"You know at //Pearl/ they hit us with a sledgehammer. This raid, even if it makes it through, it'll only be a pinprick... but it'll be straight through their hearts./" //Lt./ //Col// Jimmy Doolittle./
The /Luna/, the /Chronos/, and a handful of destroyers and light cruisers were ready for the raid. They knew it would be an extremely difficult mission with no guarantees of success, considering that the battleship and the carrier would be going in uncloaked, and they would have to launch the fighter/bombers from far enough of a range that it would be at the limits of their fuel to get back to safety. Unlike Doolittle, they had nowhere safe to land if they had to ditch, and even for Doolittle, not every one of his crews made it to safe territory. The quartet with Princess Usagi and a squadron behind them did not have even that. The plan was to hit them, do a bit of damage, shake them up, and get back to the carrier as fast as they could. If they were pursued, they would let the Gnarl give chase and lead them into the rest of the flotilla that came with them. It would not be much more than a pimp slap, but it was hoped that it would be enough of asting that they would move harshly, and walk right into a meat grinder. They would have to move swiftly to put the war plan together, but once they did, they were hoping to end the conflict swiftly. The last thing anyone wanted would be to see a long a protracted war where millions died, and the resources of many world stripped to support it. Of course, what then would follow that would be the poverty, depression, and famine that would occur for the defeated, and even some of the victors, which would add hundreds of thousands more to the casualty list. Unfortunately, there was no way to let the outer scouts know what was coming, but if it helped them in their cause, it was all the better. The danger was that they would hit with the raid, discover the outer scouts, and put their lives in jeopardy. It all had to be done perfectly, or things could get far worse.
As the ships pulled out and prepared for warp speed, Serenity contacted Usagi and said, "I just wanted to say good-bye and good luck," which was true, but both knew the real reasons why: it could be the last time either see each other's face forever. They both did what they could to hold back the tears, though a couple slipped through. In the mean time CreCre and Ceres spoke, for both were feeling the same concern. They had become quite close since they discovered their connection to each other, and now there was the possibility of this being the last time they ever spoke. However, both were a bit more stoic about it, because both were military minded, and they both had that sense of duty, and they both understood the risks of their professions. Mission came first, and they both knew it. Billions relied on them being able to do their jobs, and that overrode instincts for them to try to protect themselves and each other. They ended the communication, and then Ceres turned on his heel, met up with Jupiter, and they both went into the war room with Endymion and his generals to discuss the war plans with the Moundian generals and the generals of Zoar on how the ground war should go, for, most certainly, there would be such fighting.
On the Gnarl home world, the outer scouts were being led deeper into the mine, and it was there that they came into a cavernous amphitheater. It was now filled with about 1,500 individuals of all kinds of beings, including many of the Gnarl. The leader of the raiding party called ahead to let the rebellion know of what was going on, and every member of the resistance arrived. Sitting on a throne was a brightly clad Gnarl that looked younger than some, and was not as hideous to those not used to seeing these creatures, but they still were what they were. The party took their seats, except for the Gnarl that led them, who then told the scouts to stand at the top, and then he went down to the one on the throne which sat on the stage. When he climbed the stairs up, the one seated seemed to brighten, stood, and announced, "Kruge!" and rushed to his arms. He took her in and said, "Bleetra, my princess, it is good to see you as well!"
They rubbed noses and seemed to be letting of some soft clicks and squeals as they did. She then said, "Who are these strangers you bring?"
Kruge looked back up and signaled for them to come down. The three took their time to advance as now every eye on the room was focused on the brightly clad humans advancing to the throne. They seemed to be warriors by their appearance, one having a sword strapped to her side, another with a mirror, and another with a staff that looked like a giant key. They approached the base of the stairs where two guards then flanked them, and escorted them to the top. Pluto, beginning to put it together, took a knee before Bleetra, recognizing her for what she was, after which the other two scouts followed suit. Pluto then said, "It is an honor to be treated with such hospitality, your highness."
Bleetra seemed to smile gently and nod. Even though the toothy smile would have seemed frightening to some if they had never seen such a being before, she yet seem to move and act with a kind grace befitting royalty, which seemed to make those rattling features seem natural and acceptable. Bleetra then said, "In truth, due to my connection to the throne, technically, you should be considered enemies. However, considering that I wish no longer to see my people be dragged from one conflict to the next, costing families and our world greatly for such exploits, and considering that the blow that was struck to your people was fierce, incurring an equally powerful wrath, we welcome you, and any solutions you could offer."
Pluto then asked, "Then, Iassume you wish not this war?"
"I wish to see it ended before it starts," Bleetra responded, "Is it too late for that?"
