EPISODE 7 Epilogue
When the dark wood fell before meAnd all the paths were overgrownWhen the priests of pride say there is no other wayI tilled the sorrows of stone
I did not believe because I could not seeThough you came to me in the nightWhen the dawn seemed forever lostYou showed me your love in the light of the stars
Cast your eyes on the oceanCast your soul to the seaWhen the dark night seems endlessPlease remember me
Then the mountain rose before meBy the deep well of desireFrom the fountain of forgivenessBeyond the ice and the fire
Cast your eyes on the oceanCast your soul to the seaWhen the dark night seems endlessPlease remember me
Though we share this humble path, aloneHow fragile is the heartOh give these clay feet wings to flyTo touch the face of the stars
Breathe life into this feeble heartLift this mortal veil of fearTake these crumbled hopes, etched with tearsWe'll rise above these earthly cares
Cast your eyes on the oceanCast your soul to the seaWhen the dark night seems endlessPlease remember mePlease remember mePlease remember mePlease remember me
Title: "Dante's Prayer"Artist: Loreena McKennitt
Tenchi seemed to spend so much of his life waiting...waiting for people to arrive, waiting for them to leave, waiting for births and battles. It was fortunate that he had learned how to wait at an early age, and the value of patience.
He was waiting now, of course. Although, this time the arrangements were far more lively than usual. He would be conducting a ceremony is a short time, and until then the Royal Family and invited guests had been escorted into a lounge and asked to make themselves comfortable. And, of course, 'comfort' was a relative term: there were no refreshments here, just some chairs and one transparent wall that opened onto the lunar surface (presently devoid of sunlight, so one could see the stars clearly above the harsh airless plains). Everyone present was dressed in their finest formalwear: Mihoshi and the Yamada family were wearing GP dress uniforms, Ayeka was arrayed in her favorite robes...even Ryoko had consented to a dress uniform. Tenchi, of course, was trapped once again in the tight collar he found so irritating, but had given up trying to do anything about it — one of the lessons relearned from recent events was to pick your battles carefully, and only fight the winnable ones.
Virtually all of the Royal Family was present, scattered about the room in little clusters, chatting amiably while cooling their heels. Tenchi had staked out a position by the big window, not so much for dramatic effect as for the view. There was always activity on a naval base, even on the airless surface of Jurai's largest moon, and from this high above the surface the glare from the guidelights and shelter entrances was minimal. The horizon was just a smudge of grays and charcoals, fading at some point completely into the blackness of space. And Tenchi never tired of looking at the stars. Never, ever.
Lady Seto had established her own territory at the far end of the room, and a steady stream of family members kept her entertained and occupied. The irony of the situation brought a smile to Tenchi's face: the official ruler and the real ruler. He didn't care, truth be told; she worked for Jurai, and for her family, of which he was a part. And he never really wanted the throne in the first place. He would give it up, if there was someone capable of taking his place...but that probably wouldn't happen until his children had grown-up and matured a bit. Well, he was patient enough to wait for that time, too.
Tenchi paused, his reflection in the window prompting a reflection upon those recent events:
* The battle had been over for weeks, and the military historians would probably give it some official name to commemorate the event, but for now everyone simply called it the Gateway Redoubt.
* The Coalition forces had consisted of 15,441 starships of all ratings, facing a Horde fleet whose size had still to be officially determined. Coalition sensor logs determined that there had been at least 13,000 Horde vessels in the initial engagement, but that a second formation had been organizing behind the first — and it was at least 8,000 strong at the height of the battle, and was being actively replenished from the big transport ships right up to the very final phase.
* No one really expected the transports to be hollow containers filled with docking bays; the sheer volume of Horde ships flooding the skies precluded that. Juraian Naval personnel examining the transports after the surrender were not surprised to discover that these vessels were, in essence, larger versions of Royal Treeships: the majority of the hanger doors were subspace portals — in fact, 37% of each transport's internal space was allocated for the supporting machinery — leading to scores of subspace bubbles capable of parking hundreds of thousands of starships. Even more alarming were the handful of dimensional doorway generators embedded into the transports' hulls. This latter discovery mandated extreme caution, and the Juraians were instrumental in persuading their Coalition allies to leave the ships parked outside the galaxy under heavy guard.
