Lets start with the owning thing.  I own Nothing Tenchi Muyo related for purposes of Copyright, save for this story.  All of the characters and settings belong to AIC/Pioneer, and that is good since this is not anywhere near good enough to be canon.

            I don't have too many notes this time around.  Just so everyone remembers, this takes place after the OAV'S AND Manatsu No Eve.  See you in the Post notes!!

Illusions of Life:

Chapter, the Fifth: Illusions of an Unfettered Parting

At the gates of a secluded house, suspiciously near a small shrine, two large logs, each with a round gem near the top of it, abutted the gate leading into the property.  One log had a strange red symbol in its center.  The other had an equally unfamiliar blue symbol.  Other than the pair's oddity, everything appeared normal.  Until the blue decorated log turned to the other log.

            "Today is another beautiful day, isn't it, Kamidake?" the blue log said in a slow, deep voice.

            The other log, apparently named Kamidake, turned to face his fellow.  "Yes it is Azaka, but I fear it is going to rain later today."

            "Oh; that is too bad."

            The pair turned forward and stood in silence for a while.  Finally, Kamidake broke the silence.

            "I wonder why there haven't been any explosions lately.  Are the Princess and Ryoko finally getting along?"

            Before Azaka could answer, both hear raised voices from inside the house.

            "Get off of him this instant, Demon!!"

            "It's only natural for two people so in love to act like this Ayeka…"

            A scream was the only reply.  Both Azaka and Kamidake began to sweat.

            Azaka turned again to his fellow log.  "Well, it appears that the Princess and Ryoko are still not friends."

            "Yes, it would appear so," the red lettered log said sadly.  Its voice was a much higher pitch, and much faster, than Azaka's.  "Maybe it has to do with our new visitor?"

            "Perhaps."

            A loud explosion rocked the area behind them.  Both sighed.

            "Just another day on Planet Earth."

            "Yes."

----------------------

            After the morning had been initiated by a long overdue fight, the house went their separate ways until lunchtime.  Tenchi went to the fields, Kiyone and Mihoshi went patrolling, Ayeka went to tend the garden, Washu returned to the sanctity of her lab, and Ryoko gathered up Mayuka.  The temporary houseguest, Victor Duras, followed Washu into the diminutive scientist's lab.  Victor had mentioned something about fixing his ship as he left the table.  All in all, this could have turned out to be a day not worth writing about.

            And if that were true, then no one would be reading this right now.

            Even though all seemed to be normal on the planet, out in space was a different story.  The two galaxy police officers flew out for their regular patrol.  Everything looked normal, until they got to Mars.  Clearing the planet, the sensors on the GP ship detected the presence of other ships.

            A warning claxon went off, and Kiyone started from her half-awake state.  As she hit a few keys and accessed the sensors, she grumbled to herself, "This is the second time in two days.  I thought this was supposed to be an easy assignment?!?"

            Mihoshi looked over from where she had been reading her manga worriedly.  "Kiyone, what's going on?"

            "It looks like we've got company Mihoshi," Kiyone said to her partner.  Even as she replied, the monitor sprang up with information on the other ship.  "Of course.  It has to be more pirates."

            Unlike before, there was only a single ship.  This time, it appeared to be a stolen fighter ship.  Grimacing, Kiyone put the ship on alert and opened a hailing frequency.  She knew it wasn't going to work, but she had to at least try.

            "Unidentified ship, this is the Galaxy Police.  You are in a designated no fly zone and protectorate.  Cut your engines immediately."

            "I don't think they are listening, Kiyone?"

            The teal haired GP turned to her partner with a grin.  "When do they ever.  You ready, Partner?"

            Mihoshi smiled, "You bet Kiyone."

            Maneuvering their ship in an arc, the GP chased the smaller pirate ship into the asteroid belt.  There, the smaller, faster ship had the advantage.  Kiyone was surprised that it did not press the point.  Instead, the pirate ship kept going.

            "Kiyone, he's making a run for it!"

            Nodding, Kiyone grinned, "looks like it.  We'll just have to catch him before he passes the edge of the system."

            As Mihoshi and Kiyone flew out past Saturn after their quarry, a small ship barely larger than an escape pod shot down to the surface of the planet.  Its arrival was noticed by only two people.  Fortunately, the two people that noticed were in a position to deal with this sudden change of events.

----------------------

            A petite red haired scientist shook her head as she stared intently at a view screen.  A grunt from behind her alerted Washu that the other occupant of the lab had seen, and probably recognized, the blip that had shown up on her sensor array.  She grinned slightly as she called up some other remote viewers that captured the ship in better detail.

            "Looks like the GP missed a straggler while they were chasing that other ship," Washu said over her shoulder.  There was no response.

            "So who is it this time Victor?" the diminutive scientist asked of shadow looming behind her.  "Another of your friends, perhaps?"

            Victor grunted in irritation.  "No, it's prolly an infiltration android that is trying to find the location of the pirates we captured the other day."

            "Then why not give it what it wants?"

            "………"

            Washu turned at the silence from Victor.  And began smiling when she saw the incredulous look on Victor's face.  The Priderian bounty hunter's jaw was slack and his eye was wide as a saucer as he tried to recover from his surprise.

            "Well, young pup?"

            "W…W…Washu!!"  Victor sputtered in befuddled amazement.  "How could ye even think of that?!  Ye know that they're dead if we just let that thing find them."

            "I said the give it the location, not the pirates," Washu chided gleefully.  She was enjoying watching the reactions of the bounty hunter.

            "Wha…..Oh," Victor sputtered weakly.  Disbelief and astonishment were clearly written across his face.

            Washu tilted her head and looked at Victor intently.  He does act like her sometimes.  I can kinda see the resemblance too.

            "Well, is that a yes Victor?"

Finally under control again, Victor coughed to mask his embarrassment at having been completely caught off guard.  He brought a hand to his chin and rubbed it while he thought.  Finally, he began to smile ferally.  He looked over at Washu with a wicked gleam in his eye.

"Got a better idea Little Washu."  Victor pointed to one of her other monitors.  "How about we make the signatures come from here?"  Victor looked over at the green-eyed scientist, grinning as wickedly as Washu had just moments ago.

            Washu saw the location that Victor had selected, and exactly who was headed there.  "You do know that Tenchi will be in training when the Android gets there?"  Washu asked even as she set the plan into motion.

            "I'll be countin' on it."  When Washu raised an eyebrow, Victor shrugged.  "I saw a bit of what he could do yestereve. 

            "When he ran in with meself, the shield bracers I had given 'im should have been fried after about a minute of continuous fire.  Yet I checked his last night and they dinna register a shot!"  Washu's other eyebrow raised at the admiring tone in Victor's voice.  Her eyes narrowed a bit and she began typing a query, mostly to verify what Victor was saying.

            Victor continued, missing Washu's look.  "I dinna know what the kid's secret is, but he shoulda been cut't ribbons."  Victor shook his head in amazement.  "Instead, he cuts through twice as many assassin 'bots as meself.  He even took out two seasoned pirates in one blow each!"

            He continued, just a touch of eagerness in his gravely voice, "I dinna know what they teach people on this 'ere backwater planet, but I wanna see what he can do against a skilled opponent.  This will have to do 'till I can challenge him meself."

-------------------------

            After a hard days work in an increasingly large carrot field, most people would assume that the singular caretaker of the field would be exhausted.  Not so.  Instead, Tenchi Masaki just sighed as he climbed the many, many stairs to his grandfather's shrine.

            Time for training, the young man thought to himself.  Maybe today I can actually last longer than five minutes.  Tenchi shook his head in resignation, realizing that he probably would not be as good as Katsuhito even if he lived for a hundred more years.

