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Chapter 7 Main Chapters Chapter 9

No Need For Favored Sons of Jurai

"I am Yosho, crown prince of Jurai, the son of Funaho and Azusa," Yosho introduces himself with his ready smile. His smile fades as he adds, "I've been asked to be your DJ for this episode, and the theme song I've selected is 'How to Save a Life.'"

Circa 1242 A. D.

Yosho wanted to look forward to his meeting with Kagato.

In their youth, they had been the best of friends, and that friendship had largely continued as they grew into young men. They had proven themselves to be among the most capable of the nobles of Jurai. Both were intelligent, though Yosho always freely admitted that Kagato had a far greater knack for science. Both were good at swordsmanship, although Kagato always freely admitted that Yosho was a better swordsman. Both men were extremely shrewd. The people were relieved to see two such leaders in the next generation. Their strength, nobility, popularity, and deep friendship had caused them to be nicknamed "The Favored Sons of Jurai."

The public still believed all of this, but it could not see everything, day in and day out. Over the past few years, a distance seemed to have grown up between Yosho and Kagato. Although they had still seen each other, Kagato had grown more and more reserved, and Yosho, knowing less and less of what his friend was doing, found it hard to keep up conversations.

Yosho actually hadn't seen Kagato at all for a few months. Whenever he tried to meet, Kagato would put it off, or be mysteriously absent from his home or laboratory. At first Yosho had assumed that both he and Kagato were becoming more busy as they gained new responsibilities as young men. Neither of them had as much time for each other as they previously did. When the pattern continued, Yosho began to doubt this was the case.

Today, Yosho and Kagato had to meet. Yosho's father had given him a disturbing errand, and it had to be completed.

As the servants and security cameras had indicated, Kagato was on the outside of the capitol city, in some ancient ruins dating back possibly to before Tsunami had founded the Juraian empire. This set of ruins was a small outdoor amphitheater, with two large statues in the center. Most of the ruins were becoming overgrown, and one statue was missing its arms, but the other was new and gleaming. Kagato had made the new statue himself, and placed it there, some years ago, after they had defeated a band of space pirates together. The statue was of Yosho, standing tall and proud.

At this moment, Kagato had his back turned to the statue, and was carefully prising away some of the plants that had enveloped the ruins. Yosho could see that Kagato was working his way around the ruins methodically, scanning the ancient writing through his pince-nez. Yosho had hated that fashion accessory, and told Kagato that he had no idea why he had bought it. Kagato had simply replied that it was suitable for his own appearance. That was the previous occasion on which they met face to face, four months ago.

Yosho stepped closer in the present, and called, "Kagato?"

Kagato straightened up and turned to face him with a smile, replying, "Yosho, I'm glad to see you again! I wish my work didn't keep taking me away from you, it's been too long since we met last."

Yosho began to wonder if he was in a dream. Anyone watching would've though that Kagato was smiling and greeting a long-lost friend. Yosho knew him better; that was the false smile Kagato wore whenever he wanted to ingratiate himself with someone. Kagato had never before used that expression on him.

Recovering, Yosho smiled genuinely back and said, "Kagato, I'm glad to see you again too. What exactly are you doing here?"

Kagato gestured around him. "The parks bureau was kind enough to grant me permission to do a nonintrusive survey of the area." He caught Yosho's confused expression and anticipated his question, as he did so often. "I know, it's been surveyed by professionals for generations, and we've played here since we were children. Still, I think it's worth it just to read what was written again. Who knows, perhaps there may be some small secret I can prize out?"

Nodding back, Yosho wondered how to broach the uncomfortable subject that brought him here. He looked about and confirmed that they were alone; no hidden spies or lurking assassins. Beyond the border of the city, there were only beasts who would listen to their conversation.

"I wish I could talk about that more, Kagato," Yosho told him. "Unfortunately, I have more disquieting things to discuss with you." Kagato raised his eyebrows. Yosho continued, "You've been riding the servants hard lately. You've been abrupt and cold, thoughtless and uncaring, or so I'm told."

Kagato grinned sardonically and put one white-gloved hand on a hip, snorting, "Yes, so you've been told, Yosho. You're too trusting, you know. It's just rumors. I've had some disagreements with them, so they gossip and turn me into a tyrant." He pushed his pince-nez up his nose a bit.

