Tenchi Muyo: Conquest! One's Own Honor: Ten
Kiyone nervously adjusted her Major's insignia, then reached down to tidy up her uniform. The black haired young woman was still getting used to wearing the Manticore uniform, designed so different from her old Galaxy Police one, but she was adapting slowly but surely. She left her quarters and went out into the halls on the fleet drydock, floating high above Manticore, where the latest designs of vessels were being constructed and tested.
"It's good to have you aboard, Kiyone," Washu looked up from where she stood in the command center that Kiyone had entered a few moments later, her lips curling up in an honest smile of welcome.
"Ma'am," Kiyone nodded, fighting the urge to salute. Over the months that she had been with Manticore she had learned a lot, including the odd way Ryouko worked. Washu had no official rank, but she had her lover Yume were probably Ryouko's closest advisors, ministers in all but name.
Washu looked amused, "Remember, just call me Washu." She smirked as she drawled, "Or little Washu, if you like."
Kiyone just let that one go. "Has there been any word on Nagi?" she asked seriously.
The amusement on Washu's face largely went away at that point. "No, not yet," she said intently, "it's been three weeks since she went to Jurai and not a word."
"Damn it," Kiyone made a face.
Thinks had been rapidly going down hill with Jurai for several months now, but this was a new low. Ryouko had begun to expand the Manticore Empire against several hostile neighbors, ultimately ending up on the edge of Jurai space. She had planned to open up diplomatic talks with Jurai at that point, but the Emperor had not only refused to talk to them, he had ordered his vessels to move against Manticore's forces.
Sending Nagi in as a diplomatic envoy was Ryouko's last hope to resolve things semi-peacefully, but it looked like it wasn't going too well. The border between Jurai and Manticore was swiftly becoming a battleline, with Admiral Harrington out there keeping an eye on things along with the best of their fleet.
"Minagi is having fits, as you can imagine," Washu said grimly. She shook herself, "The only good news is that the diplomatic push with the nonaligned powers is going well."
"I'm glad," Kiyone said a bit wryly. If felt odd at times, being in the position that she was in. Her experience with the GP along with the amount of travel she had done had swiftly lead to her becoming one of Ryouko's inner circle, advising the Empress on many diplomatic matters, and she was quickly rising in rank in the fleet as well.
"I know that you feel conflicted in all this," Washu added quietly as the staff that ran the command center hurried around them, "but I think you know first hand that the Galaxy Police aren't on the side of the angels in all this."
"Especially how blatantly the GP has chosen to climb into bed with Jurai," Kiyone conceded, thinking of the Galaxy Police presence on the Jurai side of the battlelines, "but I still have friends over there, even if I think the organization itself stinks."
"That's true," Washu nodded, the little redhead smiling wryly. "If it helps any the Science Academy has come down publicly on Jurai's side," she added seriously, "putting Yume and myself in a similar position to yours."
"Not fun," Kiyone was about to say something more when an officer spoke up.
"Ma'am," Nicole spoke up, the pink haired new recruit sitting at sensors, "there's an unidentified hyper signature out on the edge of the solar system." The young man worked the controls with confidence, "It's civilian, not Jurai or Manticore."
"Assuming they have military grade sensors, how long until they get into range to scan the docks?" Kiyone ordered crisply.
"If it's Jurai or Galaxy Police tech, probably half an hour," Washu answered crisply. She looked up at Kiyone, "You think they're trying to see what we're building out here?"
"We've kept the Light Armored Craft and the Carriers for them a secret up till now," Kiyone shrugged, "I'd like to keep it a secret if we can." She narrowed her eyes in thought, considering the situation, "Why don't we send a ship out to meet them, far enough away to keep them from scanning us? We can always use the old customs inspection excuse."
"You don't need my permission," Washu tossed her a smile, "but I agree with you."
Kiyone left a commander in charge as she left the bridge, hurrying down the halls towards the docks. She made herself ignore the view outside the armored windows, though she was tempted to slow down to study the ships that were in construction just outside.
The Manticore system drydock was one of the busiest in the Empire and home to some of the most vital projects under the protection of Home Fleet. The new LAC Carriers were swiftly coming together, construction crews hauling metal segments together to assemble the massive, blocky craft. Along with standard shipboard weapons each would carry a wing of eight LACs, the nimble, very lethal craft a deadly surprise to any enemy.
