Cruelty of Fate: Future's SpiteEpilogue
The Nameless Planet:
On the arid dusty surface of a planet lost in the depths of space a young man stands before a massive tree. Its boughs are old and sagging from the millennium it has lived, and the once vibrant green leaves have faded to dusty brown. Where once a proud Jurain tree had stood now only a withered husk remained.
Ibara sighed as he leaned on his staff eyeing the remains of his former charge. The Nameless Tree of Jurai his people had called this ancient creature. Long ago, when Ryoko had made her first return trip to his planet, the tree had begun to die.
Now no trace of life remained, and the young man couldn't help but wonder what he would do with the rest of his life. I am part Jurain, he noted as he turned to walk away with long deliberate steps. I still have a long life ahead of me, but I don't know what to do? Where will I go, how will I go there, and why? All I've ever known in my life is duty and responsibility to my clan's destiny. How do I change all that? How do I-
Stopping Ibara looked up as a glowing beacon appeared before him. "Ibara you are needed." Tsunami decreed holding out her hand patiently. "Your time here is over. I thank you for what you and your clan have done for my child. She lived a full life the way she wished, in peace. But now a greater task awaits you. Come, take my hand and leave this life behind."
Without a moment of hesitation the Tenchi-like youth took his goddess' hand and vanished in a flash of light.
The Masaki House:
In the normally quiet expanse that was the Masaki residence a woman with silver hair blasted across the ground heading from an ancient cave towards the two story home like an out of control rocket. Far behind her a red-haired youth raced as fast as he could, sweat pouring down his face as he felt terror grip his heart. Minagi and Kanji were running, not from some unseen foe, but to find the truth.
Just as the golden-eyed woman reached the docks edge, a red-haired woman exited the house. At first the hormone-driven Jurain could not understand who this new comer was, but as he got closer her facial features gave away her identity. Washu? But she hasn't used that form since little Taro. *1 What's going on? Trying to increase his speed, the scared prince saw Minagi shaking her head appearing to plead with her mother who only shook her head 'no.' Finally he made it within earshot, but the words he heard were not those of comfort.
"Minagi," Washu said tenderly slowly reaching for her daughter's forearm.
"No," the golden-eyed woman screamed throwing her mom's hand from her. "I hate Ryoko! She was always so mean. Dying is just one more way she's picking on me." Whirling about the youngest Hakubi darted towards the house, one arm covering her eyes. "I'm glad she's dead, I never liked her anyway." Slamming the door hard behind her Minagi vanished, yet the sound of her sobbing soon foretold where she was, and what she was doing.
Gasping from exhaustion, Kanji stopped before Washu who merely looked up at Tenchi's window with painful eyes. "So something's happened to Ryoko?" He panted. "How can you be sure? Did you get a call? And how does that explain Minagi knowing?"
Turning her attention to their guest the green-eyed woman smiled flatly. "Come inside, there's a lot I'll have to tell you I see. Besides I don't really want to be alone right now. I just lost my baby girl."
Having no clue what to think Tenchi's son merely froze swallowing back his anger. "Will Minagi be alright?"
Turning from him the diminutive genius slowly opened the door, and as it made a scraping noise she spoke softly. "I don't know. I really don't know…."
One Month Later:
It had been a difficult month at the Masaki house. Life didn't feel like it would ever get back the same. Yet the two Hakubi women had managed. Minagi took strength from her time with Kanji and the little things Washu would do to make her comfortable, like putting her under the covers when had cried herself to sleep once again, or getting all her ingredients ready for the next day.
Meanwhile the red-haired genius took solace in knowing her daughter was looking out for her. Some night she'd wake up in her lab to find a snack waiting nearby with a note saying 'don't try to solve everyone's problems all the time mom! Make sure you rest.' It amused the small woman to think about her little girl trying to be brave like her big sister. Finally after a month of sorrows the Hakubi family was ready to meet with Ryoko's final request.
Standing before a mirror in Tenchi's old room Minagi studied herself with hard eyes. She had not worn her battle outfit for years, over twenty to be exact, and was pleased to see that it still fit. For the tenth time in the past sixty seconds Washu youngest examined her clothes thoroughly. The white overlay was still pearly as it always had been, and her red leggings drew in the morning light like a rose at dawn. Her shoulder pads were firm and gave her a demanding presence. Above her right breast was a kanji symbol, and along her legs were intricate gems. Squinting hard she examined her hair. Like Ryoko her hair appeared wild and untamable, yet in Minagi's case it was not so. She simply preferred this to any other.
