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Chapter IV: First Strikes

Her feet barely made a whisper as she launched herself toward the target.

She swung in a single motion that carried her straight past without even disturbing the sleeves of her kimono.

A single brief flash of light was all that marked its passage.

So quick was the strike that her blade seemed to never leave the sheath. The ‘clink‘ as the hilt slid back down was the only thing that dispelled this illusion.

And then it was over.

The entire attack routine had taken barely four seconds.

Nodoka didn't need to look back at the practice dummy to know her Ryu Tsui Sen had struck cleanly, though there would be no visible mark on the target. If anyone were to examine her sword, they would have noticed that it was a sakabatou (reversed edge).

As the 19th inheritor, her skill with the family blade was nearly flawless.


As much as it pained her to admit it, she knew instinctively that there was still something missing from her technique.

It was the same stumbling block that had prevented her father and his father before him from ever truly mastering the Way of the Heavenly Sword. The secret succession technique: "Ama Kakeru Ryu No Hirameki", which her great-great-grandfather had never passed on to the inheritors of Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu.

The bishonen finished the latest round of orders in record time. Business was always good around the high schools; the local lunch lines were places where angels feared to tread.

"Wow! This is the best okonomiyaki I've ever had!"

With a nod and a smile to acknowledge the compliment, the ponytailed cook deftly flipped another sizzling piece onto the customer's plate. "Thanks, Sugar."

She almost had enough money saved up to continue her quest once again.

All she had to do was be patient.

{No matter how long it takes, I'll track those worthless Saotomes down.}

Ukyo was good at waiting.

For nearly ten years, she had been preparing herself for the day when she would finally get her hands on the thieving Saotomes. Her hunger for vengeance had only grown sharper with the passage of time. Each hour that her retribution was put off only served to fuel the merciless flames smoldering inside of her shattered soul.

Revenge. It was now the single driving force of her life. All of her thoughts, all of her energy was focused on avenging the loss of her family's honor.

She wasn't a woman anymore. Not since she had turned her back on anything having to do with being feminine. Nor was she a man, despite her best efforts to fit into that role. She could dress like them and she could talk like them, but she would never truly be one of them.

Ukyo was a misfit in either world.

And it was all their fault.

Genma and Ranma would both pay for their crimes. There was no possible excuse for what they'd done. They'd tricked her once, but now she knew exactly what the honeyed lies of a thief were good for.

Absolutely nothing.

Just like the old tales about the family battle spatula being made from the remains of a gigantic horse-killer sword that her great-great-grandfather was supposed to have carried around a long time ago.

Utter nonsense.

As mansions went, this one wasn't the finest, nor was it even remotely friendly in appearance. Then again, neither were its inhabitants.

Tatewaki Kuno knelt before his family's elegant ancestral shrine. A gleaming katana was placed in the front: the Kuno family sword. Engraved on its handle in gold kanji was the Kuno family motto.

Three cold and remorseless words which now stared back at him.




Sin. Swift. Slay.

Part A: All Good Things Must Come To An End

A Ranma ½ crossover story
by Shade

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. Oh, My Goddess © Fujishima Kosuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and Dark Horse Comics. Rifts and Phase World are owned by Palladium. Other references belong to their respective owners.

It is said by many that space is a quiet place.

Normally they're right.

But not this time.


The scream of dying metal and flesh echoed across the void as a fast fading explosion briefly lit up the darkness.

One of many that day.

Over the gray skies of the planet Ristmoth, a humble Terra class planet that orbited a perfectly ordinary M class yellow star, a desperate battle raged on.

Over five hundred heavy warships battered away at each other as thousands of individual dogfights took place between them. So small compared to these behemoths were they, that the only visible sign of them was the intermittent displays of red laser fire and orange plasma bursts along with the occasional brief white flash as a volley of missiles, an individual fighter or (as was more often the case) both at once exploded in the cruel void between the stars.

Among these dueling Titans, a familiar shape shuddered as it was engulfed in explosion after explosion.

"Damage Report!" Commander Ayla roared as the acrid smell of overloaded circuitry filled the bridge beyond the air recycler’s ability to handle.

Cursing slightly at a sparking panel that had blown out from the last hit, Sammy hit a few keys and read off from the readout that popped up. "Forward Shields down to 55%. Starboard Quad Cannon are offline…"

A few of the red lights on her display exploded, sending hot bits in all directions. Despite this she went on, the deadly projectiles bouncing off her armor's protective faceplate.

