Disclaimer: This story is made for fun, not profit, so don't even think of suing me. Also to let you know, the events in this story follow the Manga (thus Minagi and a few other characters from that may make an appearance or two…). Also, by this stories timeline, TM: Daughter of darkness would occur after volume 12 of the manga. Thus, Mayuka was born into the Masaki home.
Cruelty of Fate:
Chapter 01 Ayeka's Delight:
Before the ancient stairway leading down to the Masaki house, two young figures stood together, a young man holding his heart's desire as he took in the night around him. For the first time in his entire life, Tenchi felt an inner peace that he could scarcely explain; yet at the same time he felt a terror welling up even further inside his soul. Smiling at the moon like one would an old friend, the brown haired youth's mind sailed back mere hours before when his heart had finally had enough of his indecisive nature and forced him to take action.
Yet as the brown-haired Masaki basked in his newfound love, a secret set of eyes watched from the confines of the trees, having seen everything. With a bitter smile, the lithe woman regarded the happy couple, feeling great shame for having watched such a tender and personal moment as well as a great loss. Swallowing hard, she looked away, shaking her head as tears battled valiantly to come forth from her eyes. No, she scolded herself, I won't cry. This is how it was meant to be, so there's no point in crying about it. It won't change anything anyway. Right now those two need me to be happy for them, and I can do that… I can do anything. Stopping she wiped her eyes clear quickly with one hand as she focused her attention completely on the two below. After all, I'm Ryoko, the greatest space pirate the universe has ever seen. Why should it bother me if Tenchi's picked someone else…?
As another long day drew to a close, Tenchi Masaki enjoyed one of the few moments of peace he ever had in these last few years. The sun slowly set in the west, and a cool breeze blew across the stairway to the old shrine, where the sought after youth swept the staircase dutifully. Despite how at peace he felt, the young man felt a tension in his chest as he looked down the darkening staircase. It won't be long and I'll have to head home, he noted dully a little nervous. But why does it bother me so much? I love each of the girls, but it's like, like I'm a prisoner in my house. I know everyone is waiting for me to decide who I love, and thus who I'll marry, but why do they have to put so much pressure on me all the time? I mean it wasn't but a few months ago that Mayuka was born. *1 Now all they do is fight over who can take care of her best. Like they all need something to fight about….
Blowing out a steady breath, Tenchi shook his head as he brushed a few delicate petals off the stairs into the woods nearby. He smiled as he did. Those things always remind me of Ayeka, he thought as he grinned. Nice to look at, touch, and smell, so frail and delicate. Shaking his head, the brown-eyed youth felt a pang of guilt for how he felt. "I shouldn't be thinking things like that, it's not right. I can't go picking Ayeka over the others. It would hurt too many…" pausing, the young man looked up from his chore, perplexed by what he had just said, and by a strange light coming from further down the trail.
The evening sun had nearly set, and in the distance something glowed. Leaning his broom against a nearby tree, the puzzled youth watched the light source become closer and closer.
A few moments later, a figure emerged from the darkness, a slender woman with long purple hair, and deep red eyes drifted almost wraithlike up the ancient shrines. In one hand she held an old fashioned lantern, and in the others she held her deep blue and purple trimmed kimono closed delicately. As she drew nearer and nearer, Tenchi felt his heart skip a beat. Ever since he had first met her, the young man had always considered Ryoko the demon of the Masaki shrine. True at times he had admitted that such was no longer the case. However every time the lithe seductress had gotten close to him, the young man felt his skin crawl as if he truly were in the presence of something that so many had always considered to be an unholy monster. She can be a handful at times, but she's no monster, he told himself. She was being used, it wasn't like she actually had a choice in doing those things. She may be violent, but I know Ryoko. She's definitely not evil….
Yet the sight he beheld now was nothing like the busty space pirate had ever manifested in all her seduction attempts. Ayeka Jurai, with her lantern in tow, looked more like an angel than a woman. Her elegant features were radiant with the dim light of the source in her hands. As a gentle breeze covered the land, the young princess seemed to almost be flying up the stairs.
Seeing his gaze upon her, and feeling its intensity, Ayeka blushed, not sure what exactly had brought on this always welcomed attention. "Lord Tenchi?" she asked shyly, doing her best to cover half her face in embarrassment. "Is something the matter?"
In a voice that was more a whisper than his normal tone, Tenchi muttered. "No…" shaking the awe from his mind, he repeated himself a little louder this time. "No, miss Ayeka, nothing's wrong. Is there something I can help you with?"