Since her days working for her beloved master, Yakage, Minagi had always been immaculate in the care of her appearance. She had also spent countless hours training each and every day in her centuries working for the Jurain scientist.
The worst, she recalled, adjusting the fingers of her gloves once again, was the fly assignment. Master always hated sweets, as a matter of fact he always told me if I ate any my bottom would swell up and I would never master my skills. Well I showed him, she mentally smiled only looking at her backside three times this time. But that day he came into the training room with a huge cinnamon swirl covered in sugary frosting. I asked him what I'd fight today and he told me:
"Stay perfectly still."
Then he put rubbed my nose with his finger, covered in frosting! Oh that was so gross! I wanted to wipe my nose, but then he said:
"Don't move. Not until I say you can. Now, today's test in ability to follow orders starts."
When he got done he opened a jar and let a fly out. Then he left. I spent 8 hours with that… that… thing climbing all over my face and even in my ears. Shuddering, Minagi finally looked away from her mirror at a package sitting neatly wrapped on Tenchi's desk. That was the worst test of patience I ever had. But Master Yakage taught me a lot of other things, like the Jurai To-J-Buyon, which I'll need today. I wish I could have used it for you at least once master, but I'll make sure the time you spent on these lessons pays off.
Picking up the bottle shaped package delicately she exhaled one final time before walking tall and proud from her preparation room. There was only one thing she couldn't make look right, and she knew she'd have to get it right in the next few hours or all was lost, her eyes. They still showed her pain from her sister's loss, and anything less than total perfection would dishonor her former master's soul as she sought to glorify Ryoko's life in the next few hours.
The front lawn:
Sliding open the front door, Minagi looked out at the cleared ground with apprehension. Finally she began to walk. Five… six… seven… she counted each step calculated exactly to the mark. Twenty-four, golden-eyed woman concluded before stopping and standing like a statue. One for each hour of this planet's day….*2
For five minutes she stood at attention, watching the skies with powerful intensity. They'll be here soon, she though quickly placing the package in her hand down beside her. It'll be time for sister's gift. I just wish she could have been here to present it herself. Feeling the desire to cry, yet again, arise Minagi chided herself, allowing her warrior spirit to claim her heart. This is no time to act like a baby! You're a warrior, like my master and sister before me. Now Minagi, repeat what you're to say!
As she repeated her speech and traced her future motions mentally the clouds above parted and a massive spaceship appeared. The large vessel seemed to be made of wood, yet it moved downward like it was composed of feathers. When it was a mere thousand feet above the tiny home, a beam of light shined down illuminating the ground in front of the pondering and waiting woman.
An instant later two figures beamed down, and now Minagi stood before the first prince and his wife, Tenchi and Ayeka Masaki. They were not dressed in their finest attire, but rather in simple clothes. Tenchi wore a black pair of pants, with a long sleeve white shirt, and his wife was adorned in her favorite pink-kimono. They had traveled quiet a distance to see what had become of Ryoko and Mayuka. It had taken a full month to set up things, as Washu had not answered any calls until only recently, and the darkness plague had arisen numerous concerns on Jurai. However now they were free and could finally visit their meeting place, as well as pay their respects to Tenchi's ancestors.
Taking a sharp breath, the golden-eyed Hakubi felt her heart jump into her throat. This is it, she realized in that nano-second they were taking corporal form. The moment I've trained all these millennium for…I'll do my best to honor both of your memories. Please sister let this be enough for you to rest in peace, and forgive me for the mean things I said about you. Moving from her attentive state she held out one hand and called forth a sphere of crimson power and swiftly forged her own version of Ryoko's energy blade. With all her might she raised her sword arm, and swiftly brought the blade down into the soft ground before her. Falling to one knee she rested one hand on the ground and the other on her propped up knee, looking at the earth before her as if it was all she could bare to do. When she spoke it was not in a language either guest was accustomed to, save Ayeka who understood her with a degree of difficulty.
"What's going on?" Tenchi asked, rubbing the back of his head nervously as Minagi continued to recite her speech flawlessly. "What did she say?"
As soon as she had finished her words Ayeka spoke. "She is speaking in Ancient Jurain, Lord Tenchi. This is the To-Jo-Buyon is it not?" Saying nothing Washu's sole remaining daughter nodded her bowed head. "I must apologize then, for I did not realize the situation was of such a formal nature. It has been nearly a thousand years since anyone on Jurai has even spoken of the To-Jo-Buyon."