* There had been thousands of Horde survivors, members of dozens of different species. At present, they were still under guard. Discussions were being held among Coalition representatives, but it looked like the prisoners were going to be given a choice: (i) dispersal among Coalition members as mercenaries or hired labor, or (ii) settlement upon a string of uninhabited worlds within the nearest spiral arm. None of them would ever be returning home...although they all appeared to have accepted that consequence when their voyage started.
* The name of the Horde's leader — Tokimi — was being downplayed at Juraian request. No public reason was given, but a great deal of 'handshaking' was going on behind the scenes. Jurai was willing to deal with the entity, and had proven to everyone that they were fully capable of doing so. The other Coalition members were content to let the humans have her.
* Humanity had been considered one among hundreds of lower-tier civilizations in the galaxy, but that status was becoming rapidly obsolete. Details of the battle were spreading — no doubt helped by the GP, who recognized a great opportunity when they saw one — and the pivotal role played by the Great Conductor. Psionics and Power manipulation were a very old and long-accredited science among the leading sentient species...but none of them were capable of harnessing such energies on the same scale as the humans. Without exception, they recognized the constructive potential of the Empathy Wave, and the equally destructive potential of the Dragons' Mouth. That humanity was too small for expansionist ambitions, and too well-armed for annexation by bigger neighbors, meant that it would safely maintain its neutrality for the foreseeable future. Thus, the number of requests for official delegations to visit Jurai had soared dramatically.
* Humanity could no longer afford to be fragmented. Jurai was the biggest, best-organized nation, and the most capable of dealing with the new realities. Quiet discussions had already begun about bringing humanity under the Juraian flag, discussions that would be long and heated and contentious — but ultimately fruitful.
* The sky harbors were a series of massive space stations orbiting the sun at regular intervals that marked the optimum jump point into psuedospace. Many sky harbors had been damaged during the K'vimm Incursion, and were being rebuilt, forcing the others to absorb the excess traffic volume. Home Fleet had made the unprecedented move of simply appropriating one of the nearly-completed sky harbors and towing it into a quiet corner. The Merchants' Guilds started to scream bloody murder about the sudden loss of the newly-renovated facility, since they had been counting on its docks and warehouses, as well as on easing the pressure on the other still-overcrowded space stations. Their complaints dried-up quickly, however, when the Palace made it known that the sky harbor would be the anchor for a new Dimensional Doorway Network. Experience during the K'vimm Incursion, as well as the recent mobilization efforts, made it abundantly clear that a network connecting all of the regional capitols was a vital strategic advantage. And, once it became clear that the network would be open for commercial traffic as well (whose modest fee was nothing compared to the transit times and costs saved for merchant ships) made the loss of the sky harbor perfectly acceptable.
* If ever there was a time for celebration, it was now. Jurai had survived the threat by Z, identified the Horde and mobilized a defense against it, and had electrified the sentient population of the entire galaxy with the Empathy Wave. Consequently, the Royal Family had approved plans for a modest reprisal of the Empathy Wave (the first instance had been far too disruptive to repeat casually). A few Treeships from the home fleet would be utilized as resonators, and His Majesty would once again act as the Great Conductor. It was felt that with the use of only 4-6 Lighthawk Wings, the effects would be confined to the Juraian star system. A system-wide holiday was declared, a ceremony was hastily planned, and invitations were summarily distributed. Since there would be a large contingent of Coalition representatives present, the ceremony would take place in one of the Juraian Navy's lunar facilities (large, spacious — and tightly secured).
Tenchi's reverie was interrupted by the sound of a question being directed towards him. Seina Yamada had joined him, looking terribly young for someone in a GP captain's dress uniform, his Emblem of Knighthood hanging around his neck almost like a yoke. Tenchi got the distinct impression that Seina enjoyed these social occasions simply because it gave him someone else to talk to besides his wives (Tenchi would go nuts confined in a ship with his own family for weeks on end — he didn't know how Seina managed to keep his sanity). "I'm sorry, Seina, what did you say?"
"I was just wondering why this moon was never terraformed; it's certainly big enough."
"I suspect it has to do with being property of the Navy, and their conservative nature. After all, why put a viable habitat over the top of a strike base, which is liable to get targeted during the next invasion?"
"Did this place take much damage during the K'vimm Incursion?"