            Scaling the final step before he reached the shrine, Tenchi paused as his instincts took over.  He jumped forward in a tight roll, igniting the Tenchi-ken as he came to his feet.  Tenchi's sudden movement was all that saved him from an energy blade that had been aimed at his neck.  Standing in front of the young man was a thin, humanoid robot made of black metal.  Even as he watched, the machine produced another energy blade, one in both hands.  Holding the Tenchi-ken in one hand, Tenchi moved into an old reliable Jurain fighting stance his grandfather called 'Swaying Branches'.  After a moment, the creature charged.

            Waiting until the last possible moment, Tenchi went through the patterns of Swaying Branches, smoothly and easily avoiding or deflecting both of the machine's blades.  As it rushed past, the young prince followed up his defense with the 'Falling Leaves' technique.  Tenchi swung at the machine with short, powerful overhand strokes, varying from the left to right side of the creature.  To give the robot credit it defended against Tenchi's attacks with ruthless precision.  The robot caught the Tenchi-ken's blade between both of its swords before using its superior strength to push Tenchi across the shrines pathway.

            The robot then pressed its advantage.  Concentrating purely on defense, Tenchi slid his sword over his head and crouched low, the tip of Tenchi-ken's blade appearing in his line of vision and his left hand held out in front of him.  This was the stance Katsuhito called 'The Emperor Kneels'.  The robot was apparently unprepared for such a maneuver and Tenchi found it much easier to defend against the machines superior strength and weapons advantage.

            So this thing doesn't know all of the Jurain fighting techniques, Tenchi thought as he parried blow after blow from the creature.  O.K., time to use the techniques grandfather said only he knows.

            Tenchi blocked a sideways cut aimed as his head with the Tenchi-ken and executed a quick back flip to place him a few feet from the robot.  As soon as he landed, Tenchi threw himself at the robot in the 'Rolling Thunder' technique.  He batted the both of the robots swords first to the left, then to the right.  As the robot attempted to correct its stance from the flurry of blows, Tenchi struck quickly with a horizontal slice that severed the robots right hand. 

Pressing his advantage, the brown-eyed youth moved swiftly into 'Severing the Trunks', one of Katsuhito's most lethal moves.  Rushing straight into the machine's reach Tenchi held his blade, arms extended over his shoulder height and across his left arm to deflect the robots remaining blade.  Pushing the robot's blade away from him, Tenchi followed the momentum of his charge and spun around completely.  As he completed his spin, the brown haired swordsman brought the Tenchi-ken up vertically while gripping it with both hands.  The bluish blade of the Tenchi-ken went straight through the center of the robot, cutting it neatly in half. 

Tenchi continued to rotate and jumped away from the ruined machine just moments before it exploded.  Sighing, Tenchi sat down on the ground and wiped the sweat from his brow.  Now I see why grandfather had me learning techniques we never used while sparing.  Tenchi took a few deep breaths to calm him self.  I guess I have learned a lot more from Sensei than I thought. 

            Tenchi heard the rustle of leaves.  He turned just as his grandfather, dressed in his usual white and gray priest's robes, walked out of his office in the shrine.  As Tenchi watched, Katsuhito surveyed the damage on the grounds and frowned.

            "Tenchi, how many times have I told you not to fight in the vicinity of the Shrine?"

            The young brown haired boy lowered his head.  "I am sorry grandfather.  I was not expecting anything to attack and I did not have time to lead it away from the shrine…"

            "Nonsense Tenchi," the older man said sternly.  "Once you moved into The Emperor Kneels, you should have realized that you outclassed the robot.  You could have led it away then, but you did not."  Tenchi stood and bowed to his grandfather.  "If you wish to be a true swordsman, then you must always be aware of your surroundings.  Now go to the training ground; you have a new exercise today."  Tenchi bowed again as he sighed in resignation.

            "Hai, Sensei."

            Katsuhito watched the young man run off.  Glancing over his shoulder he called out, "You can come out now.  I trust your test of my grandson was conclusive?"

            Victor and Washu walked out from behind one of the buildings in the shrine area.  Both had grins on their faces.  Victor bowed slightly and walked over to the remains of the robot.  Washu walked over to stand next to the Shrine priest.

            "Actually, Lord Katsuhito," Washu began, "it was rather informative.  I dare say that Tenchi may even be a match for my daughter now."

            "Perhaps.  We shall see shortly."

            Washu gaped at the eldest Masaki, her green eyes wide in surprise.  Katsuhito noticed this and grinned slightly.  He nodded.

            "Yes, in a few moments we shall learn exactly how much my grandson has managed to learn."

            Before she could reply, Victor called out to Washu and Katsuhito.  Both looked in his direction.

            "I think I found what's left of its CPU Washu.  C'mere, this is actually kinda interesting."

-----------------

            Soft music played in the main room of the Masaki household.  Inside this room the blue haired princess of Jurai, Sasami Jurai, walked around idly dusting.  Occasionally she would pause and make a silly face at a giggling baby who had warm orange eyes.  The baby was alternating between laughing at Sasami and playing with Ryo-Ohki.  As far as Sasami could tell, the day was going very well.  She turned back to dusting the TV.

            The pink-eyed princess turned as she heard the slight hiss of displaced matter.  Sasami was greeted to a slightly scary surprise as she saw Ryoko, clad in her red and black fighting outfit, leaning over and giving Mayuka a kiss on the head.  The young princess looked confusedly at Ryoko as the former pirate stood and turned to her.

            "Oh!  Hi, Sasami."

            Sasami shook her head a bit before answering.  "Hello Ryoko.  Why are you dressed like that?"  The princess relaxed a little bit when Ryoko smiled softly down at her.

            "I am going to go train today, Sasami," Ryoko said to her young friend.  "Please watch Mayuka while I am out, okay?"

            Sasami nodded and Ryoko turned and left.  The princess just shook her head and went back to cleaning.  The last time Ryoko had worn her red and black outfit she, Ayeka, and Tenchi had ended up in the medical wing of Washu's lab for a week.

            "I hope nobody gets hurt this time."

-----------------

            It took only a few moments for Tenchi to reach the small clearing that he and his grandfather trained at.  Much to his surprise, the young swordsman did not see anything new in the training grounds.  It was then hat he noticed the silence.  It was a familiar silence, and it usually entailed a tackle from Ryoko.  Today was no different.  Tenchi heard the rustle of long hair and the faint hiss of Ryoko's teleportation.  Acting quickly, Tenchi vaulted straight up in a back flip.

            And he just narrowly avoided getting sliced by Ryoko's saber as she sped through the area he had occupied.  Though shocked at her actions, he was slightly confused at the surprise registering on her face.  It remained there for a moment before the cyan haired demoness steeled herself and charged at him again.  The two of them began exchanging blows.  After a few moments, Ryoko broke the silence.

            "How did you do that?"  She asked of her brown-eyed opponent.

            "Do what?"

            Ryoko blinked at him.  "Dodge my attack Tenchi.  How'd you do that?"

            "Oh, that," Tenchi said in sudden comprehension.  He continued to deflect her blows by moving with the momentum of Ryoko's attacks in the 'Bending Willows' stance.  "I heard you teleport in, and I heard the rustle of your hair from behind me."  Tenchi altered his footing and sidestepped a quick vertical slice.  He hesitated when her attack left the young man with a clear shot at disarming her, quite literally.

            Ryoko went on the offensive again and neither spoke as she tried to find an opening in Tenchi's defense.  However, the young man had retreated into 'The Emperor Kneels', just like when he had fought the robot earlier.  This worked for a while, when suddenly Ryoko disappeared.

            Reacting swiftly Tenchi threw his arms over his head and swept his sword in an arc behind him, catching Ryoko's blade inches before it grazed his clothing.  Not waiting for her to react, Tenchi spun on one foot and reduced his hold on the Tenchi-ken to one hand while keeping the blades locked.  He brought his other foot out and aimed it at Ryoko's midriff; however she teleported out of the way an instant before the young man would have made contact.

