"Beware the ides of March..." Julius Caesar
Serenity watched the whole thing unfold. At the first, she was about to faint, but then she watched Usagi pull out the wand, and smiled. She knew that the Gnarl was about to get a great surprise. Indeed, chaos spread, and in the smoke, she watched the five slipping out with what appeared to be two of their own. She could only assume that it was the resistance she had been told about, and with seven scouts, and a SEAL amongst them, they knew things were going to get rough.
Meanwhile, in the underground tunnels of the resistance, the five were being taken to safety. Soon, they were in a general recreation area, and Kurge called for Bleetra and the scouts to enter. "Your highness," said, Kruge, "we have rescued them safe and sound."
The five were quickly activating the universal translators on their flight suits just aBleetra entered with the outer scouts. The three immediately bowed themselves and said, "Your highness; we are so glad you are safe! How was the raid?"
"I am sure it had the effect we wanted," said Usagi, "But we lost half the pilots in the raid."
She looked a bit saddened, and she then said, "If this is war, I don't like it."
"I would certainly hope so, your highness!" said Pluto, "I am glad it is so horrible, or else it would happen far more often than anyone would care for."
Ceres put her hand on Usagi's shoulder and said, "Ma'am, they knew the risks, and talking to them, every one of them were more than willing to do what they did. They considered it an honor."
Bleetra watched the conversation and said, "You are a princess?"
"She is Queen Serenity's daughter," said Juno, and Bleetra said, "Well, it's a good thing that mother didn't know that, or she would have had one huge bargaining chip!"
They all looked at Bleetra and said, "That was your mother?"
"Mother has long been overstepping herself," answered Bleetra, "She needs to be stopped."
The five looked at each other, then began to smile, and then began to get devious looks on their faces. Knowing that the outer scouts were there meant that they had met the resistance and that they must have had something grand schemed. Kruge then said, "Your help would be much welcomed."
Vesta said with a nasty grin, "You couldn't stop us from doing so!"
Squila, after regaining what was left of her composure, called in all her military leaders into the war room to hear what they had planned. By this time, Bleetra had returned. She went in, considering that she had said that she felt she needed to be more involved with things considering the situation. Squila said, "I want this to be a complete victory! I do not want anything left behind that even indicates that their species ever existed! Make everything uninhabitable, and we shall use that as a memorial against all that would dare to oppose us! Now, what do we know?"
"Well, it is fortunate for us that they dictated the terms to us," said the navy admiral,"We told them that there would be no quarter if they would not capitulate, and they fairly well said that they would do the same thing to us by blowing up the ship we sent to deliver the message."
"Therefore, we are justified?" asked the queen, knowing the answer.
"We are most certainly," was the admiral's response. She then asked, "What else do we know?"
"They have afleet with strong weapons...three times more powerful than our own from what our data shows,"
"But our fleet is three times bigger," said the queen, "This puts things on an even pegging."
"Yet, from our first major fight with them," responded the admiral, "we know that they are new at space warfare, because, though they adjusted quickly, their inexperience showed through. We can clearly use that to our advantage. However, there is the issue of their cloaked ships. Even though we have discovered there is astrong neutron surge whenever one is approaching, but we have to be watching for it, and even then, it is not very easy to detect. Still, we can take them, but it will be at a cost."
Squila was chewing on this, and then she said, "What about these worlds that have claimed alliance with them?"
"They are arogue factor, your majesty," he answered, "We have no information on that."
She now did not seem too happy, and she looked at them out of the corner of her eye and said,"And just how long will it take to assess that?"
Silence was her response. She was now getting more angry, because she wanted to strike right away, and every day that passed she knew they would be gearing up for the fight. Finally, the intelligence chief said, "About two months."
It seemed like she was ready to snap off the handles on her throne when she heard that, but she calmed herself and said, "Then send out the people that we need to get that information. 'As soon as possible' will not be fast enough!"
"They are as good as gone," was his response, and it was then the army general spoke up and said, "I would say, though, that the ground war may not be that easy to execute."
"How so?" asked Squila in growing frustration.
"We don't know about their army," he answered, "But I do know that they have two kinds of ground forces on Nekonia, and they were fearsome fighters. They had absolutely no back up in them. Each one seemed to fight as if they were three, and they seemed to be as proficient hand-to-hand as they were with weapons. Indeed, Iwould not think that they are a large force-maybe a couple of corps-because of the fact that there would only be so much room for troops on ships, and I don't think they are trained like we are. Our crews are just as proficient as ground fighters are as they are in naval operations. Still, they could escort army forces, but I think they would be more content to use those army forces for home defense. That could work for us in that we can have our transports filled with our standard troops and put the ships at 50% strength once the naval side of the fight is won. We can send them down as a reserve attack force to put the finishing touches on the fight."
