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Chapter 5 Main Chapters Chapter 7

No Need For Roots of Bitterness

A humanoid with strangely curled hair and an enormous hat growls, "I am Dr. Clay. This chapter is about that horrible time after I lost the election for Director of the Academy to Washu, and contains some information about the early life of that stuck-up Kagato. So Dragonwiles had the audacity to ask me to be the DJ for this chapter! Despite the dark days of my career here unflatteringly described, I maintained my equilibrium and intellect, and prepared for my future, so I realized an appropriate song would be 'The Phantom of the Opera,' from the Earth drama 'The Phantom of the Opera.' Naturally Dragonwiles doesn't own it." He punches a button, and the rock opera begins to play.

Circa 1210 A. D.

Dr. Clay packed his things, turning and rushing in a fury. His beard and hair, curled at their ends and nowhere else, flopped and writhed and slithered like tentacles of an octopus.

"Does tenure have no meaning, that they would revoke it so easily? It simply reeks of corruption, that's all there is to it," he muttered as he stuffed another change of clothes in a case marked with a yellow circle with a shape like the number 4 running through it in blue.

His computer was busily making copies of the data most important to him. The screen displayed the name of the file it was currently working on: "MULTIDIMENSIONAL BEINGS: STUDY RESULTS, EVIDENCES, PLANS FOR CONTACT." He cuffed the computer for not working fast enough for him- he desired to delete this data as soon as he possessed a copy. The fools here didn't deserve one bit of the data he had slaved to learn. They didn't even deserve the computer system he had installed throughout the Academy some years ago. Dr. Clay toyed with the idea of writing a virus to infect the Academy's computers after he left, but realized that pettiness was beneath someone of his intellect.

Dr. Clay looked about his office once more, at the large suite of rooms which defined both his home and his workplace. He opened a storage unit in the wall and wrestled out a tube with many globular projections and imprinted with a the same logo borne by the case he was packing. The tube was larger than he was, but he still opened the small case to receive it.

"Washu," he paused his packing a moment as he apostrophized, "you've been very clever, haven't you. You kept well out of the official investigation, O Great Director Washu!" he pronounced in contemptuous mockery. "I think we all know retribution when we see it," he muttered as he slid the entire tube into the tiny case.

The screen read: "CAMOUFLAGE BATTLE ROBOT ZERO: DESIGN, PARTS LIST, OPERATING SYSTEM, INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT, DEBUGGER." After a few moments more, this file was backed up, and the computer reported that everything had been copied.

"At last," he muttered, seizing the copy of the data and hiding it inside his voluminous robes. He considered using his deletion program, but then reconsidered. He wanted no chance that someone could replicate his work. Drawing the hidden blaster from his clothes, he fired once, reducing the computer to slag.

The doctor snatched up his case and rapidly departed the Academy.

Funaho was glad that her son could experience Juraian spring as a newborn. The flowers were different from Earth's, and the weather patterns were slightly different from those near her home, but the floral abundance was wonderful. Sometimes she would just sit with him in her arms on a porch as he gurgled at the verdant fields.

Today there was company come to look at the baby- Lord Watanbe, cousin of Azusa, and his wife Lady Kotoko, and their son Lord Kagato. Lord Watanbe's family, as well as Azusa and Misaki, had insisted on accompanying Funaho and her son wherever they went. After a half-hour on the veranda, they all walked softly with Funaho and her son into the nursery, where Funaho laid him down in his cradle for a nap.

Azusa beamed with pride at his firstborn, and Funaho was glad- it wasn't often that he smiled. Misaki moved a strand of her long blue hair out of her pink eyes and smiled softly at the baby.

Lady Kotoko sighed, "Yosho is a darling. They're so cute at that age."

"Mother," Kagato smiled wryly, "does that mean I am cute no longer?"

She ruffled his black hair. "Of course you're cute too, dear."

King Azusa said cheerfully, "We don't want to wake him. Are you thirsty, Lord Watanbe? We can get you a drink if you'll come this way."

