Chapter 61: No Need For the Ancient Guardians

The robotic logs Azaka and Kamadaki float in the sound studio control room and announce in unison, "We are Azaka and Kamadaki!"

Azaka explains, "Once again, Dragonwiles has chosen us to be the DJs for a chapter. And that chapter is this one!"

Kamadaki continues, "Our song selection this time is 'Down to Nowhere', a song from the soundtrack of '.hack/SIGN'. Dragonwiles did ask us to note that he does not own either the song or the series '.hack/SIGN'."

"I doubt anyone actually thinks that he does," Azaka muses aloud.

Kamadaki concurs, "Agreed, but he seems to feel the need to say it, so we'll just follow his lead."

They toss a CD into the air with a prong on a tubular extension, and burn it in mid-air with their lasers. They catch it and put it into the studio's CD player. The mournful song, with a possibility of bright hope, begins to play.

Ayeka had realized fairly quickly that the answer to Tenchi's question, of how to turn off the Light-Hawk Wings, was in fact the answer to the question of how to turn off Light-Hawk Wings on a Juraian space tree. Naturally she had not taught this to him before, when he battled Kagato, because there was little time then. She taught the method quickly to Tenchi. It did indeed prove to be the method by which he could voluntarily de-activate the Wings.

He brought them forth, then dispelled them again, then created the armor and sword simultaneously, dispelled them, and created them again. Tenchi stared at the sword a moment - it seemed like a long time ago that he had been fascinated by the personal "lightsaber" he wielded in the sword Tenchi. Now he had a second, even more personal lightsaber in his posession, and one that he had finally mastered.

Sasami poked her head in the gym and asked, "Hey, are you guys almost done yet? Lunch will be ready pretty soon!" She looked over at Tenchi and stopped in astonishment. "You did it?" she asked excitedly.

"Yeah!" Ryoko exclaimed.

"He has indeed," Ayeka told her sister.

"That's wonderful! I'd better add something to this meal, to make it special!" Sasami exclaimed, and rushed back to the kitchen. Ryo-Ohki bounded after her, probably to suggest carrots.

Washu appeared in the doorway shortly thereafter. "Well, Tenchi, since you have managed to finally master those tricky wings, I finally have a chance to get some really good data."

"Oh no," Tenchi muttered. He wasn't, apparently, quite invulnerable yet.

At lunch, Yosho announced, "If Ryo-Ohki and Ryoko are agreeable, I intend to awaken the legendary knights of Jurai, Azaka and Kamadaki, and simultaneously make arrangements for our entrance into planet Jurai's security cordon. Naturally, I shall need Ryo-Ohki's help for a stealthy entry to a world where our ships would likely be recognized."

"Great, more Juraians," Ryoko sighed.

Ayeka asked pointedly, "I know you don't have it in you to be polite, so perhaps you could simply refrain from speaking when we meet them?"

"Whatever," Ryoko said dismissively.

"I realize you may not appreciate Juraians, but we do need allies in this situation, and the great knights of legend are some of the most respected and powerful warriors of all time!" Ayeka insisted.

"Look, are you sure this is such a great idea?" Ryoko asked, actually looking Ayeka in the eye.

"What do you mean by that?" Ayeka asked in turn, confused and still irritated.

Ryoko shrugged as she inquired, "What exactly makes you think that they'll be any friendlier to us than the other Juraians we have met?"

"Most of our pursuers have been misguided or put in difficult positions!" Ayeka insisted.

"I dunno, but yeah, plenty probably were. So what makes you think that these two won't feel the same?"

"Why, we shall explain the situation to them properly! They will most definitely uphold our cause when they hear the truth!" Ayeka said, feeling this was obvious.

Ryoko frowned, "That figures. So if the bad guys wake them up before we do, they'll fill their heads with lies, and we'll have two more people after us."

Yosho stirred, and the two turned to him. "It is a possibility, but a remote one. Why would Lord Oda want to introduce a new variable when he has the empire almost entirely under his control? A man who has so dishonored himself would be rightly concerned about those two realizing the truth."

"Indeed," Ayeka agreed.

"Oh, why not, then," Ryoko shrugged. "Playing it safe isn't any fun, anyways."

Ryo-Ohki accordingly smuggled Yosho onto the planet where the guardians rested and many other people lived and worked. She followed him in humanoid form at a distance as he entered the city, then the city center, and then entered a tavern. She stayed outside, but in the general area, just in case she was needed, and tried to be inconspicuous.

