Author's Notes: So, this story is something of a side-project for me, a fic I want to work on alongside my big Gundam Wing/Gundam Seed saga. If you're a fan of that saga, there's no need to fret; I'm still working on that, and this fic will not detract from that in the least. It's just a little change of pace for me, something more lighthearted if you will, though there will still be plenty of serious moments as well.
This story borrows elements from both the original Tenchi Muyo! Series and Tenchi Muyo! Tenchi Universe. If you're a fan of both then I'm sure you'll enjoy sorting them out. I'm also playing pretty fast and loose with other parts of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise, and some pretty major figures will be missing entirely, including Tenchi Masaki! There's your warning; if you're a hardcore fan of the franchise who can't stand any alterations whatsoever, this ain't the fic for you.
Well, that's all for now. Enjoy!
The Pirate's Soldier
Chapter One: No Need For A Battle!
September 2nd, A.C. 198
As far as planetary systems go, Sol was really quite the backwater in the eyes of the rest of the galaxy. It had one inhabited planet with an abundance of life, including one confirmed sentient species, but said species was laughably primitive. It hadn't developed faster than light travel, it had only industrialized to the point of constructing orbital habitats and making a colonization effort at the fourth planet from the sun and it was blissfully unaware of the fact that it was far from alone in the universe. As such the system received minimal traffic, at most the occasional transport or personal shuttle passing through on the way to a civilized outpost in another part of this dead-end section of the galaxy.
In other words, it was as good a place as any for an outlaw to lay low for a while.
That had been Ryoko's plan, but things hadn't exactly panned out that way. Standing at the center of Ryo-Ohki's bridge, her hands furiously working the controls, the beautiful space pirate was in the middle of a running firefight. The bangs of her long, wild turquoise hair were matted with sweat against her brow while her fierce amber eyes were narrowed in concentration. Wearing a white, orange, and black tunic that gave a tantalizing view of her ample bosom along with red leggings that clung tightly to her skin, she was a goddess of a woman who just so happened to be one of the most wanted criminals in the universe.
"Damn it, she's persistent!" she snarled as her ship shuddered under an impact, "Come on, Ryo-Ohki, let's kick her ass!"
"Meow!" her sentient ship replied enthusiastically as it returned fire with a barrage of crimson energy.
Her ship was a very unusual vessel to say the least. Living starships weren't exactly unheard of in the wider galaxy; in fact they were quite common with the forces of the Empire of Jurai. However, even by those standards Ryo-Ohki was something of an oddball. Viewed from the outside the ship had a very crystalline appearance, comprised of a central spherical red core which was mounted in a light gray cradle of interlocking spires. Four black crystal spines came out of the ship in an X-array, bending upward and outward at a sharp angle. From the bottom of the ship protruded more black spines, with one large central crystal pointing straight down and for smaller ones forming another X-array around it.
The ship she was facing off against was a stark contrast to her sharp and angular design. One of the armed yachts used exclusively by members of Jurai nobility and the royal family, the Ryu-Oh had a very elegant appearance. Its core section was a blue sphere with a red frame that attached it to the broader vessel. The ship's larger frame was composed of a special wooden material that gave the vessel a more organic appearance than Ryo-Ohki, with graceful curves and spires that belied her formidable arsenal of energy cannons, which were spitting a rain of blue fire at Ryoko as she continued her flight across the Sol System.
What the hell's her deal?, she thought, All I did was rob one of the smaller branches of the Bank of Jurai. I mean jeeze, it's not like I knocked over the royal family's private treasury or anything! Couldn't she just let the Galaxy Police chase after me? If she hadn't been on that damn planet when I made my raid that's how things would've gone down and I'd already be in the clear!
'She' was none other than the Empire of Jurai's first crown princess, Ayeka Masaki Jurai. This wasn't the first time she and Ryoko had tangled like this; over the centuries the two of them had clashed numerous times and had formed a fierce rivalry, although in Ryoko's opinion the spoiled royal wasn't as tough as the bounty hunter Nagi, regardless of how much firepower the princess could bring to a battle.
