A Tenchi Muyo! fan fiction story
Chronicled by Dro'gan NiteFlier
Disclaimer: Tenchi Muyo!, its characters and settings, © Hitoshi Okuda, AIC / Pioneer LDC, and Viz Communications, Inc.
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Chapter One: Departures
The sun dawned calmly that day, shedding its light over Masaki-ke and the shrine it watched. As Tenchi stood on his balcony, he reflected that it always dawned clearly, no matter what precipitation came later in the day, be it rain, snow, or spaceships.
He also reflected on his life, beginning with his earliest memories of his mother, going on through his troublesome teen years, and the life-changing event that occurred at the end of his eighteenth summer. The chaos if that time had not truly diminished, no matter the fact that it was nigh three years in the past. But then, he still had four (or five, depending on perspective) women chasing after his heart (Or other body parts).
"Ah, well," Tenchi told himself. "Change takes place, and I guess today had to come sooner or later."
Sasami stood under a certain beam and called up to it. "Ryoko! Breakfast is ready! Won't you come down?"
There was the sound of rustling, then silence. "No," came the reply.
"But Ryoko, I made your favorites!" Sasami was getting closer and closer to begging. She didn't want the pirate to think that they were abandoning her! They would come back, eventually.
The invitation had been delivered by Funaho herself to all the residents of the Masaki household. All, that is, save one.
That one had refused to budge from her chosen bed anytime anyone else was around. Ryoko raided the kitchen at night, and Sasami had taken to leaving her dinner there, waiting. Not even Ayeka had managed to get her to fight, a sign that she felt quite deeply about her exception.
Funaho had apologized quite sincerely, but had pointed out that as the group was to become the guests of the Royal House, and that there was still enmity directed at the former Space Pirate no matter what mental controls she had been under at the time, she could not guarantee her safety.
Tenchi, Ayeka, and Sasami were, of course, going. Mihoshi had received special dispensation from the Galaxy Police (who were quite frankly glad to have her as someone else's problem for awhile) and Washu had decided that there were no experiments that she had to personally oversee, so they were coming as well. Tenchi's father had claimed his job to cover his uneasiness in dealing with more aliens than the handful that normally resided in his house, while Katsuhito had merely taken his mother aside for a time and talked with her about various things, including the fact that he did not want to be so separated from his own spaceship, grounded though it may be.
Sasami knew that Ryoko would probably not have gone anyway, but her exclusion still rankled. All the young girl wanted, however, was for the family to be together once more. Ayeka had not been able to bring out the cat-like woman, neither had Mihoshi or Tenchi. Washu had just ignored it, saying that Ryoko had to learn that she couldn't always get what she wanted. Perhaps where all else had failed, innocent pleading would work.
As the silence lengthened, an even smaller girl came up to Sasami and looked up at the beam. She put her hand up to her mouth, as if pondering something, then said, quite clearly, "Myiaa! Me Myi Myai!"
"Lot you know," came the reply from the beam.
Sasami stood beside the cabbit in girl form and wondered what she had just said. The only person to truly understand her was Ryoko. Not even Washu could decipher all of the complexities of cabbit speech. Ryo-Ohki pondered a moment more, "Mya, Mei Myia?"
There was silence for a moment. "What do you think? You're going with them!"
"Mya Myia MiiYAaaa!" the cabbit returned. After a moment of more silence from the beam, she continued. "Mya Mi Myia Ma. Mya, Me Myi Myai!"
Sasami suddenly felt the slight increase in air pressure that heralded Ryoko's teleportation, she and Ryo-Ohki turned around and faced the floating woman. "Please?" she asked the cyan-haired woman.
Ryoko nodded slowly. "Let's get to breakfast."
Most of the house was already seated at the table when the three entered. They looked in surprise at Ryoko as she walked in, not expecting even Sasami to move her from her sulk. Ryoko, uncharacteristically, seated herself between Washu and Katsuhito, leaving her normal space open for Ryo-Ohki to seat herself in.
The meal proceeded in silence, none of them really liking this lifeless farewell. Until one of them finally decided that she had had enough of the pirate's attitude.
"All right! That is enough of that!"
All eyes turned to Princess Ayeka, who was now standing and glaring at Ryoko.
"What do you want, Ayeka?" she said listlessly.
The princess twitched when she did not hear the accustomed and insulting use of her title, but carried on. "What I want is for you to quit acting like a spoiled brat!"