After Yosho had a drink and some conversation with the bartender and some of the local patrons, he was invited to a game of Go, which he accepted. They moved to a table, where his challenger sat across from him and the other locals crowded around, following the competition with great interest.

The game progressed for some time, when Yosho's opponent remarked, "As enjoyable as these games are, they do abstract things quite a bit, don't you think?"

Yosho placed a stone precisely and affirmed, "They most definitely do. Why, even the limitation of the number of opponents is an abstraction. It's common to many cultures, but real life is rarely so calm."

His opponent, considering his move, suggested, "I take your point, but that may be more of a simplification than an abstraction. Or perhaps an attempt at fairness. After all, it would not be enjoyable to see oneself surrounded by enemies, all pursuing your destruction." He placed his stone.

Nodding, Yosho allowed, "It would hardly be pleasant. But of course, in such a situation, it could also be possible to find allies." He placed his own stone and noted, "It is possible that victory could still be achieved, even when seemingly outmatched."

"True enough," the opponent grunted. He then remembered himself and said more eloquently, "Besides which, it's also possible for someone hemmed in to have allies he doesn't even know about."

Yosho blinked at him, but before he could say anything, his opponent motioned briefly and stated, "I concede."

"An enjoyable game," Yosho said, dipping his head.

"Indeed, we should do this more often," his opponent agreed. "Hopefully we'll have another chance on your return." He looked up from the board into Yosho's eyes. "For now, we are at your disposal, and have a message, when you are ready."

"I am ready now," Yosho said.

"Further allies have already been found, and cunningly placed," the erstwhile opponent continued. He pointed at the pattern of stones on the board and declared, "I believe you can determine the rendezvous point from the patterns here."

Yosho smiled and said, "That is unlooked for good news. The problem then becomes one of making that rendezvous."

He was reassured, "We have some ideas for how you can do so."

Yosho put a finger to his chin and tapped a moment. "There is one further favor I need to ask of you," he finally said. "I need to reach the place where the ancient guardians slumber."

Some gasped, while others leaned back. Yosho's former opponent said in surprise, "You believe the situation is that serious?"

"I do," Yosho said firmly. "There has never been a coup or rebellion in our history that has so thoroughly taken power away from the former regime. It happened with significant strength, and significant treachery. We simply must have every ally possible to counter it. Further, this usurpation has put Jurai's future in a perilous state. If so great a usurpation goes uncorrected, the Empire may endure, but only as an wicked parody of itself. Our glory will be lost."

There was a general nodding, and Yosho's opponent agreed, "Their stated wish was to aid Jurai when next it faced great need. When will you be going?"

Yosho rejoined Ryo-Ohki and they returned together to Yagami and Yukinojo, where Yosho unfolded the plans to the others.

"Soon, we will be attempting to go beyond Jurai's security cordon," Yosho explained. "As this would be inadvisable in our current vessels, we will be leaving them here and smuggle ourselves aboard the space trees of our allies."

"We're leaving Yukinojo?" Mihoshi sniffed, on her way to bawling. Tenchi also looked shocked.

"I'm afraid we must," Yosho said. "However, it is at this point that we must clearly determine who is and is not coming as well."

"I'm coming!" Washu said, springing up with a hand in the air.

"So I understand," Yosho said, pushing at his glasses. He turned to Sasami and asked her, "Sasami, can I ask a great favor of you?"

Sasami asked, stricken, "You don't want me to come? But it's not that much safer here, so near the heart of civilization!"

"I intend to send you far from here, though you are right; for us, all places are still unsafe," Yosho countered. "It is at least safer than carrying you into battle. Not only battle, but a terrible, brutal civil war. We'll be fighting our own people. I know your gentle heart could not bear the sight."

"No, but I don't know if I can wait for all of you to come back," Sasami said tremulously.

"That's why I am asking a great favor of you," Yosho said tenderly. "Wait bravely for us. And if the worst should happen, build a new life for yourself and whatever people can join you."

Kiyone stepped forward. "If it's agreeable to everyone, she won't wait alone. I'll stay with her."

"You're not going with us?" Mihoshi squeaked. It was clearly not agreeable to her.

"Someone needs to watch and pilot Yagami and Yukinojo," Kiyone pointed out. "We wouldn't want them getting captured or stolen or broken. I was starting to think that was the place I could best be useful; I just didn't know how I'd fight the boredom. Sasami, I need your company. I'm serious."