Thankfully Minagi's hair covered her face or her shock would have been seen. Her mouth contorted into a triangle of horror and her eyes were little more than black dots as she took in Ayeka's message. Master Yakage's ancient sacred technique… out of style… such a thought was unbelievable to the young Hakubi, as she could not grasp her mentor ever not being cool.
"Oh…" Tenchi nodded still lost. "So what did she say?"
Clearing her throat the purple-haired princess did her best to quote the kneeling woman. "Greetings Most Honored Prince Tenchi of the House of Masaki, and Lady Ayeka of the House of Jurai. Please accept my blade towards your service."
"I see… You know Minagi," the brown-haired prince said with embarrassment. "You don't have to kneel before me, and you don't have to call me by my title. We aren't on Jurai, and I'm not here on business. So please, just call me Tenchi, all right."
Minagi shouted something in reply, never looking up as she rose to her feet. "She says it is as you wish, Lord Tenchi." Ayeka offered before adding, "the To-Jo-Buyon is the most honored rite of a Jurain warrior when they wish to make a request to their king."
Sighing the married man rubbed his eyes. "Minagi, please talk normal, I can't feel honored if I have no clue what you're saying."
Snapping her head up, Minagi held out her wrapped present with lightning quick reflexes. "This is a gift from my fallen sister. It was her greatest wish that I would honor her memory by presenting this item to you. Please accept this token of her love for you, and her wedding gift to commemorate your wedding."
Feeling awkward Tenchi reached out and took the bottle from her slowly, wondering what else he was supposed to be doing. Ancient customs sure are weird, he realized. But then again I used to work in a shrine….
"You have brought great honor to your house's name, Minagi," the pink-kimono wearing princess proclaimed crossing her arms in a 'X' over her chest before bowing towards the stiff warrior. "Your sister's gift will be held forever in a place of reverence." A wedding gift? Leave it to Ryoko to be so lazy; even in death that monster woman is late….
"There is more," Washu's daughter declared. "Please open the gift." With caution, never knowing what to expect when Ryoko was concerned, Tenchi did as commanded. Neither he, nor his wife, was surprised to see that the bottle shaped package was a bottle of Sake entitled, Ryoko's Heart. "My sister had only one regret in her whole life, and she asked for me to pass it along in case something happened to her. To amend the guilt, please hear me out, so it will put her spirit to rest and I may do as she asked me to. Please Lord Tenchi kiss the cork."
"What?" the Jurain nobles said in unison.
With military calm the golden-eyed woman continued. "My sister often complained that she never stole a kiss from you. She kissed the top of that bottle just before she left for Jurai to save Mayuka. She hoped to give you that present and have you kiss the cork. In a way it would be like indirectly kissing…." Trailing off Minagi felt her face reddening and she fought valiantly to force her emotions to stay in check.
With a smirk Tenchi nodded his head. Taking a deep breath he was just about to press his lips upon the cork stopper when Ryoko's sister spoke once again. "You should know that the Sake you hold is actually twenty years in the making. The first drops were collected by Onee-san on the night she saw you kiss Ayeka at the temple. She took an old bottle, and wept into it, collecting the tears from her hearts sorrows. The sake was created by Lady Washu. The last drop in was a tear of her joy seeing you and Lady Ayeka happy, Lord Tenchi. That is why it's called Ryoko's heart. It contains her love for you, both of you." These words caused Tenchi's heart to drop and he felt numb. Tightening his grasp on the bottle, until his knuckles were white he looked at the concoction.
Leaning forward the brown-haired youth pressed his lips on the cork surface, and in his mind he felt the warmth of Ryoko's lips against his own. She's right; he mused as she kissed the bottle. It is like indirectly kissing.
Silence hung in the air as Minagi watched this strange request, but something bothered her about this. Normally her vision was perfect, save for when she was crying. However when Tenchi's lips had first touched the bottle she could have sworn she seen her sister floating before him her arms wrapped around his head as they shared a passionate exchange. As soon as she blinked it was gone, but for a moment her heart had felt whole again as if her sister were there and everything were normal again.
Breathing loudly Tenchi leaned back from his 'kiss.' His voice crackled as he spoke, even though he had promised himself he wouldn't cry. "Thank you Minagi. Would you like to join us in sampling Ryoko's vintage wine?"
"No," the golden-eyed girl said coming forward to place one hand on the top of the bottle and Tenchi's hand. "Onee-san was very specific about this sake. No one but you and Ayeka are to drink it, and only before bed."
"Very well," he resigned. "Are the others here? I'd like to see them all again." Taking the bottle from the lithe daughter pointed to the house. "Thank you, please keep that safe for me until tonight then."