"Sadly, if who I assume to be your mother has acted like I fear," responded Pluto, "then it is not only our system that is after your people. There are at least two star systems in line with it, and the remnants of a third that want revenge. I fear that conflict is inevitable. We wish it not, but you must understand: what happened cannot go without response. I am certain you would feel the same way if things were reversed."
Bleetra and Kruge both sighed and hung their heads a touch, and Bleetra then said, "Unfortunately, Iwould be forced to agree. However, could there be another way?"
"Perhaps we could aid you,"answered Neptune, "What is your goal?"
"We are slowly building a resistance,"responded Kruge, "Once it is big enough, and we can make enough of a blow to her majesty's forces, we could force her to sue for peace."
Bleetra then added, "Do understand that that is my mother," (which confirmed the suspicions of the outer scouts,) "I wish to avoid having to do her harm, lest it look like Itried to murder her and take the throne for myself. Yet, I cannot stand for her actions anymore. The vengeance of two generations is enough. She has to stop mourning. Father taught me and my siblings to be better than that. He did all he could to instill in us the kind of love that great-grandmother had for people, and to rule wisely, because power has to be used responsibly, not the way mother does it."
Uranus rubbed her chin and she said, "Hmm...a bloodless coup...could it be done?"
Pluto then said, "What would have to happen is to take her alive and make her face war crimes. At that, it would not be Bleetra trying to snatch her throne, but the will of the Gnarl that would speak."
"Such a tribunal would have to involve all those that had been wronged," added Kruge.
"So it would be," respondedNeptune, "and it would have to be just. That way none could gainsay the actions taken."
Bleetra, who had now retaken her seat, pondered this, and then said, "So, where do we go from here?"
"Well, let me ask you,"stated Pluto, "How trained is this crew?"
"Not as well as we would like," stated Kruge.
"Then, if we can get the time and space," stated Pluto, "I want to bring one of our specialists here-Sailor Olympia-and she can instruct them in a crash course of small arms and two fighting forms. One is called Krav Maga, used by our special forces, and one called MCMAP-the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. Both are deadly, and they can instruct them enough to where they could stand."
"Okay, but where would it go from there?" asked Bleetra.
"It goes into guerilla warfare," said Uranus, "What we can teach can give even a small force like this the fighting force of an entire corps of soldiers. In time, you can break down a whole government, and even gain allies as you go. Being that some of you are slaves in the houses of the foe, they would not know that they nurture a viper in their bosoms."
Pluto then said, "I now go back to our world to explain our position, and bring back the one that can teach with us."
The pair looked askance at this, but Pluto said, "My methods of travel are far beyond any normal person. Trust me on that."
With that, a swirling pink cloud formed above them, and Pluto arose into it and vanished.
Back on Earth, the game plan was being shaped. The Moundian general reminded everyone that they would have to lure them into a battle ground of their choosing. He then asked,"Where would be the best place to meet for a ground assault?"
Endymion thought for amoment, and he then said, "It would be on our world's moon. If we can convince them of some importance to this, they may skip some objectives and come for that first. Truth is, they would more than likely try to take some smaller gains as they approached the middle of the fight as leverage, and to weaken you."
Venus then chimed in and said, "We can do a fighting withdrawal. We can meet the incoming fleet, hit them, move back, and keep them so occupied that they would not care to fight."
The Zoar general stroked the base of his beak, and then said, "That may still not prevent them from trying to invade some of the inhabited areas."
Ceres then said, "Then what we may have to do is put the bulk of the army on our Moon here, and then put at leas a division on what they may consider strategic targets, reinforced by each world's militia that already exists there."
The Moundian general then said, "Leave that part to us. The amount that we can contribute will be more than their puny minds could grasp."
"What about your home system?" asked Endymion, "You can't leave yourselves defenseless, can you?"
"Not unless you can give the enemy incentive to come after you," came a voice out of nowhere.
Everyone wheeled around ready to fight, and then stopped when they realized that it was Pluto who had just newly arrived. Endymion quickly said, "Everyone, its okay: she's the head of the counterintelligence. I assume that you have some news for us, commander?"
"Indeed I do," responded Pluto, "We have contacted aresistance movement led by the crown princess herself and her lover. I have come to retrieve petty officer Olympia and to put her charge of training the group that size about a battalion. What do you have planned?"
"We are planning a raid," responded the king, "It won't do much damage, but it should shake them up psychologically."
"Good," said Pluto, "I'll get the chief and then go back and let them know what is coming. What is the timetable?"
"It will take about five days, but expect it," said Venus.
"Then with your leave, my liege?" asked Pluto.
Endymion nodded and Pluto took off. Ceres then said, "It looks like we may make this short work if they can hit internally."
"Let us hope so," said the Zoar general grimly, "Let us hope so."
