Helmet by Val Shrum

(Commentary:  This fanfic is based off the events of a previous fanfic titled Hiatus, also written by myself.  The events of this story may not make sense if you hadn't read Hiatus, but it's really not needed.  Both fics are loosely based off of Tenchi Universe/Tenchi TV.  All Characters from Tenchi Muyo are property of Pioneer AIC etc.  This is a work of fiction based off of the characters, but in no way do I claim to own any of them.  If you have any comments to email, you can reach me at mihokiyo@galaxypolice.com.  Thanks for reading.)

  The classroom was hi-tech.  Everything at hand for every occasion.  The teacher at the front of the room rambled on about the code of the Galaxy Police.  Something all the students should know by now.  A boy in the back left corner of the classroom tapped a pen against his electronic note-book.  'I don't want to be here.' he thought.  An anxious feeling in his stomach gave him uncomfortable cramps.  He shifted in his seat to look out the window to the large void of space.  His long bangs hung over his deep blue eyes.  He was the spitting image of his mother.  There was no mistake that this boy was going to go places in the academy.  Early exams proved just that.  An older woman entered the classroom.  She had long blond hair and very tanned skin.

   "Sorry to interrupt your class."  She apologized, "I have permission from the Headmaster to pull Mr. Makibi from class today."

  The teacher nodded. "That's fine.  Makibi, take your things and go."

   'Mihoshi... taking me out of class?  This isn't good.'  He thought to himself.  He gathered his things and left the room with her.

  Mihoshi walked with him to the Headmasters room.  It's a simple room with grey carpet and blue furniture, in the spirit of the Galaxy Police that this Academy was dedicated to creating officers for.  Mihoshi sat down on the couch.  The Headmaster sat at his chair with another, older Detective standing next to him.  They signaled for the boy to take a seat.

   "I already have a bad feeling about this." he spoke, "My mother is dead, right?"

   "Ken!  Don't speak such awful things..."  Mihoshi reacted, "We don't know that she's dead."  She seemed on the verge of crying, but held it in.

  The older male officer stepped forward, "The situation is delicate.  You understand what kind of position your mother was in, right?  She was supposed to meet up with a contact about a week ago.  That meeting never took place and our contact is now dead.  We're not even sure if she had any information as there hasn't been any contact with her for about a month."  He looked at 'Ken', "You understand we have no choice but to assume the worst."

   "I've been raised with this all my life.  I think I have a grasp of the Galaxy Police Code Of Conduct.  I may be fifteen, but I was raised by one of your best."  He stated flatly.

   "Detective Makibi is the best.  We didn't realize the intensity of the situation."

   "Yeah, right.  Give me her things and let me go to my room.  I don't need to hear what a wonderful person she was, okay?  I know damn well what kind of person my own mother is."

  Mihoshi placed a hand on Ken's shoulder.  He shrugged her off.  Ken glared up at the older detective until he handed over a moderately sized box to the youth.

   "We're very sorry for your loss.  You are still enrolled with the Academy, unless you change your mind.  This type of career isn't for everyone.  You can take a few days off for bereavement."

  Ken grabbed the box and stormed out of the office.  Mihoshi followed quickly after.

   "Ken!  Don't run away!" Mihoshi whined. "You can't just hold it in... please!"  She grabbed him from behind, giving a hug as tears flowed down her cheeks.

   "Mihoshi... I'm sorry.  I'm not holding it in.  I'm... my mother's son.  I'll be fine, really."

  Mihoshi cried for a bit.  She stammered through tear choked words, "You're right... you're right.  You shouldn't hide your emotions though!  Cry if you feel like it."

   "Right right... I just want to go back to my room for a bit.  To be alone."

  Mihoshi let him go, drying her tears with a napkin.  She'd apparently been crying all day over this.  He waved to her, a sad smile on his face. "I'll survive.  I always have."

  Ken carried the box in both hands to his dormitory wing.  A slightly older female cadet wandered over. "Hey Ken!" she smiled, "We missed you at lunch today."  Her eyes shifted down to the box, a sudden flush of realization washed over her. "... oh Ken, I'm so sorry."

   "Will people just stop apologizing!?  This is a dangerous profession!  Things happen!  I don't need your pity!"  He growled as he picked up his pace down the hall.  The girl was left alone, baffled by his reaction.

  Ken opened the door to his room, slamming it closed and throwing the box onto the bed.  He growled to himself.  A fit of emotions washed over him.  Everything from anger, to regret, and even disbelief.  He sat down next to the box after a long moment, opening it up to find the contents rather vague at best.  An old orange bandana, her GP commissioned gun, a few miscellaneous pictures and a small computer disk.

   "Probably her last wishes."  He commented to himself.

  He slid the disk into the computer.  A prompt came up on the screen.

   'Enter your name:'  Ken placed his hands at the keys. 'Makibi Tenchi'.  A screen popped up with Kiyone's face.

   "If you're seeing this, they probably handed you the box."  She started, "My little Tenchi, all grown up... it's good to see you haven't forgotten certain things.  I'll first start this by saying I love you very much.  I know it doesn't mean much coming from the computer, but you knew this day would come.  You're the best son any mother could ever ask for."  She paused. "This isn't helping at all, is it?  You're not one for dramatics... so I'll get to the point.  On this disk you'll find instructions and a the coordinates to Earth.  I want you to go there and meet your father.  If I'm gone at this point, especially now, I have no way of explaining anything I did or why I did it - only the proof that you exist.  I just want you to meet him and discover what a wonderful person he is.  You've heard the stories.  You know the facts.  You don't even have to abide by my wishes, but I think you're at an age where it's about the right time for this to happen.  Even in my death, I want you to know that you will always have a family.  He will accept you, as he did with me and everyone else who came across that doorstep.  I just, well, you understand.  You don't have to do anything at all, but this time is as good as any.  I love you Tenchi.  I apologize for not living longer to see you fully grown - I admire who you had become.  Goodbye."  - End of Message -

  Ken took the disk out of the computer.  He tossed it back in the box and took out the familiar orange bandana, pulling it loosely on his head.  He grabbed a pillow, hugging it to himself tightly, 'So what, you want me to go to Earth?  It's not fair to them.  He must have a life of his own by now.  The great Masaki Tenchi, Juraian Prince...'  Ken paused in his thought,  'Wait a minute... this guy is responsible for some very important parts in Juraian history.  If he cared for my mother and understood what's going on up here, maybe he can help with this war we're involved in and maybe even bring her back safely!  Yes, of course!'.  He picked up the GP issue gun, '...there's always the possibility that she's dead.  That possibility is stronger than finding her alive.  Don't get your hopes up.  You'll only set yourself up for disappointment.'  He tossed the pillow aside, finding a medium sized backpack. 'I'll do it anyway.  There's more to this than what they're telling me, and this Masaki guy has better connections than I'll ever have.  I just hope he believes me.'  He opened up a drawer, pulling out a few pairs of pants and shirts.  He tossed the gun into the bag along with the disk and the pictures.  He undressed from his academy uniform, finding a pair of dark baggy pants, blue boots, a tight grey shirt and short jacket.  Ken grabbed a pen and scribbled a small note, tossing it onto the bed.  He strapped on the bag and headed for the door without another thought.

   'Okay, so what do I do now?  Steal a spaceship?  You think they'd notice the Yagami missing?' he idly wondered, heading for the docks.  'I still have the unlock code...' he scratched the back of his head as he looked out the window.  'Too risky.'  He glanced over to the left, noticing a loose panel.  He moved over to slide it open.  It was a long metal ventilation shaft.  It went downwards, into the Academy's secondary docking area.  'Screw this.  I'm on a mission.'  He pulled the bag over his shoulder to hug close to him, getting into the small area to slide down and to that secondary bay.  He landed gracefully as he sprung into a sprint-like position down the hall and to the nearest shuttle.  It was a small one compared to the main ships, only big enough really for training missions and flight technique.  His heartbeat caught in his throat, 'Am I really gonna steal a ship from the school?!  Some Galaxy Police officer I'll become!'  He poked at the unlocking mechanism, the door opened with a soft hum.  He stepped in and tossed his bag beside him at the pilot seat.  'C'mon Makibi, you know how to fly this thing.  Just to find a getaway path and we're set.'  His stomach filled with butterflies.  He put the disk into the main computer flight deck.  The ship hummed awake, lights in the cabin brightening just slightly.  He brushed his bangs back, the bandana fitting just barely on his teen aged head.  'I have nothing to lose.'  He thought to himself.  He adjusted the throttle just slightly and took in a deep breath.

   "Hello there!"  Chirped a mechanical voice.

   "AHHH!"  He shrieked.

   "I'm Kenji, your onboard computer." It announced proudly, "Makibi O/S Version 2.0."

  Ken shook his head, "Great... a little gift to keep me company."

   "I see in my programming that we have several destination locations available.  Which do you desire to visit?"

   "... I need you to set a course for Earth.  Can we do that?"  Ken adjusted the seat for his height.

   "Yes sir!"

   "And we need to get those clamps unlocked.  I have to get out of here as fast as possible.  Release them on my signal."

   "Ready whenever you command it."

  Ken smirked.  'Here I go.'  He said quietly, "Release the clamps."   He heard the grind of the metal release the ship from its position in space.  He moved the ship forward slowly.  The alarm klaxons sounded off.  He received warnings on the screen, an audio announcement blared over his communications system, "Alert!  You do not have clearance to leave this port!  Halt!"  "Kenji, shut that up, I can't concentrate."  The communications system had shut off.  He yelled, "Alright, let's rock!  Let's head to Earth!"  He pulls the craft out of the bay, neatly flying fast away from the academy.  He took the speed up to as fast as it could go, setting the coordinates quickly for auto-pilot to take over.  A light flashed on the communications screen.  He looked around, grabbing a pair of leftover goggles and pulled his hair out of his pony tail.

   "Stop this vehicle at once!  This is the Galaxy Police!"  The com screen shouted at him.

  He flipped on a switch, viewing the pursuing officers. "Good day to you, officers.  Don't you have something better to do than to follow a poor kid into space on such a great day like this?"

   "Your humor doesn't amuse us.  You are in a stolen ship, breaking the speed limit, and resisting arrest!  If you don't surrender now, we have no choice but to take your ship down by force."  the GP officer expressed.

  Ken laughed, "Ehhhh?  You're really funny, sir.  I'm sure you're a fine addition to your squad... but you'll be making no arrests today.  I'm ending this communication now.  Catch me, if you can."  The screen went back to normal.  He took the controls.  "Time to do some offensive piloting, Digital Kenji.  You programmed to do that?"

   "I'm programmed to do many things."

   "Good.  Let's head for that asteroid field.  Their ship is big and can't really follow me in.  Let's blast through that, and then pick up the pace back toward Earth.  I need to lose them as fast as possible."

  The computer complied, adjusting the ships shape for better maneuverability.  Ken took control of the vessel, taking it through the field.  The GP pursuers had no choice but to stop.  Ken had a knack for flight.  He was taught ever since he was able to walk how to pilot any craft.  One of the best in his class.  He easily shot through space toward his destination.

  Several hours later, Kenji piped in, "Looks like we're approaching the solar system now.  There are two Galaxy Police cruisers approaching."

   "Che... don't they ever give up?  This is the sixth group we've had to evade."

   "Pardon me for piping in, but you have committed a crime." The computer voiced.

   "And you helped me commit it!  How far out?  How long till I reach Earth?"

   "300 Kilometers."

  The computer beeped again.  "What is it now?" Ken asked.  A familiar face came up on the screen.

   "Please stop at once."  Mihoshi said, "You are in violation of many laws.  This solar system is NOT to be journeyed into!"

  Ken shrieked, turning his chair around.  "Uh... uh..."  He attempted to make his voice deeper, "You can't stop me!  I've come this far!  Just leave me alone!"

   "Mister Criminal!  We can't just ignore your actions, we have no choice but to apprehend you by force!"

  He growled, "Cut communications."  He turned back around. "Follow the coordinates.  I don't know where this Masaki guy lives, only you do."

  The computer piped in, "Yes sir!"

  Mihoshi's ship fired at Ken's shuttle.  It shook from the impact, obviously impending it's movement.

   "Shit!"  He yelped. "We have to land and we have to land NOW.  Let's get down there as fast as possible!"

  The computer whirred, shocking the engine into blasting into the atmosphere of Earth and streaked toward Japan.  Ken flew forward, into the control panel, rendering him unconscious.  The ship skid along the lake and slammed into the nearby forest next to the Masaki shrine.

       *                       *                     *

  A cold compress was fixed to Ken's forehead.  His bandana and jacket folded beside his bed.  A young girl, of maybe thirteen years of age checked his temperature.  He opened his eyes to take notice to the girl.  Long, dark blue hair pulled into a pony tail.  She looked as though she were dressed for school.

   "... who..."  He murmured, sitting up while wincing. "...ow...ow..."

   "Grandpa!  Dad!  He's up!"  She moved away from him.

  Tenchi, now in his mid-thirties stepped into the room first, followed by an aged Nobuyuki and Katsuhito not far behind.  "I see our visitor has awakened." Noticed Katsuhito.

   "We found you in a ship... in the forest.  We were told by the Galaxy Police that a criminal had landed near here.  Are you that criminal?"  Tenchi raised an eyebrow.

   "Don't turn me in!  I swear... this is a noble cause!  I'm not old enough to fly a ship."  He whined.

   "You aren't a space pirate, are you?"  Tenchi asked.

   "No!"  Ken quickly grabbed his items. "I made a mistake coming here, I knew it."  He grabbed his backpack and started for the door.  Every step he winced in pain.

  Tenchi turned to look at Ken, "You could have died in that crash, but you didn't.  Don't you care?"

  Ken balled his fists, "Maybe it would have been better that way!"  He pushed through Nobuyuki and Katsuhito, stumbling through the house to the back exit.  His eyes teared up as he ran toward the upward staircase to the shrine.  His body ached all over.  He tripped, slamming against the concrete incline.  He started to cry, face down where he landed.  The wind picked up causing his body to shiver a little bit as well.  'Might as well face it... they should just call the GP and have them take me away.  What was I thinking?!  What was I going to do?  They already think I'm some mastermind criminal!'

   "Hey kid."  A voice asked, "Are you here to visit Yoshiko?"

  Ken looked up, wiping his eyes.  An older woman with long light blue hair touched his shoulder with her hand.  He sounded very sad when he finally choked out his response, ".....no..."

   "Are you lost?  What's your name?"  She sat on the steps next to him.

   "Lost... yeah.  My name is of no importance."  He sat up, unable to stop crying. "I'm not a criminal!  I just wanted to find some help."

  Tenchi turned the corner, catching up to the two on the steps.  "Oh Ryoko, you stopped him."

  She shrugged, "Don't look at me, he stopped himself."

  Ken wiped his eyes, turning away, "... where's my ship.  I'll just go."

   "Look, obviously something is seriously wrong here..."  Tenchi noted.

  Ken turned and ran toward the forest. "Just leave me alone!"

  Tenchi stood alone, baffled, "What did he say?  He seems really upset."

   "He's from space, huh?  Maybe I should follow him.  He didn't like to be thought of as a criminal, I'll tell you that.  Is Mihoshi still patrolling the area?"  Ryoko asked.

   "Yeah, but she said she'd come back in a few days to see if we heard anything.  She was afraid they were after me again.  I mean, who else comes to Earth?"  Tenchi noted.

   "It's okay.  I'll catch up to him.  I remember the crash site.  He seemed angry at you... he was acting very different when it was just me."

  Tenchi nodded. "Well... that may have been my fault.  We cornered him in the house.  He ran when we questioned him."

   "I'll go after him."  Ryoko phased in, then out into the forest.  She noticed the boy stumbling through the forest.  She kept her distance, watching him from a slightly aerial view.

  He wasn't in good shape.  Ken held a hand to his side and coughed.  He stumbled over to the crashed ship.  "I'm so screwed."  He whined.  He climbed into the ships entrance, going to sit back down the pilot seat.  He went to remove the disk from the main onboard computer.  It was stuck firmly in the ships grasp.

  Ryoko stepped inside the craft, watching from behind.  She made sure not to make any noise.

  Ken growled, "Give it back!  Give it back!  Give it back!" He beat on the machinery with his fists, occasionally kicking hard against the console.  He pulled out the GP blaster. "Give it back!" and started shooting at the top.  He made a few dents, putting the gun back into his bag and punched hard onto it again.  His knuckles slightly bloody from the force.  A faint click inside the panel released the disk.  He pulled it out with his uninjured hand, tossed it in his bag.  He whipped around to notice Ryoko there.

   "You're GP, aren't you?  Why did you steal your own peoples ship?"  Ryoko asked.

   "I... didn't want them to know I left."  He murmured.  "Hey.  You're Ryoko, right?"

  Ryoko took a stance, "I see now.  You damn police officers never give up.  I won't go without a fight."