"The To-Jo-Buyon has concluded. You did very nicely Minagi." Ayeka declared motioning that it would now be fine for Tenchi to go into the house, as she knew that was what he truly. "Where did you learn such a thing?"
Before anyone could blink Tenchi leapt to the side, as a large staff smashed into the ground where he had stood.
"Nicely done," a black-haired man said with a smile as he came out of the house. "I see you haven't lost any of your skill in all these years."
"Ibara?" Tenchi stammered. "What-"
"What is the matter with you!" Ayeka snapped furiously. "You could have killed Lord Tenchi with an attack like that."
victoriously the former guardian merely shook his head. "After what happened to Ryoko because of him
it would only be right. But I knew he
would dodge it."
"It's okay Ayeka," the young man declared taking his wife's arm. "I deserve that. It is my fault all this happened. I don't regret my choice, but Ibara has every right to be angry. Forgive me," he added making a simple bow to the muscular man.
Ibara laughed. "There is no need for apologies. Ryoko was happy for you and things happened because she was a free spirit. Now if you'll excuse me…" Saying nothing more the man in the black muscle shirt strolled past the gathered family. "I have a vigil to keep."
"What in the-" Tenchi started to ask before being interrupted by another member of his extended family.
"Don't ask," Washu said, now in her chibi form. "He just showed up a month ago, out of no where, and said 'I've got a vigil to maintain.'" As she quoted Ibara the young genius voice changed into a horrid parody of the young man. "He really is a strange one, but my daughters do seem to like those types…"
Almost as if on cue, another guest appeared from inside the Masaki home. "Oh man did you see that dad?" kanji excitedly asked. "That was Ibara! The dude who looks like you who Ryoko met!"
Before anyone could answer however the red-haired youth found himself in a painful hug from his mother. "My baby," she cried her tone becoming completely unlike her normal proper self. "Did that monster woman hurt you? She didn't really… deflower you did she honey?"
"Mom," Kanji whined. "That was all a lie. I stowed away on Ryo-Ohki and-"
"What!" Ayeka fumed, her eyes growing large and white as she turned her hug into a strangling motion. Realizing it was no good on her taller son, the red-eyed princess soon changed to a more traditional hold, grabbing his ear. "Young man I'll have none of that! Why once I get you back to Jurai you'll be grounded for so long that…" Dragging him into the house, the others stifled a laugh, all save Minagi, as they entered the house.
Home to Jurai… she thought with tears in her eyes. But Kanji can't leave… I… I love him…. Terror filled her heart as she went inside dreading now losing another person close to her. I have to speak up, but how? How can I tell a princess and a prince what to do…? Ooooh…. My stomach hurts… what am I gonna do…!
Around the dinner table sat the strangest group of figures this world had ever known. Washu, Kanji, Ayeka, Tenchi, Minagi, and Ryo-Ohki sat around the old table enjoying the banquet of food that Washu's daughter had created. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the moment as they ate and talked of old times.
"Kanji," Ayeka snapped at her son still furious about being lied to. "Sit up straight, and chew with your mouth closed! You are not a commoner. Please behave accordingly."
"But mom," Kanji complained, turning to his dad who chewed in a similar fashion to the accused.
"Mind your mother, Kanji," he said before turning away. Looking at Minagi the young looking prince felt caught her glancing briefly at his son. "Did you cook all this Minagi?" He asked hoping a change of conversation might make the young sister a little more talkative.
"Yes," she humbly admitted. "I'm sorry it isn't very good, but I really have been practicing. One of my jobs on Master's ship was preparing my own meals. 'It kept me tough' he used to say. 'Never depend on others for aid.' Mostly I just made gruel." As if to stress her point she mashed her food into a paste, nervously avoiding eye contact.
"This most certainly is not gruel," Ayeka said eating a small bite of one of Minagi's seafood platters. "I should say it is the most exquisite dish I have ever sampled. Why even Sasami never made anything this good."
"I told you," Washu smirked popping some shrimp in her mouth. "But you never did listen to mother young lady." Blushing Minagi sunk into her seat a little more. She was not the most emotionally strong person present, and praise was something she had not become accustomed to with a teasing sister.
Minagi responded with a whisper of a voice.
"I'm glad you like it."
Realizing her child was not in the mood to talk, the great genius took it upon herself to brag for her. "Where is Sasami anyway? Did she hear about my widdle Minagi's skills and run away?" To accent her pride the red-haired scientist rubbed the silver-haired woman's head roughly getting a whine in response.
