Prelude: The Battle for Jurai
The fleet slowed it's forward progress, coming up to the edge of the solar system. At the lead was a massive ship, it's skin gleaming silver in the light of the stars. Alien script ran down one side of it's bow, freely translated the words meant, 'Washu's Revenge.'
Behind it, dozens of other ships appeared, all of different types and styles. Silvery, shark shaped craft flew alongside blocky, armored carriers. Battleships, cruisers, dreadnoughts, and even a few super- dreadnoughts formed up in a carefully organized order.
On the lead ship's bridge their leader, Ryouko, looked up at the monitors, a pensive expression on her handsome face. Her long blue hair was tied back to keep it out of her eyes, cat like eyes that were focused on the readings that she was studying so intently.
The ship's captain stepped up beside her, her dark hair contained behind her blue military cap. Her uniform was crisply pressed, and she executed a salute with military precision. "There's no sign of the Jurai fleet," Kiyone reported, adding optimistically, "it may be that the military has finally decided to surrender."
"It would be nice," Ryouko said grimly, "but I doubt it. I'd be willing to bet on a pile of credits higher than you that they're encircling Jurai itself."
Anticipating Kiyone's command the young man at the sensors station reported, "Engaging long range sensors." The pink haired boy frowned, "Confirming, there are between fifty and sixty warships around Jurai itself."
"Good work, Nicole," Kiyone nodded, but quietly added, "see if you can get a more solid number on the ships, please."
"Yes, ma'am," he squeaked.
Ryouko put a hand on Kiyone's shoulder, "I'm going back to talk to Washu. Keep us moving forward, but go slow."
Kiyone raised her eyebrows to Ryouko in a silent question, carefully keeping the others on the bridge from seeing her do so.
"Mines," was Ryouko's one word answer as she stepped off the bridge into the lift.
The announcement went out as Ryouko strode down the hallway. "Remain at your battle stations," Kiyone's voice was crisp and confident, "food and refreshment will be delivered to you." There was a pause, "Yamamoto Yohko and mine sweeping crews, launch. Clear the road for us, ladies."
The ship rumbled slightly, three, four times as Yohko's fighter crews launched, each craft equipped with advanced sensors capable of spotting almost any mine. 'Wish Ryo-Ohki and I were out there,' Ryouko thought to herself grimly.
She reached the door she wanted, and Ryouko rang the chime. A voice called out, "Come in!" Washu and Yume sat together, while Minagi paced around the chamber.
"We've entered the Jurai system," Ryouko reported to her mothers and sister needlessly, watching for their reactions. Washu was calm, but the tiny red-headed scientist almost always was. Her elfin lover Yume frowned, the lady considering the situation seriously as she stroked the curled up Ryo-Ohki on her lap. And Minagi...
Her sister paced restlessly, her cheeks red and her fists clenched. Minagi was clearly angry, ready and willing to let that rage out. "Good," Minagi growled, "I can't wait to make them pay for what happened to Nagi."
"We still don't know what happened to Nagi," Ryouko said to her softly, gently placing her hand on Minagi's arm.
"Don't give me that," Minagi snapped back, the scars on her cheeks blazing, "Nagi came here months ago to negotiate, and we haven't heard from her since!"
"And I will do everything I can to get her back," Ryouko said intensely, "but if you let your anger over your lover rule you in battle, you'll get yourself and a lot of good soldiers killed."
"She's right," Washu said softly.
Minagi took a deep, shuddering breath, then she seemed to relax a bit. "I'm sorry," she said quietly, "it's just, she's been missing so long!"
"Trust me, I can understand that," Washu said, shooting a fond glance at Yume. Yume had been taken from Washu for years, and only Ryouko and Minagi's aide had been enough for her to finally save Yume. Well, that and the fleet they built.
"Are you going to be all right?" Ryouko asked Minagi quietly.
"I will be," Minagi nodded, smiling weakly at her sister.
"Good," Ryouko put her hand on Minagi's shoulder, "because I want you to take Ryo-Ohki out and join the battle line."
"Myah!" Ryo-Ohki exclaimed eagerly, jumping down from Yume's lap to bounce her way over to Minagi's side.
"You think that will be necessary?" Yume asked quietly.
"I intend to give the Emperor the chance to surrender to us peacefully," Ryouko answered her quietly, "but based on his actions so far, I very much doubt he'll take it." She looked over at her other mother and asked, "Washu?"
The red headed scientist looked thoughtful. Washu sighed, "You're right, the Emperor's pride has been his driving force so far. He won't surrender."
"But I am still hoping," Ryouko added. With a bit of irritation she said, "The Emperor fired off the first shot of this war, but if I must, I will be the one to finish it."
