"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." Napoleon Bonaparte
The Artemis arrived at the wounded ships and Mercury immediately took transport to them to supervise the engineers to get the engines and the superstructure to do at least warp six to get back home in reasonable time. The medical teams then did all they could to tend to the wounded, and wound up getting a crash course in Nekonian anatomy and medicine. There were some doctors amongst the refugees, and they aided the science/medical team with aiding their people. As the treatment continued, it became sickeningly more obvious that the Nekonians were now an endangered species. The next thing to do was to get them somewhere to settle. However, King Endymion opened up the Sol system and all the worlds within it to shelter them until anew world could be found. All the colonists then joined them, knowing that the Gnarl would come after them next. Once all was gathered, and enough aid was rendered, they returned to the Sol system.
Meanwhile, the Gnarl went back, confident with their win, but with some, there was a sense of loss. Their entire invasion army was wiped out by whatever weapon it was they employed. It would now have to be watched, and the second such a critical mass was even hinted at, they would bug out as fast as they could. The report went in to the queen about the weak resistance they faced, and how they had to cheat in order to halt progress. However, by them doing so, they merely quickened the work. The queen sat in her throne with adevilish look on her already hideous face. Squila then announced, "Take some time to replace the missing ships and to replenish the troops."
The fleet admiral said, "Begging your pardon, your majesty, but would it not be good to go after then while we have the chance? I mean, they must be demoralized, these Terrans. Our intelligence has managed to decipher their tongue, and we can track them now."
"They must be terrified of us now!" shouted Squila, "They would not dare strike back against our might. Send a battle group to their system under a flag of truce and make an announcement to them. Demand their fealty, and we shall then enslave them when they kowtow to our might! Tell them that they will share Nekonia's fate if they try to resist."
Grenj now was worried, wondering what they had done. If the enemy had weapons like what destroyed Nekonia... "Dear," he said meekly,"Um...according to our intelligence, they have a much bigger fleet back at their home system. I don't think..."
"Silence, fool!" she shouted, "Honestly, I don't think you have any idea on how to wield your power! They have no allies save a crushed people with no navy! We have superior numbers no matter what they have! They die magnificently! We shall crush them, and then rule them!"
Grenj sat henpecked and let it go. Still, he couldn't help but feel in his stomach that they were now making a dreadful mistake. From what he read, the weapons of the Terrans were superior to their blasters, and that their ships could fight on the planet's surface as well as in space. He just wasn't sure about this.
As they were preparing to leave, a meeting of another kind was happening. Serenity was transported to the carrier, and when she saw Usagi, she scooped her up and held her tightly. "Oh, baby, you don't know how good it is to see you!"
"I love you too, mother!" answered Usagi, "Know that the Quartet stuck by my side and made many risks to ensure that I would not die. They should be well rewarded."
"Oh, I assure you, they will be!" she said, tears now flowing. Everyone watched the teary reunion. Meanwhile, CreCre and Ceres met, and she leapt into his arms as they embraced. "Sis, that was insane!" said Ceres, "I hope you never need to see that again!"
"Hey, marine," she said, "Next time, they won't know what hit them! It was horrible, but all I want to do is avenge the Moon Rabbits, (the nickname of the fighter wing to which they belonged.)"
"Oh, believe me, I'm with you on that!" said Ceres, "I won't be happy until I am leading the counterattack against the Gnarl on their own world!"
While that was happening, there were three contemplating their next move.
