Ryouko tapped on the door, knowing that Minagi and Nagi had retreated there with romantic intentions the night before. Best not to barge in. In the days following the attack, she had begun to feel a sense of urgency about the wedding. It was time to start taking steps.
Minagi opened the door and looked out blearily, but upon seeing Ryouko's expression she asked, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," Ryouko said seriously, "I just need to talk to you for a moment."
Minagi looked at her a moment, then nodded, "Right." She closed the door, and Ryouko quietly heard her say, "Hold that thought, love. I'll be back soon."
Minagi emerged in a hastily pulled on bodysuit, and she and Ryouko walked off together. "Guess I better try to get on Nagi's good side for that," Ryouko sighed.
"Not a bad idea," Minagi said, looked over at her sister's serious expression. Quietly, she asked again, "What's wrong?"
"I'm just not sure how to do this," Ryouko muttered. A deep breath and she asked, "Will you be my best man?"
Minagi grinned, "Of course!" She looked over at Ryouko thoughtfully, "So you're going through with this?"
"As soon as possible," Ryouko nodded. There was a certainty about her, as if any lingering doubts about Ayeka being the one for her were gone.
"What brought this on?" Minagi asked curiously.
"I've known about Ayeka's character from the very first time we met," Ryouko smiled, then she gave a dreamy sigh, "but when she followed me out into battle, that was it. I've never had anyone I cared for be willing to do that before."
Minagi looked at her, sweatdropping.
"What?" Ryouko protested.
Minagi just smiled, shaking her head. "If you don't mind," she grinned, "I'd like to get back to what I was doing, assuming she hasn't left in a huff."
"Sorry about that," Ryouko blushed. Minagi gave her a cheery wave as she went back down the hallway to her quarters, cautiously opening the door and slipping inside. There was a loud shriek of surprise, then the door shut.
Ryouko grinned as she sauntered down the hall to her parents room. The door was open, and she saw Funaho, Misaki, Washu and Yume talking animatedly. "So what colors do we do the decorations?" Misaki asked.
"Try to work some red and black in there," Ryouko smiled as she walked in.
"Why?" Funaho asked, surprised.
"It's the colors of her battle costume," Yume said absentmindedly.
"Mission accomplished?" Washu asked Ryouko curiously.
"Minagi's agreed to be my best man," Ryouko confirmed.
"Rings," Yume looked up at Ryouko thoughtfully continuing, "have you talked about that with Ayeka?"
Ryouko's eyes widened, and her face went pale, "No."
"Take a deep breath, and sit down," Washu ordered in her 'mom' voice. Like most adult children, Ryouko obeyed automatically.
"Remarkable," Funaho muttered.
"Works on the battlefield, too," Yume noted. "I've heard her take over entire units using that tone of voice," the sprightly woman said with a great deal of pride.
Washu handed a small box to Ryouko. "Open it," she urged her gently.
The ring inside shimmered, glimmering in the artificial light. It was composed of many types of metals, all twined together to form a pleasing pattern. "What is it?" Ryouko asked quietly.
"It's made of metals unique to Manticore," Yume explained, "and we made sure that Ayeka isn't allergic to any of them."
"Not that that wouldn't have been funny," Misaki smirked. She imitated Ayeka's voice, "Ryouko, honey, the ring is lovely... but I itch!"
Funaho fought back a laugh, "I won't show you the ring you'll be receiving from Ayeka. I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise."
Ryouko looked around the circle of mothers thoughtfully. "You've got this all figured out, don't you?" she said with a smile.
"Pretty much," Washu nodded thoughtfully.
"I think I'll go find Ayeka," Ryouko got up to leave.
"Good idea," Misaki said cheerfully as they bent down to work. "What colors should we dress Ayeka and Ryouko up in?" she asked the others.
"No pink," Ryouko shot over her shoulder before letting the door hiss shut behind her.
"Darn," Yume sighed.
Ryouko smoothly moved through the crowded hallways, giving smiles and respectful nods to the officers and guests that she recognized. Most of them were headed for the dining hall, so Ryouko figured Sasami was serving another of her excellent meals. She received a cheeky grin from Yamamoto Yohko and just had to grin back.
Yohko was insubordinate, obnoxious and a serious discipline problem, everyone agreed. Of course, she was also one of the best pilots and tactical minds in the service. Which was the only reason she still was in the service. That, and Ryouko liked a bit of cheekiness.
She reached Ayeka's door, and took a deep breath before knocking. "Come in," Ayeka called out, and Ryouko pushed the door open.
Ayeka had her back turned, and held a robe to the front of her body, her pale skin visible below the drapes of cloth. Her hair was down, flowing down her bare back, flowing down to the curves of her shapely bottom.
"I'm sorry," Ryouko squeaked, whirling around.
Ayeka finished pulling her robe on around her, a blush marking her pale cheeks. She belted it and walked over to Ryouko's side while she said softly, "I'm terribly sorry, I thought that you were my mothers coming back."