"Speak of the devil," Ryoko muttered as the main screen shifted, revealing her pursuer's face.
Purple really seemed to be a major theme with the crown princess; her hair, tied back into a set of twin tails that fell well past her waist, was that color, and her kimono was also varying shades of it. There was a familiar smug look in her red eyes, and the princess had an arrogant smirk on her face.
"Really, Ryoko, how long do you insist on this chase?" she said with a laugh, "Surrender peacefully and I just might convince the magistrate to let you off with only a century of prison time!"
"Shove it up your ass, bitch!" Ryoko growled, "The last person I'll ever surrender to is you!"
Ayeka grinned. "Oh, I was really hoping you'd say that. Taking you down the hard way will be so much more satisfying!"
"Bring it on, you spoiled brat!" Ryoko defiantly yelled before cutting the connection.
Crimson and azure fire flew between the two vessels as they passed by the largest gas giant in the system. When it came to firepower the two ships were about even, while Ryo-Ohki had an edge in agility. However, that was balanced out by the Ryu-Oh's tougher defenses; Royal Treeships were famous for their ability to take punishment and keep on fighting.
"Gun it, Ryo-Ohki!" she ordered, "We'll lose her in the system's asteroid belt!"
"Meeooww!" her ship replied.
The ship picked up speed, still pouring crimson beams back at the Ryo-Oh but more focused on getting into the Sol System's asteroid belt to find shelter and rest up a bit. This running battle had been going on for a while now and Ryoko knew that Ryo-Ohki needed a break.
"Hang in there, girl," she said, gently stroking one of the control surfaces like she was petting a cat, "You can do this! Once we lose her we'll drop in on that third planet and I'll get you all the food you can eat!"
A joyful "Meow!" rang out, and the ship went even faster as it rushed towards the asteroid belt. Ryoko smiled, quite pleased at her knowledge of her own ship and partner in crime; nothing motivated Ryo-Ohki quite like the promise of a big meal.
I know you, Ayeka, she thought, Once I drop out of sight eventually you'll get bored and fly back to your palace. Enjoy the chase while you can, bitch, because we're about to play hide-and-seek, and that's a game I know I'll win!
Attached to the top of the massive transport jet, which was straining its engines to fly as high as it could possibly go in Earth's atmosphere, was a blue and white mobile suit. A broad shield with a whip-like Heat Rod inside was mounted on the left shoulder, while on the right was a Mega Beam Cannon. When not in use the gun would rotate back and the mobile suit would then wield a violet beam saber. Two small Vulcan guns were imbedded in its head. On its back was a set of extremely powerful thrusters capable of reaching speeds that were capable of killing an insufficiently skilled pilot. Mounted over those engines was a large pack that held a pair of special booster rockets designed to help the mobile suit escape the Earth's gravity before detaching and burning up in the atmosphere. The machine, called the Tallgeese III, was one of the few mobile suits remaining in the Earth Sphere since the end of the Mariemaia Rebellion over a year and a half ago.
In the cockpit of the mobile suit was an 18 year-old man in a black flight suit and helmet. Beneath the helmet's visor his Prussian blue eyes were narrowed in concentration. He was very calm, with not a single bead of sweat on his forehead or in his thick brown hair despite the tense situation. His flight suit did not hide his athletic figure, toned by intense training and a life of combat. He'd grown a few inches in height over the year and a half since the Mariemaia Rebellion, but apart from that Heero Yuy had not changed much physically since then. As he prepared for the imminent launch the Preventers operative listened carefully as his immediate superior got him up to speed on what had instigated this mission.
"The two contacts just passed by Mars about ten minutes ago," said Sally Po, "They're moving incredibly fast, and all the available data indicates they'll be hitting Earth-orbit within the next few minutes."
Heero shook his head. "That's not possible. No ship can move that fast."
The Preventers agent, codenamed Water, sighed. Like Heero, the lovely veteran soldier hadn't changed much over the past year and a half. Her blonde-brown hair still fell on either side of her face in long, flowing curls. She had warm dark blue eyes, and while they were quite serious right now under casual circumstances they would be warm and gentle.