Yosho laughed with unease. Kagato was always telling him similar things in a joking vein. Yosho wasn't sure why Kagato's words felt more serious this time. "You always say I'm naive and trusting just to tease me, Kagato," Yosho said relaxedly, as he had countered many times before, "but you know I can't be, in my position." Kagato nodded.

Taking a more serious tone, Yosho continued, "I know all about rumors, Kagato. Those weren't why I was asked to see you. I'm afraid this is an official complaint. You've been twisting the guards' arms to gain access to the Tree Room and the databanks on all our spaceship-trees."

He caught Kagato's eyes narrowing in anger for a moment before Kagato deflated and laughed, saying, "Oh my, oh my. This has gotten that far? I won't pretend it wasn't a serious disagreement, Yosho, that I had with those guards. I didn't think it was much to ask that they give me some privacy while I did my research and not blab of my visits there all over the palace."

"And when the new one, Ohjiro, refused," Yosho pressed, "you literally twisted his arms."

Kagato's eyes shrunk again, and he pushed his pince-nez hard. "My temper got away with me," he allowed.

Yosho shook his head. "Kagato, this is hard, having to be the one to investigate this complaint. I don't understand why you behaved that way. Even less do I understand what you were trying to discover in the first place. Why do you need to study the environment inside the Tree Room? It's just like the air everywhere else in the palace!"

Kagato's eyes shone, as they always did when he discussed his investigations. "You're wrong there, my dear Yosho," he contradicted him, "it's only almost the same as the rest of the air. You're forgetting the special pollen circulated by the trees, and the slightly greater humidity that the trees' water supplies creates. There's also the radiant energy from their communications with each other, and the background energy from Tsunami herself, even though she's at the lower floor of the chamber."

Yosho held up his hand, and Kagato desisted from delivering a full lecture. "Granted," Yosho admitted, "it is different, but I fail to see the purpose. I also don't understand why you felt the need to query the databanks about Tsunami."

"That's easy, Yosho," Kagato shrugged, "I wanted to know her capabilities."

"You could've asked her," Yosho pointed out.

"Yosho, I, a mere mortal, ask Tsunami about her abilities face to face?" Kagato said with faint mirth at the idea.

Yosho folded his arms. "You asked behind her back instead. The file is nearly useless, anyway- we've never dared to document all that she does. Personally, I think our forbears were mistaken to have made it. Tsunami has never promised more than she is capable of, or aided our enemies. We have no need for documentation of her specifications."

Kagato took a few steps toward him. "No, Yosho," he said grandly, "it wasn't much help. Still, I needed to see what was in that file for my research purposes. As a member of the royal family, I'm one of the few beings who does have the right to access the Tree Room on demand, and poll our databanks on every one of the ships, including Tsunami. Yosho, I need all of this information to learn about how the ships operate, and I need to know how to improve on them."

Yosho knew that Kagato had those rights, but was staggered by what use he had been putting them to. "Kagato," he said slowly, "how much power do you need?"

Kagato blinked a moment, then inclined his head and said meekly, "Yosho, you're quite right. I have been too abrupt with everyone, even you, just now." He raised his head, and his facial expression appeared contrite, but Yosho could see that particular set of crinkles around his eyes and lowering of the eyebrows that meant he was angry. Kagato continued sweetly, "Still, I think your question there is unjustified. We all know that your father has the power on Jurai. We all do his will. He hasn't seen any danger in my researches, and has not asked for them to cease." He assumed his sardonic smile again and asked him, "You're going to inherit all of his power, Yosho, command of an empire that dominates known space. There's nothing to fear from a few facts learned, a few improvements gained, is there?"

Yosho frowned and said softly, "Kagato, the official business we have is a complaint about overawing a guard to conceal your study of Juraian power." He made up his mind. "I've been empowered to act as a judge in this matter, and I must regretfully find you guilty. Your sentence is the suspension of your access to the Tree Room and the databanks for a month." He took a step closer as anxiety stole over his face, "Kagato, with those closed to you, you won't be busy all of the time. Let's use that time to talk some more. It's important that you understand how power must be used. Our strength is nothing if we don't use it to help others. Power is being misused if we bully the beings we lead."

Kagato half-turned away with a step, openly scowling.

Forcing a flash of anger down, Yosho said sternly, "If you ignore this warning, I will have to use harsher punishments on you."