            Tenchi heard a grunt from above him.  As he followed the momentum of his kick Tenchi jumped sideways.  He used his left hand as leverage to finish his somersault while swinging the Tenchi-ken with his right hand to deflect a thrown energy blade.  Landing on his feet, Tenchi set himself in the 'Ironwood Warping' stance, his blade held parallel to his shoulders.  He looked around, but he did not see his opponent.

            "Ryoko, why are you doing this?!?!"  He shouted as he circled warily, trying to hear or see the golden-eyed fighter. 

The cyan haired beauties' voice seemed to come from all around him.  "If you can beat me, Tenchi, then I'll tell you."

            Ryoko's words caused Tenchi to smirk.  "So that's the game, is it?"

"Yep…"

Catching a glimpse of something silvery, Tenchi ran towards it while shifting his stance to the 'Winds as Razors' technique.  He ran to where he thought she was hiding with his blade held out behind him, his left hand held across his body so that he could grasp his sword with two hands when striking.  Hearing movement behind him Tenchi ran directly at a tree and changed his footing so that he could run straight up the tree.  Perching on a tree branch, Tenchi waited.

            Meanwhile, Ryoko had been watching Tenchi, trying to judge if there was a weak point in his technique.  So far, he appeared much, much better than the last time she had seen him fight.  While Yosho may have been her better, Ryoko doubted that Tenchi could be nearly as good as his grandfather.  Unfortunately Tenchi's instincts were proving to be just as sound as the great swordsman that trained him and Ryoko worried that she may have underestimated him.

            Ryoko was jolted from her reverie as Tenchi flew out of a tree next to the one she thought he was hiding in.  With his sword held perpendicular to his left arm, he thrust the blade straight at her.  With a yell that was as much shock as enjoyment the cyan haired beauty parried the blade straight down from her floating form.  Too late she realized her error as Tenchi did a quick flip and tackled her out of the air into a tree.  The brown-eyed youth looked down at her from where he had her pinned.

            "Ready to give in yet?"  Tenchi asked with barely contained laughter in both his eyes and his voice. 

            Laughter welled up in Ryoko's eyes as well and a smile formed on her lips.  She closed her golden eyes and willed herself to the other side of the clearing.

            Tenchi felt the cyan haired vixen phasing away beneath him and dropped out of the tree, spinning as he did so.  As he touched down, he brought the Tenchi-ken up just in time to deflect an attack from Ryoko.  Smiling, Tenchi assumed the 'Ironwood Warping' stance again as he prepared to meet Ryoko's attack.

---------------------------

            Washu sat typing into her holotop as Victor paced restlessly.  The diminutive scientist grinned at the actions of the young man even as she calculated all of the data from the destroyed robot. 

            "Have ye finished yet Little Washu?"  The restless bounty hunter asked.  "I need t'know if Shinrai was really behind this."

"Besides," Victor continued as he kept glancing between two view-screens: One was showing the fight between Tenchi and Ryoko, and the other of the rest of the household preparing for dinner, "We're missing all the fun."  It was obvious that Victor wanted to attend one and observe the other. 

            Washu was enjoying making the young bounty hunter wait, as his impatience did show a familial resemblance to another houseguest.  Then again, it did not appear that whoever had sent the android had sent or was sending anything else at this moment.  It should be okay for us to all unwind and watch those two children dance, Washu mused quietly.  That decided, she turned to Victor and prepared to speak.

            "Well, I am finished with the data Mr. Duras."  Victor looked at her expectantly.  "Your original guess was correct; at the moment though, there is no activity towards the planet, so I can't pinpoint a location just yet."

            "This isn't good though.  After the tussle that Mihoshi and Kiyone got in earlier, somethin's gonna happen soon.  I kin feel it."

            The diminutive scientist nodded at Victor's assessment.  "Until they actually enter the solar system, my sensors can't pick them up.  We'll have to let them come to us I'm afraid."

            Victor frowned and said, "That's exactly what I'm afraid of, Little Washu."

            With a shrug of her shoulders, she replied, "I'll know the instant they try anything.  So relax, let's go to dinner.  I'll set the TV so we can all watch the two of them."  Washu grinned at the smile on Victor's face.

            The door to the lab chimed softly.  Both occupants turned as Sasami entered the lab.  She looked around and then waved at both of them.

            "Miss Washu, Mr. Victor!  Time for dinner!"

            The red headed scientist waved back.  "We're coming right now Sasami."

---------------------

            The household, except Katsuhito who usually stayed at the shrine, always gathered for dinner.  Mihoshi and Kiyone had returned just after lunch, dejectedly reporting that they had lost the ship after it cleared the solar system.  The youngest princess glanced nervously around the room.  There were two places at the table that remained empty and everyone, not just Sasami, noticed.  Ayeka spoke up first.

            "Excuse me, everyone, but where is Lord Tenchi?  And for that matter," Ayeka added seeing the look on Washu's face, "Where is Ryoko?" 

            Washu was slightly miffed that Ryoko had been seemingly snubbed by Ayeka, but felt mollified by the purple haired princess' recovery.  She grinned manically and turned to the TV.  Calling up her spectral computer, she hit a button and the television flared to life.

            On the large screen was a darkened glade, lit only by moonlight.  There was a silhouette of a spiky haired figure in the center of the glade, standing as if in a trance.  Suddenly a glowing red sword appeared in the figure's hand as the blade intersected a brightly glowing blue blade.  The faces of Tenchi and Ryoko were briefly illuminated as the two came together then moved apart to circle each other.  Everyone, save for Washu and Victor, at the table's eyes grew wide as saucers as the group watched Tenchi and Ryoko.  Sasami turned to Washu, confusion evident on her young, innocent face.

            "Washu, why are Tenchi and Ryoko fighting?  Did one of them do something to hurt the other?"  The child asked of her equal in stature but far older companion.  Washu just smiled at the concerned blue haired princess.

            "No Sasami.  You can blame this on your older brother."

            "W...WHAT!?!?!?!?"  Ayeka screamed at the small form of Washu.  Ayeka was standing and staring at the red headed scientist like Washu had just slapped her.  "Why would Yosho do something like this!?!?  Either of them could get hurt, or killed."

            "Um…Ayeka?"

            The purple haired princess turned on the galaxy police officer that had just spoken to her.  "What Mihoshi?"  She said in a voice that had the undercurrent of barely repressed anger.

            Mihoshi pointed at the screen.  It looked as if she were pointing at Ryoko and Tenchi's faces.  Neither of them looked angry or hurt; in fact, both had genuine smiles on their faces as the fight continued.

            "I think they are having a good time Ayeka," the blonde GP said simply.  Mihoshi turned back to her meal.  "Wow, Teriyaki Beef!!!"

            After staring wordlessly at the two on the screen, Ayeka began to smile.  So Ryoko, You finally found a way to get Tenchi to relax around you, the ruby eyed, purple haired princess thought as she remembered the earlier events in the Onsen.  Well done, Ryoko.  Have fun my friend.  The princess sat down and resumed her meal. 

            All of the women of the household stopped and stared at the smiling older princess.  Victor looked from one to the other, surprised and confused by the looks of astonishment and amazement on everyone's faces.  He got the distinct impression that he was missing something. 

Ayeka finally looked up and saw everyone staring at her.  "What?  Is there something on my face?"  Ever the proper princess, Ayeka brought a napkin to her mouth and dabbed at her face.

Everyone returned to the meal smiling even as Ayeka looked around, slightly puzzled.  Oh well, the princess with the violet tresses thought to her self.  I hope Tenchi wins.

