"When they come, I will stand my ground; stand my ground, I'll nay be afraid." Sgt. Mackenzie
As the sirens wailed away, they ran into about two platoons coming the other way. Uranus was undaunted in her approach as the energy ball began to form in her hand. She then announced, "WORLD SHAKING!" as she let loose. Neptune was right beside her with Deep Submerge with Pluto's Dead Scream and they were now playing "Bowling for Gnarl." As they wiped them out and ran past, more troops were creeping out to answer the call. Mirini was using the blasters, merely doing so by survival instinct at best. However, two tried to jump from behind and take her, but Olympia was ready. Being that every SEAL was trained in at least two of Mars' attacks, Olympia let loose with Fire Soul, and then laughed as she watched the two guards attempt to come free from their now burning uniforms. Mirini looked at her in wonder, but she grabbed Mirini saying, "No time to explain. I'll tell you later when we are safe!"
The outer scouts were also showing their expertise with their hand-to-hand and fighting their way to the escape vehicle. Just before they got there, a squad leapt out, but Olympia let loose and shouted, "BURNING MANDALA!" blowing the weapons out of their hands, and then flinging them into the wall as they fell unconscious. They all piled into the scout pod and rocketed off. They had not gotten far when they were being pursued by guard craft. The tail gunner, (Uranus,) was doing all she could to keep them off while the SEAL piloting was doing all he could to evade the return fire. Mirini sat huddled with Olympia, somehow managing to ignore the combat around her, and stared at Olympia and said, "I don't understand. How could you have looked so authentic?"
"Special reversible plastic surgery," responded Olympia,"This was the genius of the head of medicine and science, Princess Admiral Mercury, as was this translator. All this was the best way to infiltrate our foe and get all we could out of them. You were a great help, and may my creator help me make sure that I can help you! You shall be well rewarded."
An explosion above them caught their attention and returned them to the reality of the battle. Soon, they were at the coast, and the on shore batteries were starting to lock in on them. This is when the /Catfish/came uncloaked and began to fire a couple of torpedoes at the batteries as apair of particle accelerator phalanx guns opened up on the pursuing vehicles. The Gnarl that managed to flee the scene was in awe of the power that these invaders possessed. Once the shuttle was in the bay, the ship came about hard and hit one quarter impulse, tearing a sizeable wake as they fled. Soon, they were up to speed and took off as the foils gave the lift and the impulse engine gimbaled and kept them stable. Just they broke the atmosphere; they cloaked and set course for Nekonia.
The king and queen were rudely awakened by the alarms, and once they were able to get somewhat clothed and to the throne room, they had learned that spies had managed to infiltrate, and then blast their way out of the palace. They had been pursued, but they managed to escape in a vessel that could cloak. When Squilla asked who it was that stole the vital information, they told her it was a pair of Nekonians with four of the oddest looking creatures he had ever seen, clad in odd sailor uniforms and short skirts. The queen was livid! She screeched, "READY THE FLEET! IT IS TIME TO STOP PLAYING! I WANT A FULL INVASION OF THE PLANET AND WIPE THEM ALL OUT: ALL LIFE FORMS-ALL!"
Grenj was shocked at her ferocity and said, "My dear, they do deserve our wrath, but, to go to that extent..."
"Silence, you spineless thing!" she shouted at him, "They have mocked us, and they will soon learn that that was foolish. NO ONE does that to us! The rest of the galaxy will then fear our names! They will know better than to fight us and all shall kowtow! You don't want war? This will prevent it!"
A new message came in from one of the command vessels, and the captain said, "Your majesty, we noticed a strong neutron surge not too far outside the atmosphere, and had the faintest star distortion for a brief moment before the sensors lost it. We then detected a warp signature in that area."
"Excellent!" she said, "Pursue that path with the whole invasion fleet and wipe them out. They only have so much of a navy, so it should be easy. Send in the ground troops once you carve a path to the planet and wipe out all life on the surface-no exceptions and no mercy or quarter."
"As you wish, your majesty," he responded, and cut the transmission. Squilla then just sat there in rage, but in sweet thought of the message that would be sent: mess with the Gnarl, and face extinction.
As the ship traveled to Nekonia, Olympia was in surgery as Mirini paced in her guest quarters. Soon, a ring came at the door, and a voice on the speaker said, "It's me! They're all done."
Mirini opened the door to see Olympia in her full New Zealand Maori glory and navy blue senshei fuku. "Prr'ann...oh, I'm sorry, Olympia..." Mirini started to say, but Olympia then said, "Hey, it's okay! I understand."
"Well, you look...different," was all Mirini could say, and Olympia said, "That, I also understand. I must look repulsive to you now."