Kagato stood absolutely still for a moment, thinking. The moment passed. In a swift movement, Kagato ran towards Yosho, drawing a sword. Yosho had never imagined that Kagato would turn his blade on him in earnest, and only barely drew his own key and blocked Kagato's strike in time.

"What are you doing?" Yosho asked in utter shock as his key's blade glowed steadily before him.

Kagato tried to rush him again, but fell back as he found Yosho's guard up. When Yosho swung his sword at him, Kagato finally responded, "It's a duel to protest an unfair sentence. Look it up in the big book of Juraian noblemen- it's a real custom."

"I know that," Yosho retorted, "and I know that you're lying. You're not fighting me to protest my sentence, and you didn't challenge me to this duel."

"When you're dead and no one says otherwise, I'll have honorably challenged you to a duel and sadly been forced to kill my best friend for the sake of my honor," Kagato feinted to the left, but Yosho wasn't tricked, so Kagato began to circle him to the right instead.

"That won't make it true, Kagato," Yosho growled, astonished at his friend's actions. Kagato shrugged. "Truth? It's whatever the man with a sword says, isn't it? How will anyone else know whether or not I really did treacherously attack you just now? I'm not planning on leaving you alive to contradict me." Several times during the speech, Kagato had stepped quickly into Yosho's reach, then out again. Yosho was not provoked, but instead kept a vigilant watch.

Yosho countered, "That is disgusting, Kagato. Are you really turning your back on everything? What about your parents, your family? Would they be pleased to hear what you have done? Would they be happy if they knew how you were abusing your power?"

For several seconds, Kagato laughed. Yosho lashed out an attack, which Kagato barely fended off. Retreating again, Kagato commented, "My dear Yosho, that was too droll. My parents are immensely proud of me, but they have no idea of the true object of my research. Not even the king, and not even you yet know."

He tried attacking as soon as he had said this, with a broad horizontal sweep, but Yosho ducked and aimed at his legs, so Kagato was forced to stumble back before the blade hit home. His face soon regained its arrogance as he pronounced, "Misusing my power, you say? Yosho, you're the one who's always been confused about power. A strong person is strong because he can acquire more strength, and continually takes power for himself. You claim honor and decency should restrain my pursuit of power." Kagato took a step back from another of Yosho's thrusts, and executed a rapid series of attacks of his own, pressing Yosho back. Kagato continued his thought, "Honor and decency are really illusions you paint on the surface of the universe. They help protect the people who have power, and they make people like you feel better at night. You say I should care about my servants' feelings? The universe doesn't care about them or me; why should I care about them at all!"

Somehow, Yosho couldn't help but make an attempt at levity. In his mind there existed a tiny hope that if he did, Kagato would reveal that he had only been joking as well. Kagato had to be joking. A secret purpose to his research? Gaining power whatever the consequences to others? Surely Kagato was joking. Half grinning, Yosho suggested, as though playing along, "I can see why they're spreading rumors, if you gave them that lecture! Although I would've thought they'd complain of boredom."

Kagato snorted. Yosho sadly recalled a time when Kagato could really laugh at jokes, not the fake, empty laughter he'd heard so far. Yosho jumped to Kagato's left, and felt horrified as his own hand leapt out and tried to skewer Kagato. Kagato narrowly blocked the stroke.

Yosho's training was taking over. He didn't want it to take over. He didn't want to be fighting his friend. Since Kagato was fighting him, however, he had little choice. Yosho began to grow angry. How dare Kagato do this to him? How dare he? They had stood together and helped each other all their lives! Yosho had always watched out for him, always encouraged him! Kagato had helped him as well, had respected him! Had Kagato had built a statue of Yosho right here? And now Kagato forced them to duel around it! How dare Kagato do this to him? How dare Kagato lie to his face, and to his father the king, and to Kagato's parents?

As they continued raining blows on one another, Kagato quirked his mouth and admitted, "Yosho, I'll never understand you. You say you didn't want this assignment, but I'll bet you did everything in your power to be given it. All our lives, you've tried to find every misdeed that I've done and bring it to light. The ironic part was that you would always justify it by your own need to save me from my own misdeeds. You actually thought you were helping me, by correcting my character or some such nonsense. It never occurred to you to admit that you just wanted to see me fall."

"Kagato, you say that knowing it isn't true," Yosho contradicted him, their energy blades resounding as they clashed. "I only wanted to prevent what is occurring right now," Yosho concluded.