"…Main Guns still down. Auxiliary power has been temporarily knocked out. Engineering reports that it’ll take at least ten minutes to get back."


The small electrical blaze that broke out was quickly extinguished by a thick covering of white retardant foam from the ship’s fire prevention system.

"The rest of our shields are holding, barely."

Another shudder passed through the hull as four Imperial Blood Furies resumed pounding on the Untamed Stallion’s weakening defensive energy field. One on one, the corvette’s formidable weaponry was normally capable of dispatching these destroyers with minimal difficulty.

But four of them ganging up on her at once, while the main guns were still inoperable, left the ship desperately fighting for her life.

"Are our primary batteries ready to fire?"

"Aye, Commander! Missile bays are standing by as well."

"Target the lead destroyer’s weakest facing shield and concentrate all fire on it. I want the secondary batteries to hit it as well."

"Yes, Ma’am! Shall I launch missiles?"

"Not yet. Beams only."



An intense swarm of blue green lights marked the path of medium laser cannon that lashed out from the Rebel ship against her opponent in a dazzling display of destruction. It was followed by a scattering of light particle beams and heavy plasma blasts from the secondary batteries.

The scimitar-shaped vessel's port shield flared up for a moment before going down in a fiery pyrotechnic display. Several of the lasers slipped past to gouge deeply into the enemy ship’s blast-scored armor. While not destroyed, that side was now badly weakened and open to further attack.

No fool, the enemy captain immediately started to rotate his vessel, to present a side with a active shield still up toward the Rebel ship while it licked its wounds. The other three warships continued to pour on the fire, ignoring their companion’s plight in hopes of profiting from his loss. The Untamed Stallion was nimble enough to dodge some of the incoming attacks, but not all of them. The mighty starship trembled as its shields finally buckled and beams of destructive energy began to tear into the heavily armored hull.

"Commander!?" Tania looked worried, even their reinforced armor couldn’t take this kind of punishment for long.

"Stand by with Proton Torpedoes." The transformed Dragon’s jade eyes seemed to be searching for something on the viewscreen. Her hand came up and waited patiently for the sign.

A large mushroom fireball bloomed forth from the unshielded side of the Imperial ship that had been wounded earlier. Smaller chain reactions went off as the antimatter containment fields for the main power reactor failed. Particles with opposite charges came in contact with each other…

Another small star lit the night sky of Ristmoth.

Ayla smiled grimly. The twins always did have a flair for the dramatic.

{One down, three to go.}

Two dark arrow-shaped fighters zoomed above and below the expanding cloud of atomized particles. The familiar silhouettes of the Untamed Stallion’s Katana Starfighters were a welcome sight to the crew.

The radio crackled as the self-proclaimed "Dirty Pair’s" excited banter filled the bridge.

"Good shot, Sis!"

"Now it’s your turn to teach them the true terror of the Lovely Angels!"

The Commander sweatdropped. Trust the Captain to have come up with such a bad nickname that just stuck to the resident ace pilots and certified maniacs. She cursed the moron who had told him about the mythical "Kei" and "Yuri", the most feared legends in all the Multiverse. Even the Gods didn't dare to utter those names aloud, for fear that the myths might actually turn out to be real.

Though it did seem to be appropriate for Akiko and Yukio, especially considering how much damage they normally caused in a fight.

Naturally the Kreeghor did what most sane people do when faced with a pair of crazy Turbojockies in their preferred vehicles of choice.

They panicked.

Any sense of formation disappeared as each ship tried to individually bring their armaments to bear on this new and far more immediate threat. The Imperial Forces tended to favor obedience over initiative or competency; this type of unexpected situation caught them with their tactical pants down. Their normal escort of power armors that was supposed to protect them from dangers like this had been shot to pieces earlier by the exceptional gunners aboard the Untamed Stallion.

The Imps were in trouble. And they knew it.

Yukio laughed out loud as she teasingly wove through the frantic hailstorm of defensive fire from her target and released two of her cruise missiles from her fighter’s external pylons as she closed to point-blank range.

The speed of the warheads was such that they crossed the distance, slammed into the second Destroyer’s shields and detonated in less then a second. Part of the blast reached out to lick at the Katana’s shields, but the fighter’s barrier held as the Turbojocky maneuvered past to go after the next ship. The same could not be said for the Blood Fury; its weakened defensive energy field was no match for the full destructive fury of the antimatter devices. Although the hull was mostly unscathed, the vessel was now ripe for the plucking without her shields.