"No ship that you or I know of can move that fast," said Sally, "but these aren't ships that you or I would recognize, Heero."
"You mentioned possible weapons fire earlier," said Heero, "Do we have a confirmation on that?"
Sally nodded. "We've got some new images from our observation probes. Check this out."
Heero's eyes narrowed as Sally sent him the pictures. There were clear images of the two contacts, both unlike any vessel the Gundam Pilot had ever seen before. Streams of blue and red energy crisscrossed the space between the two ships; they were engaged in open battle.
"I don't suppose we've got any official protocols for a situation like this, huh?" said Heero dryly.
Sally shook her head. "While both Preventers and the diplomatic services have come up with numerous contingencies and action plans in the event of extraterrestrial contact, none of them have involved two different parties arriving in our solar system while engaging each other in a running fight. At the rate they're moving their battle will soon be taking place in Earth orbit, and I don't need to tell you the kind of threat that sort of action would pose to the colonies."
Heero nodded. "I'll keep them safe, Sally."
Sally smiled. "I know you will, Heero. See if you can establish contact with the unknowns first. If you can't, do what you must to defend Earth and the colonies. We hardly want to start a war with someone that's able to travel between star systems, but we'll do what we must to protect our homes. You have full operational authority, Heero; act as you see fit."
"Roger that," Heero.
"Good luck, Zero," said Sally, referring to him by his Preventer codename, "Water, out."
As soon as Sally disappeared from the screen another voice came over the cockpit speakers, this time from the plane that was carrying him.
"We'll reach the launch point in thirty seconds," said Maria Harley, the Preventers pilot, "Stand by, Zero."
"Understood," said Heero, steeling himself for the launch.
A timer appeared at the bottom right corner of the main monitor, rapidly counting down to the launch time. Heero used the time available to run through one final quick check of the systems. Weapons, engines, sensors… everything seemed to check out.
So, thought Heero, I get to make first contact with an alien race, or possibly two… that's one for the history books, but it doesn't look like it'll be a friendly encounter. Tallgeese III is powerful, but for all I know I could be drastically outgunned. I'll just have to stay on my guard.
When the timer hit zero the plane's pilot contacted him again. "Green for launch!"
Heero nodded. "Zero, launching."
He hit a switch and the Tallgeese III detached from the plane. Heero gave the jet a moment to get clear before hitting another switch and igniting the booster rockets. The Gundam Pilot had braced himself but he was still thrown back in his seat by the incredible power of the boosters as the mobile suit rapidly ascended. His mobile suit shuddered around him but his monitors indicated that it was holding together.
Here we go, he thought as the blue sky above him began to darken as he got closer and closer to leaving the atmosphere all together, Soon I'll be back on the battlefield.
"Shit," Ryoko growled as Ryo-Ohki took another hit, "That bitch doesn't know when to quit!"
Taking cover in the asteroid belt had worked for a little while, but the Ryu-Oh had simply begun firing on every asteroid around it. A lucky salvo had taken out the one that Ryo-Ohki had been hiding behind, and Ryoko had once again taken flight. The running battle had continued through the asteroid belt for a while before Ryoko decided to take her chances with a breakout towards the third planet of the star system. If she could get there, she reasoned, she could go to ground and blend in with the local population long enough for Ayeka to lose patience and fly back to planet Jurai or some other part of the Empire.
Of course, first she had to make it down to the surface of the planet, and Jurai's crown princess would not make that easy on her. Ryo-Ohki and the Ryu-Oh had continued trading fire throughout their flight to Earth, and neither ship showed any sign of stopping yet. Ryoko would have to count on Ryo-Ohki's greater agility to escape, but so far she was having a hard time using that to her advantage.
"Meow!" cried her ship with concern.
"What's up, Ryo-Ohki?" asked Ryoko.
Ryo-Ohki wasn't hurt; she had a different cry for that. Looking up Ryoko saw several images flash across the screen, all of the wheel-shaped orbital habitats that were scattered around the planet.
