link with
headquarters in case of emergencies. We still have a long way to go to
get to the penal colony on Trakton-Gallows and a lot of that is in deep
space. This system isn’t exactly one of the most advanced, and any side
journeys for replacement parts are going to take a heck of a long time.
But if you could loan us your spare antenna—"
"You’d be able to head towards Trakton-Gallows right away,"
Mihoshi said brightly. "Sure, I’d be happy to loan you my backup."
"Thanks," the captain said as he called his communications
officer over his comlink and informed him that they were going to get
their hands on the necessary part.
As the transfer was taking place, an idea suddenly occurred to Tenchi.
"Mihoshi. Will this ship be heading to Galaxy Police Headquarters?"
Mihoshi nodded her head. "After it drops off its prisoners, yes."
"Is it possible for them to take your prisoners to headquarters
"Sure. Prisoner transfers happen all the time if one ship is heading
towards police headquarters and the other still needs to continue its
tour of duty," Mihoshi said happily, and continued to watch the men
transfer her reserve antenna to their ship.
After a few moments of inaction on Mihoshi’s part, Tenchi said slowly,
"Why don’t you ask the captain to take the prisoners off your hands
and then you won’t have to worry about them any more?"
It took a moment for the idea to sink in. "What a great idea. Thanks,
Tenchi. You sure are smart sometimes."
"Thanks," Tenchi said uncomfortably at the praise. She just
had to be so damn sincere that it was hard not to feel a little unworthy
The captain was only too happy to return a favor to Mihoshi. She transferred
all of the necessary paperwork for processing, and the Flockhartens were
given their own cell on the transport, seemingly delighted at being removed
from Mihoshi’s care. Without direct contact with headquarters, Mihoshi
thought it would be unlikely there would be any reprimands from her superiors
when she returned.
Once the transfer was complete and the transport’s engines were repaired,
both ships departed and resumed their destinations. Yukinojou had not
made it more than three parsecs before he realized something and gained
"Mihoshi, I’ve been going over the inventories from the last time
we were resupplied at headquarters, and I seem to have discovered some
Mihoshi stared at him in confusion. "I didn’t order any discrepancies."
Tenchi was amazed to discover that Galaxy Police ship artificial intelligences
were sophisticated enough to sweatdrop.
"Mihoshi, I’m not implying you ordered them. I’m saying there are
some on the inventory lists."
"And I’m telling you there can’t be any on the list because I didn’t
order any!" Mihoshi insisted.
"What in the name of a five-headed stellar Tarblist beast are you
talking about?!" Yukinojou shouted.
"I could ask you the same question!" Mihoshi shot back just
Tenchi backed away as Yukinojou’s voice took on a more icy tone. "I’m
telling you there are some discrepancies on the list. You know discrepancies.
Something that is at variance with something else."
Mihoshi’s eyes took on a knowing light. "Ohh. Why didn’t you say
so? I thought you meant there were discrepancies; those fancy little chocolate
and whip cream pastries they make on Altair 7. You know, the kind that
just melts in your mouth when you eat them. They taste so yummy I could
eat them all day." Mihoshi licked her lips as she remembered the
last time she had tasted the chocolate confections.
"What are you talking about?!" Yukinojou shouted. "There
is no such thing as a chocolate pastry on Altair 7 called—" One
of his internal computers sent some information to his advanced intelligence
circuits. "Well, I’ll be. There really is a pastry called a discrepancy
on Altair 7. Imagine that."
"See." Mihoshi crossed her arms under her ample bosom and stared
smugly at the mechanical head. "You have to be more clear if you
want to be understood. Ambiguity just breeds confusion, you know."
"That is true," Yukinojou sighed, then decided to get the conversation
back on its proper course. "Anyway, there are some variances,"
he emphasized that word, after making certain there wasn’t some kind of
outer rim world back bacon with the same name. "On the lists. For
instance, it says here that you ordered seventy VX-100 Hammerhead missiles.
Now I’m certain what you meant to say was that you ordered seventy VX-1000
Hammerhead missiles. Correct?"
"Let me see. I have the carbon copies of the inventory lists somewhere
around here." Even as sophisticated as the Galaxy Police were, they
still forced people to fill out handwritten forms in triplicate, even
for the requisition of a paper clip. Mihoshi began going through the mess
on the floor of the bridge. It took her a couple of minutes to find the
crumpled up copy, and then another minute for her to make out the writing,
which had a series of coffee stains all over it that reminded her of some
contemporary artwork she had seen while on Earth. "Nope. I ordered
the VX-100 missiles."
"Mihoshi!" Yukinojou shouted. "How could you have made
a mistake like that?! No one has even manufactured VX-100 missiles in
over a hundred years, let alone used them! They are slow, present large
target profiles thanks to their heavy ray shielding, and their homing
sensors are at least two generations behind the VX-1000 series. They’re
all but useless. I can’t believe they even keep them stocked back at headquarters."
"I guess that was why the quartermaster gave me such a funny look
when I ordered them," Mihoshi said meekly.
"Thanks goodness we’re going on vacation," Yukinojou muttered.
Going into combat with such dated weaponry was a sure way to end up dead
in a firefight. "Just remember the instant we report back to duty
that we get the correct missiles."
"Sure thing," Mihoshi said, brightening considerably since
her mistake hadn’t cost her anything.
Tenchi had listened to the exchange and, as much as he liked Mihoshi,
was suddenly glad he was not her direct superior. The girl was a handful
simply as a friend. "How much longer until we get to Aqua Regia?"