'At least we're hoping to keep it a surprise,' Kiyone thought to herself as she reached the docks. Several light cruisers were moored to the heavy dock, intended for possible defense of the station as well as to transport crew. She keyed the airlock and stepped into zero gravity, sliding across the connection tube to the waiting ship.
"Ma'am," the lieutenant saluted as she stepped onto the deck, the dusky skinned young man looking a bit nervous.
"Let the bridge know I'm coming Roger," Kiyone said crisply as she strode by.
"Yes ma'am," Roger saluted again before hitting the internal communications system.
A few moments later and Kiyone stepped off the lift onto the bridge, smiling slightly as she saw the crew busily preparing to move out. The captain turned to smile, the brown haired woman throwing a crisp salute, "Welcome aboard, Major Kiyone."
"Captain Tita," Kiyone returned the young lady's salute. A recent arrival to the Fleet Captain Tita had started out as just a ocean going captain on a small colony world before getting caught up in Manticore's diplomatic efforts and an attempted murder. Once the dust settled Tita and her crew were offered a chance to join up, and after some debate they agreed.
"Nicole over at Drydock passed us over the sensor readings," Tita reported with a merry twinkle in her eyes that showed that she really enjoyed her work, "we've already got a least-time intercept plotted and ready to go."
"Well done," Kiyone murmured with a smile, "let's go."
"Balboa," Tita turned to her tanned, blonde haired executive officer, "execute course, start us up at 200 gravities." She keyed the communicator for engineering, "Mikhail, we're on the move."
The gravely voice of the old engineer reminded Kiyone of many engineers she had met, crusty men who were more comfortable with their engines than with most human beings. "You'll have full power as needed," Mikhail rumbled out, "and the lazy yard crew had completed the weapons upgrade as promised."
"Weapons upgrade?" Kiyone asked as the ship rumbled just slightly, disconnecting from the station and moving out into the blackness of space.
Tita smiled slightly, "Washu's committed to bringing cruisers up to par with larger ships in energy arms, at least." The vessel accelerated through the void, stars streaming by the viewport as they raced to the intercept point.
"Can we scan the vessel yet?" Kiyone asked crisply.
Balboa was frowning slightly, "It's a private boat, but an older class of ship." He paused, "Unarmed, according to scans, but it carries a Galaxy Police insignia."
Tita looked over to Kiyone as they slowed, the ship coming to a halt a cautious distance away. "Do you want to hail them, or should I?" she asked.
"Considering the GP doesn't like me very much right now," Kiyone answered her wryly, "you probably should do it."
"Galaxy Police vessel," Tita said formally, "this is Captain Tita of the Manticoran cruiser Cha Cha Maru II, please identify yourself and state your intentions."
The view screen fuzzed with static, then the very messy interior of the ship appeared. "Oh, where's that video feed," the familiar voice asked. The view shifted a bit, then a cheerful looking blonde appeared, her dusky skin oddly suiting her warm expression.
"Mihoshi?" Kiyone blurted out in surprise.
Mihoshi beamed, pushing her blonde hair back from her face. "Kiyone, I've been looking all over for you," she said cheerfully.
"Friend of yours?" Tita had to ask, her voice tinged with amusement.
Kiyone was sweatdroping, but she couldn't help the smile that stretched her face. "An old friend of mine," she admitted. "We'd better let her dock," she advised, "and find out what's going on."
A few moment's later Kiyone and Tita were waiting by the docking hatch, the larger vessel floating beside the GP patrol boat. Tita looked up at her thoughtfully, "You know, I don't think I've seen you smile like that before, ma'am."
Kiyone felt herself blush a bit, "I have to admit, I've missed her."
There was a soft chime from the hatch, indicating that the connection tube was pressurized and ready to go. Tita activated the switch, the door opening up as she continued, "Well, as long as there's no problems, I don't care."
"Ooof!" Kiyone hit the ground underneath the happy blonde, the other woman having flung herself through the hatch and right atop Kiyone. Kiyone felt her cheeks going bright red as Mihoshi snuggled happily then sighed, "Hello, Mihoshi."
To be continued...