Brief Introduction and Disclaimer
Since the synopsis space is so limited, here's a few notes about this story for readers' benefit :D
Firstly - it's mainly working on the Universe timeline but there are OVA themes and elements dragged kicking and screaming into it too. I work on the premise that much of the OVA is possible in Universe, it's just never been brought into the plot...and this story operates on those lines. Therefore the setting is Universe, after the second movie, but there are clearly recognisable OVA themes in there too. No prizes for picking them out. Call it a mish-mash if you like...if you're a purist it might not be for you, but if you're willing to give it a shot anyway, I'm more than grateful :)
Secondly - it's my first attempt at Tenchi fic though I've written copious amounts of drivel for other fandoms. So be nice. There is also a flip-flopping between japanese suffixes and english titles. I hope that it doesn't annoy anyone...I found it started to get silly if I tried to stick to one or the other and my Japanese is nil.
Thirdly - I am a Ryoko fan and of course that means this is a Ryoko-ish story in places. But I have tried my best to retain balance with all characters as well as the series allows me too. So no hating on Ayeka, for example hehe.
Fourthly - I hope the rating is right, I did think about it carefully before I chose where to put it! Also, part two will be along shortly. When I've finished gluing bits and pieces back together and figuring it all out...
Finally - I hope you enjoy my story and thank you to anyone who takes the time to read my work :) I really appreciate it!
It has been three Earth years since Tenchi's kidnap by the ghostly Haruna, and now it's almost as if those days had been a dream. Kiyone and Mihoshi are back with the Galaxy Police, doing their best to help the scattered agency reform and strengthen after the massive blow dealt their way by the escaped convict Kain. Ayeka and Sasami are back on Jurai at their father's behest as he negotiates a beneficial betrothal for his beautiful eldest daughter - a betrothal that has Ayeka torn between her love for Tenchi and her duty to her people. Washu has secluded herself in a pocket dimension to work on her newest experiment away from the Science Academy's prying...whilst Ryoko is languishing in a Galaxy Police cell, forced to sacrifice her freedom to protect the man and the world she has grown to love.
Tenchi's life has returned to it's humdrum normality. Now twenty one and in college, he's studying hard and working hard, but his mind keeps flitting to his extra-terrestrial houseguests, wondering where they are and what they are all up to.
Then the Space Pirate Haki is resurrected, taking Ayeka prisoner and demanding an impossible ransom of the Jurai Royal Family. Sasami sets off on a desperate mission to Earth to find Tenchi and ask for his help, whilst Kiyone battles against her morals and makes a decision which could see her struck off the Galaxy Police list for the rest of eternity.
But more than Ayeka's life is at stake, and Ryoko may be the only one who can track Haki down. Stronger and more dangerous than ever before, the Pirate's focus is on three mysterious gemstones rumoured to focus elements of the Jurai Power. In the wrong hands, they may bring down the balance of the entire universe...
DARK HEART: A TENCHI MUYO! Fanfiction
All was as it should be on Delta Level 9. As the guards went about their routine patrols, not a sound was heard from any of the identically carved cells on either side. Inspection was nigh, and a wise prisoner was a quiet prisoner.
The gangway that looped between the two shelves of chambers swung and shuddered slightly under the considerable weight of the guard on duty, and he began to whistle a tune under his breath as he cast idle glances in at each of the prisoners. At the furthest end of the walkway he paused, turning to stare through the translucent forcefield wall at the cell's sole incumbant.
She was young, barely older than her early twenties in appearance, and her shabby prisoner's uniform could not concaeal the shape of her body or the grace of her figure from the man's greedy eyes. Wild, wavy hair framed a cheeky face and an upturned nose, barely hiding from view two distinctive ears that flattened and peaked at their tip, almost as if she had come from elven folk. At first glance she appeared an errant adolescent, but on closer inspection it was clear there was much more to her than that. Bright intelligence sparkled deep in her vivid gold eyes, and her very existance had been more fable than fact for what seemed like forever. It had been a huge coup for the struggling, rebuilding Galaxy Police Force to cry the capture of one of space's most sought after criminals. A sign they were back on the right road, they had claimed. Publicity had been rife.
At that moment the prisoner registered the guard's gaze and she raised her head, her gaze impassive and cold as she took in his trim Galaxy Police uniform and his curious, piggy eyes. There was no defiance in her expression tonight. Indeed, she seemed resigned to her captivity, the guard decided. Resigned and accepting that at last the long chase across space was over. And yet there was still something that made him wary. He took a step back from the strong forcefield that parted him from her, glancing down at his timepiece. He was running late, and he had two more levels to oversee.
Taking a further step back, he hurried along the walkway to the big sliding door that swung back on it's runners with barely more than a hiss. As the doors closed once more behind him, he turned his back on the captive girl, but even as he walked, he could feel her feline, amber eyes burning holes into his back.
Fervently he raised his hand, mapping out the signs to protect him from the demon's curse. There had always been rumours, given fire by her many misdeeds, but in all the days he had seen her up close he had become convinced.
Ryoko was truly a demon - a demon who walked among men.
As the guard headed to his next duty, the cell's occupant got lazily to her feet, walking sedately across the floor of the cage to the forcefield that seperated her from freedom. With a sigh, she rested the palms of both hands against it, ignoring the warning bolts of electricity that prickled against her skin. At first, they had left red burns, but now she barely noticed them tweaking and teasing at her senses.