"With that delay we had with the prison transport, another day and
a half." Mihoshi considered that. She really wanted to get to the
planet and relax with Tenchi. "I’ve got an idea. We can cut out at
least half a day if we take a short cut."
"Mihoshi," Yukinojou warned, "stay on the plotted course."
Mihoshi waved dismissively at the mechanical head and began plotting
a new course. "Don’t be silly. I’ve taken short cuts lots of times."
"And usually you get us lost," Yukinojou pointed out. "And
then we have to contact headquarters in the hopes that they can figure
out where we are and how to get back on track to where we’re going."
"Not all the time," Mihoshi said.
"It happens often enough," Yukinojou countered in a desperate
move that he knew would do no good; Mihoshi had already made up her mind.
"I don’t think a short cut is such a good idea," Tenchi said,
coming to the same conclusion Yukinojou had, knowing all the while it
wasn’t going to work as well.
Mihoshi continued laying in the new course. "Oh, you guys. Risk
is a part of life."
"Not on vacation it’s not supposed to be," Tenchi said, feeling
his heart sink into the pit of his stomach for the third time today.
Again Yukinojou spoke. "Mihoshi, I’m begging you, don’t take us
"You’re such a worrywart. What could possibly go wrong?" Mihoshi
said as she finished entering the new course and hit a button.
Tenchi felt the urge to cry as the ship entered hyperspace.
Milky Way Galaxy
Class 4 Nebula: Arecheox
The space station Tartarus
Funuyaki stood there in silence, watching as Stargrave’s crew began to
remove the metal ball in which the Shihana bloom resided. Supposedly,
they were in no real danger. The deadly substance was sealed by three
different layers of protection. The first layer was an outer casing composed
of adamantine, which was thick enough to withstand anything up to an orbital
reentry and remain intact. Inside that was a secondary shell of polynison
with a high-grade refractory coating. It was a relatively new invention,
a clear substance that could disperse nearly all forms of energy and was
reputed to be as hard as adamantine. The final defense was a stasis field
unit that was within the polynison, which rendered the bloom inert. Unlike
the others, it would be easy to destroy or deactivate. It was simply there
to help transport the bloom from its container to any others and prevent
everyone from dying.
Each layer required a different method of deactivation. The adamantine
had a concealed panel that could be accessed easily enough, but to open
the shell itself required a twenty-five digit code entered into the keypad.
Due to the refractory coating on the polynison, a sonic pulse on a specific
wavelength would open it. The stasis fields had no failsafes and could
be deactivated with a touch. The idea was that if anyone could get past
the first two defenses, the third would be meaningless anyway. Malgaunt
was only sharing the code and the sonic frequency with Stargrave. The
two seemed to share a private joke about the latter key, assuring Funuyaki
that they were the only ones in the quadrant that could possibly open
Once Stargrave left Malgaunt’s side, Funuyaki moved closer, taking up
a position opposite from Onita’s as the man remained close to the marshal’s
side. "That can’t really be Shihana. Every trace of it was destroyed.
All of it."
"Yeah," Onita added. Funuyaki wondered if the man was going
to say more than that, but gave a derisive snort when that was all the
commentary he had.
Malgaunt seemed to swell up as he gave a smug look to his aides. "Would
you like me to tell you a little story about Shihana and the plant before
us? I think you’ll find it most intriguing."
There was little Funuyaki wanted more to do in the universe than wipe
the smirk off her superior’s face. But she wasn’t so foolish as to allow
her emotions to carry her away, no matter how great her satisfaction would
temporarily be. "Please."
A soft chuckle slipped from Malgaunt as he began his tale. "Allow
me to go over what you were taught when you were younger, because there’s
no telling how accurate the information you received really is. Those
that rule often filter what information they want to be learned among
the general populace. It makes the masses so much easier to control if
their knowledge is deliberately tinged with the just right amount of propaganda.
I should know. As a marshal of the Galaxy Police, I’ve been using such
tactics for years.
"Slightly over one thousand years ago, a sizable empire by the name
of the Whipreck came into contact with the Jurai. Each side decided that
the galaxy wasn’t large enough for both to exist, so war was quickly declared.
The Jurai had the advantage in resources, technology, and tactics. It
was only a matter of a year before the Whipreck began losing badly, so
they turned to the one area of war in which they exceeded the Jurai: biological
"Desperate times breed desperate measures. To that end, one of their
scientists made a breakthrough the universe would later curse as ‘Shihana.’
It really was a remarkable piece of work, and I can only guess at the
genius of the individual that primarily designed it. His knowledge far
outstripped anything even the Ministry of Science could come up with,
even to this day.
"The plant itself wasn’t the problem, by the way. It was the spores
it created. The spores were microscopic in size, about the size of most
standard viruses, which was what its genetic pattern was partially based
upon. The little thing really is quite deliciously simple. Once the plant
was exposed to an ecosystem, no matter how big or how small, it would
release the spores. Once released, the spores would attach themselves
to every life form they encountered, no matter how large or small, and
drain it of its life energy at an unbelievable rate. It would drain a
standard human-sized life form within four minutes. It would then use
the energy it absorbed to replicate itself at a rate faster than anything
ever encountered. The new spores would then repeat the cycle until every
living thing on the entire planet was drained, and I mean everything,
including plant life and microscopic creatures.
"Apparently, the spores, through some unknown means, transferred
at least part of the drained energy to the mother plant, for once the
spores ran out of things to feed, they died off and the mother plant would
follow. Don’t let that fool you. Destroying the mother plant after it
had released its spores was no defense; they functioned independently
of the plant and would continue on their merry path of genocide.