            After the meal, almost everyone gathered around the television to watch Tenchi and Ryoko fight.  Ayeka, Washu and Sasami sat together on one couch, Kiyone, Mihoshi, and Victor sat on the other.  Noboyuki begged off after mumbling something about sleep and deadlines.  Everyone watched as the cyan haired girl and the brown haired boy launched themselves across the clearing again and again.  It became apparent that while Ryoko had the edge in strength and mobility, Tenchi had the skill and control to defend him self from her attacks, occasionally taking the offensive himself. 

Everyone gasped as Ryoko powered up a charge and let out a ball of energy straight at Tenchi.  Instead of dodging, Tenchi met the blast with the tip of the Tenchi-ken's blade and the energy diffused harmlessly.  Ayeka, Kiyone, and Victor all began chuckling at the comical expression of surprise on Ryoko's face.  Washu just humphed and grumbled about luck.

            "Washu," Sasami began as she watched the spectacle, "How come Ryoko can't beat Tenchi?  Isn't she a lot stronger than everyone else here?"

            The diminutive scientist looked thoughtful for a few moments ash she struggled to answer Sasami.  She didn't answer immediately because she was just as puzzled as the pink eyed young princess.

            "Lord Tenchi is simply highly skilled, Sasami," Ayeka answered in Washu's place.  "It is only a matter of time before Lord Tenchi defeats Ryoko, so do not worry."  Washu's eyes thinned as the purple haired princess continued to extol Tenchi's strengths.

            "Nonsense, Princess."

            Ayeka spun to look at the bounty hunter, shocked.  "What do you mean?"

            "Its simple, really," Victor answered as he pointed at the two combatants.  "Tenchi might indeed know quite a bit, but he's soft."  He pointed at the screen.

            The young swordsman was moving through a complicated series of strikes and parries.  After just a few strokes, it was clear that he was leading Ryoko through the rest of the pattern.  Victor spoke up again.  "Watch what happens as he finishes this routine."  Everyone watched as Tenchi made two final sword strikes and exposed a potentially fatal hole in Ryoko's defenses.  The opening was there for only a moment, and then the golden-eyed warrior teleported to the other side of the clearing.

            Victor turned to everyone.  "That's what I'm talkin' about.  The lad doesn't have the heart to actually hurt her."  He made eye contact with Washu as he continued.  "Besides, I dinna think Ryoko is givin it her all.  I've seen clips of her in action and she's a lot better than this."

The bounty hunter snorted in disgust.  "I dinna blame him for not doin' it, but he should just run her through."

            Everyone except Washu and Victor gasped when he said this.  Ayeka was the first to recover.  She stood and glared at the bounty hunter, even as he sat there with his arms crossed.  His smugness irritated he princess further until she could contain her self no longer.

            "I'll have none of this!!"  Ayeka shouted at Victor.  "There is no need for that sort of violent suggestion."

            "He can't really hurt her, can he?"

            That brought Ayeka up short.  Ayeka looked questioningly at Washu, who had her head down.  "Miss Washu?"

            Washu mumbled something.

            "I kinna hear ye, Little Washu."

            "I said 'No, he can't', Frell it all!"  Washu screamed at Victor.  Victor bowed slightly to her.

            "I dinna mean ye any offense lady Washu."  Victor stood and walked over to his coat.  Picking up his coat and guns, he headed towards the front door.  He turned back to everyone.

            "This fight is gonna last until both of 'em realize that they are fightin' a pointless battle; unless one of 'em gives in, it'll na'er be over."  So saying, Victor walked outside.

            Mihoshi looked around until she saw Kiyone looking at the front door.  I want to tell her.  Looking back and seeing the veiled pain on Victor's face, she came to a decision.  No, I need to tell her.  I should get this done with now.  Mihoshi turned to her partner.

            "Kiyone, um, Can I talk to you for a minute?"

            The green haired detective looked over at her fellow officer.  "Yeah, sure Mihoshi.  What's up?"

            Mihoshi stood up.  "I mean alone.  Is that ok Kiyone?"

            "Sure.  Let's go for a walk."  Kiyone got up and grabbed her light green trench off of the coat rack.  

Grabbing Mihoshi's black coat, she threw it at her partner.  She saw a strange look in her partner's eyes, but decided not to think about it just yet.  She probably wants to tell me she likes Victor.  Kiyone felt a large surge of anger towards the one eyed bounty hunter.  Why should I care about that?  Kiyone thought as she walked with her partner outside.

            Washu watched the GP leave and hmm'd in thought.  Glancing at the TV, she noticed that Tenchi and her daughter were circling each other and talking.  This looks like things are going to get real interesting around here.

----------------------

            Mihoshi was going over, in her mind, what she wanted to say to her fiery partner.  What do I do, Oh what do I do?  The blonde wailed to herself.  Walking beside Kiyone, the two eventually ended up at the dock.  This has always been our favorite spot.  Mihoshi looked in her partner's bright blue eyes, nearly glowing in the moonlight.  I guess it's now or never.

            "What is it you want to talk about Mihoshi?"

            The blonde detective nearly jumped out of her skin when Kiyone spoke to her.  Though Kiyone's voice was little more than a whisper, it sounded like a thunderclap to Mihoshi.  It was no wonder then that the pounding she could hear was actually her blood pumping through her veins.

            "You've been a great friend Kiyone, ever since the Academy.  We've been together so long, it almost feels like we aren't ever gonna be apart, doesn't it?"

            Kiyone smiled a little bit and nodded.

            "I care about you a lot Kiyone.  I mean you are my best friend and all."  Mihoshi blushed and looked down.

            Kiyone smiled again at her friend.  "I care about you to Mihoshi."  Kiyone saw that strange look in Mihoshi's eyes when her friend snapped her head up suddenly; the look was the same look Mihoshi had given her before they walked outside.  "Despite how I act now and then, you're my best friend too." 

Mihoshi's face seemed to droop a little bit as Kiyone talked.  What has gotten in to her?

            "Well I…I mean, um…Oh my!"  Mihoshi stammered bringing one hand to her face to cover the slowly darkening blush she had acquired.  "I…oh…this is so embarrassing!  I just wanted to tell you…I mean I wanted you to know…"Mihoshi saw Kiyone sigh a well used sigh over her own blubbering, "I need to say I…"

            Kiyone grit her teeth at her partner's inability to speak.  "Just spit it out Mihoshi!!"  Kiyone gulped when her blue-eyed partner looked her square in the eye. 

            Before the blond could answer, both of the control cubes began flashing angrily.  Kiyone looked down at her and cursed.  Their friend from earlier had returned, and he'd brought friends.  She looked back up at Mihoshi.

            "Can it wait, Mihoshi?  The pirates are back, and we have a job to do."

            Mihoshi blinked a few times, and then nodded.  "Sure thing, Kiyone."  I'll tell her later, she thought as the two ran back into the house.

-----------------------

            Starlight ducked in and out of the clouds, making the training grounds fade in and out of existence as the two warriors dueled.  As the light alternately highlighted either Tenchi Masaki, heir to the thrown of Jurai, and Ryoko Hakubi, dreaded space pirate, the world faded away for the two young combatants until the only thing that existed was the shadowy light of the stars and each other.

            I wonder why she is doing this.  The young man named Tenchi thought as he moved through an aggressive high and low attack pattern called the 'Whipping Vines' technique.  Oh well.  At least I have gotten to see the real Ryoko today.  He grunted as the force of the cyan haired girl's counterattack forced him back a few paces.  She's faster and stronger than me, but I think I have a leg up on skill. 

Tenchi ducked out of the way of Ryoko's attack as the golden-eyed girl clumsily went through the motions of the 'Swaying Branches' attack.  I guess she never needed to use any kind of technique before.  He thought as he moved through the natural counter, 'Rushing to the Bloom'.