Kagato swung his sword again at Yosho, but he jumped away. Kagato said coldly, "You know me far too well, Yosho. You're the only being on Jurai who could see through my act, my role as the brilliant young nobleman."

Carefully circling Yosho yet again, he gestured his free hand downward and declared, "I may not understand you, but I know you far too well, Yosho. You won't be fooled by me. As you said yourself, you'll keep watching me. I've reached the limit of what I can do here on Jurai, unless I can kill you now." He rushed in suddenly, with a blinding series of heavy blows that Yosho nearly failed to parry.

"You've ground a great friendship into dust," Yosho panted, his muscles shaking slightly as he held back Kagato's latest strike. Kagato was also having difficulty breathing, and grunted almost inaudibly, "All is dust."

Calling on his Juraian abilities, Kagato sailed into the air a short distance, then used his energy to slow his descent only a little as he dove towards Yosho. Yosho jumped in the air and stabbed at Kagato, who was only barely able to deflect the blade. Kagato fell hard to the ground, for Juraians can only accelerate or decelerate, not hover in place. He regained his feet as Yosho walked forward. The two faced each other, circled, and feinted occasionally.

Yosho knew what he had to do now. Kagato was one of the most brilliant and capable people he'd ever met. As a member of the Royal Family of Jurai, Kagato possessed strength and power stronger than most Juraians, and even common Juraians were renowned throughout the galaxy for their abilities. Yosho wasn't sure what Kagato meant to do, he only knew he had to stop it immediately.

He studied Kagato's blade, refamiliarizing himself with it. Since Kagato had never chosen a tree as a partner, it was not a key, but instead a pure weapon, powered internally. Kagato's blade was great and heavy-looking, though he wielded it with ease. Yosho knew from sparring practice in years gone by, that Kagato favored large, broad blades, where Yosho preferred blades that were supple, but strong.

Yosho moved in his mind through memories of Kagato's sword, of his sparring practice with Kagato. Yosho had a plan now, one that Kagato wouldn't anticipate from any of their past history. Their past history didn't matter anymore.

Deeming the time right, Yosho leapt forward just as Kagato feinted. Kagato had been feinting to the left of Yosho, but Yosho had seen the move and intentionally jumped to his own left and landed on Kagato's right hand. Yosho sliced his sword down and to the right to take off Kagato's head, but Yosho's transferred momentum and Kagato's reflexes caused his head to move out of the path. The sword instead bit deeply into Kagato's right arm, lacerating it from the shoulder to the middle of the forearm. Since his landing had stunned Kagato's hand, Kagato's sword clattered to the ground, just as Yosho fell to earth somewhat unsteadily on his feet, and Kagato crashed to the ground on his left side, howling with all the force of his anger and pain.

Yosho quickly turned to Kagato, but he had rolled out of reach and was crawling with his for his life away from Yosho, pulling himself with his legs and uninjured arm. "Coward!" Yosho bellowed, echoing slightly on the ruins of the amphitheater. Kagato ignored him, searching himself for something. His hands were unsteady and and he was loudly cursing the pain. Just as Yosho had regained his balance and readied his blade to finish him him, Kagato fished a transport signaler out of his clothing with his left hand. He slid his finger across it, and was teleported back home in an instant, thanks to an unwitting Juraian ship in orbit above them. Yosho was about to ask his ship, Funaho, to teleport him there when Funaho told him, "No good, Yosho. There's some sort of forcefield about his house. I'll send you home. You need to tell your father about this before anyone else does."

Yosho had indeed been the first one to tell his father of this occurrence, but his father had insisted that he decide what to do and that Yosho take no further action. It had been three days now, and Yosho had not heard what action was to be taken. He simply wandered around the palace, trying to think.

At first, he had tried to blame Kagato's parents, or his own father, or even he himself. Today he reviewed Kagato's life and simply came to the conclusion that no one but Kagato was responsible for what had happened. All his life, he had sensed that Kagato was making choices, day by day, that had led to this day. Yosho had tried to stop his friend, but there had only been so much he could do when Kagato was determined to rush into the abyss. Yosho would simply have to live the rest of his life without this friend, and do what he could to prevent Kagato's fall from harming others.

He wandered rather aimlessly through a more public section of the palace. Up ahead, where he couldn't see, he could hear certain nobles talking in low voices. Yosho frowned. He had wanted to think about something other than Kagato, but certainly not these nobles.