"The spores were designed to propel themselves at an incredible
rate of speed, being able to travel through air, liquids, even the soil
of a planet itself. About the only thing they could not survive in was
a vacuum, making them completely terrestrial-bound. They also could not
penetrate any airtight enclosures, so there were defenses against them.
However, if even one so much as made contact with an organism, it was
over. The only limitation they had was that without some life form to
draw energy from, they would die within forty-eight hours of their last
feeding. The main plant from which they had spawned would die about two
hours after the last spore. Also, they could not be transported more than
a million miles from the host plant, or they would die rather than replicate
or drain. Yet another fail-safe placed upon this biological weapon.
"It really is a fascinating method of control. Given this almost
self-destructive capability, it would make it almost impossible for Shihana
to be used against the Whipreck, just as the plant’s designers had planned.
"The actual creation of the plant was a carefully guarded secret.
Likewise, once it was created, it had to be contained properly and put
into stasis, lest the plant blossomed and require a constant, controlled
string of life forms to sustain it until it could be delivered to its
destination before it died.
"Once the Whipreck were confident Shihana was effective, and that
it couldn’t be used against them, they unleashed it upon their enemies.
Upon completion of the original batch of plants, the Whipreck went to
work. Fifty-three worlds were infected by the plant. The only place they
failed to get one onto was the Jurai throneworld. Everywhere else they
released it, it was a success. The effect was devastating, despite the
fact the Whipreck left some tactically important worlds unaffected, hoping
to bend them to their own empire’s will after they took over. Most worlds
tended to succumb to the plant within three days of its initial release,
less if the planet was small.
"Shihana was completely effective, razing every world it came into
contact with. Hundreds of billions died within that first week it was
released upon the largely unsuspecting galaxy. No life form was spared,
as entire planets became lifeless rocks floating in space. Years later,
others would remark grimly that the universe had become a quieter place
thanks to the Whipreck. Few sentient races truly suffered genocide, almost
every race had numbers that were off planet at the time, but many of them
were pushed to the brink of extinction. Even centuries later, all of them
are but former shadows of what they once were, their planets taken from
them and essentially lost forever.
"The Juraian Empire was predictably thrown into disarray by the
massive attack. The Whipreck coordinated the release with their fleet,
making huge leaps and gains in the war. Right now we would probably be
a part of the Whipreck Empire had not fortune smiled on the Jurai in the
form of Whipreck rebels. There were many of them, including high-standing
members of the government and the military, which were so disgusted with
their own empire’s actions that they chose to betray their leaders rather
than allow the Whipreck Empire to go unpunished. They gave the Jurai information
on what had ravished their worlds and where the only facilities for Shihana
were stored on the homeworld. They then aided a quickly assembled Juraian
fleet, one that was basically sent on a suicide mission, to the Whipreck
Empire’s homeworld and used inside information that would enable them
to at least make it to the planet alive.
"The Juraian fleet was slaughtered to the ship, but not before they
destroyed all the facilities that contained the information about Shihana
and all of the specialized equipment needed to produce the plant, as well
as the remaining existing batch of it. They also managed to assault the
capital of the empire and killed the Emperor and the majority of the ruling
"Now it was the Whipreck’s turn to reel from their losses as the
Jurai launched a merciless counterattack upon the Whipreck. Within a month
the war was over, every part of the Whipreck Empire had been defeated.
As punishment for their actions, the Emperor decided to be merciful and
simply exiled the master race of the Whipreck from their homeworld and
this part of the galaxy, forcing them to go beyond the outer rim forever.
As for those that had created Shihana, everyone that was the least bit
involved in the project was executed. The only information that the Jurai
were able to salvage was pictures of the flower itself and what it was
capable of doing. It was made a part of every Imperial planet’s learning
curriculum as to what the flower looked like and what it was capable of
doing, so that everyone knows the evils that can be inflicted upon the
"If what you say is true, then how can that exist?" Funuyaki
said, pointing to the gunmetal-gray orb that the plant was now encased
within. Onita simply looked at the orb, then back at Malgaunt.
The marshal’s grin grew wider. He loved having information others lacked.
Seeing open looks of disbelief on their faces when confronted with the
seemingly impossible always amused him. And then, as calm as deep space,
he would explain to them in an obvious fashion how wrong they were and
why. Almost inevitably their looks would change from disbelief to resentment
directed towards him for knowing so much more than they. That look was
one of the reasons he had enjoyed arresting criminals so much. He loved
deceiving them into believing they would get away with their crime, then
would show them the evidence that would put them away. As much as those
scum hated being caught, they loathed him just as much for being so superior
to them in every way. And as much as he liked Funuyaki, it was time to
remind her of that fact.
"You forget, the Whipreck failed to get one of the flowers through
to the Jurai homeworld itself. During the initial attack, they did attempt
to release one there, but what ended up happening was that our very own
Galaxy Police managed to intercept the flower before it got to planetary
orbit. Not only that, the self-destruct circuit on the smuggler’s ship
failed, and we managed to capture the plant intact, while it was still
in its stasis field. Of course, at the time we had no idea of what we
had obtained. It was assumed to be some kind of new plant that could produce
a drug. It wasn’t until after the war that we discovered what we had on
our hands. Although once it was certain, it became a matter for the Jurai
"Why didn’t they just destroy the damn thing instead of playing
around with it?" Funuyaki asked as she watched Stargrave’s crew continue
to prepare the Shihana for transport.