The remainder of the outer scouts was going over the stolen information, but still reeling over Saturn's sacrifice. They could not believe that she would act like that at that time, and they wondered why she would not have saved that until they were, maybe, at the Gnarl home world, and things weren't going so well. They sat silent, not speaking unless they had to, and doing what they could to keep it professional. They were the Office of Naval Intelligence, and risks like that always faced them. She had done what she had done for the sake of the kingdom, and she had done so of her own free will. Yet, somehow, that didn't remove their hollow feelings, her being missing feeling like having a phantom limb. They knew she would be reborn, but when and how was up in the air. They all really wanted to cry, but they had to keep it under control for the sake of things. In the meantime, Olympia's haul gave them much. The history of the Gnarl had always been one in the past of benevolence. They had always been able to be peaceful with other worlds in the past, or just picked worlds that were uninhabited upon which to live. They were actually a noble race of beings, despite their hideous looks, that was amatriarchal society. The queen was always cared for and doted over, common to the Earth creature known as the mole rat, of which the resembled greatly, as if she was a queen bee. Because of the matronly nature of the queen, she normally was benevolent. However, two queens previous had lost her husband in an accidental misunderstanding with another world. By the evidence, they figured that she went insane, giving the order to wipe out that world's population and anything that marked civilization. The world itself was left alone. After they studied it, they were shocked to find out that it was the uninhabited world that the Artemis had visited! If they had had the time, they could have found remnants of that society buried or overgrown. Further, her daughters became more power hungry and maniacal as things went along. They were now at war with a race of beings that wanted more elbow room, and would wipe out the beings on a world to take it over.
Neptune began to think and she said, "If I were the queen, Iwould be forced to think that not all her people are evil like that."
Uranus just laughed and said, "You hang around her too much! They are a vicious foe, and they must be smashed!"
"You speak out of the rage of your loss," said Pluto, "Olympia even gave indications that the king does not agree with her actions."
"Indeed," added Neptune, "They may only be acting out of instinct. If they are related to the mole rats of Earth, they have an instinctive need to obey the Alpha female."
"This is why they must be stopped violently!" reasoned Uranus, but Pluto said, "They will follow the will of the queen. If she has heirs, then there is hope."
"Wait, you aren't talking about kidnapping one of them, are you?"asked Uranus in surprise.
"Not at all," said Pluto, "Because I suspect that, if he is agood king, he may have taught his children well, and we would just have to see what that has done. If they are benevolent, then there is a chance."
"How do we find out?" asked Neptune, but Pluto just smiled. She then said, "We used the ship for the sake of the previous mission. However, we can just jump through the time streams and get there instantly. Come on, let us inform the king and do some more work."
"What about Queen Buns-Head?" asked Uranus.
"She would try to stop us," said Pluto, "She is not in the state of mind to do any straight thinking right now. We just have to tell him and go. The rest of the tactical information we can give to Venus, Ceres, and his majesty, because they would need that to form a plan."
With that, they informed Endymion, who fully understood why they were doing this, and gave them his blessing. With that, they were off on a mission.
Venus, Ceres, and the king received copies of the data and began to pour over it. "According to this, their fleet size still is at two to one, but our weapons out match theirs," observed Venus, "In a naval battle, it's even pegging, and at great loss to both sides."
"Their ground troops are not as massive, though," said Ceres,"According to these numbers, if they tried to invade anywhere now, considering the numbers my Marines guessed before succumbing to the foe, they would only be able to leave behind only a certain force. My Marines would be able to handle that."
Venus then said, "We can also send in Mars with the SEALs to soften them up from the inside."
"That's assuming that we can get back to their home world,"reasoned Endymion, "This brings us back to the naval battle issue, on which your Marines would be amassed, and that would be no guarantee that you could get close enough."
"What do you suggest?" asked Venus.
"If they want us that bad, let them come here first," said Endymion smiling.
The other two looked at him with wonder. "You can't possibly mean that we let them invade!" said Venus.
"Not exactly," said Endymion, "It all depends on what my wife can do. She's at a summit right now with Queen and the Zoar ambassador. From there, it all depends on the size of their fleets."
The summit was being held on the Moon itself. All the pageantry that would be expected from a summit was there, as the royal head of Great Mound made her appearance. Because Zoar was a republic, the ambassador did not really want a ceremony, but he just took it as he could and approached the other two. There were the normal paparazzi doing what they do best and they were raining questions at them. However, they were ignored as the three went inside to meet. Queen said, "Dear Earth matron: I so wish my first visit to your mound could have been under better circumstances. I understand you suffered a great loss."