Ayla had been counting on that. Her eyes narrowed vengefully.

"Missiles… FIRE!!"

The Stallion’s six long-range launchers quickly spat out a rapid-fire spread of glowing projectiles that homed in on the stricken enemy vessel.

Twenty-four heavy proton torpedoes smashed into the hull of the Imperial ship one after another, and exploded in an ever-expanding chain of red fireballs. Unfortunate crewmembers caught in the heart of the blasts were dead before they ever realized it. Individual decks inside the destroyer blew apart, scattering razor sharp shards of metal and wiring that caused even more havoc as each explosion ripped deeper and deeper into the bowels of the doomed ship.

The stress on its spine finally proved too much as the combined force from inertia and vibrations from the secondary explosions of the torpedo strike combined to literally rip the destroyer in two. The forward half immediately went dark as its power conduits were severed from the engines and started to drift.

Eventually the wreck would be caught in Moth’s gravity well and become a swarm of shooting stars burning up in the planet’s atmosphere.

The remaining Blood Furies began to run as the Twin’s last batch of missiles knocked out their facing shields. Their gunners prevented the starfighters from finishing the job, as both turned to prevent the Stallion from getting a clear target.

Just in time to give the two Black Eagle Fighters coming in from behind a clean shot. While they carried only two anti-ship warheads apiece, against these relatively light warships two was more then enough.

An audible sigh of relief passed across the bridge as the last two destroyers joined their brothers in the bleak darkness of the Void. That had been too close for comfort; another few minutes and they might not have made it. It had been a stroke of luck indeed for their fighters to have been in the enemy’s blind spot, the emissions from their sublight engines masking the profiles of state of the art Katanas long enough for them to get close enough so that no point defense system could possibly intercept their deadly cargo in time.

The Untamed Stallion had already engaged and destroyed six enemy ships and dozens of enemy fighters with minimal difficulty early in the battle. But then their luck had turned and the Escort Carrier that they’d managed to sneak up on and cripple got off a distress call before they could kill it. Though the risk had been high, the crew couldn’t resist taking out an enemy carrier, even if it was only a light version.

The Maimers had closed in a entrapment formation to engage the corvette before the Untamed Stallion could engage its stealth systems and break away, forcing the ship to abandon her normal Hit and Fade tactics that made her so many times more deadly then her size would indicate, and revert back to ‘classic’ space warfare.

It had been a close call. But they were still alive and their attackers were now sucking vacuum.

That was the good news.

Then Sammy gave them the bad news.

"That last barrage got us good. We’re not going to be able to cloak again without a long stay at a dry-dock."


"Hornet and Falcon are coming back to reload, the Twins are standing by in holding pattern. What are your orders, Ma’am?"

"Tania, patch us through to the tactical network."

"Aye, Commander."

Almost immediately after the delicate communications officer opened the channel, the chaos of the ongoing battle filled the bridge.

"Battleship Liberator, keep those destroyers away from the medical frigate … Lost tactical defense quadrant 14 … heavy enemy starfighter presence in Sector 3 … Alpha leader to Wolf Pack, we need a hole punched through that blockade line! Gold squadron, Liberty squadron, cover them … copy, Alpha lead—*SHRIEEK**Hissss* … I can’t shake him! … Red five … I’m on him … I'm hit! I'm hit!! Argg—*Static* … Cruiser Vigilant begin EVAC recovery …"

Wincing in apology, Tania turned the volume down, though not before the rest of the officers felt their ears ringing slightly from the blaring roar of the Alliance’s battle transmissions. Then one particular message caught everyone’s attention.

"…flagship under heavy enemy attack! Request all available units to assist HopeBringer!! Situation Critical!!"

The blood seemed to freeze in Ayla’s veins.

If they lost their only Super Dreadnought along with Admiral Iblis, the Rebel fleet’s coordination would fall apart and they’d be pounded to bits against the crushing weight of the Imperial blockade line.

"You heard them, people. MOVE!"

They didn’t need to be told twice.

No love was lost between the Imperial Navy and the Rebel Fleet. The brutal atrocities of the Empire’s finest had earned them the undying hatred of the Freedom Fighters, and the stubbornness of a few planets that refused to bow down to the military might of the Kreeghor threatened the Trans-galactic Juggernaught’s very way of life. So it was with savage fury that these bitterest of enemies smashed into each other with weapons of matter and energy. Kamikaze attempts from both sides were not uncommon, as helpless damaged vessels tried to take a few more of the enemy with them into oblivion.