"In the meantime, your majesty," added the admiral, "What we can to is to probe and skirmish...we can go out and find whatever patrols there are and engage them wherever we can. By doing so, we can learn if they have learned, and how quickly they can adapt to things. The time they can use to prepare, so can we."
Despite her frustration, she let it go and said, "Okay, make it so."
She then turned to her daughter and said, "Stay with me, child, and you will learn much."
Bleetra nodded, knowing her mother had no idea just how much she was learning.
Bleetra went back and relayed everything to the scouts. Pluto then had the information fed back to Earth, and Pluto said that the asteroid scouts were going to stay and help wreak havoc with the rest. However, Serenity insisted that Usagi be returned to her. This, Usagi wanted to fight. "But you have a chance to get out of this, baby!" begged Serenity, "I can't lose you!"
"Mom!" responded Usagi in frustration, "We've been over this before!"
"Your highness, in this case, she may have a point," added Pluto, "If they knew who you were, they might have used you as a hostage or something along those lines. There is so much risk having the heir to the throne constantly on the front lines!"
"We can handle it, sis!" chirped CreCre, "Get yourself some rest!"
"You always look out for your wingmen!" snapped Usagi, "You know that. Besides, we work better together, and that's not just with flying! We fight as a squad of scouts."
"We are also your personal protection," said Juno in frustration, "And as your core of bodyguards, we insist you go back!"
Usagi pondered this for a minute, and then she said, "That would mean you would go back as well, because, after all, you are my personal protection, as you have stated."
"But, we're needed here!" responded Pallus, "PallaPalla knows we can make them squeal!"
"Then, where you go I go, and vice versa," responded Usagi.
She had a point, and it was a hard one to argue. After some thought, Uranus piped up and said,"Your majesty, Neptune and I shall add an extra element of protection. If anything happens to her, let it fall on us."
Pluto was a bit surprised to see her reaction, but not by much, because she knew Uranus'attitude sometimes, and such risky behavior was a part of her nature. Pluto said, "Then, your majesty, I do believe that your daughter will be in good hands. Leave it to us. Besides, she is gaining valuable experience in this should, the fates forbid, something happen to you, and she then must take over the throne. Fear not."
"It's not that, it's just..." she stopped and then she said, "Well, the truth is, with all this talk about scout actions and such, I only wish I could be with you again as Sailor Moon. It has been so long."
Neptune chuckled and said, "That is so interesting. At one time, you would have been so reluctant to fight."
"At one time, Iwas teenage ditz bun-head with no maturity, and no understanding of the need Ifilled," answered Serenity.
"And this differs from..." said Uranus, letting that one dangle. Serenity began to get red in the face and said, "Hey, Mars is bad enough!"
They all laughed and said, "Now, that's our Sailor Moon!" to which Pluto added, "Perhaps, one day, it can happen. Who knows, depending on how things go, you may get that chance."
Pluto then began to look around and said, "I must close this time stream, for I cannot hold it open much longer. Princess, are you staying?"
Usagi nodded and then blew a kiss to her mother, saying, "Don't worry, we're going to make them hurt: for Saturn!"
Serenity nodded, and the stream closed. Even though she knew her daughter was in good hands, the mother bear in her still was a bit scared. She even felt a bit nauseous, but she wrote it off to nerves, and said a little prayer for her Usagi...her Chibiusa.
The next two months were interesting for the Gnarl, and their grand plans of terror, hit and run, and knowing what the enemy was scheming always seemed to be falling short of what they planned. It seemed like the foe had to be getting jump on them, and Squila could not figure it out, nor could her generals, though it should have been obvious that it had to be something from the inside. The foe was all around her, but the enemy had no face, and time was running short. In space, patrols that were supposed to be trying to find the foe always seemed to be the ones hunted instead of the other way around. Sometimes, it was those cursed CT cruisers. They had become good at detecting the neutron surges, but before they could react, they were being hit from all sides. It was as if the enemy knew that was that for which they looked. They were always seeming to lose up to half of the patrol in the attacks before they could flee, while the enemy only took light casualties, if any at all. They could not blink, lest they found themselves the ones invaded, instead of the other way around. In fact, the way things were going, they feared that they were the ones to be invaded before they could act themselves. As the months passed, indeed, the patterns of a fifth column were showing themselves.