Pluto returned with Olympia as if she had never left, and it was then that Pluto informed the princess of what was coming. Both she and Kruge looked wide-eyed and said, "No one has ever tried that and lived to tell about it, much less breach our atmosphere and hit us, save for what your crew had done. Mother and father are still reeling over that one. Another blow like that would absolutely call for a full invasion of your home world."
"That is exactly upon what we bank," said Pluto, "If we can lure them into a trap, we can end this war quickly."
"Is that when you would invade?" asked Kruge.
"We have the Marines for that, and whatever else our allies can add," stated Pluto.
Bleetra pondered this, and she said, "Then we can work from here and ready for the invasion."
Pluto smiled and said, "Now you're getting it."
Bleetra smiled with her and said, "Give me time: I can work over mother. I can have her running in circles."
"Then let's get the training going," said Olympia, "The raid happens in five days."
The vessels approached their targets, extremely fortunate that they did not encounter Gnarl ships in the process. Soon, they were at the spot for the launch. They were at the extreme range for them to get there and back safely, meaning that it would have to go off without a hitch. They set their course so that they could use the star around which their target orbited to mask their movements, and then go in hard and fast, hit the points that would get the most attention, and then get out of Dodge. The intelligence that had been collected gave them good targets to hit, and they were load for bear. The newly formed Moon Rabbit squadron then flung themselves into the deep of space at breakneck speed, each one with locked jaws and a serious look on their faces. Each bomb had a name on it: for Tanaka...for Mufasa...for Hank...for Francine...and other such things, along with, "Remember Nekonia," as a battle cry, as well as, "Remember Princess Saturn!"
This was not just a military strike, it was personal. Along with them was the remainder of the fighter pilots of the ill-fated defense of their home world, Nekonians all. They wanted a piece of the action, and neither crowned head was going to deny them this. However, as they approached, probing satellites began to detect their approach, and Usagi gave the order to destroy them. They knew that they had been detected coming in, yet, by destroying them, it still kept them in the dark against what approached.
Meanwhile, an alert came into the throne room about the destroyed probes. Immediately, Squila shouted, "They invade already? That is impossible! We hit them with enough force to cripple them for some time!"
Bleetra was present for this, sitting on her own throne, as she said, "Dear mother, you have to be right. I mean, an invasion at this point has to be impossible for them."
Squila looked at her out of the corner of her eye, wondering why she suddenly spoke. Up to this point, she had not been involved much with royal affairs, and now she was being seen more, especially those past few days. This made her suspicious more than normal about her daughter who had kept her distance all those years. She wondered just how much her weakling husband had corrupted her, but now there was a chance to correct that. Still, she had to be watched. She said to her daughter, "Well, look who is taking an interest in politics all of a sudden."
"Mother, are we not at war?" she said, "This is my home as much as it is yours, and I feel it is time that I stopped sitting back and got involved. We must all do our part. One thing is not to overreact over every small thing."
"For some reason, I don't trust you," answered Squila,"Nonetheless, you might be right. If it is something, it can't be all that big. The standard patrols should be able to take care of it."
"/You should hope so,/" thought Bleetra, "because you may have opened up a can of 'Tail Stomp' bigger than you can handle."
Quickly regaining their game plan, they moved in. They were shocked to see only what would have been considered normal patrols, for the most part, moving around. Indeed, they did seem to move about like they were looking for something, but they were not sure what. They had no idea of the internal hand that was aiding them. As they were about to come out of the place where they could have avoided detection, Vesta wondered what was to happen next. They did not want to break radio silence, but, because they had worked together for so long, it seemed Usagi had read her mind. She transmitted in code and in text, "When we come out in the open, hit full impulse power and double front on the shields. We are going to plunge straight in. Don't worry about a rear attack, because we should be into our targets before they know it. Once past the atmosphere, return to normal shielding, and then hit them hard and then get out of there."
They watched the scanners that would let them know when they would be able to be seen, and counted it down...4...3...2...1... "PUNCH IT!" shouted Usagi over the radios, knowing that radio silence was needless now, and they hit the after burners and moved in swiftly. They had safely entered the atmosphere before the Gnarl could react...just what they were hoping for. Fighters were scrambling in both space and on the ground, but the squadron was screaming towards their targets and over them already. With flash and fire the bombs struck as the strafed targets simultaneously. They then quickly diverted course and began to head out. That was when they met the resistance.
In the throne room, there was chaos. Reports were coming in from all around that a small fighter-bomber force had rushed in, hit targets, and were attempting to flee. The queen, now enraged, wanted to know how they managed to slip in without being seen. It was then she was informed that, because of the smallness of the force, they were not looking, because they were expecting something bigger. However, she was being told that they were now being engaged, and that they would not escape. All she could do now was just sit on her throne and seethe.