Her eyes became sad, and she batted her fist against the divide with little real enthusiasm. She knew from long and bitter experience that nothing she could do would break it down. Absently her hand went to her wrist, fingering the tight silver cuffs that blocked her from using the special gifts she had been born with. Now she was no better than any of the rest of them, and without her magic, she knew she would never break out of the Galaxy Police Headquarters on her own.
She turned back towards her bed, sitting down on the slim, barren pallet as she gazed up through the tiny porthole that sufficed as her window. The bars hid the night sky from view, and the angle was such that it hurt her neck, making her wish that she could at least fly a few feet, just to see out into space and freedom once again. He was out there still, she knew that, and he was safe. But she still pined for him, and she still pined for her liberty most of all.
The voice startled her and she turned, taking in the speaker with a cold, unwelcoming glare. Her visitor, a young woman maybe ten physical years her senior stood on the other side of the forcefield, apprehension and anxiety on her face. In one hand she held a bottle, and Ryoko's expression thawed a little as she registered what it was. For a moment there was silence between them, then Ryoko raised a hand, beckoning.
The young woman hesitated, glancing around her to make sure that she was not being observed. Then she carefully keyed in a number on the pad next to the cell door, waiting as a hatch barely big enough to fit her hand through opened in the field. After another check for witnesses, the woman slid her burden through the crack, dropping it with a soft thud down onto the folded prison uniform that lay carelessly by the door. She withdrew her hand, shutting the flap and folding her arms uncomfortably across her chest.
More silence, as Ryoko carefully examined the gift. Then she set it aside, cocking her head on one side as she surveyed her visitor once more.
"You'll bring me Sake." She spoke in soft, weary tones. "Earth Sake at that. You'll travel across the galaxy to a place you don't even like very much...but you won't let me free, so I can go there myself?"
"Ryoko, you know that I can't." The woman looked troubled, glancing over her shoulder again as if afraid to be caught any moment. "They're already suspicious that I visit the cells as often as I do. I'm not supposed to spend time with incarcerated space prisoners, and they know that you and I...well, that we're acquainted. You gave yourself into Galaxy Police custody and I'm a Galaxy Police Officer. I can't risk it."
Ryoko let out a heavy sigh, dropping down onto the floor and crossing her legs absently. She held up her wrists, the cuffs glinting in the dim blue cell light.
"Just a hint how to get rid of these things would be enough." She said frankly. "I can do the rest myself. But with no powers and no spaceship, my options are a bit limited."
"Ryoko, stop it. You know what kind of a position you're putting me in!"
"I don't see how it's any kind of a position." Ryoko pursed her lips, looking pensive. "In fact, you're lucky I still speak to you at all, considering. If you didn't bring me bribes occasionally, I might give it up all together. That and the fact it's so damn boring down here, you're the only thing that relieves the monotony."
She rolled her eyes.
"Everyone else is scared of me. Except Mihoshi. And she gives me a splitting headache, going on as she does about Earth and about...about...other things."
"About Tenchi?" The stranger asked softly. Ryoko's expression darkened.
"About other things." She said flatly, flipping the lid off the sake bottle and taking a swig. "As for taking a risk, Kiyone, what do you think you're already doing? Or isn't smuggling contraband to dangerous prisoners against the Galaxy Police code of conduct now?"
The officer looked uncomfortable.
"Keep your voice down." She muttered. "I told you, I'm having a hard enough time of it as it is with this. I want to help you, Ryoko, but I can't. You're not a small time criminal. I can't sneak you out of the back door and expect nobody to notice you're gone! Not even with things as unstable here as they are. Actually, especially because of that. You're their big catch...the thing that's given them all the positive publicity and brought back people's confidence in the Galaxy Police. After Kain destroyed Headquarters, there's been so few of us left to bring everything back together. Your capture was big news."
"Forgive me for not being enthusiastic about the rebirth of the Galaxy Police." Ryoko feigned a yawn, taking another swig of sake and dumping the bottle down on the floor beside her. "I didn't expect to spend the last three or so Earth Years sitting rotting in a cramped, ugly prison cell while your people go to town on the bragging rights."
"Earth Years?" Kiyone looked startled. "Ryoko, this isn't Earth."
"Thank you for the memo." Ryoko said coldly.
"You still think in Earth time?"
"Why not?" Ryoko shrugged. She sighed. "Not that it matters. Earth years, Jurai years, Galaxy Police cell years. It's all the same to me. If you don't help me get out of this damned prison I'm going to spend the next however many centuries withering away in here. I'm not built for a prison cell, Kiyone! I'm not cut out to stay in one place. I need to travel. I need...I need stars. Stars and night sky and speeding through the universe without anyone on my tail. That's what I'm built for. Not this."
"And if you weren't such a damn goody two shoes, I'd be out there right now. But you have to be a stickler for the rules." She added. "I'd ask Mihoshi...but I'd like a chance of actually getting out without being caught."
"Mihoshi." Kiyone pursed her lips. "She'll be looking for me, and she can't find me down here. Her lips are looser than anyone I've ever met...it'll be all over HQ in a nano-second. I have to go, Ryoko. But I'll come back...I'll come back soon. With sake, if I can. You know I can't divert from patrol unless I've got orders."
Ryoko rolled her eyes again, flopping onto her back and staring up at the ceiling.
"Just go." She said quietly. "I'm wasting breath even talking to you, aren't I?"
"Fine." There was the sound of footsteps and Ryoko knew she was alone once more. She reached for the sake, casting a glance at it and taking another sip.
"Alcohol is meant to make you forget." She murmured aloud. "But Earth alcohol only makes me remember..."