  He waved his good hand, "You'd kill me in two hits.  I've gotta have a few broken ribs and my hand is messed up.  I recognize you from pictures."

   "Why are you here, then?"

   "... call the GP.  Have them pick me up.  I'm sorry for the trouble I caused your family.  I'll be right here."

   "What's your problem?  You've got a Galaxy Police Gun.  You have the earmarks of decent training, but you won't answer any question directly.  Yet you know oh-so much about us?"

   "Whatever."  He turned back around, to face away from Ryoko.

  She walked over to him, spinning his chair around for him to face her.  She grabbed his shirt with her fists, "Do you want me to get rough?"

   "Mom!  Don't hurt him!" Yoshiko said as she entered the ship. "Dad said you followed him."

   "He's being difficult."

   "Mom..."  She looked at Ken, then back to Ryoko, "Mihoshi just contacted us back.  His name is Makibi Ken.  He didn't come here to hurt anyone."

   "Makibi... why does that name sound familiar?"  Ryoko wondered to herself.

   "Makibi Kiyone."  He said softly.  "She's my mother."

   "Oh...OH!  Wow... you look just like her!"  She let him go.  "What are you doing in Japan, kid?"

   "... just leave me alone."

  Yoshiko signaled to Ryoko to follow her.  They left the ship.  "What's his problem?"  Ryoko asked.

   "...Mihoshi explained it pretty well.  Apparently Detective Kiyone went on a mission and is basically thought of as missing in action.  After about a month, the mission was thought of as failed and they handed him her personal belongings.  He's enrolled at the GP Academy, following in her footsteps... but I guess the loss really got to him.  She doesn't know why he came here.  Maybe he heard about the Masaki household from his mother.  Mihoshi said he doesn't have any other family.  The stolen ship, his injuries... Mom, I'm worried.  From the description, he sounded like a strong, responsible guy.  I think he's just lost."

   "I see..."  She sounded sad.  "He stole a ship just to come all the way to some planet Kiyone  mentioned?"

  Yoshiko shrugged, "Grandpa wants to talk to him.  Dad said he'll call Mihoshi back depending on how he feels.  There's something more to this.  I'll show him the way up to the Shrine.  If anyone can get information out of someone, it's Grandpa Katsuhito."

  Ryoko nodded, heading down the path. "You're a great daughter.  I'll see you at the house for dinner."

   "Of course."  She waved back to Ryoko.  'No other family... and here I am with too much family.  I wonder why he came here?'  Yoshiko turned back to enter the ship again.  He raised his gun at her.

   "Don't come any closer!  I'll shoot!"  He is now on the ground, back up against the wall.  He glared, "I'm not lost!  I found what I'm looking for, and now I'm gonna go home!"

  She smiled, calm even in the face of danger. "And how exactly do you plan on doing that?  In this ship?  You'd be better off flying by flapping your arms."

   "Shut up!  Don't mock me... I can have it fixed in a few days."  He trailed off, gun lowering.  "...maybe after I sleep a bit.  And eat."

   "You're not well.  You're acting real tough, but you're not going to get anywhere with that attitude.  Come with me to the Shrine, I have someone who wants to meet you."

  Ken put the gun in his bag, closing it up and shouldering it as he stiffly stood up.  He passed Yoshiko on the way out and coughed a little.

  She smirked, "You know, you may be full of pride but you're stubborn nature makes you seem a little reckless.  You'll need your wounds taken care of soon."

   "I didn't ask for an opinion from you.  Take me to this person who wants to see me, then I'll be on my way."

  Yoshiko rolled her eyes. "You are so personable.  I bet you're just a home-run hitter with all the girls."

   "What's a home-run?"


  He shrugged.  He followed behind Yoshiko, only lagging slightly behind due to aches and pains.  His eyes closed as he monotonously climbed the stairs.  He stepped onto the top.  His eyes opened to take in the unfamiliar surroundings of the shrine.  She escorted him to the entrance and knocked on the door.

   "Grandpa... I brought him."  She bowed to Ken, "Well, I have to help with dinner.  Nice to meet you."  Yoshiko left his side to head back to the house.

  Ken stood patiently at the door.  Katsuhito opened it after a long moment, observing the youth. "Come in and take a seat."

   "Sorry to be so much trouble."  He sat down at the small table.

  Katsuhito poured a cup of tea for Ken and himself. "So you traveled across the Galaxy to find this shrine.  Did you find what you were looking for?"

  Ken lifted the cup of tea, taking a sip.  He looked up and said shakily, "I think I followed a dream that became a horrible... incorrect reality.  I'm not even a grown man... I thought I could come here and... I don't even know anymore.  I'm not thinking straight at all."

  Katsuhito nodded, taking a sip of his own tea. "You're very fortunate, and very bright according to Mihoshi.  I understand how hard it is to lose someone."

   "She's not dead!"  He almost yelled at the elder. "... I'm sorry.  She's all I have."  He drank his tea.

   "You came here because you heard the stories.  Especially about Tenchi, I'm sure.  All the girls were here because of him.  The question is, what did you want to do once you got here?"

  Ken looked down.  He stated in a low voice, "... I wanted to come here and find help.  Galaxy Police... her own job turning a blind eye to it all.  She doesn't deserve abandonment.  They may have given up, but I haven't!"  He wiped his eyes again.  "I apologize.  I came here with false presumptions.  I thought I'd find a clue about where to go next.  There's a war up there, and I'm not about to sit in my dorm room and wait until they find my mothers' body just to get confirmation that I could have done something sooner."

   "You're a fine, passionate young man.  Kiyone must be proud of you.  Have you done any sword fighting?  You sure have the energy for it."

   "...a little.  When I was younger.  She had me learn about everything she could.  I was taught by a Juraian soldier she had dated once.  Mom was never one for commitment to a relationship, though."

   "I'd like to see what you have been taught, once you heal up.  We should head down to the house for dinner."  Katsuhito stood up.

   "I've already been burden enough for your family.  I'll head back to my ship to await my fate."

   "Please, Ken.  You're no burden.  Don't disappoint me by turning down my offer to stay for dinner.  We'll talk over the situation.  I'm sure there is some answers to your questions here."

  Ken nodded and stood up. "Thank you very much."  He bowed to Katsuhito.  He followed the older man down and out to the main house.  Strangely, the household was very warm and responsive to Ken's appearance at dinner.  He ate quietly, just watching the rest of the family talk among themselves.  'They're so accepting.  Even after the way I had acted.  Is this what it's like to be part of a large family?  Was this how it was like for her?'  He wiped the tears from his eyes, trying not to bring attention to himself.  The family noticed, but continued to talk as if nothing had happened.  Dinner was of average length and then Ken was shown the bathroom to wash up before bed.

  He sat in the tub, staring up at the ceiling. "Family... huh?" He murmured.  He carefully cleaned his wounds.  Once he finished, he dressed in a collection of spare clothes he had brought, heading into the living room once again.  He knocked on a slightly opened door, "Hello?"  Tenchi was sitting in front of a leftover console communications unit.  Mihoshi was on screen.

   "Ken!  It's so good to see you!"  Mihoshi smiled. "You're a very bad boy for what you did.  I couldn't even tell that was you!"

   "Eh... okay."  He dried his hair with the towel around his neck.  He sat next to Tenchi, "Please believe me when I say I'm sorry for worrying you."  He gulped, glancing at Tenchi next to him.

   "He'll be fine, Mihoshi."  Tenchi assured her. "He's a little injured... Grandpa says the best thing is to let him stay a few days.  We'll be good to him.  Yoshiko seems to find him interesting."  He nudged Ken.

  Ken looked confused.  He went back to look at the screen, "I think they're not letting me go anywhere until I get better.  I'm sure the Headmaster will understand.  I was two years ahead of my class anyway.  I wouldn't be able to actually be a full out Police Officer once I graduated because of my age... you understand, right?"

   "Oh Ken, the Masaki household is a great place to be!  I remember all the time I spent there.  Let me know when you want to come back, I'll fly back there for you."  She smiled.

   'Mihoshi sure has matured.  She really cares for Kiyone's son too.  I wonder why I was never told about him?  She even came to the wedding and she didn't even mention him!  Are we even sure this is her son?  Sure, Mihoshi thinks so... but something seems really off about the whole situation.'  Tenchi observed Ken as he spoke to Mihoshi.

   "Thank you, Mihoshi.  And... if anything comes up about Mom, please let me know... okay?"

   "... Ken..."  She frowned, "You know that case is closed.  You know you will be the first to know if anything comes up, but... you know... please don't fool yourself into thinking she's still alive.  It's not healthy."

   "I know."  He nodded, almost emotionless to Mihoshi. "Goodbye Mihoshi, for now."

   "Byeee!  Bye Tenchi!  Tell everyone I miss them!"  The screen blipped off.

  Ken closed his eyes and gathered his thoughts.  Tenchi ahemed, breaking the silence.

   "Well... Grandpa spoke to me about you, and he wants you to stay a few days."

   "Fine by me."

   "... so... uh... we have a guest room upstairs.  I can show you the way if you'd like?"

   "No, I'm fine thanks.  I think I want to walk around a little bit first."  Ken said, standing up and walking out of the room.

  Tenchi waited until the door closed, turning toward the communications unit and pressed a few more buttons.  A gentle *bleep* noise came from the computer, and Washuu's face appeared on the screen.

   "This must be something big if I get a call from THIS number."

   "Nice to see you too, Miss Washuu.  Something very interesting crashed in my backyard."

   "Oooooohooo... and what is it this time?"

   "Apparently, Kiyone's son."

   "You've got to be kidding me.  She has a child?"

   "That's what I was thinking.  Maybe it's because I've been through so much.  Grandpa seems to like him... same with Yoshiko and Ryoko.  His name is Makibi Ken.  It's not that I don't trust something coming from Mihoshi or his word... I've just got a weird feeling about this..."

   "So what, you want me to confirm he's Kiyone's, right?  Got a sample of any sort?"

   "He got hurt in the crash.  I managed to grab a rag with some blood, will that do?"

   "Aaaah yes.  You're such a good boy, Tenchi."  Washuu smiled. "Now, put it over in that machine and press the bottom button.  I'll be able to receive the data to here.  It'll take a few hours."

  Tenchi nodded, following Washuu's instructions. "Oh... on the subject.  Kiyone's apparently missing in action.  Have you heard anything about a war brewing up there?"

   "A war?  Well, now that you mention it... everyone seems a bit more tense than usual.  I heard through my sources that the Galaxy Police have been investigating an upstart group on a remote planet... but I hadn't heard of any MIA's until now.  I'll investigate deeper, if you like."

   "Yes.  I think I'd like to know what's going on.  I may not have seen her in a few years, but Kiyone was always a good friend... she wouldn't just hide things really.  If anything, for his sake, we need to find out what's going on."

   "Anything for you, Lord Tenchi.  How's everyone doing?"

   "Couldn't be better.  Though, it was getting a little boring.  It's nice to see I will always have excitement in my life."  He laughed.

   "I'll start testing the sample now.  I'll let you know in the morning what I come up with.  Goodnight, Lord Tenchi."

   "Goodnight Miss Washuu."  Tenchi turned off the screen.  He headed out of the small office space to his room.

  Ken walked the halls, unaware of the conversation between Tenchi and Washuu.  He paced around, lost in thought, 'Did I make a mistake coming here?  I'm too tense... too anxious.  I want to go out there and fight.'  He bumped into Yoshiko. "Aaa!"  He held his tender side.

   "Hey, are you lost?"  Yoshiko asked.

   "Why does everyone keep asking me that?"

   "Because you look like you don't belong.  The key to NOT looking lost is BELONGING somewhere."

   "Uhm, whatever.  I technically don't belong anywhere.  Does that make me eternally lost?"  Ken commented.

   "Only if you think you don't belong anywhere.  You look awful.  You need to get some sleep and heal up.  You want to save your mother, right?"

   "... I'm starting to wonder if I should even bother.  She's the best...  if she didn't return, she's probably dead."

   "Don't think about it."

   "I can't STOP thinking about it."

   "Well, then you need to try.  The more you think about it, the more doubts you'll have.  Good or bad, you came here for a reason, but you need to meditate all the negativity and doubts out of your mind.  Lemme show you to your room, and then I want you to just let yourself go.  I want you to sleep."  Yoshiko grabbed his hand, pulling him down the hall and into the guest room.

   "H... hey!  Stop pushing me around!"  He pulled his hand away.  She pointed over to a small bed for him.  "Let myself go... to what?  I'm on a mission."

   "You're on no mission unless you get some sleep.  Lay down!"  She commanded.

  Ken shrugged, "I'm only doing this because I can't fight back, you know."  He laid down as she told him to.  She turned out the light, and he let out a light laugh.

  Yoshiko biiidahed at him, closing the door.  Secretly, she felt a little better about his attitude.   The nighttime hour took it's toll as the household fell asleep.

         *                         *                         *
    Sleep was an understatement.  Ken slept for nearly 3 days straight.  Each person in the household kept watch on him.  His rest was borderline comatose.  Concern for his well being increased greatly as the hours turned into days.  He awoke early morning on the third day.  He quickly dressed, leaving the house to head back into the forest.

  Yoshiko opened up the door to the guest room.  She said quietly, "Time for the usual check up..."  She blinked, "He's... gone."  She stumbled out of the room, running to her parents room.  "He's gone!  Mom!  Dad!'  She knocked on their door a bit over excited.

  Tenchi answered the door.  He rubbed his eyes and looked down at his daughter. "Yoshiko... what's wrong?"

   "It's *only* Five AM..." Ryoko yawned, wrapping her arms around Tenchi from behind and resting her head on his shoulder. "What is it sweetie?"

   "He's... GONE!"  She whined. "Ken! Gone!"

  Tenchi looked at Ryoko. "Uh... oh.  Okay."  Ryoko snugged him and pulled away to go find some clothes.  "He couldn't have gotten far, right?"

  Ryoko dressed into some loose clothes. "Yoshiko, let me and your father get dressed.  We'll look for him.  You have to get ready for school."

   "Mom!  I don't want to go to school, I want to find Ken!"

   "You *have* to go to school, we'll find Ken.  You trust that me and your father can find him, right?"

   "But Mo~m.." Yoshiko whined.

   "Yoshiko, sweetie... Please get ready for school.  We'll find him."  She urged Yoshiko back down the hall.  You can tell the teen aged girl was annoyed, but did what her mother told her.

  Ryoko went back into the room. "I think she likes him."

  Tenchi laughed, now mostly dressed. "A daughter of yours?  Nooo... not at all."

   "Tenchi~!  She's nothing like me." Ryoko pouted.  "He IS a little strange though.  What kind of person sleeps for three days and then decides to take a walk on an unknown planet?"

   "I don't know.  That reminds me, I have to get his results from Washuu."

   "His results?"  Ryoko blinked, "Are you serious?"

   "Kiyone's son or not... I'd like to know the truth.  I mean, think about it."  He stood up, going over to sit next to Ryoko. "We got married about fourteen years ago.  Yoshiko is Thirteen... and he's got to be sixteen or so.  She attended our wedding, told us about any promotions and incidents surrounding Mihoshi, but seemed to leave out facts like, I don't know, HAVING A SON?"

  Ryoko took Tenchi's hand, "Look... why are you angry?  Kiyone's probably had enough on her mind.  Her life may have been part of ours at some point, but we all grew distant over the years.  However he came about, he cared about her a lot.  It's gotta be hard, losing a parent like that."

   "Well..."  Tenchi thought about his own mother, "You're right.  I'm just paranoid.  I was just afraid that maybe someone was using Kiyone's name to work their way into our hearts to somehow hurt us."  He shook his head, "I feel bad about doing it, but it was all about protecting my family."

  Ryoko nodded. "C'mon." She leaned over, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Let's go find him before Yoshiko decides to ditch school today."

   "Like I said, she's just like YOU."  He laughed.

  The two left the bedroom.  "Okay," Ryoko started. "Let's head for the crash site.  We can cover the surrounding area with both of us together."

   "Right.  Let's go.  Dad, make sure Yoshiko heads out to school."  Tenchi said to Nobuyuki.

  Tenchi and Ryoko left the Masaki house.  They traveled into the forest, covering the twenty feet between them,  Ryoko from above and Tenchi by foot.  She signaled over to the ship, slightly ahead of Tenchi as she landed back down.  She noticed the boy idly working on the engine.  Goggles over his eyes as he used some tools from his awkward position.

   "Tenchi!" Ryoko signaled over to her husband.

   "What?"  Ken yelled back.

   "Tenchi!"  Ryoko yelled again, Tenchi now noticing her position and heading toward the crash site.

   "Stop calling me!  I'm right here."  Ken yelled, continually working on the large ship.

  Ryoko looked at Ken, then Tenchi.  She snuck up behind Ken, "Hey." she poked him in the arm.

    "Dammit, Mom---"  Ken turned to suddenly face Ryoko.  He looked really confused for a very long moment, then turned away from her eyes. "... I'm busy."

