Tenchi Muyo! was created by Masaki Kajishima, and is owned by Pioneer LDC, with licenses to Kadokawa Shoten, Fujimi Shoteh, and TV Tokyo. This series attempts to be canon-neutral, but was most influenced by the TV series.
The many other series that make appearances in this fanfic are owned by their respective creators and licensees. There are too many to list here, and it would ruin the story. I will include a full list at the end of the story.
Chapter One: Tenchi One-Half
"This is a really bad idea."
Normally, Washu was quite used to hearing this opinion of her inventions. However, rarely, if ever, did she hear it from Tenchi. It almost hurt. She sighed, and allowed the virtual terminal to fade out. "Trust me, Tenchi. This is perfectly safe. Full-immersive virtual reality is still virtual. Nothing can harm you in the real world, and safety overrides will prevent even the shock of 'death' in the virtual world."
He looked unconvinced. "If it's so safe, why don't you test it on yourself? Why on us?"
"I already did test it on myself." Washu smirked. "Several times, several programs. What, do you think I'd toss you guys into something completely untested?"
"You've done it in the past," commented Ayeka.
"Nuts." She shrugged. "The only time that I've ever done that was if it was absolutely necessary. Every other time that you bunch have run afoul of my inventions is when you've mucked with them without my permission."
"You've got a point," said Tenchi. "But that leads me to the second question. If you've already tested it on yourself, why do you want to test it on us now?"
A miniature Washu popped up on one shoulder, and squeaked, "The world's greatest scientific genius needs to monitor the results from outside the virtual reality."
A second miniature popped up on the other shoulder. "There is only one Washu, she is unique in the galaxy, and this makes it difficult to test the virtual reality machine on multiple people."
"And there you have it." Washu smirked. "Unbiased supporting evidence."
"Unbiased my ass," grumbled Ryoko.
Tenchi was considering it, however. "All right, you've made a good point. But you've also rounded up us five, and told us to volunteer. Shouldn't we get a say?"
"Sure." Washu shrugged. "If you don't want to help, that's fine. But I've made five terminals, and I think you'll really enjoy this thing." She glanced over at Mihoshi. "How would you like to be the brave captain of an interplanetary battlecruiser?"
"Uh, no thank you, Washu-chan." Mihoshi looked uncertain. "I'm kind of happy being a Galaxy Police Officer."
"No, you ditz!" Washu bonked her on the head. "Just for fun. Play-time, like."
"Oh." Mihoshi didn't look any less confused. "Well, I suppose I could give it a try."
"Excellent." She turned to Ayeka. "For you, the science officer. Intelligent, well-spoken and, of course, in love with the handsome, brave pilot."
"I think I would enjoy that."
Next, to Ryoko. "I have just the role in mind for you. A space combat robot pilot. Fearless, deadly and efficient."
Ryoko raised a thumb. "Bring it on!"
"Sasami, would you like to be the ship's computer operator?"
Sasami shrugged. "I don't know a lot about computers, but it's just a game, right?"
"Yep. Just a game."
"It sounds like fun!" She smiled.
Washu turned to Tenchi. "And for you. The brave and handsome combat robot pilot, with a mysterious past."
"This sounds like a set-up." Tenchi looked at the other four girls, and sighed. "Actually, it sounds like an anime I saw you watching the other day."
"Gosh, you think?" Washu grinned. "One of my favourites. Of course, I programmed the simulator with those parameters."
He shrugged. "Well, the girls seem to like the idea. What the heck? Sign me up."
"The headgear will pick up your brainwaves and re-create the environment, through direct neural stimulation." Washu adjusted Tenchi's headset, then checked a readout on her virtual terminal. "Provided having five brains in the mix doesn't mess things up, the activation should cause no more than a mild twinge of pain. It will pass in less than a second."
"You didn't mention pain when you sold me on this," grumbled Tenchi.
"You didn't ask. Besides, no pain, no game, right?"
"That's not quite how the saying goes."
"Quit yer whining." She stepped back. "All squared away. Ready for the test run?"
"Good. Everyone, hold onto your hats. Not literally, Mihoshi, leave the headset alone. And..." She raised a hand.
Tenchi steeled himself for the expected wave of agony.
To his surprise, it was really just a mild pain, though it lasted a few seconds. He shook it off, and looked around.
He was in a kitchen, wearing an apron, a spatula in his hand.
"Wait a minute. I'm a cook? I thought I was supposed to be the robot pilot?" He blinked. "Right, the pilot in this series really just wants to be a cook." He hefted the spatula. "Feels right, has real mass...Damn. She actually made something that works."
Abruptly, the simulation faded, and he found himself back in the seat in Washu's lab.
"Or maybe not. What happened?"
Washu scowled at her terminal. "You're the only person who reached critical level, and even then just barely. And you couldn't maintain it." She pondered, then asked, "You've seen Nadesico, right?"
"A few episodes. It's not a favourite of mine."
"Anyone else seen it?"