The heaviest concentration of fighting had gradually shifted to engulf the Alliance’s flagship. While initially the HopeBringer’s heavy firepower had managed to hold the upper hand for the first few minutes of the engagement, as more and more enemy ships engaged the gigantic warship and her escorts, gradually the sheer numbers began to take their toll.

One by one, the protecting cluster of battleships and cruisers that made up her taskforce had been eliminated, leaving the symbol of the Free Worlds alone and in big trouble. Over thirty Kreeghor Smashers and Berserkers had the lone Doombringer class superdreadnought pinned down now. A smaller group of twenty-four Ripper gunships and Deathclaw battlecruisers, backed by a full twelve squadrons of Fang interceptors, blocked all attempts by the Alliance to relieve their beleaguered flagship— as well as making it impossible for the HopeBringer to retreat. Any vessel big enough to be of aid could never slip past all of the watching sensors, and would be engaged by the capital ships, while fighters didn’t have enough firepower on their own to make a difference and would be picked off by the interceptors.

Six Rebel battleships were currently at the very fringes of the life or death drama playing out, held back by the missile volleys of the Deathclaws and high intensity laser barrages of the oversized gunships. Their protective escorts of fighters were unable to aid them, as they had their hands full fighting off the Kreeghor’s elite pilots.

A gambling man would have bet every penny he had that the Alliance Dreadnought was doomed. The chances of a rescue attempt getting through that massed firepower was astronomical, and the likelihood of it succeeding even less so.

But the Untamed Stallion had a nasty habit of beating the odds.

-Into the Breach

"Black Eagles are reloaded and ready to go. Just give them the word, Commander."

"Auxiliary power reestablished. Reaper Turret back online."

"My board is green; looks like they haven’t seen us yet."

"Tactical situation analysis coming in. Punching it up now."

"Engineering here, we've almost locked down the auxiliary power conduit on Deck 4. Give me another couple of minutes, and we should be have the main guns up and running again."

With a smooth efficiency, they prepared to carry out what most people would consider a suicide mission.

For this crew, it was just another job they had to do.

"All right people. Time to earn our princely paychecks again."

-There's a Stick in Your Eye

"He's late."

"Take it easy, Murray. The Alliance is paying us enough to wait for him."

"I still don't like it, Captain."

The first mate went back to cradling his power halberd. Over 3 meters tall, the Seljuk bore an uncanny resemblance to the predatory dinosaurs that his kind had descended from.

Captain William Borshenko shook his head at his friend's impatience. His shoulder-length blond hair and blue eyes, combined with his Nordic features, gave him the appearance of a Viking of old. One of the more notorious Runners of the Three Galaxies, he was also someone who could be relied on to keep his word.

"Don't worry, this'll be a piece of cake. Just pick up one agent and their cargo, and drop them off at the nearest Freeworld base. Simple as that."

"I still think that contract was too good to be true."

"Oh, c'mon. What could possibly go wrong?"

At that exact moment, an out of control hovercycle with two panicking riders came crashing down.

The bike's underside screeched like an Argalian hyena in labor as it bounced and skidded right towards them.

"Look out!!"

"Get outta the way!!"

The surprised captain and his first mate dived to either side to avoid a potentially fatal collision with this duo who were obviously insane, intoxicated, or both.

Seeing that they weren't going to stop in time, Nicholas finally hit the emergency ejection system.

The seat, with both Nick and Katrina clinging desperately to it, blasted straight up as a brief but powerful rocket booster kicked in. The hovercycle, now totally out of control, continued on for several hundred meters before smashing right into the side of a cargo shuttle. Under normal conditions, such a hit would have done little more then leave a few minor dents in the hull and totally obliterated the bike.

Unfortunately, this shuttle had been in the middle of refueling. Even worse, it had an ion drive. Which required large quantities of (relatively) cheap hydrogen fuel. And the bike rammed one of the enormous fuel lines head on.

The resulting explosion was seen from as far as a mile away.

-Brave, Suicidal, or just plain Nuts?

They went in hard and fast.

Three interceptors directly in the way died in plasma fireballs, never even seeing the ship that killed them.

Without her cloaking device to hide them from hostile sensors, they had to rely on their active ECM systems to blind the enemy's electronic eyes and ears. It was a long shot, but it was all they had to work with.

Her own fighters stayed tight against the Stallion's flanks as she bore down on the blockade at maximum military acceleration, hiding their weaker radar profiles inside her sensor shadow.

