"Secret agent man, secret agent man: they've given you anumber and taken away your name." Jimmy Webb and Johnny Rivers
The shuttle from the unknown vessel came over and landed on the spot on the deck designated for such, and an airlock tunnel connected to the hatch on the shuttle. However, they were not sure what they breathed, and they sent in a transmission to them that said they breathed a high oxygen and nitrogen atmosphere, and they responded by saying that this was also what they breathed. When the newcomers scanned it, they said it was richer than what they were used to, but it would do fine. They traveled down the tunnel to the hatch leading into the ship, and they were met by a small party consisting of the ship's captain, the outer scouts, Olympia, and a few members of the SEALs. What entered were three upright creatures that did not look too dissimilar to Earth felines. Their fur patterns ranged from standard toms to what we would have called the big cats. Two of them wore what looked like military uniforms and that which was similar to Scottish kilts, but the one in the middle that had a mane was wearing gray and gold silken robes that were as elaborate and colorful as the fur patterns on his colleagues. After a few cursory glances from both parties over the appearance of what stood before them, the humans lifted up what looked like ear buds and put them in their ears. Three more were produced, and they gave indications that they should do the same. Because the computer had already analyzed the newcomer's language, the humans began to speak. The captain then said, "On behalf of our beloved Queen Serenity and the Silver Millennium Kingdom I welcome you on board our vessel. As I am also authorized by our crown and congress, I also give to you official greetings from our crowned heads and prime minister."
The newcomers started to speak in a language that sounded like organized and structured growls, meows and purring, and what came back was, "We thank you for your aid and for your gracious greeting. I am Hurram, the first officer of the cruiser Prin. In the name of the honorable President Kurrzzah of our home world of Nekonia, I give you thanks for your assistance and welcome you to our system. I assume your intentions are as peaceful to us as was your might to strike ablow against our enemy?"
"It seems that your foe is our foe," said Pluto. "I am Commander Pluto. We came here on afact-finding mission."
"I see you found quite a bit," said Hurram, "However, what kind of facts were you trying to find?"
"It had much to do with why this 'Gnarl' was snooping around our system?" responded Uranus.
Hurram raised his eyebrows and said, "So, this corner of the galaxy is not enough for them Isee."
They all looked at him, but the captain said, "Perhaps a tour of the ship would be nice, and then we can discuss business. Normally, that would not be permitted, but since you are quite a space faring race, this can be allowed."
When Hurram asked about this, they explained how nearly a millennium before, there was a science fiction genre that had that government have a general order that would not allow any race on any planet to know of anything beyond it unless they were on par technologically with that government. This way, it would allow that planet to develop normally, and prevent things being introduced for which it was not ready. This made great sense, and Hurram said, "We had our suspicions, but Iwould say that you are indeed setting them at ease."
Thus, the first race outside the Sol system with which the Silver Millennium Kingdom ever encountered was a success. It remained to see how they tied into the Gnarl.
As they sat to dinner, they asked for what they cared, and it turned out that they were nearly exclusively carnivore. They described some of the things they ate, and they were introduced to fillet mignon. They were each given about three with asmall pile of rice pilaf, and some good wine. They toyed with it at first, not sure what to make of it, but when they dug in, their eyes rolled back into their heads in ecstasy. "This is exquisite! You will have to tell us how you prepared this!"
"Well, we can leave you with the kinds of meat we normally eat, checked for things to which you may not be immune, and give you some recipes translated for you. If we can then gain an alliance, then access to this would be gained. We then can have a full cultural exchange."
As they dined, discussion eventually slipped to the Gnarl. Hurram then said, "The Gnarl is arace with nothing but conquest on their minds. They only have one star system which is theirs, but they are not content with that. They have conquered and control six other systems, and they are seeking to make us the seventh. We had a large fleet at once to contend with them, but since they have the resources, they have worn us down by attrition. We thought it was over until you arrived."
"No doubt that means they shall be back," said Saturn.
