The characters in this story and the events of all the Tenchi Muyo shows are property of their original creators and all those affiliated with them. I have neither created them, nor do I own them. Any new characters as well as the events within this story are created by me and my sister, so they are our property. This story is written for fun and as an homage to the world of Tenchi.


Epilog

When he went past the mighty stone columns out into the open, the sun was already setting. He took a deep breath and enjoyed the fresh air. A warm wind sprung up, rustling in the leaves of the trees nearby. An overwhelming feeling of freedom pared with great relief conjured a smile on his face.

Suddenly there was a movement to his left which made him pause. A tall figure strode out of the shadow of a column, moving towards him.

"So, prince Yuro of Jurai, how does it feel to be embraced by long lost family?" There was no hint of mockery in Kagato's voice, yet Tenchi felt his face flushing slightly.

"They actually believed my story," he answered as if he had to persuade himself.

"You took your time to convince them," Kagato replied and gestured for Tenchi to take a walk with him along the path separating the royal palace and wood. The unpleasant memories of the last hours in the audience chamber took shape in Tenchi's mind again and reluctantly he followed the request.

It had been so easy in the beginning, when Kagato was coolly evidencing the statement he had transmitted to Azusa when the great battle was over. Mentioning the pirate trio's raid on the royal palace almost casually, he had explained about what Ryoko had found in the woods all those years ago. Then he had continued to tell them that she had brought the baby to Arret, where it was raised into a young man by a caring widow. At that point Queen Achika had expressed her firm belief in Tenchi and Yuro being the same person. But then Azusa had asked Kagato to leave and the interrogation had started.

The whole time, while he had been answering question by question, telling them about the escape from the Juraian moon base, their encounter with Shade, Ryoko's rescue from the Grand Space Prison and finally the last battle against Tokimi, Azusa had only worn a mask of concentration. It had been a mystery to Tenchi what the Emperor was thinking. In fact he still didn't know for certain, even after the last sentence was said.

"They've invited us for dinner."

Kagato, who seemed to have watched the trees in the wood up to now, looked at him, an unreadable expression on his face. When he spoke up, his voice was as cold as ice.

"The only reason I came back here was to give evidence of your origin," he replied. "Since it seems like I succeeded in this matter, my presence here is no longer necessary."

For another minute only the sound of sand crunching beneath their boots was heard, then Tenchi voiced the question which had already come to his mind on their journey to Jurai. He hadn't been able to ask it back then, because he had fallen asleep from exhaustion only minutes after Azusa had ended the communication.

"There's still one thing I don't understand," he started and immediately felt the piercing gaze of the space pirate upon him. "On the planet's surface I was too tired to think straight so I didn't object, but I might as well have escaped with the Souja." The mere thought of this missed opportunity made him feel more than a little uneasy. "So why did you insist on taking me with you and telling Azusa that I'm the crown prince of Jurai?"

Kagato returned Tenchi's interrogative glance and slowed down a little. "For the same reason I rescued you."

Tenchi looked bewildered. "Because you did not want to see a former partner and nice lady die?"

The space pirate laughed, "That was what I answered Ryoko. Regarding the circumstances there was neither reason nor time to explain myself."

It was surprisingly difficult for Tenchi to sort out his fragmented memories of the time after the goddess battle. He remembered being closer to Ryoko than he had ever been before. The feeling had been so pleasant it even took away his fear of death when they were cramped beneath their wings in the collapsing cave. When everything had turned white he knew that this was the end. But he had been wrong.

Suddenly the black night sky had been above them and they were lying right beside the Soto-oh. Kagato had been there too and said something that made Ryoko flush. He had told them that there was little time left before the Juraian fleet would arrive and completely destroy the area. Tenchi remembered Ryoko helping him getting to his feet, but he had felt so weak, he had to heavily lean on her. She had briefly thanked Kagato and asked why he had rescued them. But instead of a reasonable explanation, Kagato had just made the statement, which had remained in Tenchi's mind, and pressed to hurry. From this moment on the memory became blurred and he didn't know what was dream or reality.