    "Looks like you were right, eh Ryoko?"  Tenchi commented.  Ken flinched, going back to hammering away at the damaged metal.

  Ryoko seemed stunned.  Ken's reaction to her and calling her 'Mom'.  She floated back down to where Tenchi was. "...yeah, we found him."

   "Something wrong?  You look spooked."  Tenchi frowned.

   "I'm okay.  You go ahead back to the house.  You have to head off to work soon.  I'll make sure he comes back with me."  She nudged Tenchi.

   "Okay, alright.  I'll see you tonight."  He leaned over and kissed Ryoko lightly.  Tenchi headed back toward the house.

  Ryoko floated back up to sit in a tree near the spaceship, watching Ken work.  'He's very determined.  He wasn't able to move two days ago.'

   "Hey."  He spoke up, "Sorry about that."  He stopped, using the pulley to lower himself back down to the ground.

  Ryoko teleported back down, "You had us worried.  Yoshiko wasn't going to go to school, she woke us up early because you were missing."

  Ken pulled off his jacket, stretching tiredly.  He wiped his forehead down with a towel.  "It's humid here.  Do you like this planet?"

   "It's boring, sometimes.  I have to escape every now and again.  Yoshiko keeps me busy.  How do you like it here so far?"

   "I've lived on ships and stations all my life... I don't know what it's like to be so close to the surface.  I don't think my body is really handling this all that well."  He pointed a wrench at the ship, "I gotta get this back in working order.  It's the least I could do after trashing it."

   "Hey, don't be so hard on yourself.  Too bad it wasn't a Juraian ship, those things just grow back."

   "Really?  I heard about that.  I don't think I'd like that... I'd feel pretty useless as a mechanic."

   "You've got a knack for it."

   "Must be my talent."  He sat down on the grass, leaning back against the ship. "You're 'The' Ryoko, huh?  I've heard so much.  Don't worry, nothing bad.  You're a worthy adversary."

   "I'm a different woman now."

  Ken nodded lightly, "Aaaaaah..."  He stretched. "I want to get to the bottom of this case the GP decided to cover up.  Dead... Alive... I don't care.  I want closure.  I'll fly into the fire and find out what the hell was so damned overpowering to even the GP's best.  I've got nothing to lose."

   "Except yourself."  Ryoko added. "You know, just because you don't think people are looking out for you, doesn't mean they aren't.  Mihoshi has been keeping an eye on you ever since you landed here.  Yoshiko has been losing sleep to make sure you're fine.  You aren't alone, kid.  Not now when you have us."

   "You're too nice, Ryoko.  I can't belong to something I don't feel I belong to."

   "You hungry?"  She asked.

   "Uhm... yeah.  I haven't eaten yet.  I didn't think about it, really."  He looked down, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "I just wanted to get this fixed so I could leave you folks alone."

    "Right.  Let's go, breakfast should be ready."  Ryoko stood up and started walking back to the house.

  Ken grabbed his jacket and followed behind her.  He walked in silence.  His hands slid into his pockets, lost in thought. 'Dammit... lost my concentration.  She was calling to Tenchi and I responded!  Not once, not twice, but THREE times.  I was so caught up in the ship... I hope she didn't notice.'  He sighed to himself.  He followed Ryoko into the house and sat down at the already set table.

  Katsuhito stepped into that room, "Well well, our visitor awakes.  Been busy, I see?"

   "Yeah.  I had to get in some work on the ship."  He commented.

   "You know it'll never fly again."  Katsuhito commented, "Your efforts, although noble, are rather fruitless.  The power processor was damaged in the crash.  We don't have parts like that on this planet to fix such a ship."

   "Che... are you trying to crush my spirit?"  He commented, taking a bite of his breakfast.

   "Not at all.  I just would rather your energy be spent elsewhere.  We'll arrange for your trip home, in due time.  After breakfast I'd like spar with you."

   "I'm a cadet and a mechanic... I have nothing on you.  Please don't humiliate me."

  Katsuhito laughed, "It's not my intention.  Please, it'll be fun.  I'd like to see what they're teaching on Jurai nowadays.  I'll see you up in the woods behind the shrine after breakfast."  He left the house.

  Ken sighed, "Man... this place is weird.  So much for getting out of that."

  Ryoko laughed, "Get used to it."

        *                     *                    *

  Katsuhito stood calmly in the training area.  A few posts in the ground that obviously haven't been maintained over the years.  Ken walked into the area, a sense of familiarity rushed over him.

   "Mn... it's like I've been here before."  Ken commented.

  Katsuhito nodded.  Not that he agreed with Ken, he just understood Ken's nostalgia.  He tossed a bokken to the younger man. "Now, get in position and show me what you can do."

  Ken took a deep breath and adjusted his sword fighting stance.  He started by going through a familiar technique, a few sword strokes and slashes.  He closed his eyes, thinking back to the lessons of his youth...

  /// 'I remember this as if it were yesterday.  The fresh air, the feeling of the wind and energy around me.  This planet isn't much different from Jurai, is it?  No... the energy is strange though.'

   "Concentrate!"  Commanded a young Juraian soldier.  He stood before an 8 year old Ken.  "You can't learn anything if you can't focus on your position!"

   "Focus, Concentrate, Strike Harder... Move Faster..." Ken whined, "I'm doing my best!"  He growled, going to strike at the older fellow.

  'His name was... what was it?  I can't remember.  I guess I liked him.  My mother seemed to like him a lot.  I sometimes think she dated certain types of guys to give me better life experience.  Not that I minded... I got to play with swords!  He had to be several years younger than Mom.  He was a noble man, probably one of the few people that made a positive influence on my life.'

   "You're not focusing enough!" He knocked over young Ken quite easily.

  Ken rolled, hopping back into a fighters stance and continued to attack the other man.  He was ahead of his time.  Most children his age wouldn't have this type of training.  Kiyone urged the advancement in his training, despite what her 'boyfriend' advised.  Ken handled the change rather easily.  The grass in the open field near the Juraian royal palace whipped around due to the cool breeze that flowed through it's reeds.  Ken was quick, probably because of his age, knocking over the other fellow after a few crucial hits.

   "That's it!  You've got the spirit!"  He ruffled young Ken's hair after standing back up.  The boy smiled, he knew he was all that.  A few soldiers beckoned his trainer away.

  Ken grinned, 'My chance!'

   'I ran.  I ran through the field and over the hill.  My hair was shorter... a lot shorter.  I was told it got in my eyes too much.  Mom liked it better that way.  I was younger back then, didn't have a choice.  I remember running so fast that I gasped for air.  I fell down on the ground, hidden because of the height of the long grass.  I remember just... staring up into the sky and feeling like such a small person in such a large galaxy... in such a large place.'

  Ken closed his eyes, dozing slightly on the ground.

   "Who are you?" asked girls voice.

   "Uh..."  He opened his eyes. "I'm Tenchi!  Who're you?"

   "I'm Momiji.  You know this field is owned by the Juraian royal family."

   "Ah.. yeah."  He sat up, rubbing his elbows. "I was training with a soldier but I ran away."

   "Why'd you do that?"  She asked, sitting next to Ken. "You don't want to train?"

  Ken shook his head, "Naw... I like it!  He goes too slow... I got bored."

   "Maybe you should meet my brother!  He's good at that."

   "Okay!"  Ken smiled.  Momiji stood up and lead the way.  The two kids ran through the field over to a smaller area.  Another boy was there, practicing his daily routine with a sword.

   "Older Brother!  Show my friend what you can do."  She giggled.  She couldn't be more than a year older than Ken.

   "Momiji~!  I can't just 'do that' for every person you bring over."  He looked annoyed.  He seemed about the same age as Momiji, or maybe a little older.  He moved out of his fighting stance, "So... what's your name?"

   "Ken!"  He smiled.

  Momiji blinked, "Hey!  You told me your name was Tenchi!"  She looked a little offended.

   "It is!  I'm Tenchi!  But everyone calls me Ken.  I don't know why... I like Tenchi better."  He scratched the back of his head.

   "I see.  Want to duel?"  The other boy smiled.  "She said you wanted to see that."

  Ken and the other boy took opposing sides.  The boys dueled it out pretty quickly.  Ken didn't hold back.  His techniques, although not as refined as the older Juraian boys', were more powerful and borderline deadly.  An older girl wandered onto the scene.  She had long blue hair, tied on two sides into long pony tails.  She wore a delicate and traditional Juraian dress.

   "Boys... Boys!  Stop!"  She said, wandering over to end the fight.

   "Tenchi!  Stop!" Momiji commanded, "You won!"

  Ken stopped and glanced at the other woman running toward the group.  He looked very scared at being in trouble.  He knew who wore what, and that outfit was only worn by the Juraian royal family. "I uh... I... he asked to duel me... I'm so sorry!"  He dropped his wooden sword, stumbling away.

   "Tenchi!  Wait!" Momiji said.

   "Tenchi?" The woman with long blue hair blinked.  She tilted her head and watched the boy run off.  She stopped Momiji from chasing after him. "Where did that boy come from?"

   "I found him in the field sleeping.  Aunt Sasami, he actually beat Shirou!  No one in Older Brother's age group has been able to beat him."  Momiji seemed excited.

  Sasami smiled, "Well, it's time to go in for lunch.  Maybe your friend will visit again."

  Shirou seemed annoyed. "I let him win."  He obviously tried to protect his damaged ego.

  In the distance, Ken ran.  He ran away from getting in further trouble.  He had that feeling in his stomach that he did something completely wrong.  In the distance a voice announced, "Ken?!  KEN!  Where are you?!"

   "... Mom?  I'm over here!"  He ran toward the voice, stumbling over the hill to see Kiyone in the distance. "Mom!"  He ran over to her and hugged tightly around her waist.

  Kiyone hugged her son, glaring at her boyfriend and his trainer, "How dare you lose him!?  I don't care what the circumstance was, he's a kid!  He could have gotten hurt!  I should have never trusted you to take care of him."

   "Kiyone... you know it wasn't like that!  You know I care for him as if he were my own son.  Don't get angry, please."

   "... we'll talk about it later."  She said, running a hand through Ken's hair lightly.  He remembered the feeling that he did something wrong.  He always felt that their separation was his fault.  He even tried to talk her out of it, but his mother was a very determined person who always kept things like this to herself. ///

  Ken snapped back into reality.  He was about to face Katsuhito.  He took a stance like that older Juraian boy, and then deflected any attack Katsuhito threw at him.  He was rusty and a little stiff in his movements but was able to pass Katsuhito's 'test'.  Ryoko watched from the shadows of a tree.

   'He's trained more than he let us on.  Where the hell did he come from?'  Ryoko commented to herself.

  Katsuhito smiled, "Very good.  You're better than you anticipated."

   "I haven't touched a sword in about six years.  I guess I remember more than I thought I would."  He hopped off of the post, walking over to Katsuhito. "Here, this is yours."   He handed the bokken back to him.  "I'm no swordsman."

  Katsuhito nodded, "You certainly don't carry yourself like one.  I like that.  You'd be an asset to Jurai or the Galaxy Police."

   "Sure, yeah, if I wasn't a criminal." He seemed annoyed.

   "You're not a criminal.  You're more of a rebel who has a lot of understanding friends."  Katsuhito responded, "Mihoshi did say you're actions aren't held against you in the case of the stolen ship."

  Ken waved a hand, "I think I'd rather be persecuted.  At least then I would... I don't know, at least get reprimanded for my actions."

   "You want to get caught?"  Ryoko spoke up, teleporting down to the area near Ken and Katsuhito.

   "I guess."  He shrugged.  "I want to shower... I've been working out all morning.  Can I head back to the house now?"

   "Sure... be our guest."  Ryoko nodded.  Ken turned and walked away to the house.

  Ryoko and Katsuhito watched in silence.  She said, "So.. what is it about him?  What do you see, 'Grandpa'?"

   "Hrm... he's only a boy but he knows a lot more about who he is than he'll ever tell us.  He may have said he was trained by a Juraian soldier... but some of that was pure instinct."

   "Is he dangerous?"  Ryoko seemed concerned.

   "Far from it.  He's got a strong sense of self and knowledge of how things are.  He is just how he presents himself.  If Kiyone is alive, he'll be the one to find her, but he may need some help."

   "Saving the Galaxy isn't easy, huh?"  Ryoko stretched.

   "Not something a single boy can do alone."  Katsuhito commented.

   "That's something I know all too well."

         *                       *                      *

  Ken showered again.  The day ended up being rather average.  Idle television watching, some cleaning around the house.  Ken helped out, where he could.  Less talk, mostly work.  He kept to himself after that mornings training session.  Eventually Yoshiko came home from school, and Tenchi arrived home from work.  Dinner was made and eaten.  As mentioned, a pretty average day.  He went back into the guest room and sat down.  He leaned back against the wall and looked through the few personal items he had taken from his dorm room.

  Tenchi knocked on the door to the room, "Hey..."

  Ken straightened up, hiding the pictures back in his bag. "... hey..."

   "I have someone who wants to speak to you downstairs on the communicator.  Got a minute?"

   "Sure thing."  Ken stood and stretched, 'Probably Mihoshi again.'

  Tenchi went back downstairs and into that room, Ken followed behind.  He sat down next to Tenchi again.  The screen blipped on and Washuu appeared on the screen.

  Ken had a look on his face like he had been caught.  Washuu piped in first.

   "Ah, so this is Kiyone's son?"  She commented, "So, your name is Ken?"  She let out a light hmm, crossing her arms, "I can see the resemblance of her in you."

   "Nice to meet you."  He said shyly.

   "Miss Washuu has been looking into this case with your mother." Tenchi spoke up, "You've found some interesting information, right?"

   "That's right, Lord Tenchi!  Well, I was checking out some information with my contacts within the Galaxy Police.  I also was forwarded this message."

  An image in the corner of the screen appears.  It's very garbled and has lots of interference.  Kiyone's face appeared within the interference.  She looked injured and very pained, "*shhhhk* stupid *shhkkkkk* stay *skkkkkkk* still.  This is Makibi Kiyone.  I repeat, this is Makibi Kiyone.  *skkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk* ese..  Please, I repeat, Please make sure this message reaches GPHQ.  *skkkkkkkkkk*  on the planet.  We have to act fast or else *skkkkkkkkkkkkkk*.  I may not make it through the week, they've been hunting us *skkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk*.  There are too many of them.  Already half of my unit is *skkkkkkkkkkkk*.  There are open spots in their defense shield.  The next group would need to go through that *skkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk*.  Fighting to even keep alive.  Coordinates of that spot are encoded in this message.  Please stop them before it's too *skkkkkkkkkkkkkkk*"   The screen blipped away.

   "W... Washuu!  Can you get those coordinates?  I'll go there!"

   "Of course I can.  However, you know she wouldn't have wanted you to go there.  That was only to be seen by the Galaxy Police."  Washuu commented.

   "Dammit, you KNOW that GP has given up!  They're not going to bother with it.  They don't even care!"  He stood up, slamming his hands down onto the console.

   "Hey... Hey... calm down."  Tenchi asked, putting a hand on Ken's shoulder. "Sit down.  We'll figure out something."

  Washuu watched the two, then asked, "Lord Tenchi, can I have a word with Ken *alone* for a moment?  What I want to say to him..."

   "Right.  I'll be out in the living room.  Thanks for calling back, Miss Washuu."  Tenchi left the room, closing the door tightly behind him.

  Ken went to check the door, locking it from the inside.  He walked back over to sit down in front of the projected image of Washuu.  "So he contacted you about me."

   "Well, yes.  He had a right to be suspicious.  Does he know?"  Washuu inquired.

   "What, about me?"  He shook his head, "No.  He doesn't know anything."

   "It's just a matter of time that he makes the connection that you're his son.  I pretended to act surprised when he mentioned you showed up.  You're supposed to be back at the Academy."

   "I want to save her.  Washuu, I will save my mother whether you want me to or not."

   "Ken...  that message was dated four days ago.  No matter how much you want things to go your way, we're lead to believe that because of the circumstances... she most likely didn't make it out alive.  Kiyone was a very strong person.  I had no doubt in her ability to handle herself in intense situations."  She paused, "I don't care if you're the son of Lord Tenchi, you don't have the ability to make her come back."

  Ken looked down, "Washuu..."  He let his tears streak down his cheeks.  "Why are you so mean?"

   "I'm being realistic.  Kiyone was a reliable person.  I've always felt you were just like her.  I don't want to lose both of you within a week."

   "... I understand."  He straightened up in his seat. "Please let me make my own choice.  I promise I will let you know what I will end up doing.  Can I please get those coordinates?"

   "Determined as usual."  She punched in a few buttons. "There.  Save them to disk.  I'd prefer you not to make any brash decisions, young Tenchi."

  Ken put the disk into the console, allowing the information to download. "I'll inform you of any major decisions I make."  He rolled his eyes, "You know you're not supposed to call me that.  I'll... I'll tell him soon.  When the time is right."

