Summary: Following the battle between Yosho and Ryoko, both characters struggle to adapt to the new world around them – Yosho by being taken in by a Shinto shrine, and Ryoko by serving her time in a cave.
Legal stuff: Don't own it. Not one thing about it. Kind of sad about that, but I'll get over it as long as I'm not sued for playing with it.
A/N: Mostly OAV 1 based, but I've got a thing for the Yosho/Haruna storyline, so we're merging in the 3rd movie like I did in "To Her Own Devices". Constructive criticism is always welcome – flames are ignored – compliments are welcome, but not appreciated nearly as much as telling me how to improve.
He stared down at the unconscious cyan-haired girl as she lay in the dirt on the ground and he held the tip of the Tenchi-ken to her throat. He knew he should kill her, it was why he had chased her halfway across the universe. He'd lost Haruna in that trip, he'd lost his reason for being, so why did he hesitate?
It was that moment as she madly fought to get away, that moment when the third gem settled into the Tenchi-ken's hilt and her eyes lost the red hue, her eyes returned golden and she'd looked down at him in so much confusion. "What did I do?" she demanded of him desperately, tears welling up in her eyes. "What did he make me do this time?"
Despite his confusion at her words and the desperation in her eyes, Yosho had debilitated her and let her body fall to the ground with every intention of destroying her like she had tried to destroy Jurai, like she had destroyed his future. Still, he hesitated. What if she had been controlled? What if these gems that he took from her allowed someone to control her actions and she was merely an innocent puppet. He couldn't kill an innocent woman – no matter who she was.
Everyone knew about the space pirate and demon Ryoko. The galaxy trembled under hers and Ryo-ohki's pillaging rampages. Her crime spree was the bane of Jurai. Loud, ruthless, and remorseless she destroyed and plundered planets without a second thought. Women, geriatrics, children…they were all fair game to the heartless, murdering Ryoko. She didn't even know what she did to Haruna, what the chase across the galaxy had cost him! Even if she did know, he doubted she would care.
He wanted to kill her, but he couldn't. A voice inside him told him that he shouldn't. "I can't let her go though!" he stated aloud. "Even if the gems were what was causing her behavior or if they were letting someone control her, there's no guarantee that if I let her go she wouldn't return to space and start her rampage once more, or that whoever was controlling her wouldn't find her and take over her mind once more."
Yosho de-energized his sword, the blue blade buzzing for a moment before it disappeared from sight. He sighed and looked around, there had to be another solution. Something other than killing her or letting her go. He sat down on the ground and stared at her with mild loathing. It wasn't in him to hate, to hold onto grudges and demand revenge. Azusa had always told him that he was soft when it came to his enemies, and considering what Ryoko had done to Jurai and the rest of the galaxy, he supposed his father was probably right about that. His nature was too gentle to be a warrior. Killing her in the heat of battle he might have been able to live with himself, but now that the battle was over and she was unconscious beside him, he didn't have the heart or the stomach for it.
It was painfully obvious to him that he couldn't just sit here and stare at her, willing a solution to happen. She was going to wake up sooner or later and he would need a plan for dealing with her.
He looked over to the lake where his tree had crashed and gave a heavy sigh. It looked like he was stuck on this planet for a while as well. He knew that the Ryo-Ohki had plunged to the bottom of the lake, debris from the ships scattered the water and the surrounding shore. No chance of salvaging either ships. He hoped that there was a mechanic on this planet that could get Funaho back in working order.
Earth. He'd heard a lot about it while growing up – a backwater little planet at the far reaches of the galaxy. He'd talked with Haruna a lot about going there. She hadn't been alive when the battle with Ryoko started and caused both ships to crash to the planet he'd dreamed of living with Haruna at. It had all happened so quickly. Ryoko attacked the royal palace with no warning, slaughtering all who had gotten in her way and laughing all the while. He had ensured that Ayeka and his parents were safe before he found his way to Haruna's. "This is our chance, Haruna!" he had exclaimed amid all the chaos. "We'll go after Ryoko, just you and me. We'll capture and destroy her, and then you and I will disappear together…to Earth! Just like we talked about. We'll be able to live in peace there!"
