Ryouko stood there silently, enjoying the pleasure of standing there with Ayeka. She was stunned, shaken to the core by Ayeka's willingness to give up her home, all that was familiar to her, and go with Ryouko. She found herself wondering if she could make that kind of sacrifice.
Ayeka reached up, gently brushing Ryouko's hair back with her fingers. "Sorry," Ayeka smiled, "but I've wanted to do that for a while."
Ryouko almost purred as Ayeka teased at her mane, and Ayeka laughed softly. Ryouko grinned back, "I'm just a big pussycat for you to tame."
Ayeka tilted her head up, and Ryouko bent down to kiss her again...
When the ship was suddenly rocked by an explosion. Alarm sirens blared, and the ship shook again and again.
"What's going on?" Ayeka cried out.
Ryouko lunged for a nearby screen, punching the link to the bridge, "Status!"
Kiyone's voice came over the link, "We're under attack by a Jurai frigate, it came out from the other side of the planet."
"Are there any injuries?" Ayeka asked quietly.
Kiyone gave her a fierce smile, "Not yet."
Ryouko frowned angrily, "It must be one of the ships that escaped the final battle for the planet. There were a few ships that we didn't account for." She shook her head, asking, "What are our shields and weapons status?"
"There's been no damage so far," Kiyone answered, "but our weapon systems will require a few minutes to re-charge."
"No need," Ryouko smiled grimly, "I'll handle it."
"You know I hate that," Kiyone quickly protested.
"Over and out," Ryouko said simply as she cut the connection. "Ryo- ohki!" she cried.
The little cabbit was there like a shot, jumping onto her shoulder. Ryouko glowed scarlet, a shield forming around her as she prepared to leave the ship.
"Wait," Ayeka grabbed her arm, "take me with you."
"No way," Ryouko shot back, "I won't endanger you."
"Those are my people out there who are shooting at us," Ayeka said, and it seemed that she drew the authority of a princess around her body as she continued, "and I have to try and help stop them however I can."
Ryouko met her eyes, and knew that she wasn't going to win that argument. So instead, she offered her hand, "Let's go, then."
"Myah!" Ryo-ohki said happily.
Ayeka shivered as they passed through the skin of the ship, to float out in the void of space. 'How, exactly, is she going to handle this?' she wondered.
"Go, Ryo-ohki," Ryouko cried, and Ryo-ohki launched herself from Ryouko's shoulder, expanding into a crystalline starship in black and red. A transport beam enfolded them, and they found themselves in a domed command center.
"This is Ryo-ohki?" Ayeka asked, looking around her in disbelief.
A large, floating diamond appeared in front of her, it suddenly showed Ryo-ohki's face and gave her a cheery, "Myah!"
"Ready shields, prepare weapons," Ryouko said as an image of space appeared above them. She was completely focused on the battle, the warlord of legend.
"Myah!" Ryo-ohki answered, other floating diamonds moving and shining.
Ayeka looked at her, astonished from the change that she had undergone. The warm, pleasant Empress of Manticore was gone, leaving only a warrior.
The Jurai ship turned from it's attack on the Washu's Revenge, going after the new target. It resembled a sailing ship of old, this wooden ship, but it's power wasn't to be underestimated. Using just those ships, Jurai had built an empire, only to be defeated by Ryouko.
Energy danced through space towards them, and Ayeka braced for the impact, but Ryo-ohki dodged each strike easily. Again and again they fired, but each time they failed.
"Get the point," Ryouko frowned as she looked up at the display, "you are not going to hit me, give it up."
"They'll just go for the Washu's Revenge," Ayeka sighed.
Almost on cue, the Jurai ship realized it wasn't going to hit her, and turned it's guns back on the other ship. "Good call," Ryouko sighed. "Ryo-ohki! Target weapons systems, minimal casualties," she ordered.
"Myah!" And with that, Ryo-ohki swooped in on the Jurai ship, skimming along it's surface as it made pinpoint strikes, destroying weapons ports on both sides of the ship.
"No wonder you won," Ayeka whispered.
The vessel hung there in the void, completely motionless. Gasses billowed out of rents in it's hull into space, and it listed a bit, as if it's stabilizers had been damaged in the fight. Finally, slowly, it began to move forward.
"It's going for the Revenge," Ryouko hissed. "They'll die as soon as they hit the shields," she said through grit teeth.
"You don't want them to die," Ayeka looked at Ryouko thoughtfully.
Ryouko sighed softly as she met her eyes, "Death without meaning is a waste. And that would be a meaningless death."
Ayeka nodded firmly, "Can you let us communicate with them?"
Ryouko nodded, "Ryo-ohki!"