"I think I know what you mean - I hate being alone," Sasami agreed, swallowing hard. "If this is what's best, then I'll be your companion in Mihoshi's place."

Mihoshi bawled, "I guess I'm grateful, Sasami, but I'm still so sad Kiyone and I won't be together again!"

"It's not like either of us is dead yet," Kiyone said, clearly fighting down irritation. She stepped closer to Mihoshi. "I should've told you earlier I was thinking this way," Kiyone admitted. "But I guess I didn't want this moment to come, either."

"Kiyone!" Mihoshi wailed, drawing her friend into a teary hug. Kiyone exclaimed in pain, causing Mihoshi to lighten the pressure, and Kiyone recovered enough to return the embrace. "If something happens," Kiyone whispered to her, before she started to cry herself, "I wanted you to know that I've always valued our friendship, even if you are crazy."

"You too," sniffled Mihoshi.

Nobuyuki stood up. "As great as it's been being with all of you," he said to the gathering, "I should be a responsible man and admit I haven't got enough strength for the fight coming up. The best thing for everyone would be for me to do my part looking after Kiyone and Sasami."

Tenchi looked around the scene, feeling lost and alone though there were people all around him. Here he'd just gotten used to where he was, and now he was going to gather together his (very few) things and move onto another ship, where he'd encounter new people, and leave behind some of the most precious people he knew.

Ryoko said to Yosho, "That's it, then. There's no getting rid of anyone else."

"There is no getting rid of anyone here!" Ayeka said sharply. "We are defending our sister!"

"It was just a figure of speech," Ryoko said, for once, actually seeming entirely serious. "There's no disagreement here."

"Very well," Ayeka acknowledged, nodding fiercely.

Yosho announced, "We'll need to rendezvous very soon, so everyone get ready now."

As the group dispersed, Washu called to Yosho and Kiyone, asking if she could discuss the flight plans. They proceeded to the bridge while the others made their preparations.

When everything and everyone was gathered together, Yosho bowed deeply in thanks to Sasami, and she returned it. They exchanged some words. Next, Ayeka and Sasami embraced tightly.

Tenchi walked over to his father. Nobuyuki grinned nervously and said, "You know, I'm real proud of you, Tenchi. I knew you'd be great, but I never dreamed any of this stuff - spaceships and cute aliens and all this derring-do. Or all of this sadness and death, either," he said, slowing down. "You're a real action hero, better than the ones in my manga. I just never imagined that when the time came that we needed to get things done, that I wouldn't be able to help." He tried to repair his grin, but it couldn't hide his sadness.

His son shook his head. "Dad," Tenchi insisted, "I saw what happened in the past, at Tokyo Tower. If you hadn't protected Mom back then, I don't think any of this would've been possible. You protected the woman you loved, Dad. You are a hero. I'm proud of you."

Nobuyuki threw his arms around Tenchi as tears escaped him. "I love you, son," he said hoarsely.

"I love you too, Dad," Tenchi replied as he hugged back, feeling heartache.

Mihoshi and Kiyone talked about final details of their ships, and saluted each other after Mihoshi extracted a promise from Kiyone to look after Yukinojo. Ryoko threw in a jaunty salute to Kiyone and told her good luck. Kiyone thanked her, not exactly sure how to take it. Tenchi told her, "This is very brave of you."

"All part of the job," Kiyone told him, "but I appreciate it, coming from someone as brave as you. Goodbye."

"Goodbye," he replied, then walked up to Sasami.

Yosho and Ayeka's farewell to Kiyone and Nobuyuki was incredibly astonishing. They bowed low to them. They hurriedly bowed back as Ayeka said, "We are in your debt for looking after our sister."

"You're welcome," Kiyone said nervously, "and I'll do my very best, Your Majesties, even though I can't do much. I just knew I'd only be a burden in the battle ahead. If only I could do even this small part better."

Ayeka told her, "You have been a friend to our family, even when so many are against us. We will never forget it." Her eyes were moist.

Yosho added softly, "Kiyone, you have our gratitude."

"It's more than enough, Your Majesties," Kiyone replied, touched.

Ayeka then turned to face Nobuyuki more directly, and said, "Mr. Masaki, we are grateful to you as well. We know you will take good care of our sister."

"I'll do my best," Nobuyuki told her seriously. He turned to Yosho and said, "Dad, it's been great getting to know you. Ever since I met Achika, I've always been lucky enough to have you as a friend."