Early on as a young boy, he had learned that he ought to do what was right, and that he was loved by his parents. He had also quickly learned that though they seemed endlessly proud of him, there were others whom he could never please. As he had grown up, he learned that these were the people most opposed to him, who still held a grudge against his father for passing the law allowing Yosho to inherit the throne. Yosho quickly learned that he was only half-Juraian, and that there were people who hated himself and his mother. It made him angry, and made him want to strike out, but he always held back out of respect from his parents, and because a small voice in his head told him that retaliation would only make the situation worse.

"Of course," the lady farther down the corridor was saying to one of the lords, "the half-Juraian Prince Yosho would be the one to drive Kagato away."

"His jealousy is astounding," the lord agreed with an arrogance that was infuriating. "The empire is paying a heavy price for his passions. If Lord Kagato is chased away, then we will have lost a great young leader of the next generation."

A third man, whose voice Yosho also recognized and knew was slightly poorer than the other speakers, said with forked tongue, "I agree totally with her ladyship and your lordship. This is surely a great tragedy. If only we could have young Princess Ayeka to lead us, to a fully Juraian destin-"

Yosho still could not see them as he continued walking down the long hallway, but he knew that the other two would be snarling at him with bestial savagery. The third noble was young and didn't know how to play the game; he had come perilously close to suggesting that Yosho should be done away with, and such words could put the lives of the three in peril. The young nobleman said quickly, "Of course, I'm sure that King Azusa was doing the right thing in choosing the firstborn, Prince Yosho as successor, and it would be a tragedy if any harm befell him."

The lady added smoothly, but with venom towards the young man, "Of course it would. None of us wish for tragedy, or tragedy would fall on our own heads." The older lord added in a more relaxed manner, "In the course of justice, however, King Azusa may determine that Prince Yosho was in the wrong. Though it would be a grievous blow to the empire, I'm confident he would take the honorable course and choose another of his children as successor."

A few moments later, Yosho walked by the small room off the main hall where they were sitting and chatting. They bowed to him, and he bowed to them, each knowing the truth of their enmity. Yosho strode on quickly, highly disturbed. He had thought he had known the extent of their hatred, but hadn't realized it could actually blind them to something that threatened everyone. He had become convinced that Kagato's quest for power would eventually endanger the Juraian empire. All those nobles could see was an opportunity to do away with Yosho and get a leader they hoped would favor their own interests.

Yosho considered very seriously what could happen when his father died. He had tried to talk to his father about it sometimes, but his father had stubbornly, almost desperately, insisted there would be no problems with the succession. He counted on his law. Yosho thought back to those three nobles he had just passed, and the millions of ordinary people who thought as they did, and wondered if the law would suffice for them. Would they would attempt to take matters into their own hands?

His key grew warm, and his ship Funaho told him, "Your father summons you."

They sat together, in equal chairs, facing each other. King Azusa cleared his throat and said sincerely, "Son, I'm sorry that events fell this way. I don't blame you for what happened, and I'm glad that you weren't hurt. I should tell you that Kagato has been treated for his injury, and is expected to make a full recovery." The king paused a moment, cleared his throat again, and proceeded, "To prevent any further melees between you two, I'm sending Kagato to the Academy on our purse. I forbid you to engage him again."

Yosho took a deep breath, forcing the anger at Kagato and his anger at the bigoted lords out of himself. If he showed anger now, he knew his father would dig in out of stubbornness. This was an issue more important than his ego or that of his father, so he'd simply have to keep their pride out of the discussion.

"Father," he began after a moment, "I am glad that you care about me, and I realize this has been a difficult decision for you to make. I must respectfully point out pertinent facts that I am not certain you have addressed."

The king leaned forward, frowning, "Yosho, you told me what he said already. He must simply have been teasing you as you two always do to one another. You're both growing up, and the pressures of that often reflect in relationships. Perhaps he has changed for the worse, but some time apart should set him right."

Yosho went to speak, but his father stayed him with a raised hand. "Yosho, we must keep this discreet, and you must tell no one of what is to be done. We cannot expose a rift in the leadership of Jurai. The people would lose faith, and the pirates would gain courage. You and Kagato must work together in the coming years, and you need time apart now to cool down and reconcile."

He finally allowed Yosho to speak, and Yosho shook his head slowly, stating, "Father, you are proposing the right course of action if this were a spat between young men. As it stands, this is the right cure for the wrong diagnosis. Kagato has betrayed us."