"I gave you the coordinates of the prayer grounds, because I was sure that it was not in your power to prevent Yosho from carrying out his plan." Kagato's voice brought Tenchi back to the present and his words left an uneasy feeling, when he pictured who actual had carried out Yosho's plan.

"In a way my assumption proved to be right, but then your actions surprised me. The last thing I was expecting from an untrained Juraian Royal was that he would stand his ground against a goddess."

"But I managed only because..." Tenchi started but was immediately interrupted by Kagato.

"I know Ryoko's capabilities and you are right, you surely would not have been able to defeat Tokimi without her. But Ryoko would not have been able to do so without your help either. I knew this from the moment I sensed your Juraian power."

Tenchi kept starring at the deep red sun behind the whispering trees, but he didn't see it anymore. Realization had struck him of how it had been possible for Kagato to locate them inside the cave in the first place.

"Your power is the more impressive for it doesn't seem to reason from hate or thirst for revenge," Kagato held his steps and when he spoke on, his gaze met Tenchi's.

"You possess great potential, Yuro. Potential to become a much better ruler one day than Azusa is now. You might still have a long way to go until that day, but at least now that your origin has been acknowledged, you will be able to start walking it." For a moment Kagato's gaze seemed to move past him. When the pirate looked at him again, Tenchi believed to see an insidious smile flit over his face.

"If you're questioning your decision to give in to my pressing, to come back to Jurai with me, you may want to think about the other option. Had you escaped with the Souja, it would have only served to prove once more that you have pared up with the dreaded Ryoko. Azusa is listening to me, but he certainly gives nothing to what she says. So you may ask yourself this: Would you have been happy living your life together with her as an outlaw?"

Tenchi lowered his head and took a deep breath. He realized that this was the one question that had haunted him since he had discovered the first traces of his affection for the pirate. And he could see now, that it was his mulling over this fallacious question that had kept the true source of his feelings hidden from himself. It was his stubborn perception of morality that had blocked his sight. Freedom could not sustain itself without bending to certain rules, but there was no point in rules without the promise of freedom. Where he had tried to live by the rules for all his life, Ryoko's life had been one of wild freedom.

"By the way, there is someone waiting for you," Kagato suddenly disturbed his reflection in a slightly amused tone.

Following the direction in which the pirate was looking, Tenchi turned around towards the building and noticed for the first time that they had reached yet another entrance, which was much smaller than the one he had exited from. The sinking sun made the mighty stone columns shine in the darkest color of red. But Tenchi's full attention was drawn to the pathway in between, where Ryoko was standing.

Stunned by her appearance he felt his heart beating faster. He searched for the bond, for any emotional reaction from her, but there was nothing. For a moment he feared that only the rush of events had made them come so close in the cave, but then he saw Ryoko smiling and all his doubts were washed away.

"Tenchi!" Her smile turned into a happy grin and, her arms spread wide, she started floating over to him. Tenchi felt himself smiling too and without a second thought he ran towards her.

Only when he crossed the shadows of the first columns, he suddenly became aware of the situation. Ryoko had already reached him by then and was about to enclose him in her embrace. But instead of returning the gesture, he caught her by the arms and forcefully pushed her to the side behind the next column. When her back was leaning against the stones, he stopped pushing but did not let go of her arms.

"What are you doing here?" he whispered, glancing around nervously.

"But Tenchi, I came to take you with me. I was bored of all the waiting."

There was no sound from the entrance and on the path Kagato was leaning lazily against a column, starring towards the wood. There was nobody there who might have noticed Ryoko's presence yet. '... bored of all the waiting.' The words sunk into his mind and made him turn his attention on her again.

Starring directly into Ryoko's golden eyes, he automatically loosened the grip on her arms. Obviously amused about his behavior, she gave him a reassuring smile.

"There's nobody here. We're alone," she whispered.

Picturing the consequences of her being found here, Tenchi felt the strong urge to object.

"But that's dangerous. If..."

Ryoko suddenly freed her arms completely and put a finger on his lips. "Shht!" she made. "I know what I'm doing. Trust me."