  Washuu nodded, folding her arms. "You're a smart kid.  I think Lord Tenchi would be happy to have you as a son.  Please believe me when I say that.  I didn't tell him anything, only that you are hers."

   "Thank you.  I've almost slipped up a few times.  I'm just so distracted..."

   "Understandable.  Take care of yourself, okay?"

   "Yes.  I will.  Until later, Washuu."


  Ken leaned back in the chair as the screen turned off.  He sighed, letting his mind wander for a bit.  He pulled the disk out of the drive and slipped it in his jacket pocket.  The console beeped again.  "Is she calling back?"  He pushed the button, the screen turned back on.

   "Lord Tenchi!  Are you there?"  Aeka appeared on screen.

  Ken shrieked, falling backwards out of his chair. "Uhhh... who're you?"  He asked, rubbing the back of his head.

   "I am Aeka from the planet Jurai.  Is Lord Tenchi around?  This is very important."  She sounded scared.  "I swore Lord Tenchi had a daughter..."

  Ken nervously commented. "I'm just a visitor!  He does have a daughter.  Let me go get him..."  He quickly stumbled to the door, opening it up and calling out to the living room for Tenchi.

  Tenchi came back to the room with Ryoko in tow, "What is it, Miss Aeka?"

   "Oh Lord Tenchi!  It's so horrible!  We need your help!"

   "You always need help."  Ryoko commented.

  Aeka looked too tired to respond.  She announced sadly, "My daughter has been kidnapped.  My son was injured in the process... we haven't any idea as to where to start.  A good part of our forces were taken down."  She took a deep breath, "Lord Tenchi, I understand your life is very different now.  I wouldn't contact you for things like this if not for the fact that we have no other options.  You've helped in the past.  My son overheard that she was being taken to an abandoned rebel planet on the outskirts that has been nicknamed "Phoenix Zero"..."

   "That's where Mom is!"  Ken interrupted. "This must have been part of their plan too."

  Aeka seemed annoyed, "And just who is this boy who insists on interrupting me in my time of grief!?"

   "Miss Aeka... this is Kiyone's son, Ken.  She was on a mission there to try and stop them before it got out of hand, but she's now missing in action."  Tenchi explained.

   "Detective Kiyone has a son?"  Aeka seemed baffled with this new information, "What do you know of this Phoenix Zero?"

  Ken grinned, "I am SO glad you asked."  He seemed to go slip into Galaxy Police mode, "For about four months, the GP have been receiving messages of rebel conflicts out along that part of the universe.  They've been trying their best to keep the peace, but most of the time the conflicts had ended in bloodshed.  They've wiped out entire squads within hours.  Their main base is on Phoenix Zero, but they have smaller bases that surround the area.  It is said that when the settlement was smaller, there were conflicts with the Juraian government.  Apparently they weren't recognized as a full settlement, but more like a nomadic pest that decided to settle down and cause trouble.  They tend to welcome thieves and refuges to their ranks."  He took a breath, looking around to the others. "My mother was contacted to go under-cover with a small group of GP officers to gather insider information.  The mission was to take about two weeks.  They had..."  He froze up, mid-sentance. "...sent an informant to contact her, but she never made it to meeting place.  The informant has since turned up dead.  That's where I came in... GP has given up on them.  They figure that the mission had failed and that this portion of the case is closed.  Professor Washuu contacted us earlier tonight with a message from Detective Makibi, and has now given me the coordinates to the planet - along with information such as potential entry points to crash the enemy base."  He looked at Aeka, "Looks like you're in the same position as me.  We both have someone very important there.  I would like to help, if at all possible."

   "That's crazy!"  Tenchi piped in, "You're not about to just go into an impossible situation and put yourself in danger!"

   "Lord Tenchi.  He is old enough to make his own decisions.  I would be more than happy to have him by my side."  Aeka smiled, "Any help is appreciated."

   "You can't really stop him."  Ryoko commented.  "Say, Tenchi... this does sound like something we could handle if we all worked together.  I wouldn't mind a good fight."

   "That's very kind coming from you, Ryoko."  Aeka smiled.

   "Well, Princess - this is a different situation.  I'd feel the same way if Yoshiko had been kidnapped.  I'm here for you, too."  Ryoko cracked her knuckles.

   "RYOKO!"  Tenchi seemed annoyed.  "Miss Aeka, I understand how important this is to you.  I'm not so sure it's a good idea that we get involved though.  We're not as young as we used to be.  We don't know anything about this enemy."

   "I understand that, Lord Tenchi.  I will have Sasami send Ryo-Oh-Ki to your home to pick up anyone who chooses to come along.  I plead with you to help us too, Lord Tenchi.  I wouldn't have approached you if it was a situation I thought I could handle alone."

  Tenchi nodded lightly. "I'll talk it over with everyone.  I'll consider your request.  Please understand though, things are very different now."

   "Yes, Lord Tenchi.  Sasami will head to Earth on Ryo-Oh-Ki to at least pick up young Ken.  Thank you for the consideration.  I have to get prepared for the journey ahead.  Goodnight everyone."  The screen blipped off again.

  Tenchi sighed, "Never a dull moment."

   "Tenchi... let's do it!  For Aeka's sake.  We know you're the best at this."  Ryoko pleaded.

   "I'm *not* the best at this!  We can't just skip around the universe like the old days."

  Yoshiko opened the door, "Uhm... not to barge in... but... I heard everything.  Can I go too?"

   "No!  Especially you, NO!"  Tenchi pointed at Yoshiko, "We can't put you in danger as well."

   "Dad!  Oh please... you know full well what I can do to take care of myself."  Yoshiko rolled her eyes.

   "Well..."  He sighed, "I'll think about it and we'll decide in the morning.  It's time for bed.  All of you, go to sleep."

  The group left the small room and headed to their respective rooms.  It would have been a hard night to sleep through, normally.  Ken was still recuperating from the crash and the days events and slept easily.  Ryoko and Tenchi spoke about the possibilities quietly in their room while Yoshiko slept in her own room.  Hard decisions that had to be made were debated all night.  Out loud and in their heads.  The Masaki household slept uneasily that evening.

   *                       *                    *

  An older, more mature Sasami showed up in Ryo-Oh-Ki that morning.  The ship landed in the clearing near the Masaki residence.  Ken stood outside to greet the Juraian Princess.

  Ken looked Sasami over.  He had a rush of recognition. 'Her... I remember her, from Jurai.'  His eyes a little wide as she approached him.

   "Hello!  I'm Princess Sasami from Jurai."

   "H...Hi.  I'm Makibi Ken."  He thought briefly about a fancy title to present with himself. "Future Galaxy Policeman... and Kiyone's son."

   "Oh wow!" Sasami smiled, clasping her hands, "You look just like her!  I just can't believe I had never heard anything about you before."

  Ken scratched the back of his head. "Eh... uhm... I guess I'm some big secret."

  Sasami smiled and commented, "Well, I understand with how her job is."  She looked to the house, "Are... you the only one coming with?  I thought at least Ryoko would have considered coming with."

   "They're still inside... I guess making last minute decisions."

   "Were they concerned about you coming with?"

   "Not their business.  I've already been enough trouble for them."  Ken looked down.

  Sasami tilted her head, looking Ken over.  "I don't believe anyone could be a problem for the Masaki household.  They've handled worse than one single teen aged boy."

  Ken raised an eyebrow at Sasami, "Do I have something on my face?  You're looking at me oddly..."

   "No!  Not at all.  I just look at you and think of how you're Kiyone's son.  It's so amazing... it feels like only yesterday when Tenchi was your age."

  Ken seemed to look nervous at that statement, "Well... uh... I dunno.  I guess..."

   "You're silly."  She smiled, "Should we head inside to see if they had made a decision?"

  He nodded.  Ken walked toward the house with Sasami following behind.  He knocked on the front door, "I'm back... with a guest."  He undid his boot laces, slipping them off.  Yoshiko zipped around the corner to see Ken and Sasami in the doorway.

   "Oh good!  You haven't left yet."  Yoshiko smiled.  "I think I've worked on them enough to let me come along."

   "Yoshiko... this isn't a game.  It won't be safe."  Ken frowned, crossing his arms.

  Yoshiko laughed lightly, "I know that.  You're so serious!  I'd be in the same amount of danger as YOU."  She poked him in the arm.

   "Yes, and I don't have a mother or father that will get upset if I'm hurt.  You do."  Ken snapped.

  Yoshiko looked sad, "You're mean.  I never meant it that way."

  Ken closed his eyes and leaned against the wall, "That's right.  I'm a mean person."  He waved a hand, "Stay home and safe.  I've got nothing to lose."

  Yoshiko frowned and turned back around to go to her room.  Tenchi and Ryoko exit their bedroom, passing by Yoshiko on the way down the stairs.  Sasami smiled brightly, "Tenchi!  Ryoko!  It's been so long!"

   "Sasami!  Wow, have you grown."  Tenchi commented, "Here I am an old man with a daughter."  He laughed lightly.

  Ryoko tugged on Tenchi's shirt, "You're not an old man.  Sasami, You've definitely grown into a beautiful woman.  Quite the opposite of your sister." She joked.

   "Oh Ryoko!"  She smiled back at the couple.  "So, what is your decision?"

   "We talked awhile about it... I was able to call into work for a small vacation.  Ryoko and I will be going with."

   "Dad!"  Yoshiko called up from the top of the stairs. "I'm going too!"

   "Yoshiko... I told you.  You have school and it's JUST NOT SAFE."  Tenchi sighed.

   "See, that's what *I* told her."  Ken commented.  "Do as your father says, Yoshiko." He called up to her on the stairs.  He turned, picked up his shoes and left through the door.

  Sasami watched as he left, a little baffled by his actions.  "... he's so... so... I can't even put my finger on it."

  Tenchi shrugged, "We've given up on trying to figure him out."

   "Well, he could be a little nicer."  Yoshiko crossed her arms.

   "He is right, though.  We don't want to put you in danger too, Yoshiko."  Ryoko said lightly.

   "I can't believe this!  I'm your daughter!  You know what I'm capable of doing... they can't possibly hurt me!"  Yoshiko rolled her eyes, "I'm GOING.  I need to have my own stories of space instead of sitting around listening to your stories for the rest of my life."

  Sasami laughed politely. "She sure is full of energy.  You have a wonderful daughter you two."

  Tenchi shook his head and sighed, "Okay.  We have to get some things together, go ahead and take a seat for a few minutes, Sasami.  We'll leave shortly."

  Meanwhile... outside.  Ken walked over to the porch facing the lake.  He sat down, tying his shoes back on.  He closed his eyes, pulling his knees up to lean forward and rest his head tiredly.  He let his mind wander to another time.

//  Kiyone sat on the couch, idly going through some police reports.  Her hair pulled back into a ponytail, wearing rather casual clothes.  Ken walked into the room, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

  "Mom... you're still not sleepin' yet?"

  "I have to turn these in tomorrow.  It's not that late."

  "So you say..."  He went to the other room, getting a glass of water for himself.  Ken, at this point, was ten years old.  He wandered back in and sat down on the same couch as his mother.  He idly watched her work, sipping his water lost in thought.

  "Mm... sweetie?  Did you have something you wanted to talk about?"  She placed the digital tablet down.

  "...not really."  He took another sip, then said lightly. "I just... I mean... "  He looked embarrassed, "I know you've told me this before.  I just was thinking about it lately again."

  "Thinking about what?"  She crossed her legs, leaning on her elbow to face her son.

  "My father."  He stammered, "I know you told me... I feel so stupid asking again."

  "It's not stupid.  I think it's so sweet you ask about him so much." She smiled, "I know it seems weird to even say you resemble him so much.  In so many ways I can't even describe it.  You're really something special.  What would you like to know?"

  "... he doesn't even know about me, right?  I mean... you told me that he doesn't know and that it's probably best that way.  Why?"

  "It's not best either way, to be honest.  I love your father very much, but not as one would love a husband or boyfriend.  More like a best friend.  When two people have a child, it's generally under the presumption that there was a different kind of love involved.  He had gotten married since we came to that conclusion and also has had a child.  She must be only a few years younger than you, now that I think about it."

  "So I have a sister?"  He sounded hopeful.

  "Yes, yes you do."

  "Why didn't you tell him about me?"  He asked again.

  "For your sake, it's wisest to be raised as my son than you being thought of as his."

  "Why?  You're not answering my questions!"  Ken looked annoyed.

  "Would you believe that I'm scared?"  She sighed.

  "Scared?  Why should you be scared if he's your good friend?"

  "When you get older... relationships seem less innocent, more constricting.  There may have only been friendship between us, but because of how you came about, it would hurt others such as your father and his wife to know that it happened.  I never want to hurt them.  I feel that when you're fully grown, you should make your own decision on if you want to meet him or not.  Now is not the time."

  "So it's better to hurt later on instead of now?"  He looked confused.

  Kiyone shook her head, "No, it's not good to hurt anyone at all.  What I meant to say was... your fate is in your hands.  You know who your father is, and I shouldn't deny you the right to know him.  I try my best to raise you, but I'm afraid that if you were to meet him I would have that responsibility taken from me too.  I'd miss you being around.  I guess that's a little selfish of me.  He'll love you no matter when you meet him.  It's the type of person he is.  I like to cherish each day we're together like this.  My little family."

   "It's okay, Mom.  I won't leave to go live with some guy I barely know.  I just wanna meet him once someday.  It must have been a hard decision to make for you."

   "I'm glad you understand.  You're a smart boy...  I couldn't have been any luckier than to find out you were coming into my life.  You're named after him to remind you where you came from, you know."

   "I know, I know."  He finished off his water. "Mom... I'm glad we had this talk.  You're always so busy sometimes... I worry about you."

   "You shouldn't worry about me, I'm fine."  She smiled, "You should get some sleep, you've got school tomorrow."

  Ken nodded, "I know.  You better sleep soon too!"  He wandered to his room, "Goodnight.  I love you."

   "I love you too, Tenchi.  Sleep well."  She picked up her digital notepad, going back to her work without a second thought.  //

  A voice broke through Ken's slumber. "...Tenchi... Tenchi... he's over here!"

  Sasami wandered over to where Ken had dozed off.  She kneeled down next to him, checking his forehead temperature.

   "He seems a little feverish.  I wonder what's going on?"  She commented.

  Tenchi rounded the corner, "God, this kid disappears faster than I can keep up with.  Is Ryo-Oh-Ki nearby?  I'll just carry him and we'll set him up aboard the ship so we don't lose him again."

  Sasami nodded, "Just go over that way.  Ryo-Oh-Ki should see you and let you aboard.  She should remember you."  She smiled. "I'll head back inside to get the others."

  Tenchi checked Ken's forehead.  Ken looked just worn out.

   "...but why didn't you tell him about me?" Ken murmured in his half-awake state.

  Tenchi went to pick up the teenage boy.  Ken wasn't all that heavy.  His weight evened out in Tenchi's arms.  Tenchi headed toward the lake.  Ryo-Oh-Ki let out a pleasant 'Miyah' and beamed the two aboard.  Tenchi carefully laid him down onto Ryo-Oh-Ki's floor.  He watched Ken curl up into a tight ball.  Tenchi pulled off his own jacket and placed it over Ken.

  Ken pulled it close, letting out a slight sigh.  Tenchi watched him for another full minute before heading back to the house.

  *                     *                         *

  Ryoko picked up a small packed back. "Hey Tenchi, we're ready."  She announced to her husband as he re-entered the house.

  Yoshiko smiled, "Yeah!  Let's go!"

   "I have a bad feeling about this." Tenchi sighed.

   "Don't be so gloomy!  At least we're not wanted criminals this time."  Sasami noted.

   "I guess there are always the GOOD points.  Let's go."  Tenchi commented, heading out the door.

  Everyone boarded Ryo-Oh-Ki.  Ken woke up mid-flight, looking a little better.  Their journey took them toward the planet Jurai.  The conversation of the crew mainly consisted of discussing the last few years, stories about how Yoshiko is doing and mostly boring chit-chat.  Nothing too much on the actual future raid.  Ken kept to himself, debating out how to do this in his head.  The adults talked away as Yoshiko broke away from them.

  Yoshiko approached Ken, sitting next to him, "Hi, I'm Yoshiko... you probably don't remember me since you've been LOST IN YOUR OWN WORLD THE LAST FEW HOURS."

   "Are you always this weird?"  He asked of her.

   "Mn, I don't think so.  I'm actually quite normal."  Yoshiko leaned back against the ships wall.

   "So you think." He poked her in the arm.

   "You're not so normal yourself.  You should relax more!"  She smiled.

  Ken shrugged, "Probably.  I haven't exactly *thought* about relaxing lately."

   "I told you to stop thinking about that."  She leaned over and pulled him into a light noogie, messing up his hair. "You need to focus on the problem at hand and not get all gloomy like you've been!"

   "H...hey...hey!  I will!  Stop that!"  He pulled away from Yoshiko.  "I'll try to relax.  I promise."