"You heard me!" To everyone's amazement, Ayeka swept around the table and grabbed Ryoko, dragging her up from her seat. "Quit acting like a little girl who's favorite toy has been broken! Quit sulking around, ruining everyone else's mood to get revenge on a choice taken from you! Quit acting like the universe has to follow your rules, and no one else's." Ayeka interspersed her rant by shaking the pirate, keeping her from replying. "Look around you! Look at the people who care about you, and see what you are doing to them! You are selfish, always you want and want and want, but you never give!"
Ryoko freed herself from the princess's grip. "What do you mean I'm selfish? I've given! I helped fight that demon! I helped when we attacked Kagato! I helped calm down the Mass! I've given!"
Ayeka's face twisted into a sneer. "Fights! Is that all you can 'help' with, fighting? That's your problem! You have no purpose! You have no reason to do anything! If all you do is react when something happens, how do you propose to actually get things done? Look at each of us, we have our purpose, and we know what we are. But it comes down to you, because you don't have a purpose, and you don't really know who you are!" Ryoko began to say something, but was cut off as Ayeka slapped her. "If you do not know who you are, then how can you expect others to try and help you? All you are now, is someone who exists. Nothing more." She drew herself up, and said in her coldest voice yet, "I know no Ryoko. I know not someone who merely lives without purpose or any true life." She turned back to those seated at the table. "I will go and get ready now."
As Ayeka left, Ryoko turned to each of the others at the table, looking each in the eye. Her expression hardened, and she teleported away.
Slowly, everyone got up from the table, and prepared for the day ahead.
First Empress Funaho came in her ship, and took her six passengers aboard, leaving Katsuhito and Nobuyuki on the porch of the house, waving goodbye to friends and family.
Ryoko had not been seen since breakfast.
Katsuhito calmly climbed up the many, many stairs to the shrine that he had watched over for seven hundred years. Nobuyuki had gone on to work, leaving the seemingly aged Juraian the only person on the Masaki grounds.
At least, at first glance.
He reached the plaza that stretched in front of the shrine itself, and continued walking, thinking not of those whose journey had begun, but of one whose trek had not yet started. Funaho, his spaceship, had warned him that something like this would happen, yet even the sentient tree had not foreseen that it would be this soon.
They had come up with a plan.
Katsuhito knew, in his heart, that Ryoko did not truly desire Tenchi. The boy had freed her, yes. For that alone she would have fixated on him, but Tenchi went beyond that, and tried to understand her, when, as Ayeka had said, she did not understand herself. In her time of true imprisonment, under the will of Kagato, her mind had been in stasis, never really awake in the sense of the word.
It was for that reason he had drawn her into slumber, so that she might heal.
Because of her memories, Katsuhito knew that he could not bring her to life again, no matter how much time he spent with her spirit. That was why he gave the task to his grandson, on the eve that the Statue of Limitations came into effect for her criminal record. When Tenchi had awoken her, she had memories, but in all other ways her mind was a child. And as such, she acted like one, even though with the body of an adult, she was expected to be an adult. A child needed to be succored, and no one, not even Washu, who had given her life, wanted to give her that.
They had thought that they would be able to help her, give her what she needed to grow as a person.
Katsuhito had been rebuffed in favor of Tenchi, and she had never, ever gone near Funaho of her own free will. When others began to arise, he had realized that they would never get the chance with so many detracting from their efforts.
Now, they had the chance to complete that plan.
Katsuhito smiled as he entered the tunnel, continuing on into the darkness.
Ryoko floated on the upper cloud deck, watching a bright sparkle among the stars moving farther and farther away.
She sighed, and felt a strange feeling on the side of her face. Reaching up, she found she was crying. She, a being seven thousand years old, someone who had killed untold thousands, one who was feared far and wide throughout the galaxy, was shedding tears because of a few people who she might never see again.
Everyone had read between the lines of the invitation. Azusa was getting on in age, and he wanted an heir. If Yosho — Katsuhito, as he was now known — could not fill that role, than another would be chosen from his line. Tenchi and the others might come back, but when they did, it would only be briefly, to visit.
And she was trapped on this planet, for her sole mode of transportation had left with the one that she loved.
She took a deep breath of the thin air, and teleported straight down twelve kilometers. She appeared a hundred meters above the lake, and looked over the house and the shrine, seeing the outcropping of rock that marked her tomb, the glade where Funaho rested, and in the distance, the setting sun.
