Story: Tenchi Muyo: Conquest (chapter 21)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 21

Interlude: Galaxy Police

        Kiyone slipped away from the crowd that was standing around Mitsuki, taking a moment to try to recover her composure. She had been startled to feel tears coming upon seeing the redheaded officer there alive, considering what had passed between them.

        'I guess time really does heal all wounds,' Kiyone mused, remembering when they had parted all those years ago...

        The silvery Galaxy Police cruiser smoothly docked with the massive central base, the small control room of the snug ship having been ominously quiet for most of the trip back there. Finally Mitsuki softly reported, "We're home, at last."

        "Maybe not my home for very much longer," Kiyone coolly unstrapped herself, pushing herself out of the compartment. In the ship's reduced gravity field she nearly flew down the hallway, using expertly placed handholds to pull herself along.

        Mitsuki quickly got free to try and follow her, skimming down the hallway in hot pursuit. She caught up with Kiyone just in time to say defensively, "I sent in a preliminary report, just like the regulations demand."

        There was a real fire in Kiyone's eyes, enough to make Mitsuki back away from her a step. The black haired officer scowled, "Some report! Not a word about Kagato's defeat, or the lives that were saved." A breath as she quoted bitterly, "GP officer Kiyone has disobeyed direct orders, am returning to base to provide full report."

        "Kiyone, I'm not your enemy here," was what Mitsuki quietly said, raising up her hands as they floated there just outside of Kiyone's quarters, "I'm just following my oaths, the same way that you would."

        "No," Kiyone said to her simply, "I wouldn't. Not this way." With that, she keyed her door open, slipped inside, and locked it behind her. For just a moment Kiyone thought she heard someone crying on the other side, but she swiftly dismissed that idea.

        Kiyone looked around her quarters regretfully, thinking again of what she might be losing soon. But faced with the same circumstances again, watching ships being blown out of space and being ask to do nothing about it, she knew she'd act.

        "I just wish it hadn't been Ryouko I helped," Kiyone muttered.

        The dresser drawers were all quickly cleared out, her casual clothes packed away. The uniforms were stowed away a bit more carefully, then she put away all the momentos that she had accumulated over the past few years. With a soft sigh she sat down on her couch and waited for the call that she knew was coming soon.

        It took only a few moments before the communicator chimed into the silence. Kiyone reached over to activate it, "Yes?"

        "Officer Kiyone?" She nodded, and the older officer continued reluctantly, "It is my duty to inform you that there is a court of inquiry being held in regard of your actions in the 'Kagato' incident. It will be convened tomorrow, at 0800 hours."

        'That certainly was quick,' Kiyone thought, 'I wonder if they want this trial to be as short and simple as possible?' Realizing that he expected an answer she nodded firmly, "Yes, sir. Will an advocate be assigned to me?"

        "Yes," he nodded back simply, "Officer Kieran has been assigned from the judge advocate general to work on your case." He provided her comm code and added, "I'd recommend you meet with her before the court tomorrow."

        'Obviously something's brewing,' Kiyone noted. "I'll do that, sir," she said. The older man disconnected, and she leaned back with a soft sigh. She patched the comm code in, and in only a few moments the connection was made.

        Officer Kieran's eyes widened slightly as she recognized Kiyone. Before Kiyone could even say anything the sandy blonde firmly said, "We need to meet, Kiyone, in person."

        'All right, there's definitely something going on,' Kiyone thought. She knew Kieran from when the older officer had taught space law back at the academy, and she was not a person who fooled around. "When and where?" she asked crisply.

        "Soonest," Kieran scowled, "there's a decent bar here on base. We'll meet there." With that, she abruptly disconnected.

        Kiyone got up and moved to the door, picking up her bags. She couldn't stay on board this honorable ship, not with this hanging over her head. She slipped out, leaving the empty room unlocked, and smoothly made her way to the docking port.

        Somehow, Kiyone wasn't too surprised when Mitsuki intercepted her on the way out. "You're leaving the ship?" she asked, pushing her red hair back impatiently.

        "I'll be staying over on the base until this is settled," Kiyone said simply. She keyed open the port and moved into the docking tube when Mitsuki grabbed her foot. "What?"

        "You don't have to," Mitsuki started, "I mean..."

        "Yes, I do," Kiyone shook herself free, then pushed off smoothly, leaving Mitsuki standing there in the airlock behind her.

        "Officer on deck!" the young man, so new that the polish hadn't been rubbed off him yet, threw an almost perfect salute.

        It took Kiyone a real effort not to laugh. 'Guess the story hasn't made it into the rumor mill yet,' she thought bleakly. "Guest quarters?" she barked.

        The boy stiffened up even more, if that was even possible. "Two levels up, on the inner ring, ma'am," he reported.

        "And where can I get a drink around here?" Kiyone smiled just slightly.

        The boy blinked, "Also two levels up, on the outer ring."

        "Thanks," Kiyone gave him a casual wave of her hand before stepping on to the moving sidewalk up the long hallway. She reached the lift a few moments later, rose up the required two levels and then checked into a open suite. She dropped her bags off there and re-keyed the lock to her ID before going to find the bar.

        Almost as soon as Kiyone went inside the dark, shadowy bar, she saw Officer Kieran sitting at one of the back tables. She cautiously made her way through the crowd and settled down into a seat, meeting the older woman's sympathetic gaze.

        "For various political reasons the higher-ups don't monitor this place," Officer Kieran said simply, "we can talk safely here."

        The visibly pale Kiyone's eyes widened slightly before she blurted out to her, "What in the hell is going on out here?"

        "You really don't get it, do you?" Officer Kieran sighed.