"Oh," the gentle mannered princess smiled, looking down slowly. "I am glad to see you are well. I was concerned when you had not come home earlier, and thought you might have been hurt. I hurried here as fast as I could, and I am greatly relieved to see you are not harmed. I feared that monster woman might have drug you off somewhere. Why I-" At that instant Ayeka paused, seeing that Tenchi was no longer looking at her, instead his attention seemed to be staring squarely at the moon.
Don't look at her, the young prince told himself, feeling his pulse race being this close to the lovely woman. "I guess I was just lost in the lovely view," he said before realizing how his words could be misinterpreted.
"Yes, Earth does have its fair share of wonderful days and nights." Ayeka smiled turning her attention to the moon, which filled the dark sky with its light brilliance. Feeling a tension in the air, the older of the two Jurain nobles decided to make a kind offer. "Perhaps one day, I will be able to show you the splendor of Planet Jurai. If you like, I'm sure we-"
"Ayeka," Tenchi began trailing off for a moment. "I would like to see Jurai one day. I'd love for Mayuka to be able to see it too."
"Well you are certainly welcome to visit our home at anytime you wish, Lord Tenchi," the red-eyed woman said spinning about as she walked back towards him with her majestic look in her eyes. "If you like I could even arrange for-"
Taking her hands in his, the young man sighed as he looked at the ground. "No," he whispered. "That's not all I want." Swallowing down his breath hard, Tenchi looked up fear and anticipation in his eyes. "When I see it, when I take in the sights and scenes of Jurai, I want to do it with you, Ayeka. I… I… love you." Having finally uttered those words, the brown-haired heir felt the dam that held his heart back break and all of his feelings come pouring out. "More than anything I want to be with you. I've wanted to tell you how much I care for a while now, but… But…"
Squeezing his fingers gently in her palms, the purple-haired princess kept her tears of joy in her eyes, "I know. You did not wish to hurt Ryoko."
Nodding his agreement, the young man wrapped his arms tightly around Ayeka, as he felt strength flow from her into his body. It was a power he was sure he would need in the coming hours, as he prepared to face Ryoko with news that he was sure would destroy the young looking space pirate.
Tenchi and Ayeka slowly walked up to the house, the young man paused causing his new love to halt as well. "Ayeka…" he whimpered a look of fear in his eyes as if his own home could hurt him. "Maybe…"
However the young man could not finish his sentence, as the purple-haired woman placed a hand over his mouth tenderly. "I understand, Lord Tenchi. I would be by your side in any situation, but I understand that this is something you feel in your heart you must do alone, and I shall not stand in your way. I will see you in the morning, good luck to you. " Starting to walk back into the red-roofed home, the royal princess of Jurai paused and looked back over her shoulder. "Please, Lord Tenchi, be gentle with her. I know if it were me you were telling this too, I would be devastated. She may act tough, but she is as weak as the rest of us, if not a little weaker. Please be as gentle as you can."
Nodding his understanding, the brown haired youth watched the blue-kimono-wearing woman glide with ease into his home and gently shut the door behind her. It was that perfect grace that showed she was truly a princess of Jurai, yet it was only a minor reason in the long list of why he loved her. Okay, you can do this, Tenchi; he tried to tell himself, noticing too late that he was already walking towards the door. It filled him with near terror when he realized he was moving, as everything, save his heart, had gone completely numb. With the slow tension of a horror movie, the youngest Masaki reached forward and took the door handle in his hand. A moment later a hiss of the door opening invaded his senses and then came an utter silence. Moving in like a thief in the night, the young lover soon came to the center of the living room where high above the target of this conversation that he so dreaded rested.
To this day, Tenchi Masaki could not tell how long he stood in the darkness of his living room, peering up at the owner of the arms that dangled from high above. He merely watched her slowly breathing as a clock on the far wall ticked away, counting each tense second loudly. Each time the clock ticked, the young man felt like a knife were being lodged in his heart. He would have stayed there all night, had not a sliver of light gleamed in through the window and bounced off a bottle on the floor. Bending down slowly, the terrified youth picked up the small white cylinder, smiling absently at it. Sake… he noted blandly. Ryoko's drunk again. Maybe I should just wait until morning… turning to walk away, the young man was suddenly stopped as he heard a rustling high above before a seductive voice tore the quiet scene to pieces.
"Hello, Tenchi," Ryoko said with a slur, a clear sign she had too much to drink. "What's up?