"It appears my sister has gone on another of her quests," Ayeka noted. "She disappears from time to time to attend matters. Unlike Ryoko my sister-"
The Jurain princess never finished that statement, as Minagi's glass whizzed by her head, and shattered on the sliding door behind her. Shooting to her feet the golden-eyed woman had death in her eyes. "Don't say that about my sister! She wasn't worthless at all! She gave her life to save Mayuka! It's not her fault all this happened! It's not, and I won't stay here and listen to you saying such mean things!" Without another word the emotional woman ran from the house, heading off towards the lakeside peer before her tears were seen.
"But I-" Ayeka stammered unsure what to make of such a display. As always she had only meant to take a jab at her former rival, and she had not meant to dishonor her memory in any way. "I apologize everyone, my comment was uncalled for. I shall go and-" Nearly tipping the table over with his extravagant rise to his feet, Kanji followed the retreating Hakubi without saying a word although to Washu it spoke volumes. "What was that all about? Kanji knows better than to rush off in such a manner. He should have at least taken a jacket with him."
"Relax, it's just a sign that your little boy's grown up, Lady Ayeka," Washu said knowingly continuing to eat her food in a casual manner. "Besides he's the one Minagi wants to have come after her right now."
"What do you mean by that? Kanji is not at fault here, it was my-"
Smiling kindly Washu merely shook her head as she prepared to leave. "I'm just saying your son and my daughter enjoy each others company. Not in the same way Ryoko would…but then again she was one of a kind. Right now they need some time alone." Placing a hand to the side of her face she whispered, "I don't think she liked the idea of Kanji going home. No girl likes to see their boyfriend move away."
"Boyfriend," Ayeka hissed. "Since when is my son involved with her? He is supposed to wed a proper princess from the Gamalonian sector. She was hand selected by-"
"Why are you two whispering," Tenchi interjected continuing to eat in defeat knowing logic was not running this conversation.
"Love's funny that way," the red-haired genius remarked. "Now if you'll excuse me, it's been a long day, and I need my rest. Tomorrow we'll have the service for Ryoko. But tonight Ryo-Ohki and I have a little work in the lab before bed. Minagi prepared your room just the way you left it, and your sake is sitting in a bucket of ice. She's really a nice girl, so quiet, clean, and respectful. Anyway, enjoy your night. See you two love birds in the morning…."
Casting each other a strange look Tenchi and Ayeka spoke in unison as the Hakubi duo vanished behind the lab door. "Love birds?"
Minagi Hakubi stood beside the crystal clear lake pouting angrily. Having collected a small handful of stones she threw them individually across its surface watching each one bounce a few times before it finally sank. In defeat she sat on the long dock's edge examining the stars and the beautiful full moon. Why did I have to be so rude? I know Lady Ayeka wasn't trying to be mean, but…
It's good for the little princess to get heckled once in a while. You did good. She heard a memory of her sister say. Very rarely did the two sisters share time together, as their hobbies nearly never overlapped, but bath time was their favorite, and more than once Ryoko had managed to get Minagi drunk enough to be rude.
"Hey," a voice called pulling her from her dismal dreams. Looking up she saw Kanji standing beside her looking up at the same moon as her.
Sniffing loudly Minagi nodded her acknowledgement of his presence. "I'm sorry I yelled at your mom." She said in a tiny voice.
"Don't be." The prince replied. "I waited my whole life to hear someone talk back to her. It was great."
Laughing, the Hakubi woman smiled at the absurdity. "You and sis are so alike. I can see why you liked her so much even before you met her."
"Really," he strained as he sat beside her. "I never thought of that. All I've been able to think about lately is that opposites attract. I think seeing mom and dad reminds me of that, since they are so similar."
"Do you think she'll be mad at me in the morning? I wouldn't want to have a princess mad at me."
"Don't worry," he said waving her comment off. "Mom's mad at everyone all the time, until she meets someone new. That's why she's such a nutcase. But you really should stop thinking of them as royalty. They're just mom and dad. "
Swallowing hard, the golden-eyed woman looked away. "So are you excited to be going home? Back to your palace and all. I imagine no one will be there to nag on you, punch you in the head, or call you a pervert like I do. Plus you won't have to look at my ugly scars anymore."
"No I'm not," Kanji answered. "I'll be leaving behind you behind, and that's too much to lose."