The adults started to file out of the room, but Kagato lifted his head to look them in the eye and ask, "May I stay with the prince?"

Everyone was surprised, but King Azusa decided, "If you wish." Misaki leaned in towards him with a fearsome face and warned him, "But don't wake the baby!"

"Of course not, my queen," Kagato bowed elegantly, folding his green cape across his body with his right arm and holding it out with his left.

"Good!" Misaki chirped and proceeded out of the room. Funaho smiled at the cradle again and left as well.

Kagato approached the crib with a soft and deliberate tread, observing its seemingly random composition, a structure of roots. His purple eyes dilated with interest as he looked at Yosho more closely.

"I think we'll both look similar, when you get older," Kagato observed quietly, "or at least our hair will. We'll both style it the same, being part of the royal family." He drew up a chair and quietly adjusted it for his height, the two braids of hair near his forehead swaying back and forth. He leaned back in the chair, unconsciously trapping the great unbound length of hair on the back of his head between his back and the chair, and almost yelped when he turned his head to look around him. Kagato sighed in relief when the baby's breathing remained even and his eyes shut in slumber.

"I could've been born as you," Kagato commented quietly. "If I were born the son of the king, I would be the next king. No reason that did not happen. It just didn't."

He bowed his head a moment, and frowned in worry and shame. "But Father is always telling me that I am lucky. That I am not just a noble, but part of the royal family, close kin to the king. He says that is enough. Father and Mother think that is all I need to be happy."

The mouth of Kagato twisted in bitter, poisonous anguish and his pupils contracted in dark despair. "What happiness," he croaked, "and why is that power enough? What reason do any of us have to be happy? Why are some weak and some strong? Why was I born the way I was, and you were born as you? Will our births matter in any way, in two or three millennia?"

"We can accomplish great things for Jurai," Kagato pronounced, cynically mocking his instructors, "we can do mighty deeds and guide our empires into a brighter future, but we'll be dead before we see most of the results. We could live like characters in a story and have epic romances and tragedies, but our emotions affect the universe about as much as space debris. We could dispense justice to the people, but we cannot make the universe act justly towards us. When solar flares irradiate planets and good captains are slain by pirates, it becomes clear that justice is just a comforting illusion projected over the dark matter that covers the stars."

He stared into Yosho's cradle, and said wearily, "My parents and my instructors place such a brave face on things, to cover their insignificance in the face of a universe over which they have no control. Surely the universe is a cold and unfeeling place, uncaring towards people and intolerant of justice. It spits us into life to no purpose and grinds us down to dust when it wants to."

He stood up slowly, shaking this mood off of him. He was still alive, and that was good, wasn't it? Kagato was still a boy, and he had enough of sitting down for the past hour. He worked his limbs, and felt alive again. He took a turn about the room, and began to feel happy again. Pausing before the cradle, he smiled genuinely at Yosho and said, "Don't worry about all of that, Yosho. I'm sure that we'll have fun playing together!"

With that said, he left through the door to seek his parents.

Washu turned away from her keyboard as she heard Yakage say, "Little Washu?" Washu smiled slightly. Her title might be Director of the Academy of Sciences now, but she tried to value it more for the ability it brought her to do good in the organization than for any privileges or authority that it brought her. There was no need to become stuffy. She hated the stuffy, bureaucratic work that was a responsibility of being elected as Director. Stuffiness was one of the worst parts of being grown-up. No one seemed to appreciate her youthful point of view, or the fact that she tried to emphasize that young point of view by being addressed as "Little Washu."

Yakage was among the few of confidants who could be counted on to regularly call her "Little Washu", and unlike Yume, he wouldn't tease her about her actual ancient age. When Washu first met Yakage, she was entirely prepared to dismiss him as a boring grown-up, a typical Juraian lord preoccupied with status and prestige. He had proved her wrong by actually listening to her, putting up with her temper tantrums, and not automatically dismissing her more unconventional ideas.

"Yes, Yakage?" she asked.

"He's finally gone," Yakage said without much perceivable emotion. "He destroyed his computer, but nothing else seems damaged. We aren't missing too many pieces of property."