There was a soft chime from the communicator mounted on the wall, and Ryouko walked over and activated it with a slap of her palm. Kiyone's voice and image were calm as she said, "We're approaching the Jurai defensive line."
Minagi grabbed Ryo-Ohki and bolted out the door even as Ryouko said to Kiyone, "I'll be on the bridge in a moment." She cut the connection and turned to her Mothers, "Go to the medical bays, please. They're the safest part of the ship right now."
Washu took Yume's hand in her own and the two left even as she said over her shoulder to Ryouko, "Be careful."
"Always am," Ryouko saluted, before taking off to reach the bridge. She entered the lift, even as the ship shook with an impact of some kind.
As soon as Kiyone saw Ryouko step onto the bridge she reported, "They opened fire as soon as we entered range."
"How many Jurai ships?" Ryouko asked tersely, looking out at the wooden, spacefaring ships that had helped build Jurai an empire. 'At least, until we came along,' she thought.
"Fifty seven," Nicole replied. Quietly, he said, "Some of them are Galaxy Police ships."
"So the GP is still playing politics," Kiyone shook her head sadly.
"And us with only forty ships," Ryouko said with a smirk. "At least, that's what they think," she added dryly.
"Yohko and the others are hiding on the hulls of four of the cruisers," Kiyone smiled, "and the others are ready to go."
"Good," Ryouko took a deep breath, steeling herself as she said, "Open a communication link with the Jurai flagship."
The dark haired girl at that station went to work, and a few moments later Ryouko was looking at the image of the Emperor of Jurai and his two wives. 'No sign of the princesses,' Ryouko though with some relief, 'at least they're both out of the line of fire.'
"Empress of Manticore," the Emperor of Jurai grated out, "you are outnumbered and out gunned. Prepare to be destroyed!"
"That's my line," Ryouko actually smiled, startling the man. "I'm willing to offer you the chance to surrender, to spare the lives of your soldiers," she added.
"Never," he snarled, and cut the connection.
"Let's hit them with our little surprise. Cue Yohko," Ryouko said, "launch the fighters!"
Several of the blocky, square ships sprouted openings, and smaller, more nimble craft poured out. Lead by four color coded craft in red, yellow, green and blue, they quickly organized into wings, more than doubling the number of ships on Manticore's side.
"All ships," Ryouko paused, looking out at the vessels assembled against them and feeling just a bit of pity, "attack!"
The battle plan Ryouko and Washu had devised was simple yet very effective. The larger ships hung back, using their advanced weapons to hammer the Jurai ships, while Ryo-Ohki and the fighters performed attack runs into the enemy fleet itself.
It was almost funny, in a sad sort of way. The Manticore fleet's shields were so good, only multiple attacks by several ships could possibly rupture them. But each time the Jurai ships organized for such a group assault, the fighters dove in to mess up their coordination. The battle dragged on, the Jurai ships began to flare up, listing away or dying out in the void, and Ryouko wondered when the enemy line would finally break.
The sleek, silvery ship rocked, and the Galaxy Police officers within strove to keep the ship's systems on line. The red headed lead officer pushed her hair out of her eyes, watching the battle on her monitor screen.
The ship jerked yet again, and Mitsuki turned to bark to her communication officer, "Get me the Marshal at headquarters."
The Marshal of the Galaxy Police appeared, a golden haired bear of a man. Eagerly, he asked her, "Has the criminal fleet of Manticore been defeated?"
"No," Mitsuki snapped, "and it's not going to." At his shocked expression she said coldly, "We're losing, sir."
The Marshal slumped back in his seat, "It's not possible, we out numbered them."
"We outnumbered them before they launched some new kind of mini-ships at us," Mitsuki explained. Grimly, she said, "We've already lost a quarter of our ships, and Jurai's losses in ships are even greater."
"Keep fighting," the Marshal mumbled, "we must bring this criminal to justice..."
"Sir, it's over," she barked at him. The Marshal's head jerked up and she met his eyes levelly, "We can't do anything more here, except add to the body count."
The Marshal's shoulders dropped, and quietly he said, "Pull our ships out."
Mitsuki cut the connection, turning to her communications officer, "Notify the Jurai ships we're pulling out, then send the withdrawal signal to our ships."
On the bridge of the Washu's Revenge Ryouko frowned, watching as the remaining organization of the Jurai ships began to break down. The silvery ships of the Galaxy Police began to pull out of the formation, moving away from the planet.
Minagi's image came up on the screen, "The Galaxy Police ships have sounded a retreat! They're pulling out!" She paused, "Do you want us to pursue them?"
"We can deal with the GP later," Ryouko said, "concentrate on the Jurai fleet."
Yuri turned from the communication station, her long black hair swinging as she said, "We're beginning to receive surrender signals from some of the enemy ships."