"Well, you still have a beauty to you, I have to admit,"said Mirini, "Still, I kind of felt you like a daughter."
Olympia took her by the paws and said, "Hey, you do remind me much of my own mother. I feel it an honor to be considered like a daughter to you. I hope that we can stay that way for one another."
"And I thank you for being there," answered Mirini, "You freed me from that captivity. I only hope we can keep the home world safe."
Olympia hugged her and said, "We'll do our best. I have powerful friends."
"I hope so, love, I hope so."
CreCre was putting in a call to Ceres, and she said, "Hi bro! How goes the exploration thing?"
"Oorah!" was his response, to which CreCre asked rhetorically, "How did I know you were going to say that?"
"You know me too well!" he answered, "So, what's going on with you?"
"The flotilla is on its way to a planet called Nekonia. We are going to help act as a protection group to aid them against the Gnarl."
"That reminds me: once I'm done with you, patch me through to the princess and the commandant of my marines there."
Usagi came up with the rest of the quartet and said, "We're all right here!"
"You five never split do you?" asked Ceres.
"Hey, we're all sisters in a sense," answered Usagi, "We know each other's moves so well we might as well be one person. Speaking of the sibling thing, I thought it was neat that you and CreCre discovered that you were related from the Old Moon Kingdom, but I wonder why you two have the same name."
"That's an odd one," said Ceres, "From what I have learned, mother and father wanted a daughter so bad that, despite having the ability to know the gender beforehand, they did not take that opportunity, and just hoped that they could will a daughter. They picked the name, but they had me. Despite that, (considering Princess Mars was names what she was,) they let it go. It made me tough when you consider that 'Ceres' is the name of a goddess. It was kind of like that 'A Boy Named Sue' kind of thing. It made me tough enough to want to join the marines. They then had their daughter, and named her that, but we called her CreCre to designate between us."
The others stared at the two, (Ceres on the screen, and CreCre being present,) and Juno said, "You had some weird parents!"
"You don't know the half of it!" said CreCre, "They were very eccentric! I can't explain their thinking. You could say we both survived our childhoods!"
The rest just shook their heads and rolled their eyes, and Vesta said, "Anyway, it seems we may well be heading into a war."
"Well, if we can make a good enough show of force, if it comes to that," responded Ceres, "maybe we can send a message to them that fighting us would be a very bad idea."
"PallaPalla scared!" said Pallas, all nervous.
"Hey, you've already fought once," said Ceres, "You did well, from what I understand, so why be nervous now?"
Vesta started to knead Pallus' shoulders and said, "Don't worry; that's just her way of getting over the jitters. When she is ready to fight, Pallus the Decapitator will be ready to fight."
Ceres lifted an eyebrow, and CreCre explained, "That's what the rest of the pilots call her; have you ever seen her dolls?"
"Oh yeah," remembered Ceres, "I never understood that."
"We never ask," responded Juno, "We have no idea what kind of response we might get, and I don't think we want to know!"
"Well, if you could patch me through to the commandant now, I'll say good-bye for now and wish you clear skies," said Ceres, "I know you five can handle yourselves."
"HOOYAH," they all shouted in the Navy cry, and sent him to the commandant. Usagi then said, "Well, the only thing we can do now is wait."
Pallus was still pacing the floor, and she said, "PallaPalla has a bad feeling about all this."
Usagi said, "Hey, stay strong, Sailor Pallus. We will be okay. You make it sound like we are heading into the Apocalypse."
"I hope not," was all Vesta could say.
Ceres told the commandant to have every available marine to go planetside and be ready to aid the Nekonian ground forces. He wanted to be sure they could repel any invading force. Meanwhile, after a few days, the flotilla arrived just as the Catfish did, and the captain on the battleship welcomed them back and congratulated them for a successful mission. Little did any know that they had been tailed all the way. They had not been long there when the battleship was out with a heavy cruiser and two destroyers on picket duty when it happened. The scanners went crazy, and on their view screens was the faintest image of some kind of unknown craft. The captain on the battleship gave orders to put it on tactical, and the scanners reached further. Once they did, the tactical image on screen showed a huge fleet of the Gnarl heading their way-enough for a full invasion force. He immediately radioed back to the rest that there was trouble coming, and to prepare for ahuge attack. He then gave command for the ships to head back and prepare for what he feared would be a last stand.
Serenity was in with the other scouts as they were tuning in on the status of the Saturn Flotilla, just to catch what was going on. The news report had not gone long when the flotilla began to change formation rapidly to be joined by the Nekonian fleet, which was only twice the size of the flotilla. As that was happening, the other ships rocketed in while fighters were flying out of the carrier and into a defensive position. The reporter then said, "Folks, it looks like it's about to get hot here! It seems that...what...yes; it seems an entire Gnarl Invasion force is on the way here! We are heading to a safe distance to watch, and we will be reporting the whole thing as it happens!"