"Some damage, yes, but most of the action was further out. The orbital docks were their primary targets."
There was a sudden stirring by the main entrance. "What's all that commotion about?" Tenchi asked.
"Oh, jeez — someone must have brought a baby in here," Seina grumbled.
"How can you tell that?"
"By the way my wives are acting. It's been a hot topic the last few weeks aboard ship, and every time they get near one..."
"I see. My sympathies, old friend — but you might as well accept the inevitable." Tenchi was positively beaming. Sure enough, Kiyone Qualston had entered the room carrying a baby-carrier, which contained her newborn son. Seina's wives — and his own, now that he noticed — were clustering around the new mother like iron filings to a magnet. The subsequent cooing noises sounded remarkably like a flock of doves. The noise carried, obviously: it wasn't long before Funaho and Misaki crossed the room and waded into the crowd, followed at a more dignified (read: leisurely) pace by Seto. Kiyone's husband Trinnard managed to squeeze past the herd and join Tenchi and Seina.
"Whew!" Trinnard exclaimed. "Your Majesty. Seina."
"I'm surprised to see you here, Trinnard," Tenchi said. "Since Kiyone's still on maternity leave, I thought you'd be home enjoying the quiet and Companionship."
Trinnard snorted. "She's driving me nuts, Sire. Bored out of her mind. I guess she's been calling Lady Funaho almost daily...'twas Funaho who decided this was a proper distraction for my sweet wife to blow off some steam. So, we received our invitations a few days ago, and my dearest–"
" — called Mihoshi, who gathered Noike and Sasami (I believe), and they all went shopping."
"Just so. Calmest day I've had in two weeks. Ah, I see Lady Funaho has staked her claim." Tenchi's grandmother had wasted no time exploiting her rank (and collecting upon the favor) and was now cuddling the infant. "Care to lay bets when the riot will start?"
"Actually, I can think of a way to stir the pot a bit," Tenchi grinned. "Excuse me for a moment, won't you?" He strolled casually towards the crowd, slipping quietly up behind two of Seina's wives. They took absolutely no notice of him — until he cleared his throat. Twice. Then the crowd parted like an expanding fault line. Tenchi stepped up to Kiyone, who immediately bowed. "Excuse me, Lady Qualston, but may I have a few words with my godson?"
"Of course, Your Majesty," she replied, nodding towards her boss (who was doing her best to ignore everyone).
"Thank you. Lady Funaho, if I may?" He extended his arms out, all too obviously expecting the infant to be placed into them. Funaho's look was inscrutable, but Tenchi knew enough to bite the insides of his cheeks. "I'll only be a moment." Reluctantly, the child was carefully passed.
Tenchi took three paces backwards, vaguely aware of the women around him taking even more steps, the whole time grinning like idiots. He whispered into the palm of his hand, placed that palm onto the baby's chest, then kissed the infant's forehead. He returned the child to Funaho, bowed his thanks to an incredulous Kiyone, and made a discreet retreat.
He rejoined Seina and Trinnard, surprised to find Utsutsumi there as well. "Well played, Sire," the latter said.
"If I may ask, what advice did you give my son?" Trinnard inquired.
Tenchi grinned. "I told him to get used to female attention, because he was going to receive a lot of it in the years to come."
"Very well played!" Utsutsumi added.
Tenchi noticed that his mother-in-law Misaki was dragging Captain Sir Noniel Jelham around like a trophy. He commented on the fact to Utsutsumi.
"Yes, 'twas inevitable. They've been more or less inseparable for the last year, and once Misaki convinced her mother to make the arrangements..."
"Snap goes the trap!" Seina added.
"I presume this means another royal wedding?" Trinnard asked.
"Looks that way," Utsutsumi grumbled.
"Tell us, Sire, how does Sasami feels about her mother getting married before she does?"
Tenchi rolled his eyes towards the ceiling.
"It just occurred to me," Trinnard said to Utsutsumi, "that both of your daughters and your grand-daughter are all engaged at the same time — two of them to the same man. That's rather astounding, when you think about it."
"I do my best not to, sir; life is ever-so-much smoother that way."
"I'll drink to that."
"Me, too," Seina added.
"You appear to be under a great deal of stress, young man," Utsusumi observed. "You should acquire a hobby."
