24. No Need for Ryoko!

There has never been a more difficult time for Tenchi. Thanks to Kagato, his grandfather is now in critical condition in one of Washu’s life-support units, and both Katsuhito’s sword and the responsibility for fighting Kagato have fallen to Tenchi. Tenchi is not even sure he has the Jurai power required to wield the sword, but Washu assures him that she can sense the power within him. And indeed, as Tenchi sits alone in the cargo bay, he is able to create the sword’s blue energy blade.

Whilst Ryoko struggles to recover from the wound Kagato inflicted on her, the rest of the gang find themselves in a different kind of trouble- Jurai’s military is on the attack, and this time, there is nowhere to run. Fortunately for everyone, an unexpected ally shows up in the form of Nagi and Ken-Ohki, who quickly clear away all the immediate pursuit. After all, it wouldn’t be very satisfying for her if someone else got to kill Ryoko, would it?

After recalling Katsuhito’s words about facing his destiny, Tenchi realises what he has to do- he must face Kagato and retrieve the captured Ayeka. Sensing his resolve, Ryoko begs him not to go- the last thing she wants is for him to get hurt or killed. A tearful Ryoko begs Tenchi to change his mind and just sneak off on a ‘honeymoon’ with her instead. To her surprise, Tenchi agrees that he would love to go on a journey with her, but even so, he cannot just abandon Ayeka. Seeing that Tenchi is resolved, Ryoko stops trying to dissuade him, and instead offers to help- by taking him to the Royal Palace where Kagato awaits.

Ryoko prepares for her upcoming mission, trying to ignore the pain from her wound- a pain that she doesn’t want Tenchi to see. Interrupting her, Nagi asks when Ryoko will have time to attend to their showdown, and Ryoko offers to fight her straightaway- only to collapse in pain when Nagi pokes her injured side. Nagi isn’t about to take advantage of her opponent’s weakness, and in a roundabout way, she actually seems concerned about her old rival- with that kind of injury, she really should be resting. Ryoko, however, isn’t about to let Tenchi down, and as she leaves all Nagi can do is wish her luck.

Soon, it is time for Ryoko, Tenchi, Azaka and Kamidake to depart in Ryo-Ohki. The others bid them goodbye, and promise to distract the fleet for as long as they can in order to give Ryo-Ohki a fighting chance. As Ryo-Ohki flies away, Nagi realises that it is time for her to depart too.

As Ryo-Ohki makes a break for planet Jurai, her presence is detected by the various defensive lines, and soon the whole fleet is in pursuit. As they close in on the fleeing ship, another Ryo-Ohki streaks through the resulting gap in the defensive line. As the first “Ryo-Ohki” comes under fire, its outer disguise cracks, revealing Ken-Ohki underneath. Neither Nagi nor Ken-Ohki were willing to just walk away from this battle, instead deciding to distract the Juraian forces and lead them out to where Yagami can deal with them.

Unfortunately, there are still many more hazards between Ryo-Ohki and the Royal Palace, starting with a string of defensive satellites. As the satellites fire on Ryo-Ohki, Ryoko teleports herself inside one of them, intending to destroy the control core. Unfortunately, Ryoko triggers the internal defences, and soon she is ensnared and electrified in five restraining cables.

Screaming in pain, Ryoko nonetheless manages to fire an energy blast at the satellite’s core, setting off a chain reaction that destroys the entire satellite chain. As she teleports back, it is clear that Ryoko is in pain, but she insists that she is fine. Kamidake is ready to question that when he notices that her wound is bleeding, but Azaka stops him. Ryoko is well aware of the pain she is in, but she isn’t about to give up now.

As Ryoko takes Ryo-Ohki into Jurai’s atmosphere, they are attacked by a series of flying spiked crystals that eject explosive shards. The shards are relentless, and soon both Ryoko and Ryo-Ohki are hurt as they continue to take hits. Gathering her resolve, Ryoko exhorts Ryo-Ohki not to give up, and pushes herself to the limit to guide the ship through this airborne minefield. Damaged and trailing smoke, Ryo-Ohki nonetheless manages to make it through and land outside the Jurai royal palace.

Ryo-Ohki touches down, and Ryoko sees the others off, telling Tenchi it is up to him to take it from hereon in. Thanking Ryoko, Tenchi heads off to the palace, and after praising her for her strength, Azaka and Kamidake follow. Finally alone, Ryoko lets her façade of strength slip, and collapses to the ground as the pain washes over her.

Somehow, Ryoko manages to get aboard Ryo-Ohki, and the two leave Jurai, surprisingly undisturbed as they drift away. As she sits slumped in the command chair, the last of Ryoko’s strength slips away, and her arm falls limply to the side. Seeing the blood drip down Ryoko’s arm, Ryo-Ohki’s crystals gather in close, and she lets out a yowl of despair at her mistress’ condition. Could it be that the once-selfish space pirate has sacrificed her life to see Tenchi safely to the Royal Palace?