The Harem Saga Sequel

EPISODE 3 Z

I have this feeling that my luck is none too goodThis sword here at my side don't act the way it shouldKeeps calling me its master, but I feel like its slaveHauling me faster and faster to an early, early graveAnd it howls, it howls like hell

I'm told it's my duty to fight against the lawThat wizardry's my trade and I was born to wade through goreI just want to be a lover, not a red-eyed screaming ghoulI wish it'd picked another to be its killing tool

Black blade! Black blade!Forged a billion years agoBlack blade! Black blade!Killing so its power can grow

There's death from the beginning to the end of timeAnd I'm the cosmic champion and I hold a mystic signAnd the whole world's dying and the burdens mineAnd the black sword keeps on killing 'til the end of time

Black blade! Black blade!Bringing chaos to the world we knowBlack blade! Black blade!And its using me to kill my friendsBlack blade! Black blade!Getting stronger so the world will endBlack blade! Black blade!Forcing my mind to bend and bend

The black bladeForged a million billion years agoMy cosmic sword goes on for eternityCarving out destinyBringing in the lords of chaosBringing up the beasts of HadesSucking out the souls of heroesLaying waste to knights and ladiesMy master is my slaveHa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Artist: Blue Oyster CultTitle: "Black Blade"

Music & Lyrics: E. Bloom - M. Moorcock - J. Trivers

Tenchi sat on his haunches in the center of a field of fine-grained sand (actually the floor of a large bowl-shaped structure), which was littered about with stone-like blocks. On either side of him lay a four-foot staff of dark-grained wood. His eyes were closed in meditation, ignoring the whisper of the wind and the oppressive silence. Before long a blue-white sphere of energy appeared between the clouds, plummeting quickly until it touched the sandy floor several meters in front of him. The sphere vanished, leaving behind a man-shaped figure.

The figure stood with legs spread apart and arms crossed, head canted to the side ever so slightly. His emerald-tinted locks stood off his scalp like so many frozen flames, and his pointed ears merely blended into the overall static eruption. His right eye was green and ophidian, the other was a violet-colored simulacrum. Two violet-colored horns projected from his left temple, and three wart-like proto-horns poked through the skin above his right temple like so many fingertips. His bronze-colored skin was mostly buried beneath a forest green jumpsuit. He stood silently for a while, observing Tenchi, waiting for a response.

Tenchi ignored him, eyes still closed in meditation.

His patience finally exhausted, the figure spoke. "Are you praying to your gods, making your peace before I kill you?"

Tenchi finally opened his eyes and studied the menacing intruder. "Welcome, Z0001332536893."

"Call me 'Z'."

Tenchi nodded in compliance. "No, Z, I was not praying; I was just waiting for you to make your grand entrance."

"The wait is over. Now get up — I'm going to enjoy incinerating you."

"Why don't we chat a bit, before our final confrontation?" Tenchi asked, gesturing for the intruder to take a seat.

"You can't be serious."

"But I am serious."

"Why should we do that?"

"I wouldn't mind getting a few answers before I go."

"I do not have time for such foolishness."

"You don't have time?" Tenchi asked sarcastically. "For someone who is supposed to be thousands of years old — "

" — Tens of thousands," Z corrected him.

" — You can't even spare a few extra minutes?"

"No."

"Not even out of professional courtesy?"

"No."

Tenchi shook his head sadly. "Tsunami told me you'd be like this."

"Tsunami? You have spoken with Tsunami? Where is she — tell me now, and quickly!" Z demanded.

"Or else what? You'll kill me? You plan to do that anyway. You'll kill me slowly? You don't even have time for a conversation, let alone time for torture." Z's eyes narrowed, and Tenchi could almost hear his adversary's teeth grinding. He swallowed the grin that tried to sprout across his lips.

"Very well, I will converse with you." Z pointedly examined the structure they occupied. "This looks like a stadium, or an amphitheater. Did you expect an audience to watch you die?"

Tenchi ignored the insulting tone. "No. I just wanted a place where I could see the sky, without any innocent bystanders."

"No observers? How disappointing." Z swaggered a bit, casually pacing a wide circle around Tenchi. "What is this place, if not a stage?"

"Washu once mounted a telescope here. A big one, as I recall."

"Ah, yes, Washu. So, she dallies with puny mortals now?"