"It was sad," said Rhaphas, (the Zoarian ambassador,) "but know that she did not die in vain. She kept a sad situation from becoming worse."
"Many suffered loss," said Serenity, "And I came close to it myself. My daughter kept marching in where angels fear to tread."
"That reflects a great mother being with her so young," said Queen, knowing that royalty breeds royalty in more than just genetics. Serenity smiled at the kind statement, and Rhaphas said, "Where is your king?"
"He had military affairs to tend to," answered Serenity, "But he should be joining us holographically soon. He was going over some intelligence."
No sooner had she said that when an image appeared in an empty chair, and he greeted the entourage, saying, "Greetings, I am King Endymion. I thank you all for being here with us."
They acknowledged his presence and they all sat. He then continued, "According to what we know, they outnumber our ships 2 to 1, but we reverse that in weaponry. We also have spies on the ground right now assessing the state of the people there to find out where they stand with all this."
Serenity looked at him oddly and asked, "Spies: who is there?"
"The remainder of the counterintelligence team, dear,"answered Endymion, "Remember: that is what they do."
Serenity looked horrified and said, "Haven't they sacrificed enough?"
Endymion then said, "You could not have stopped them, and you know that. They have always operated by a different playbook."
She wanted to argue him down, but she just sat, shaking her head. The king continued and said, "They are taking time to lick their wounds from what we can tell, and that will be their undoing if we have our way about it."
"I don't think they have a choice," said Queen, "They were hit with an attack that no one could have expected. They are probably not even sure if it could be repeated, and they are not exactly willing to find out right away. For certain, they will try."
"Then how do we prepare?" asked Serenity.
"We need to defend, but attack as well," stated the king,"but our resources would be stretched."
"We have a beef as well," said Rhaphas, "I can lend you the aid of my fleet in the attack. It is half your size from what I can tell, but together we can strike a mighty blow."
"I can send 2/3 of our fleet," said Queen, "and it would equal the number in the fleet here. The rest can go in the attack."
"Then what I propose is this," said the king, "I will send all but three flotillas and combine with the rest on the attack. The other three could combine with the Moundians here. Our army would then be shifted to wherever the attack was aimed."
"My soldiers can be with you as well," said Queen.
"What about an army for attack?" asked Rhaphas.
"That, well, we have Marines for that," answered Serenity.
"They would need a force to keep the gains behind them,"responded Rhaphas, "We can send our army as a counter-invasion force. Besides, if we are victorious, an occupying force shall be needed until stability returns."
"Why not just wipe them out?" asked Queen.
"We can't do that," said Serenity, "If we did, we would be just as bad."
"Eye for an eye, an antenna for an antenna," said Queen.
The king jumped in before it got bad and said, "We have spies on the ground right now. They are going to find out if such a thing is needed. If we can do this without going to that extent, we shall. However, if that society is that corrupt, then we would have little choice, because the war would never end."
"Where do we go from here?" asked Rhaphas.
"We patrol, just in case," said Endymion, but just as he said that, and alert was heard, but the transmission also said, "The Gnarl ship is waving an electronic flag of truce!"
A Gnarl ship had entered the orbit of Pluto, about where the flotilla was at that time, and they stated that they had some terms. "More like an ultimatum," assessed the king, "Okay, patch us through. We'll talk to them."
On screen came what was hideous to those not used to such sights, though this was a person. Serenity had to choke back the fears of the old days where she would have leapt behind the chair in fear, and she gripped the chair to keep her courage. The king was not so intimidated and said,"Okay, we have given you space...speak!"
The Gnarl commander said, "By know, you know of our might. You of this system were fools for trying to aid our foe. However, we are forced to assume that you did so in ignorance, yet your actions cannot be entirely forgiven. Yet, we can show mercy, and we shall tell you how that shall come. Surrender to us now, unconditionally, submit to our control. We shall let you live, but to our demands. You shall be able to live without occupation, but we shall demand a periodic tribute of precious metals, resources, and people for labor as we demand. Do that and you shall live in peace. Do it not, and we shall annihilate you as we did the fool Nekonians. You have 48 of your hours to respond to this, and we shall await your answer here."
