"We came in peace for all mankind." Buzz Aldran as he stood on the Moon.
As they stood there, Ceres then said, "Hold on, your Majesty," and pulled out his camera. He then said, "You were the first one on the sand, and have not moved. We have been so excited about things that we have not realized that ahistoric moment has taken place. You, Queen Serenity, were the first person to physically set foot on a world outside of our solar system. Please, raise your foot, your Majesty."
She did so, and he photographed it, saying, "Here, the people of the Sol system first set foot on an alien world, hoping to spread the peace of the Millennium Kingdom. We came in peace for all sentient creatures of the universe."
She set her foot back down, and everyone took an instinctive moment of reflection over what was just said. They were indeed the first people to set foot on another world outside their system, and it indeed needed to be remembered. At this Venus called for one of the crafts to go back to the ship and return with the system flag to mark the area in which this happened. It was then set on the first part of solid soil off the beach, and secured to withstand the elements until a more permanent marker could be placed. With that, they split up into teams: Mercury would take the oceans, Venus would take the tropical lands, Ceres would take the artic zones, Jupiter would take the northern temperate zones, and Mars would take the southern temperate zones. Queen Serenity would stay on the ship until it was determined that all was safe, and then she would be able to visit each one. She did indeed want to go with the others, but her safety was indeed priority, and it was just one of those things she had come to accept over the centuries as the nature of her being. Once this was done, they all went to get the gear that would be suited to the environments that they would be going into, and then went their ways.
Back on Titian, A meeting was taking place. The outer princesses-acting in the capacity of the scouts at that point-were meeting with the king, and going over the visuals of the fight from both the perspectives of the cruisers and the fighters. Indeed, by all they had, the intent of the strangers was not peaceful. "Are you certain they were not just scared, and acting to defend themselves?"
"Not by what is seen here," said Pluto, "As soon as hails hit them, they immediately hit yellow alert conditions and immediately launched what they thought would be enough fighters to soundly defeat ours. They underestimated Small Lady and her escorts."
"That's my girl," said Endymion, "She is serious about being the best."
"Notice what happens when the cruisers came out of cloak," said Uranus, "They immediately went to red alert conditions and opened up without hesitation. Idon't think they wanted to be caught."
"Then what is worse is the fact that they were here at all," said Neptune.
"They mean violence, no question," said Saturn in a monotone voice.
"Are you having a vision?" asked Endymion.
"It is not quite a vision, but a bit more than an epiphany," responded Saturn.
"Then what are you getting," asked Pluto.
"There is a sense of conquest all over them," answered Saturn, "And, look, there on the underside of that ship."
They froze the frame when they took it back to where they first had it on camera, and they zoomed in on the image. They spotted two openings on the bottom that looked like torpedo openings, but in fact were too small for that. Uranus said, "I am not sure, but my guess is that those are probe launchers. They look similar to our own, and they are about the right structure for something like that. They look like they were trying to find out some information."
"Odd that they would bring out one of their fighting ships for that purpose,"said Michiru, "It makes me wonder if they were just being over cautious, or if they have been here before and we did not notice."
Pluto thought, and she said, "I am going to have the computer go over the records and see if there was something detected or reported as out of the ordinary in the system, no matter how small it seemed between the times of the launch of the Artemis and now. There may be something."
They headed off this time in larger crafts that were designed to cover great distances in a short time, and were all terrain. They also had smaller vehicles on them that would allow them to go in areas that the larger carrier could not. They were also good for ocean travel, which suited Mercury's needs well. She headed out to the shores of the continent they had been on, and scanned to the continental shelf. There was not much different there than what one would find in the oceans on Earth, except they just had different colors and appearances. The coral was about the same, and the fishlike life was arrayed in beautiful colors and hues, as well as in interesting shapes and sizes. She saw surface swimmers and bottom dwellers, and everything in between. There were interesting crustaceans and mollusks, and some cephalopod kinds of creatures. If she had time, she might have took the time to watch the interactions of the animals, see who was predator and prey, and other various things. However, she was just content on filming the life there and then analyzing it later. Once vast members of her science team could get there, they could do the detailed work. If this was to be a planet for colonization, they had to learn as much as they could about the flora and fauna before letting people come. This would help avoid tragedies by misadventure for those who would be willing to brave the wilds of a new world. Once she was at the continental shelf, they headed out to deeper waters.
The life out there seemed to be spread out sparsely, but what they did find was more massive than what dwelt nearer to the land. Again, the life seemed similar to Earth, with cetaceous creatures, squalis type of fish, predatory in nature, large schools of fish like what may have been caught or eaten on Earth, and sizeable, but they would have to be studied to see if they would even be fit for consumption. Anyone colonizing here would have to be able to live off that planet's resources, and that would have to be studied over the months and maybe even years to come. The only difference out there was that the creatures were shaped and colored unique to their own world. Then the sonar went off, and Mercury went over to see what was going on. "Your Highness, we are tracking a large creature that has began to follow our craft. It is about 40 feet in length, and by the shape here on the sonar, it looks like some kind of cephalopod."