"I think I did, a long time ago," offered Mihoshi.
"Then you didn't. It's fairly recent." She turned back to Tenchi. "As I cleverly deduced--"
"Hush. You have no emotional involvement in the series, and little to no knowledge of it. So while you could summon a few vague images, none of the others - who have never seen it - could manage even that."
Tenchi nodded. "Makes sense, I guess. But doesn't this screw up your test?"
"Only somewhat. You don't know this scenario. So let's pick a different one." Washu pointed at Tenchi. "What's your favourite anime?"
"That's easy. Ranma One-Half."
"Perfect. Just imagine who you five would be replacing, and pick an episode. Let me know when you're ready."
"Okay. I'll have to make a change to the cast, to make everyone fit. Is that all right?"
"Let's find out. Switch on!"
Again the sudden twinge, and he found himself in the rain on a city street. He glanced down at himself, and saw the familiar red tang, the cold making his nipples push out against the silk.
Her nipples. She dropped her pack, and quickly opened the shirt - the title character wouldn't care - to confirm that yes, at the moment, she was female.
"Wow. This is too real." She closed the shirt, and hefted the pack. "Damn. Water's cold and wet...pavement isn't so nice on the feet...This really is total immersion." She bit her lip. "And since I picked the first episode--"
She ducked, and a furry black paw shot past her head.
"Yikes!" She turned, backpedaling, and raised her free hand. "Hold on, Pop!"
The panda paused.
"Let's skip me getting brained with a street sign. I'll come peacefully with you to the Tendo's home, okay?"
Ayeka looked down at herself in dismay. "I do not understand this at all. Why would Lord Tenchi see fit to put me in such...plain...clothing?"
"Actually, it looks good on you, Sister." Sasami was, as usual, supportive. "I know it's just a simple housedress, but it looks nice."
"Thank you, Sasami, but..." She shook her head. "Perhaps this character has something of better quality in her wardrobe."
"I don think so, Princess." Ryoko wore a kimono, but one that was obviously meant for best company. "I've seen lots of this series, and as I recall, the character that you've been cast as doesn't own anything but those simple house dresses. Now, my character, on the other hand..." She preened. "Nothing but the nicest clothing for Tendo Nabiki."
"I have not seen this series. Pray tell, what is my role?"
"Simple, Princess. You're Tendo Kasumi. Little girl forced into the role of homemaker."
"A common domestic?" Ayeka's voice rose to a shriek. "That just is not proper!"
"Actually, Sister," broke in Sasami, "Kasumi is the kindly sister who always tries to keep harmony, and is judged the nicest person in her town."
"Oh. So as usual, the monster was just trying to anger me."
"No." Sasami giggled. "Everything that Ryoko said was right. But I figured you should know the rest of the story."
"But then who am I?" Mihoshi looked down at her plain brown gi. "I don't know this story!"
"In the original story, the three sisters lived with their father. But you don't make a very good father." Sasami giggled again. "So I'm guessing you're our mom." She looked down at her own gi, yellow instead of brown. "And I'm the youngest sister."
They glanced around in confusion.
"Over here, you guys. In the television."
Sasami walked over, and turned the volume up a bit. "Hello, Washu-chan!"
Washu grinned. "I see it's working perfectly. And I even have a way to communicate with you."
"So you do." Ayeka nodded. "I must commend you, Miss Washu. This simulation exceeds anything that I have ever seen, even on Jurai."
"What else do you expect from a super-genius?" She chuckled. "I included an identity override program in the system, so your given names will replace those of the characters you play. But your family name remains the same: Tendo."
"'The Way of Heaven'. Fitting, I must say."
"Indeed, Princess." Washu nodded. "And on that note...Mihoshi. On the table, you'll find a postcard. Have fun!"
The television went to snow, and Sasami turned it off. "So what's on the postcard, Mihoshi? I mean, Mom?" She giggled again.
"Well, according to this, someone named Genma is bringing his son Tenchi here--Wait." Mihoshi frowned. "I thought Tenchi's father was that nice man, Noboyuki?"
"Not in the game, bubble head." Ryoko smirked. "Come on, finish reading the card."
"Now, Ryoko, is that any way to speak to your mother?" Mihoshi waved a finger, mock-stern, at the space pirate. "Oh, this can be fun! Well, the card says that Tenchi is coming here to marry one of you three!"
"What!" Ayeka jumped to her feet. "Which one?"
"It doesn't say."
"According to the original story," added Sasami, "He had to pick one."
"Excellent!" Ryoko rubbed her hands together. "Of course, he'll pick me. The intelligent, beautiful, and stacked sister."
"Why would he choose someone as horrible as you?" Ayeka preened. "If the eldest sister is kindly, harmonious and nice...even if she is a fashion disaster...would he not choose her?"
"What about me?" Mihoshi burst in.
"Sorry, 'Mom'." Ryoko snorted. "You're the old lady. You're out of the running."
"Don't be so mean to your mother!" Mihoshi burst into tears.