King Azusa barked, "The decision is final, Yosho."

Yosho nodded, and both stood. Yosho left the room, nodding to Tessei and Tetta, captains of his father's honor guard.

Yosho was quietly contemplating the wood grain in the palace walls when Ayeka found him. "Brother?" she said with concern. Yosho turned his head and smiled at her. She was never one to say half-brother, or emphasize that they were only half-related.

Ayeka continued sympathetically, "Brother, I'm so sorry about Kagato. It must be difficult, to lose a friend like that."

He turned fully around. "It is, Ayeka." They didn't say anything more for a few moments, until he noted, "You've become a young woman."

"I've been one for some years now, Yosho," Ayeka protested, still smiling.

Yosho put his hand to his chin. "Oh, excuse me," he said wryly, "I suppose that you're an old woman by now."

"Brother!" she said in slight annoyance as he laughed.

With his hand still on his chin, he mused, "No, no, you're beautiful, Ayeka."

She bowed slightly, and thanked him. Yosho remarked, "You're always so mature, and it does make you fun to tease. That maturity, though, is also one of your greatest strengths. I wonder if perhaps you should be the next ruler."

Ayeka looked at him seriously. "If I had to, by some tragedy, I would. So much has been given to me as a princess, I should be ungrateful if I refused to do my duty. Still, Yosho, you would be a good ruler."

Yosho looked away, and considered, "Perhaps. If the people accepted me." She earnestly replied, "Most of them do, Yosho."

He smiled sadly, and said gratefully, "Thank you, Ayeka."

Misaki came down the hall, and said to the toddler by her side in a warm and excited voice, "Oh, look who we've found!"

Ayeka turned toward the sound and said formally but cheerfully, "Mother, good morning!" Yosho smiled as he saw Ayeka's nervous expression, wondering if her mother would accept the greeting this time, and Misaki's frown at such formality from her own daughter, but soon the attention of all three of them was taken up by the child falling down.

The very young girl soon got up again, tiny blue pigtails waving slightly. Misaki clapped her hands together in joy, "There you go, Sasami! Good girl! Say hello to your brother and sister."

Sasami ran down the hall as quickly as her short legs allowed, burbling, "Aweka! Wosho!"

Yosho grinned at her, and Ayeka giggled as Sasami reached them and hugged Ayeka's knees. Ayeka patted Sasami's hair fondly.

Sasami disengaged from her sister and stood in front of both of them, waving her arms in the air and making an ambiguous sound that may or may not have been "Up!"

"Very well then, Princess," Yosho told her, as he picked her up and seated her in the crook of his arm. Sasami laughed, and everyone gazed adoringly at her. Misaki walked forward and joined them. She teased her older daughter, "Are you jealous of your sister?"

Ayeka allowed, "I was remembering when you used to do that with me, brother."

"You'll be very good with children," Misaki said, beaming at them.

Yosho looked up from Sasami's face and informed them, "When I have them, I hope I get to introduce them to all of you. It'd make me very happy."

Washu continued her discussion with the young man by saying, "You understand, of course, that I try to run an informal institution here. We don't usually stand on ceremony, or use grand titles." She waited for his response.

He smiled at her, wishing he could move his arm to make an appropriate gesture of agreement, but the bandages still had to be kept tight for another day or two. He therefore replied with his voice only, "I quite understand, Little Washu. I've often found that too much concern over rules and regulations slows down the work."

Washu grinned, "That's excellent, Kagato." She reviewed his file again, and mentally reviewed the gossip Yakage had been able to glean from Jurai on this man. Kagato had a great deal of potential, and his scientific work so far was brilliant. There was some sort of snafu with the crown prince that had sent him to her, but that was surely of little importance. She put her apprehension down to tension and overwork. A mature student, who could help her right away, was surely what she needed, and he fit the bill. She didn't care what the grownups thought, she told the sense of alarm and distrust. This man was not to be rejected just because people in the world of prestige and social status had forced him out.

She closed the file and grinned at him. "Congratulations, Kagato. I'm pleased to accept you as my student." His smile grew broader as he replied, "Thank you. I shall rely on your guidance."

Laughing exultantly, Washu told him, "I'd set you to work right away, but we ought to tell you what the situation is first. Your help is especially needed on the Souja project that I was telling you about. It's gone wrong in so many ways that I can't count them all, but Yakage can."