"Like what?" Seina asked.
"Well, I have found a great deal of personal satisfaction with photography."
"I value the time spent in my gardens," Tenchi offered.
"And I've taken up pottery," Trinnard added.
"Pottery?" Utsutsumi asked. "Surely you don't mean that whole business with wet clay, a kiln, glazes..."
"The very same," Trinnard said.
"Fascinating. Wherever did you acquire those skills?"
"My uncle married into a family of potters, going back many generations. He learned all about it, and taught me the rudiments. I find it very calming, very absorbing — particularly when my darling wife has some vexation to rant about. My studio is quite the haven at such times."
"Would it be possible to visit your studio sometime? Take a few photos, nose about?"
"Absolutely, Milord! I would be delighted."
"I could have my secretary call about arranging a visit..."
"I look forward to it," Trinnard smiled.
"That still doesn't help poor Seina," Tenchi said.
"Ah, my apologies," Utsutsumi replied.
"Whatever hobby I pick up has to be portable, since I spend so much time aboard the K2."
"Painting?" Tenchi suggested.
"Writing, perhaps?" Trinnard posed.
"I'm not so sure about writing," Seina said. "After all, I do enough of it already, what with reports and such."
"Something will present itself, I'm sure," Tenchi said.
The Steward walked to the center of the room with a small bell, which produced a soft chime that got everyone's attention. The Steward announced the time, and the various members of the family began to stir.
Seto strolled over to where Tenchi was holding court, trailed by Misaki and her fiancée. All three bowed to the Emperor, then Seto took her husband's arm and led them through the private door and into the corridor beyond.
Funaho was next in line, still carrying the Qualston baby. She bowed to Tenchi and nodded at Trinnard, who grinned and fell into step beside his wife and behind Funaho. This little group followed the Kamiki Clan.
Seina's wives formed two lines, saluted and bowed, led by their senior officer (Kiriko). Seina saluted, bowed, and led his crew away.
That left Tenchi alone with his immediate family.
Ayeka, Mihoshi, and Ryoko walked up to Tenchi, and bowed — but when they rose, Ayeka had her hands over her ears, Mihoshi had her hands over her eyes, and Ryoko had her hands over her mouth. "Mizaru! Kikazaru! Iwazaru!" they chorused.
Tenchi was so astonished by the action that he burst out laughing. "What brought that on?"
"It was my idea," Mihoshi confessed. She was an empath, after all, and had felt acutely the weight of her husband's burdens these last few months. But for now, the burdens had eased, and the genteel, compassionate man she loved so dearly had returned...and she wanted him to know he'd been missed. She stepped forward and kissed him, one hand lingering upon his cheek. "You make me so very happy."
"And me," Ayeka said. She had defied tradition — and her father — and had followed her heart, marrying this man who had seemed so pedestrian. Yet, in just a few years, he had carried the empire to heights her father had only dreamed of...and who knew where it would end? She, too, stepped forward and kissed him, whispering a simple, expressive, "Beloved," into his ear.
"Me, too," Ryoko added. She glomped him and kissed him passionately...and as she leaned away, for one timeless moment, she found herself gazing once more into the eyes of the shy young man who had just shared his first, hesitant kiss with her, high on the side of a mountain. Her heart caught in her throat. "My knight in shining armor," she said softly.
"I have heard it said," Ayeka added, "that every knight should be rewarded for his efforts. And your reward will be waiting for you tonight in the onsen."
"After the kids are asleep," Mihoshi purred, wriggling her brows seductively.
"And with plenty of sake," Ryoko leered, stepping away from him.
Then Ayeka linked arms with Ryoko and Mihoshi and started towards the private door. "Come along, kardesshibelar, we must not delay His Majesty any longer — he has many pressing duties." Tenchi could hear them giggling wickedly at the expression on his face.
Moments later, Sasami, Noike, and Washu walked up to Tenchi, and bowed, as had their previous sister/wives.
Sasami embraced him, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "In one year, three months, and fourteen days, I am taking you to the altar, Tenchi Masaki. And after that, I'll make you forget all about those old women..." she glanced pointedly at Washu, who simply rolled her eyes, "...you're already married to." Then she looked over at Noike, who was watching with an amused expression. "You're going to have a very tough act to follow!"