"You might say that," Tenchi smiled. "She's my wife. One of my wives, actually."

"Your wife?" Z asked incredulously.

"Yes. Is the concept foreign to you? I can explain, if you wish — "

"I understand your mating rituals. It is just...inconceivable...that a goddess should stoop so low."

"Well, there's no accounting for taste."

"No witnesses...and no allies, either. Your fate is sealed: this time the woman Ryoko is not here to save you."

Tenchi rubbed the back of his head thoughtfully. "Yeah, she sure was a handful for you, wasn't she? Those ten Lighthawk Wings of hers must have been a pretty big surprise..."

"Bah! She lacks experience — I would have beaten her eventually."

"Yeah, maybe you would have. Of course, you didn't seem to be having much luck controlling her wings, though, did you?"

"That's because my energies and focus were upon you!"

"Ah, that must be it." Tenchi's tone was calculated to irritate, and it had the desired effect.

"Do not mock me. I will kill her as easily as I will kill you."

"So sure of victory, are you?"

"Yes. My victories are too numerous to count."

"Are you talking about duels with other Power adepts, or simply massacring helpless mundanes in Navy ships?"

"Both," Z replied, and then smiled wickedly. "Each variety offers it own pleasures."

"I see. Then you're just a hired assassin for Lady Tokimi?"

"You will not speak of Lady Tokimi," Z growled.

"Well, since you intend to kill me anyway, I'll speak of whomever and whatever I want," Tenchi replied, dismissing the threat with a wave of his hand. "The way I see it, you're either a spy, a scout, or an assassin. Not much honor in any of those roles, is there?"

Z must have realized he was being baited, because the thundercloud on his brow faded, and he smiled once more.

"You know, wiping out those fleets was impressive. I didn't know Lighthawk Wings could do things like that."

"There are many things that they can do...sadly, though, you'll never live long enough to discover those secrets."

Tenchi shrugged. "Well, all that death and destruction did serve a useful purpose."

"Oh?"

"Those weren't all Juraian vessels. We were in the middle of war games with three of our neighbors when you, eh, 'interrupted' the maneuvers. The survivors recorded everything and took the knowledge home."

"It will do them little good."

"Perhaps..."

"Ah, I see — you expect alliances to come out of that event, don't you? Defense against a common enemy."

"Yes."

"Even if you united the whole galaxy together under one banner, it will not stop Lady Tokimi. And I will be there to carve my share of the slaughter."

"So, you are really nothing more than a bloodhound for a land-grabbing despot. I expected something more original."

"Lady Tokimi's purposes are her own, fool, and I am her most trusted servant."

"Like I said, a dog on a leash."

Unnerved by Tenchi's seeming indifference, Z posed a question of his own. "Why did you bring those sticks with you?"

"These?" Tenchi asked, looking briefly at the objects in the sand. "These are jo staffs."

"Of what possible value is a 'jo staff'?"

"My grandfather uses them as teaching aides," Tenchi replied. "Why do you wear a jewel in one eye? Surely you could have had that eye regrown."

"It is a cybernetic implant," Z replied. "It has many sensors built into it, and is far more versatile than the original organ."

"So...why not have both eyes replaced?"

"An unnecessary procedure. The one is more than sufficient."

"Or is it, perhaps, a touch of vanity? Maybe even sentimentality?"

"Nonsense." Z studied Tenchi for a moment, head cocked to the side. "This is a trap of some sort, isn't it? And you are stalling for time."

Tenchi sighed as dramatically as Z postured. "Your senses are every bit as enhanced as mine — more so, with that jewel. Scan the area if you like...I'll wait."

Z did so, suspiciously. Finally: "We are alone."

"Yes, we are, though I should point out the cameras along the rim up there."

"Cameras? To what purpose? Who will appreciate watching your death?"

"My family, perhaps. Have you no family?"

"No," Z snorted contemptuously. "You have chosen a bad location, Emperor of Jurai — our combat will vaporize this whole hemisphere."

"You never know, Agent of Tokimi — life is full of surprises."

"Indeed: I have been living among you Juraians for many years, studying your ways. As a Super Class Power adept, I should have been able to overwhelm every adept for kilometers around. You should be cowering in terror this very minute, and your wives should be crawling at my feet, begging for attention. Since I am more powerful than you, I do not understand this failure."

"Well, it's because you're not human."