"Achika met a wonderful man that I am proud to call a friend, too," Yosho responded. They bowed, smiling.

Tenchi, who like most of the others, had been distracted by Yosho and Ayeka's farewell to Kiyone, turned back to Sasami. "It's going to be very different without you there," he told her.

"Be careful, okay?" she asked.

"We'll do our best," Tenchi assured her. "Why don't you all have a good dinner tonight, okay?"

Sasami nodded in acknowledgement.

Ryo-Ohki, in cabbit form, hopped into Sasami's arms and mewled sadly. Sasami sniffed and rubbed her head, then hugged her fiercely. Ryo-Ohki returned it.

Ryoko held out a hand after a decent interval, and Ryo-Ohki clambered onto it. "We'll be fine," Ryoko assured Sasami, and Sasami, trying to be brave, replied, "You will be, I'm sure."

Nodding, Ryoko looked down at Ryo-Ohki. This prompted her to remember aloud, "Hey, Yosho, weren't you and Ryo-Ohki going to meet some ancient warriors or something?"

Yosho responded, "Ayeka and I will pick them up when we return to the planet. Care to join us?"

"Oh, no, I'll meet 'em soon enough," Ryoko said with conviction.

With that, Yosho signaled the space tree they would be traveling on, and they were teleported aboard.

Ayeka and Yosho trudged up the mountain path, following their guide, Yosho's erstwhile Go opponent. They wore heavy clothes, including hats and scarves, against the threatening cold wind and snow, and, less conspicuously, against the threatening eyes of others. There were no others to be seen at this point, however. They were headed towards the place where the guardians rested, but their guide informed them it was the off-season. "In fact," he said, "it's a good thing that you came when you did - soon we'll have to shut down the area because of the snowfall."

Ayeka tramped on through the snow for a few paces before realizing the cleverness of it. Of course, if any of the usual school field trips or researchers came along and noticed the guardians absent, word would get out. Closure of the paths around the usual time of year would neatly prevent the guardians from being missed.

"Are you prepared for what we discussed, Ayeka?" Yosho asked.

"I believe so, brother," Ayeka answered. "I will do my duty. I should be happy, but, this still pains me more than I expect."

"I know I am asking you to make a sacrifice, but I am certain that it will have a good effect," Yosho told her sympathetically.

"My thanks, but please do not worry about me," Ayeka said softly.

They were at the clearing in the woods that Ayeka remembered from her visits with Yosho and Sasami and her parents, long ago. Two great trees stood at the end of the clearing, and in hollows in their trunks were two skeletal figures, the guardians. Their bodies were protected from much of the outside world by the trunks and the stasis fields generated by their trees. The clothes of the guardians had fared rather better than they themselves, calling to mind lordly fashion of many years ago. Each of the guardians were clutching a single space tree key in a skeletal hand. Ayeka remembered for a moment some of the powerful foes they had fought with those keys' blades.

Then she said commandingly, "Azaka, Kamadaki."

Her two robots, named after the guardians and given simulations of their personalities, appeared beside her. "Yes, ma'am," they replied.

"Interface with the guardians' space trees, and determine how much energy is required to revive them," Ayeka instructed.

"Yes, ma'am," they said promptly. Each seated itself on a root, Azaka on a root of the tree sheltering his namesake, and Kamadaki on a root of the tree sheltering his.

"Ma'am," Azaka the robot reported concernedly, "the trees report a great deal of energy would be required to reconstitute the guardians' bodies and revive them."

Kamadaki continued, "We cannot supply that amount of energy without completely draining our power reserves."

Ayeka ordered, "Then do so. Supply all the energy that is required. And for centuries of your faithul service, I, Ayeka Masaki Jurai, Princess of Jurai, thank you." Teardrops began to course icy paths down her cheeks.

"It has been an honor serving you, ma'am," Azaka told her kindly.

"And a pleasure as well, ma'am," Kamadaki confirmed.

She tried her hardest to watch what happened next, to watch the lights playing along the original guardian's bodies, as the light from her guardians' lenses faded, but she had to keep wiping away the tears from her eyes. "Please forgive my childishness," Ayeka said aloud, as she continued trying to quickly wipe away the tears. Then, in another moment, she saw that the lights had gone, and that the two live guardians were clambering out of the hollows. They were moving quickly, as though they had not even been asleep all these years. Her guardians had done their very best for them, as ever they had executed their duties.