"Indeed, young one," said Hurram, to which Saturn chuckled. Hurram looked askance at this, and Pluto then said, "Fear not, because she is just reacting to your statement. She is older than she looks!"
"How is that possible?" he then asked in return.
Uranus was more than happy to respond to this and said, "Because of certain effects of aspecial crystal within the queen's possession which she used to protect our home world from disaster, all of us now can live for nearly two millennia. However, a handful of us are now immortal because of that...well, nearly so. We cannot survive annihilation, save for her," and pointed to Saturn. She then said, "You are looking at a human phoenix. She has an attack that is devastating that she only uses as a last resort. She has actually been born afew times."
The Nekonians stared at this, now realizing just what kind of power sat before them. At first, one of the Nekonians had an evil thought pass through his head about that crystal and getting his hands on it, which caused Olympia to tense up. However she eased up once she detected the reverence in all three of the Nekonians when they realized it would be better to make friends than enemies in the state that they were in. Pluto then asked, "What else do you know about the Gnarl?"
"They are like locust," said Hurram, which received knowing looks glanced between the outer scouts and the captain and Olympia, "and they rape planets. Part of their conquest is because they are desperate. However, rather than asking for help, which is what I really think some of their nobles want, their queen is an absolute megalomaniac. They really do not know how to conserve, and if they could only be taught...well, that's wishful thinking with her in power."
"It seems they want to add both of our worlds to the list," said Neptune, and then the captain said, "I am going to patch through a conference call to the king. I think atreaty is in order, and considering things, this cannot admit delay!"
A couple of hours later, in the conference room, a formal chair was set at one end while Hurram and his two men sat at the other, and the rest with the bridge officers around the table. Hurram received official word to act as ambassador for his world, seeing that, though they were now trusting this new race that called themselves Terrans, they still wanted to be careful and not risk any important government officials. However, the press on Nekonia was spreading word fast about the newcomers, and a possible day of jubilee to come. As they sat to the meeting, a hologram of Kind Endymion appeared with some fanfare, and he greeted the Nekonians warmly. Much was discussed, and a treaty indeed was drawn up with aid of both governments, and it was sent to the kingdom congress for approval. In the meantime, the king ordered that the Saturnian flotilla go to Nekonia via executive order, using his 30 emergency powers, and doing so knowing that this treaty would not take that long to pass. If the Gnarl were to come back, they would be in for a big surprise. When the image of the king vanished after official proceedings were finished, strategy began to be discussed.
As they talked about the activities of the Gnarl, they learned that they often took slaves, and that gave Pluto an idea. After some discussion, it was decided that Olympia would go in disguise as a Nekonian and deliberately get captured. They would put a device on her and track her via the Catfish in cloak. Once they were there, they would drop in the outer scouts to skulk around and find out as much as they could about their new foe. There was some worry that Olympia could not handle herself. However, it was explained to them what kind of training she had received, and they were stunned. Olympia said, "I am of the best Sol has to offer! We have a few mottos: 'Ready to lead, ready to follow, never quit,' 'The only easy day was yesterday,' 'Don't bother running; you will only die tired,' and my favorite, 'If it don't suck, we don't do it.' Besides, on Earth, my family came from a place called New Zealand, and I am from the natives called the Maori. We are brave warriors who make sure the enemy never sees our backs!"
A bunch of the SEALs around called out, "HOOYAH!" and they all began to break into the Hakka. Hurram was impressed and said, "You remind me of my homeland! I am now convinced that you shouldn't watch out for the Gnarl, they should look out for you!"
She just smirked and said, "Hoo...yah!"