"Oh, I get it," she said, "You're worried about us hitting one of them, right?"
"Meow!" Ryo-Ohki replied.
Ryoko smiled. "Don't worry about it. There's plenty of room between them and the planet. Besides, the planet's where I want to go anyway, not those giant wheels."
The ship shuddered again under another salvo, causing Ryoko to hiss. "Damn it! Thrash her, Ryo-Ohki!"
Her ship readily replied by sending a fresh hail of crimson beams towards her foe. Ryoko frantically tried to evade Ayeka's fire and find an opening to enter the Earth's atmosphere, but the crown princess refused to let up. The Juraian royal was relentless in her pursuit, and it was really getting on Ryoko's nerves.
"If you think I'll allow you to befoul an innocent world with your nefarious presence you are gravely mistaken!" shouted Ayeka, "I'll destroy you here and let your remains burn to cinders in the atmosphere!"
"Get off your high horse, you stuck up bitch!" yelled Ryoko.
She could talk tough, but privately Ryoko was getting worried. The Ryu-Oh looked no weaker now than when their battle had begun. Ryo-Ohki could still go at it for a while, but Ryoko knew that she really had to end this battle soon.
Crimson and azure fire continued to crisscross the space between the two combatants. As Ryo-Ohki shook from another hit Ryoko's eyes widened as a torrent of yellow energy suddenly ripped through the space between her and Ayeka.
"What the hell?" she cried.
Both Ryo-Ohki and the Ryu-Oh stopped firing. Ryoko focused on the screen as it shifted away from her immediate opponent and towards the source of the huge blast that had just passed between her and Ayeka.
What is that?, she thought.
It was a white and blue machine, shaped like a man but several times larger. A large cannon was mounted on its right shoulder, yellow energy still crackling around the barrel. She saw the opening of the gun begin to narrow down into a more compact configuration, but it was still raised and ready to fire. A large shield was mounted on the unit's left shoulder.
Suddenly a voice came over the speakers, calm and unmistakably male. "I don't know if any of you can understand me, but if you can I advise that you cease your battle at once."
Ryoko's eyes narrowed. "Just who the hell does this local think he is?"
"Meow!" said Ryo-Ohki
Ryoko raised an eyebrow. "What? What do you mean don't pick a fight with him? We can take him!"
"Meow!" cried Ryo-Ohki.
Ryoko looked out at the screen again, a devious smile coming to her face. "Oh, yeah! We can use him to help take out Ayeka!"
She made some quick adjustments on her console and directed her communications straight at the stranger.
"Oh, thank goodness you're here!" she said in her best damsel-in-distress impersonation, "Please, you have to help me! Save me from this witch!"
Sure enough the stranger replied, and this time Ryoko wanted to make sure she got a visual. A young man in a black flight suit and helmet appeared, but even through the visor she was struck by his piercing blue eyes and brown bangs.
Well now, she thought, He's actually kind of cute…
"You can understand me?" the stranger asked.
Ryoko nodded and smiled, putting her hands together in a pleading gesture so the pilot could see them. "Yes, I can! Please, you have to save me! I've been chased halfway across the galaxy by this tyrant! She's a vicious monster!"
Before she could take her ploy further she was interrupted by Ayeka. "What a pack of filthy lies! Whoever you are, sir, I'll have you know that I am an imperial princess chasing a wanted criminal!"
"Criminal?" said the stranger, "What is she charged with?"
Damn it, Ayeka, thought Ryoko, I'm not going to let you beat me that easily!
"Don't listen to her!" she cried, "All I did was speak out against her family's corruption! I wanted to expose the truth of how they rule us with an iron fist and how they oppress us and treat us like slaves! Her father's an evil dictator, and she's as brutal and ruthless as he is! The people starve and suffer in poverty while her family cares for nothing but their wealth and power!"
