Minagi nearly choked on her beverage before she managed to get out, "You can't have them go through the ceremony naked!"
"Why not?" Washu asked, seemingly honestly confused by the question. The scientist was sitting cross-legged on a float chair, Ryo-ohki curled up in her lap.
Minagi rolled her eyes, "Ryouko wouldn't care, but from what I've seen of Princess Ayeka, she would just die."
Funaho nodded, "She has a point."
"Myah," Ryo-ohki agreed sleepily.
Ryouko gave Ayeka a welcoming smile, holding her chair and pushing it in as she sat down. "I'll have Sasami send some more food in," she said.
"Thank you," Ayeka said, looking up to meet Ryouko's catlike eyes. She felt that falling sensation again, and fought to keep her self control. With a smile she said, "Almost as soon as she heard about the wedding, Washu called up my Mothers to discuss the wedding plans." She paused, adding, "And the short time we left for parties."
"That's my mom," Ryouko was shaking her head, laughing. "So Minagi, Washu, Funaho and Misaki are planning the wedding?" she asked.
"It looks like it," Ayeka nodded. She frowned slightly, "My mothers can be a bit... outrageous, at times. Do you think things will be all right?"
"Yeah, Washu's that way, too," Ryouko said thoughtfully. She perked up a bit as she said, "But Minagi's there keeping an eye on them. I'm sure that she'll keep them from trying to get us to do anything too weird."
"Topless is still close enough to naked!" Minagi protested.
"Darn," Misaki sighed.
"Myah, myah," Ryo-ohki scolded her gently.
"How smart is that thing, anyway?" Funaho asked Washu quietly.
"Very," was the simple answer.
Honor smiled slightly as her dark hared fellow captain came on to the bridge. Captain Tita pushed her brown hair back, straightening her uniform a bit before saluting and saying, "I'm here to relieve you, ma'am!"
"I am relieved," Honor returned the salute crisply. "Not much going on," Honor said to her quietly, "but I understand there's some progress on the Ayeka/Ryouko front."
"Really?" Tita asked eagerly.
"I've heard they're getting married," Honor whispered.
"What?!" Tita squealed.
Honor shrugged eloquently, then headed for the elevator. She had an appointment to keep. The levels swept by, she vacated the tube, then hurried down the corridor to her rooms. The door hissed open and...
"Bleek!" Nimitz chided her. The slinky treecat leapt up on her shoulder, and she could feel it's disapproval at staying in the quarters all day.
"Don't give me that," Honor replied, "I'm sure you've had Princess Sasami in here feeding you celery again."
The treecat tried to look innocent and failed miserably.
"Is that you, Honor?" the sleepy voice asked.
Balancing the treecat on her shoulder with the ease of long practice, Honor crossed the living room and into the bedroom. Michelle sat up on the covers, her eyes half-closed with sleep. "Hello, love," Honor smiled.
Michelle got up from the bed to enfold Honor in a firm hug, "You have no idea how good it is to see you."
"Bleek!" Nimitz butted in.
"You too, Stinker," she smiled, but it was obvious that Michelle was focused on Honor.
"How was your trip?" Honor asked as they both sat down on the edge of the bed.
"Tiring, and long," Michelle said. She looked over at Honor with a little smile, "Do you really want to be on this bed discussing my trip?"
"No," Honor blushed. She squealed as Michelle grabbed her and pulled her down.
A few moments later, and Nimitz left with a soft "Bleek," of disgust.
"Myah?" Ryo-ohki asked.
"We could always have them fight a duel before they get married," Funaho suggested.
A pause, while everyone considered it. "Too messy," Washu noted.
"Besides," Minagi pointed out, "they already fought back when they first met."
"Good point," Misaki nodded.
Ryouko sighed softly, putting her drink down. "That was good," she carefully pushed the pile of plates aside. Ayeka was looking at her wide eyed. "Wow," she murmured softly. "Do you... usually eat like that?" Ayeka asked Ryouko faintly.
"Only on special occasions," Ryouko admitted. "Washu tells me it's a kind of bio-chemical imbalance. Every now and then, I just need to really fuel up," she explained.
"Thank goodness," Ayeka smiled. "I'd like to cook for you occasionally, but making that much at a time would be a bit much," she laughed.
"You cook?" Ryouko asked, thinking of some of the meals Sasami had made for them recently. If Ayeka was that good, she really was a prize.
"Not very well," Ayeka admitted honestly. "My cooking is a bit too much like Asashi's, to be honest," she shrugged.
"I've always liked a challenge," Ryouko grinned, and Ayeka smiled back tentatively in return. She drank a bit, "I was surprised how good a fighter you were, when we first met."
"Some of that is family tradition," Ayeka accepted the change of topic easily. "We've always been trained to fight, symbolically ready to stand by the troops in battle," she explained. "I also used to spar with my brother, Yosho, a great deal. He was much faster than I was," she sighed.
"Yosho," Ryouko nodded, "he disappeared several hundred years ago, correct?"
