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Chapter 26 Main Chapters Chapter 28

No Need For Gift Logs

"I am Azusa, King of Jurai," he announces. "Dragonwiles petitioned me to be the DJ for this chapter. I have determined that the theme song from the Earth movie 'The Terminator' be the theme song for this episode."

"But that neither has anything to do with the plot nor matches the mood," Dragonwiles carps.

"It's a reference to a movie about robots," King Azusa stubbornly points out as the dramatic music plays.

1979 A.D.

Ayeka entered the throne room of planet Jurai. Her father, King Azusa, was seated on a throne ahead of her, as were the queens Misaki and Funaho, all sitting on a raised dais. The honor guard, Tetta and Tessei, stood in front of them, at the foot of the dais. The room was very large, and filled with many nobles.

Ayeka bowed and said, "Father, you wanted to see me?"

Azusa smiled broadly. He said, "I have a surprise for you, Ayeka."

Two cylindrical, loglike robots teleported into the room. They had ornate calligraphy on them, colored to match their eye lenses. One had a blue eye lens, and the other a red eye lens. They stood vertically, and had tripods on their bottom.

"These are Azaka and Kamadaki," Azusa told her proudly. "They've been given the best personality simulations of the two knights who are their namesakes. They have self-contained teleporation apparati, defensive shields, and offensive lasers. From this day forward, they belong to you."

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Princess Ayeka," Kamadaki said in a friendly tone.

"We are honored to serve you," Azaka told her respectfully.

Ayeka was astonished, and asked, "For me?" She bowed again after a moment and said, "Thank you, father. They're wonderful, and I am very grateful to you."

"You're quite welcome," Azusa said happily, relieved that she had indeed liked the gift. Misaki sighed happily, glad that her daughter was happy. Funaho watched the proceedings with a serene smile.

"Come, Azaka, Kamadaki," Ayeka said as she went forward. They answered with a peppy, "Yes, ma'am!" and accompanied her to her seat on the dais.

Some hours later, Sasami yawned and commented to Ayeka, "They sure had a lot of business in court today." Sasami had arrived in the throne room shortly after Ayeka received her gift, for Sasami had only just returned from a trip to their uncle's estate.

A human would've been confused by the fact that, though she was several centuries old, Sasami appeared to be somewhere between ten and twelve years of age. Such a lifecycle, however, is a normality for Juraians.

"Indeed, there were a great many things to determine," Ayeka agreed. She felt tired, but did not show it in her bearing. Sasami walked beside Ayeka, while Azaka and Kamadaki flanked them both.

"They're wonderful presents," Sasami said, looking at the robots. "Now nothing I give you will ever look impressive," she joked, her vivaciousness returning.

Ayeka laughed and reassured her, "Sasami, I appreciate your gifts."

A shadow passed over Sasami's countenance. She slowed, then stopped. Ayeka stopped and turned to face her. Sasami asked, "Ayeka?"

Ayeka inquired concernedly, "Is something the matter?"

Sasami hated to see her sister so worried. "No, Ayeka, it's nothing." Sasami could tell that Ayeka was about to pry further, so she quickly stepped forward again and rejoined Ayeka. They continued walking, but Sasami could see that she needed a diversion.

"Ayeka, what do you think about Seiryo?" Sasami questioned.

The mere mention of the name of her betrothed caused Ayeka to frown despondently and put a hand to the wooden ornament on her brow. "You know what I think of him, Sasami," Ayeka groaned.

Sasami nodded and continued, "So why don't you do something about it? Tell Mother, or Lady Funaho, or Father even?"

"Tell Father I despise the suitor he picked?" Ayeka looked at her younger sister in disbelief.

"You can't just do nothing!" Sasami insisted.

"I choose to do my duty as a princess," Ayeka told her. "Besides, it's not as though I have any better choices of potential grooms. Most of the other suitable noblemen have even worse temperaments. This is a sacrifice I'm prepared to make."

Sasami said frustratedly, "Listen to me, Ayeka! Seiryo is cruel! You've heard his insults to those he considers beneath him. He slices up people with his tongue! Is that the kind of man you want as my brother-in-law? Seiryo is definitely not the kind of uncle I want for my children. Are you happy with him raising yours?"

"Sasami," Ayeka sighed. She too was disheartened by those prospects, but was also reluctant to act when nothing could be changed. Sasami shook her head, always amazed at Ayeka's stubbornness: sometimes she practically had to push her older sister into doing something for her own good.

"Sasami, I shall simply have to marry him. We can manage," Ayeka tried to placate her younger sibling.

Sasami shook her head. "I don't want you to have to manage a horrible marriage to an evil man. We need to find someone better for you. So I'm going to start looking myself." Ayeka internalized her disquiet at the prospect. How exactly did Sasami plan to go about this, and who would Sasami pick for her?

In another part of the palace, Azusa and Misaki were walking hand in hand along a corridor. Tetta and Tessei trailed them at a respectful distance.