Serenity stiffened. She was not expecting this! This was also being piped to the Zoarians as Captain Scleea was in with the queen on asocial call. Scleea turned her attention to the screen, knowing that this could get very bad. They watched as the battleship and the heavy cruisers opened up. They had the rail guns, and thus, they had range. They hoped to do what they could to soften the blow, but they were not sure how much that was going to do. The flag commander on the battleship said for the fighters to be ready to go forward and intercept the fighters, but Usagi said, "Belay that order! There's too many, and we have to protect you and the planet! The only way we can to that is with your anti-fighter cover!"
The fighters moved out to a good defensive position just as the Gnarl hit. The Nekonian fighters joined them, and it looked like two hives of hornets fighting for the ownership of the nest, and the Gnarl had the larger swarm. The other ships gave cover as the other big ships fired for range, and it seemed to be going well at first. However, that was soon to change as the Gnarl came into range of their own weapons. Serenity tensed up, knowing that the five that stayed with each other were her daughter and the Amazoness Quartet. However, what got her worse was seeing the Gnarl come in and rip right into their targets. Serenity couldn't believe it!
On the /Catfish/, Olympia and Mirini were on the bridge with the rest of the outer scouts. Because they were cloaked, they were a much harder target to hit, and they used that to their advantage with the other CT cruisers. However, they had to appear to fire, but that was only for a brief moment, and they kept it random as they went so the foe couldn't get a bead on them. Olympia said, "I'm sorry you couldn't go back, it's too dicey."
"If I have to go," Mirini said bravely, "then to be with you would be fine. I feel proud that I get to see my people make a stand."
"I hope it's not a last stand," commented Neptune.
As things wore on, the facts were beginning to tell. Being outnumbered 3 to1 and outgunned was not winning odds, and it was showing. The fighters were going down in short order, and that left the ships vulnerable. Once the distance was pulled to close quarters, they began to chew up both the Terrans and Nekonians. Serenity was in shock, and then screaming at the screen, "GET OUT OF THERE! GET OUT! NOOOO!"
She was gripping the screen and starting to cry now. The others wanted to move in, but they realized it would do no good, and all they could do was grimly stare. Matters got worse when the admiral of the Gnarl fleet decided that the ground troops could land. The fighters tried to do what they could-what was left of them-but sheer number of landing craft, coupled with the other fighters and the enemy vessels anti-fighter guns, prevented the stopping of this. What was left of the fighters then pulled in close to the now shrinking number of vessels. Once the craft landed, the sheer number of invaders provided a situation of shock and awe. What made matters worse was that they were firing indiscriminately at anything moving. This caused chaos amongst the defending troops and the Asteroid Marines there. They wanted to keep from killing the innocents to get a target, but the Gnarl moved in and out of them, making it hard to hit them in such a fashion, of which the Gnarl took full advantage. Soon, even the civilians were now picking up arms of the fallen on either side, considering they were under fire as well, making the Gnarl feel more justified in their twisted way of thinking now that they had chosen to become combatants. They started to bring our armor and armored troop transports to break up the formations, and that was followed by ships with artillery. Once that was in place, they started to strike from the air. This was something that those planetside could not do, because the fighters were committed to the space battle, and they had been crushed for the most part. With air superiority, though they were technically outnumbered, the Gnarl could strike without being struck back. Ceres heard the report coming back in the garbled messages, hearing confusion and horror, and the only thing he could come away with that was "good" was the fact that word returned to him that they all fought bravely, not surrendering or giving up, fighting and dying like true marines. To add to the mix of horror was the news that the Gnarl was doing the"scorched earth" method. They were not just trying to win the battle; they were trying to exterminate the Nekonians. This was when the last transmission from their capitol before it was wiped out, and it said to abandon the planet as best and as fast as they could. Many shuttles and transports were now filling with refugees taking only what they could carry, getting out of there as fast as they could. Sadly, some of them were being shot down before they could get far. Others were being hit before they could leave the atmosphere. Some were getting out, and when Usagi saw this, she gave orders to escort them out of there. Vesta then said, "But what about the ships."
Grimly, and with tears in her eyes, she said, "This is no longer a battle, this is a rescue mission."
"But, the ships," pleaded CreCre, but Usagi said grimly and plainly, "We can't help them. We must help who we can."
This was when the full gravity of the situation hit home. Now it was try to get out of there, and get as many Nekonians out of harm's way as possible.