        Kiyone waved down a waitress and quickly ordered something very strong and probably near poisonous. Once the lady left Kiyone fixed Kieran with a look, "Educate me."

        Kieran nodded to her crisply, "Ryouko is not on our most Galaxy's most wanted list because she's committed the acts of piracy that the Marshal claims she did."

        The drinks were delivered and Kiyone took a long pull of hers before asking, "So why are we all going after her, then?"

        "The Marshal is in bed with the Empire of Jurai," Kieran said to her bluntly, "and the Empire wants Ryouko dead or brought back in chains." With a sigh she added, "And you had a shot at actually doing that, but instead you helped her."

        "Shit," Kiyone muttered. What had been a bad situation, with her having disobeyed orders, was now a whole lot worse. The Marshal would be under pressure from Jurai, and he'd probably need to find a scapegoat of some kind.

        "They're going to throw the book at you," Officer Kieran said with a sigh, "unless I can pull off some kind of deal for you."

        "And if I don't want to make a deal?" Kiyone leaned back in her chair, taking another drink before meeting Kieran's gaze.

        "I'll defend you to the very best of my abilities," Officer Kieran said with a great deal of sympathetically, "but I can't really refute the basic facts of their case. You did disobey the orders, whatever the circumstances."

        "And what happens then?" Kiyone asked.

        "Stockade," Kieran answered crisply, "for twenty to life. And with the Marshal being involved, you'll likely be held to the maximum."

        Kiyone nodded slightly. "And if we deal?"

        "The prosecutor contacted me after I was assigned the case," Kieran said softly, "if you publicly admit that you made an error in judgment in aiding the 'Space Pirate Ryouko' they'll simply kick you out with a dishonorable discharge."

        There was something in Kieran's tone of voice and the sandy haired woman's eyes glittered dangerously. "You're angry," Kiyone blinked.

        "Hell yes I'm angry," Kieran bit out angrily, "you're a fine officer, and under any other conditions you'd be getting a promotion right now. But instead, I'm going to have to do my very best to keep you out of the stockade!"

        Kiyone reached out to pat the woman's arm, "Thanks."

        The two sat at the darkness of the corner table in the station bar for a few moments, drinking silently as the bar's noises rolled right over them. Kieran was clearly still upset about the situation, but Kiyone felt an odd sort of calm coming over her. The dark haired officer drank her booze thoughtfully, considering her situation.

        "Take the deal," Kiyone finally said softly.

        Kieran looked up at her in surprise, "You're sure?"

        "Even if you pulled off a miracle and I actually won," Kiyone said with a sigh, "I don't think I'd really want to stay in an organization that lets something like this happen."

        Kieran nodded reluctantly, "I can sympathize." She stretched out uncomfortably, "I'll call the prosecutor, try to get something set up for tomorrow."

        "Thanks," Kiyone picked up her drink, finishing it in a long pull, "I'm gonna go get some rest, and get ready for tomorrow."

        The two walked out of the bar together, and Kiyone blinked in honest surprise at the Galaxy Police officer who was waiting outside for them. The dusky skinned blonde smiled up at Kiyone shyly before asking her, "Can I talk to you?"

        "Mihoshi?" Kiyone looked at her in confusion.

        Kieran gave Kiyone a slight smile, "I'll see you in the morning."

        They made their way to one of the larger view ports, gazing out at the stars together. "You really didn't do those things, did you?" Mihoshi looked up at her earnestly.

        Kiyone felt a moment of deep pain. "Yes, I did," she said firmly. Mihoshi was a good friend, someone she trusted, and she refused to draw her into this mess. "I'm bad news, Mihoshi," she said softly, "you need to stay as far away from me as you can."

        "You're a good person," Mihoshi said intensely, "There's no way you'd disobey an order without a very good reason." Tears glistened in her eyes, "I believe in you."

        "I'm pleading guilty to the charges tomorrow," Kiyone made her voice as hard as she could as she continued, "and you do not want to be caught up in that." She strode away, ignoring Mihoshi's soft words behind her.

        The trial the next morning was all purely for show, even Kiyone could see that. Any motion that Kieran put forward in her defense was quickly quashed, overruled by the prosecution or by the admiral who was overseeing the case. Even after Kiyone actually plead guilty Mitsuki was ordered to the stand and give her evidence.

        The redhead looked straight ahead as Mitsuki expressionlessly narrated the battle between Ryouko's fleet and Kagato's ship. She explained how they were ordered to observe, and Kiyone's discovery of a flaw in Kagato's shields. Then Kiyone disobeyed her orders, transmitted information to Ryouko's ships, then brought their ship into Ryouko's battleline. And all the time, she completely refused to meet Kiyone's eyes.

        Not long after Kiyone stood there before the Admiral as she was formerly dismissed from the Galaxy Police. Rank insignia and medals were torn from the cloth of her uniform, and Kiyone fought back the harsh sting of tears. But the worst was as she was leaving, hearing a command officer talking to Mitsuki about the promotion she had earned...

        Kiyone felt a gentle hand on her arm, and turned from where she was leaning to meet Mihoshi's gentle gaze. "What's wrong, love?" she asked her softly, "We should be inside celebrating Mitsuki's return."

        "I'll be inside in a few minutes,:" Kiyone promised her. She smiled fondly as Mihoshi walked inside. Mihoshi had resigned after Kiyone's trial, following her to Ryouko's fleet. It had taken a bit of effort, but she had finally made Kiyone understand she wanted to be more than friends.

        'If not for that trial, I wouldn't have everything I do now,' Kiyone thought with a smile. 'More than enough reason to forgive her.' She pushed off the stone wall smoothly and walked inside, to party tonight and prepare for the battles to come tomorrow.

To be continued...

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