            The two combatants circled each other as Tenchi though about how the fight had progressed.  I've seen her fight harder than this, the brown eyed man thought to him self.  When we fought Yuzuha, she was a lot stronger and faster than she has been today.  I wonder if she has been holding back. 

Tenchi eyed the cyan haired woman critically.  Finally Ryoko moved in to attack; initially she was almost faster than he could see, but it seemed as if she slowed right before she neared him.  So I was right!  She is holding back.  After fending off her attack, Tenchi decided to call out the golden-eyed demoness.  It's not a true test of skill if one, or both, of us holds back.  Tenchi stopped moving and let Ryoko circle him, turning only to keep her in his line of vision.

            "Hey Ryoko," the young swordsman called out.

            Ryoko paused her circling after she was addressed.  "Yes, Tenchi?"  She asked, drawling out his name seductively, a smile teasing her lips.

            Tenchi noticed, but would not let him self be distracted.  "Why are you holding back Ryoko?  I know you are stronger than this," the young man said to explain his question.

"Aww, don't you want to play with me any more?"  Ryoko said lazily, her grin never fading from her face.  Her golden eyes sparkled in the moonlight, making them glow.  Tenchi gulped, staring at those beautiful eyes as if in a trance.

 I hope I don't have to fight her to get her to drop her defenses and act like this…Tenchi's brown eyes widened as he reigned in his thoughts.  I…don't have time to think like that.

"It's not that Ryoko," Tenchi began, trying to pick his words carefully.  "I know you are holding back; I think this is a test for you as much as it's a test for me, and neither of us should be taking it easy."  Ryoko sighed, but nodded in agreement.

            Ryoko started floating about half a foot off of the ground.  She looked down for a moment, as if steeling herself.  When next she looked up, the former space pirate's golden eyes held none of the joy and happiness they had earlier; instead they were flat and dead.

            "You ready then, Tenchi?"

            Tenchi nodded and put himself in the 'swaying branches' stance.  Ryoko flew directly at him almost before he could blink.  She flew right into him; when she would have made contact, she just faded away.  Tenchi's brown eyes widened as he realized what had happened.  She moved so fast she left some sort of residual image!  He heard a slight rustle mere feet from him.  Oh Kami Sama!

            Acting quickly, the young swordsman spun himself and arched into the 'Emperor Kneels' just as the cyan haired female swung her red blade at him.  The force of her strike sent him skidding across the clearing, leaving clear indentations where his feet had not left the ground. 

            Oh boy, Tenchi thought to him self.  Am I in trouble now or what…?

            Tenchi waited patiently in the 'Emperors Kneels' trying to listen for his opponent.  His instincts told him to block to his right and he did so.  Without warning Ryoko appeared right next to him, her sword poised to slash through him.  Throwing his blade to the right at the last instant had saved him from another nasty gash.

            Instead of resting Tenchi let his spirit guide him, jumping backward and swinging his sword back to the left.  A second Ryoko, only fractions of a second slower than the first, had appeared on his other side and attacked him.

            The two Ryoko's double teamed the hapless youth.  Realizing he was greatly outmatched now, Tenchi tried to think of a way to even the odds.  There had to be a way for him to match either their speed or their superior numbers.  As Tenchi furiously battled both cyan haired demonesses, his mind churned with thought.  After nearly getting cut a few times, Tenchi decided to concentrate on defending himself and stop thinking.  That was when he felt it.

            As he parried and jumped around the clearing, Tenchi fought only on instinct, his eyes nearly closed as he felt a tendril of power welling in him.  The calmer he got, the more he relied on his intuition instead of his training, the stronger the feeling became.  And Tenchi had his answer.

            The two Ryoko's disappeared at the same time.  Tenchi stopped, settling himself.  He bent his right arm so that the Tenchi-ken's blade was over his right shoulder and held his left hand out slightly elevated from his shoulder.  A millisecond after doing so the Tenchi-ken blocked one energy blade that was swung at him.  Another blade of crimson energy stopped about five inches away from his left hand, seemingly held by nothing but air.  The Ryoko that owned that energy blade looked at Tenchi in shock as a thin blue beam of energy appeared, intersecting her sword's trajectory.  She looked on in further shock as three green lines appeared on the brown-eyed boy's face.

            Both Ryoko's jumped back as light surrounded the boy's left arm.  The energy coalesced into a shining white blade.  The two Ryoko's faded and only one remained in place of them.  She was clearly pouting as she looked at Tenchi.

            "Hey, no fair!"  The golden-eyed space pirate cried.

            "I thought I said there shouldn't be any holding back?"

            Ryoko tapped her foot in annoyance.  "I thought you meant me."

            Tenchi laughed and charged at the space pirate.  With the wings giving him added strength and speed, the fight was now more even than ever.  If Tenchi had the skill his grandfather possessed, then Ryoko would have found herself hard pressed to continue.  Luckily for her, even with the wings Tenchi was still only as good as she was.  Therefore, it would come down to whoever made the first mistake.  Tenchi realized this as well as he let both of the Ryoko's (she had summoned her duplicate again to make things more difficult for Tenchi) circle him. 

            As they fought, Tenchi was reminded of a quote.  He started laughing a bit as he saw its application.

            "What are you laughing about Tenchi?"  Ryoko asked of her opponent.  She was enjoying herself again now that it seemed the match would continue.  It had been so long since she had a true battle, and Ryoko found it refreshing to be able to work out the aggression she had been bottling up.

            "Sun Tzu said: 'Being Unconquerable lies with oneself; Being conquerable lies with the enemy'," Tenchi quoted to her as he moved into 'The Emperor Kneels'.

            Ryoko pulled up short in her last charge, confusion in her eyes.  "And just what does that mean?"

            "Well, it…what the?"  Tenchi cried as he dispelled the Tenchi-ken's blade.  The entire clearing was covered in an early blue light.  Tenchi and Ryoko looked at each other, puzzled.

            "What is this Tenchi?  I didn't think your wings could do this?"

            "They can't, I don't think…"

            The light continued to get brighter and brighter.  Then Tenchi felt he first tingles of the energy in it and gasped.  The three green lines on his forehead glowed brightly as the blue light flashed and all was enveloped in white light.

---------------------

            The blue light encompassing the clearing was visible for miles, and was not lost on the newest guest at the Masaki household.  The bounty hunter Victor Duras saw the blue light and began swearing.  He should have seen this coming; he had been hunting his quarry too long not to know his modis operandia.  Victor began running at a frenzied pace for the clearing.

            Please let me be in time, he thought in a panic as he ran.  I hope those two are as strong as I've heard.  As Victor ran he clipped a small earpiece to his right ear.  He wrapped the microphone around the same ear and pulled it near his mouth.

            "Guardian, initiate code Tango Seven, over," Victor snarled as he drew both of his stun blades.  "Locate the blue box and the ship controlling it."

            After hearing an affirmative beep from his computer, Victor increased his already breakneck speed.  I am counting on you, kid.  Don't let me down.

            Another beep from his computer and Victor paused.  He grimaced and put his blades away.  They're on their own.  I'm gonna make this fucker pay.

            "Guardian, Pick me up and let's get this guy."

            With another beep from his com-unit, and Victor disappeared in a haze of light.  Only to appear back in his ship.  Ssettling into the controls, his ship roared out into space.  He cursed as soon as he past the heliopause.  Throwing his ship into a wide roll, he barely evaded a string of blasts from a small armada of fighters.

            "Shit, shit, shit," he shouted as the hull was wracked by laser fire.  "Dammitall, I didn't think he'd have this many grunts with him."

            As he returned fire, he realized he had one of two choices.  Either find the unit that was attacking the planet, or go after Shinrai.  After a moment's hesitation, he opened a path to the house.  He heard a lot of static from his end.