Despite her attempt at stealth, a pair of gunships spotted the corvette in time to attempt an intercept.

Before they even got into their energy range, the Stallion's Grim Reaper opened up on them.

At 10 tons, the heavily armored "Reaper" gravity mega-cannon was the third largest weapon system mounted on the Rebel ship. Its rate of fire was over 300 rounds per minute. Each shell was composed of pure tritonium and was no bigger then the average golf ball. When fired, the kinetic energy imparted to an individual round was comparable to that of old style atomic weapons.

The volley smashed into the two Rippers like a Hammer of God.

For those aboard the doomed vessels, it was their own little front seat to Hell.

Shields flared and died, mega-damage alloy screamed and buckled, and the tiny lives aboard the ships were mercilessly blown out of existence by the lethal bombardment.

The Untamed Stallion never slowed as she passed the gutted remains of the Gunships.

She was after bigger game.

-Stick It Where the Sun Don't Shine!


The captain gave the man an odd look. "Speaking. Who the hell are you two lunatics?"

"I'm your rider."

Murray snorted. "I knew it! 'Easy mission', he said. 'Don’t worry', he said. Hah!"

Shooting a dirty look at the gloating Seljuk, Will was quick to note the discrepancy between what he'd been told and the reality. "We were told to expect one passenger and cargo."

Nick shrugged unapologetically. "She's the cargo."

Now it was Sun's turn to glare at him. "Who are you calling CARGO?"

The Rebel agent at least had the grace to look a little sheepish. "We weren't sure what to expect earlier, so to keep our cover we decided to book the space for cargo rather then another passenger."

"You are so dead if we get out of this alive."

Will gave Katrina an admiring look. An established ladies’ man, he had wasted no time in figuring that this particular adventurer was cut above the rest.

"Any preferences as to our departure time?"

"Right now would be good. We left some Imperial problems back there." Nick jerked a thumb back in the direction he and Sun had come from.

"Bloody sodding hell!"

"Take it easy, Murray." Borshenko tapped the communicator attached to his shirt's collar. "Get ready to lift off now, Auntie. Our fare needs a quick exit."


"Probably. Better warm up the guns while you're at it."

"Aye, aye, Captain. Auntie out."

The four of them moved quickly toward the ship.

Unnoticed, a solitary figure watched their progress from a distance.

And smiled.

-The Heat Is On

"Well, they know we're here." She'd hoped that they'd be able to get closer first, but they had to play the hand that had been dealt to them. "Engineering, I need those main guns back up now!"

"Three more minutes!"

Three minutes. Might as well have been an eternity.

Smasher class heavy cruisers had been the standard ships of the line for the Imperial Navy for almost three hundred years. They were built to last, and no slouches in the weapons department either. Only in the last few decades had the Empire begun to replace them with the new Slayer class battlecruiser, the most infamous example of which was the Dark Impaler commanded by none other then the Untamed Stallion's nemesis "Ironclaw" Jarenz. But it would be centuries before Smashers were fully phased out of Imperial service, and without her heaviest weapons available, the Rebel corvette's chances against the even-dozen currently pounding away on the command ship were grim.

"Enemy Fangs incoming!"

Ayla swore softly as several squadrons of fighters broke off from the main attack and began to close in on them.

"We're on them, Control." The four fighters that had been sticking close to the corvette altered course and split into two pairs to intercept.

"Keep it quick, Meia. We don't have time to tangle it up with them."

"Roger." The Squadron Leader's cool voice was all business. "You heard her, ladies. Pick your targets for the first pass and go, but remember our main targets are the Smashers. Stick around for an engagement and those Imps will be all over your asses.”

"Dibs on the ones to the left!"

"No fair! You called dibs last time!"

"Cut the chatter! Here they come!!"

Space erupted in light and fury as the Rebel squadron recklessly dove into the heart of the Imperial formation.

-Among the Living

The transition from semi-consciousness to full awareness was almost instantaneous.

He awoke to find the pain from his injuries almost entirely gone. Although still greatly weakened, it seemed that this CosmoKnight would live to fight another day.

That still didn't stop him from berating himself as he looked up at the unfamiliar ceiling.

{Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Drizzt would have disowned me as his student twice over if he'd seen that fiasco. Once for letting them get the drop on me, the other for not having a backup plan in case my first one didn't work.}

Carefully Ranma pulled himself up to a sitting position. He winced as various parts of his body suddenly complained about this movement. He was alive and mostly in one piece, but obviously his body wasn't in much better condition then that.

