Story: Tenchi Muyo: Conquest (chapter 33)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 33

Title: Chapter 33: One's Own Honor 8

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

"They're going to where?" Michelle blinked in surprise, the dusky skinned officer standing on her bridge as a section of the Fleet hung in deep space near a solar system out on the very edge of Jurai colonized space.

Honor Harrington adjusted her uniform a bit uncomfortably, the brown haired woman on the viewscreen looking good with the new insignias of an Admiral on her collar. "I'm not sure the name of the bar," she answered her mildly from her own ship, the Nike, "but Ryouko is on a planet in this system looking for that Galaxy Police officer, Kiyone."

"Must have impressed Ryouko," Michelle noted. The battle with Kagato had ended months ago, the Manticore fleet working quickly to rebuild it's forces. One unexpected effect of the conflict had been the attention it had brought from the surviving galactic empires, more than one watching the young military power warily.

"That she did," Honor agreed. She scowled, recalling the information they received in the aftermath. In return for helping them defeat Kagato Kiyone had been tried by the GP, finally choosing to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for a dishonorable discharge.

"Bleek," Nimitz chided her, the slim treecat clinging to his chosen person's shoulder.

"Stinker knows you pretty well," Michelle commented. She looked curious, "Why does Jurai have such a hatred for Ryouko, anyway?"

"Besides the fact that Manticore is a potential threat to Jurai," Honor smiled slightly, "there's supposed to be bad blood between Ryouko and the Emperor. Apparently a few years back Jurai attempted to force a colony that was looking for independence back into the fold...."

"And Ryouko stopped them," Michelle anticipated.

"Exactly," Honor nodded, "and the Emperor took it as a personal insult." One of Honor's staff discretely signaled her and she sighed, "Excuse me, Captain."

"We'll talk more later," Michelle flashed a smile before disconnecting.

Honor looked towards her tactical officer, "Kei, what's the situation?"

"Ryo-Ohki is inbound," the redhead reported then Kei frowned, "but I'm picking up two unknown drive signatures as well. I can't be certain, but I'd say they were civilian ships trying to conceal their presence."

"Interesting," Honor frowned. The majority of Fleet was back in Manticore space along with the Washu's revenge, they only had about ten ships handy, mostly light but fast battlecruisers. "Put me through to Minagi," she ordered.

"Admiral," Minagi looked up with a welcoming smile, her long blue mane flowing down over her shoulders. The scars on each of her cheeks didn't distract from the warmth of her smile, in a way they only added to it.

"... we don't know for sure what those ships are," Honor finished, "but there are rumors of slavery rings out here. I'd like you to take your Valiant and the Striker to investigate, the rest of us remaining to cover Ryouko."

"Good plan," Minagi said simply, her eyes lit up with excitement, "I'm on it." With that she disconnected, external views showing the two cruisers swiftly moving off to investigate the unknown ships, soon accelerating to near maximum.

"Ryo-Ohki has entered communications range," Webster offered, the young man smiling slightly, "we're being hailed."

"Put them on," Honor answered.

Ryouko looked much like her twin, only the unmarked cheeks and different uniform making her different. "Open the docking bays," she grinned, "mission accomplished."

"Welcome back," Honor answered, noting the black haired woman who stood beside Ryouko. She looked visibly tired, a bit the worse for wear and Honor added, "And may I personally welcome you, Officer Kiyone?"

Kiyone looked up in surprise but managed a smile. "I'm not an officer any more," she answered, "but thanks for the thought."

Ryouko cut the connection and Honor turned to leave the bridge as she formally said, "Number one, you have the bridge." The lift swiftly carried her down then out to the docking bays even as she considered the woman she that had just seen. 'It looks like things haven't been easy for her since she left the GP,'' Honor noted, 'best keep that in mind.'

Honor reached the docking bay in time to see Ryo-Ohki arrive, the unique crystalline ship slipping in through the bay doors easily. A transport beam smoothly set Ryouko and Kiyone down onto the deck then the ship shrank, form shifting until it return to it's cabbit shape.