The next step was to take her to a world that was in the next orbit over and being colonized. However, because it was on the other side of the star at that time, Gnarl raiders loved attacking that colony to take slaves. It would be there they would plant Olympia. What they would do is use some temporary plastic surgery to alter her appearance enough not to be suspected, and also to disguise an ear bud so she could use a hidden translator. They would pretend that she was a mute, and illiterate, living as an urchin, which would make her the perfect target for the slavers. Once they got to her, the Catfish would follow cloaked, and then deposit the outer scouts wherever they were going and then to get as much information as they could, while Olympia did what she could from within. With that, they went around the star and deposited her in a sparsely populated area. The Nekonian vessel then took off while the Catfish waited in cloak. As they left, Hurram transmitted, "One thing to note: your cloak is effective, but, you must be careful. Now that we know you are there, and know roughly where to look, there is an ever so slight disruption to the star field around you, and if they can detect that, you could be vulnerable. We also detect aneutron surge in that area, so, if they were able to just catch it..."
"Warning taken and well noted, Commander Hurram, and thank you for telling us," said the captain of the Catfish, "That indeed will come in handy."
The Nekonian ship then went its way while they waited. It wasn't but 8 hours when a Gnarl ship arrived. It was a bit smaller, and a bit beat up, which led them all to believe that this was not a normal ship of the fleet, and thus, they were working independently. All they could do is hope that Olympia could hold her own.
Planetside, Olympia was playing the part well, and you could not tell her from one of the natives. She spent a few hours observing the behaviors and mannerisms of the Nekonians so she could mimic them well enough to not be detected. Indeed, they were very feline in nature, and so she knew that she would have to make many sensuous movements. She would be ready. When the slaver arrived, two shuttles descended and a couple of squads emerged. They were all armed, but their clothes were not uniformed, so that gave indications that they were not military regulars, and thus she knew they were independent traders. However, the sight of them turned her stomach! They had not a hair on them, beady pink eyes and ugly snouts. What caught her even more was the hideous rack of teeth they all possessed. They looked like they had just walked off the set of ahorror film and right into her reality. She had to get their attention without looking like she wanted to be captured. As the slavers started to bully some of the colonists and force them to come, she bided her time and hid as if she was trying to evade capture. When it looked like they were about to leave, she made a dash for the cabins, but she was also obvious about her actions, and one of them said, "Wait, look, we have one more!"
They fired a few shots past her to get her to stop, yet she didn't stop. In fact, she was going to lead them on a merry chase as to throw off all suspicion. She let them run after her for about 15 minutes, and then she let herself get cornered. She took a defensive position like a cat and hissed, as if she was ready to fight. Truly, if these Gnarl knew what stood before them, they would be running for their lives. She had mastered at least two of the senshei attacks that higher level members of the SEALs all learn, and hoped one day to perfect all the attacks. She could have easily wiped them out, but that was not the purpose. However, one of them said, "We have a feisty one here!"
Another then said,"You don't want to risk getting clawed. Just stun her."
Before she could fully register what they intended, they hit her with a heavy stun from ablaster and knocked her for a loop. This was not what she sought, but at least it would bring the results she wanted. Besides all that, the tracking device on the translator was working well enough, so the others could follow her.
On the Catfish, they had tracked her the whole way, and then they detected the shuttles lifting off, and the device showing that Olympia was on one of them. This was what they had aimed for. Once the slaver started off, the Catfish was right on her tail. Using some counterintelligence tech on the Catfish, they tapped into the slaver's computers and began to gather data on their warp trajectory, setting the same course themselves. As soon as the slaver went into warp, the Catfish was right behind. Hours later, Olympia came to, and felt like someone was licking her head. When she did come to more completely, she realized she was in the arms of an older cat, one she assumed was female, and that one was cleaning her head as if she was her kitten. Once she stirred, the older one said, "You poor dear; you should have stayed hidden, little one. You are too pretty to have had them take you."
She turned to see the one acting like a mother cat, and she was beautiful. Her fur was very much like a Maine Coon Cat, with sweeping green eyes that emoted an inner joy. "What is your name, kitten?" asked the woman. Olympia looked down as if she was ashamed, and then pointed to her mouth and shook her head. "Oh no, you can't talk?" said the female aiding Olympia, "Can you write?"
That, Olympia could answer truthfully, because she did not know the language to write it, and so she shook her head. The female then asked, "How did you get to that colony? Where are your mother and father?"