{Where am I?}

Ranma studied the dressings on his shoulder and chest curiously. He had considerable firsthand experience with this kind of thing, and could recognize exceptional handiwork when he saw it. Whoever had bandaged him up had known what they were doing. Surprising, especially since he was pretty certain that this wasn't a hospital or a clinic.

A good thing too, as any doctor worthy of the title wouldn't have taken long to discover several very alarming differences between his body and that of your average ordinary human being.

Like the fact that no normal syringe on Earth was capable of penetrating his skin, though there were many witnesses of the feminine gender who could vouch that it certainly felt human enough.

{What's the last thing I remember?}

Cushioning his head as he fell…

Large, nicely tanned and ever so soft…

{…Breasts?! That can't be right! Can it?}

"Oh! You're awake."

The other voice came as a complete surprise.


Ranma turned and found himself staring into the eyes of one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. How had she managed to sneak up on him like that?!

"We were worried for awhile. Your injuries were quite severe."


For some reason, this woman reminded him of Kasumi. But despite her incredible beauty, he did not feel the same sharp hunger that Sailor Pluto had aroused within him. This woman possessed a powerful sense of presence that literally took his breath away. It was like being wrapped in a soft down comforter by a cheery fire, warm and soothing. For some reason he was reminded of his mother.

"Oh, I've forgotten to introduce myself. My name is Belldandy. Welcome to our home."

He was abruptly reminded by her introduction of other, more ancient codes of conduct. Her rendering of aid had placed him in obligation to her.

"Ranma. Ranma Saotome."

And he was a man who always repaid his debts.

"I suspect that I owe you my life, Belldandy-dono."(1) He was surprised when she blushed at the honorific.

"Please, just Belldandy is fine."

"As you wish… Belldandy. I am in your debt."

She shook her head in polite negation. "You don't owe me anything, Ranma. Being able to save a life is reward enough."

Such gentle honesty was rare, even among those he called friends and allies. This kind of innate purity helped keep his faith in humanity and the other ‘civilized’ races alive.

But a promise was a promise was a promise.

"Nevertheless, if there is anything within my power to do for you, you need only ask." His voice, while still softly polite, was also solid with honest determination.

Seeing no other recourse, Belldandy accepted with a polite nod.

She was rewarded by a slight relaxation in his features, and the return of the curiosity in his eyes that she had seen when he first turned to look at her.

"Is it uncomfortable?"

"Excuse me?"

"Your suit. It looks broken."

Ranma looked down at himself. {I forgot all about that!}

"Thank you for reminding me, that completely slipped my mind."

He concentrated on his armor.

The dark material flashed and suddenly became a thousand shining silver motes of light that softly descended all around him and evaporated before they ever touched the floor.

In its place was revealed the pig-tailed hero, wearing the same clothes that he'd had on earlier before transforming into his Cosmic form.

He gave the goddess an innocent look. "Is this better?"

"Oh my, yes."

Not that his attire was out of the way, Ranma's curiosity had returned. "So what's a nice goddess like you doing in Japan?"

Her face brightened. "Well you see, it all started three years ago when I visited Keiichi…"

Belldandy started pouring the tea that she had brought into two cups without ever interrupting her story.

Ranma smiled back as he took one. It smelled wonderful.

He started to make himself as comfortable as he could under the circumstances. This was probably going to take a little while.

-Where there's smoke…

Their fighters had managed to disrupt most of the Fangs, causing more confusion in their ranks then actual damage. A few of them actually managed to make it to the Untamed Stallion, where they were greeted by a barrage of short range missiles from her launchers and a mixed assortment of lasers and particle beams from the remaining armored turrets scattered across the ship's hull.

Fewer still survived the encounter intact, and none of the fleeing survivors were eager to come to grips with the deadly Rebel ship any time soon.

That fact did not go unnoticed by the rest of the Imperials. Finally they realized the threat that was rapidly approaching their positions and reacted.

"We're being hit with active radar pulses!"

Alarms started blaring from Sammy's console. "They've got missile lock!!"

The tactical map that was projected onto the main screen showed numerous electronic yellow triangles circled in blinking red making their way toward the blue dot representing their ship. Probable trajectories and assignments of threat priority flashed rapidly and danced across the screen, as the ship's sensors fed the main tactical computer a constant stream of updates.