"Perhaps, but I'm not overly concerned about it," Noike replied. "Let's just say I'll approach my wedding from a very...unique...perspective. As for the honeymoon…well, only time will tell." She returned Sasami's competitive grin, brushed past her, and kissed Tenchi's cheek, clearly savoring the experience. "I guarantee you won't be disappointed," she promised him, eyebrows dancing suggestively.
"Children!" Washu snorted. "Always out to prove something. Trust me: wisdom and experience will overcome youth and zeal every time." She stepped between Sasami and Noike, firmly pushing them aside, wrapped her arms around her husband, and planted a long and passionate kiss on his lips. Afterwards, she studied his face with shining eyes. "I am so very, very proud of you, you know."
Noike and Sasami nodded silently in agreement, mirroring Washu's radiant smile and shining eyes.
Then Washu stepped away, turned about briskly, linked arms with them, and started towards the exit. "Let us be off, shibej, we have work to do."
That left Tenchi alone in the room, staring into the cavernous silence, thinking about his family...which is when he realized that Washu had not used the Juraian term for Sisters of the Serail — kardesshibelar — but the generic word for 'birth sister' — shibej. Goddess Washu had been talking to her celestial siblings. Thus, the 'work' had nothing to do with a simple ceremony, but with vast and mysterious plans devised by the Chôshin.
Vast and Mysterious Plans...Tenchi had gotten used to working on an epic scale: his Lighthawk Wings encompassed energies so prodigious that he could shatter this moon if so inclined; he manipulated quantum patterns so gargantuan that they could envelope whole planets; he ruled an empire composed of trillions of humans and allied sentients, swarming diverse habitats and worlds across thousands of light years; his Ministries dealt with budgets and resources so mountainous that they required hypercomputers to track; his ancestry was the result of genetic manipulation over thousands of generations and dozens of kingdoms. And it was this latter fact that was the kicker...for this was the work of the Chôshin, the Celestials:
* Washu, scientist and sorceress, immersed in humanity since her assimilation with an infant 20,000 years in the past.
* Tsunami, guardian and midwife, embracing humanity since her assimilation with a child 700 years ago.
* Tokimi, very recent enthusiast, still bedazzled by her month-old assimilation with a human adult.
It was their presence, their grandiose plans, their mythologically long life spans, that finally brought the enormity of the universe crashing into his psyche like nothing else ever had. Numbers were abstract things that could be kept at arm's length — it was much tougher to stay dispassionate when he held a goddess in his arms. And how could these ancient entities ever be content with a mere mortal?
He turned to stare out the glass wall towards the infinite silence and its tremendous depths...the distant constellations of the Juraian sky offering no comfort. He saw the occasional sparkle of sunlight reflecting off the hull of a Navy vessel, as they maintained their orbital vigil. He gave a moment's consideration to that duty: standing guard against all manner of threats, willing to die in service of the Crown...his crown. Such a bleak thought, to die by fire or decompression so very far from home and hearth. The thought saddened him even further.
Voices interrupted his brooding, and he saw reflections mirrored in the window.
"Late again, I see." That was Tenchi's Aunt Minaho.
"Nonsense: 'fashionably late' has never gone out of style!" Grandma Airi. "Besides, we were waiting for your father."
"You could have gone ahead without me, you know." Grandpa Yosho. "I had rather urgent business to attend to."
"You should have taken care of that earlier, you know," Minaho rebuked her father.
"Must have been something I ate," Yosho mused.
"I'll remind you that I made breakfast this morning," Airi said icily.
"It could just have easily been something I ate last night," Yosho replied smoothly. "That restaurant — "
" — Is highly rated and seldom prone to gastronomic gaffes. You are walking on very thin ice."
Yosho groaned — which he suddenly stifled. "Is something wrong, Your Majesty?" Tenchi still looked upon his grandfather with a trace of the awe left over from his childhood. Yosho looked to be no older than 30, yet he was well over 700 years old. He had dispensed with his 'old man' disguise after returning to Jurai, and yet...there was something about the cast of his eyes, his carriage, that expressed the hard-won wisdom borne from living among Iron-Age warriors for centuries, plus the efforts to quell his own personal demons, that made him so successful at ministering to the spiritual needs of his neighbors in Okayama. Tenchi valued his grandfather's opinions highly.