Ryoko leaned over to Sasami. "Good casting."
"All right, we're here!" A familiar voice broke through Mihoshi's wailing. Ryoko jumped to her feet.
"Oooh, it must be Tenchi!" She bolted for the door, followed at a more dignified - though still rushed - pace by Ayeka.
Sasami giggled. "I guess Ryoko forgot how this episode goes."
Both came running back just about as quickly. Behind them was a monstrous panda.
Ryoko grabbed Mihoshi and pushed her towards the panda. "It's your friend! You deal with him!"
"Um...okay." Mihoshi stepped forward tentatively and held out her hand. "How do you do, Mr. Panda?"
The panda scooped her into a bear hug and swung her around once, then set her on the floor. Mihoshi blinked, and said, "Glad to see you too. Is Tenchi here?"
The panda growfed, and stepped to the side. Behind him was a girl.
The girl stepped forward hesitantly. She looked a lot like Tenchi, except that she was about half a foot shorter and had red hair. "I'm Tenchi. Sorry about this."
"Right." Ryoko smacked her forehead. "Jushenkyo curse, or something like that. I forgot about that."
"Well, I'm glad you're using out of character information," quipped Tenchi. "That avoids the bathroom incident."
Sasami blushed horribly, remembering that scene. "Yeah, just as glad we can give that a miss."
"Especially with little Sasami playing the role of Akane," added Ryoko.
"So can I get some hot water?"
There was a long pause. Finally, Ayeka realized that almost everyone was staring at her.
"You're little miss homemaker, remember?" Ryoko snickered.
"Oh. Yes, I shall procure some hot water. Servants, hot water please."
The rest of the gang were now snickering, and Ryoko added, "You have to make it."
"I?" She looked shocked. "Lower myself to domestic labour? I think not!"
"Virtual reality, remember?" Tenchi offered helpfully. "It's not like you're really doing the work."
"Very well." She sniffed. "The things I do for you..." She turned and stalked down the hallway.
"Kitchen's over there."
"Thank you." She turned and walked back, then through the kitchen door.
Mihoshi managed to get herself back under control. "Right. Okay, I remember my lines now. These are my three daughters. Ayeka, currently in the kitchen. Ryoko. And Sasami. Pick whichever you like, and she'll be your wife."
"Oh, he wants me." Ryoko sidled up to Tenchi, and grabbed her backside. "I don't mind playing both sides of the field."
"Not a chance!" Ayeka came storming out of the kitchen. "Tenchi will, of course, choose me. I am obviously the best choice."
"Oh, boy." Tenchi hung her head.
"Why would he turn his back on my uncommon beauty and intelligence, in favour of a common housedrudge?"
"Common!" Ayeka shook with rage. "You are a lying, scheming, manipulative monster!"
Sasami leaned into Ryoko. "Good casting."
Ryoko clenched her fists. "All right, Ayeka. I'll fight you for him!"
"You're on!" She raised her hands to summon her guardians.
The air in the lab was thick with smoke. Mihoshi was wheezing and coughing, her eyes watering. Tenchi grabbed a handkerchief and pushed it up against his nose.
"You idiots!" Washu was in rare form. "You fried down the simulator!"
"Sorry, Miss Washu, but--"
"Your powers still manifest in the real world, not the simulation. It's going to take me hours to fix this!"
"Sorry, Washu." Ryoko looked rather disgusted with herself. "Maybe you should include a safeguard, to prevent us from doing something like that?"
"I should have thought of that before this happened," groused Washu.
Tenchi unhooked himself from the simulator, and patted his chest. "Oh, good. That was just a little too realistic, if you know what I mean."
"But you looked so cute!" Ryoko grinned.
"Oy." He turned to Washu. "So, can you fix it?"
"Then I'd like to try it again, with a different series, when you do."
"Good idea. More testing." She looked over at Sasami. "You can pick the next one. Spend some time thinking about it, and we'll try this again tomorrow after breakfast."
"Now all of you, get out so I can fix this!"
"Of course, Miss Washu." Ayeka glanced over to Ryoko. "Come, Ryoko. We cannot have you destroying any other equipment."
"You lousy--" She gritted her teeth, and faded from view. Ayeka headed for the door, a still sniffling Mihoshi in tow.
Sasami glanced over at Tenchi.
"I'm sorry they broke the machine. I was looking forward to playing Akane to your Ranma." She turned and ran out of the room.
Washu chuckled. "You know, her crush on you is starting to get a little more obvious."
"No kidding." He sighed. "Still, she's a nice girl, and I'd hate to hurt her. I just can't see her that way. I know she's older than she looks, but she still looks like a kid."
"Never judge a book by it's front illustration." Washu grinned. "After all, I look like a kid, too. She's Juraian, Tenchi, so yes, she's older than she looks...but mentally, she's not really mature yet either. She'll grow out of it."
"I hope so." He sighed. "But I'm rather worried about what she'll choose for her series."