"Hmm," Ayeka nodded, and continued sadly, "When Kagato attacked, Yosho pursued him in his ship. We never heard from him again."
Ryouko's eyes widened on hearing Kagato's name. "I fought him myself a few years ago alongside the Galaxy Police," she told Ayeka. "When we searched his records we discovered his battle with a Lord of Jurai, but I didn't realize he was your brother," she said quietly.
Ayeka's face was pale as she asked, "Did you find out what happened to Yosho?"
"Yosho caught up with Kagato on a world out on the rim," Ryouko explained, "and they fought it out there. Kagato's files claimed he killed him, but I didn't entirely trust that. After we finished our mission I detoured out to the planet to check it out."
"Did you find anything?" Ayeka asked eagerly.
Ryouko shook her head, "We did a full planetary survey, but we couldn't find any trace of Jurai technology. There were traces of the Juraian genome in their population, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything."
Ayeka nodded, "But I'd still like to check it out for myself." A smile, "Once everything here settles down, anyway."
"I'd be glad to help," Ryouko smiled. At Ayeka's inquiring look, "Family means a lot to me, and once we're married, Yosho will be family, too."
"Thank you," Ayeka smiled. She raised her drink, then stopped. "You fought Kagato as well?" she asked.
Ryouko chuckled softly, "I wondered when you'd catch that. Yes, Kagato kidnapped Yume, my mother's lover, so that kind of made things personal for me." Ryouko smiled as she explained, "Kagato was actually Washu and Yume's assistant before he went bad, and he took her as well as trying to capture my mother."
Ayeka thought about Washu, and the steel that she had seen in her, "I suspect Kagato regretted that later."
"Right about when this ship," Ryouko waved around them, "the Washu's Revenge, showed up on his doorstep. We fought, and I and Minagi were able to defeat him and free Yume."
"Thank you," Ayeka gently placed her hand on Ryouko's, "for avenging my brother. It seems there's yet another debt my family owes you."
Ryouko actually blushed a bit.
"So this is where you've been," Yume said. The slim, almost elfin scientist came up behind Washu and slid her arms around her. "What's going on?"
"Wedding planning," Washu explained. She gestured, "Meet Funaho and Misaki, the mothers of Princess Ayeka."
"It's an honor," Yume smiled. She looked around, "Has anyone suggested the Manticore custom of nude..."
"Yes, and vetoed," Minagi quickly piped up.
"Too bad," Yume smiled impishly.
"It might be a bit boring," Funaho smiled, "but a simple exchanging of vows might be best for the two of them. With, of course, all the trimmings to befit a royal wedding."
"It might be boring," Minagi noted, "but knowing Ayeka and Ryouko, I think it might be the best idea yet."
Misaki pouted, "But I was hoping we could go with the ancient custom of bearing witness to the consummation of the marriage!"
Kiyone paused at the door as she heard Ayeka and Ryouko talking, then she turned around and headed up the hall. It had been a long time since she had let herself think about Kagato and what had happened then.
She and Mitsuki had been assigned to observe Ryouko and the Manticore fleet's battle with Kagato. Off the record, she suspected the Marshal hoped that Ryouko's forces would be defeated, but leave Kagato weakened enough to be stopped by the Galaxy Police.
Again and again they watched Ryouko's ships flare, then die under Kagato's assault. Suddenly, Kiyone noticed that there was a momentary weakness in Kagato's shields when he attacked. Ryouko's ships hadn't caught it, and Mitsuki urged her to keep silent. The GP could use that information to defeat Kagato themselves.
Another ship died, and Kiyone couldn't take it anymore. Mitsuki's protests ringing in her ears she moved their cruiser into Ryouko's line of battle while transmitting the shield data to Ryouko. Almost as one the Washu's revenge and her cruiser fired, rupturing the massive ship's hull. The weapons were quickly disabled, and all the while Mitsuki sat there silent.
Her communication's screen came on, and for the first time Kiyone saw the Empress of Manticore. She didn't look like the demon the GP portrayed her as, instead she had an engaging smile and eyes that twinkled with amusement.
"Thank you for your help," Ryouko smiled. More seriously, "I and my sister Minagi are going in after Kagato."
"I wish I could go along," Kiyone said as she saw Misaki glaring at her, "and I wish you good hunting. That bastard's killed more than a few GP officers over the years."
"We'll get him," Ryouko smiled, and the transmission cut off.
"We're going back to headquarters," Mitsuki growled as she brought the ship's drives on line. "I hope the Marshal's in a good mood when he hears about this," she sighed.
He wasn't, of course. Kiyone had disobeyed orders, despite the circumstances, and Mitsuki's testimony had been particularly damaging. And all during her testimony, Mitsuki stared straight ahead, refusing to meet Kiyone's eyes.
The dishonorable discharge was almost a given. Kiyone spent a few weeks feeling sorry for herself, drowning her sorrows at a little bar out on the rim. On a wet day, a figure settled down into the seat beside her, and pushed back the hood of her rain coat.
"How would you like a job?" Ryouko had asked with a smile.