The rage of Serenity started to resurface. Their arrogance was more than she could take. "You are a fool to think that we would ever kowtow to you! Your trying to wipe out a peaceful people who only wanted to explore space in peace and share their peace with all is inexcusable. Neil Armstrong, who went to explore space in peace for all mankind may forgive you, but I shall not. I, the pretty queen in the satin white dress, guardian of love and justice-Neo-Queen Serenity and Sailor Moon-in the name of the moon, and Princess Saturn, we shall punish you!"
She was even taking the pose of the old days, letting her righteous indignation come to the fore. The other two were emboldened by this, and Queen stood up, saying, "You are also an arrogant fool to think that you are the mightiest warriors in the galaxy! If you act like this to these peaceful Terrans, what would you do to us! Truth is, you would die in droves, but that is beside the point. As far as we are concerned, and attack on them is an attack on us! Prepare to die like fools!"
Rhaphas had space to speak for his senate and said, "You attacked one of our ships when we saw one of your fleets attack that fleeing race who had done nothing to you. We were at war with you the instant you did, and that race of beings scream from the beyond for vengeance, and vengeance we are all to happy to exact! Your tyranny and evil stops! Know that Zoar stands against you, and the people that lost their lives trying to stop it shall be avenged. Now, flee and tell your pathetic queen that her doom comes! Any ship that we see is an instant target with no warning from this day forward!"
Queen said the same thing, and the king says, "Flee before we forget our honor and destroy you out of spite!"
The captain on the other end just laughed and said, "You can't be serious! You don't have what it takes to..."
"Before we let you leave," said Serenity, now sounding like the Serenity of the old kingdom, "I would request that the queen of your world transmit to the whole galaxy the image of her placing her fang filled face between her own legs and kissing her own tail!"
He now became enraged, "You have insulted our great matron! Know then that from this day forward that we now fly the red flag of no quarter! No mercy shall be sought, and no prisoners taken!"
Endymion raised an eyebrow and said, "Are you under that now?"
"YES!" he thundered.
"Good," said Endymion, "Then, UES Charon, punctuate the terms!" and cut the transmission. The captain of the Gnarl ship now looked in horror as the battleship turned ready for a broadside. As that was happening, the king said, "We have recorded the discussion with that ship, and we are ready to transmit that to the Gnarl home world. Any Gnarl ships between here and there would receive it and thus be informed that their days were numbered. There was no way that the Gnarl would not know what happened to their ship. Meanwhile, all nine rail guns and the 47 particle accelerators let loose, making quick work of the Gnarl vessel that had had no chance to call for their shields to be raised. "The message has been sent;" said Endymion, "Now, let us prepare to make this a short war if we can."
"I'll be coming to see you, my love," said Serenity, "Be waiting."
"...With baited breath," he said, and they ended the transmission. Serenity then said, "Your ships will be given escort from the Mercury and the Venus flotillas. I am sure you have preparations to make."
They both agreed, and provisions were made for embassies on their respective home worlds to keep in contact one with another. Once that was settled, Serenity went back to Earth.
Endymion was in their bed chamber awaiting her arrival, and she came in, rushing to him. "Darling," said Endymion, but that was all he got out before she caught him in a bear hug and started to cry. "Why? Why, why, why?" was all she could say, "I don't want all this death; I don't want all this killing!"
All he could do is rock her back and forth and say, "We'll be okay. We have fought together before. Be my brave Sailor Moon for me."
They stayed that way for about 15 minutes before she slowed down her crying, looked up to him, and they began to kiss passionately. Soon, they were in each other's arms, giving each other the comfort that they so needed at that time, and doing something that would actually bring something out of the loss that they had felt not but days before.
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