SEEDS OF DARKNESS
Previously: Under the Domes
Themesong: Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears
It really was a beautiful beach. No moonlight, of course, since this was deep space, but there were a lot of stars and that made up for it nicely. The fire crackled softly. The waves lapped at the shore. The Vord Queen was pregnant.
“So, Sextus… or whatever your name is now, anything interesting happen while we were apart?”
He had the good decency to look abashed as he gathered the sobbing Kohina into his arms. “Mikado Mujin… and… Yes. Obviously. I could blame the presence of alcohol and or transference… but we’re both adults and we…”
Reggy (who looked Maori, sans facial tattoos) spoke “Oh, for crying out loud. We fought, we got drunk, we fought some more, then we had sex. Repeat several times. Now… someone help me up, I have to pee.”
Good to put that into perspective. Reggy… er Xotini is often good at that… comes from having only the vaguest idea of what being human really means… despite the fact that she’d been human more often than not. Baseline personas were always stronger than imprints. Imprints were always just you reskinned, as close as possible to your original, just with new (but familiar) experiences. Stack enough lifetimes on top of each other and the new ones made very little impact. But perspective meant very little to Kohina, and Kagetane, already less than thrilled with Gaius’s usurpation of his daughter’s affection, responded as only a psychopathic combat-cyborg would, and attacked the former First Lord of Alera.
Or tried to. He got two steps before Toph encased him in sand. “Don’t.” She said, voice cool, inhuman, and a little wooden (haha. I slay me.). “I’ve had problems with daughters before, and punching out their chosen one, be that boyfriend, girlfriend, or surrogate father, does absolutely nothing to make you seem like the reasonable one. Calm down. Either you’ve lost her forever, which is possible, and no amount of violence is going to get her back, or you have a chance to prove you’re not the monster she thinks you are… in which case, violence is only going to make her think she’s right. Act like an adult, not a warmachine.”
Say what you like about Kagetane, he is a strategic thinker. Batshit insane, but a strategic thinker. Most of my companions are… with a few notable exceptions… but Kagetane had plotted to bring down an entire city state protected by superpowered individuals and advanced technology and nearly pulled it off. He slumped as the sand released him.
A joyous homecoming this wasn’t. And it didn’t get better over the next three weeks. As desperately unhappy as most of us had been apart, we were now feeling like we were camping out on eachothers feet. The Fiji beach, rather than feeling vastly larger than the confines of the Warehouse complex, was feeling cramped. Even with the various groups claiming their own huts, we were all beginning to feel rubbed raw, snapping at each other. The depowering of most of them and the loss of all toys and amusements was wearing on all of us. Something had to break….
And that thing turned out to be Reggy’s water. On the 302nd day of the jump, Reggy gave birth to a pair of bouncing baby boys. Neither looked at all insectile. They did look slightly elfin, with tiny points to their ears, and mocha latte colored skin, but otherwise they seemed like perfectly healthy babies, something that the Command Cube augmented omni-scanner I’d managed to craft out of sand and wood and a couple of bar fridges and magic verified. They were named Gaius Scipio (after Tavi’s alter ego) and Invidius Vord (after Reggy’s first “friend”). We all wisely refrained from commenting… but Invidius? Hope the kid doesn’t grow up to be a supervillain, but I’m not holding my breath. Peering into their hearts and minds got me nothing. They were babies, they barely grokked that they were alive.
Mercifully, before the good will of the births had time to wear off… we were attacked by scavengers. On day 305, a ship loomed over the dome we were in and projected an image of a blue furred muppet who looked like a cross between Grover and Tim Curry onto the dome above us. He demanded our immediate surrender. 57 seconds later, he was begging me not to kill him. Teleportation can be extremely useful at times (No, I couldn’t have used it to explore the domes faster… half of them were buried in the mass and I had nowhere to teleport to outside the domes. The ship… that I could teleport to. I had Line of Sight. Frames of reference are useful.)
Captain Long Jons… yes, that was his name… wasn’t much of a pirate. More of a… well… looter. He’d picked up the wrecks on deep scans and come in for a closer look. We promised not to kill him if he dropped us off on a local Primitive planet.
Finding Earth had been EZPZ once I’d gotten to a dome with a clear view of the stars. The Alpha Centauri system is fairly easy to describe, since it has three stars in a binary plus one distant red dwarf companion configuration. I’d been there a few times, and knew the distances and features by rote. Finding that meant I just had to look for a Main Sequence Yellow Dwarf in the 4.37 light year range from there and I was good to navigate… that, and Captain Long’s ship’s nav comp had it registered as a Jurai Protectorate planet.