Washu was relieved. "I thought Dr. Clay might try to make another claim about my being behind the board of inquiry."

"That would be obviously untrue," shrugged Yakage. "Hopefully his intellect will be less harmful elsewhere."

Washu nodded, the six braids of hair framing her face bending a moment like a crab scuttling.

Yakage took a few steps forward. "Unfortunately, the legacy of his campaign against you lives on. I've been hearing things from the contacts I still have on Jurai." He had left most of his property in trust to servants, and lived out of his sentient spaceship, which he docked here at the Academy. Still, he knew people who knew people.

"What sort of things?" Washu wished he'd hurry it up. He could occasionally be stiff, not always out of contempt, but usually out of his rather severe and stark outlook on life. She didn't have time for his dramatic pauses today.

"There have been murmurings about the weapons technology being developed at the Academy. Ever since Dr. Clay accused you of developing too much weaponry to use for Souja, it's been a sore point among certain Juraians."

"Not again," Washu rolled her eyes. "Souja's keel has already been laid. Can't they get over it?"

"In all fairness," Yakage pointed out, "it's only been a decade since Kain was captured, after a reign of terror that killed billions. Juraians aren't happy to see any power arise that could cause similar effects."

Washu waved her arms in the air angrily. "Souja is a prototype ship for the Galactic Police, not my personal war machine! My organization here is tight, and I'm keeping the technical details away from the GP officers that the space pirates have bought out. Who could possibly get Souja's power and harm Jurai?"

Yakage was unoffended. "That's what they're saying, not what their true motives are. I suspect they're simply untrusting and jealous, and also angry that your actions point out how underdeveloped the Juraians allowed the GP fleet to be. Souja may lack the power to threaten Juraian battleships, but if the GP had many more ships like Souja, our current problems with pirates would have ended seven years ago."

Washu grinned teasingly. "You say that now, but with all the problems we're having actually building Souja, I may yet upgrade it to be something really strong."

"Please don't make such a suggestion in public," Yakage advised stonily. "Some of the more dishonorable lords have already surreptitiously looked into assassinating you, or kidnapping you for your knowledge."

"I'm sorry," Washu apologized, standing up and walking around the desk to him, "I'm not trying to be flippant. It's just that the engine in there may actually be too small. In any case, I do depend on you to keep me informed of just the sort of thing you've been telling me."

"Of course," he nodded. "I'll be on my ship until I hear more from Souja's builders."

"How's your latest sword turning out?" Washu asked, knowing he'd be trying it out on his ship.

"It will help me understand the skill of swordsmanship and the craft of sword making, but is not yet the perfect sword," he locuted. Washu knew that was high praise from him. If he didn't like a sword, he'd call it an insult to the skill of all sword smiths, or some similar pejorative. She bade Yakage farewell, and he bowed and left the room.

Next Chapter

Sasami sighs. "Looks like Ayeka's going to get really mad at me for letting Tenchi out. Maybe if I catch him again, she won't be quite as angry." She doesn't appear enthused about the prospect.

"Forget it," Ryoko advises her, "he's heading straight for me, to let me out of the dank Juraian prison! My hero!" Ryoko places her hand over her heart and nearly swoons.

"I maintain comfortable humidity," Ryu-Oh puts in archly. "I am not dank."

Ryoko waves her hand dismissively and trills, "You're just angry because you know what happens in the next chapter. But I know my favorite little spaceship is going to appear soon!"

Ryu-Oh blusters, "The next chapter is, No Need For Orbital Combat. I'm not going to be worsted by any pirate ship."

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."

"Kagato's parents are entirely made up, and his physical appearance is based on what we see in Tenchi Universe. I made up his eye color because I'm not quite sure what it is."

"Yakage, in case you don't know, is a character from Hitoshi Okuda's manga, which was published after the OVA and is based on the OVA. I don't recall if Yakage was supposed to know Washu so well as I'm writing him, or even whether they were ever contemporaries at the Academy, but I thought it would be interesting to write this way.

Chapter 5 Main Chapters Chapter 7