The screen above them shimmered, and they had a view of the inside of the Jurai ship's bridge. Smoke billowed across the large room as young men and women worked frantically to restore some of the ship's systems. The captain looked up, "Have you called to gloat," he started, only to trail off when he saw Ayeka's image.
Speaking firmly, Ayeka declared, "My mothers and sister are aboard that ship, captain. Break off your attack, now."
He gaped at her in shock, then over his shoulder he cried out to the bridge, "All stop!" He turned back to look aghast at Ayeka, "Are they holding you captive, Princess?"
Ryouko kept silent, letting Ayeka handle this however she wished.
"No," Ayeka smiled at him and the figures behind him cheerfully, "actually, we're preparing for my wedding to the Empress of Manticore." He looked at her in stunned shock, and she smiled as she gently said, "The situation has changed, captain. Dock with the Washu's Revenge, and explanations will be forthcoming."
He nodded, dumbly, and the link was cut.
"Nicely done," Ryouko smiled, taking Ayeka's hand.
Ayeka blushed, "Thank you.
A short while later Funaho and Masaki were both waiting at the airlock when the Jurai frigate docked with Ryouko's flagship, greeting the soldiers. Seeing them seemed to calm the young men and women even more that Ayeka did.
"What do you want us to do with them?" Kiyone asked Ryouko thoughtfully.
Ryouko smiled wryly, "I think we should let them go." Kiyone gave her a severe look, and she shrugged, "They thought they were still at war."
"And would you please not go out and fight battles on your own," Kiyone lectured her leader in a whisper.
"I wasn't alone," Ryouko said defensively, "I had Ayeka and Ryo-ohki with me."
Kiyone rolled her eyes and stalked off, grumbling under her breath. Ayeka looked at her oddly as she passed, walking towards Ryouko.
"What's wrong?" Ayeka asked, watching Kiyone leave.
"She thinks an Empress shouldn't be out getting her hands dirty," Ryouko sighed.
Ayeka looked at Ryouko in honest surprise. "Even I know you well enough to know that's unlikely," she mused, "does she like hitting her head against a wall?"
Ryouko began to laugh, "Probably."
A young man pulled free of the group of Jurai soldiers to walk over to Ryouko. She subtly pushed Ayeka a bit behind her, just in case. His black hair fell messily into his eyes, and he didn't look like he had gotten much sleep.
"I wanted to apologize," he said with a bow, "on behalf of myself and my crew. We've been out of touch since the battle, otherwise we wouldn't have attacked."
Ryouko nodded, "Perfectly understandable, Captain...?"
"Vaun," he smiled and bowed again.
"I wish you well, Captain Vaun," Ayeka smiled at him gently. Vaun nodded respectfully, and turned to stand by his crew.
"What will happen to them now?" Ayeka asked as they left the boarding area and deeper into the ship itself. Ayeka held Ryouko's arm, and they walked together closely.
"We'll probably let them go with a warning," Ryouko admitted. "I don't think they knew the war was over, honestly," she shrugged.
"I'm glad," Ayeka admitted. She smiled up at Ryouko, "I was wondering, should we make an public announcement of our engagement in Jurai and Manticore?"
Ryouko nodded thoughtfully, "It couldn't hurt." She smiled suddenly, "It might even stop those rumors that I'm holding you captive and having my wicked way with you."
"What?" Ayeka squeaked.
Washu groaned, holding her head in her hands. The room was a disaster, people and food scattered around in the remnants of the bachlorette party. A few members of the bridal party had drifted on over, filling the room even more.
Yume burped, delicately. "Sorry," she blushed.
Rhione was supporting Sasami as she got quite sick in a basin. "I am never drinking that much again," Sasami groaned.
"Don't make promises you might not be able to keep," the slightly green looking Rhione pointed out gently.
Minagi and Nagi were leaning up against each other, both looking much the worse for wear. "Where are the guests of honor, anyway?" Nagi asked with a frown.
Misaki and Funaho walked in, both looking great considering the amount they had both drank last night. "Good morning," Misaki said cheerfully, receiving glares from everyone.
"Shhh," Funaho shushed her quietly, knowing massive hangovers when she saw them. They both split up to render what assistance they could.
"Where did Ayeka and Ryouko go?" Minagi asked Funaho quietly. She winced visibly, "And do they feel as bad as I do now?"
"They left early to fight off an attack on the ship," Funaho shrugged, and smilingly added, "and they both look fine."
"One of these days," Washu grimaced, "I'm going to figure out why Ryouko holds her liquor so much better than I." She paused, "Attack on the ship?"
"Yes," Misaki said as she was cheerfully helping an alcohol soaked maid up. "They handled it quite effectively," she beamed.
Yume chuckled softly, "Sounds like Ryouko's idea of a fun date."