Peering over his shoulder, the Jurain heir could see a glimmer in the cyan-haired woman's eyes, which made her look almost glazed. "Ryoko I have something important to tell you…" he began.
"Can it wait until morning," she groaned, "I don't feel so good…" making a hard swallowing motion the lithe space pirate appeared to be ready to puke.
"I'm afraid it can't wait, I have to tell you this now," pausing the young man shook his head, feeling even worse as the seconds ticked by. "I… that is Ayeka and me… we… I mean I…."
Tilting her head to a 45-degree angle, the busty woman appeared dazed. "What? Did you propose to Ayeka?"
"Well, no, but I mean I did admit I love her," he said under his breath, forgetting that the drunk woman still possessed unbelievable hearing. It wasn't until he heard a double hiss of matter being dissipated that he realized his mistake. Looking up he expected to see Ryoko ready to strike, or worse yet in tears. However what he received as her reaction was completely shocking.
Standing before the now stunned youth, the golden-eyed woman smiled kindly, a tear trickling slowly down each cheek. Leaning forward she hugged him close, smiling proudly as she did. "Well then congrats Tenchi. I'm glad you found happiness."
"You're not mad?" Tenchi asked cautiously wondering if this was merely the calm before the storm. "I mean, you and Ayeka were always fighting over me and…"
"Oh please," the full figured woman said pushing him away. "You think I was ever in this to win your heart? Tenchi, I like you and all, but you're too boring for a girl like me. I was only doing all this to get my gems back. Now look do what you want and all, but don't forget your ancestor stole those from me, and I want them back. Got it?"
Feeling his world crashing down around him, the brown-eyed man felt both relief and revulsion. Ryoko was using me? No, that can't be right. What about Zero, Washu said she was Ryoko's true feelings? Regarding the woman before him once again, the Masaki youth looked at her skeptically. "So you're not upset? I mean I would have figured you'd really be angry. After all the way Zero acted and I all I…"
"Whoa!" the silvery-haired semi-goddess remarked. "Don't go getting any stupid ideas, that messed up robot was just plain screwy. I used her like I did all you guys, and I've been fooling you all for a while now. Now why don't you go check on your kid, she's been crying all night and it's really pissing me off." Turning the slender woman began to float back to her place in the raptors, "but don't forget you owe me my gems. They're mine, NOT yours or Ayeka's." Landing on her favorite board she glared down at him, "what's mine stays mine, got it, Tenchi?"
Saying nothing more, the young figure gave a slight head nod as he turned from the once energetic space pirate and headed upstairs.
A few seconds later as the sound of shuffling feet faded, Ryoko propped open one eye, and after checking the stair case for anyone to be coming down, allowed the tears she had tried to hide with joy and alcohol to pour freely down her face. At first they flowed quietly, and the lithe beauty found it nearly impossible to draw the breath that would be needed to sob. Yet soon she couldn't help but inhale sharply and loudly. Swallowing in fear she managed to stop her faucet of tears long enough to listen for movement. Realizing that it was not safe, especially after her lie, to keep crying here the woman whose face was puffy red from crying concentrated for a few moments and soon flickered away, heading to a place where she could relax and think in peace.
As the flickering sound of Ryoko's teleportation faded, a small girl stepped out of the kitchen area, a pink cup matching her petite size clenched in her hands. Sasami looked scared, when Ayeka had not returned before she went to sleep, the little girl had suffered terrible nightmares, and soon felt the only way to cure her anxiety, she felt, was to get a glass of water. However mere moments after she had came into the kitchen, she heard Ryoko guzzling down a few bottles of the saki she had kept in the raptors, as a midnight snack, and then Ayeka and Tenchi return. The conversation she had just heard hurt her to hear. Ryoko not love us, I don't believe it, she had told herself, and seeing the lithe woman ball her eyes out had made the little girl feel both very happy for her sister, and terrifyingly sad for her best humanoid friend, Ryoko. Why did she lie to Tenchi? Why not show him that it hurt? I don't get it? Why would Ryoko do that to Tenchi?