Ayeka had demanded that she find a purpose. Her purpose was rapidly accelerating out of the system. With no purpose, why live?
She dropped down to the cave that had held her for seven hundred years, and walked into the inky blackness. The tunnel extended for some time, but the traps had already been set off, or else were too aged to work.
When she reached the control chamber, she was surprised to see the great rock suspended in air, sealing the Static Tomb below. She looked at the trigger, a slight stalagmite near the entrance.
Sitting on the rounded rock, was Katsuhito.
"What do you want, old man?" Ryoko growled.
The old man in question stood from his impromptu seat and crossed his arms. "I want to know what you think you are doing."
Ryoko waved a hand at the entrance behind him. "I want down there."
Katsuhito canted his head; "You have spent enough time in this tomb. It is time for you to live."
"Like hell! What is life but one disappointment after another? I don't care anymore! Let me sleep in peace."
"So." Katsuhito paused, as if thinking of something. "What is your life?"
"Seven thousand years of disappointment," she ground out. "Over six thousand years of murder and destruction, seven hundred years of death, and three years of disappointment. That is my life. Now give me the death that was so peaceful to me."
The man stood silently for a time. "I believe you are wrong."
"What?!" Ryoko glared at the aged priest. "How do you know more about my life than me?!"
Katsuhito merely asked her another question. "What are you, Ryoko?"
She grit her teeth together. "I am the destroyer of all, and only in my death may things grow. Let me die!"
Again, Katsuhito stood silent. "I believe you are wrong," he repeated.
Ryoko began forming a ball of energy to strike him down and screamed in rage, "Who are you to tell me what I am and what I am not?! I am Ryoko!!"
A small smile now graced the man's face. "Correct."
She stopped, the energy that she had gathered dissipating harmlessly. "What?"
Katsuhito stepped calmly to the woman. "You are Ryoko. That is who you are. Now then, what is Ryoko? What is her life?"
"But— but I just told you!" she shouted.
"No. What you told me was what you believed you are. That usually has nothing to do with what you are in truth." He took her arm and looped it through his. "Will you come out of this cave, and listen to what I think you are?"
Ryoko nodded numbly, and they walked out of the tomb.
A single sky-blue eye opened in the darkness, searching for what had awakened its owner. Finding nothing, nostrils whuffed, sorting through a myriad of particles, and still finding nothing alarming on the wind. Finally giving up, the mind behind both of these organs decided to go back to sleep.
But sleep would not come to him, and so he stretched, and lightly stepped out of his lair. He help his head high, still whuffling the air in search of danger. The chances of such here, in the heart of his home, were slim, but everything must always be accounted for.
He spread his wings, reared back onto his hind legs, and leaped into the air, flying out over the land that he claimed as his own. He directed a brief glance toward the sky, showing him that Nak was still in the sky, the position of the moon telling him that he should be deep asleep in his lair.
As he soared on thermals, allowing them to lift him up, he searched with his other senses over the Mountain. The ninety or so square kilometers that were contained within the Barrier were always open to him, whenever he should call it. But now, he found nothing amiss, for even Vialyain was sleeping, the unicorn resting deep within the Forest.
As he spiraled up over the Mountain, his thoughts turned to what had woken him. It was a puzzle, and there were few things he liked better than a puzzle.
Teaching, for one. But that, and his latest student, was not a happy subject for him now.
She had followed in his ways completely. And he had let her. He had finally realized the downward spiral that they both participated in, and had forcefully broken out of it by expelling her from the Mountain, and randomizing the Barrier, so that she would not be able to come back until she again found a place where the Mountain bordered a universe.
He only hoped that she could realize both their mistakes, and correct hers. Elsewise, their next meeting was bound to be one neither relished.
Still, there had been good times in teaching her.
He angled a bit more in his spiral, and alighted on the Spire, the highest point of the Mountain. He had spent many a year wearing down the stone here with his weight. He turned his attention to the stars above, and noted that the Nak was setting. Had he really taken that much time in flying up here?
He must have. There was no riddle there.
He turned his attention to the east, sighting above the imaginary range that the Barrier projected. Soon enough, another hour at best, Kan would rise, and shed its own moonlight down on his little world.
But never would rise the sun. For this was his home, the Mountain of Aeternal Night.
He banished all other thoughts, and laid his head down on the bare, red rock of the Spire. Now then, why had he woken?
To be continued.
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