"Because what was once created can be created again." Malgaunt
sounded as though he was repeating some ancient proverb. For a moment
there he had thought Funuyaki would figure the reason out on her own —she
was quite smart— but it appeared that she was not going to guess. "The
Empire wanted a cure to the plant, and it was willing to commit whatever
resources were necessary to achieve that goal. Rather than alert the general
population that this instrument of planetary destruction still existed,
they suppressed all knowledge of its existence, save for a handful of
people that would be involved directly in the project; the Emperor and
some of his most trusted aides, members of the Imperial Academy Science
Division, high ranking officers in the Galaxy Police, and the highest
levels of the Jurai Security Directorate.
"After what happened with the Shihana the first time it was released
upon the universe, there was no way the remaining plant was ever going
to be allowed near a populated system. A secret base was set up on a remote
asteroid in the Cygni Quadrant, and it remained there for a number of
decades. However, it was nearly destroyed in a freak accident and the
base had to be abandoned. From there it was moved frequently from desolate
place to desolate place, never remaining in one spot too long for fear
someone would learn of its location and try to steal it. As inconvenient
as it was, it was the only way those in charge felt safe.
"And then they discovered the Anomaly. Its unique location made
it an ideal place to research the cure. Given the multiple layers of protection
and secrecy surrounding the base, the only way it could ever be stolen—"
"—was with a high-ranking inside man," Funuyaki finished for
"Just so," Malgaunt said smugly.
"But if there’s only this one—" Funuyaki started.
"Well, yes and no," Malgaunt said. "Yes, there is only
this one, but over the years, as the scientists tried to create a cure,
and failed, I might add, they did learn how to create more of the plants.
I think they were reconstructing it in their minds as a better method
of coming up with a cure. In any case, even with what they discovered,
they couldn’t make a new one from scratch, but they could make others
using an already existing plant. And it just so happens I retrieved that
information on this little disk." Malgaunt held a three inch gold
disk for all to see. He then pocketed it and went back to smiling.
"She’s ready for transport," one of Stargrave’s men said as
he triple checked the seals on the prize.
Sa’bre Stargrave gave the order for the crew to move it out to the Rack
n’Ruin. From there they were to load it onto the special containment cylinder
that had been added to the bottom of the ship specifically for the mission.
Stargrave explained that there was no way he was going to travel with
the Shihana having any direct access to the ship. The tube might have
been vulnerable, but in Stargrave’s opinion it was worth the risk.
Sa’bre’s men handled the container with great care, not caring that they
could not crack the casing on it even if they tried. The transport from
the labs to the ship went by without a problem, though at one point Stargrave
stopped to listen to a report from some of his men in the ship. After
it was finished, he informed Malgaunt that he had been correct about the
crew of Tartarus trying to use the ventilation ducts to effect an escape.
Stargrave’s men shot several of them that had made the attempt, driving
the others back to the barracks. Malgaunt assured him they would not have
time to try anything else as the group continued to the docking bay.
Upon arriving there, the adamantine ball was loaded into the long silver
cylinder that was affixed to the bottom of the vessel. It was only twenty
feet long and ten feet wide, but it was made with two feet of pure durasteel,
and was fused to the hull of the vessel. Stargrave was convinced nothing
short of the ship’s destruction would dislodge the container from his
After it was loaded and the final preparations for lift off were made,
Sa’bre recalled his men from Tartarus. As the last members of the crew
boarded, leaving only Stargrave and the trio of traitorous Galaxy Police
officers, Malgaunt pulled out the control pad that was still slaved to
the station’s controls. Funuyaki watched with close interest.
"What are you doing now?"
Malgaunt finished punching in a sequence on his pad. "Oh, I’m just
sending a distress call to headquarters."
"What?!" Funuyaki and Onita shouted as one.
Malgaunt’s face nearly ached with all of the smiling he had done in the
last few hours. Those that had spent long amounts of time with him knew
that he almost never smiled, yet today had proven a most joyous time for
him. "It seems there’s been a malfunction in the ship’s directional
engines. They’ve misfired, sending Tartarus on a course that takes it
out of the Anomaly and into Hell’s Gate itself." He punched in another
set of commands, and the station began to move. "How unfortunate
that the shields are also down, meaning the station won’t last fifteen
minutes in the nebula." Malgaunt turned to head up the ramp to the
Rack n’Ruin. "We’d best be off, people, unless you’d like to get
a closer look at one of the most destructive forces in the universe."
Funuyaki turned her gaze back at the station. "Do we really have
to kill all of them?"
Stargrave gave her a false smile and turned back to Malgaunt, a look
of pure amusement upon his face. "Yes, really, killing all of your
men like that is a pretty terrible thing. How can you live with yourself?"
Malgaunt’s face turned a bit more serious as the smile disappeared. "They
never appreciated me. I tried to make them into the best and most efficient
force in the galaxy. I was stern only because it furthered my causes,
and thus the causes of the Galaxy Police. Yet in return they refused to
appreciate my abilities, never mind the fact I was clearly superior to
them. If they had followed me rather than standing in my way, allowed
me to lead the Galaxy Police as was my right, I would have taken them
to levels they never would have dreamt of. But instead they allowed those
two fools in front of me to lead, them and their pitiful ideals that did
nothing but hold us back. They refused my rightful place as the one in
charge and behind my back referred to me derisively as ‘Ballbreaker.’
They don’t really deserve my talents."
"So you’re going to kill all of them?" Stargrave’s face remained
its cheerful self.
"No," Malgaunt said as he entered the Rack n’Ruin. "I’m
going to lead them, those that have the vision to follow my lead, like
Funuyaki and Onita here." He turned a smile their way.