He took hold of her hand, moving it away from his lips and opened his mouth to disagree, to tell her that everything would be lost if she was caught here. But when he looked into her eyes, he realized that she already knew that and had taken the risk of coming to see him anyway.

"I..." he started, taking note of the slight change in Ryoko's expression. "I do trust you."

She gently squeezed his hand and moved in a little closer. "Then let's stop talking."

As she approached him, time seemed to freeze. Tenchi felt his face going hot. His pulse raced but for nothing in the world would he have changed this magical moment. He closed his eyes and gave himself to the intense feeling of happiness. Their lips met. A warm shiver ran through his body and the happiness turned into overwhelming affection. His arms enclosed her body in a passionate embrace, and when she returned the gesture, everything around him was forgotten.

He did no longer see the long shadows of the columns projected by the setting sun, nor hear the whispering of the trees out in the wood. Nor did he realize Kagato briefly glancing in their direction, nor hear the sound of the approaching steps. Holding Ryoko in his arms, knowing that she felt the same as he, was what he had longed for. Their tongues met once more and all of a sudden he knew with unmistakable certainty that he had solved the mystery about his bond to the space pirate.

"Hey, knights!"

Tenchi jerked at the sound of Kagato's voice and hastily withdrew from Ryoko. Instinctively he dragged her deeper in the shadow of the column. The sound of the steps of two men coming to a halt on the pathway made his heart beating faster in his chest. Holding his breath just like Ryoko, he eavesdropped.

"What do you want? We are in a hurry!" a deep voice answered.

"I just wondered..." Kagato's voice trailed off, as if he was searching for the right words to phrase a most delicate question.

"We have business to attend to, so don't hold us up," the second men interrupted him harshly.

"Oh, I wouldn't think of it," Kagato replied neatly. "I just wondered if you can tell me what the weather will be tomorrow."

Ryoko chuckled and in spite of the gravity of the situation, Tenchi could not keep a straight face either. The question seemed to have taken the knights completely by surprise, for there was no immediate answer.

"We should look for a safer place," Ryoko whispered barely audible and extended her hand. Tenchi nodded and gently took hold of it. She gave him a warm smile, which he returned and then they were gone.

--

"The weather?" the second knight asked warily. But the first one already started to laugh.
"Of course it will be sunny and warm. Tomorrow is vacation day. You can't have forgotten about that."

With these words they went on towards the small entrance. Kagato watched them until they had entered the palace. When the wooden door had closed behind them, he turned towards the setting sun.

Vacation day. Of course he had not forgotten about it. It had been the day when everything had started.

He glanced at the spot where Yuro and Ryoko had hidden just a minute ago. Live was a strange game. And with the hint of a smile on his face the space pirate teleported away.


Authors dialog:

Kryo: Incredible! It's finished. We actually did it. I have to admit that there were times when I had my doubts if we would manage to finish this endless story. Do you still remember how we started to write P&C almost 5 years ago?

Tamrin: Yes, back then I received two or three pages of text from you, outlining the position of the characters to each other, the way you would like it, and a general idea of the content of a few scenes.

Kryo: Exactly. I had thought about trying my hand at a larger piece of fanfiction for some time back then. Then, some day, I had this idea about some characters of the Tenchi cast sneaking into a high security complex for some reason. As strange as it sounds, that was the cornerstone. I quickly realized that it would be easier to do this in an AU story and that was when I first asked myself how Tenchi Muyo! would work without Earth. From there I decided which characters I would like to see in the story and which roles they might play (especially Tenchi) if there actually was no Earth. Once this was done I handed the whole tangled mass to you and asked you if you thought it possible to do something with it.

Tamrin: And I really came up with some ideas. I've always enjoyed thinking out stories so I made use of the time during a boring lecture of historical geology and wrote down a small script for a possible storyline, involving your ideas.

Kryo: Actually the script was quite complicated with all those difficult relations. It even started ten years in the past to set up a major twist that would happen much later in the story. But I liked it and so I started to write the prolog right away. I remember clearly the beautiful sunset that took place while I wrote this very first scene all those years ago. Afterwards I proceeded to write the first scene of the first chapter, starting the actual timeline.