Their guide stepped forward, between the two robot guardians, then slightly beyond them. The two living guardians stood and looked at him. The guide bowed low and said, "My lords, it has been many millennia since you went to sleep. You have been awakened by their Highnesses, behind me, Prince Yosho on the right, and Princess Ayeka on the left. I am one of many, who have through generations helped your trees maintain this area, and educated our people about your deeds and wishes."

Azaka and Kamadaki bowed low, and Yosho and Ayeka returned it.

"We thank you all, and your forbears, for watching over us during our sleep," Azaka told the guide.

"What deed do your Hignesses require?" Kamadaki inquired.

The guide bowed to Yosho, who bowed slightly in return, then told the knights, "Our parents are missing, presumed dead, and in the confusion, the usurper Oda has cheated my sister Ayeka of her rightful claim to the throne. Through quick action, through the treachery of highly trusted knights, and fear, he has wrested nearly all the kingdom from her in a matter of days. We need your aid to restore justice, and the rightful heir to her throne."

"My sympathies, your Highnesses," Kamadaki said in consolation.

"We shall be honored to aid you, your Majesties," Azaka said firmly.

"Then I recommend we depart at once," Yosho said.

"Of course," Kamadaki agreed. He turned to the guide and said, "We thank you and your brethren and forebears for your sanctuary." Both he and Azaka bowed, and the guide bowed, replying, "We shall treasure your words."

Azaka and Kamadaki next turned to their trees. Grasping their space keys, they murmured appreciation, and the trees responded in the glowing of the keys.

As Azaka and Kamadaki turned back to face Yosho, Ayeka, and the guide, they paused for one last expression of gratitude. Kamadaki rested a hand on his robotic counterpart, and Azaka on his. "Thank you for acting in our stead these many centuries," Kamadaki began. Azaka finished, "We shall honor your striving by our devotion, as well." Ayeka bowed to them, unable to speak.

The guardians finally joined Yosho, Ayeka, and the guide. Yosho and Ayeka bowed to the guide, saying, "Our deepest gratitude."

"I should be thanking you, for this chance of a lifetime," the guide replied as he bowed.

When they straightened, the guide used his space tree key to contact their allies in the space tree where Tenchi and the others awaited. The space tree teleported Yosho, Ayeka, and the fleshly Azaka and Kamadaki aboard. The guide, still on the planet, walked briskly down the path to help their other allies close down the park.

In one of the buildings in the space tree's massive interior, Tenchi and the others were introduced to the guardians of Jurai.

They had begun with Tenchi - "My lord Tenchi," Ayeka had said properly, "these are Azaka and Kamadaki, legendary knights of Jurai." Seeing that the guardians had reacted to Tenchi's name, she added, "Lord Tenchi is named after the master key."

"How very singular," Kamadaki remarked, then remembered himself and added, "Excuse me, my lord. We are pleased to meet you." Azaka added, "Most pleased, my lord," and they bowed to Tenchi, and he to them, Tenchi saying, "Nice to meet you."

When it came Mihoshi's time to be introduced, Azaka and Kamadaki actually snarled, and both reached to grasp their space tree keys. "A Kuramitsu?" Azaka growled. Kamadaki inquired tightly, "Your Highness, what is the meaning of this?"

Mihoshi asked uncomprehendingly, "What, what is it? What's wrong with a Kuramitsu?" Ryoko began to snicker while Ayeka said sternly, "Azaka, Kamadaki, much time has passed since you slept, and much has changed. In your time, the Kuramitsu clan was an enemy of Jurai; now it is one of Jurai's staunchest allies."

Kamadaki's face contorted as he asked dangerously, "Your ladyship would not dream of jesting with us about this matter?"

"Not for a moment," Ayeka said unwaveringly.

Mihoshi wailed, "Yeah, believe me, we're all friends now! Misao and Grandpa and I got to take rides on space trees! We're all friends!" She began to cry.

"Oh, this is great," Ryoko chortled, almost in hysterics, "the space pirate gets off easy, and the police officer is under suspicion!"

Azaka wheeled on her, shouting, "A brigand!" He almost actually drew his sword before remembering himself.

Advancing upon the guardians with fiery eyes, Ayeka declared, "My brother and I can testify that she has been manipulated, and that she has now fully reformed. Moreover, she has been constant to us through many other dangers, as has Officer Mihoshi Kuramitsu. Indeed, because of the friendship and affinity the Kuramitsus have shown my father, at this moment, Officer Mihoshi's brother and grandfather and other kin languish in prison, and Officer Mihoshi is hunted by her fellow officers of the law."