---------------------

            At the same instant, Washu was just beginning to head back into her lab.  Suddenly, she received a lance of overpowering fear from her link to Ryoko.  She focused her mind out through the link to her cyan haired daughter, but found nothing.  Then Washu felt the shockwaves.  The little scientist ran to a window and looked out to see the shining column of light that she knew instantly to be from a GB H664D type hyper weapon.  After all, she had designed it.  But most people just called it a planet destroyer.  Washu felt along the link again, but got nothing from static; it was as is Ryoko no longer existed.  The red haired scientist began screaming.

            "My baby!  No, please no, not again!"  Washu cried in anguish as she fell to her knees, her form shifting and blurring.  When she hit the ground the green-eyed scientist was in her adult form.  Tears were streaming down her face as she cried out, "Ryoko!  Don't leave me again, Please!"

            Mihoshi and Kiyone came running in after hearing Washu's cries.  Both were stunned when they saw the formerly diminutive scientist in her adult form, sobbing uncontrollably.  Kiyone immediately headed toward Washu, pointing Mihoshi towards the Kitchen.

            "Mihoshi, go get Sasami, then call the Onsen and get Ayeka," The green haired detective said as she knelt over Washu's huddled form.

            "Ok Kiyone."

            Kiyone nodded at her partner before turning her attention completely on the anguished figure before her.  Washu looked up at Kiyone, grief heavy in her eyes, when the blue-eyed detective put a hand on the red haired scientist's shoulder.  Kiyone's heart nearly broke when she saw the pain on her friend's face. 

            "It's going to be fine, Washu."  Washu's eyes went wide and she shrugged off Kiyone's hand.

            "No it's not Kiyone.  Don't you get it?"  The scientist continued between sobs, "I can't hear my daughter anymore."  Washu tapped her skull.  "Up here.  That'll only happen if one of us is dead!"

            Kiyone struggled to find the words to help her friend.  Just then Mihoshi came back with the princesses and a sobbing Ryo-Ohki. 

            "Kiyone?"  The blonde began.

            "Yes Mihoshi?"

            "Wasn't that a planet destroyer?"

            Kiyone looked up at her partner.  "Maybe, or something nearly as strong."

            Mihoshi curled a stray lock of hair around one of her fingers.  "Then, Um, why haven't we blown up yet?"

            Everyone looked up at the blonde detective in shock.  This even pulled Washu out of her grief.  She pulled up her holotop and saw a flashing message icon.  Trembling a bit she pressed the acknowledge button.

            "…Wash….Som…….Shield…Boy…Hol…blast…we…fine…Kats…Hurt…Need…Locat…quickly…"  Victor's voice called out while static broke up the transmission.  Ayeka looked at the red headed scientist, anxiety written all over her face.

            "Washu, what did he say?  That sounded like Victor, but I don't understand what he was trying to tell us".

            "I think he said something about grandfather, sister," Sasami said as she grabbed her sisters hand.  "Ayeka, I'm scared."

            "Hold on a sec, princess, and let me filter out all the background noise," Washu chided.  "There's got to be a lot of energy there to interfere with both Guardian's and my own transmission systems."  Washu typed in a few commands and filtered out the radiation.  Everyone nearly leapt for joy when the message was deciphered.

            "Hey Washu!  There's some sort of massive shield.  It looks like the boy is holding back the blast himself.  They're mostly fine, but Katsuhito got hurt.  We need ye to locate the H664D.  Quickly!"

            Washu started crying again, this time in relief.  Of course!  Tenchi's wings would have closed off the link.  I remember not being able to summon my computer during the Clay incident two years ago.  Must be the same thing.  Washu finally started smiling as she opened up a communication line with Victor.  Everyone else looked on in concern as Washu started typing like mad.

            "Victor, this is Washu, over," she began.  "We got your message."  She turned to everyone else as they huddled around her.

            "Don't worry everyone, between Tenchi, Ryoko, and I we have everything covered."  I hope…

            A few more keystrokes and Washu had the information she wanted.  She turned to Kiyone, "Kiyone, here's the location of the ships.  Go get'em."

            Mihoshi and Kiyone nodded as the teal haired GP used her control cube to summon their ship.  In a flash, they were gone.  A moment later, a red ship flashed into existence above the house and flew off into space.

----------------------

            Far in space a free-floating satellite was pouring massive amounts of energy onto the planet.  On a ship only a thousand kilometers away, a man sat watching his displays in growing awe and mounting anger.  He sat in the captain's chair, his blue hair and green eyes menacing in the light reflected from the monitors.

            The blue-haired man was furious.  There should be no way anything should be able to withstand a blast from the satellite.  What was truly infuriating was a single boy was thwarting him.  So this must be the boy that killed my master, the armored man thought to him self.  I see that he is not to be underestimated.  A monitor next to him began blinking.

            Touching the monitor, the conversation between Victor and Washu was displayed in a text format.  "So she is here," he muttered.  This changes everything.  I can't go up against the bitch or her daughter, let alone the boy, without a plan.  The man slammed his hand down on the armrest of his chair.  Oh well.  I leave this little toy for them to play with.

            Another monitor displayed the battle in space between his escort and two ships. His eyes narrowed when he recognized Victor's ship.  He noted that the other one was a GP cruiser.  Shinrai snorted in amusement.

            "So he thinks to bring the fight to me, eh?"  He chuckled.  "Not today, I'm afraid.

            He looked at a monitor that showed the boy, the cyan haired girl, and a wounded old man.  I'll leave him with a parting message though.  The man laughed to himself as he stood and began shouting orders to his crew.  There will be a time and a place for revenge.  Now is not the time or the place.

---------------------

            Meanwhile Tenchi had been bearing the brunt of multiple laser blasts for nearly ten minutes.  Katsuhito had stumbled toward them just after the initial blast.  Ryoko was still huddled right next to Tenchi, as if being near him would protect her better than standing a few feet away.

            We were just starting to have fun, the cyan haired pirate thought glumly.  It's not fair; it's not fair at all.

            "Hey Tenchi, what's…"Ryoko stopped mid-sentence when a hologram appeared.

            The hologram was of a man dressed in ornate gold and black armor.  His left hand was covered in a gauntlet with three serrated blades on it.  He had a red cloak draped over most of his body.  But his facial features were the most striking think about him.

            Dark blue hair, nearly the color of midnight, fell in long waves off of his head.  His eyes had deep purple irises, but the rest of his eyes glowed with a sickly green light.  His mouth was drawn in an unconscious sneer, marring his otherwise handsome face.  He looked over at everyone and began speaking.

            "Well met boy," the man said in a haughty, menacing voice.  "I am Shinrai Gabriel."  He bowed in mock greeting.

Ryoko glanced at Katsuhito and saw that he was injured.  Then she caught what the man was saying and her blood ran cold.

"I hope you like my present for you boy.  I wonder, how long you can maintain your impressive shield, hmm.  My guess is not that long."  Ryoko saw that Tenchi was indeed beginning to sweat and his knees looked ready to buckle.

            Shinrai spoke again.  "Even if you survive this, make no mistake: I will reclaim my master's possessions as well as my own.  Both the bitch Washu and the creation will be mine again."  Tenchi grit his teeth and tried to push his anger away.  He couldn't afford to lose his calm or the wings would disappear.

            Ryoko was watching Tenchi when she saw his jaw clench and his eyes close.  As Shinrai talked it appeared as if Tenchi was fighting off his anger.  She couldn't tell if he was winning.

            At the same time, the brown-eyed swordsman could feel his control slipping.  Just when he was about to loose it, he felt another pulse of energy.  This pulse was hot, destructive, but it would give him the strength to keep going.  And yet, Tenchi knew that it wasn't good.  He could feel his power starting to grow as his anger mounted.  He closed his eyes and clenched his jaw as he tried to fight it off.