"It's nothing, Grandpa," Tenchi replied, shrugging his shoulders.
Yosho studied his grandson briefly, head tilted, before turning to his wife and daughter. "If you will excuse me a moment, ladies, I believe I need to talk to my grandson."
Airi's signature smirk disappeared instantly, reading the signs. "Of course, Dear." She kissed her husband's cheek, gave her grandson a respectful bow, and turned away. Minaho silently followed her mother through the private door.
"I know that look, Tenchi. What's wrong?"
"This all seems rather pointless."
"Oh? I find that surprising, considering how hard you fought for it. What sparked such a crisis in confidence?"
"What about them? The fact that you will soon be married to the only three of them in the entire universe?"
"No...the fact that they will live damn near forever, and I'll soon be nothing more than a memory."
"Ah, lamenting your mortality, I see."
"I could say that I appreciate your circumstances, lad — but I won't. I've been on the other end of that dilemma for far too long."
"What do you mean?"
Yosho sighed, staring at the same stars as his grandson. "I once had a Terran wife."
"Excuse me?" Tenchi was surprised, to put it mildly. Yosho had lived with Grandma Airi on Earth for a while — thus producing Tenchi's mother — but no one had ever heard of another woman in his life. Ever.
"After I crashed on Earth, and managed to place Ryoko into her crypt, I had no way of knowing how long before — or even if — I would be rescued. There was a real possibility of spending the rest of my life there. And when Funaho started sinking her roots into the soil...well, I started to think about my options."
Tenchi watched his grandfather, who watched his memories.
"I met a kinswoman of my mother's, a distant relative named Kasumi. We fell in love, we got married."
"What happened?" Tenchi asked after a long silence.
"She grew old and died. I watched it happen...and there was nothing I could do for her. Had we been on Jurai, she could have received the antiagathic treatments, and probably still be alive."
"I'm sorry, Grandpa."
"So am I." Yosho shook himself, and turned to his grandson. "Of course, there might have been some real fireworks when Airi did finally find me..."
Tenchi looked at the wry grin, and returned one of his own.
"Kasumi's death damn near tore my heart out. Somehow, I don't think those three women will look back on you as a 'brief interlude'. You are their whole world now. They know full well what price they're going to pay — and they're all willing to pay it. If you're going to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for them, not yourself; they will have to live with their loss far longer than you can ever imagine."
"But, you still married Grandma Airi..."
"Yes, I did. I love her very much. But she was never a substitute for Kasumi. I cannot promise that the Chôshin won't find other Companions in the eons after you're gone — but I can guarantee that you'll never be replaced." Yosho studied his grandson's profile. "No one is given any promises with their first breath, Tenchi. There are no assurances of a long and happy life; there are no assurances at all. That's why philosophers have been telling us since the dawn of time, 'Live each day as if it's your last.' Remember the Hanami Festival."
Tenchi felt his grandfather's hand on his shoulder, and then Yosho quietly withdrew.
He had to admit, it really wasn't the Chôshin that was bothering him; it was the fact that he would never live to see the culmination of their plans. As an Earthling, the best he could hope for was a century of life; as a Juraian, he could expect to live for a millennium. But those figures were nothing compared to the billions of years that the Chôshin had already lived, let alone the future. Yosho was right: he was feeling his mortality.
Yosho had also reminded Tenchi of the Hanami Festival, when the Japanese celebrated the cherry blossom. Every spring, within a ten-day period, the sakura blossoms enjoy a brief, brilliant blooming, followed by their inevitable fall. A very poignant and poetic metaphor for life, their fragility and transience is at once both sobering and inspiring. No one walks past a tree in haste without pausing to admire it...because the blossoms will soon be gone.
The appeal of the event is not in the breath-taking beauty of the blossoms, which cover the trees in clouds of sun-dappled pink petals; rather, it comes from watching (with a tinge of sadness) as they detach, fluttering in the spring breeze on their short journey to the cold earth below. It's a beautiful but melancholy reminder that all life must come to an end. And to take the edge off what could become a depressing experience, the Japanese go all out to have a good time: they get roaring drunk, sing songs, tell stories, laugh and enjoy life to the fullest...because it will soon be over.
The winds of time blew across his memories, shaking them like so many petals:
*At age 6, he was still mourning the loss of his mother, and adjusting to life with his father and grandparents.