She'd been worried, but had without hesitation agreed to the plan. Tears now welled in his eyes as he recalled the trip that took her from him, the demon that had inspired their flight even when he knew she wasn't in good health. He blamed Ryoko for it, but he mostly blamed himself. He never should have asked Haruna to go with him when he knew how sickly she was. Yosho had just been so caught up in their dream to be together without all of the pressures of Jurai upon them. His family had wanted him to wait to marry her so that Ayeka would be his first wife – the more powerful wife. He didn't want to marry his sister. He loved her, but the political alliance and the pure line that his family wanted did not outweigh his love and need for Haruna.
Even if his ship was working, he couldn't return to Jurai at this point. That much was clear to him. Earth would be painful because it had been their shared dream, but Jurai would be torturous because her ghost would live there in every place he went to, and his family would go ahead with their plans to wed him to his sister. There was just no way that he could handle either of those things at this point, not so soon after losing the only woman he had ever wanted to be married to.
"You there! Are you alright, young man?" an elderly male voice asked, breaking into Yosho's reveries.
Quickly he stood and faced the gray-haired gentleman that hobbled up to him dressed in Shinto robes. "From what I saw, that looked to be a pretty bad fall and a very fierce battle."
Yosho quickly bowed his respect to the priest and answered him, "yes, sir, I'm fine. I-I'm not sure what to do with my adversary though."
The priest walked over and looked down at Ryoko, taking in her appearance and the energy around her. "Bit of a handful when she's awake, eh?" the old man asked. He stood at barely 5'6" and had his long gray hair tied back in a ponytail. He used a large wooden staff to help him walk.
"Ryoko's a demon when she's awake," Yosho spat bitterly. "She's a destroyer, a thief, a murderer…"
The priest knelt down and put a hand on Ryoko's forehead. "She's not as bad as all of that, now is she? She's angry, confused, and frightened, yes, but she's not like you describe her. Something's taken hold of her, it's presence seems to be dormant now, but whatever it is that lives in her – it's powerful and evil. She's a vessel for its desires. She knows nothing but what it tells her to do."
"How do you know all of that?" Yosho demanded of the old man.
He chuckled and stood to face the young man. "I know many things, Prince Yosho of the planet Jurai."
Yosho started. From what he understood, Earth's people were ignorant when it came to the rest of the universe. It had startled him enough that the old man had witnessed the crash and had not inquired into how they had fallen from the heavens as they did, but now he appeared to know who both Ryoko and Yosho were!
"My name is Masaki Katsuhito," the old man introduced himself to Yosho gravely. "I'm a priest at the Shinto shrine on this land. I've been waiting for you two for some time. Pick her up, I've got the perfect spot waiting for her."
Dumbly, Yosho followed the instruction, deeply unnerved by this Masaki characters knowledge of him and Ryoko – but more importantly, that he had been waiting for them. "Sir?" Yosho asked after several minutes of walking, in which time Ryoko hadn't moved a muscle.
"Yes, Prince Yosho?" Katsushito asked, pausing to turn and face the young man.
Yosho cringed, "please, you don't have to call me 'Prince', we are not on Jurai and I've abdicated my claim to the throne."
Katsuhito made a gesture of assent and motioned for Yosho to continue as they kept walking.
"What do you mean that you were waiting for us? Ryoko and I hadn't planned on landing here…well, I did eventually, but we weren't planning on having our fight on this planet, so how did you know we were coming?" Yosho asked him seriously.
The old man nodded and kept walking, leaning heavily upon the walking stick as the cave he was going for came into sight. "Some things are destined, Yosho, and those that are playing in this destiny are unaware of what the outcome will be. The observers of destiny will know the outcome, but won't have a part. You and Ryoko are important to this universe, that is your destiny, and part of that destiny involved your landing here. Ah, there it is!"
Yosho mulled over the words as the old man hurried ahead to the cave as best he could while still leaning upon the walking stick for support. The young prince couldn't imagine anything that he and Ryoko could be important for. A mind-controlled demon and an abdicated prince. It was almost laughable if it wasn't his life. Slowly, the prince trudged his way into the cave, only slightly concerned for his safety.