My plan was to get there, find the Warehouse, and then make ourselves scarce. No need to get involved in the crazy that was the Masaki household. Fate, or the Banker more like, had other plans. We arrived in High Earth Orbit just in time to be clipped by Mihoshi’s ship as she blipped past us with breaks completely not engaged. She crashed into the lake… we crashed into the next valley over… which, if it previously didn’t have a lake, had one now, as the streams of the area all got rearranged to dump into a single basin instead of winding placidly into a river. It didn’t fill fast, but it flooded the trashed salvager in minutes. Wooo… Rural Japan. Yay.
Everyone survived the crash, though there were a few bumps and bruises to be had. The Captain seemed to take the destruction of his ship in stride… or perhaps he was just scared of all of the lunatics following me around and didn’t want to say. I could have looked, but I’d looked inside him when first we met and he was mostly harmless, the kind of being who’d sell out a stranger, but would have a hard time screwing over even a casual acquaintance. He wasn’t exactly a pillar of the criminal world’s morality, but all things considered, he wasn’t too bad. Plus, he seemed to get along with Dyna which was a little creepy, but cute.
Housing turned out to be not an issue, since, as promised, our luggage… i.e. the contents of the Warehouse… had been delivered to our destination. Just not in the warehouse itself. The House and Apartment building, as well as a garage and many outbuildings and sheds that contained most, but not all of the contents of the Warehouse were laid out on the shoreline of the newly formed lake. The moment we got inside, it started raining, and, in mild fascination, we watched from the deck as the lake filled up. It was, of course, at this point that we discovered that, either through poor craftsmenship or failure to keep the house properly maintained… there were many, many leaks in the roof. Ditto the Apartment building. It wasn’t like it rained in the Warehouse; we’d never needed to check if either building had leakproof roofs.
Come to think of it, the crash of the salvager might have knocked some of the fittings lose as well. Eh, it gave us a project. I threw up a dome of ice over the complex and we went into fix-it mode, getting everything weather patched and dried out (water magic is surprisingly good at drying things off, wouldn’t you know.).
We were just getting things patched when Ryoko showed up, looking around the place as if casing the joint. “What the heck are you people doing here?” she asked, ladylike as always. Ahab promptly drew his weapon and yelled “Space Pirate Ryoko, I, Officer Shiro Kujira of the GXP do hereby arrest you for High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Joy/Yorokobi flicked his ear and floated over to Ryoko’s side “Ignore him. He’s forgetting that the statue of limitations ran out on all your crimes a few weeks ago.”
I said “Statute. With a ‘t’. Hello Ryoko. Welcome to my home. My name is Sada Jomei, daughter of Shigeru Jomei, who I believe you might remember. As to what we’re doing here… we crashed when someone clipped our transport with her GXP cruiser and we crashed over here in this valley. We were on our way to my vacation house,” I gestured around me, “But now it looks like we’re stranded… unless you have a ship we could borrow?”
She glowered at me “You’re here to bother Tenchi, aren’t you?”
I smirked “Oh, sweetie… of course we are. Why else would the daughter of the notorious Jomei Oyabun be on a backwater planet like this.”
She drew… and by drew I mean manifested that energy sword of hers. “Ah ah ah… not in the house. There are children napping.” I leaped backwards out of the front window, VIvian retracting the sliding transparent aluminum doorwall for me. Ryoko followed.
It was a good fight. Her sword was powerful, I’ll give her that… but she was a bit slower than me and much less experienced. Ryoko has a lot of anger, but not much killing intent for all that. 700 years sealed away had, in fact, changed her, making her appreciate life much more, and making her appreciate simple pleasures more. I, on the other hand, had no intention of harming Washu’s daughter and was fighting almost completely defensively, my few attacks designed to push Ryoko further. It was a good fight.
“Get off me!” she demanded as I sat on her insubstantial butt.
“How are you doing this?”
“I’m a fifth Dimensional Imp.”
“Nothing. I was lying to you. Want some saki?”
“Excellent. Elisabeth du Treeface, bring us Saki!”
“What the hell is that?”
“Never seen a Juraian Guardian before?”
“Sure I have, but they’re wooden cylinders… not women made of wood and ice vapor.”
“I shouldn’t show you Tooooooph then.”
“She’s made of wood and life vapor.”
“You’re as crazy as Washu.”
“Washu-chan,” I corrected her. “And that’s no way to speak of your mother.”
“She’s not my- Owww! What’d you do that for?”
“Don’t be an ungrateful child. And you better phase solid again if you want some saki. It’s pretty decent.”
And so it went. We could not but get involved in the hijinks of the Masaki clan, and they could not but get involved in the hijinks of the Jomei Clan. Ayeka’s failed suitor, Seiryo Tennan, ended up becoming my first Suitor… thus settling the “Veteran of some recent conflict” thing. He was handsome, in a boy band way, and clearly suffering from PTSD… Post Tenchi Stress Disorder, because he would not shut up about how his defeat had been the result of cheating.