  Yoshiko giggled, "I'll believe it when I see it.  What were you thinking about?"

   "The maps... from Washuu.  I'm remembering as much as I can.  I want to be able to get in and get out as fast as possible.  All the training in my head is coming together.  Ahh... it's exciting and scary at the same time."  He smiled.

   "You really like this, huh?  Did you always wanna become a Galaxy Police officer?"

   "I... think that I wanted to fall into a career I'm familiar with.  I never knew what it was like to have a 'home', only Yagami with my mom and Mihoshi.  I think if I'm not traveling, I may get restless and tired of the place.  GP was the next best career.  Save for being a diplomat or something... and I don't have the stuff for that."

   "I see."  She commented, "I understand.  It was really hard for my mom to get used to Earth.  She really must love my dad to tie herself down to there."

   "I was never so lucky, I guess.  My mom never really found herself in a relationship long enough to consider settling down."

   "I wonder how that will affect you?"  She asked.

   "What do you mean?" Ken blinked and asked.

   "Would you be the type of guy that ran from relationships because you never saw a stable relationship around you through your life, through your parent?  I wonder..."

   "Uhm... I have no idea.  I'd probably be the worst boyfriend ever if I found myself in a relationship... if I even found myself lucky enough to find a girl to put up with me."  Ken shrugged, still hugging Tenchi's jacket to himself.

   "You don't have any faith in yourself either, huh?"

   "Not when it comes to that.  I'm smart, but I'll admit that I don't think I'll be looking for any relationships anytime soon.  They just don't interest me."

  Yoshiko looked Ken over and then said, "You have to be the strangest teenage boy I've ever met in my entire life!"

  Ken sighed and thought to himself, '...is she trying to hit on me or something?  She's my sister!  That's sick!  Well, she doesn't know... I'll tell her if this keeps up.  I can't handle it.'  Ken spoke up, "I guess I am.  Lucky me."

  Ryoko looked over at the two, "Yoshiko, are you trying to embarrass Ken?  He has had a hard enough time, lay off."

   "Thank you."  Ken commented.

  Yoshiko sighed, watching Ken.  She stood back up and rejoined the adult group.  The actual trip was nearing the end as they started to comment about Jurai showing up on the main screen.

  Ken looked up and notice the planet on the viewscreen.  He stood and walked over to Tenchi. "Hey... thanks." He offered the coat back.  Tenchi nodded, taking it from him.

  The descent was quick and easy.  Ryo-Oh-Ki knew how to land with no problem.  Sasami lead the group to a rendezvous spot where Aeka and a teen aged boy stood, both wearing royal family clothing.

   "Hello, Lord Tenchi."  Aeka stated, "My, has your daughter grown so much."  She smiled, looking over at Yoshiko. "I trust you have had a good flight?"

   "Yes, Miss Aeka.  We had a very easy flight.  I can only imagine that this is the calm before the storm."  Tenchi commented.

  Ken looked over at Shirou.  He thought to himself about how familiar he looked, but shook it off.  Ken stepped forward and saluted Aeka. "Makibi Ken, Galaxy Police Cadet-In-Training.  I offer you my services and abilities, your highness."

   "Oh my.  What a handsome and polite son Kiyone has raised.  We're glad to have you along on this mission, young Ken.  I'm sure your training will be most valuable in this kind of situation."  Aeka smiled at him.

   "The longer my sister is in their hands, the less of a chance we'll find her alive.  We should leave now and head to Phoenix Zero."  Shirou stated firmly.

   "I agree."  Ken commented anxiously, "There's a chance the GP officers there are still alive.  I'd like to be able to free them as well."

  Shirou glared at Ken, "The mission is to save my sister."

  Ken shrugged, "And that will happen.  I'll stay behind to free the rest if it came down to it."

   "Then we will leave you there!"  Shirou growled.

   "Fine by me."  Ken turned away from Shirou's gaze, "I don't shirk my duty just because some royal ass doesn't find it acceptable within his time table.  I'll be aboard Ryo-Oh-Ki and be preparing the mission notes."  He walked away and toward the ship.

   'That kid has balls.'  Ryoko thought to herself, watching Ken leave. 'The Galaxy Police are DAMNED lucky he's on their side.'

  Shirou growled, "The nerve of that Cadet..."

   "Ahem.  Shirou!  You are being disrespectful to my guests!  You are being a very insensitive and rude.  I understand you're concerned for Momiji, but please try and understand that she isn't the only one in danger now."  Aeka piped up.

   "Yes... Mother."  He toned down a little.

   "She told you!"  Yoshiko piped in.

   "Er... Yoshiko! That's not nice."  Tenchi attempted to quiet his child too.

   "...Shall we go?" Sasami broke into the conversation.  Everyone had a relieved look on their face and nodded in unison.  They headed to Ryo-Oh-Ki and boarded quickly.

  Ken was aboard with small Washuu-like portable computer.  He was working away at the console.  Shirou distanced himself from Ken as much as possible.

   "So..." Ken started as the flight began, "This is what I have."  He punched a few buttons on the keypad, then an image came up of the planet.  "This is Phoenix Zero.  It's about half the size of a Jurai.  The climate is pretty mild.  Where we're going is here."  He pointed to a spot.  The map zoomed into that point. "This is where the GP have designated the weakest spot in their territory.  We'll be able to land and then travel about a kilometer to here." He pointed to another spot on the map.  It zoomed, showing the pathway. "This is where their base is.  I'm pretty sure it's mostly underground, to avoid contact from space.  The security is tight, but can be broken according to the resources presented.  They're smart, they have a few cool gadgets, but nothing that hasn't been in use for the last ten years or so.  This isn't a fun little camping trip - this is a serious situation.  They may be armed with anything from laser cannons to your basic sword.  We honestly don't know what we're going up against."  Ken turned off the map, "Ryo-Oh-Ki, take us to the coordinates from the map.  We're counting on you for a safe landing."  He looked toward the rest of the group, "It's up to us to have a successful mission."

  Ryoko nodded, "We're up for it.  We've handled worse, right gang?"

   "I hope this will be something we can all handle.  I'm too old for this."  Tenchi sighed.

   "C'mon Dad!  It'll be easy with me there by your side."  Yoshiko smiled. "We'll do fine."

  Ken rolled his eyes, "Kids."

   "We'll be approaching the planet soon.  Everyone get ready, it's going to be a long trip."  Sasami commented.

   "As read as we'll ever be." Shirou remarked.

  The landing was smooth as ever.  Ryo-Oh-Ki reverted to cabbit form and accompanied them along the to a nice wooded area.  It was already nearing nighttime.  The camp was set up with the group settled around a small fire.  Ken leaned against a rock and stared into the flames as the rest of the group set up their areas.  Yoshiko wandered over to sit next to Ken.

   "Heeeeeeeeey there."  Yoshiko started the conversation, "Whatcha doin?"

   "Thinking."  Ken spoke softly.

   "Oh?  You do that a lot.  Does it get lonely in that head of yours?"

   "Uh... no."  He glanced at Yoshiko nervously.

   "I told you, you need to relax a bit!"  She smiled, grabbing Ken's hand playfully and holding it in hers.

  Ken suddenly had to have had a very frightened look on his face.  He stood up, shaking his hand out of hers. "..Y..Yoshiko!  Can I speak to you a minute, alone!?"

  Ryoko raised an eyebrow at the situation.  The kids weren't making a scene, but she sensed something was up.

   "We'll be right back."  Ken grabbed Yoshiko's hand and lead her a good thirty feet or so from the camp grounds.  The voices from the camp now just a light whisper, indecipherable.

   "Ken... Ken!  Where are you taking me?  We don't wanna get lost!"  She seemed a little scared.

   "Shhhh... it's okay, I'm here to protect you."  He leaned against a tree. "Yoshiko... I uh... I mean...  we uh... it's JUST not possible."

   "What's not possible?"  She seemed curious.

   "I'm not about to say you like me, but I want you to stop liking me if you do."  He looked really confused.  His cheeks a little red from embarrassment.

   "Ken, do you like me?"

   "Not in that way!  Uhm... uh... Yoshiko... I don't even know how to say this."

   "Just say it already." She crossed her arms.

   "... I'm your brother."  He looked up at her to see her reaction.  Yoshiko still had her arms crossed, looking sternly at him, "...My name is Makibi -Tenchi-.  I'm named after my father, who just happens to be *your* father too.  It was before your parents got married."

  Yoshiko stepped back, "Okay.  I'll admit that *wasn't* what I was expecting.  I thought you were gonna say you were gay."

  Ken slumped against the tree, "You're so mean to me!"

   "It works both ways."  She commented, looking him over. "... you do look a little like Grandpa Nobuyuki when he was younger.  Why do you say your name is Ken?"

   "It's a nick name.  I guess it was made to protect me from giving away too much about me.  Masaki Tenchi is known in our history books... it's not something I could get away with living up to."  He sighed, "Well... Yoshiko... I mean... I'm not ready to tell him or everyone.  I want this to be a secret, okay?  I'll tell him when the time is right.  I just thought you should know.  You understand, right?"

   "I knew there was something weird about you!  You ever get a feeling you've met someone before but really hadn't?"  She commented.

   "Uh... every now and again, I guess."  He shrugged.

   "Well, I got that when you landed on Earth.  I'm glad I know why now."  She smiled back.

   "You're taking this really well."  He rubbed the back of his head.

   "Why not?  I've got an older brother now!  This is so cool!"

  Ken laughed lightly, "Okay.  Let's head back to camp before they think worse thoughts of us."  A shuffle in the trees is heard.  Ken turned and pulled his blaster, pointing it toward the noise. "Who's there?!  Show yourself!"

  No other noises came from that direction.  Yoshiko tugged on Ken's jacket. "Must have been an animal.  Let's hurry back."  Ken nodded in agreement.

  They walked over back to camp, settling down.  Ryoko nudged Tenchi with a grin on her face.  Tenchi watched as the teens approached. "So... how was your talk?"

   "It was good, thank you for being so concerned."  Ken commented.

   "Oh really?"  Shirou piped up. "Yes, it was very nice for Lord Tenchi to be so concerned.  Perhaps you should tell him what you two were talking about?"

   "It's really none of their business."  Ken bit back.

   "He's right.  Leave us alone."  Yoshiko biiiidahed at Shirou.

   "I was under the impression that it WAS all of their business.  Why don't you just shed some light on the subject."  Shirou grinned.

   "...I don't even know what you're talking about now."  Ken stood up, about to approach Shirou.

   "Oh-hoh-hoh.  Yes, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I suppose it's okay for your sister to know that Lord Tenchi is your father, but the rest of the group just doesn't need to know that tiny bit of information, hmm?"

   "What?!"  Ryoko and Aeka said together.  Tenchi turned to look at Ken who is now frozen in the many stares focused at him.

   "...you... you asshole!"  Ken growled, "You had no right to tell them that."  He murmured to himself, then took on a sideways stance, speaking up so everyone would hear, "Yes.  He's right.  Whatever the hell it all means in the end... it doesn't matter.  I don't care anymore.  I'm just glad I finally got to meet the great Masaki Tenchi at some point.  My visit with you is at an end.  Sorry to have wasted your time."  He grabbed his bag, shouldering it and bolted into the forest without a second thought.

   "Ken!"  Yoshiko yelled after him.  She turned, teary eyed at Shirou, "You jerk!  You arrogant self centered JERK!"  She ran into the forest trailing after Ken.

  Aeka closed her eyes, "I can't even describe the anger I have welling up in me at this moment.  Shirou... just because you are royalty, it doesn't make you superior to everyone else.  Perhaps there may have been a time in your life that made you think you were."

   "Mother... I was just..."

   "You were trying to make you seem better than him!  Now look what you have done?!  I'm ashamed to have brought you on this trip.  You obviously aren't mature enough to even socialize outside of the Juraian royal family."

  Shirou went quiet and nodded.  He sat down near the fire and seemed to brood.

  Tenchi had a bit of disbelief still on his face.  He looked at Ryoko, "...what."

   "I don't even know."  She looked away. "When?  How?  You cheated on me with her!?"

   "NO!  It was not like that!"  He thought back to the moment.  The only moment that he could have possibly been with Kiyone, "It wasn't anything like that."

   "Well, it takes two to tango.  And here I thought I knew you!  I was so wrong!"  Ryoko snapped.

  Tenchi leaned over to touch Ryoko on the shoulder.   She moved away quickly from him, "Don't touch me, don't even talk to me!  I'm going after my daughter."  She phased away from the spot and started to 'fly' into the forest where Ken and Yoshiko ran.

  Ken ran.  He was very fast, almost sprinting.  His anger and embarrassment fueled him more.  Yoshiko ran quickly behind, shouting for him to stop.  She wasn't exactly a fast runner but she was able to keep up.  He stopped to catch his breath.

   "Go back."  He commanded, "This is my fate.  Shirou may have spoiled things, but I will make everything right."

   "What do you plan on doing, saving everyone?"  Yoshiko gasped for air. "Ken!  They don't care about that... it won't be bad, really.  Going in as a group is better than one person, right?"

   "Dammit, I can't go back now.  Shirou... that asshole!  I'm so angry!  How dare he follow us... how dare he do that to me?!  What the hell does he have against me anyway!?"

  Yoshiko coughed and grabbed Ken's hand, "Come back... please."  She almost seemed as if she were crying.  Dried tear marks down her cheeks.  "They'll understand.  They have to.  Forget about him."

   "No.  They won't understand because I wasn't able to explain myself.  I wasn't able to do it the way I wanted.  I'd be a fool to go back and ask for forgiveness.  I don't deserve the name "Tenchi"."  Ken sighed.  He blinked, "Yoshiko... we're not alone."  He looked up and into the dark.

  A flash of light beamed down on Ken.  A gun fired into Yoshiko's direction.  Ken pushed her aside and into some deep bushes.  He shrieked as it nailed through his side, "Run!"  He turned and faced the enemy. "C'mon!  Bring it on!"  His hair changed from dark to almost a light blue.  Three stripes across each cheek appeared quite noticeably.  He pulled his gun and started to fire at the other.  He ran to the side, attempting to evade the shots.  It was too overpowering for Ken.  Three guards took him down from all sides.  One knocked him out with a harsh blow to the head, Ken's gun falling to the ground and beside the well hidden Yoshiko.  She watched in horror as they dragged him away, bloody and beaten with his Juraian markings etched into his face.

  Yoshiko picked up the gun and held it in her hands.  The handle was covered in blood.  She cried, unmoving from her hiding place.

  Ryoko entered the area, "Yoshiko... where are you..."  Ryoko started to move further ahead.

   "...m...mo...mom... don't go... don't go..."  Yoshiko yelped, "m...MOM!"  She crawled out of the bushes and toward Ryoko.  "Don't leave me..!"

  Ryoko stopped and turned.  Yoshiko ran up to her stood, crying hysterically. "Ken... they took Ken... " She held the gun in her hands.  Hands covered completely in the blood.

   "Yoshiko!  Are you hurt!?  Oh shit!  You're bleeding!"  Ryoko went to check her for any injuries.

  Yoshiko shook her head, "...Ken.  It's Kens blood.  He got hurt protecting me.  They shot him and now he's gone!"

  Ryoko hugged her daughter, "Shhh...shhh... it's okay sweetie.  It's okay...shhh... let's go back to camp."

   "Nooooooo!  We gotta go after Ken!"  She tried to pull away.  "There was something wrong!  He had marks on his face... his hair... we have to go after him!"

  Ryoko stopped her and said softly, "Ken was trained to keep alive... he'll do his best.  There's nothing we can do tonight.  It's just too late... they'll have the advantage.  Let's go back and sleep.  We'll save him in the morning."

  Yoshiko cried silently.  Ryoko lead her daughter back to camp.  Aeka and Sasami were huddled near Tenchi, talking idly.  He stood up as they entered, "Oh Yoshiko!  What happened?"

   "Ken was shot and taken away."  Ryoko said bluntly, "He was protecting Yoshiko.  They know he's got Juraian in him.  I don't expect him to last that long from what the reports said.  We'll have to rest tonight and move quickly in the morning."

  Tenchi nodded. "I agree.  Let's all just get some rest."  He started to put out the camp fire.

  Ryoko lead Yoshiko to lay down, "... I'll keep watch tonight.  We don't need anyone to ambush us."

  The group settled in to sleep.  There was a hush of silence over the events of the night, the only real noise coming from Yoshiko crying herself to sleep.

  Ryoko stayed up.  She leaned against a tree, watching the group sleep.  About an hour into this, Tenchi moved from his sleeping bag to approach the on-guard Ryoko.

   "You should be sleeping."  She said quietly.

   "We have to talk and I don't think it can wait until morning."  He sat down beside her.

   "I agree with that.  So talk."

   "... I'm as shocked as you are.  She never told me.  She didn't lead on to anything that her life was any different than before.  I feel betrayed."