She then put on the crocodile tears, hoping the female would make the right assumption. The female said, "You poor, poor dear! What happened?"
Olympia looked around, and then put an angry look on her face. "Oh," she said, "Now Iunderstand."
She pulled Olympia in and started to purr. The embrace was warm and welcoming, and she indeed reminded her much of her own mother back on Mars. This female was very caring, and she had the feeling that not all was right with her. This was confirmed when she said, "It feels so good to hold someone again. I have much anger with these monsters as well. They took my children, and I have no idea whether or not they are alive. Perhaps now I can find them, though this was not the way Ihoped. If we can get out of this, I shall take you in, dear child."
She sat Olympia upright and then said, "Now, we have to call you something. Hmm...what shall Icall you? You seem graceful and yet strong. I know...Prr'ann!"
The translator let Olympia know that the name meant, "She of strength and grace." It seemed that their names could be combined with known adjectives, and thus this race must have had quite a diverse set of names for the people. The female then said, "I am Mirini. Stay with me, and I will keep you safe."
Olympia smiled and thought, "Dear Nekonian, when we get out of this, it is I that shall keep you safe for your immense kindness to me."
She knew Mirini was lonely and heartbroken, and she needed a friend. However, though it was not apart of the mission, if there was some way that she could come back, she would make it a point to one day reunite her and her children. She then embraced Mirini, and then gave her a look that said, "We will get through this!"
Back at Saturn, Princess Usagi and the quartet were in the mission room, with the Princess looking at a magazine, and the four deep into a game of Bid Whist. It was then when the ship's intercom said, "Attention all decks: we are now on general alert. All hands are to report to your department briefing rooms for further details. Department heads are to report to the conference room. That is all."
Usagi and the quartet were already there, so they put their things up and took their assigned seats in the mission room, but Usagi, being wing commander, went to the bridge, knowing that she would get the full mission details, and then prepare her department's game plan for the mission and brief them on it. One thing that bugged her was why this was happening. She remembered the attack, but now she wondered if they were about to go to war. This was not something her mother had in mind when her mother's mission began. When she arrived at the conference room, though she was technically not in command, everyone arose to their feet. She waived them to sit down and said, "We don't have time for all that. If we are on general alert, we have not a moment to lose."
"Quite true, your majesty," said the captain, "Word just came in from Earth, and your father. The Catfish managed to make an ally, and also engaged another of the kind of ship that you combatted days ago. We now have a name for them, and we now have a viable threat as well."
With that, he briefed everyone on what had happened, and where this was all taking place, and he then said, "Technically, they are not yet our ally, but it is certain to pass the legislature for the king and prime minister to sign. Yet, because this may not admit delay, we whole flotilla has been sent as an extra defense force. We have no idea how big a force we may face, but we have to have all we can afford for now. At the least, it will be an initial thrust. If this does break into all-out war, help will be right behind. Right now, our counterintelligence people are infiltrating the enemy's space in order to get as much on our foe as possible."
Usagi said, "Um...has my mother been told yet?"
The captain hedged abit, and then he said, "He has not, because he fears your mother may panic and do something rash. However, if it does get bad, the Artemis will be recalled. We will need all our top commanders for this, and your mother has to be in on the decision making according to the constitution."
"I still don't like it," responded Usagi, "I think they need to come back regardless."
"Well, you may override me, but you would have to override your father," said the captain.
Usagi said, "When this is done, and the wing is briefed, a call to my father will be the first thing that I do!"
"Very well, your highness; that is your prerogative."
With that, he went over the tactical maps to give everyone the feel for what they entered, and he then said,"We truly are green in regard for this kind of situation, but I am sure that, as professional as you all hold yourselves, we can learn what we need to quickly. Conflict is never good, but, it is good we can be blooded in something of this level rather than in a full-fledged war, where the stakes would be much higher. With that, please tend to your departments. You are dismissed."
As Usagi went back to the mission room, looking over the files and preparing a game plan, she began not to like how her mother was being left out. Indeed, she would be having some words with her father once the meeting was done.