Tenchi, unfailingly polite, would hike over every so often to bring us carrots, which of course I accepted graciously… and then gave to Ryo-Ohki whenever she came to visit Ziggy. I retaliated in my own passive-aggressive way, by bringing them parsnips… even if it meant having to farm them myself. I’m absolutely certain the Masaki’s had no clue what to do with them. I also supplied a cookbook.
Washu and I got into frequent science-offs, frequently over the most pointless things, such as dishwashers. She invented a machine that could make them spotless in an instant… I invented a process that kept them from being dirty at all. She invented a counter process that cleaned them even before they became dirty. I pointed out that, by default, dishes were clean before they were dirty, and thus she was being silly.
But my favorite member of the family was Sasaki, who kept coming over to play with Mini, Franky, and Kohina… and to see the babies. She was very fond of the babies. Then again, she was pretty fond of everyone. Soul Gazing Washu was, to be honest, a little heartbreaking at times, but looking at Tsunami-Sasami was like gazing into a placid pool of crystalline blue water, only to realize that it was a nuclear breeder reactor. There was so much danger there that lay just below the placid calm. It was a good reminder of just how insanely scary the Chosin were. Of course, being who I am, I couldn’t help poking them in little ways.
“Mmmm… There was a Tsunami in Guam.” I’d say, catching the goddess twitch out of the corner of one eye.
“No… it’s just fun to say Tsunami in Guam.”
“Washu, I have Chosen to defeat you!”
“Sorry, don’t know why I used english.” Wisely, I did not attempt to needle Tokimi… though I did find ways to almost mention her name in conversation.
Briefly, I considered sparing with Tenchi, but he wasn’t really anywhere near my skill level unless he cheated… so instead I spent my sparring time mostly against Yosho, either in combat or one of the many abstract strategy games Juraian or Asian culture had developed. We developed quite a rapport. It was the easy friendship of the elderly (even if neither of us looked our ages).
Which, of course, made what happened all the more… irritating. Thing one to remember about Yosho… he might look 80… but he’s really in the prime of his life, maintained by a Juraian tree ship and a powerful one at that. Thing two to remember is that his parents are still alive. Thing three… those parents are Juraian (mostly)… and thus looking to arrange marriages. Originally, Yosho, who is still technically the heir to the Juraian throne, was to marry his half-sister Ayeka (advantages of being clarketech, inbreeding is much less a problem, one would assume). However, with Ayeka now going after her grand-nephew, that freed up Yosho for another marriage… and the Jomeis were quick to jump on this advantage behind my back.
First thing I knew of it was when I received an invitation to my own wedding. Of course, this resulted in me calling my father to yell at him, and Seiryo challenging Yosho to a duel. Yosho, unwilling to harm the young idiot, still easily won the battle just by defending himself. My father, of course, pushed the blame off onto my grandmother, who was enough like my original father’s mother that I found arguing with her extremely difficult. Still, I got them to, eventually, put off the wedding for a couple of years… 7 to be exact. By that time, I’d be gone and wouldn’t have to worry about it. Right? Right?
Of course, this also earned me the ire of Yosho’s first wife, the GXP Academy Chairwoman, who, of course, despised my father as she is also officer in charge of the Jurai sector of the Galaxy Police. There was simply no way I was going to be worthy of being her sister wife… even if she and Yosho didn’t live together and had been apart for centuries. To make matters even more spectacularly uncomfortable, she brought with her her daughter Minaho (sister of Tenchi’s mother Kiyone) and Tenchi’s 80 year old big sister, Tennyo (who looks almost identical to Kiyone)… and, in what I’m pretty sure isn’t canon and is just an example of the Banker screwing with the timeline and making it even harder to keep all these names straight… seriously, every third character is named X Masaki Jurai or Jurai Masaki or has a name beginning with ‘Mi’ (Mihoshi, Mitoto, Minaho, Mikami, Mikamo, Mikumo, Minagi… Misaki Masaki Jurai… seriously? Seriously? Why????)… what was I saying? Oh… right… And Minaho brought her own daughter… her sister’s namesake… Kiyone Makibi… Mihoshi’s partner from the Tenchi Universe series.
This threw me for a loop. Kiyone Makibi didn’t canonically exist in the primary canon… but in the other canons she did exist in and Tenchi’s mother was named Achika. Thus, everything I thought I knew about future events was cast into serious doubt. In the end, the only recourse was to assume nothing was canon and simply to roll with events as they unfolded. Of course, with Z, the Counteractor, and Tokimi still out there, this wasn’t optimal… and I had no illusions about my ability to combat any of that trio.