"Bleek!" Nimitz cheerfully hailed his furry friend even as Honor strode inside and gave Ryouko a formal salute.

"You know that I hate that formal stuff," Ryouko complained with a smile. She turned to Kiyone, "I'd like you to meet Admiral Honor Harrington, she was the one who was in command when you aided us against Kagato."

"That took guts," Kiyone offered her hand, "and courage. Not many leaders would have kept up the pressure that way, knowing the risks they were taking."

"Thank you," Honor managed a smile, her own feelings mixed about that battle. It was a victory, yes, but far too many lives had been lost for her to feel very good about it.

"Where did Minagi take off to so fast?" Ryouko asked curiously as they headed to the lifts.

"We spotted two suspicious ships in the area," Honor relayed, "operating covertly, she went to check them out." She paused, "Considering the rumors of human smuggling in the region, I thought it best we investigated."

"That could be a problem," Ryouko frowned as they swiftly headed to the bridge, "Minagi has a strong dislike for slavers." As they arrived with barely a thump she quietly added, "I think it comes from being a slave herself, once."

Honor kept her poise, barely, as they all moved out onto the bridge. "Transmit to all vessels in the squadron," she ordered crisply, "the Empress is aboard, we're moving out to meet Minagi's ships."

"Transmitted," Webster acknowledged.

"Moving to projected course of the Valiant and Striker," Prescott said, the older man at the helm moving with smooth confidence.

"I'm impressed," Kiyone murmured, looking around the bridge with no little awe.

Honor smiled slightly, keeping her eyes on the screen as they moved out. The bridge was a hybrid of Washu's design innovations and Basilisk military tech, crystalline microcircuitry fused with cutting edge military tech. The holo-imaging tank took up a quarter of the bridge, tactical and helm up front, security, communications and engineering positions in behind. Round and spacious there were extra seats for other officers and staff, as well as powerful defensive screens.

"Ma'am," Kei called her attention as the young woman continued, "I'm picking up weapons discharges, at the edge of sensor range."

"Increase to maximum acceleration," Honor ordered crisply. Dropping her voice a bit she addressed Ryouko, "Exactly how strongly does she dislike slavers?"

"She wouldn't attack without provocation," Ryouko shrugged, "but her definition of provocation has always been a bit looser than mine."

"Marvelous," Honor muttered.

"Should you go to battlestations?" Kiyone ventured.

"Not a bad idea," Honor said then gave the order. As the signal rang through the ship she continued, "As long as the slavers don't have backup, we should have tactical superiority." She paused, "As long as they're not using Q-ships, anyway."

"Q-ships?" Ryouko asked curiously.

"Merchant vessels secretly refit as warships," Honor answered, "they're very dangerous as ambushers but not so good in a stand-up fight. I understand Haven used them during the war."

"The Galaxy Police impounded a few," Kiyone agreed.

The images on the viewscreen grew as they approached, the flashes of weapons fire trailing off as Minagi's two cruisers rode herd over the three merchant vessels. Unnecessarily Kei reported, "Their engines are disabled but otherwise they're undamaged."

"Hail Minagi," Honor ordered.

"Boss," Minagi appeared, her clothes a bit smudged but otherwise looking unharmed, "I'm surprised to see you so soon."

"What's the situation?" Ryouko asked curiously, noting several battered looking men and women in matching uniforms behind Minagi.

"They fired on me as soon as I neared, and we returned fire," Minagi shrugged. "I took a few crew, boarded 'em and confirmed they're slavers." Her eyes darkened with anger, "And they were augmenting their captives, sis."

Honor bit back her anger, but barely. Unwilling augmentation of any citizen was horrible, and the kind of things these slavers might want.... "What are we dealing with?" Honor asked grimly.

"Pilot modifications," Minagi responded, "along with a partial or complete brain-memory wipe. Apparently they're selling these girls to the highest bidder."

"Bring the victims aboard," Ryouko said with surprising gentleness, "we'll get them to Washu and Yume, hopefully they can help." Her voice hardened, "And your captives, they're facing trial on Manticore for slavery and anything else we can come up with."

To be continued...

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