Story: Tenchi Muyo: Conquest (chapter 27)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 27

Title: Chapter 27: One's Own Honor 2

Tenchi Muyo: Conquest! One's Own Honor: Two

Ryouko looked up as the doors opened into the large room, watching the delegation from Gryphon moving in nervously. She felt a smile steal across her face as she saw Honor enter along with the others and take a seat. Ryouko waited until Washu and Minagi sat down on either side of her before saying, "I'm glad you came so promptly, we have a great deal to discuss."

An older man that Ryouko's information files identified as Ambassador Langtry cleared his throat nervously. "We are under instructions from our Queen to sue for peace, but we do have terms.." he said quietly.

"I'm not here to demand your surrender," Ryouko shook her head. She got up from her seat, walking over to stand by a viewport, looking out at the stars. "I'm here to offer an alliance," she said without turning around.

There was a beat of silence behind her, as if her guests didn't know quite what to say. Finally, Honor herself spoke up nervously, "I'm sorry, did I hear you right?"

Ryouko turned, noticing one of the junior diplomats glaring at Harrington. He looked like a weasel to Ryouko so she ignored him, focusing her attention on the intense young officer. "I'm here to offer an alliance," she repeated, "one that will benefit both of us."

An older admiral smiled ruefully. "I can see how an alliance will benefit us," White Haven said, "we don't get annihilated, for one. I'm just not sure how it helps you."

Ryouko felt her smile widen slightly. She liked dealing with straight talkers, and it looked like Gryphon had a lot of them. "My fleet is quite impressively powerful," she said, and she could feel Washu's disapproval, "but currently we're staffed at less than half crews."

"It's not a problem in a lightning assault," Minagi spoke up from her position at the table, "but in a sustained battle we could have problems."

Langtry had an odd gleam in his eyes as he said, "You want us to help crew your ships. But what would we get in return?"

"Two things," Washu spoke up. "First, you would be part of Manticore's dominion, with all the benefits that go with it," the little redhead said, "and second, we would provide our technology to upgrade your own fleet. By the time we're done, your ships will by much nastier."

Both the Ambassador and the two Admirals had looks on their faces that they might have just hit the jackpot. Only Honor looked across the table at Ryouko and the others with a frown, weighing something in her mind. Finally she stood, "Excuse me, sirs."

Houseman paled in his seat, "Sit down, you shouldn't be ..."

Ryouko gave him a dangerous look and said, "Shut up." As he crumpled in a dead faint she looked over at Honor and calmly asked, "Yes?"

The young woman gulped, looking visibly nervous. "Even with your crew problems you can defeat us easily," Honor put her hands on the top of the table, fighting to keep her voice steady, "but you need to have fully crewed vessels for something. Obviously, you intend to take on someone that is even more powerful." She met Ryouko's eyes and asked, "What sort of battle are we signing on for if we become your ally?"

Ryouko's face was still, then she suddenly smiled as she said, "Well done, young lady." She pushed her long hair back from her face before casually saying, "You all know about the Ruins Buster, the criminal known as Kagato."

"Kagato," White Haven's eyes widened, "he's even attacked some of our allied worlds. His ship, the Soja, is said to be nearly unstoppable."

"Not unstoppable," Washu said crisply, "but powerful and dangerous, yes." She met the eyes of the figures across the table, "There will be losses."

"Kagato's one problem we have," Ryouko continued, "and I have another objective." Her expression was calm as she continued, "Jurai has been absorbing smaller systems, growing in this direction. I mean to stop that growth if I can."

"You intend to take on the Emperor of Jurai," Admiral Courvosier spoke up, his voice admiring, "you've got guts, I'll give you that."

"Gryphon is right in Jurai's path," Minagi noted, "you wouldn't have built up your fleet the way you have if you didn't know that."

"Gryphon is one of the few systems with the ability to go toe to toe with Jurai," Ryouko said calmly, "but you're not strong enough to win." Before anyone could protest that she said firmly, "You'll hurt them, but you'll loose. Join with us, and we can take them."

Langtry cautiously said, "I'd like to bring your proposals to our Queen, she must be the final one to make the decision. Could we have twenty four hours?"

"I'll give you two days to consider," Ryouko smiled slightly, "and please bring any counter offers with you when you come back to the table." As the Gryphon delegation was leaving she called out, "Can I speak to Commander Harrington?"

White Haven frowned, giving Honor a look clearly saying that she was welcome to refuse. She nodded and he said, "We'll wait for her."

Washu and Minagi left as well, and Honor walked over to where the Warlord of Manticore stood by a view port. Ryouko looked at the severe brown haired young woman, and up close she was struck by how young the girl seemed, dressed in that crisp black military uniform.

"Would you take the alliance I'm offering?" Ryouko asked her curiously.

Honor hesitated, "I'm not the one making the decision, ma'am."

Ryouko laughed softly, "I don't think I've ever been called ma'am before." She raised her eyebrow, "Off the record?"

"If it's off the record," Honor puffed out a small sigh, "then yes, I would. We need you against Jurai as much as you need us to help take on Kagato."

"Fair enough," Ryouko agreed. She turned her gaze out to the stars once again, "Are you involved with someone?"

The look on Honor's face was just priceless. The young officer's cheeks went bright red, her mouth dropped open in surprise, and she looked at Ryouko in shock. After a bit of stuttering Honor managed to get out, "Yes, I am."

Ryouko smirked, "It too bad, you're cute." She gentled her smile and gave the girl some space, "It's all right, I won't jump you." She walked towards the doors, pausing to say over her shoulder, "But the man or woman you love is lucky to have you." With that, she was gone. Not long after Ryouko stood on the bridge of the Revenge, watching the ship leave.

"Do you think they'll agree?" Minagi asked, standing by her sister's side.

"I'm not sure," Ryouko shrugged slightly.

"We nearly had them reeled in too," Washu complained from the science station, "if that officer hadn't spoken up."

"Honor Harrington," Ryouko smiled thoughtfully, "she's impressive. If they do join our fleet, we'll be better off."

"I know that tone of voice," Minagi frowned, "you've got the hots for her, don't you?"

"A momentary attraction," Ryouko waved, "but she's got someone." She watched the Gryphon pinnacle disappear towards their fleet, "It's too bad, really."

Washu sighed softly. "You still let your hormones override your thinking," she complained, "one of these days you'll fall in love..."

"Never happen," Minagi shook her head, "our Warlord is a confirmed bachelor."

"You've got that right," Ryouko agreed. She looked over at her tactical officer, "Kei, keep an eye on the Gryphon ships. If they do try something, I want to know about it."

"Yes, ma'am," Kei agreed, her red hair flowing over her shoulders.

"They're not foolish enough to launch an attack on us," Washu reassured her daughter.

"Maybe," Ryouko agreed, "but I've learned not to take chances." She saw a vessel break away from the Gryphon fleet, likely to head for their homeworld with the negotiators.

"There they go," Minagi noted. "Let's hope they pick us."

Ryouko watched the ship shrink in the distance, lost to her thoughts. 'I hope Harrington's right,' Ryouko mused, "we need them almost as much as they need us.'

To be continued...

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