"How dare you sully the good name of the Jurai Royal Family!" Ayeka shouted, "I'll have you know that we have been nothing but benevolent to the citizens of the Empire! We have shown grace and charity throughout our borders! You are nothing more than a pirate and a thief who preys upon the helpless!"
"She's lying!" said Ryoko, shedding a tear for dramatic effect, "I was part of a group dedicated to overthrowing that pack of tyrants, but we were discovered. They crushed us without mercy and slaughtered almost everyone! I barely escaped with my life! Please, you have to give me asylum here!"
"Enough!" the stranger cut in, and Ryoko was surprised by just how strong his voice sounded, "I want both of you to hold your positions here and hold your fire! We'll sort this all out soon!"
"Sir, please!" cried Ryoko, "You have to let me come down to your planet! This witch will kill me if you make me stay up here with her!"
"No one is killing anyone here today!" the stranger replied.
Ryoko fought hard to suppress a smile; there was no way that Ayeka wouldn't react to someone ordering her around that wasn't another royal.
Come on, princess, she thought, Take the bait!
Sure enough, Ayeka took it hook, line, and sinker.
"You dare presume to command the crown princess of the House of Jurai?" she shouted, "I will not tolerate such impertinence! Stand aside while I bring this outlaw to justice or you will make yourself an enemy of the Empire!"
"Ryo-Ohki," Ryoko whispered, "Start taking us down towards the planet. Put all your spare power to our shields. Don't fire until I tell you to."
"Meow," her ship replied.
Turning back to the pilot on the screen, Ryoko feigned fright. "I'm so sorry, sir, but if I stay up here I know she'll execute me! I have to get down to the surface!"
"Don't move!" yelled the stranger.
"Ryoko, you coward!" Ayeka screeched, "I shall finish this here and now!"
The Ryu-Oh began moving forward and started firing again. This time the blue energy beams weren't solely focused on Ryo-Ohki; Ayeka was now firing on the white and blue machine as well. Ryoko was surprised to see the stranger move with incredible speed to evade the azure rain of death; whoever he was, he had skills.
"This is your last chance," said the stranger, "Stop this now or I will engage!"
"I will not obey the commands of a commoner, and certainly not one that would come to the aid of a galactic criminal!" Ayeka yelled, "In the name of the Empire of Jurai I will dispense justice today!"
Ryo-Ohki shuddered under the barrage, but Ryoko wouldn't return fire just yet. If she could get the stranger to defend her, then she would counter. His machine looked primitive, but the blast it had fired earlier was no joke; she could use that kind of artillery on her side right now.
She then saw the white and blue machine open fire with its rifle. Rather than a large blast like the one she'd seen earlier, though, the machine cut loose with a series of smaller shots. The beams were precise and all found their marks, but Ryoko knew it would take much more than that to take down the Ryu-Oh.
"Damn it, he's holding back!" Ryoko growled as her ship shook from another hit, "Okay, Ryo-Ohki, let her have it!"
"Meow!" cried her ship, and she opened up with a crimson barrage.
Once again red and blue beams crisscrossed the sky, this time with several yellow ones thrown into the mix as the stranger continued to attack Ayeka. It was frustrating to Ryoko that the stranger was still not cutting loose with another big blast like the one from before. What would it take to get this guy to bring out the heavy artillery?
As the fighting continued Ryo-Ohki continued to slowly fall back towards the planet. They hadn't hit the atmosphere yet, but the further they went the stronger the planet's gravitational pull became. Ryoko knew that both her ship and the Ryu-Oh would have little trouble with atmospheric reentry, but she didn't know if the white and blue machine would fare as well or if it would be forced to withdraw.
Her eyes narrowed as she saw the stranger pull back. For a moment she thought he was fleeing, but then she smiled as she saw the barrel of his main gun widen.
"About damn time!" she said, "Let's give him some cover, Ryo-Ohki!"
"Meow!" yelled her ship with enthusiasm.
Yellow and gold energy crackled around the barrel of the white and blue machine's gun while Ryoko continued to hammer Ayeka. A few seconds later the stranger opened fire in another blinding blast. Ryoko had to shield her eyes. For such a small machine it sure did pack a punch.