            "And don't worry, boy, I'll let you watch after I take back my masters playthings.  I think all those women there will make an excellent harem, don't you." 

            The young prince of Jurai, and the master of the Wings of the Light Hawk, felt it just before his rage overtook him.  He had just enough time to look over at Ryoko.  He only had control enough to say one thing to her as he felt his rage wash over him.

            "I'm Sorry."

-------------------

            Out in space, Victor grinned as he detected the GP cruiser.  The two were very quickly taking apart the less heavily armed pirates.  He opened a channel to them.

            "Mihoshi, Kiyone.  Can ye read me," he called as the fight continued.

            There was static for a moment before the reply, "We read you Victor," squawked over his speakers.

            "I'm gonna go after the big Bastich in the control ship.  Why don't ye go and take out that giant fargin gun to take the heat of Tenchi." 

            He heard their conformation and nodded.  Turning his comp off, he checked the monitor that was displaying the events on the ground.  Eye widening, he opened up the audio.

            "I'm Sorry."

            Ryoko heard Tenchi's words and saw the pleading in his eyes before they were covered in red.  She backed away in horror as the marks on his face change.  All three marks turned black, and the center mark split in two.  Tenchi starting floating as dark energy sparked around him.

            The shield that was holding off the planet destroyer's beam turned black.  Ryoko and Victor gasped from their respective watching places as a fourth wing of inky blackness sprung into being in front of the young Masaki.  He grasped the blade and it flared briefly before turning into a wide broadsword of shimmering darkness.  Tenchi looked skyward.

            With a grunt and a cry of inarticulate rage, Tenchi threw the fourth wing straight up.  It charged up the beam of energy, dissipating the beam as it did so.

            Out in space, Shinrai ordered his men to back away from the satellite as soon as he saw the shifting in the protective sphere.  I see that just like all Jurai power even the wings, if that is what they are, can be turned to evil.  Maybe my master was on the right track after all.  He gave the order to leave the system and sat down.  We shall continue this later…

            The black energy wing flew up into the Planet destroyer and ripped through the massive machine like it wasn't even there.  The wing continued on its trajectory and destroyed a small moon in Jupiter's orbit. 

Once it was discovered missing, astrologers throughout the earth would begin theorizing why a moon would suddenly explode.

            On the planet, trouble was brewing.  Instead of the wings fading after the threat was past, as they had always done before, the wings remained.  By this time Katsuhito had regained consciousness and was speaking to Ryoko.

            "Now is the true test of Tenchi's spirit," The Shinto priest said as he grimaced in pain.  Ryoko looked over at him shock and worry in her eyes.

            "What do you mean?"

            Katsuhito explained.  "The power of Jurai is just that – Power.  It is neither good nor evil, neither darkness nor light.  It is just power.  Always before has Tenchi drawn on the wings with a calm heart; now he has tapped into the darkness, his anger and rage."  Katsuhito stood slowly.  "And now it is time to see whether he is truly worth of his power."  He began walking over to his grandson.

            Tenchi turned as Katsuhito approached.  A wing appeared and formed into a sword as Tenchi moved to meet his grandfather.  He brought the wing up as if to strike the old man down.  Holding the sword aloft, it appeared as if Tenchi was battling with himself.  Ryoko moved and stood between both men.  Tenchi frowned.

            "Move, Ryoko," the young man said, his voice teeming with rage and hate.  "He deserves to die."

            Ryoko gasped but didn't move.  "Why?"

            "He is the cause of my suffering.  Of your suffering.  If not for him, then I would not have the burdens I do have."

            "So am I a burden then?"  She asked of the entity of rage before her.  She was shocked at his answer.

            "Never, Ryoko.  But if it were not for him, then Ayeka would not care for me as she does and I would not be so conflicted," the young man answered.

            "Conflicted?"

            "The pain I feel every day from forcing myself to ignore…truth tears at my heart, my soul.  And it is his fault, all of it."  Tenchi motioned Ryoko to get out of the way again.  "If not for him then I would not have this accursed power that I neither want nor deserve."

            Ryoko shook her hair, tears pooling up in her eyes.  "But if not for him, Tenchi, then I would still be just a machine and I would never have met you."  She saw a glimmer of light in Tenchi's eyes.  She hoped she was reaching him.  "Please, Tenchi.  Just let it go.  I forgave him for the cave.  Can't you forgive him, since we all came together because of him?"

            Tenchi held the blade aloft for a little bit longer, and then it dissipated.  The aura around him swirled and coalesced until it covered him in its darkness.  He let out a scream of anguish, and the darkness surrounding him roiled off of him like smoke.

            Tenchi fell to his knees, his eyes cast down to the ground.  When he finally looked up, Ryoko was overjoyed to see Tenchi's kind brown eyes looking back up at her.  Crying tears of joy, Ryoko knelt down next to him and hugged him fiercely.  Tenchi clung to her like she was a lifeline.  After a few moments, the rest of the household had also run out to see what had happened.  Tenchi and Ryoko stood.

            Ryoko immediately found herself wrapped in a crushing embrace by a fully mature Washu.

            "Oh Ryoko," Washu sobbed.  "Oh my baby, I thought I'd lost you."  Ryoko blushed when she saw the amused glances of the princesses.  She just hugged her mother back.

            "I was scared too, mom."

            Ayeka and Sasami had run to Katsuhito.  It was clear that he was hurt.  They looked over at Tenchi, then around the clearing.  Both had felt the power of Jurai twist and become evil.  Katsuhito noted the fear in their eyes and immediately set to reassure them.

            "Worry not, sisters," Katsuhito began.  "Tenchi did not do this to me.  I was watching his and Ryoko's battle and was too close when the blue beam coalesced into a destructive force.  Sadly, I was too far from Funaho to draw upon its power."  Both princesses let out sighs of relief.

            "Now help this old man remain standing, please sister.  I am afraid that this ordeal has taken its toll."

            Tenchi had by now walked over to his grandfather. At the same time, Victor, Kiyone, and Mihoshi appeared from out of their respective ships.  They looked on at the scene quietly.  Bowing deeply, he offered his apologies.

            "Please forgive me Grandfather…I was not aware that I could lose control like that.  I apologize for my harsh words.  I am without honor."

            Katsuhito looked at Tenchi while Victor and Ayeka held him upright.  He bowed his head to his grandson.  "No Tenchi, you are not without honor.  There has only been one other person to lose himself in the darkness of Jurai and then find his way back to the path of the light.  And your power is far greater than his." 

            Katsuhito smiled through his pain.  "No Tenchi, you have proven today that you, and you alone, are able to handle the power that Tsunami has given you."

            After Katsuhito had finished speaking, Washu ordered everyone to head back to the house.  As they were walking, Victor pulled Washu aside.

            "Was that what I think it was Washu?"  Victor caught Washu's glare and amended, "eh, I mean Little Washu.  Was that really the power of Jurai…?"

            She nodded.  "Yep, Tenchi has the same power that most Jurains need tree ships to harness."

            "Oh."

            Everyone walked on in silence.

--------------------

[Expand; explain consequences, etc.]

            A few days' later things had settled down.  Everyone, save Katsuhito and Noboyuki (who was at work), was sitting around the table for breakfast.  After the usual small talk, Victor stood up.  Everyone looked at him expectantly.

            "Well everyone, during the battle out in space Shinrai got away just before Tenchi had destroyed the planetary destroyer."  Everyone grimaced a bit and Victor shrugged.  "I have to leave."  There were cries of dismay from everyone.  "I have business to attend to on Jurai, and I have to turn in the pirates."  He looked at both of the princesses.  "I have business at the castle, so if you would like to send any messages home I would be more than glad enough to take them there."  Both Ayeka and Sasami nodded.

            Mihoshi looked distraught.  But why, Victor?"