   "You feel betrayed!?  What the hell am I supposed to feel?"  Ryoko snapped. "You slept with her!"

   "I don't regret it."  He looked Ryoko right in the eyes, "I never regretted anything I had done in my youth.  Everything from being a fugitive in space to falling in love with you."

   "So how'd it happen?"

   "We weren't dating."  He started, "You had ran off into space again.  We were broken up at least for two months by that point.  I had given up on you."

  Ryoko blinked, "What?"

   "Kiyone was visiting Japan.  We met, had some drinks and really got to know each other.  It just happened."  He looked away, "She stayed at my apartment.  We kissed and it was something we  both really needed at the time."

   "I can't believe I'm hearing you say this."

   "Well you are.  If it wasn't for her, I would have never given you that last chance."  He snapped.


   "Yes.  We did have sex.  It only happened during that weekend.  We also did a lot of talking.  She was the one who convinced me to give you another chance.  I was going to tell you to never come back.  I was so fed up with all the bullshit you had put me through up till that point.  I needed someone there for me as much as she needed someone to be there for her.  I quite honestly don't regret it.  I'll never regret it, because I married you and became a very happy man afterwards.  She was happy for me.  She never asked anything of me."

  Ryoko said shyly, "I never knew she was the one to convince you.  I thought maybe a friend from school said something."  She mumbled, "I remember... the restaurant.  She was there eating lunch with you and acting very friendly.  I was so stupid!  I should have put the clues together."

   "Ryoko.  I'm not going to go back and think about those times.  It was a pleasant escape for me and Kiyone, but I never loved her that way.  I love you."

   "So, you're just going to accept the fact that she's been raising your son for the past... what, fifteen or sixteen years?"

   "I am going to have to.  Kiyone seems to have raised him pretty well on her own.  She must have had her reasons.  I'm also going to have to face the fact that he's now in as much danger as Aeka's daughter and could very well be dead before I even got to know him.  Chalk that up to another relative of mine dead.  Even Kiyone may be dead.  How's that for being accepting to everything?"  Tenchi didn't sound angry.  He actually sounded very sad.  He looked back over to Ryoko.  "You're my wife.  I love you more than anyone I have ever loved.  Isn't that enough?"

  Ryoko sighed, "I'm willing to accept that.  I'm sorry, Tenchi.  I didn't know the circumstances... I didn't even want to understand them.  I was just so angry.  But... I remember he responded when I called "Tenchi"... I started remembering the things he did at the house.  He's got so much of you in him and he doesn't even realize it because he doesn't even know you.  Sure, he's got Kiyone too, but... it's so uncanny.  I didn't think about it at all until I started on watch tonight."

  Tenchi moved in behind Ryoko, putting his arms around her in a gentle hug. "So you understand?"

  Ryoko hugged his arms to her, stating quietly, "I think I understand more than I thought I did.  Oh Tenchi... we gotta save him.  I'm actually starting to miss him being around already."

   "I know, Ryoko.  I know.  We'll find him."  Tenchi settled in with Ryoko, staying with her on watch for the night.

*    *    *

   "Put him in with his sister.  Don't forget to clamp him so he can't use the Juraian power."  Said a guard.

  Momiji's cell door opened.  The guard growled, "Looks like your brother decided to visit you before we got our ransom."  He tossed Ken's limp body onto the ground. "We'll bring some food and items to get his wound cleaned.  We can't have a dead Juraian to bargain with."  They closed the door once again, locking down the area.

   "Shirou!"  Momiji shrieked.  She turned Ken's body over to face her. "... you're not Shirou..."  She looked confused, touching his markings that have not faded away.  "Who are you?"  She asked herself.  Momiji was also stuck battle-ready.  Two Juraian marks on her forehead were rather pronounced.  She traced along his three streaks on each cheek. "They got you too, huh?"  Her eyes shifted to an electronic collar around his neck, "Bastards.  All of them."

  The guard returned with food and medical supplies, "I hope for your sake you know how to dress a wound, Princess.  Or your pretty-boy brother will be dead before morning."  The cell door closed once more.

  Momiji waited until the area was clear.  She carefully stripped Ken of his jacket and shirt.  Ken let out a slight cry.  She attempted to calm him with her soothing voice, "Shhh... it's okay.  I'll fix you up.  Don't wake up just yet, young soldier."  She cleaned up his wound with some water.  She then cleaned the area with the medical supplies and bandaged him quickly.

   "I wonder where you came from?"  She asked herself.  Momiji pulled a blanket over to cover him.  She leaned close and propped up him up a little to help him take a drink of water.  His head rested soundly in her lap as she idly played with his hair.  She watched his face, overly concerned as more and more questions filled her head with each moment of silence.

  Ken groaned, opening his eyes to look up at Momiji.  "..wh... where... who..."

   "Shh... don't talk.  You're hurt pretty badly.  You were captured by the guards."

   "Who are you?"  Ken asked.

   "I'm Princess Momiji of the Planet Jurai."

   "Oh, that makes this really easy to find you then, huh?"  He tried to sit up.

   "Hey... you're hurt.  Stay where you are."  She put a hand over his chest, stopping him from getting up. "You're in no condition to get up.  What do you mean easy to find me?  Were you looking for me?"

   "Yes and no.  Your mother and brother organized a rescue team that I was part of.  I got... separated from the group and got captured, I guess."  He seemed annoyed.

   "My mother... and brother?  I see.  Well then, who are you?"

   "Me... I'm no one special."  He turned his head to the side.  She turned him back to face her.

   "Yes, you are.  You have the markings of the Juraian royal family here, here, and here."  She traced the markings with her finger. "I'd like a name to go with your face."

   "Makibi."  He whispered under his breath, "Tenchi.  I mean Ken."

   "So what is it, Tenchi or Ken?"  She blinked, "Wait a moment, have we *had* this conversation before?"

   "Have we?  I don't believe I've ever met any Juraian Princesses..."

   "...maybe.  I don't know.  I distinctly remember having a conversation like this before."   Shook her head, "Maybe I'm the one imagining things.  I'll call you Tenchi."

   "Okay, whatever."  He went to sit up again. "So what are these things?"  He pointed to the collar around his neck.

   "I'm not entirely sure.  All I can tell so far is that it puts Juraian's in a point where you're battle ready, but are unable to use the Juraian power."

   "Like it suppresses?  What's the Juraian power?"

   "You are Juraian, you should know."  She looked baffled.

   "No lady, I have no idea.  I'm a Galaxy Police cadet.  I rely on my training.  I've never once seen this 'Juraian power' you're talking about.  Whatever I *am* has no bearing on what I can do."

   "How fascinating.  What do you propose we do then?" She crossed her arms.

   "Well... I'm not going to stick around here until they decide what to do with us.  Obviously no one is going to pay the ransom.  I'm going to follow through with the plan... just a step ahead this time."

   "Okay, smart boy.  Please enlighten me on how exactly we're going to get out of here, hmm?"

  Ken shrugged, "I don't know.  I'm not exactly trained in this yet."  He looked around the room, "Okay.  I have a few ideas.  I..."  He held his head. "I can't think.  It's like a bad headache that won't go away!  Wait, that's it."

   "What's 'it'?"  Momiji asked.

   "... no time to talk.  Stand up."  He himself gathered his clothes.  He pulled on his shirt and jacket.

  She did as he said very slowly and hesitantly.  The tone in his voice seemed to make her a little nervous.  Ken walked around behind her, leaning in close to whisper softly, "Just go along with it.  I promise not to hurt you."  He pulled her back, locking his arm around her neck.

  Momiji shrieked, attempting to pull away from his tense headlock.  He was much stronger than she expected.  She yelped again.

  Ken raised his voice, "GUARDS!  GUARDS!  GET IN HERE!"

   "Help!"  She coughed, her fingers unsuccessful at pulling away from his grip.

  Ken smiled and whispered into her ear again, "When I tap you on the back, I want you to pretend to faint."  He raised his voice, "I HAVE A HOSTAGE!  IF YOU DON'T WANT YOUR PRISONER HARMED, YOU'LL DO AS I SAY!"

  Two guards enter the area.  The first guard glares from outside the cell. "What do you think you're doing?"  He sneered.

   "Taking my prisoner." Ken growled back. "You lead me right to her.  You fools."  He tightened his grip around Momiji.  She whimpered in a little pain, her discomfort obvious.

   "Feh, you're Juraian.  You can't fool us."

   "You know NOTHING ABOUT ME!"  He growled, pulling back.  Momiji cried out again.  Ken clenched his teeth, "I'm a bastard, abandoned child of the Juraian royal family.  I hate them with all my heart and soul.  I know what this... this Phoenix Zero is all about.  You hate them almost as much as I do.  You're doing it all wrong though.  Now your mistake will be that you will be blamed and hunted for the death of this Princess."  He smiled back at the guards, then commented to Momiji who is now crying, "It's okay, girly.  You were so nice to bandage my wounds, but now it's time to say goodbye to this lonely, pathetic existence.  No hard feelings, okay?"

  The second guard acted quickly, he opened the cell door quickly and rushed toward Ken, the first guard immediately after, "Let her go!"  the second guard commanded.

  Ken waited until they were within a two feet of him and Momiji.  He pulled an arm back, faking the motion hitting Momiji over the head.  He moved his opposite hand to gently touch her back and push her aside.  It was a swift movement, almost too quick to note what really happened.  Momiji fell to the ground in what appeared to be her fainting.  Ken snapped a quick kick to the oncoming guards gut, then fist down into his shoulder and then his head to knock him down.  That guard fell easily.  Ken used the downed guards' back as a stepping stone to leap at a sharp angle into the first guard head first.  Kens momentum forced the guard sharply into the hard cell bars, also knocking him down rather swiftly.  Ken panted, holding his sore side for silence after the guard had been taken down.

  Momiji opened her eyes, seeing Ken stumble to the cell door.  She spoke up, "...you didn't have to hurt me.  I almost believed those words you spoke."

   "How do you know which words are truth and which are fiction?  I could have been lying to you from the beginning."   He turned and kneeled behind the nearest guard to him.  He unhooked a key from the guards belt and tossed it at Momiji. "Sorry.  You shouldn't trust anyone, especially those you have just met.  Everyone could be an enemy.  Use that key to try and unlock your collar.  I'll tie these bozos up and we'll figure out something."

  Ken was quiet and efficient.  He tied the guards up easily, even taking a cloak from one of them and pulling it on.  Momiji managed to get the collar off using that guards key.  They left the cell, locking the door on the guards.

   "... thank you.  You're no enemy, Tenchi."  She spoke quietly, following behind Ken's path.

   "Yeah, right?  That could have gone very wrong.  You're lucky they didn't kill us on the spot."  He kept two steps ahead of her, checking around corners and down the hall.  The block is virtually unmanned.  Ken got the feeling that maybe this Phoenix Zero operation was a bit smaller than the Galaxy Police even knew.

   "Well, perhaps it's time for you to take off your collar."  She commented, "I still have the key."

   "Good, good.  Let's find a spot less in the open.  I'm okay for now."  He assured her.  He was on alert, but still seemed to be in much pain.  They rounded the corner and came to a door.  Ken cracked it open, peeking inside.  No one.  "This must have been where those two were working.  Ah... I see, it's a security control booth."  He stepped in, Momiji following quietly behind.

   "A control booth?"  She wondered, making sure the door locked behind her.

   "Yeah.  Like... well, there are the video monitors over there.  A few maps here... and even something that appears to be monitoring...me...?"  Ken blinked and checked out the screen. "Damn, it must be this collar.  Gimme that key."

  Momiji handed the key over, "How do you know so much?  You've got to be a little younger than me... it's strange hearing such a professional tone from someone of your age."

   "Well, maybe I'm special."  He used sarcasm as a defense.  He attempted to place the key in the locking mechanism of the collar.  It fit about halfway in, then stopped. "...it's not working.  This is the wrong key!  Man, I must be cursed."  He whined a little, displaying his age a bit better.

   "Does it hurt so much?  Surely we can find the other key or make it out of here before it becomes too painful."  She sounded concerned.

   "Right.  I agree.  I'm feeling a bit limited with it on.  They can find us quickly because of this thing and I don't like that idea."  He shook his head, "We're safe here for now.  I'm going to help myself to their snacks and do some research on the computer here."

   "Well, I don't really have much of a choice but to do the same.  I have no way of knowing where to go next.  I hate to be the one to admit that you're my last hope to make it out of this base alive."  Momiji sat down, taking small snack bag into hand and opening it.

   "I see.  Again, the putting faith in strangers thing... not good.  I am not a fully capable person to do that.  I, myself, had gotten captured before, remember?"  He tapped on the computer console, searching through menus and records of any sort.  "I don't want to put you in danger just 'cause of me."  He tapped away until he suddenly stated, "Ah-hah... I found it."

  The screen blipped on.  The camera positioned awkwardly in the corner of the room, pointing down onto a person in the center.  The prisoner was wearing a tank top and black slacks.  It was a woman.  Her hair was long and forward over her face as she looked down.  She was tied securely on the chair, arms behind it in solid metal cuffs that covered both hands entirely and linked in the center, her feet bound the same way.  A voice came from a standing man on the left side, "Your Galaxy Police, what do they want with us?"

  The woman in the chair sat in silence, unmoving.  After a long moment, he picked up a remote and pushed the button.  The woman shrieked and tensed up.  Her body curled as much a she could from her confined position.  She looked up at the man, face now uncovered.  It was Kiyone.  Her voice was rough, almost damaged, "I'll tell you nothing."

   "That's too bad." The man on the video spoke, "Because I was going to feel a bit generous and let you live.  Now I'm not so sure, since you're being so difficult."

   "At least I'll die with the knowledge that I did the right thing and you will get what you deserve in due time, asshole."

  The man backhanded Kiyone across the cheek.  She let out a wince.  He forcefully grabbed her face with one hand, "You stubborn bitch!  Do you want to die THAT badly?  I'll arrange it."  He let go, heading to the door. "Keep electrocuting her until she passes out or cracks.  If she doesn't say anything, go ahead and arrange for the execution.  We have no time for this any longer."

  The video continued on until they dragged Kiyone's body out of the room.  She was limp and easily carried by the guards.  The video screen went black.

  Ken stared at it for quite a bit.  The look on his face was rather unreadable.  Momiji reached over and touched Ken carefully on the shoulder, "What's wrong?" she asked.

   "... kill.  I'm going to kill that bastard if it's the last thing I do."  He said shakily.

   "..."  she carefully moved in to hug him from behind, "Calm down.  Everything will be fine."

   "No it won't!  He killed my mother!"  Ken cried out.  Tears began to roll down his cheeks.  His hands clenched tightly in anger.

   "Your mother?"  Momiji looked back at the now blank screen.  She pulled away to turn Ken's chair around to have him face her.  She then brought him back into a hug. "Tenchi... I'm here for you."

  Ken calmed down after a being held in Momiji's gentle hug.  He moved away and wiped his tears from his cheeks, "...I'm okay.  Let's consult the map again to find the best way to get out of here."

  Momiji nodded and looked over the screens.  She poked Ken on the shoulder, "Look at that screen... it looks like someone's attacking that entrance."

   "... those aren't normal people, that's your mother, brother and the rescue team!  Oh, this is good... let's see..."  He punches up a few numbers on the board.  "Okay, their coordinates are here ... which means... they're at the opposite end of the base from us.  At their rate, we can meet them halfway - there are NO other paths they can take.  Let's see... "  He points to the map for Momiji, "So we go this way and we enter this large room and take the rest of the way so we can meet up with them and get the hell out of here safely.  It's are safest route since I still have this collar on."

   "I'll go with that.  You're really good at this."

   "Thanks... I only went to school for it for the past 3 years..."

   "That would make sense then."  Momiji commented.

  Ken stretched and hopped out of his chair.  He walked over to a cabinet and opened it up. "This is what we need.  An arsenal."  Ken grabbed a rifle and a handgun.  He slipped the handgun under his belt and strapped the rifle over his shoulder.  "Grab something for yourself.  We should move out."

   "I don't need any weapons.  I can handle myself."  She smiled.

   "Okay... well... whatever.  Just don't get yourself hurt or nothing.  I can't cover you the whole time.  Stay close and we'll be fine."

  Momiji nodded.  He charged the gun and went to the door to exit and start down the hall.  The path was clear.  Momiji followed quickly behind.

  He looked down the hall to notice a group of about ten or so dressed just like the guards had.  Ken moved his hand back to stop her from moving ahead.  He turned and pushed her against the wall, covering her with his body.  He quickly pulled the cloak hood over his head.  She yelped then noticed the guards passing by behind them.  He covered her mouth with his hand, keeping close to her.  Momiji blushed at the contact.  His eyes closed and forehead barely touching hers to block her face and body from the eyesight of those passerbys.  The group of soldiers quickly moved past.  Ken tilted his head to notice that and grabbed Momiji's hand to turn the corner and barrel down the corridor.  He stopped again at the end of the hall.  Two ways to go this time.