Yamamoto Yohko's face came up, her red hair stuck to her head by sweat, "I'll send a few fighters to escort them, as well as keep an eye on them."
"Do it," Kiyone nodded. "Kei, take the surrendering ships off the battle monitor, tag them green, the still fighting ships red," she ordered.
The sandy haired blonde nodded, "Right."
The remaining red on the screen was rapidly turning to green even as they watched, until finally one single, blazing spot of red remained. "The flagship," Ryouko said with a sigh, "open up communications with it, please."
The Emperor of Jurai was alone of the bridge, his wives and crew all absent. "Well, Empress of Manticore, it seems you were right," he said, "but you will not enjoy your victory." He depressed certain controls, and the ship began to move forward.
"Don't do this," Ryouko said, "it will do you no good."
"I started this, and I will end it," the Emperor of Jurai said quietly.
"Escape pods are launching from the flagship," Nicole reported.
"They're trying to ram," Kiyone said softly, looking at Ryouko, "should we fire?"
"Shields on maximum," Ryouko ordered, "but keep this line open."
The Emperor of Jurai smiled sadly, even as the flagship picked up speed. They kept their eyes locked on each other, the two rulers, until finally he murmured, "I'm sorry."
The bridge rocked, but Ryouko kept watching even as flames broke out on her enemy's ship. A wash of flame cut across the image, and the line was cut.
"Ship status," Kiyone barked.
"No damage," Nicole reported, "they barely scratched the paint."
"Such a damn waste," Ryouko growled softly, so softly that Kiyone could barely hear her. Ryouko brought Captain Henke's image up, "Michelle, start recovery of the lifepods. I want as many as possible recovered."
The swarthy captain saluted, "Yes, ma'am!"
"I'm going below," Ryouko said to Kiyone softly.
Kiyone watched her leave, knowing exactly where Ryouko was going: sown to the medical bays, to see the wounded. It was her tradition, since the very first battle she had lead the fleet into.
The next few hours were packed with work, keeping them all occupied. Finally, Ryouko called a meeting of her staff, to start putting together an overview of the situation. Ryouko, Washu, Yume, Minagi, and Kiyone sat at the table, other lead captains connected by data-link.
Washu was first up, having visited the planet below them. "Jurai's a mess," she said, "the government pushed for as many resources for the war effort as possible. If they don't receive aide soon, there will be starvation. I've already authorized the first shipments of food and supplies."
"Good," Ryouko nodded, then, "Yume?"
"We have access to the Jurai mainframes," the elfin woman reported, "and I'm trying to find out as much as we can. A preliminary check shows that there are at least a few warships unaccounted for in the battle." Softly to Minagi Yume said, "No sign of Nagi yet, but there are firewalls and encryption all through the system. Be patient, please."
"Thanks," Minagi said softly. She stood to give her report, "Fighter losses were about what we expected. We lost ten, and five more were crippled but the pilots survived. Yohko says we already have volunteers ready to take their places."
Ryouko winced at that piece of news, "Twenty five percent losses."
Kiyone took her turn, "No ships of the fleet were lost, and casualties were low. I've ordered heightened security because of those unaccounted for ships."
Ryouko stood, "Congratulations, all of you. If not for all your valiant efforts, we would not have won this battle." She smiled slightly, "Raise a glass for me at the victory celebration I know you'll be having tonight."
A cheer rang out among the captain, only quieting once Kiyone signaled that Ryouko had something else to say.
"And raise a glass to those we lost as well," Ryouko said seriously.
The meeting came to an end, and Kiyone nodded to Ryouko respectfully. "I'll take Mihoshi along to the party, keep an eye on things," she smiled.
"Minagi will be there, too," Ryouko said.
"What?" Minagi blinked, "Wait a minute..."
"Take a break, have some fun," Ryouko said seriously. "I'll make it an order if I have to," she added with an older sister attitude.
"Can I talk to you for a moment?" Washu asked Ryouko quietly. They left the meeting room together, walking along the hallway quietly. Her face was grim, "You'll have a full-blown rebellion here within a year."
"And if I kill any surviving royals, put a regent in?" Ryouko asked coolly.
"A few years longer," Washu did the calculations, "but still, they would rebel."
"What would happen if," Ryouko paused, "I married Princess Ayeka?"
Washu looked up at her daughter thoughtfully, "I knew it."
"Knew what?" Ryouko said defensively.
Ignoring that, Washu said, "If you marry a willing Ayeka, it's quite possible you could create a partnership between Jurai and Manticore that would be quite stable."
"Good," Ryouko said, "because I've asked Ayeka to be waiting for me when I arrive on the planet later today."
To be continued...