As he uttered such a phrase Minagi couldn't help but cry. "You don't have to make fun of me. You know I love you, and you're always picking on me like that why-"
Nothing more could be said, Kanji Masaki realized that. So he did the only thing his mind could think of, leaning forward he kissed the young woman squarely on the lips as she tried to complain once again. Although it was only a few seconds, to the two youth's the kiss felt like an age, and when he pulled away three words slipped out that would cement his actions forever. "I love you."
Once again he pressed his lips against hers, still unsure what it was that had made him come to this decision. After all Minagi was always hitting him, whining, and crying yet for some reason after a full month with her the young man could no longer fathom a life without the emotional Hakubi. Reaching forward he embraced her in a gentle reassuring hug and leaned back to lie on the docks. Steadying herself in his arms the silver-haired woman's heart refused to beat, and soon she closed her eyes and lay in his warm arms as they watched the stars together forgetting everything else for one magical night.
Tenchi Masaki sat on the edge of his bed in his usual white robe. Swirling the bottle in the semi-melted ice, he examined it thoroughly as his wife prepared for bed. "This should a rather interesting night," she noted.
"Yeah," the brown-haired youth nodded. "I've never had Tear Sake before."
Laughing politely the purple-haired woman placed her hair in a nightcap and examined her silk covered nightgown, even as she slept the slender princess acted with complete modesty. "I meant the sleeping arrangements. I do not think I have ever slept in your bed while I was here on Earth."
"Really?" The married man said with shock as he uncorked Ryoko's sake. "Huh… I guess you're right. That's weird." Pouring slowly, Tenchi sniffed the air as the topaz liquid filled the two crystal goblets, before replacing the topper. Turning to his wife he couldn't help but notice how beautiful she looked in the lighting. "To Ryoko, and to all the great times we shared."
"To Ryoko, who brought us together." Ayeka added before they clanged their glasses and took a long sip of the special sake. It was a rather dry taste and they both cough slightly.
"It certainly is strong," Tenchi blinked setting his glass down after only one gulp. Nodding her agreement, the red-eyed woman handed him her glass to place beside him. Blinking continuously the young man felt a strange energy filling his body. Ayeka certainly looks beautiful tonight, he thought as he studied her slender frame while she rubbed her temples.
"I think it is a bit warm in here," she said in distaste removing her nightcap. "I suppose one night without my cap should not matter much." Her long purple hair that normally lay so straight, smooth, and controlled down her back now sprawled from her head giving her a primal look.
As she sat on the bed beside him, their eyes met and Tenchi felt compelled to kiss his wife upon her silken lips. No sooner had he done so than his heart began to race and his senses became over loaded with his wife's appearance, the taste of her lips, the smell of her perfume, the sound of her gentle pleasurable moan, and feel of her body against his. Falling back together the Jurain couple petted each other heavily before finally, after twenty long years finding the ability to do what they could not. *3
In front of the infamous cave a young looking man sat against one of the forest's trees. Sighing hard he shook his head. Tonight was no different than any other night in the past month, and as usual he couldn't help but wonder what it was like to sleep entombed in a cave for so very long. Lonely I imagine. I know how that can be, but unlike you Ryoko I was not alone, nor was this my punishment. I wish I could have been there for you, when you wielded the Lighthawk sword in that grand battle. Washu had told me you fought with all your heart even against your own desire. It is a terrible shame that you had to harm Mayuka, even though I never met her personally the way you spoke of her in those moments we waited together on my home world told me volumes.
Shivering the black-haired youth shrugged his shoulders. Laughing kindly he looked at the former resting place of Ryoko. "I should have brought a blanket form the house," he said to no one. "But then again it isn't as cold out here as it was in there."
Looking at the stars, Ibara noted they were different than those he watched from his home, and yet at the same time strangely familiar. Moving his feet he brushed some loose dirt aside as he wiggled against the rough bark, trying to get comfortable. He had waited up each night waiting for something to happen. Tsunami brought me here for a reason, he noted. Although she had never said where or when what I was here for would happen. It seems logical that it might be here. But if nothing else at least this gives Tenchi and Ayeka a chance to settle in tonight. Yawning deeply, Ibara stretched his muscular arms. "I'm more tired than I thought. Maybe I'll just rest… my eyes for… a minute…."
Without another word or thought, the strong guardian fell asleep, barely noticing the cold as he happily dreamed of the day he first met Ryoko, the infamous space pirate.
The Next Morning:
Minagi awoke stiff as a board having slept on the cold docks all night. Beside her slumbered the hormonally uncontrollable youth Kanji. She sighed happily as she looked at him, thinking about the wonderful kiss she had received last night. Taking a deep breath Minagi felt completely at peace, until her keen nose detected the smell of something burning. Rocketing off like a missile she panicked.