Z was a rival to Tenchi in potential to be the Overgod, The Counteractor was in theory powerful enough to fight said Overgod… and Tokimi was just the craziest of the three Chosin and the one who still maintained the most godlike form… as well as oversight of her various Dimensional Administrators (i.e. nigh omnipotent beings of law and order). Still, worrying about dealing with them was like worrying about how to deal with a Deep Impact if you’re a caveman. I’d leave it to Tenchi and company.
Of course, that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun while I was at it, and by and large, that’s what I did. Very little in the plot of Tenchi needed much in the way of fixing, unsurprising given the general lightness of the subject matter, and I really didn’t need to do much besides get sucked into hijinks and capers on a regular basis.
Many of those hijinks revolved around how big of an idiot Seiryo was, or how much Yosho’s daughter & grand daughter wanted to arrest me for reasons… but I figured, what with having a criminal background and a criminal family and fairly larcenous friends, we might as well loot as much as we could of interesting (read as dangerous) and valuable (read as powerful) cultural relics as possible from this obscenely overtech’d setting.
Plus, I had kids to be a very bad influence to.
I’m certain I could have done a better job. Really. But honestly, with a Vord mother and an Aleran father, and the crazy people we all hang out with, it’s astounding Scipio and Invidius turned out as relatively normal as they did. I blame Tenchi and Sasami… and Captain Long. The kids loved him, viewing him as their own living teddy bear… especially after Ziggy kept hiding from them.
As far as I could tell, neither had any Vord genetics, being mostly humanoid, but nothing really to worry about… at least in as much as my scans could detect. Then again, my scans showed that Seiryo had a brain, even though no evidence of it ever manifested.
I’d like to tell you there was a giant vicious battle to cap everything off… some cosmic horror that team SJ had to team up with team Tenchi to defeat… but there really wasn’t. It was all fairly normal… I mean, Kagato was a dick, and Clay was a dick and Z was a dick… and the Counteractor taking over Sasami’s mommy was scary as hell… but everything got sorted out in the end.
The only thing I really interfered with was the Yuzuha arc. Tree of Darkness my ass. The Juraians may be clarketech master-race types, but they apparently know dick all about psychology, because their method of dealing with Yuzuha showed that they hadn’t even bothered to find out why she was the way she was.
Yeah, sure it was like giving therapy to an eldritch abomination… but honestly, she was more a scared and confused brat than anything else. I briefly considered bringing her along, but decided against it… I mean, what would I do with a Juraian Godtree?
I did manage to avoid all weddings of any kind… it wasn’t easy… but I wasn’t taking any chances. I avoided getting married in real life, in video and board games. I even refused to Queen Pawns just in case that was seen as officiating. Any bridal gown that got within 100 paces of me burst into flames… and when one proved to be fireproof (thanks Washu-chan), it got disassembled at the molecular level. Screw loopholes like that. I wasn’t marrying anyone to anyone with anyone until Tenchiland was safely in the rear-view mirror.
Still, even with all the wedding-paranoia and the hijinks and the craziness and the mega grand theft (we also did some Leverage style stuff… we weren’t complete jerks), we eventually ran out the decade and, as usual, threw a big ol party for those we were leaving behind. Reggy & Gaius had opted to stay behind, to give the kids a bit of stability, and with Gaius staying, Kohina insisted on staying too, having grown close to her adopted brothers. With Kohina staying, Kagetane insisted on staying as well… even managing to resist the Imprinting Egg’s programming enough to demand to be allowed to stay… as if I had any intention of stopping him.
We didn’t tell Tenchi-ites what was going on. If they hadn’t figured out I and mine were outsiders, there didn’t seem any reason to tip the Chosin off about it. Tokimi and Washu were both, in their own way, scary as fuck, and I didn’t want either of them knowing about the Warehouse… plus, it had been interesting being one self for an entire jump for a change.
As the Pillars of Time rose out of the sand on the shore of Jomei Lake, and the world ground to a halt around us, I sighed. This had been a nice vacation. Wondering where we’d end up next, and already missing Reggy and the kids, I stepped through into the Warehouse, except I didn’t. Instead, I stepped into a starscape, the stars formed of musical notes, and Kami-Tenchi floated in the vastness and announced “Round Two… Starto.”
The VMoD appeared before me and I groaned. I had a feeling things were going to be taken up a notch… and I now regretted never having watched GXP or War on Geminar. “Shiiit.” I muttered as the CP keys manifested in my hand. Only 16 of them… huh… 800 CP? Well that’s fine… I guess… shit… I’m going to be the “Wedding Nazi” for another decade? If there had been a wall around, I’d have been banging my head against it.
Next: The Divine Farce