Ryouko kept her eyes firmly shut, her cheeks flaming.
Ayeka fought the urge to laugh aloud at seeing the powerful warlord of Manticore having been reduced to a blushing girl. 'Not that I'm not blushing, too,' Ayeka thought. "I'm dressed," Ayeka reassured her gently.
Ryouko opened her eyes a crack to check, then she opened them up all the way. 'It's not that I haven't seen the female body before now,' Ryouko thought, 'it's just... this is the first time I've seen Ayeka's.' She blushed again, 'A beautiful body it is, at that.'
Aloud, Ryouko smiled, "I should have announced myself, or something." She paused and asked suspiciously, "What were your parents over for?"
"Wedding plans, of course," Ayeka smiled, and from the look on her face realized that Ryouko's mothers were also being busy.
"Did they mention rings?" Ryouko asked, and Ayeka laughed aloud.
"I'm not allowed to tell you about it," Ayeka laughed, "but yes, they did." She paused, "We were talking about making an announcement, before..."
"I was just thinking about it," Ryouko thought, silently adding 'before seeing you so completely obliterated every thought in my mind.'
"When do you want to announce it?' Ayeka asked.
Ryouko smiled, "I was actually thinking I've put it off too long. How about today?"
"All right," Ayeka smiled. "But where?"
Ryouko frowned as she mused aloud, "Not aboard the Revenge, certainly. It's just a bit too military for that sort of thing."
"Ryo-ohki?" Ayeka suggested.
"She'd love that, the little ham," Ryouko chuckled. "But we have developed a bit of a reputation, Ryo-ohki and I," she said, a bit sadly adding, "Not quite wedding material, either."
Ayeka's eyes lit up, "The Palace on Jurai. It symbolizes the old, while my marriage to you represents the new era for my people."
"Perfect," Ryouko grinned down at her, her eyes flashing with enthusiasm. Ayeka leaned forward, and gently kissed the startled woman on the lips. "What was that for?" a clearly pleased Ryouko asked her softly.
Ayeka smiled, "For being you, a perfect gentleman."
The sun was setting as they stood there together, waiting in the great hall of Jurai's palace. Wood was arched and bent to the will of countless sculptors of Jurai, forming arching halls and graceful sculptures all around them. A rainbow of tones were scattered all about, rose woods and multicolored cloths decorating all of the massive spaces.
Globes of light danced all around them, but the fiery glow made both women look like a pair of golden statues. A young man smiled, and began to softly count down, "Five... four... three... two... one..." Across the worlds of the Manticore Empire, and all the worlds that formerly belonged to Jurai, the image of the Empress of Manticore and the Princess of Jurai appeared.
"Good day," Ryouko took the lead as they had discussed previously, "to all the citizens of the empire. Tonight," she smiled, "I have a joyous announcement to make."
Ayeka took her turn, "There is good news to all those worlds that once fell under the rule of Jurai. I and Ryouko have determined to take a significant step to cement the peaceful merger of the people of Jurai and Manticore."
"Not long ago," Ryouko smiled down at Ayeka, "I proposed to the Princess of Jurai.
A dramatic pause, and Ayeka smiled, "A proposal I was honored to accept."
"We will be married in ten stellar cycles," Ryouko smiled.
"A joyous event that we hope with symbolize the beginning of a new era for all our peoples," Ayeka finished.
"And that's a wrap," the young man grinned.
Poor Washu looked like she was going to pop a blood vessel as she said, "Ten stellar cycles? That's only ten days!"
"You didn't tell her?" Ayeka asked Ryouko softly.
"It must have slipped my mind," was Ryouko's dry answer. She smiled at Washu as she cheerfully said, "But I have every confidence that you, Yume, Misaki and Funaho will pull everything together in time."
Yume gently took hold of Washu's arm as she reminded her, "Remember your blood pressure, love."
Washu took a deep breath, "You just love doing things like this to me, don't you?"
Ryouko was unrepentant, "Yep."
"And what are you going to be doing while we prepare your wedding?" Yume asked.
Ayeka took Ryouko's arm as she said with wide eyed innocence, "Well, I was thinking of showing her the sights."
Both Yume and Washu gaped up at her in honest surprise, but Ayeka just couldn't keep a straight face. She began to laugh, and Ryouko soon joined her.
Chuckling softly, "Sorry, mom, I just couldn't resist." Ryouko was a bit more serious as she said, "I don't want a repeat of the attack a few days ago, and this wedding could help prevent that."
"All right, all right," Washu couldn't help smiling.
"We'll step up the preparations," Yume nodded, adding quietly to Washu, "I'm sure Funaho and Misaki are having kittens up on the Revenge."
Ayeka's eyes widened, and Ryouko murmured, "You forgot to tell them, too?" Ayeka just nodded in reply.
"Well. let's get to it," Washu sighed before adding dramatically, "we've only got ten days to pull off the wedding of the millennium!"
"Most people say century," Ayeka murmured.
"My mom's not most people," Ryouko grinned back.