On their own world, the Gnarl military and industry were constantly being attacked, and the size of the attack kept getting bigger and bigger as time passed. What was odder was the fact that the industry that was being hit was only military oriented-it never seemed to affect the industry of the common people, as if whoever was doing it did not want to see the common folk hurt in any way. They even waited for factories to be closed, but struck unpredictably during the off times so that they could not be detected. What they did not know was that the resistance, led by the sailor scouts, was sabotaging everywhere they went, taking down soldiers, blowing up ammo dumps, doing whatever they could to keep things jumping planet side to make it hard to put their full focus on space. Furthermore, the princess was taking detailed notes of every meeting she attended, and giving over the information. However, to avoid detection, what was attacked and stopped was not done in an order of when the events they attacked happened. That meant they would have to let one thing go or another, because, if they went right down the line of things, Bleetra would have been detected right away. Of all of them, she was the one most vulnerable, because she was the one that they least expected to be of the fifth column. Yet, as time passed, Squila was starting to put it together, (she did not become the queen by being stupid.) As she looked around, she began to suspect a couple of generals, a lower ranked admiral, and even her own daughter, knowing what her husband might have been teaching her kids. She knew he had no spine, and was too soft on things. She knew that he might be able to corrupt what she was trying to accomplish, so she was forced to suspect her, though she put her at the bottom of the list.
Nonetheless, she started to prepare for the invasion. Yet, as she did, she also began to try to lay a trap. She began to lay a plan for a major patrol to go near the central system of their enemy as a test run to the invasion, to get a better idea of how to go about it. Of course, such was not really needed. Yet, if it presented an opportunity for her enemy to counterstrike, whoever was foiling her from within would jump at the chance to get such information to the foe. Thus, she came up with three different schemes and presented them in such afashion as to where only one of the three military heads would be present to see the plan, and her own daughter. The plan was this: if the enemy reacted in such a fashion as to reflect only one of the plans, she had her spy. Of course, there was no intent of actually going through with any of them, but that was the whole point. If, however, the enemy did not react, but began to bolster their position against the invasion plans already in place, she would have no other choice than to finger her own daughter. The reason was that she knew her daughter was clever enough to see a trap when she sees three different plans laid out. She would tell her sources that the real plan goes forward, and that they should prepare. It would be a shame to see her own daughter killed for treason, but Bleetra was not her only daughter. She had a younger one about five solar cycles old, and she knew that she could undo any damage her husband had done and raise her right. It would be no great loss.
On Earth, other things were stirring. The spells of nausea had begun to get worse, and she was late. The "time of women" was soon to be upon her again, and if she missed again, then there was little doubt of what was going on. Sure enough, the time had come and gone, and now she was worried. With that, she sought out Mercury. Within a day, a heavily escorted shuttle went to the castle on the planet Mercury where the small colony the planet's namesake had rule for apersonal examination.
Before all the terraforming took place, Mercury was one of the most inhospitable places in the system, and was a planet as such that they knew would never take to terraforming. It was too close to the sun, yet, they found a way to put acolony there anyway. Princess Mercury's palace sat under a vast protective dome, yet much of the colony lived underground, and just deep enough to escape the scorching heat, but not so deep, that the planet's own core would heat in the same way. Thus, an artificial "world" was created there that could hold about 100,000 people, and there was even a small sea surrounding it, with artificial sunlight that cycled in a natural fashion as to simulate day and night. The water was plenteous to aid in the cooling of the colony, which also pleased the princess, because she was still an avid swimmer. Serenity always loved going there when she could, because Mercury kept an interesting collection of ocean life in the water. They would often take submersible craft for the mere purpose of observing all that life together as they socialized. However, this day, it was more business than anything else. The craft entered the dome through a special lock and taken straight to the castle. Once there, Mercury met Serenity with a smile, wearing medical clothes instead of her fine blue gowns that she normally wore. They hugged, and Mercury escorted her to the examination room. After a short time, Mercury looked over the sheets to her dear friend with a big grin on her face, saying, "Congratulations: you are going to be a mother again!"
Serenity was ecstatic. Mercury quickly came around to her side and they embraced. "Just think," said Mercury, "In the midst of a war, and the loss of a dear friend, fate saw fit to allow a blessed life to come through you!"
Serenity sighed and said, "If only it could be her, Ami, (using her friends old name,) if only it could be her."
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