Z stared at him, motionless.

"You can drop the disguise, Z0001332536893. Washu saw the same discrepancy during the first battle, and figured it out. Since you aren't human, those mating protocols are irrelevant."

Z drew slowly to his full height. He touched a stud on his belt and his facade shimmered and vanished. Z's alien nature was now fully revealed: Though still bipedal, his ancestors had been avians who had traded wings for hands — each of which was composed of three fingers and an opposable thumb. The visible portion of his body was covered with a very fine down, of a green so dark as to be nearly black. A band of white feathers formed a ring around his neck, and a vestigial plumage crowned his head and his tail. His bare legs and webbed feet were tinted a dark shade of tangerine, as was his bill. And though the latter was flat and plate-shaped, it was soft and supple enough to form a variety of sounds. "Not very clever, human — it took a goddess to see through my disguise."

"She did more than that, alien — your ability to dissipate my Lighthawk Wings roused her curiosity to a fever pitch. It didn't take her long to figure out an artificial way to duplicate the process."

"What are you saying?" Z asked, his voice suddenly cold with caution.

Tenchi opened his hands to reveal a small black box with a single button on it, which he promptly pressed.

"What was that, a distress call?"

"Actually, I just turned on a generator buried beneath this structure. It projects a global energy field around us...an energy field that completely suppresses all Power attributes!"

"You're bluffing — or deluded."

"Go ahead and try," Tenchi said, grinning like a wolf.

Z closed his eyes, face screwed into a mask of concentration. The effort ended with a frustrated snort. "I will still kill you, human, and take that control from your twisted corpse."

"No need to wait that long," Tenchi replied. He tossed the palm-sized remote to the alien — who caught it clumsily. "That's a one-way switch. The generator can only be turned off from outside this enclosure. Neither of us can teleport ourselves out, nor teleport an object in here. And you'll notice that the walls are too high to jump over, and there's nothing here to make a rope out of. Whoever wins our little contest will have to be rescued...assuming he's found by someone friendly."

Z gave the box a cursory glance before tossing it to the ground. With one fluid movement he raised his right arm and pointed his fist at Tenchi, while his left hand slapped a set of buttons on his belt.

Nothing happened.

"Did I forget to mention that the field also neutralizes energy constructs above a certain threshold?" Tenchi asked. "All of your weapons and other gizmos are now just so much junk."

"Your human vanity never ceases to amaze me."

"And your alien arrogance never ceases to amaze me." Tenchi slowly rose to his feet, a jo staff gripped in each hand. He casually tossed one to the alien, who stepped back and let it land in the sand with a soft thump.

"So, this is a trap."

"Yes, it is. One designed to level the playing field."

"Level the playing field...?"

"Ah, my apologies for the unfamiliar analogy. The phrase means that all participants are at parity. And the only guaranteed way to ensure equal Power attributes between us is to remove them all. And, since there was a valid concern about hi-tech surprises," Tenchi indicated Z's belt, "we both had to be reduced to absolute basics. So: welcome to the Stone Age!"

Z slowly picked-up the jo staff.

"I see a certain hesitation in your actions," Tenchi mused, "which fuels a suspicion."

"What suspicion is that?"

"That over the course of thousands of years — "

" — Tens of thousands..."

" — You have come to rely upon your Lighthawk Wings to the exclusion of everything else. While you have undoubtedly mastered them in ways I can't even imagine, they have also mastered you. That's a lesson well worth learning." Tenchi raised his staff to an en-guard posture.

Z made no reply, settling into his own defensive stance.

"Let's test my theory." And with that, Tenchi began stalking his opponent.

############ AUTHOR'S NOTES ############

For those who don't recognize the references, the topic of the prelude/prologue tune is the magic sword Stormbringer, popularized in the novels by Michael Moorcock, about the brooding albino anti-hero Elric of Melniboné.

As mentioned elsewhere, the characters of Tenchi Muyo! were created by Masaki Kajashima, and brought to North America by Pioneer LDC. The attached story, while incorporating names and situations held under copyright by others, is copyright 2005 by Jeffery L. Harris. Said story came entirely from my imagination, and is not, nor intended to be, canon. Please do not send the legions of lawyers after me...it's not worth their time, or mine.

Any questions or comments should be directed to:

Jeffery L HarrisSubject: "The Harem Saga Sequel - Z"

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