"Oh, and did you see how Ayeka's face lit up when she saw those two!" Misaki was enraptured as she recalled Ayeka's delight at the gift. Azusa said, "Yes, indeed. You were quite right, thank you for suggesting it."

"She's liked the stories of Azaka and Kamadaki since she was a little girl," Misaki reminisced. "Thank you, Azusa." He replied, "My pleasure."

Azusa and Misaki paused at the doorstep of Sasami's quarters. Misaki told him, "I think I'll help Sasami unpack from her trip." He nodded, and she went through the door. Azusa turned to Tetta and Tessei and asked, "All quiet?"

They nodded, one after the other. Tetta offered his opinion, "Quiet as a graveyard." Tessei added, "We didn't observe anything suspicious during the audiences today. Palace security reports all is well."

"Good. Thank you for your hard work. We release you from your charge for the evening," Azusa told them, the charge he referred to being the protection of his own person. The two knights bowed. When he nodded, they straightened. Azusa left to find Funaho, while Tetta and Tessei walked back the way they had come.

"All's been quiet ever since Prince Yosho departed," Tetta observed. Tessei agreed, "There's not a good fight left in the galaxy. Even those filthy pirates have been beaten down."

"Scum," Tetta cursed the pirates, and Tessei nodded. "Where can you find nowadays a true battle, as of old?" Tessei wondered. "Where have the times gone when great lords fought for the sake of honor?"

"Those days are gone," Tetta grumbled. "At best there are only occasional duels. There hasn't been a great fleet action since Kagato's attack."

Tessei was silent a moment, then told his companion, "Surely our forces must be rusty by now. Not only that, but the clans are coming to naught thanks to their worthless progeny, like that pathetic Seiryo and his ilk. How did we reach this point? Even the royal clans have bred packs of spineless, useless yapping dogs, like Seiryo, who bite with their words but would perish in a moment in a true battle. How have the great families come to bear such disgraces to the mighty name of Jurai?"

"Take courage," Tetta answered him, "there are many who still consider the blood of Jurai worth preserving. Perhaps we need the flames of another great war to purge the dross of our society."

"If only the great houses could be made to cast out their useless youth and bear better sons for Jurai," Tessei wished. Tetta agreed, "If only we could make require such a display of honor."

Azusa finally found Funaho seated alone in the room where she had often laid their son Yosho to sleep.

Funaho was lost in thought, and the door was to her back, so it was only when Azusa stood before her that she realized he was there. She said quickly, "Azusa," and tried to think of some way to reassure him that she was all right. She hadn't meant for him to find her like this.

"I'm sorry it's so hard for you," he said, drawing up and sitting in the chair he had used in this room so many centuries ago.

"It's not that hard," Funaho told him. "I can manage."

Azusa didn't say anything for some time, then blurted out gruffly, "I miss Yosho, too."

Funaho couldn't believe her ears, and stared at him. He had taken Yosho's disappearance very hard; she knew because Azusa almost never spoke of him. She knew Azusa hoped that by never saying Yosho's name, the pain would go away. Yet just now, Azusa had breached the silence to comfort her. Her expression became one that was happy, yet sad. Funaho loved him more than she could say at the moment. She began to cry.

Azusa looked at her, beginning to panic. He had meant to comfort her. She almost never cried, she always had tried to be strong for him by not showing her grief openly. Now he had managed to make her unhappy with his words. After seven centuries knowing her, couldn't he do anything right?

She could see that look on his face, and gave a few miserable laughs along with her sobs. She said gratefully to him, "Thank you, Azusa." He relaxed, and took her hand.

Yosho sat with his daughter Achika on Earth, in the dining room of the new house Nobuyuki had built for them. He had been delayed at the office, and would not be returning for some time. Yosho and Achika had finished their meal.

Achika looked at her father's greying hair. "You aren't planning on leaving us anytime soon, are you? No plans to fake death and start a new life somewhere else as a young man?"

"This? No, Achika, I'm not faking aging. This time it's real," Yosho said simply.

Achika got up and moved some plates into the kitchen. As she returned, she lunged at Yosho, grabbed some of his hair, and pulled. He made an exclamation of pain as Achika rubbed the hair in her fingers.

"Not dyed, and not a wig," she confirmed, sitting down again.

"I should never have told you how I disguise my longevity," Yosho decided aloud.

"But why are you really aging now, father?" Achika asked him.

"I suppose because I've finally gotten old," Yosho smiled wryly at her. She shook her head at him.

After a moment, Yosho asked, "Achika, are you sure you don't want Nobuyuki to know our secrets?"

Achika looked at him determinedly. "Yes. And if you tell him, I'll throw you out of this house and make you peddle rice for the remaining centuries of your existence."

"It's not as though we can't trust him," Yosho said reasonably. "After the two of you survived that incident at Tokyo Tower, and after he's built a house for you, I don't think he'll turn his back on you."

"We love each other, and that's enough. Besides, it wouldn't be," Achika paused, and looked away sadly, "appropriate, that way. It simply isn't to be."