Azaka and Kamadaki were breathing raggedly, but they bowed low, first to Ayeka and Yosho, then to Tenchi, then to Mihoshi and Ryoko. When they had regained some measure of control, Azaka said in a choked voice, "Our deepest apologies to you all for this unseemliness."

Kamadaki added, "Please forgive our discourtesy. Forgotten grudges are for us only seconds old; it feels as though no time has passed, and we only just stepped into our space trees to begin our hibernation."

Yosho said firmly, "We shall show you the same understanding that you show to us."

The guardians bowed again, saying, "You are most gracious, lords and ladies."

While they bowed, Yosho caught Ryoko's eye. She rolled her eyes, but nodded. Washu sighed in relief, followed quickly by Tenchi.

The group managed to talk civilly together after that, probably mostly because they were discussing plans for the future, and catching the guardians up on current events. Eventually, they started to disperse to the sleeping quarters their hosts had assigned them in various buildings located throughout the space tree's vast interior. As Tenchi left, he overheard Azaka say to Kamadaki, "We have awoken into a mad future."

"A mad, mad, mad one," Kamadaki agreed.

Next Chapter

Ryoko addresses the audience with the words, "Now we've got more Juraians aboard. At least these Juraians actually want to do some work to save their empire, so I haven't got a problem with it."

Ayeka restrains herself from comment with great effort, and simply announces, "The next chapter is 'No Need for Checkpionts'. Dragonwiles anticipates that it will take him at least a month and a half, possibly more to write it."

"So," Ryoko concludes, "we hope you enjoyed this first entry of 2013! Until next time!"

"Until we meet again," Ayeka says as she and Ryoko bow.

Continuity With Dragonwiles

Dragonwiles reposes in state in the library of his lair. Looking up from his book, he greets, "Welcome to this special segment, in which I give a few brief continuity notes.

"Azaka and Kamadaki's remarks are inspired by the title of 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, World.' I may have missed a few 'Mad's in there, so I clearly do not own it.

"Similarly, the idea of Tenchi calling the swords lightsabers is one I made up in an early chapter. I don't own lightsabers or 'Star Wars'.

"As you may recall from many chapters ago, I decided that Azaka and Kamadaki (the robots) had personality simulations of the original Juraians. I'm not sure how similar the creators of the 'Tenchi Universe' intended the robots and the Juraians to be.

"I seem to recall hearing or reading somewhere that the Kuramitsu family was once an enemy of Jurai, but that the situation later changed. It's always made sense to me, given that the Kuramitsu are supposed to be rich and powerful, so the rich and powerful Juraians would be natural rivals. I'm not sure where in history Azaka and Kamadaki are supposed to be from, so I decided they'd be from a time when the Kuramitsu are still enemies.

"As you could probably tell, this chapter was based, loosely, on a 'Tenchi Universe' episode. About the only things which are the same, though, are the guardians being skeletal and then having flesh regrown, and the need to sacrifice Azaka and Kamadaki the robots in order to accomplish this. In the anime episode, as I recall, the Juraian guardians easily destroy pursuing Juraian spaceships after they awaken. I decided not to include that, because I think that should've made it too easy to reach Jurai and beat their opponents. Mine will not be nearly that powerful, though they will still be strong. And don't worry - mine aren't prejudiced, just still used to the old world.

"In the Universe series, I don't believe that Tenchi and his friends ever split up, and I wasn't sure I would ever do so here. However, the difficulties that Jurai's checkpoints present to well-known fugitive vessels, as well as a natural desire to keep Sasami and Nobuyuki out of battle, led me to believe this would be best. Don't worry - they've still got a part to play in this major arc!

"Also, in the Universe series, the planet the guardians were on was inside the checkpoints, and long-forgotten, but I prefer it being more well-known, and both a place of history as well as a place of everyday life. After all, some people today do live in cities that are centuries old. Once I conceived of it that way, the idea of a group of people who helped maintain the guardian's resting place and acting as guides to the historical site followed.

"Though base on the Universe episode, this chapter owes more than a little to 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' and its theme of pai sho, and to 'Hikaru no Go'. I understand that the latter has a metaphor comparing go pieces or formations to stars, so I thought that making some sort of star chart of map out of one would be interesting. I want to make it obvious that I own neither series.

"Farewell until next time!"