Silence. Complete and total silence. That is what the lithe space pirate found in the Onsen as she rested alone in its hot waters. On a normal day she would have found solace here, a place where she could bolster her nerves and prepare for the fun ideas she had for Tenchi that night. Yet tonight was going to be different. Tonight I no longer have Tenchi. I'll never have him. Ever… ever again… sobbing painfully, the naked woman placed her hands over her face, not to hide her tears, but to support her face. It's not fair. Haven't I suffered enough? I spent nearly 4,300 years being beaten and manipulated by Kagato, my whole life torn from me, and then I was imprisoned, IMPRISONED, for a whole 700 years just because my master had a lust for power. I never wanted to do those things, I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I couldn't help it. I was forced to; there was nothing I could do! As if to accept her point, Ryoko splashed the water's surface powerful, creating a miniature wave. Damn her! Damn Ayeka, why did she have to come for Tenchi? She could still have her brother Yosho, sure he's old but why… why Tenchi? Balling her fists up, the golden-eyed woman felt like smashing something with her bare hands, yet each time she was about to vent that anger she saw Tenchi and Ayeka together, and saw how happy they were. From the time they spent in the firewood shed *2, to the almost magical scene in the onsen *3, there seemed to be a powerful, passionate link between their hearts and souls, one that Ryoko envied and hated more than anything else in her life. How much more do I have to suffer before I can be happy? The only thing in my entire life I ever wanted was for Tenchi to love me, and now it's gone, and what do I have to show for it all? Nothing.
"I wouldn't say that," a nasal voice called out behind the crying woman. With a sneer, the silvery-haired woman turned towards its owner.
"Washu…" she hissed, picking up a nearly empty saki bottle. "Get out. I'm not in any mood for your brand of help. I just want to be alone."
"Now come on," the red-haired genius remarked. "Times like this are just what moms are here for. Why don't you just relax and let me see if I can't make it hurt a little less. You might be surprised what your old mom can-" As the little woman took a step forward, a bottle whirled by her head, shattering on the far wall.
"I said leave me alone," Ryoko growled. "I don't need you spying on my thoughts, and I damn well don't need your advice."
Once again Washu stepped forward. "Ryoko! I'm just trying to help you out here. I didn't mean to intrude on your privacy, but-" Just as it had before a bottle of saki, this one full, flew by the emerald-eyed woman's face, narrowly missing cutting her cheek, as it made it's way to the wall behind her.
This time when the naked daughter spoke her voice was no longer in warning, it carried all the pain, and torment that she had been trying to hide, to suppress. Standing to her full height, the golden-eyed woman turned on her mother furiously, as she gathered crimson power in her hand. "I said," she commanded coldly, firing close enough to take a few hairs from Washu's head. "Get out! I don't want, need, or care about your help. Just GO!"
Seeing the fury in her daughter's eyes, and hearing the pain in her voice, as well as the echo of it in her child's soul, the diminutive genius backed off a few steps. All right, Little Ryoko, have it your way. But you'll have to deal with this situation sometime. And when you do, I'll be ready. If you're willing, I'll be there to listen to anything you have to say. You're my daughter, and I love you, so I'll always be there for you.
Just like you were there when Kagato kidnapped me and made me his slave, right mom? The lithe woman said, her words cutting her childlike mom to the core. Get out. I don't want to see you or anyone else the rest of the night. Just leave me alone.
Washu winced as she stepped out the door, she had came to ease Ryoko's pain, having heard each word through their link about Tenchi's choice. However, even the little woman could not have anticipated exactly how much of Ryoko's soul and heart were in this situation.
Moments later, as a quiet hush fell over the onsen once again, the lithe woman huddled her legs up to her chest, sending a quick mental command to the Onsen's light system so that she now sat in complete darkness. Just like long ago, she mused darkly. Alone, soaking wet, with no one, dreading tomorrow. I can see it now, Tenchi and Ayeka will be so happy. They'll laugh and giggle. Just then a tear fell from her eyes, which shocked her, as she had thought her eyes no longer held any tears. Then will come the wedding, and everyone will go to Jurai for the big wedding. I'll be invited, probably even asked to be maid of honor, just as further reminder that I lost to that little princess, Ayeka. They'll take pictures and give me a big one so I can remember that day, as if I'd ever forget. Sighing the nude woman watched the moonlight trickle off the slight waves. There's only one woman who can help me, and it isn't Washu. There's only one way I can ever get out of this madness. I guess... I'll just have to find her….
Next Time: So it seems Ryoko isn't taking the announcement as well as everyone thought, or at least as well as she wants them to think. But that doesn't seem important now, as things pick up in the next chapter. Everyone reacts to the big news, and now we have a trip to plan. Ryoko seeks out her helper and the others prepare for a trip to Planet Jurai!
1: See the end credits of Tenchi Muyo: Daughter of Darkness
2: Tenchi Muyo: OVA episode 3
3: Tenchi Muyo: OVA episode 4