Did I leave the oven on? I don't think I did. But no one else likes to cook but me. Mom uses the microwave, and Tenchi and Ayeka should be still sleeping from the afterglow of mom's super aphrodisiac sake.
A sudden image of the married couple in a compromising situation squeaked into the young girl's mind almost making her crash as she tried to banish the Hentai thoughts in her head.
To make matters worse, the lithe sibling of Ryoko felt strange as if something was changing inside of her, and so she accelerated wondering what in the world could be going on. What she found when she returned home would change her life forever.
As the first light of dawn broke the night's sky, the animals of daylight began their daily song. It was at this time that Ibara awoke from his slumber. Yawning, the mighty warrior was about to stretch his arms when he noticed a most peculiar thing had happened. A blanket covered him.
Just outside The Hakubi/Masaki House:
Moments after Minagi had entered into the house, an explosive scream echoed from within. Ibara who was just reaching the place where Kanji rested helped the young prince to his feet before they both raced towards the house expecting the worst.
"That sounded like Minagi's scream," the red-haired prince noted. "Do you think she's in danger?"
Ibara glared at the red-roofed home, "this reeks of trouble."
Sniffing the air loudly as he ran, Kanji smirked. "Funny I never thought trouble smelled like breakfast…."
Like a dynamic duo of action Ibara and Kanji threw open the door, weapons ready as they survey the scene. Yet there were not monsters lurking nearby, nor was anyone in pain. Instead a quartet of women surrounded the dining room table. Ryo-Ohki and Washu merely started dumbfounded at the fourth woman, who had Minagi cuddling around her waist, rubbing her face against the newcomer's skin like a kitten.
"Holy Sh…ah…ha…" Kanji gawked as he entered into the Masaki home. "Ryoko you're alive, and I can almost see your-" With lightning quick speed Ibara joined the ranks of Ryoko, Minagi, and countless others in smacking the young man upside his head.
"What in the world is going on," Ayeka demanded as she came down the stairs hurriedly her robe fitting improperly in places and she seemed to walk with a strange stiffness. "I-"
"Yo," Ryoko yawned looking over her shoulder and holding up one hand in greeting.
"Ayeka what is it?" Tenchi said coming down the stairs wearing a small t-shirt and an old pair of boxers.
Silence hung in the room as everyone merely glared at Ryoko in shock. She still wore her revealing Lighthawk armor, and seemed to have a lighter color to her, as if she were a shade whiter. She still radiated an untamable passion, but now looking upon her also gave a feeling of inner peace. "Sorry I'm late. I've been busy," she noted.
"What's all the commotion, Ryoko," Sasami asked popping her head around the corner.
"Nothing, sis," the golden-eyed woman remarked casually. "Everyone's just getting up."
"But how?" Washu finally stammered. "I mean you died… I felt the link fade."
Chuckling at her mother's comment Ryoko shook her head. "It's simple. I became a goddess. That's what these gems meant. They were your old claim to being a goddess. In order to invoke the Lighthawk wings I had to want to use them for protection, not destruction. That was the deal."
As she finished everyone felt a pause in their anxiety and quickly gathered around the table fascinated by her story. At that moment Sasami appeared holding the mornings dishes. "Remember to eat a lot Ryoko, you need to keep up your strength. After all you're eating for two now."
"What!" the entire extended family gasped in unison.
Once again the lithe woman chuckled, this time attempting to rise. However her attempt failed as Minagi still clung around her waist holding her tightly. "Minagi let go of your sister."
"But she might leave us again," the golden-eyed youth sobbed.
"Well I'm not leaving," Ryoko said. "Besides if you're going to be down there you might as make it memorable. I mean I'm not into that Mihoshi/Kiyone stuff, but if you are…." Instantly Minagi released her sister her face becoming redder than ever before. "That's better, I knew you weren't that type." Standing up, everyone now could see evidence, though slight, of what Tsunami had been speaking of. Ryoko's stomach bulged outward. At first no one had noticed, even Minagi, as they were too busy dealing with their shock at her presence now once again the gathered family was stunned. "It's Tenchi's baby," she answered.
Ayeka turned white. Slowly she looked with horror at her husband.
With a loud haunting laugh Ryoko started to sit down. "Relax princess, I didn't deflower your husband for you. The child I'm bearing is Mayuka." Seeing the lack of comprehension on everyone's face she retold the tale of her fight with Mayuka and how she had been reduced to topaz energy. "Turns out I was absorbing her essence. At first I thought Tsunami was killing me, and she really enjoyed keeping me in suspense. Lucky Tokimi finally broke the news to me." Sasami merely looked at her friend with a grin and stuck her tongue out playfully.