            "I can't let that madman out on the loose.  Both for what he has done today and what he did in the past, I kina forgive him."  He looked down and said harshly, "I won't forgive'em."

            Tenchi nodded.  "If you think that's best."  The bounty hunter nodded.

            "I'll leave in three hours."

-------------------

            "Victor, I would like to speak with you about something," the first princess of Jurai said as she looked in to the room Victor had been using for the past few days.  She was dressed in her usual pink and purple kimono.

            Victor looked up from where he was packing his duffel.  He motioned the princess to enter the room and he made himself comfortable at the desk in the room.  With everything that had happened, Kiyone had graciously allowed the bounty hunter to use her bedroom while he waited for the repairs to his ship to be completed.  By some unwritten rule, no one had asked questions of why Kiyone would do this, or why she had moved all of her things into Mihoshi's room.

            "Go ahead princess," the one-eyed bounty hunter said after seating himself.  He was vaguely disconcerted when the princess came in and shut the door.  Ayeka walked to the center of the room and turned to face him.

            Ayeka looked the bounty hunter directly in the eye and began, "I would like to know exactly is between you, Mihoshi, and Kiyone."

            Victor's gray eye widened in shock at information Ayeka requested.  She couldn't know, could she?  He thought as his mind frantically searched for something to say.

            "I heard what you said to her after Mihoshi had run out of the Onsen a few days ago."  Victor gulped as beads of sweat appeared on his forehead.  "I did not know exactly what you had told her, but I have since discovered what Hermana means in your language, Victor.  I would like an explanation."

            Shit.  Victor rubbed his eye and looked down.  I'd better come clean on this.  At least she is dealing with me directly and not handling this in front of everyone.

            "All right, princess.  I'll tell ye."

            As Victor began speaking to Ayeka, the pink-eyed princess gasped in astonishment.  "Mihoshi and I are related.  Ye figured that much out.  Let's leave it at there is a good reason for us having different last names, Princess.

            "Are you serious?"  The princess asked incredulously.  Victor nodded.  "Well, I never…this explains some things though.  Now how do you know Kiyone?"

            "I used t'be in the academy with both of them.  The three of us were quite the trio," Victor stated, a faraway look in his eyes.

            "We were all good friends, years ago.  Then I made me a mistake that's ended up costin' me nearly everything I hold dear."

            Ayeka had by this time sat on the edge of the bed.  "And what mistake was this?"

            Victor looked over at her, and Ayeka was shocked to see pain in his gray eye.  This must be something serious if he is getting this worked up.

            "I fell in love," Victor finally said as his voice thickened with his turbulent emotions.  "And for a while, I thought she loved me too."

            Ayeka could only nod her head as Victor spoke.  So much was clearer now that she knew the truth.  "But Kiyone didn't love you back?"  Ayeka asked of the bounty hunter.

            "Yeah.  I reckon she had been since the first year o'Academy.  I knew who she really wanted, but since she didn't seem to want to admit it….me and Kiyone started seeing each other that summer."  Victor laughed harshly.  "I started t' figure it out when she na'er wanted to spend, erg…um…quality time with me, iffin ye catch me drift."  Victor looked at the blush on Ayeka's face. 

"I reckon ye do," Victor said with a smile.  Then his smile slipped.

            "Ye aren't gonna tell anyone, are ye princess Ayeka?"

            Ayeka finally got her blush under control.  She shook her head.  "No I won't Victor.  That is between you three."  Victor sighed in relief.

            "Please, tell me more about these younger days.  I am interested to learn more about my friends, and about you."  Victor nodded.

            The two spoke for nearly an hour as Victor told of his, Mihoshi's, and Kiyone's exploits as he packed up his things.  To keep things light, he regaled the princess with many of the funnier moments the trio had back at the academy.  Ayeka told Victor tales of what had happened with Mihoshi and Kiyone since she had met them. 

            "I remember back in sophomore year, Kiyone and I had a project due in Bio Chemistry.  We were working on the compounds that ye would put in an adhesive.  We had just about got it transferred to a gelatinous form, when Mihoshi walked in."  He smiled.  "As per her habits, she couldna help but trip just as she walked by the lab.  Knocked in a random substance, and boom!"

            Victor chuckled faintly, "After the explosion, we had t'call the professor.  Y'see, Mihoshi had dropped in the one substance that could cause the glue to expand exponentially."  He paused.  "We all ended up fastened to each other for about three hours while we waited for a medical team."  Both he and Ayeka laughed.  Both talked and laughed until it was time for Victor to go.

-----------------------

            I don't want to leave, Victor thought as he prepared to board his ship.  I like these people, and Mihoshi and Kiyone are here.  He sighed.  But I have to warn people about Shinrai.  I'll come back shortly; I have to. 

            Victor waved at everyone as he boarded his ship.  Mihoshi and Kiyone stood next to Sasami and Washu.  The red headed scientist was standing next to Ayeka and a hobbling Katsuhito.  Victor grinned when he noticed Tenchi and Ryoko, with Mayuka in Ryoko's arms, standing a little off from the group.  He grinned and headed inside.

            "Well, Mihoshi, that about wraps that up," Kiyone said to her blonde partner.

            "Oh, he'll be back Kiyone."

            "And how do you know that?"

            Mihoshi turned and started walking back inside with everyone else.  "Because you never abandon family."

            Kiyone stared at the blond for a moment then ran and caught up with her.  Wrapping an arm around her friend's shoulders she tousled the blonde's hair.  She released Mihoshi a moment later and grinned.

            "You make no sense sometimes, partner."  Mihoshi just stood there with her hand on her mouth.  Kiyone smiled.  "Well c'mon, Mihoshi.  Do you want somebody else to get to the karaoke machine first?"  That had the desired effect and Mihoshi ran after her partner, a happy bounce in her step.

            Azaka and Kamidake turned around to face away from the house.

            "It seems today is going to be another beautiful day," The high-pitched Kamidake said.

            Azaka answered in his deep voice, "Yes.  Another beautiful day on planet Earth."

FIN

            Welcome to the post fic notes everyone.  I AM FINALLY DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Huzzah for me, I am finally finished with the Illusions of Life series.  First, if you think anything is OOC, then please refer to either Tenchi Universe or Shin Tenchi for a glimpse of Kiyone's personality.  Also, when you watch the OAV, then only time Ryoko fights with any sort of technique is when Kagato is controlling her.  About time she learned a little discipline.  [Thanks to some arguing from a few people, I have decided to change my stance on whether Ryoko has any technique.  I am still of the opinion that Tenchi has better technique, but I agree, after watching the series over, that Ryoko has to have some sort of skill if Ayeka is still alive and kicking.  Ah well, I am man enough to admit I was wrong.]  As to the way Ayeka reacted, then please remember that the two of them (Ryoko and Ayeka) did sort some things out. 

Also, many, many, many thanks go out to Krin Dreamweaver for his amazing inspiration in naming the techniques that Tenchi and Katsuhito use.  I hope I have done an adequate job carrying on the idea (especially since I did use some of your technique names).  If you object, then email me and tell me to knock it off.  I also need to thank Empress Galaxia; her support has made writing this much easier.  Finally, to my best friend of 16 years and a fellow in writing, Big Joe – Thank you.  His ideas and proofreading are proving invaluable. 

If ye liked this story, go and read K1 Goddess Syndrome, my other fic.  Takes place about a Month after this one.  And stay tuned for a new fic called 'A Startica to Remember' that takes place after K1.  It's gonna take place on Jurai, but it should be good.  I hope ye enjoyed this fic, and drop me a line (by review or email) iffin ye liked it.  I'll keep writing regardless but feedback does indeed help inflate my ego greatly.  As to why it is called "Illusions"?  Well, not everything is as it seems, and may be explained in future works.

Respectfully Yours,

-DREZ