   "Do you remember the way?"  Momiji asked, concerned.

   "Yes.. it's that way." He points to the path down the right.  Ken looked down the left corridor. "But... this way are the rest of the prisoner cells.  I... can't just leave the rest of the GP there, if there are any left.  It's only the door at the end of the hall.  I don't expect you to stay with me.  I just have to check.  It's my duty."

   "I understand completely.  I'll stay with you, though.  I'm not about to try and make it out of here by myself."  She smiled, "Let's go!"

  Ken smiled and nodded.  He prepared his rifle and made the left turn.  He ran to the door and opened it quickly.  Two guards on duty, just like the other cell block.  He fired on them with no remorse.  They had no idea it was coming.  Ken grabbed the keys and signaled for Momiji to tie the guards up.  He unlocked some cell doors with five very war-torn Galaxy Police officers.

   "Who are you?"  asked one of them.

   "I am Makibi Ken, son of Makibi Kiyone and Galaxy Police Cadet-in-Training.  I want you to leave as fast as possible and contact headquarters.  No time to explain the situation, just get out and get reinforcements fast.  They've given up hope on this mission and they need a swift kick in the ass before they come back to this hellhole to save everyone.  Use this."  He pulled a small communicator out of his jacket and tossed it to the highest ranking officer. "That should broadcast you to the main Galaxy Police channel for alerts."

   "But... but... they'll block the signal.  They'll catch us and kill us for sure!"  said the man.

   "No, they won't.  I already unjammed the frequency and that room has been sealed.  No one will be able to track you.  Just get out and DO it.  I have to save a Princess and meet up with another rescue team.  I don't have time for this kind of hesitation.  Just do it.  NOW."

  The officer nodded to Ken, "I understand.  Continue with your mission, we'll notify GP of your rescue and tell them to send reinforcements to pick us up.  Thank you."

   "The defenses of this place are really limited.  Tell them to raid the place using 'The Xesicon' maneuver.  It'll work.  They don't have the resources to fight back.  Their beef is with the Juraian royal family so GP will have the edge.  Take this rifle - you'll need it."  Ken handed the rifle over to the Galaxy Police officer.

   "I'll relay the message.  We'll move out now."  The officer headed out with his group of four.

  Ken watched as he left, then pulled his pistol out from under his belt. "Okay, this is the last stretch.  We go in and meet up with the others, then I go exact my revenge."

   "What!?" Momiji seemed surprised, "You can't just do that you know!"

   "And why not?  At that point the responsibility of returning you to safety is over and my mission will be complete when I resolve the crime against my mother."  He sounded rather determined.

   "It's not the right way to do things!"

   "I don't care."

   "You can get hurt!" Momiji whined, following behind Ken as he wandered down the hall.

   "That's right, I can.  I'll leave that up to my skill and strength when I face him."  He turned down another corridor, heading toward a door at the end of the hall.

   "Tenchi!  You're unbelievable!"

  Ken looked through a small window on the door. "... shit... he's in *there*.  We have to get through this door to get to the rest of the base and meet up with everyone.  I didn't anticipate this."

   "So this is it?  You're just going to rush in, gun blazing and all?"

   "Seems like the only way to do it.  It's my fate, not yours."  Ken looked at Momiji.  He looked a little sadly at her, but had this driven feeling about him.

  Momiji nodded, "You're right about that.  Tenchi... you're a good person.  I'm glad you were the one who saved me.  Please be careful."

   "You're not so bad yourself, Princess."  He smiled, checking his gun one final time.  He turned to look Momiji over.  Ken touched her cheek softly, then leaned in close and kissed her on the lips in one swift motion.  He pulled away and stated calmly, "I now at least have kissed a girl once before I die."

  With that, he pulled open the door and ran right into action.  He started firing at the guards who came at him.

   "Tenchi!" Momiji shrieked, following quickly behind.  She lifted up a small Juraian personal shield around herself.

  Ken was taking down targets easily.  The main fellow was in the center, sitting in what appeared to be a throne that was at the top of a tiny staircase.  Two guards by his side.  One managed to duck away from Ken's attack.  Ken growled and pulled down his cloak top. "You!  Get down here and fight me like a man!"

  The man on the throne stood up.  He was dressed in a blue cloak and a dark outfit, similar to a ninjas.  The main difference would be that his had a symbol on his chest and his hood was pulled down as well.  "Fight you?  You're just a boy."

   "You scared?  Come down here and face me!"  He growled.

   "I see you've got the marks of the Juraian royal family.  Tsk... you won't be able to do much since we have you locked down.  Lovely technology, isn't it?"

   "Fuck you!  I can fight without that so-called power!  Take up your weapon and fight!"  Ken raised a gun at the man.

   "A gun?  You're Juraian.  You should use a sword when fighting an adversary such as myself."  He threw a sword toward Ken.  It landed on the ground next to the young cadet.  The man then picked up his own sword from beside the throne. "I will fight you, but I want a name to go with my opponent."  He started down the stairs toward the boy.

  Ken kneeled down to pick up the sword.  He put the gun back at his belt buckle and went into a fighting pose. "My name is..."

  The room was large, there was even a second level that had a balcony that looked over the arena.  A loud sound of a door opening and several footsteps came from above.  It was lead by Tenchi and Ryoko.  Yoshiko looked over the side of the balcony and screamed, "Ken!"

  Ken didn't miss a beat.  He growled, "My name is Makibi Tenchi!"  He leapt toward the fellow clad in blue with his sword.  Ken's technique was strong and focused.  The swords clanged loudly in the hollow room.  "I'm here on behalf of the Galaxy Police!  Your ass is mine!"

   "You're good!" The man commented, "Though, your anger can make you clumsy."  He slashed quickly, cutting into Ken's left arm.

  Ken winced, continuing to fight.  The blood soaked through the jacket and cloak.  He snapped at the man, "Shut up!"  He pushed forward with an onslaught of different techniques, defending each one thrown at him.

  Tenchi looked around the area, "There's no way to get down quickly!"  He sounded frustrated, "Ryoko, go down and help him!"

   "I can't do that."  She watched quietly, "It's his fight.  He's doing what he came here to do."

   "Ryoko!  This is no time to be concerned about his pride."  Tenchi snapped.

   "No, Dad... let him fight.  He's not losing.  What happened to his hair and face?"  Yoshiko asked.

   "Those are Juraian battle markings." Aeka spoke up. "He seems to have them, but he isn't displaying any of the Juraian power.  It's most peculiar.  He would certainly have an advantage in the fight if he did use it."

   "It's because he can't."  said a voice behind the group.

   "What?" Tenchi asked, turning to face that voice.

   "He can't.  They have collars that put Juraians in a battle ready stage but stop the power from working.  It's a constant strain on the body.  It hurts the more you try."  said the cloaked figure.

   "... I see."  Ryoko said, "Are you here to try and capture us?"

   "No.  I'm sorry.  I can't explain just yet."  The figure turned and ran down the corridor to another exit.

  Tenchi looked back over the balcony to watch the fight. "This isn't good.  He keeps making mistakes that can get him killed.  I wish Grandpa could have been able to teach him."

  The fight continued below.  Several cuts flow back and forth between the two.  Ken does not slack off in his stance.  He rushed the older man, only to have his sword slashed into two, the lose blade clanging to the floor rather dramatically.  He tossed the half-sword and hilt aside.  "I'll take you down with my bare hands if I have to."  He panted sharply.

   "Ken!" screamed Yoshiko again.  She ran to Tenchi's side and grabbed the Master Key from where it was tucked under his belt.

   "Hey!  Yoshiko!  Give that back!  That's not a good idea!"  Tenchi tried to chase after her.

  Yoshiko ran along the balcony wall and threw the Master Key toward Ken.  He looked up and noticed the falling sword hilt.  He did a slight leap sideways to grab it in mid-air.  He turned to face the enemy once more, gripping the sword gracefully, "Maybe I don't have to."

  Ken winced.  His heart started to pound faster and harder in his chest.  He felt as if his blood was running through his body thicker and stronger than before.  The blade began to extend, then blinked away.  His nose began to drip blood slowly from one nostril.  He closed his eyes and concentrated harder, the blade now fully extending from the Juraian sword.  He snarled and leapt toward his opponent once more for full combat.

  This time was different, he was able to get in a lot more hits.  The longer the combat lasted, the more Ken seemed to regress into a feral from.  He was making all the right moves faster than ever.  First it was his nose, then he started to bleed through his ears.  He stopped hearing the cries from the balcony and Momiji, only able to hear his own heart beating.  He disarmed the man and growled, "I hope you like it in hell."  Ken slashed quickly across, down and into the opposite mans heart.  It was a swift death as the lifeless body fell to the ground.  Ken stumbled backwards as the blade disappeared.

  With his back turned, a cloaked figure started toward Ken with a sword, "You'll pay for that!"  He remarked.

  The other cloaked figure ran in from the side entrance, lifting a gun and shooting down the assailant.  The assailant fell to the ground behind Ken.  This cloaked figure now approached and kicked the body over to be face up, "No one touches my son." and shoots the lying figure in the head.

  Ken stood still, unaware of what happened behind him.  He looked up toward the balcony, and then aside at what he had done.  His hand released his grip on the master key, letting it fall to the ground before he himself collapsed.

   "Tenchi!"  cried the hooded figure.  Pulling the hood off, it revealed that it was Kiyone.  She went to Kens side, checking  his wounds.

  Ken started to convulse and going into a seizure.  Kiyone tried her best not to panic, her eyes wide as she went into a medical procedure or two.  "... somebody call for help!"  She yelled to no one in particular.  She did her best for what the situation called for, but he continued to shake and shudder.  She tried to comfort him as much as she could. "...everything's going to be fine... calm down... help is on the way."  Her emotions getting the best of her as tears started to roll down her cheeks.

  Ryoko teleported down to appear next to Kiyone and Ken.  She took note of the collar, "How do you get these things off?"

  It wasn't long before Momiji ran over near Kens side.  "There was a key!  But... I don't know where the key to his is.  We have to get it off or it'll kill him!"

   "What he's done already may have pushed him already to the edge of death."  Kiyone commented, "Ryoko, can you try to take it off?"

   "...I can try.  Are you sure doing THAT won't kill him?"  Ryoko looked at Kiyone carefully.

   "Please... oh god, Ryoko, just do it.  It's the collar that's poisoning his body.  The longer it is on, the shorter time we have.  Please..!"

   "I won't let him die."  She formed a small energy blade with her hand, jamming the tip into the locking mechanism and twisting.  It sizzled and popped, forcing the collar to unlock and fall off.

  Kiyone let out a faint cry of joy, tears still falling quickly.  She threw the collar into a different direction and hugged Ken to her.

  The building shook outside, noises erupted loudly and echoed through the walls.  It was only took a few moments for several Galaxy Police soldiers to burst through the two opposite doors to find the troop of would be rescuers and the downed boy.  Ken was rushed to an aircraft with Kiyone to be taken to a nearby hospital while the others followed in Ryo-Oh-Ki.

*  *  *

  Kiyone sat in the chair next to the hospital bed.  She watched Ken sleep as he was hooked up to many machines to monitor his life signs.  She hasn't bothered speaking to the others since they arrived at the hospital. 'Why should I?'  she asked herself, 'They know the truth.  They don't even have to stick around any longer.  I should talk to them.  I just... dammit.  I can't believe he went all that way to find me.'  She paced around the room, idly watching Ken through tired eyes.

  In the other room, the group was sitting in the lobby.  All sitting in chairs along two rows.  Mihoshi had joined them within the first hour or two of being there.

   "Any news?"  Mihoshi asked everyone.

   "They aren't letting anyone in there but family."  Aeka commented.  "Although I suppose Lord Tenchi could go in there if he wanted to."

   "Hmm?  Oh, well I guess Tenchi is always like family huh?"  Mihoshi smiled.   The others just smiled uncomfortably.

   "I guess I should check on things, if it's okay."  Tenchi looked over to Ryoko and Yoshiko.

  Ryoko nodded, "We're fine.  Please check on things, Tenchi.  We'll be right here."

  Tenchi stood up and walked over to the room Ken was staying in.  He opened the door and stepped in quietly. "Hey."

   "... Tenchi.  Long time no see, really."  Kiyone spoke up. "How're things?"

   "Oh, they were pretty fine... then someone crashed into the forest near my house... then Aeka contacted me... then I found out I had a son.  You know, all in a weeks work."

   "... well.  Sounds like a pretty exciting few days."

   "Why didn't you tell me, Kiyone?"

   "There wasn't a need to tell you.  There wasn't any reason to.  I mean... you had your life, I had mine."

   "He's MY son!"  Tenchi turned to Kiyone, "I had a right to know!"

   "Don't raise your voice at me!"  She snapped.  Kiyone ran a hand through her hair, "I'm sorry.  I'm a little worn out still.  I didn't mean to yell.  Yes, I always had thought that it would have been right for you to have known all along.  Then you got back with Ryoko... got married, and everything.  I was really scared to bring any extra drama into your life, especially early on in your marriage.  More than anything, I wanted you to be happy.  No strings.  Remember?"

   "No strings or not, I would have been happiest knowing the truth."  Tenchi walked over to look at Ken, "How's he doing?"

   "He had some internal bleeding.  He needed stitches in a few places.  Has a fever, has a few broken ribs..."  She trailed off, watching him sleep.


   "He's almost sixteen.  His birthday is in a few days, too.  Tenchi... what was I thinking?  I didn't expect him to come after me.  I thought I had raised him better... to handle things like the prospect of my death."  Kiyone wiped her eyes.  She hugged herself, "He's just a kid."

  Tenchi hesitantly stepped over and hugged Kiyone from behind, "It's okay.  It'll be alright.  You raised him very well.  Things'll work out."

    "I'm too old for this.  Maybe it's time for me to take a desk job."  Kiyone paused, then spoke up softly, "You know... I did try to tell you.  Once."

  Tenchi let go of Kiyone, "When?"

  She turned around and looked at him, "You probably don't even remember.  I chickened out."

   "Please, tell me when?"  Tenchi looked into Kiyone's eyes.  "It's important to me."

  Kiyone couldn't look Tenchi back in the eyes, she turned away, "Well... I remember it went something like this..."

  //  The small japanese park was bustling with the usual amount of activity for a thursday afternoon.  Kiyone walked over to a payphone across the street, placing a few yen into the slot and dialing a number.

  *Brrrrrrrring*brrrrrrrring* rang the phone at the other end.  A faint click is heard and a familiar voice picks up on the other line.

   "Hello?" spoke Tenchi. "This is Masaki."

   "Hello..."  Kiyone spoke softly, "Tenchi, it's Kiyone."

   "Oh wow!  That's a voice I wasn't expecting to hear.  What's going on?"

   "Say.. do you have some time?  I'm obviously in town... can you come down to the park near your school?  I'd like to see you."

   "Yeah, I've got the afternoon off.  I'll be there in about ten minutes."  Tenchi said, "See you soon."

   "Okay, bye."  Kiyone hung up the phone.  She walked back across the street to the park.  She approached a teenaged girl playing with a toddler.  She sat down in the grass next to the child and ruffled his hair, "How's my little boy been doing?"

   "Oh, he's such a sweetheart." said the teenaged girl. "So this is what Earth looks like?  I'm so glad you brought me on this trip, Detective Makibi."

   "Well, you were assigned to train under me.  Just be sure to watch Ken and make sure he doesn't make a fuss while I'm talking to my friend."  Kiyone looked up and over to notice Tenchi turning the corner and heading toward the park.  "Alright.  Keep him here, I'll be back in a few minutes."

  Kiyone stood up and walked over to a bench to lean against it.  She waved to Tenchi, "Hey!  I'm over here!"  She signaled.

  Tenchi smiled and walked over, "Hey back at you!"   He hugged Kiyone, "Long time no see, eh?"

  Kiyone hugged back.  She seemed to hold on for a bit longer than normal friends would.  "... yeah, it's been a while."

  Tenchi pulled away, "So... what brings you to Earth?"

   "Well... nothing really... just wanted to see you."  Kiyone smiled nervously, "Let's sit?"

   "Okay... that's a pretty long trip just to see someone.  You've got to be pretty busy, with work and all."  Tenchi sat down as instructed.

   "My life has been one huge rollercoaster.  I should really take the time to see friends more often."

   "You don't say?"  Tenchi smiled, "It's really good to see you though.  I mean, you call every once in a while but it's nice to see you in person."

  Kiyone nodded.  She looked back over to where Ken and the GP cadet were seated.  Ken looked up and waved to Kiyone.  She smiled and waved back at him.

  Tenchi looked over to the young boy and waved as well, "Oh, did I tell you the news?"  He spoke up.

   "Mmn?  What news is that?"  Kiyone looked back over to Tenchi.

   "Ryoko and I are getting married."  Tenchi said.

  Kiyone blinked, "...I see.  Congratulations."

   "Don't sound so enthusiastic."  Tenchi raised an eyebrow.