She watched the screen, and it seemed to be moving fast. It was also partly underneath them, but now was moving up. Mercury was starting to get uneasy about things, and she then said, "Put it on the viewer."
When it came on, all they could see was a fan of 12 tentacles getting closer, and a large beak! Suddenly, the large tentacles of the reddish creature slammed down on the craft and stuck. The ship rocked to the left and knocked everyone off their feet. There were yells and screams as confusion was the order of the day. The craft itself had a large transparent steel dome on top as it was rigged for submergence. The pilot fought and scraped his way back to the helm and was able to seal off the ship in case the creature got funny. It indeed looked like an earth squid, but its head was more rounded, and it had 12 tentacles all the same length. The creature's massive eyes saw what was on the inside, and just like Earth cephalopods, the creature was both intelligent and curious. It started to tilt the craft back and forth. It was interested in what was inside, and wanted to get at them. First, it tried its beak, but when it found it impossible to crack it that way, it started to rotate the craft to see if there was an opening of some kind. Inside, everyone was trying to take the best shelter that they could to try to avoid getting hit by one of the loose pieces of gear that was flying around. When the creature could not get in that way, it started to try to go under with the craft. However, because of the airtight situation and mass of the craft, it was having a hard time getting underwater. That steadied things enough for people to get out from under cover and assess what to do. "Your Highness, if he takes us under and goes too deep..." said one of the crew, "well, I don't know to what depth this ship could go and be able to withstand the pressure."
Mercury then took a position facing a door, and she was prepared to hit it with her Sub Zero attack to both push it out and seal it with frozen water if it managed to get one open. The greenbacks took position beside her to blast the thing in case the cold did not work.
At that point, nature came to the rescue. Three large creatures about 35 feet in length that looked like what Earth would call sharks came out of nowhere and started to attack the creature. They were vicious, tearing it apart and devouring it with relish. Before long, what was left of the creature began to sink in the water, but Mercury's sense of discovery and adventure kept her excited, and she said, "Quickly, submerge and track the carcass. It might attract other life to study! I have to think every little feeder is going to want some of this."
Amazed that she was not fazed by what seemed like a near disaster, stared only for a moment, and then manned their stations. There would be time to clean up the mess later. The three shark-like creatures were still taking the occasional swipe at the thing, but also swam around the craft. Indeed, aplethora of creatures came to get a part of the massive thing, but the thee that had seemingly rescued them swam around the craft, gently rubbing it with their snouts as if they were sniffing it, and examining the contents. Oddly enough, for creatures like that, they were not being aggressive. They then swam away, and Mercury said, "Okay, take us up and let's clean up. We have two other oceans to examine!"
"With all due respect, your Highness," said the head security man, "you never cease to amaze us."
She smiled at the compliment, genuinely embarrassed at it, and she said, "Thank you for your kindness. Now, let's see what else is out there."
On the same continent where they started were some of the tropical zones, and Venus and Artemis headed out to check things out. Because it was indeed warm, they had the craft sealed and air conditioned. They went as far as they could, and then they reached dense jungle. "Your Highness," said the head of the science crew, "The jungle is too dense for the smaller craft to negotiate. We could use the lasers to cut a path."
"Bring the hand laser cutters," said Venus, "We'll go on foot."
Everyone looked at her oddly. She then said, "The best way to see it is to get out there and see it. You know the old saying-nothing ventured, nothing learned."
Artemis sighed, but he said, "Um...close enough," and they all geared up to go out.
Everyone was wearing clothing appropriate for the conditions, but Venus'outfit, being a senshi outfit, was well designed for such climates. The only thing she added was a pith helmet with mosquito netting for some of the insects of the planet. They also had special sonic devices that were also designed to keep away insects in case they carried diseases that were unknown to Earth immune systems. That would have been disastrous. The laser cutters could cut away large swaths of plant life out of the jungle before them, making clear passage as they went. While they went, there were indeed many creatures that looked fairly different from Earth species, but also looked familiar as well. There were several mammal-like creatures moving around, as well as simian-like, although they did not have humanoid looking faces as such. They had bigger eyes and longer noses, but the way they moved and behaved were like Earth monkeys. There were also avian-like animals that indeed flew, very colorful and beautiful, but unlike anything they had seen back home. Their calls and songs were just as unique as the creatures themselves. The fauna also would not be all too unfamiliar to anything that one would see on Earth, very tropical and palm tree looking in construction. At that, one of the scientists said with the scanner in her hand, "Your Highness, there seems to be a group of about 29 animals ahead of us, about man-sized."
Venus remembered the things that Mercury had taught her about this kind of thing, and she said, "Okay stop, and move slowly. If they are aggressive, we don't want to give them a reason."