Outside, the fight was hard, and about half the squadron was being chewed up before they could get away. However, five craft were being cornered, and there seemed to be too many of them. "PallaPalla thinks were dead!" screamed the pilot of one.
"Just stick with your wingmen," shouted Usagi, "We'll get out of this!"
However, she was not sure just how true her words were as she was being hit on her wings and on the chassis. Nothing vital had been hit yet; however, she knew it was only a matter of time. They were over land now, and in succession, each one of them took disabling blows, and the command was given to punch out. They managed to chute safely, only to be captured on landing. The one in charge radioed in to say that they had prisoners. The queen ordered them to be brought to the throne room to have the satisfaction of executing them herself. Bleetra cringed, but she knew she had to do something. However, any movements to leave the room at that point might mean detection and instant suspicion. She would have to let it play out a bit. "PallaPalla scared," said Pallus, but Juno said, "Don't worry, we're worth more to them alive."
"At least until the queen has her fill of you," snarled one of the guards, who punctuated that with a shove to the back and a, "Get moving!"
In space, the remainder of the squadron was heading back with fighters and some ships in hot pursuit. They Gnarl admiral figured that they had to have support coming from somewhere, and he knew they could lead him to abigger prize. Sure enough, the fighters were heading to two large vessels. Oddly enough, the captain of one ship, (who had been in on the Nekonian invasion,) recognized one of the ships, and he said, "Well, look who is back from the dead! Let's put her back to the dead!"
As soon as the Gnarl vessels were spotted coming, anti-fighter fire was spilling out everywhere while batteries on both vessels opened up on the approaching ships. This was only to keep them at bay while the fighters boarded. Once on, they did an about face and warped out of there to the rendezvous area. Hopefully, they would fall for the trap. Meanwhile, on the carrier, there were questions about the missing commander and her escorts. There was a question as to whether or not let Earth know what had happened. Indeed, all the fighters did was follow normal protocol, because, in that situation, it was understood that the princess shared the risk and she was just as the others. However, the captain of the Luna said, "No, don't say anything yet. Remember: they are also sailor scouts. If I know the princess, she and her four are going to spank them hard! Besides, the outer scouts are there, and they should be able to help. Let us wait until we know about what happened to them from the outer scouts, and we only say something if needed. We cannot let the queen get upset and overreact. It would wreck everything."
As this was happening, the Gnarl commanders gave the command to pursue, and walked right into it. There was confusion on the other vessel's part, trying to react to the sudden jump in ships, and that was just what the Terrans awaited. The fighters were then re-launched and attacked. This was coupled as the ships began their attack. It was over in short order, and they could say that the raid was successful, but the captain of the /Chronos/was not willing to concede that until they knew that the princess and the Amazoness Quartet were safe.
Soon, the five were standing before Squila as she seethed and paced before them in orgasmic delight. "Never in our history has anything like what you did ever been done," she snarled, "For that, your entire race shall be wiped out! However, we are going to start with you!"
Cameras were now focused on them, and the queen announced to them that they would be transmitting live their execution. Squila then said,"Behold, you silly Terrans what you have brought onto yourselves! Your silly raid shall be avenged, starting with them. They are guilty of many crimes against us, and now they are about to face their rewards! Bring in the squad!"
She stepped back to her throne as the execution team came in, getting ready to blast them all. Yet, Usagi had a grin on her face, looking right at Squila. All Squila said was, "Defiant until the end, are you?"
"Who says this is the end?" responded Usagi, as she reached under her top for the scepter she hid there. Because her hands were tied behind her back, it made it easy to reach this. Before the guard who spotted it could say anything, Usagi shouted, "LUNAR CANDY HEART ATTACK!"
The colored balls went everywhere and exploded around the guards and the execution squad. Even Squila was getting some of it, and screeched loud enough and high enough to shatter glass. In the confusion, the five loosed their bonds, and they started their unique attacks as well...the flying balls, the plants, the fauna around being called in to attack, and the hand-to-hand strikes. Usagi loved it, knowing that this was going back to her mother, and she knew it would embolden her to strike hard herself. In the chaos, a guiding hand came to them and said, "Follow me if you want to live."
It was Kruge, with the princess right behind, and the five were not about to question it. If they meant harm, the five knew they could handle it. Once the dust settled, Squila was beyond rage so much, no dictionary in the galaxy had a word that could match how she felt. She screamed, "I WANT A FULL INVASION OF THEIR HOME...NOW!!! MAKE THEM EXTINCT!"
As they five headed down the hall with their liberators, Usagi smiled, knowing that they played right into her mother's hands. This indeed would be a short war!