Did that get her?, she thought.
As the blast faded Ryoko was stunned to see that the Ryu-Oh was still intact. However, its bow section had been blown wide open. The edges of the great gash were charred black, while pieces of debris floated all around. Ryoko smiled; even Ayeka would have to back down after an attack like that.
"Pack it in, Ayeka!" she yelled triumphantly, "I've won this time!"
Ayeka's face appeared on the screen, and Ryoko was startled to realize that her taunt may have backfired. The princess looked furious, and apparently the last thing on her mind was backing down.
"Not a chance in hell, Ryoko!" she shouted, "Ryu-Oh may be damaged but it's still more than capable of bringing you down!"
"Meeoow!" cried Ryo-Ohki in alarm, and Ryoko's eyes widened as she saw Ayeka's ship increase its speed, charging right at her and continuing to fire despite its wound.
"You maniac!" yelled Ryoko as she returned fire, "What the hell are you doing?"
Ayeka laughed even as her ship continued to trade fire with Ryoko and the stranger. "What does it look like, Ryoko? Even damaged the Ryu-Oh is tougher than you or the meddler you've ensnared in your scheme! I'm going to drive you through the atmosphere and into the ground!"
"You're insane!" cried Ryoko.
"Hardly," Ayeka replied with a smirk that bordered on psychotic, "With the protection of Ryu-Oh I'll have no difficulty surviving this maneuver, and eventually my ship will recover to the point that I can leave this planet behind. You will not be so lucky, Ryoko! Hahahaha!"
"Damn it!" growled Ryoko, "Move it, Ryo-Ohki!"
Her ship cried in protest, and Ryoko realized that her earlier move to descend to the planet was now costing her; Ryo-Ohki was struggling against the planet's gravity well while still trading fire with the Ryu-Oh. Ayeka's ship was coming in hard and fast, its progress aided by the planet's gravity as she plunged forward.
Ryoko was so caught up in her own dilemma that she didn't even notice the stranger that had fired on the Ryu-Oh earlier take a hit.
The Tallgeese III shuddered as an azure beam hit its back. Checking his monitor, Heero's eyes narrowed as he saw the damage.
Damn it, he thought, She took out one of my engines!
He still had some level of control, but it wasn't enough to keep fighting like this. Caught in the Earth's gravitational pull, Heero knew that he would be pulled down to the planet, and while Tallgeese III was a good mobile suit it was no Gundam; its hull was only titanium. A descent like this would kill him unless he acted quickly.
As he fell he saw the strange vessel that had shot him continue to charge the equally strange vessel Heero had tried to stop it from fighting against. Both ships continued to trade fire right up until the torn and blackened bow of the charging ship rammed into the other one.
Amazingly, both ships held together. Cracks appeared in the hulls of both vessels but only around the impact points. By and large the ships remained intact as they continued their plunge toward Earth, their hulls beginning to glow red as they fell deeper into the atmosphere.
It was in that moment that Heero got what was probably one of the craziest ideas of his life.
It's a long shot, he thought, his eyes firm in concentration, but it's the only move I've got that gives me a chance in hell at survival.
He pushed his remaining engine as hard as it could go, rushing towards the black crystal-like vessel. His mobile suit shook violently as he fought for control, but Heero was able to stay on course and bring the Tallgeese III down onto the core section of the ship. Heero was thrown back in his seat by the impact, but his mobile suit held together.
The plan was simple; he would use the strange ship as a shield and ride it down through the atmosphere. Once they'd made it to a lower altitude Heero would leave the ship and bring the Tallgeese III down to the ground in a controlled crash. It was straightforward enough in theory, but keeping his damaged mobile suit on the black ship while the other vessel was pushing it down towards the surface and then getting the Tallgeese III off of the ship at just the right time after surviving reentry would not be easy.
The strange ship he had landed on began to glow orange and red from the heat as it fell deeper into the atmosphere. Its trembling began to increase dramatically, and Heero had to fight tooth and nail to keep the Tallgeese III atop its makeshift shield. The second vessel that had rammed the first towered nearby above him, likewise glowing from the heat but still intact and refusing to yield from its violent embrace with the crystalline ship.