   "No!  Really!  I'm happy for you."  She smiled weakly, "I guess I wasn't expecting it... so soon!  I mean... you're still in college, right?"

   "I'm almost out.  We decided it was about time anyway.  Things just finally worked."

   "... I'm glad.  You two always seemed to be a good fit."  Kiyone looked back over to Ken.  'Dammit, I can't tell him now.  I'm not going to ruin things between him and Ryoko.'

   "... I can't help but hear a tone in your voice... is something wrong, Kiyone?"

   "No.  Everything is perfectly fine.  I'm actually pretty happy with my life.  I can honestly say that."

   "Wow.  That's very good to know.  Things worked out for you too, huh?"

   "It appears that way."  She smiled.  Her bracelet made a light beeping noise, "Oh no.  I cannot believe this.  I have to go."

   "Uh, okay.  We'll catch up later, right?"

  Kiyone paused, looking sadly at Tenchi, "Sure... I guess so.  Don't forget to invite me to the wedding, okay?"

   "Sure thing."  He got up and hugged Kiyone goodbye. "I'll see you later."

  Ken ran over to where Kiyone was, followed by the cadet. "Come back!" said the teen.

   "Daaaaaa!"  Ken ran up to Tenchi and hugged his leg.

  Kiyone froze in her tracks.  Ken smiled up at Tenchi. "Daaaaah!"

   "Hey there little guy."  Tenchi smiled down at Ken.

   "... I'm so sorry, sir!  He was too fast for me." said the young cadet.

   "It's okay."  Tenchi smiled.  Ken let go of Tenchi and walked back over to the cadet.  Tenchi looked back over at Kiyone, "Well, I'll see you later.  Don't forget to call if anything important happens, okay?"

   "Right..." She commented. "Bye."  //

  Tenchi looked at Kiyone, "So you're telling me... that was him?  In the park?"

   "Yes.  I think I would have told you that day if you didn't mention Ryoko.  God, I sound like a bitter 'Ex'.  I just didn't want to ruin things for you.  I just... I lost my confidence.  He looked so happy."

   "I can't believe this.  He was right there..."

   "You couldn't have known.  No one did."

  Ken murmured off to the side, "... Mom?"

   "... you're awake!"  She ran over to the side of the bed. "I was so worried."

   "Mom... I'm think  I'm okay.  Am I dead?"  He asked lightly.

   "No... no, we're at the hospital.  You got hurt pretty badly back there.  You know, you're a hero."  She smiled at Ken, taking his hand in hers.

   "I wanted to save you.  The Galaxy Police gave up on you.  I..."

   "Shhh... don't talk.  Everythings fine.  We're all here now.  Everyone is safe."

  Ken nodded, then looked at Tenchi, "Don't give my mom too much trouble.  She did her best.  I'm happy."  He smiled and closed his eyes.

  Kiyone let out a light sigh.  Suddenly the heart monitor lets out a loud beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep noise.  Flatline.

   "Tenchi!?"  Kiyone looked over her son, "Oh no!  Call a nurse!  Call the doctor!"  She pressed the emergency button.  A rush of nurses and doctors barged into the room.  Two nurses escort Kiyone and Tenchi out of the room. "No!  Let me stay here!"  She tried to struggle, but was pushed out of the room.  The doors closed soundly on the two.  She turned and cried on Tenchi's shoulder.  He hesitantly wrapped his arms around his friend for comfort.

  Tenchi held Kiyone as she cried in the cold, quiet hallway.  Ryoko stood up and noticed the two.  Normally she would have been jealous of the situation.  This time was not the case.

   "Mom, what's going on?"  Yoshiko asked Ryoko, tugging at her sleeve.

   "...I don't know, sweetie."  She tried to sound reassuring, but ended up sounding rather scared.

  Ryoko looked to the others in the room.  Mihoshi, Aeka, Momiji, Tenchi, Kiyone and Yoshiko.  Sasami had escorted Shirou back to Jurai while the others opted to stay at the hospital.  Ryoko thought to herself, 'Even in that short time, Ken had brought this group of people together once again.  Sure, it's not like the old days.  Nothing can be like that ever again.  All it took was one boy to change a few lives around.  Like before.  He truly is the son of Tenchi.'  Ryoko stood up and walked over to where Tenchi and Kiyone were.

   "Hey Officer."  She half smiled, "I'm here for you, okay?"

  Kiyone looked over to Ryoko and pulled away from Tenchi's hug.  She rubbed her eyes again, "I never expected it to end this way.  I never expected anything like this to happen..."

   "I was mad at you - at first.  It really ticked me off to know that Tenchi had found his way into someone elses heart, especially yours."  Ryoko crossed her arms, "I can even say I'm a little jealous now knowing you have a little bit of Tenchi with you through Ken."

   "Please don't start with me, Ryoko..."

   "I'm not finished."  She cut Kiyone off.  "What I'm saying is... maybe this needed to happen.  I can honestly say I'm glad Ken came to us.  I'm even fine with the idea that you and Tenchi have a son together."

   "... you certainly have matured, Ryoko."  Kiyone commented.  She turned to look back to the door leading to Ken's room. "...why can't they let us know what's going on?  Why can't they just tell us if he's still alive?"

   "Alive?  What happened?"  Ryokos eyes widened.

  Kiyone walked away over to sit next to the door, alone.

  Tenchi said quietly to Ryoko, "... he flatlined.  They rushed us out of the room."

   "Now I feel really bad."  Ryoko hugged herself.  Tenchi moved over close to hug Ryoko from the side for comfort.  She returned the hug needfully.  Ryoko then opened her eyes and  looked back up at him, "Keep me posted.  The girls are just as concerned as I am."

   "It's like I'm outside of the situation.  I know he's my son.  I feel responsible that he's in such a delicate state... I just... I've got so many mixed emotions about it all.  It's so hard to care about someone you barely know, but it's also hard NOT to care about someone you know is your own blood."  Tenchi seemed exasperated.  He sounded on the verge of tears, but not quite letting himself go there yet.

  Ryoko nodded, "I know.  Just try your best to be there for her.  It's all we can do at this point."  Ryoko squeezed Tenchi's hand and gave him a soft kiss on the cheek.  She then wandered back over to sit with Yoshiko and the group, quietly updated them of the situation without raising too much concern.

  Tenchi looked back over to where Kiyone was.  He took a deep breath and sat down in the chair next to her.  He said to her quietly, "You're not alone in this.  We're all here for you and Ken."

   "You don't have to try and be the father that never was there.  It wasn't something I was expecting of you, Tenchi.  You don't have to make up for lost time, or any of that.  I can understand if this is really... really strange for you."  Kiyone choked on her tears, staring at the floor.

   "Don't push me away."  He snapped, "It's not even about that.  You are my FRIEND.  You're one of my closest friends, and have been for years.  I still can't believe you kept this from me.  I'm not going to pretend that I'm happy you kept this a secret.  I feel a little violated.  I feel... useless.  I would have wanted to know how he was like growing up."

  Kiyone lowered her head. "Well, I never said I made all the right decisions all the time.  I'm sorry.  I'm just... sorry."  She cried a little bit again.

   "... Kiyone... please... it's just my afterthoughts.  I'm proud of how you've raised him.  Don't cry."  He reached down and took her hand. "We'll get through this."

*   *   *

  The wind kicked up.  It was a hot autumn day.  Ken opened his eyes.  He was laying down on the grassy ground in the middle of the forest next to the Masaki Shrine.  He ran a hand through his hair, straightening it out.  Ken stood up and looked around the area, familiar yet unfamiliar.  He heard a voice in the distance, "Tenchi!" called a voice.  "Come here, Tenchi!"

  Ken smiled.  He straightened out his clothes.  Nothing really fancy like before, just a pair of loose pants, a tank top with a light overshirt and a pair of sandals.  His hair was pulled back into a pony tail, bangs falling a little into his eyes.  He started to run toward the voice, up the many stairs to where the shrine was situated.  He stumbled once or twice, climbing the stairs happily.  He eventally made it to the top.  A figure appeared to be sitting near the shrine entrance. "Tenchi, there you are!" said the woman.

   "Have you been waiting for me long?" Ken asked.

   "Not really."  Said the woman.  Her hair was long, pulled back into a ponytail.  She had slight highlights of grey, wearing a Japanese traditional styled kimono.  "Was it a rough trip?"

   "... it was very nice.  I like this place."  He sat down next to the woman.  "How do you know me?"

   "You are my Grandson, of course I know who you are."

   "I see."  He looked up into the sky. "So, is this where it all ends... or where it all begins?"

   "What do you think, Tenchi?"

   "I like it here, but..."  Ken hesitated.

   "You know that it's not your time."  She smiled and agreed, "I'm here to tell you to go back.  You still have a lot to do with your life."

   "Is that so?"  He asked, "I suppose."

   "Don't you think?"

   "I don't know.  I..."  He twiddled his thumbs, "I'm really not sure where to go from here.  I mean... I always wanted my mom and dad to be together, but they can never truly be together."

   "I'll admit it's a very different situation..." She commented, "You were a gift."

   "A gift?  Howso?"

   "For your mother.  She never wanted children.  She was burning herself out with her lifestyle.  The opportunity came along to give her that much needed change.  You."

   "I don't understand what you mean."  He looked at his feet. "I was an accident."

   "No.  You were a blessing.  It was meant to happen."  She smiled back at him, "Please believe that you are just as much a part of this family as my own Granddaughter is."

   "I should go back.  They'll miss me if I stay here.  I want to stay but... the longer I'm here... I mean, I should go, right?"

  The woman stood up and opened her arms to Ken.  He blinked, and then walked over and hugged her softly, "It's okay, Tenchi.  You'll know when the time is right.  I'll be here for you when that time comes."

   "Thank you."

*   *   *

  The lobby of the hospital was quiet.  The door that lead to Ken's room opened and a Doctor exited.  He walked over to Kiyone and Tenchi.  "It seems your son has pulled through."  He said to Kiyone, "He's now in a stable condition, but he's resting.  When he wakes he can have visitors again."

   "Thank you for letting us know."  Kiyone seemed relieved.

   "Yes, thank you."  Tenchi nodded.

  The doctor left them alone.  Kiyone let out a sigh. "This is good.."  She fell back down into her chair.

   "Whoa, Kiyone... you okay?"  Tenchi blinked.

   "Yes.  I'm fine.  I'm relieved... and just a bit worn out."

   "Let me tell the others the news.  We should all get something to eat downstairs."

  Kiyone nodded, leaning back in her chair.  "Alright."

  Tenchi walked over to the group.  They seemed really relieved at that point as well.  The girls stood up and stretched.  Kiyone took her time, lingering at the doorway.  She then got up and went to join the group.  Mihoshi ran up and glomped onto Kiyone.

   "Erk!  Mihoshi!  Not so tight..."  Kiyone smiled weakly.

   "I'm just so happy you're okay and Ken's okay and everyone is okay!" She practically sobbed.

   "Mihoshi... it's fine.  Let's just go get food, right?"  Kiyone patted Mihoshi on the back and pushed her away from the hug to walk with them.

  The group went downstairs to a small cafe.  They idly chatted back and forth about how things have been lately.  Of course, conversations seemed to move toward Ken.

   "So, Kiyone - How long were you going to hide him from us?"  Ryoko asked, taking a drink from her cup.

   "Eh?  Well... my original intention wasn't to hide him.  It just ended up that way.  I was going to wait until he was old enough to want to meet... well, everyone."  Kiyone commented.

   "So you were waiting on his decision?"  Tenchi asked.

   "Yes and no.  It was my decision to leave it up to him, when he was old enough to make his own choices... or, in this circumstance... in the case of my death I left instructions for him to approach the Masaki home and make contact with Tenchi.  I guess I planned badly on that half, but it worked out for the best."

  Yoshiko smiled, "I have a brother now.  I can't complain."

   "He's very bold." commented Momiji. "I can safely say that I wouldn't have gotten free if it wasn't for him.  I've always had the impression I had met him before though... has he ever trained on Jurai?"

   "Yes.  He was pretty young back then... it didn't last long.  His trainer and I had a difference of opinion."

   "I met a boy just like him several years ago.  He beat Shirou in a swordmatch and ran off.  I remember his name was Tenchi.  Aunt Sasami thought I misheard his name, but I think maybe it was him."  Momiji said lightly.

   "I've never heard this story."  Aeka spoke up, "He beat Shirou?"

   "If he's the same boy, yes.  Maybe that's why Shirou hated him so much."  Momiji shrugged.

   "I can't say I'd be the first one to know when this would have happened.  Only Ken would know the truth."  Kiyone shrugged, looking a little tense.  "Mn... let's go back up.  I want to see if he's woken up."

   "Relax, Kiyone.  He's not going anywhere."  Ryoko spoke up.

   "I know.  Still, I would feel better being the first person he sees when he wakes up.  Always the concerned mother."  She pushed her chair back in and started to head out of the cafe.

  Tenchi stood up and went to follow. "I'll go with.  I'm done with my meal anyway.  I'll see you guys up there, okay?"

  Ryoko nodded and let Tenchi wander off after Kiyone.

  Tenchi caught up with Kiyone as she entered the elevator.  "Hey."

   "Hey."  she responded, "You don't have to do this."

   "I want to."

   "Right."  Kiyone leaned against the elevator wall.  She pushed the button to the correct floor.

   "So... did you ever find love?"  Tenchi asked.

   "Hmm?  Well, maybe once or twice.  I never let my guard down enough to let them get close.  Now it's just too late.  I'm old, Tenchi.  Out of everything, though, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I'm happy with being the single mother.  I was always happy to know that even in the smallest way, you would always be part of my life through him, even if we had lost contact."

   "Kiyone, you always were the independant one of the group." he said softly.

  Kiyone looked up at Tenchi. "... yeah."

  Tenchi walked over and touched Kiyone on the cheek, "Everything is fine, right?  He's fine, you're safe..."

   "I suppose so."  She looked into his eyes, "Tenchi... I..."  She flashbacked to how things were that weekend.  Her cheeks flushed at his gentle touch.  She impulsively leaned in close and kissed him faintly on the lips.  It was innocent and warm. 'Always longing for the impossible.  Always reaching for the one thing I can never have.'  She thought to herself.  The elevator stopped at the floor.  Kiyone pulled away and whispered, ".. thank you.  C'mon, let's go see our son."

  Tenchi followed Kiyone to the room Ken was staying in.  He had only been awake for a few moments, but he was conscious to greet them.

   "Are you feeling better?"  Kiyone asked.

   "Mn... I think so."  Ken smiled. "I'm feeling a lot better.  I was told it wasn't the time to leave."

   "I see."  She seemed confused. "Well, what do you want to do after you get better?  Go back to the academy?"

   "I don't know."  He looked at Tenchi, "I think I might want to spend some time on Earth... or maybe visit Jurai again.  That is, if I'm welcome."

   "You'll always be welcome at the Masaki household."  Tenchi spoke softly.  "This time it'll be on happier terms, right?"

   "Right."  Ken smiled again.

  Kiyone ruffled Ken's hair, "Don't you ever go on any sort of revenge missions ever again, got it?"

   "I won't.  I promise."  He straightened his hair back out.  "Mom, will you come down to Earth with me?"

   "Well, I don't know how the Galaxy Police would like that.  I'm a bit more important than when I was first on Earth.  We'll see, okay?"  Kiyone looked over at Tenchi a little nervously, then back at her son.

  Tenchi laughed lightly.  He joked lightly with Kiyone and Ken for the rest of the afternoon, joined later by the rest of the group.

  Many decisions surrounded the newest member of the 'Masaki' family.  It may have only been less than two weeks, but everyones lives had now been changed once again.  A full revolution has taken place.  Once again a starting point had opened up for the young boy now known as Tenchi.  He was finally home.

-  The End  -

Title: Based off of a song title from a group called 12 Volt Sex.  Here are the lyrics to that song, just to be random.

Helmet - 12 Volt Sex

 Hey, come on, they said catch up
 With us your slacking way behind
 Hind, beyond, recessing all
 The steps and time of everyone
 I can't finish what I start
 I face another day
 Someone said I'm not that smart
 It won't get in my way...

 I'm a dream inside myself
 My own perception let's me be
 Be the one
 The broken son to every father in the world
 I can't finish what I start, I face another day
 Someone said I'm not that smart
 It won't get in my way...
 Helmets are OK

 You can take me to the ground
 With nothing more than just a sound
 From the faces that I bear
 Inside the helmet that I wear
 I can't finish what I start
 I'll find another way
 Someone said I can't be part
 It won't get in my way...
 Helmets are OK

 You oughta, you oughta, you oughta

 Fear is nothing
 I'm alone again
 Fear is nothing
 I'm alone again
 Fear is nothing

 Fear is nothing
 You oughta, you oughta, you oughta
 Fear is nothing
 You oughta, you oughta, you oughta
 Fear is nothing
 You oughta, you oughta, you oughta
 Fear is nothing