"So you’re killing them because you’re pissed at them?" Funuyaki
asked. She was surprised at how she was able to keep anything but a neutral
tone to her voice.
"Of course not," Malgaunt scoffed. "If I disposed of everyone
that angered me, I’d end up killing as many people as Shihana did. I’m
sending these men into the Anomaly because they represent a threat to
me. You should be able to appreciate that, Lieutenant."
Funuyaki flinched slightly at the statement, but before she could speak,
Stargrave interrupted them both. "After all, we can’t have anyone
realizing that Shihana was taken from the station before it fell into
Hell’s Gate, now can we? Also, it covers the ‘deaths’ of yourself, Mr.
Onita, and Marshal Malgaunt here. No one will have the faintest idea that
you weren’t on the station when it goes boom."
"Aside from that, there’s another reason I’m sending the transmission,"
Malgaunt continued. "Before we left, I planted a virus, using someone
else’s access of course, into the mainframe of the computer system at
headquarters. It’s a devilish little thing, cooked up by one of Stargrave’s
techmasters, though it has all of the earmarks of a group of high-grade
computer hackers called the Malcontents."
Stargrave bowed with flourish as the ramp closed and the thrusters of
the ship began a loud whine. The ship lurched as it removed itself from
the docking clamps that held it in place.
"Thanks to my inside information on the system, the techmaster designed
it to cut through all of our anti-virus protection programs like they
weren’t there. Right now, it’s hiding in the system. Five minutes after
I send the Priority Alpha One transmission that the station is in trouble,
the virus will take that as a signal to release itself into the system.
The first thing it will do is attach itself to the communications system.
Since this is a top priority message, it will automatically be transmitted
to every Galaxy Police ship there is. On every one of those transmissions
will be the virus, which is also designed to cut through the ships’ anti-virus
programs as well. After the message is sent, then the virus will activate
on the station, shutting down every computer in headquarters and every
ship under our command. The entire Galaxy Police force will be shut down
and rendered ineffective. That will buy us more than enough time to complete
what we have to do without interference from them."
Funuyaki could scarcely believe her ears, but everything Malgaunt had
told her was fully within his capabilities. As impossible as it seemed,
it did appear he had taken everything into account. The plan sounded foolproof.
As the ship took off, Funuyaki realized there was something Malgaunt had
said that did not make sense. "What do you mean, ‘complete what we
have to do’? I thought our mission was accomplished. We have Shihana."
Stargrave chuckled at the woman’s misassumption as he felt the ship head
out into the Anomaly. "And just what do you suppose we can do with
it? Extort a few worlds with the threat of the plant? Kill a few races
we don’t like? Use it to prove we’re willing to?" He made a broad
gesture with his arms. "Perhaps we would try to take over the Empire
itself? You, me, and our merry little band of pirates, eh? I’m certain
the thousand or so of my people in my organization could take command
of the entire Empire in a matter of days."
Funuyaki looked on in confusion at him. He had raised a valid point.
"Then what is the plan for it?"
"Why, we’re going to sell it," Stargrave said. Laughing, he
turned away from Funuyaki, leaving her to wonder what his enigmatic statement
meant. His spirits were still high as he made his way to the bridge. True,
his crew was competent and departing the Anomaly to enter the safe passage
through Hell’s Gate would not be a problem, but there was something satisfying
about being in the captain’s chair as the Rack n’Ruin made its way through
space, taking them on the path to their ultimate destiny.
And in the Anomaly, the space station called Tartarus plunged into the
turbulent storms of the nebula, never to be seen again.
It was two hours later that Funuyaki made her way to the bridge, unable
to stand staring at the ceiling any longer. Malgaunt had all but ordered
her and Onita to get some rest while they could, vaguely hinting that
something was going to happen in several hours and that he wanted them
in good shape to deal with whatever might come. More mysterious references
by Malgaunt that meant nothing other than to add to the tension that Funuyaki
had already felt. Tension that was ready to bury her under its weight.
They went to the small room with the two bunks that had been assigned
to her and Onita by Stargrave. The cells at Galaxy Police headquarters
were nicer. It was a dingy little room with a couple of bunk beds that
somehow managed to take up two thirds of the room. Given the impressive
size of the vessel, and the number of crewmen it held, she was certain
this was the worst room Stargrave could have come up with, outside of
making both her and Onita sleep in an airlock. She had not been around
the criminal for long, but she was under the distinct impression that
he would kill both her and Onita in a heartbeat if it were not for Malgaunt’s
presence. That meant being more alert than ever, lest Sa’bre change his
mind and decide that they were not worth keeping around after all, even
if it was against Malgaunt’s wishes.
Still, she had lain down and tried to get at least a little rest. Onita
had fallen asleep the instant his head hit the pillow, but Funuyaki simply
lay there, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out how she had
come to this, murdering her own comrades and working with the scum she
used to arrest and sometimes kill. How low her life had fallen, thanks
both to herself and Malgaunt.
She did everything she could to avoid those answers, trying to figure
out what Malgaunt could possibly be up to. However, nothing came to mind,
and after a while her need to know became too great to allow her to simply
lie there and wonder what was going to happen next. She wanted answers
and she needed them now. There was no telling what was actually happening,
and she was tired of operating completely in the dark. Up until that moment
she had been reactive, but now she was going to do what they had taught
her at the academy and be proactive. Among this den of vipers she had
to tread carefully, or one of the scum was sure to take her down if the
opportunity presented itself.