*At age 16, he had been wrestling with the decision to become an architect like his father, become a full-time carrot farmer, or become a Shinto priest like his grandfather.
*At age 26, the decision had been made for him: he had become architect, farmer, and priest. He had laid the foundation for a new phase in Juraian interstellar relations, planted the seeds of the next step in human evolution, and was the Great Conductor of the Empathy Wave (which did more to foster interspecies cooperation than anything in recorded galactic history). The blessing/curse of his Lighthawk Wings...and if he died tomorrow, those events alone would be considered a profound legacy.
That was the linchpin, wasn't it? Building a legacy to leave behind, something to bequeath to his children, most of whom — if not all — would be capable of generating their own Lighthawk Wings. A handful at first, their numbers would only increase over time (the Chôshin would see to that). They would, in turn, build their own legacies.
Perhaps that was the new goal of the Chôshin: his great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren would foster advances in science and technology that would dwarf current understanding, based upon widespread exploitation of the Lighthawk Wings. Perhaps some day, lead by the Chôshin, humanity would Transcend.
And when that far-distant day arrived, his lifelong efforts would have long since been distorted over time, from history to legend to fairytale...for everyone except the three entities who were in at the Beginning. They would remember him.
And that was the affirmation he needed; after all, what more could any man ask for?
Once again calm and confident, with shoulders back and head high, he strode through the exit to embrace his destiny.
############# AUTHOR'S NOTES #############
This concludes "The Harem Saga Sequel". I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. While it lacked the scope of the original work, I hope I was able to maintain the spirit of it.
This work is Dedicated to the memory of Nicole Brooks Weaver, aka "Ryokocat", 1986-2005. A fellow author, poet, and dreamer. When someone so talented leaves us, it diminishes us all.
"Mizaru! Kikazaru! Iwazaru!":
Literally, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
The source of this proverb is not known for sure, but is typically associated with three monkeys, where the first is covering his eyes, the second is covering his ears, and the third is covering his mouth. Many believe that the saying may have its origin in a 17th century temple in Japan.
The Nikko Toshogo Shrine, also known as the Sacred Stable, contains a carving of three wise monkeys. Many scholars believe the monkeys were carved as a visual representation of the religious principle, "If we do not hear, see, or speak evil, we ourselves shall be spared all evil." In the Eighth Century, a Buddhist monk from China introduced the three wise monkeys to Japan. They were associated with a fearsome blue-faced deity called Vadjra. It is believed that the monkeys' gestures were a representation of a command of the deity to "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
Or, maybe the saying originated from a play on words. The Japanese word for monkey is 'úsaru', and sounds very similar to the verb-ending 'úzaru'.
History of Hanami:
In the ancient period, flower viewing — Hanami — referred to enjoying the blossoms of the Japanese apricot — ume, but since the Heian period (794 - 1185) it has meant 'cherry-blossoms'. Originally a religious ritual, the Hanami was held on a particular day. With the coming of spring it was customary to perform ceremonies prior to the beginning of planting, forecasting the harvest for the year from the condition of the cherry blossoms. Then, likening the cherry trees in full bloom to a bumper harvest of rice, they would celebrate with food and drink under the trees. In those days it was a tradition observed only by the nobility and upper classes.
From medieval times, the way cherry petals fall at the height of their beauty (that is, before they have withered and become unsightly), and the transience of their span, assumed symbolism both in the warrior code and in Buddhism. Soon the cherry blossoms became an expression of the samurai way of life. The custom of Hanami spread to the warrior class, and the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537 - 1598), who played a major role in the unification of the country, held historically grand hanami to flaunt his power. Cherry blossom parties spread to commoners in the era of cultural ferment toward the end of the seventeenth century known as Genroku (1688 - 1704). Families, groups of friends, or workmates would gather for merry feasting and drinking.
Today, Hanami has become little more than a private, popular opportunity for having a good time. Many have forgotten the spirit of celebrating Life In The Moment.
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 2006 by Jeffery L. Harris. Said story came entirely from my imagination, and are not, nor intended to be, canon. Please do not send the legions of lawyers after me...it's not worth their time, or mine.
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Jeffery L HarrisSubject: "The Harem Saga Sequel - Epilogue"
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