"Wait, wait, wait," Washu interjected. "Tokimi, as in the one who sent Clay after me?"
Nodding Ryoko sipped at her tea. "Yep. She's a goddess like me. I've been off at this Data bass place doing my goddess training."
"It's Data-BASE," Tsunami corrected, apparently for the millionth time. The new goddess merely shrugged.
"So did you find out why she was looking for Washu," Tenchi asked finally entering into the conversation.
"Yeah," the scantly clad woman nodded. Waiting nearly a full minute before continuing, she loved keeping her audience in suspense. "Someone had to debug the thing. Tokimi's been lost for the last 20000 years. She's in charge of maintenance in this quadrant and keeping the order as well as power flow. It's really a lame job. But apparently Washu here was supposed to be on an info gathering vacation when she stepped down and lost her memory. Now sis is all stressed out and can't take her vacation. So once I'm all trained and she can finish up debugging the system she can relax." Smirking Ryoko set down her tea. "She's even more uptight than you, princess."
"What!" Ayeka snarled. "Why I-"
"By the way, how was the sex," the golden-eyed goddess bluntly asked.
"How did you know?" Tenchi blurted suddenly remembering it was not merely the three of them.
"I've been keeping my eye on all of you this last month. You're all hopeless without me." Ryoko answered. "I watched you two last night, very nicely done, although princess if you had of lifted your left leg more, and…"
"LALALALA!" Minagi shouted not wanting to hear any more graphic details. "Talk about something else, please!"
"Sorry kiddo, but I figured you'd want to know this stuff for… later." Grinning impishly she glared from Kanji to her sister knowingly.
"Excuse me," Ibara began. "This is all well and good, but why am I here?"
"What you don't like being off that dead planet? Would you rather go back?" Seeing him shake his head 'no,' Ryoko smiled. "Well then let's just say I want to give you a chance. When Mayuka is born she'll need a strong daddy. I thought you might like the job, since you're so good at protecting stuff."
Blushing all the Tenchi-like man could do was bow his head. "I'm honored." He whispered. "I shall do my best."
"Well good, now that that's all out of the way, let's eat." The new goddess declared. Almost instantly everyone dug in.
"This is okay," Minagi said nodding to Tsunami. "But you should have added less carrot and more celery. It makes the flavor more interesting."
Glaring at the young Hakubi it became clear to the two women that with those words a new rivalry had been born at the Masaki home, between a Jurain-princess-goddess and a space-pirate-homemaker with emotional issues.
Midway through breakfast the goddess duo rose to leave, despite numerous protests. However Ryoko promised to return and with simultaneous hisses they departed.
Ayeka and Tenchi were the next to leave the table, deciding to go back to sleep, as they were both exhausted. Once again they took a sip of Ryoko's sake, and got little done in the way of sleep.
Minagi and Kanji, having declared their love for each other, were the next to leave as the golden-eyed woman decided she needed supplies for the next meal. Especially since she wished to best Sasami with her preparatory skills.
As the group dwindled down Ibara was the last to leave, deciding he would attend to Tenchi's former duties at the shrine, as it was were he felt the most comfortable. And so with his departure, Washu and Ryo-Ohki were left alone at the small table. Washu could only grin as she examined the remains of their meal. Perhaps, she thought with joy. Perhaps I was actually wrong. Sometimes I guess good things can happen, despite the cruelty of fate….THE END
Author's Notes: But is it ever really the end? Yes and no. Yes in that this tale will have no chapters, no because I could always make a sequel, but then again I don't know. Hmm… Anyway just to clarify one point before I end this epilogue, this was not a cop out. Since I first wrote the first letter of the first Cruelty of Fate, I had planned to do this (a few minor changes were made, but that was between Mayuka and Ryoko making the 'I'll have your kids' line work.) So I hope you enjoyed my story. Thanks for reading! Now please review and let me know if I should continue this series or not. For those of you who are angry it had a happy ending, I apologize. They can't all be The Waking Nightmare.
Side note: If there was a 3rd series it would be based in the future of this timeline, look for two weddings, an all new character, an unparalleled evil, and the return of a few old favorites. But who can say if such a thing will/should be written….
1: Episode 8 of the OVA
2: It is also the age of the writer.
3: If you want more description than that, write your own Hentai. LOL