They stopped cutting through the plants at that point and just moved quietly towards a clearing where these creatures were. When they moved away a couple of the palm leaves, and they saw a group of creatures that looked apelike, but they were slender, with a sloth-like appearance, with long arms and legs. They seemed to be mammals, as they saw some of what they had to assume were females suckling their young. They were not behaving too dissimilar to apes, and they seemed peaceful enough. However, the biggest one that looked like one of the males stuck his nose into the air and started to sniff around a bit. Venus just froze as did the others, because they did not want the creatures to be spooked and charge them. Finally, he looked right into the eyes of Venus, and she then looked away, remembering that staring was considered an act of aggression by many animals. He then got up and began to come over in an apelike manner. He came halfway across and stopped, taking time to stare some more. However, one of the young ones was not so cautious. It ambled up and started to pull away the plants around Venus. It started to examine her, and then began to sniff at her legs. The cold nose caused her to fight back a giggle. She could not recoil for risking startling the young creature, and possibly causing the creature's mother to attack. Once it was done with that, it climbed up her nimbly and perched on her shoulder, sniffing some more. It then got curious about her hair, and lifted up the netting, sniffing it and getting close to her scalp. The next thing you knew, it was trying to groom her, and the large male sat down, but did not stop its vigil. Another, smaller adult moved up, and gave a few high pitched whoop calls, and the young one stopped and looked over. It then gleefully jumped off and climbed up to the shoulder of the adult. Once the creatures thought the newcomers safe, they all started to approach and examine them. They were ecstatic about the encounter, but they still kept it cautious to be careful not to spook the creatures and cause adisaster.
After spending some time with the creatures, they decided it was time to move on, but as they went, the troop followed them, still curious about their new acquaintances. Soon, they were at a swampy area, and they were taking their time. They had a spot where one of the greenbacks took a couple of steps and sank to his knees. He stopped, realizing he was in quicksand, laughing about how he had gotten stuck, and then reaching back as some of the others began to lean him back to help extract him. However, some of the creatures ambled across the quagmire as if it was solid ground, and they realized at that point that the creatures had wide enough feet to negotiate the mud. They saw what the greenbacks were trying to do, and they helped to extract him. As they went further, all the creatures suddenly came to a screeching halt, and began to pull back some of the crew. Artemis saw that, and said, "Venus, usually reading what the animals do is a good indication on how to avoid danger."
As she kept walking forward, she looked back and said, "What kind of...YIPE!"
Artemis watched as the others turned to see what the sound was all about, and they were shocked to see the princess gone! All the creatures now were whooping and calling, pounding the ground, ambling back into the wood line. Venus landed in what looked like water, but smelled like a sewer, as she realized that she was also sitting on decomposing animal parts. "EEEEWWWWWW!"she screamed, "THIS IS SO GROSS!"
Everyone heard the muffled exclamations, and Artemis came up to where it came from, but made sure to sniff it out, lest he get too close and cause what happened to her to happen to him. She began to look around at the smelly surroundings, and saw how green and dimmed things were. She also noticed the pongee sticklike spikes coming out of the green walls, and how the top was closed. She then shouted, "Um, can someone get me out of here?"
Immediately, the greenbacks went over to where Artemis stood, and started using the lasers to cut around the dirt of the area where the top seemed to be, and the revealed what looked like a giant pitcher plant! They estimated how high the thing was versus her height, and sheered off the top of the plant. They then lowered a cord to her and carefully pulled her out. Once out, there was acollective sigh of relief, and then Venus suddenly said, "My skin feels itchy."
At once, the science team knew what was going on, and they knew that she was now covered with the plant's digestive acid, and they knew it would be stronger considering its size. However, the creatures came out, smelled her, looked alarmed, and then snatched her up. Everyone thought she was in danger again, but the other creatures snatched them up, including Artemis, and started to swing swiftly through the trees. "MINAKO!" called a now frightened Artemis, who was terrified by the rapid movement, and he instinctively called her by her old name. They then were rushed to what looked like a small lake, but it had afew light steamy wisps coming off the surface. When they got there, the creature that was holding Venus dropped down, and then hucked her into the water. She flew with a scream and landed with a loud splash. It then began to swoosh its own hands in the water. Fortunately, the water was like one of the natural hot baths of Japan, so she wasn't burned, but she did flail around abit, trying to gain herself. When she stood up, she was neck deep in the water, and she saw everyone trying to stifle their laughs. "What's so funny,"she said with a pout, and then everyone broke out into laughter. She, seeing the creature, took the hint and started to wash herself. It felt like a good mineral bath, and it took off a layer of skin because of the acid, but something else happened. As she bathed, her uniform started to float to the surface in bits, and she now looked like she was very content to stay in the water. "Your Highness," one called out, "Why won't you come out?"
"Not until every male leaves this place!" she snapped, and they saw the bits of her clothes drifting to the edge of the water. They all left, and one of the female greenbacks went to fetch her spare clothes.
Back on Titan, they were waiting for some results, and they suddenly came across a report from the Mars Observatory, and they noted at that time two odd streaks in the sky which were written off as meteors. However, the computer showed that nothing burned up in those streaks, and Pluto then said, "I'll lay you ten schillings to the pound that those were probes. They've been here before!"
"Perhaps they saw the ships and became cautious?" said Neptune.
"It's more likely that they saw them, and came with a battle cruiser just in case," said Uranus, "We have to assume that the ALF ship was not here to be nice."
"We're going to have to confirm that," said Saturn.
"That means we have work to do," said Pluto, "Your Majesty, its time for the outer scouts to go to work."