Funuyaki made her way to the bridge, managing to avoid any members of
the crew. She wondered if perhaps Stargrave had told his own men to get
some rest too, in light of what was coming up, whatever it was. As she
made her way through the ship, she saw that it was well maintained, just
like any military ship would be. Her estimation of Sa’bre moved up a notch.
Unlike most of the criminals she had met up with during her years as an
undercover officer, Stargrave and his men showed an uncannily high quality
of discipline, which made them far more dangerous than the average criminal.
They also at least temporarily had Malgaunt helping them, which quite
possibly made them the deadliest people in the entire universe. She was
now more cautious than ever.
The doors to the bridge opened as Funuyaki stepped through them. All
eyes turned towards her for a moment, then went back to whatever tasks
they had been engaged in.
Malgaunt was on the bridge, off to the side next to the sensor arrays
where some other crewman was manning the controls. He motioned for her
to approach, and she did. Before she could speak, Malgaunt held his hand
up to her and softly said, "Don’t say anything. I want you to watch
Funuyaki found herself obeying her superior, if he could still be considered
that. She watched them with the trained eye of a professional police officer
with ten years of undercover work under her belt. For fifteen minutes
she did nothing but watch them talk, do their jobs, joke with one another,
and whatever else they did. At the end of the ten minutes, Malgaunt again
spoke, only loud enough for himself and Funuyaki to hear. "What do
you make of this crew?"
It was an odd question. Funuyaki wondered what game Malgaunt was up to,
but decided to play along. If she wanted to get any answers from him,
she was going to have to obey, at least for now. "In spite of their
non-matching uniforms and non-professional attitudes, they are quite competent.
All of them seem to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, although
why they have a death wish in letting a Katasan fly the ship is beyond
Malgaunt nodded in agreement. Katasans always stood out in a room. They
were nearly seven feet tall, felinoid creatures that possessed silver
fur that covered their entire bodies and a penchant for wearing as little
clothing as possible. Luckily they tended to shed very little. They had
something of a snout that contained sharp, pointed teeth that made one
think of a housecat, at least as long as those fangs were not used against
them. The housecat comparison rarely held up once they discovered one
of the Katasans unusual tendencies. Their race was very short lived, no
members of it reaching past the age of twenty standard years, though few
made it to even half of that. There was one universal character flaw that
made them one of the shortest-lived races around.
Katasans, as a race, were action junkies. There was little they loved
more than traveling at high speeds. Their incredibly quick reflexes and
equally quick minds made them more than capable pilots, able to handle
just about any vehicle in the universe. There was only one major problem
with Katasan pilots though; they always preferred to travel at excessive
speeds. It might have made them one of the most feared starfighter pilots
in the galaxy, but it also made them one of the most feared commercial
pilots as well. Simply put, unless one needed to get somewhere fast, and
it was a matter of life or death, it was considered reckless to allow
a Katasan to fly you there. Some planets even prohibited Katasan pilots
from flying ships in their zones, for no matter how quick and how good
of a pilot a Katasan was, sooner or later, a mistake was made and it often
led to death. It was rare to come across a Katasan that was ten years
old, most having died in some accident or shot down long before that.
"Her name is Fera. She’s five years old, and every inch a true Katasan,"
Malgaunt told Funuyaki. "She’s been flying for Stargrave for a year
now, and probably the only one that could have done that daredevil maneuvering
that allowed them to get to the station. Still, Stargrave is a braver
man than I for making her his personal pilot," Malgaunt admitted.
Malgaunt brushed off some white fur that had made somehow made it onto
his black uniform, After making certain he was immaculate once more, he
pointed out the first mate of the Rack n’Ruin, Ariana Taguyu. "And
what do you make of her?"
Again Funuyaki slipped into her inspector mode. "She moves slowly,
but with skill, always tensed and ready to lash out. She’s vain but attractive,
so that’s justified slightly. Ordinarily, looks can get you as far as
skill among some criminal organizations, but not this one. She’s at least
as lethal as she appears. She has a slight Andarean accent, so she most
likely comes from that world, perhaps a former lady of the nobility. It’s
my understanding all of them are trained in the arts of assassination
and self-defense so as to serve their husbands more effectively. There
is a definite attraction on her part towards Stargrave; she keeps stealing
glances his way, but he doesn’t return it as much. Most of other members
of the crew seem a little tense when she passes by, so it’s possible she
serves as Stargrave’s primary enforcer, or hit woman, as well."
"Very good," Malgaunt said softly. "You are correct. It’s
nice to see your detective skills remain as sharp as ever. I might have
need of them in the near future. Right now, I need competent allies, besides
Sa’bre. I do trust him, but it is more of a trust among equals, and I
need my own people right now. In return, I think you could be rewarded
with your own, say, planet? At least a moon, to be certain. We’ll name
it ‘Funuyaki’. Would you like that?"
That was all it took for Funuyaki’s temper to snap. She was tired of
Malgaunt’s games. "What are you talking about?! What’s going on?!"
All eyes, save Fera’s, turned towards the source of the disruption. Malgaunt
himself seemed unmoved, and not surprised, by the outburst. "Fair
enough. However, I think it would be better if Captain Stargrave were
to explain. I’m certain his crew is curious, too." Malgaunt deferred
towards Sa’bre, who bowed his head slightly in return.
The captain cleared his throat and began, focusing mostly on his crew
but affording Funuyaki a glance as well. "I know I have kept most
of you in the dark as to the exact nature of this mission. The secrecy
was necessary for all of our survival, since if even a single word of
our stealing of Shihana had slipped, it would have most likely resulted
in our deaths at the hands of the Galaxy Police, or Jurai’s Security Directorate.