Tamrin: The first scene I wrote was the second in the first chapter, which forced the reader to have a look at Tenchi's cup of coffee in the beginning. This was remarkable for I do not drink coffee. I chose this introduction because I did not want to make Tenchi act as it would please me but to let him live his own way of life. This was not an easy task, because unlike you I never was a great Tenchi Muyo! fan. So I often had to look at snapshots from the series to get in the mood for writing scenes when we started. Nevertheless we managed to write a lot and quite fast back then. There was plenty of time and especially you needed it, because I wrote in German and you translated my scenes with a dictionary.

Kryo: Of course you kept improving your English, so I didn't have to translate anymore and we also started to use an online-dictionary for a quicker look-up, but even so there was less and less time to write, because our studies kept getting more and more time-consuming. The initial enthusiasm started to fade as well. While these factors had quite a negative effect on the progress, they never managed to completely freeze it. Partially that might be because I developed a slightly different attitude to writing itself. I realized that I had never really enjoyed the process and that I probably never would. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Someone once said: "An author who doesn't torture himself tortures his readers." And I think there is some wisdom in that.

Tamrin: There might be some truth in that, but in my opinion writing has to give at least a little pleasure. Personally I enjoyed it almost every time. After confronting a character with a certain situation it was always so amazing to see how he would act or what he would say. It was almost as if the characters were acting on their own.

Kryo: Yes, and at some point they were getting too independent. The original ending we had in mind didn't live up to the expectations of the characters as well as the readers anymore, so we had to do a major revision of our original script and develop an entirely new ending.

Tamrin: Yea, after writing out chapter 10 we sat together and discussed over more than two hours. Plans were made and possible developments of certain characters framed. And in the end we agreed on a script outlining the further course of the story.

Kryo: And as soon as the new script was done, the progress slowed to a snail's pace. These were hard times for P&C and without the mutual motivation it might as well have been the end of the story. After all we just had each other and our responsibility to the readers to keep us going.

Tamrin: True. Talking about the story and planning the scenes was a main part of our teamwork. Most ideas took shape during these discussions lasting for hours. Almost every time we met, the story was one topic to be talked about. And afterwards everything we had thought of was written in a script. However you liked working with detailed scripts much more than me.

Kryo: Yes - I was more comfortable writing with a definite outline. Especially for the longer battle scenes I found them essential.

Tamrin: Oh- don't remind me of the space battle scenes of the last chapters! As a girl I'm not so fond of battle scenes at all. And unlike scenes where characters interact directly I do not like writing scenes in sealed vessels where the only possibility to communicate is with some communication devise. Yea, and bearing additionally in mind that certainly most readers do not like side characters like Kunrin, those space battle scenes had been really hard stuff to write.

Kryo: I know, it was quite mean of me to make you write those, because I really wanted to write the ground scenes. And then I even sneaked out of writing the epilog, because I feared that I might not be able to pull it off.

Tamrin: But in fact I felt honored to be given the task to write the last scene. I guess I deserved it too, because first you have written the Prolog and second I had come up with the idea more than one year ago. And after all these battle scenes writing the Epilog was something I truly enjoyed. Now that it is posted, there is only one thing to say.

Kryo: My greatest thanks to all those of you, who stayed with us to the very end. You are all great readers - the best a writer could wish for. Special thanks to those people who even took the time to drop us a line or more in comments of encouragement and constructive criticism. The story wouldn't have taken its final shape without your help. And last but not least another round of special thanks to those individuals who took upon themselves the extensive task of helping me out by proofreading some of the endless chapters of Purity and Corruption. Thank you!

Tamrin: I, too, thank you sincerely for all the hours you invested in reading our story. The main story line of Purity and Corruption has come to a conclusion now, but there's still something to write. Young Kagato wants to see his side story finished and I don't intend to keep him waiting for another year.

Kryo: I remember that originally I wanted to write one as well, but I don't know if I will be able to do this anytime soon. Maybe you will have to write this one as well.

Tamrin: :-)