Checking his sensors, Heero quickly tried to plot their trajectory. So far he appeared to be on track for a landing in Western Europe, but he needed to narrow it down further. If there was a major population center at the end of their path then he would have to find a way to protect it from the descending ships.
A few seconds later he breathed a sigh of relief. The computer told him that they would touch down in or around Lake Genval to the southeast of Brussels. It was a popular vacation area in the spring and summer but with fall rolling in the tourist traffic was down and there would be less chance of civilian casualties. Of course the lake was relatively small, and hitting it in an orbital drop would be the equivalent of hitting a very small bull's-eye from a very long distance. There were residences and towns in the surrounding region as well, so there was still the possibility of loss of innocent life. Still, it was definitely better than landing in a major urban area, let alone the capital of the ESUN.
He got on the radio and contacted his mission commander. "Sally, do you read me? Sally, respond!"
She appeared on his screen and nodded. "I can hear you, Heero. What the hell's going on up there?"
"You need to evacuate the Lake Genval area immediately!" said Heero, "We're coming in hot!"
"What are you talking about, Heero?" asked Sally.
"One of the ships rammed the other," said Heero, "I got hit in the crossfire. I'm riding one of them down as a heat shield. Our trajectory's the Lake Genval area. Clear it out!"
Sally nodded. "I'll do everything I can, but if you're doing atmospheric reentry it sounds like we don't have much time."
"I know," Heero replied, "I've got a backup plan if it looks like we're going to hit civilians, but I don't know if I can pull it off with the damage I've taken."
"Then let's hope your luck holds," said Sally, "We'll clear out the people the best we can and be ready for when you hit dirt-side. Sally, out."
As she disappeared from the screen another face took her place; that of the pilot of the spacecraft he had landed on. Atmospheric reentry after being shot at was hardly an appropriate time to be admiring female beauty, but Heero had to admit the turquoise-haired woman was striking. The screen didn't give him a good view of her body, but there was a fierce light in her amber eyes, and her hair was wild and free. If nothing else, Heero could tell that this was a woman who did not fear danger or adventure and did not consider herself bound by traditional society. She was a clear contrast from the purple-haired woman on the other ship that had claimed to be some sort of imperial princess. For an alien she was surprisingly human-looking, with the only real giveaway feature being her longer than average ears.
"Hey," said the woman, "What's the big idea with you landing on my ship?"
Not acting like a damsel-in-distress now, Heero mused, but that still doesn't tell me much.
"Blame the other ship," he said calmly, "They hit one of my engines. Riding you down through the atmosphere is my only chance for survival."
The woman sighed, and Heero was surprised to see her give him a wry smile. "Well, I guess I can't blame you for that. I gotta say, you're a real hotshot pilot, you know that?"
"So I've heard," Heero replied, "What's your name?"
Her smile grew a little. "Ryoko. Yours?"
"Heero Yuy," he replied, "Preventers agent codename Zero."
Ryoko nodded. "Not sure what to make of that last part, but if we survive this I take it you'll fill me in?"
"Perhaps," said Heero, "Let's just focus on the survival part for now."
Ryoko smirked. "Can't argue with that."
Heero nodded as the Tallgeese III and the ship it was on continued to shake as they descended towards the planet. "Welcome to Earth, Ryoko."
"Thank you," said Sally, trying to keep the exasperation from her voice, "I'll let you get to it."
Ending the call, she sighed in frustration. She was high up in the hierarchy of Preventers and was often considered to be Director Lady Une's unofficial second in command. Her authority was real, but it had limits, and one of the hard parts of her job was exerting that over local officials.
What is it with people?, she thought wearily, A member of the government's principle peacekeeping organization tells them to evacuate an area because objects are falling from orbit and they spend half the call questioning it and complaining about us being 'heavy-handed'? We're trying to save lives! Talk about a lack of appreciation…
Fortunately Lady Une had been the first person that Sally had informed of the rapidly developing situation and its dangers. The Preventers Director had given Sally her full, unconditional support and had been making calls alongside her. Wheels were in motion and people were being moved, but this was a very tight race against the clock.