We have stolen this deadly weapon, and the means to produce more of it,
with the intention not to use it ourselves, but to sell it to someone
that can use it far more effectively than us."
All eyes were riveted upon Stargrave, his carefully measured tones commanding
everyone’s complete attention. Somewhere in the back of Funuyaki’s mind,
she applauded his speech-making talents. The man possessed a natural charisma
that was rarely seen.
"They are the Yagdagron, one of the outer systems the Jurai ‘annexed’
to the Empire about two hundred years ago. And in a short while, after
obtaining Shihana, they will be in complete control of what is now the
Jurai Empire." Sa’bre allowed that information to sink in.
Funuyaki was the first to speak up. "How are they going to do it?"
The usual belligerent tone that Sa’bre directed toward Funuyaki was absent
as he said, "They have been building a space fleet for the last century,
hiding it in a planetary system far away from the Jurai Empire. Actually,
I’ve been funneling a great deal of arms and materials their way over
the last ten years. Right now it’s only about one fifth the size of Jurai’s
fleet, and their weapons are slightly inferior, but it is an effective
force. Alone, they wouldn’t stand a chance, however with a planet-killer
like Shihana in their hands, they become vastly more effective.
"Unlike the Whipreck, the Yagdagron are going to successfully seed
the Jurai Throneworld, as well as many other key systems. With Marshal
Malgaunt’s inside information on the planetary security of those worlds,
it will be easy." Stargrave’s voice seemed to rise slightly, and
Funuyaki was surprised to see that he was indeed allowing his emotions
to take over for him now
"With this lightning fast strike, in concert with the Yagdagron
fleet attacking key military locations, the Empire will be crippled in
a matter of days and surrender in a matter of one week, perhaps two at
the most. And in return for our ‘patriotic’ assistance in aiding them
in the overthrow of the evil and depraved Jurai Empire, I will be given
control over one of the sectors of the new Empire, under the banner of
the Yagdagron, of course. And Marshal Malgaunt here will be given control
of the Galaxy Police, after the organization falls under the Yagdagron’s
control and is freed from its function of being nothing more than a puppet
of the Emperor of Jurai."
Malgaunt made a sweeping gesture toward the crew of the Rack n’Ruin.
"And now that I am among you, I see what horrible wrongs my organization
has done in labeling you criminals. I give pardons to all of you."
The crew fell into the mood and gave a cheer at that. Funuyaki just gave
Malgaunt a disgusted look, then turned away so no one could see her face.
Over and over in her mind, she kept asking herself, just what she had
managed to get herself into.
Seeming to take notice of her concern, Malgaunt turned towards her. "I
know the scope of this might have caught you off guard, but let me assure
you, it’ll pay off in the end. When the smoke settles, we’ll be running
the show. And if you possess even half of the promise your potential shows,
you’ll end up being second-in-command of the entire Galaxy Police. And
then your little indiscretions in the past will all be forgotten, since
we’ll be in charge of everything."
Funuyaki was barely able to listen to Malgaunt, her mind recoiling with
the information. She had always been told stories by her grandmother about
being made an offer by the devil, but Funuyaki had scoffed at such tales,
claiming there was no such things as devils. Now here she was, standing
next to someone that fit the description all too well and discovering
herself in a situation that was so similar to those stories that it made
her tremble. Unfortunately, unlike the heroes of those stories, she was
not a wholesome and nice person that simply found herself in a bad situation.
Did she even have a soul left to sell away anymore?
A wizened, rasping voice spoke from the far side of the bridge, gaining
everyone’s, including Funuyaki’s, attention. She stared in surprise at
what had made the sound, for on her first examination of the crew of the
bridge, she had assumed the lump in the seat was someone’s canvas bag,
it was withered so much. It never occurred to her it was actually a living
being. Now looking at it closely, she saw that it could not have been
more than three feet in height and had gray mottled flesh over which every
square centimeter were wrinkles. The fact that it was wearing a brown
pantsuit, which pooled around the bottom of its legs, helped add to its
sack-like appearance. Again the voice spoke, leaving Funuyaki to guess
that it was male, judging by how deep the voice was.
The being continued speaking in its raspy voice, staring at the crew
through eyes that were barely able to focus on the crew because of the
many folds of wrinkled flesh hanging from its face. "You think overthrowing
empires is hot shit? Well you’re wrong. I remember when I was a lot younger,
oh, about three hundred thousand years ago; I was operating in a galaxy
far away and met this young fellow named, Vanth Dreadlok, or something
or other. Used to go around with a kick ass sword and an ugly looking
skull headed mage with a red eye. Anyway, ole’ Vanth knocked over three
entire galactic empires all on his own, one of them he had even helped
set up. You’d think someone that went around doing that like it was some
sort of hobby would be pretty happy, considering how successful he was.
Well he wasn’t. Couldn’t stand the work. All the time he was miserable,
setting up rebellions and destroying insidious church figures and power
mad despots. All he really wanted to do was farm."
Stargrave spoke up. "So the moral of the story is, if we help overthrow
the Jurai Empire, we’ll probably end up miserable like Mr. Dreadlok was?"
"In a word, yes," the bag of flesh said.
"You’ll forgive me if I decide to take my chances," Stargrave
said dryly as he and the crew went back to commanding the ship.
"You’ll be sorry," the lump warned, then went back to watching
the crew move around.
"What is that thing?" Funuyaki asked Malgaunt in a quiet voice,
her attention riveted on the creature that had just spoken to everyone.
"No one knows for certain," he told her. "His name is
Autolycus, and he claims to be an Allurian, and over a million years old."
