Note: A ‘thank you’ goes out to Robin for a first spell check, then to Lordamnesia for a first edit and then finally to Hawklan for the final edit and posting.
There was a knock at the door and Buffy rushed to open it. If it was dangerous she would protect them. "Hello," she said frowning. That girl with pushy hair looked like... It had to be that Ryoko Xander had told her about, with a Cabbit sitting on her shoulder. "You’re Ryoko and Ryo-Okhi," Buffy said with a grin as she looked the Cabbit in its eyes. "I'm so happy to see you and your Captain of course Xander just kept on talking about his mother this and his mother that and his aunt this and that."
Azusa sighed and said, "Excuse me. I…"
"Rude much. Come on, let’s talk I know Cordy and the gang would just love to meet you," Buffy said as she dragged the surprised Cabbit and Captain inside and closed the door. She had already forgotten about the other rude guys.
Tenchi sighed. "Well… that was different," he said looking at the closed door.
One of the soldiers looked at his emperor and asked, "Should we destroy the door, sir?"
Azusa sighed and started to knock again.
Finally an older male opened the door and Katsuhito took a breath of surprised air. Julian... he was almost a mirror image of a man he once knew as Julian Giles.
Azusa started off. "I'm sorry, but I'm Azusa Masaki. Jurai I need your help,"
“Um the Emperor," Giles said in a weak voice as the blood drained from his face.
Funaho smiled her cold beautiful smile. Inside she could see Ryoko and Ryo-Okhi sitting surrounded by girls. Her reports identified them as Buffy, Kennedy, Cordelia and in the corner looking afraid Anya. "Yes we are in the need to see a Rory Harris. Could you show us the way?"
Giles blinked. "What…?" The man was a drunk, sure he was a genius in wood craft but that’s about it.
"It’s his skill as a woodcrafter. He impressed us and the Juraian put much value on wood crafting, so the royal court would like to hire his skills as an artist."
Joyce, who had been listening in, blinked. "Wow. I'll get the car and we can drive over there."
Tenchi called out. "Yo Ryoko, are you coming?"
Ryoko was about to say yes when Buffy replied. "No, she is staying we want to talk to her."
Ryoko growled, "I can talk you know."
Cordy piped in with. "We know. It’s just Xander told us so much about you and Ryo-Okhi," she said cuddling the cute Cabbit. Xander’s mother was the cutest animal she had ever seen, it looked like a cross between a cat and a bunny, sugar cute and so sweet that it hurt.
Ryoko sighed. "I believe I'm staying," she said smiling. Tenchi and Ayeka nodded before walking away with Giles and Joyce.
(Later at Rory’s home)
Azusa smiled to himself as he peeked over Giles shoulder to see the inside of the home of Rory Harris. The man lived in a dump. Being Emperor of as great an empire as the Juraian he rarely had a chance to see how others, more primitive or commoners, lived. It was refreshing even if it smelled of alcohol.
Rory opened the door and blinked, "Ee.. Giles, yeah?"
Giles nodded. "Yes, sorry that we interrupted you in your, um..."
Rory sighed. "Ah well, I was going to drink the night away." He stepped to the side and let the strangers inside being careful to not invite them.
Azusa looked at the guards. "This town is inside a demon infection area. Most can’t enter a home unless invited, the smart natives never invite anybody inside. If they can enter without being given an invitation then they are welcomed."
They nodded, understanding that they would have to be careful and use their skills and abilities to scan after demons. Two of the guards paled, feeling the whole town as a pit of evil and confusion.
Inside was more dirt then he had ever seen, but everywhere where works of art. Rory sighed as he pushed some dirty pants away from the sofa. "Sorry, I wasn't expecting company."
Azusa waved his hand. "No matter Ronald Harris, I would like to ask you a question The wooden weapon locker you made for Faith and the others I had a chance to see them and frankly I’d like to hire you."
"It's Rory. Only enemies may call me Ronald. Why would you like to hire me? I'm an old soldier, a drunk that’s never been able to hold a job in my whole life," Rory said.