A chime resounded in the room, and Washu commented, "Ah, here he is now." She pushed a button and the door opened.

Yakage strode in, nodding to Washu, and bowing to Kagato. Kagato bowed back while seated. Washu introduced them, "You two probably know each other already, but I just wanna make sure. Kagato, this is Yakage, and Yakage, this is Kagato."

"I'm glad to meet you at last," Kagato told him. "A pity we couldn't meet before."

"Indeed. I've heard much about you, and am pleased that you've come to us, in our hour of need," Yakage intoned. He took a seat beside Kagato, and Washu came around from behind her desk and sat on top of it, facing them.

Washu then said expectantly, "So, Yakage, tell us the latest. And don't hold back in front of the new guy- he'll know how much trouble we're in soon enough!" She laughed.

Yakage inclined his head and said bluntly, "The builders managed to put the redesigned navigational computer in wrong, and it will take two weeks of nonstop work to put right. They're also insisting that the redesigned engine is overpowered, and they've proven that the subsystems already installed are incompatible with it in practice. There is a shortage of the superconductors needed for the weapons control computers. Finally, over the past decades of shipbuilding snafus, there have been many advances in shipbuilding and weapons technology that have rendered our current design obsolete."

He looked pointedly at Kagato and summarized, "In short, the work already done needs to be scrapped, and the whole vessel redesigned. This is a task I am unsuited for; I create swords, not spacecraft."

Kagato considered briefly, and Washu added, "I'll be helping out a lot with the design as well, when I'm not busy directing the Academy."

"It is an interesting challenge," Kagato said confidently, "but one that I think my background has prepared me for." He smiled ingratiatingly at Yakage and Washu as he agreed, "I look forward to completing the Souja with both of you."

Next Chapter

Mihoshi yawns, stretches, and leans back from her computer terminal. "That was sure a long chapter," she says sleepily. She scrolls down a bit to review the script, then says, "All right, I get to do the chapter preview again! Let's see, on the next chapter we learn whether or not anybody died-"

Washu enters the room and cries "Aagh!" in horror, seeing the A and B robots lying lifeless on the table. "What did you do to them, Mihoshi?" she says in a panic.

Mihoshi turns around to face her. "Oh, those are yours?"

Washu stares at her. "They look exactly like me!" she rails at Mihoshi.

"Oh, well, uh, I'm sorry," Mihoshi rubs her hands together nervously, "but I touched their backs, and, uh, they stopped."

Washu sighs in relief. "Oh. Just their on-off switch. No problem."

"Oh, that's good!" Mihoshi enthuses as she turns back to the script and reads, "With spaceships destroyed, the surviving characters are going to have to adjust to living under the same roof."

Washu touches the backs of her two robots, and they immediately clamber to their feet and begin to perform their wake-up program. "Usually Mihoshi does more damage than this," Washu says under her breath, relieved yet apprehensive.

"The bitterness of their emotions rages like a fall storm!" Mihoshi reads, then comments, "Wow, dramatic imagery."

Washu is startled to see the robots run to Mihoshi and climb onto her shoulders.

Mihoshi concludes, "The next chapter is, No Need For Debris."

"You're the greatest, Mihoshi!" A raises its fist and declares.

"How did she manage to do this?" Washu asks the universe in general.

"Mihoshi's a genius," B affirms, "a genius can't help it."

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 betrayal is loosely based on Tenchi Universe, but greatly fleshed out, as well as having a different ending. I don't know, or perhaps don't remember, exactly who made the statue of Yosho in Tenchi Universe. I believe it was actually on a different planet in Tenchi Universe, too."

"Meanwhile, Yosho's struggles with prejudice reflect the Tenchi OVA, and his relationships with his sisters are largely based on the OVA, although in the OVA I don't believe we ever saw him interacting with Sasami - it's possible she wasn't supposed to have been born until after he left, but clearly I've changed this."

"Finally, Kagato in the OVA claims to have built the Souja, but later Washu counterclaims that Souja was her construction. So I created a situation in which both are, in a sense, correct."

"As you can see by now, the backstories for Yosho and Kagato are a blend of the OVA and the Universe backstories, but with large departures as well. The blends and departures are intended to create a coherent backstory that includes the best elements of both, as well as some elements I thought would be interesting and logical."

Chapter 7 Main Chapters Chapter 9