Yosho frowned. Ever since that incident, she had been this way. She had thrown herself into her newlywed life with vigor, and by her own admission lived each day so that she could make those around her happy. There were times, though, when apparently random subjects could throw her into a fit of sadness.

"Nobuyuki was talking to me the other day," Yosho changed the subject. "He asked me to train your children in sword technique."

"Yes, we'd both be very grateful if you would," Achika agreed.

"I got the impression this was more your idea than his," Yosho probed.

"He was very gung-ho about the idea of his children becoming heroes," Achika said, not taking the bait. "You know he's got all those action manga tucked away downstairs."

"But it's not the sort of thing he would think of normally," Yosho found himself having to reveal all of his suspicions. "You whispered in his ear, without mentioning our heritage, that I know something about swordplay."

"You're the best swordsman I know, so of course I recommended you as a trainer," Achika smiled sweetly.

"I haven't taught sword technique in two centuries," Yosho thought back, "no, make that one century. Humanity fights wars with guns nowadays, you know. If you want your children to be physically fit, you could always get them into jogging or karate. So why the interest in swordplay?"

Her face was inscrutable. "I know you've been itching to get back into it for awhile. You were doing some of the basic moves the other day, weren't you?"

Yosho sighed, mentally admitting defeat. He wasn't going to be able to drag any deeper reasons out of her, and she had managed to pry all of his suspicions out of him. "You and my mother would've gotten along well." He shook his head.

Achika said, with a serious smile, "I take that as a compliment."

She began to clear away the remaining dishes. Yosho stood slowly and went to another room, where he looked at a framed wedding picture of Achika and Nobuyuki. Yosho had placed it next to the wedding picture of himself and his most recent, and now departed, wife.

Achika stood beside him as he looked at it. "There are times that I wish that she could've seen Nobuyuki and I, getting married, and all."

"I'm sure she felt the same," Yosho told her kindly.

Achika nodded. She almost said something, then turned away suddenly, towards the table, and fussed over it a moment. Yosho watched her bustle into the kitchen. He followed her.

Yosho told Achika, "I shall do the training. You're quite right, I have wanted to return to swordplay, before my addled old brain forgets it all."

Achika, not expecting him to say that at this moment, bowed slightly, and expressed heartfelt gratitude. "Thank you, father. It'll mean the world to Nobuyuki and I. And our son."

"Son?" Yosho queried, and for the first time Achika looked as though she'd been caught off-guard. So far as he knew, she was not expecting.

Achika had regained control and smoothly amended her previous statement, "All our children, if you'll be so kind."

"Of course," Yosho assured her. Achika left the room unperturbed. Yosho stared after her a moment. He had finally learned something, something he suspected somehow connected with her rare bouts of melancholy. Unfortunately, he had no idea how it related to the melancholy, or how it could even make sense on its own.

Next Chapter

Tenchi, befuddled, states, "I'm with Grandpa. I dunno what my mom's talking about."

Washu raises an eyebrow incredulously and states, "You're kidding, right?"

"Oh come on, Washu, you don't know what it means either," Ryoko waves her hand dismissively.

"It certainly seems like an important plot development," Kiyone states, reviewing her notes from the scripts of earlier chapters.

"Actually it's not," Dragonwiles says, half to himself, in a low voice. "I dunno that I'm even going to write the part it's developing towards. But I just wanted to give Achika at least one scene. And it sorta fit here."

Azaka and Kamadaki come forwards. Kamadaki announces in high spirits, "The next episode is good old-fashioned comedy! Tenchi and the gang have to take care of a baby! Isn't that hilarious!"

Azaka turns his blue lens on Kamadaki questioningly. "I do not understand how that is old-school at all, Kamadaki, or even how it is hilarious."

"A baby!" Kamadaki gives a pleasant trill of machine laughter. "They're so, well, er," the machine is at a loss for words, then comes up with, "cute! And cuddly! Everybody loves a baby!"

"Isn't that why it's a bad idea to appear on stage with them?" Azaka asks, still not sure why Kamadaki is convinced that the presence of babies in the next chapter is so good.

Tenchi watches in astonishment and says quietly, "I've never heard those two disagree in public before!"

"Neither have I," Ayeka is bemused by the behavior of their synthetic personalities.

"The next chapter is No Need For Babysitting," Azaka announces shortly.

"I like babies," Kamadaki says placatingly. The two robots make a show of bowing to the audience.

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."

"Yeah, well, I completely made up nearly all of this chapter. Except Azaka and Kamadaki do have those personality simulations in the Universe series .I'm fairly sure that Achika's mother died sometime before she and Nobuyuki were married (she only exists in the Universe series, so it's hard to be sure.) And Juraians having odd lifecycles such that they don't seem to mature much in seven centuries is the explanation I've come up with to explain the OVA's chronology. But most everything else I made up completely. Not much more to say, is there? Well, thanks for reading another chapter, and please be sure to join us for the next."

Chapter 26 Main Chapters Chapter 28