Azusa nodded. "I see. Well you do know about Xander's secret?" As the man nodded Azusa continued. "I’m from the planet Jurai and we put great value on woodcrafters, so much that when we saw your work we tested it. And we found out that you sir are a Shaper."
Rory asked, "A what?"
Azusa replied. "A Shaper is a crafter, a maker that can create some of the most beautiful works of art, often working in wood and other substances that once were alive. That's the good part of being a Shaper." He could see Rory was curious about the bad part. "A Shaper that is unable to practice his skills and doesn’t feel that his skills are appreciated often becomes depressed and starts to use alcohol and drugs."
Rory raised an eyebrow and said, "I'm not that skilled."
Joyce interrupted him. "I’m shocked about some of the works you have in here, they are incredible. With a good agent and some time you could easily earn perhaps a quarter million a year."
Giles nodded. "Frankly whoever you sell your goods to is probably scamming you."
Rory sighed. "My ex-wife. That stupid bitch,” he cursed.
"Well on Jurai we could offer you a new home and if life on Jurai feels wrong I promise you that we will take you back to Earth and help you get a new life here. On Jurai we would give you good work as a woodcrafter and the best health-care my money can pay for," Azusa offered and then grinned. "And I am the ruler of that planet."
Rory blinked and turned to Giles who answered him. "I… yes Azusa is the ruler of an empire. They put extreme value on woodcraft. From what Xander told me they have starships that are made from living trees. Wood has a deep spiritual meaning for them."
Funaho smiled her cold smile. "I suggest that we put down what we can and will offer him just for him to work for our needs. A Shaper is a rare thing indeed and most houses sponsor a Shaper. Currently the Masaki have only one Shaper and she is somewhat lacking in the emotional experience you have sir."
Rory blinked as he asked, "Emotional experience?"
Azusa nodded "A Shaper’s skills are partly magical and experiencing deep personal problems are what may activate a Shaper’s ability or destroy it. Our Shapers ability was activated with the help of training. We believe if nurtured you will become the most famous Shaper we have seen in hundreds of years."
Tenchi grinned. "You would get all the work you could handle and the right to say 'NO I’m lazy' if you like."
Giles cut in. "I suggest we let him think about it then return tomorrow again."
Tenchi nodded in agreement and held out his hand. "Xander told me to give you this letter. He is a friend to all of us. Azusa’s youngest child Sasami is currently hiding from assassins and Xander is her protector. That is how much Azusa trusts Xander."
Rory blinked he knew he was Xander favorite uncle and that Xander considered him the only part of the Harris family he was not ashamed of. "A ruler of planets trusts him that much and wants to hire me?"
Tenchi nodded again. "Yes. Not because anything Xander said, but because he saw your box and had to check. But he asked Xander for help to convince you to come with them."
Rory nodded as he opened the letter. It was Xander alright, short and to the point yet having some deep insights. It said the Juraians are good guys, a bit on the I’m so good my shit doesn’t smell side of things, but over all they are good and caring guys. And working for them might be a great idea. They have wood from the whole universe, material that would make any wood worker cry in joy.
Rory put the letter down. "I’ll come. But I need some help packing my stuff and perhaps somebody to teach me new tools. I bet you guys have laser cutters or more interesting equipment."
Azusa nodded. "I’ll see that somebody will help you pick things up. Would you like a tour of our starship? My men can clean out your home in the time being."
Rory frowned. "Well. I have some stuff I need to pick up myself, but helpful guys would be great. Say tomorrow at two?" On the inside he grinned. A chance to work on wood from the whole universe, finally make objects that will be appreciated and loved as well as used. Every object Rory made was like a child to him, a child he wanted to be strong, beautiful and most of all have a reason for existing. If he made a table he wanted it to be beautiful wonderful and to be used and loved for its functions as well as its beauty.
Ranma sighed where he sat. His father had ranted again and again about the cure from Jusenkyo curse. He wished he had been the girl side. He silently wondered. Washu said she had healed brain damage he suffered from and he wondered if that was the reason he felt so frustrated, so angered by the stupidity of his father.
Genma raged on. "And the shame of it, my own son curing himself and not even bothering with helping his own fath…,"
Ranma splashed him with water turning him into a panda. "Cut the crap old man." He looked up. "What mother?"