The old man had seemed trustworthy enough if not a little strange, and truthfully Yosho didn't really care if he died at this point. All that had meant anything to him was lying cold in Funaho, her body abandoned by her spirit no matter how hard he had tried to hold onto it.
"I took the liberty of preparing this cave for Ryoko's imprisonment several years ago," Katsuhito explained once Yosho caught up to him. He led the young man further into the hollowed out earth, then through a crack in the wall to the left side of the cave. "Watch your step," the old man warned him as the ground slanted downward for several feet." Once they reached the bottom of the descent, Yosho there found a shallow pool that glowed with an eerie blue light. "Put her in the water," Katsuhito instructed.
Reluctantly, Yosho did as instructed and stood back to watch as Katsuhito arranged her like a corpse and then put a demonic mask over her face. "If anyone ever finds their way down here, we don't want them to accidentally release her," Katsuhito explained severely. "We'll spread word to the villagers that the crashes they heard was that of a large demon destroying the land and attempting to kill them, and we'll let them know that the great warrior Yosho ensnared the demon and sealed it up in this cave. It's true enough, and none of them will want to release a frightful demon that could destroy them all."
"What if someone does release her?" Yosho asked wearily as he followed Katsuhito out of the room, painfully ascending out of the depths of the cave and back into the main room.
Katsuhito thought about, "she'll be released eventually, but it won't be for some time, Yosho." He brought forward a rock and placed it in the center of the room. He whispered a prayer and the crack in the wall sealed shut. "This rock will keep that room hidden, the waters will help bind Ryoko so that even when she wakes up, she will be unable to move. Her eyes and limbs will be numb, she'll be unable to rise and try to escape."
"She'll decompose after a certain point!" Yosho exclaimed, sickened by the thought.
The old man gave a philosophical gesture at the younger man's concern, "we both know that she can sustain severe bodily injury without dying. All decomposition is going to do is stop her from rising, and discourage anyone from messing with her should they find their way to her."
"It'll also anger her," Yosho stated ruefully.
Katsuhito chuckled, "most likely. She is a woman after all, and no woman likes to lose their looks, especially like that!" He led Yosho to a small house to the side of the room. "Place your sword inside this house."
Yosho hesitated, "the Tenchi-ken is the key for my spaceship, it's a symbol of power for Jurai…"
"Power that you've abdicated and a ship that doesn't run. It's power that we need to keep all of the seals in place to stop Ryoko from being found by anyone. Believe me, Yosho, I'm not worried about her breaking out, I'm worried that the person who controls her will find her and break in. We need the power of the sword to lock this cave up and to hide any trace that Ryoko landed here. This way, only you or a member of your family can unlock this cave and set her free when the time comes. If we leave it as it is now, it only takes someone breaking that rock to undo all we've done here. He will find her and lay claim to her once more. She doesn't deserve that."
After a moment of consideration, Yosho finally relented, powering up the Tenchi-ken and placing it into the stone inside the small house. With a shaking hand, he closed the door, effectively sealing Ryoko to her fate and officially saying goodbye to his Juraian power.
"Now," Katsuhito stated once the deed was done, "why don't we get some tea and then bury that girlfriend of yours?"
A little put off by the callous attitude of the old man in regards to Haruna's untimely death as well as the cavalier attitude regarding Ryoko's imminent deterioration, Yosho once more reluctantly followed him.
It wasn't until they were settled in the shrine cross-legged on the floor across from each other at a little wooden table sipping hot tea that Katsuhito started talking about himself. His family had started the Masaki shrine many centuries ago, and every generation of Masaki had worked there, helping out the nearby villagers and keeping peace among the land. Katsuhito was the last living Masaki as his eldest son had died in a battle many years before, and he had no apprentice at the shrine to keep the place going once he passed.
The wheels were spinning in Yosho's head as he absorbed the information, but he decided not to bring the idea up to Katsuhito until after Haruna was buried. He still wasn't certain about everything that had happened since he and Haruna started after Ryoko, and he needed just a little more time to think everything through before he made any definite plans.
All that he was sure of was that he was completely alone on a strange planet with no way to leave, and only this odd little man for company.