It was only a ranging volley; the distance was still long even for capital ship missiles. But the total number of warheads launched was still more then enough for the Stallion's crew to take them seriously.

"Engage countermeasures!"

Dozens of counter-missiles raced out to engage and destroy the approaching warheads. Upon reaching a preset distance from the ship, the larger ones detonated and blossomed into a sea of thermo-nuclear flame.

Missiles died by the score as they were consumed in the hearts of miniature suns, others that passed through did so blindly, their electronic brains fried by EMP. (2)

Smaller counter-missiles went directly for their targets, burning out their drives to reach short-term acceleration that exceeded even the full thrust of capital ship missiles.

Their warheads contained only a fraction of the destructive power that their larger brothers possessed. Yet that was more then enough to not only destroy the missiles they hit, but also detonate their much more destructive warheads too. More often then not, the blasts took out other missiles nearby, resulting in the domino effect of missile fratricide.

As the remainder of the swarm closed, a hail of railgun rounds swept out from rapid-firing armored mounts scattered across the ship, tearing apart anything that got in their way.

The barrage killed more of the warheads, but the harried survivors stubbornly continued on.

The Stallion's Defense Grid was waiting for them.

Forty-eight computer controlled point defense lasers emitted rods of solid light, in a dazzling protective blue web of such mathematical complexity that the effect was as beautiful as it was lethal.

The last warhead died barely fifty meters from the corvette's hull.

And then it was their turn.

The Rebel ship's replying volley was comprised entirely of spoofers and jammers. Every electronic warfare bird remaining in her arsenal was launched in a single flight.

The effect was simply devastating.

Imperial targeting systems were flooded with not thousands, but millions of false targets. Sensor consoles crashed from the influx of impossible data being fed to them. Missile fire controls burned out from the sheer power of the ECM being thrown at them.

It bought the Stallion precious time as the enemy scrambled to bring their systems back online. The rain of missiles being launched at them died down to scattered individual launches that were easily picked off by the corvette's anti-missile defenses.

And then over the intercom came the sweetest words that the Commander had ever heard from the chief engineer.

"Main Guns Operational!"

The nearest cruiser had just begun to turn in order to bring its devastating Energy Lance to bear on them. One of the great flaws of earlier Imperial designs were that while powerful, most of their heavy beam weapons were mounted on fixed positions. This allowed them to throw a considerable amount of firepower forward, but it also limited their weapons' arc of fire to a narrow cone in front of the ship.

Normally this wouldn't have mattered against any ship lighter then a heavy cruiser, since even factoring in the approaching Rebel ship's incredible acceleration the Smasher would still be able to complete its turn and open fire while remaining well outside the range of the medium laser cannon that comprised her primary batteries.

But this time, arrogance cost the Kreeghor dearly.

On the main screen a blue targeting icon bracketed the Smasher and went red as it acquired a firing solution.

"Kill that cruiser!!"

-The Lady IS the Tiger

"Hey, Sis, is that guy awake ye— HELLO, NURSE!!"

Urd stared.

She couldn't help it.

She'd thought— er— she'd hoped that their patient would turn out to be at least easy on the eyes.

Her earlier assumptions had been all wrong.

This guy wasn't cute at all.

He was absolutely Gorgeous!

{I want to make him mine!}

"Oh, Urd, this is Ranma. Ranma, my older sister, Urd."


The CosmoKnight recognized her as the one he'd had to carry around (which he really hoped she'd forgotten about by now).

Then he noticed that she was just staring at him with a predatory intensity while scarlet bloomed in her cheeks.

He sweatdropped

{Okay, now I'm worried.}

-Speak softly and carry a…

Oversized. Ugly. Slow. Power sinkholes. Impractical. A waste of money. Impossible.

Every person who'd first heard of what the Captain had planned to do had told him some— or all— of the above.

Even Silvia, who was obsessed with almost every type of technological gadget imaginable, had told Captain Saotome that he was "Outta u're bleedin no'ggin to ins'all thee' monstrosities!"

What they had been talking about was the refit of the Untamed Stallion's main guns. Ranma had ordered the original Beta VII medium laser cannon pulled out, and had replaced them with a pair of Mark II Heavy Particle Beam Cannon.

…Super Dreadnought Class weapons whose design had been retired from active service in every modern fleet of the Three Galaxies for over six hundred years.

Each cannon was 100 meters long, almost a third the length of the ship itself. Mounted on two enormous armored structural pylons like the ends of a giant tuning fork, they were the front of the ship.