Nodoka Satome frowned. "That’s no way to treat your father son, but I’m happy you got rid of the curse. Now if you wouldn’t mind telling us and perhaps help Genma be cured as well."
It was then Cologne entered the building. "Hello son in law," the old bat said.
Ranma sighed. "I’m not your son in law old ghoul."
Cologne frowned her skills let her sense Ranma’s chi, it was as strong as ever, maybe even stronger. "I see. You got rid of your girl side. I hope it isn’t suffering out there."
Ranma blinked and said, "No, I would never let her suffer."
The Tendos and Satomes looked surprised. Nodoka said, "Let who suffer? What girl?"
Cologne replied, "A curse like Ranma’s isn’t really possible to cure. Only to split them up in two halves and one will grow weaker and die. Ranma is perfectly fine therefore his girl side is dead."
Nabiki raised a eyebrow and said, "Is that so and you didn’t let her suffer?"
Ranma rolled his eyes. "Of course not and she isn’t dead. The one who cured us found a way to keep both of us alive."
Genma perked up. "So I have a daughter then?" ‘The possibilities. He could engage her to the Kuno family and be rich,’ he thought.
Ranma continued. "Jupp, but she isn’t a Saotome anymore. She joined another family. That was the price of survival."
Nodoka frowned. "That is not proper. Abandoning her family like that."
Ranma snorted as he whispered, “What family? She had to it or she would have died."
Cologne frowned and took a wild guess. "The Xander boy’s family?" She had felt something different about him and seeing Ranma's surprised face confirmed it.
"How did you know?" Ranma asked.
Happosai suddenly appeared from his hiding place. He wasn’t happy that Ranma-chan was gone but, "She tricked you. I do hope Xander will treat her well. How did he save her?”
Ranma shrugged as he said, "You know what he is?"
The old freak nodded. "His kind needs a crew to boss them around and to be partners. They bond with their partners creating a link between them and they can heal their partners, even restore life energy to them by giving from themselves. That would explain it. She drained Xander and considering his ability it was like a fly trying to drain a raging river."
Cologne looked confused a micro second then she pretended that she understood. "I see. What is Xander? That is something I'm confused about."
Ranma grinned "He is the type of dragon that the legendary Yosho Massaki beat up. I believe the Amazon’s have a standing order ‘Do not piss off a Massaki and especially not somebody that has family ties with him’.”
"Family ties?" Cologne asked and felt a dread of fear. If 'Ranko' had ties with Masaki that would mean Ranma also had them.
"Yes, Xander's aunt is marrying Yosho's grandson," Ranma replied and then he frowned. "Actually Yosho's grandson is more dangerous than Yosho ever could be," he said remembering the pure power he felt in Tenchi when he used the three Light Hawk Wings. “He made the dragon look weak."
Cologne swallowed hard. Their tribes had legends about the time a foolish Elder tried to make Yosho a son-in-law and they killed the girl he was married to. The Amazons survived, but they had to rebuild their whole village and lost half their warriors and elders. No Yosho wasn’t a man they wanted angry.
Happosai smiled. "So Ranko being linked to Xander makes her part of Xander's family and you are Ranko's brother. I wonder if Yosho thinks that you’re part of the family too," he said innocently.
Ranma shrugged. "I think so." The old man did say he could hide out there, but he had family honor to fulfill.
Nodoka frowned "Dragon?"
Nabiki replied, "Like prince Herb."
Happosai laughed. "No, the Prince of the Musk is a weakling compared to him. Xander's race is a mix between magic, technology and pure immortal life."
Ranma nodded to this. "We are talking about something that’s nothing else, but a living starship with powers to fly from world to world," he said, his eyes dreamy.
Akane frowned. "You sound like you wanted to leave with him," she fumed.
Ranma grinned. "I did. My girl side is with Faith, Willow, Dawn and the others inside Xander the star dragon as he crosses the void seeking new adventures."
Akane blinked, fumed and sighed. "He’s just a pervert."
Ranma nodded. "Probably, but the girls are worse."
Akane fumed girls couldn’t be perverts.