Checking the monitor that was receiving data from Heero, Sally saw that he had just sent another update on the likely landing zone. The probability was now up to 53% that they would land in Lake Genval, and it looked like they would be closer to the western edge than the east.
That's about as good as we can hope for under the circumstances, she thought, I just hope Tallgeese III holds together. Hang in there, Heero!
Holding on to Ryo-Ohki's controls to keep herself upright, Ryoko frantically tried to break her ship free from Ryu-Oh. They'd passed through the upper atmosphere a while ago, and Ryoko could see one final layer of clouds coming up.
"Damn it!" she growled, "Come on, Ryo-Ohki! Let's shake her off!"
"Meow!" cried her ship in protest.
"Huh?" said Ryoko, "What do you mean we should stay like this?"
On the screen her ship showed her their current trajectory. If they kept going like this they would crash in the western part of a lake rather than on solid ground. It would be a softer impact and would have less of a chance of hurting people down below.
Ryoko sighed. "All right, fine. We'll do this your way, Ryo-Ohki."
Passing through the final cloud layer, Ryoko could make out the blurred features of the ground below. Squinting, she could barely see the lake Ryo-Ohki had shown her; it was much smaller than she had first thought.
"Hey," she said, "Are you sure we're going to hit that?"
"Meow!" her ship replied confidently.
Ryoko nodded. "Okay, I'll take your word for it. Looks like we're going for a swim!"
Continuing to watch the screen, she saw the surface rapidly approaching, with more details becoming visible the closer they got. She could make out some woodland areas, along with parks and some residential and commercial buildings along the side of the lake. Ryoko was glad they weren't landing in a major city, but it was still an area with people around, which meant it would be a real pain after the crash if they came to investigate.
She heard a loud noise coming from the top of her ship, and she saw Heero's machine take off. It was flying under the power of only one engine and it looked pretty shaky. Ryoko saw that the pilot she'd spoke to earlier appeared to be aiming for the lake; it seemed he wasn't confident about his ability to land his machine on solid ground after the damage that it had taken. At the rate they were going it looked like they would both hit the lake around the same time.
"Okay, Ryo-Ohki!" she yelled as they rapidly neared the surface, "Brace yourself!"
The ground and the water became more detailed by the second. Soon she could make out the details of individual buildings and trees. Then she could see only the lake itself.
And then there was a violent impact as the falling ships slammed into the lake.
Preview for next time!
Heero: Well, as I'm sure you've guessed, we all survived the crash, and the three of us washed up on the shores of Lake Genval.
Azaka: Pardon me, sir Heero, but don't you mean the five of us?
Kamidake: You can't discount us, sir Heero!
Ryoko: Hey, the audience isn't supposed to know about you two yet, so pipe down!
Ayeka: Don't talk to my guardians that way, Ryoko!
Heero: Moving on, Ryoko and Ayeka try to pick their fight up where they left off, but fortunately they're too worn out from the crash. That gives Sally and I the opportunity to take them into Preventers custody.
Ayeka: Now just a minute! You're making it sound like I'm a criminal!
Sally: No, but you and Ryoko are the first aliens we've had contact with. Precautions need to be taken.
Ryoko: Well, as long as Heero's along for the ride, I'm good with that!
Sally: Anyway, it's clear Ayeka and Ryoko don't mean any harm to Earth, so we're not going to hold them indefinitely. However, of course we want to keep them under observation as well. The solution I work out with Lady Une should suffice for this unique situation.
Ryoko: Next time, in Chapter Two: No Need For Roommates!
Heero: Something tells me I'm not going to like this…
Author's Notes: Well, the story is underway! If you're a fan of the Tenchi Universe portion of the franchise then you could probably tell that the little preview segment was modeled on the one from the show.
Hope you liked the first chapter! Please review!