The Gnarl were now closing in, and the only ships left were the Terran battleship, the carrier, and about two CT cruisers, (the enemy doing what they could to catch the neutron surges when they could, and sending energy torpedoes in an array to act like depth charges,) the Catfish being one of them. All the remaining vessels were much damaged, and if they needed to, could only manage about warp 3. This was when the only option to one of them filled her head, and she snuck out to enact it. Sensors went crazy as they noticed an escape pod launch, and then hit the after burners. This was noticed too late by the Gnarl, who would have blown it up if they had had the chance. This caused Pluto to look around and notice that Saturn was gone. Immediately, she shouted, "Which pod was that? Patch me in to it!"
They quickly did so, and Pluto saw a contented Saturn in the pod. Pluto then said, "Don't do this!" knowing what she must have had in mind. Saturn just responded, "It has to be this way. I must stop them somehow. I can't let them have the satisfaction of raping that planet. All the Nekonians have either left or died, and we have to have some victory out of this."
"No, it's a lost cause!" Pluto shouted back, "There is no need for this!"
"If we strike down their entire strike force, we cripple them," she responded, "We also take some of their ships with it. It has to be done."
Pluto begged her not to do it, but all Saturn said was, "We shall meet again. Fear not, for this is not new to me, for it is for situations like this that I was born. Be at peace, dear Setsuan-sensei. We shall see each other again."
Saturn then ended the transmission, and then ripped out the radio. Quickly, Pluto said, "Emergency warp out-all vessels: as fast as you can go!"
A course was quickly set in the direction of the fleeing shuttles and transports, and they warped off to meet them. Meanwhile, on the Gnarl ships, from the planet's surface, it was noted that something was going to a critical mass way off the scales, and it didn't take Albert Einstein to figure out what was going to happen. The admiral of the Gnarl gave immediate orders for all ships to head back to Skretch at top speed. Many ships did, but about a third of the ships were too slow in their calculations, and it cost them. In a blinding flash, the planet and any too close went up in smoke, and just as quickly, the fireball was gone, leaving behind only expanding debris and glowing radiated gas.
At the wounded ships, they began to assess casualties and render what aid they could. The hospital ship was gone, and there was only so much the remainder of the medical crew could do. From where they were, they knew that it would take a year to see the end result of Saturn's sacrifice. Had it been right away, it would have looked like a new star had formed, and then dimmed. The outer scouts could do nothing more than stare, while Olympia and Mirini were in tears. At Zoar, Serenity was in a ball on the floor in crying seizures. She had seen up close and personal the horrors of war, and it could indeed be said that, if the Silver Millennium Kingdom was not yet at war, they certainly were now. Venus came over now and started to get her upright, trying to console her. This was more than Serenity could take, or had wanted to see. It was then a transmission came in, and it said, "Mother, please don't cry. I'm okay."
Serenity snapped her head up and saw the face of her daughter. She was swiftly on her feet now, hugging the screen, her face planted to the screen. "Baby, baby...oh baby!" was all she could say, "Why? How could they do this?"
"Mother, we need medical help," Usagi responded, "We are heading back for Terra, and please have a medical craft meet us."
Serenity then said, "I'm on my way as well!" still crying,"Please, keep away from the fighting until I see you. I need to hold you again!"
"I love you, mother," answered Usagi, "And I'll be waiting for you. Please stay brave for me."
Serenity began to sniff it back, and she said, "What was all that about Saturn."
"Momma," she said, but trailed off, and Serenity said, "She didn't..."
"She did," was all she could answer, "She took out their army and many of their ships from what we can guess."
Now, her crying was changing. Now they saw a side of Serenity was rare, but when she was pushed to this point, she suddenly had the clearest kind of thinking, and the Serenity of the old kingdom took over completely. She said, "Get us there and get us home. This Gnarl is going to pay to the 25thpower! We are going to strike a vicious blow! THEY WILL PAY FOR THIS! SATURN WILL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN!"
Venus then consoled, "You know she will be reborn."
"Yes I know!" Serenity answered, "But they caused her to do this! THE SILVER MILLENNIUM KINGDOM WILL BE AVENGED, AS WELL AS NEKONIA! LET'S GO!"
She marched out towards the transport, with Scleea behind her, saying, "You have Zoar's full support. Your foe is our foe! Together, we shall strike a mighty blow and ensure this tyranny is wiped from the annals of history!"
Serenity nodded and said, "Then send an envoy to Terra, and acouncil of war shall be conducted. We have eight more flotillas, more marines, and a massive army. They are going to regret every bit of it if I have my way! Contact Great Mound and find out where they stand."
Venus nodded, and now all the scouts went with her. They didn't voice it, but they all had the determination to see their queen's revenge through. Saturn and Nekonia would be avenged.