"He doesn’t look a century over five hundred thousand," Funuyaki
"Indeed." Malgaunt smiled at the joke. "He apparently
came from a galaxy a lot farther away than our own. It’s my understanding
that he has been with the Rack n’Ruin since it was built, and that Stargrave
keeps him around because of a promise he made to the previous captain
of the ship. As far as I can tell, his primary purpose is to say how ‘things
in the old days used to be a lot better than what they are today’. Pay
him no mind. He’s just a senile bag of flesh that I wouldn’t tolerate
the way Stargrave does, promise or not."
At that point, Stargrave called Malgaunt over to the captain’s chair
in the center of the bridge, essentially leaving Funuyaki alone with her
thoughts. The whole situation had become something far greater than she
possibly could have imagined. They were talking about nothing less than
a complete overthrow of the Empire. And worse, it actually sounded like
they had a chance to succeed at it.
Things were continuing to spiral out of control. Killing a few people,
even if they were her fellow Galaxy Police officers, was one thing, but
now she was a party to what was going to amount to planetary genocide.
Billions upon billions were going to end up dead, and if the Yagdagron’s
plan weren’t executed perfectly, billions more would die in the ensuing
However, there was the payoff that Malgaunt had implied she would get.
A moon of her own to control. Being second in command of a new Galaxy
Police force. The questions began to overwhelm her. Was Malgaunt telling
her the truth? What was she to him? A protégé he respected and mostly
trusted? A tool for him to use as he would? A form of protection from
Stargrave, should the criminal decide to turn on him? A witness to his
crimes that knew too much and would be disposed of when she was no longer
needed? When all of this was over, what would she be? One of the most
powerful and influential people in a new galactic order, one of the Galaxy’s
most wanted criminals, responsible for the deaths of billions, or an unnamed
corpse in some backwater alley with a knife sticking out of its back?
And the most important question of all; was any of what she was going
through worth it?
"We’re dropping out of hyperspace," Fera announced in what
sounded more like a growl than an actual language.
The darkness of hyperspace gave way to the twinkling stars of normal
space as the ship continued onward, until Funuyaki saw they were approaching
a binary star system, the twin suns appearing very close to one another,
despite being tens of thousands of miles apart.
"Where are we?" Funuyaki asked.
"At our rendezvous point," Malgaunt said.
Sa’bre spun in his chair to face Funuyaki as the Rack n’Ruin continued
on a course that would take it between the two suns. "This is an
out of the way smuggler’s run that even the Galaxy Police don’t know about.
It’s a rather unique run. Generally, it’s only used when two parties arrange
a meeting and want to ensure privacy. There is only one narrow safe route
between the twin suns, and unless one is already close, sensors won’t
pick up a ship being here. The suns’ close proximity makes anything other
than short-range sensors useless. Once inside the run, you can see whoever
can see you, and take care of them accordingly. Not that there are more
than perhaps a dozen people that actually have the coordinates to this
place. This system is far away from any inhabited worlds and isn’t remotely
close to any interstellar traffic lanes. We’re in the middle of nowhere,
and there isn’t the slightest reason anyone other than another smuggler
would come out here. It’s the perfect place to conduct our transaction."
"Indeed," Malgaunt agreed as he watched the ship come to rest
between the suns and waited for their associates to arrive.
They didn’t have to wait long. Only two hours passed before a ship came
out of hyperspace and made a cautious approach to the Rack n’Ruin. Funuyaki
looked at the main viewscreen, which showed a picture of the new arrival.
It was huge, easily twice as large as a Juraian Battleship and shaped
like a large mound that reminded Funuyaki of a high tech anthill. It was
made of a silver metal, and had multiple external gun emplacements dotting
its hull. It was a fearsome image.
"A Yagdagron Dreadnought," Malgaunt said as the ship drew closer.
Everyone, save Malgaunt and Stargrave, looked at it in awe. "It’s
powerful enough to go toe to toe with a Juraian main battleship and win.
Regrettably, the Yagdagron have only managed to make five of them to date.
Or perhaps that’s fortunate, since if they had more, they wouldn’t need
"Recognition code sent and confirmed. They say they are ready for
the transfer," Sa’bre’s communication’s man said.
Stargrave rose from his chair and raised his fists in triumph. "This
is it! The end of the thrice-damned Jurai Empire is at hand! Within a
month it will be nothing more than a footnote in the history books and
it will all be in thanks to me!" He continued laughing as the dreadnought
drew ever closer.
"Indeed," Malgaunt agreed in more quiet, yet just as intense,
tones that somehow matched Stargrave’s emotional outburst. "Nothing
can stop us now. Nothing."
A movement out of the corner of her eye caught Funuyaki’s attention.
It was a small gesture, that no one save herself seemed to have caught.
The thing the others called Autolycus had done something very peculiar,
at least to Funuyaki’s eye, for the creature had not reacted to either
its captain’s or Malgaunt’s declarations. Instead it seemed to be looking
off in the distance, it’s eyes unfocused until a moment ago, when it did
the thing that caught Funuyaki’s attention, and somehow, Funuyaki knew
it had not been prompted because of either of the speeches.
Autolycus gave a satisfied smile.
And then a warning klaxon sounded as one of the crewmen announced, "Ship
coming out of hyperspace directly in-between the suns. Sensors have identified
it as a standard Galaxy Police space cruiser and its heading directly
towards our position."
To be continued.
Author's notes: Special thanks to Kara Ohki and L. Ang for looking this
Bonus points if you actually can spot what the some of the obscure references
and figures that were named in some of the jokes, like Keyser Soze, and