As a result of their size, their firing arc was restricted— although nowhere near as limited as an Imperial Horn Cannon— to a 40-degree cone centered on the front of the ship.

And then there were the power requirements.

The energy required to fire these monsters was almost 40% of the Untamed Stallion's total power output, in addition to what their own internal generators produced. It also took 27.741 seconds for the giant capacitors in the cannon to build up the required charge for each shot, and 1.865 seconds to cool the firing chambers afterwards so that the blasts wouldn't melt the cannon themselves; thus limiting their rate of fire to no more then one blast every 30 seconds.

In an age where miniaturization had reduced the average size of capital ship's energy mounts to two tons or less, and given them an average firing cycle of 3-7 seconds, they were antiques.

Obsolete pieces of junk that should have been scrapped long ago.

At least to everyone but Captain Saotome.

Because he had recognized the one thing that made up for it all.

For all their flaws, despite all the headaches they brought, the Mark II's were reputed to be the biggest, nastiest sons of bitches ever built for a ship of the line. Nothing less then a battlecruiser had the armor or the shields to survive a direct hit from one of those cannon, let alone two. Their effective range was also over ten times that of an Imperial Energy Lance, giving the Stallion a degree of fire superiority unmatched by any existing light or medium class warship within the Three Galaxies.

And once again they proved their worth.

The only warning was a hellish white glare that flashed out from the front of the corvette. Then two super-energized particle streams raced out from the ship at the speed of light. No sooner had they left then their preprogrammed vectors collided and merged into a brilliant wave of pure annihilation.

For a ten-thousandth of a second, the beam connected the two distant vessels to each other.

Then the Smasher's far side bulged outward and vaporized as the heavy particle beam passed through and out, eating through force fields and armor as though they were so much cotton candy. There were no explosions at first; every solid object directly in the beam's path had been completely disintegrated.

Atmosphere rushed out through the giant holes in the cruiser's sides as decompression set in. Omnisteel bulkheads collapsed inwards like broken eggshells, crushing anything unfortunate enough to get in the way.

Emergency systems struggled in vain to contain the damage. Pressure locks slammed shut, but for much of the destruction there simply wasn't anything left to close, and several decks gave way as the pressure loss exceeded their structural capacity.

Inside one of those decks was the cruiser's armory, which housed scores of capital ship missiles.

Captain Kazorh Darkshar of the Imperial Cruiser 'Smite' witnessed with a mixture of horror and disbelief as his ship's division mate, 'Brawler', blew up in a frenzied orgy of self-destruction. Stored anti-matter warheads detonated like a chain of dominos inside the cruiser's guts, each fresh explosion triggering dozens more that reduced the warship to white-hot plasma in the space of two heartbeats.

{What in the Seven Hells was THAT?! It couldn't have come from that ship! A corvette isn't supposed to mount that kind of firepower!!}

"Sir, we're picking up a binary theta radiation signature in that ship's drive emissions." The sensor operator's face was deathly pale.

Darkshar suspected it had turned almost as white as his own had upon hearing the report. {Emperor's Black Bones!}

There was only one FTL drive in the entire Three Galaxies that had a binary theta emission.

{The Untamed Stallion! That's the UNTAMED STALLION!!}

He'd had the standard briefing, of course. Every officer in the Imperial Navy knew about Captain Saotome and his unusual vessel.

An experimental corvette stolen before it could be delivered to the Empire. Nearly destroyed during the Battle of Belicorn, then rebuilt to the size of a light cruiser. The drive field used a proto-gravitronic conversion array that was 35% more efficient then anything either the Empire or the Consortium currently had, but also leaked trace amounts of quasi-quantum quarks as a side effect of the mass-energy conservation transfer.

There had always been numerous rumors floating around in the Empire for years that the Untamed Stallion carried something extra in the way of armament. Especially given its kill ratio of destroyers, and other light warship classes that commonly served as escorts for the transports and cargo ships that were a pirate's favorite prey. But due to a decided lack of surviving firsthand witnesses, that had never been accurately confirmed through official channels.

{Well, now we know for sure… for all the good that it does now!}

The Smite's captain was many things…

But dumb wasn't one of them.

"Pull the ship back! Do it now!!"

"Yes, sir!"

The Smasher angled sharply up and away, desperately putting distance between itself and the Rebel ship in an attempt to get out of the reach of its longer-ranged cannon.

The Stallion's ECM bombardment had proved hellishly effective against their standardized systems, degrading missile fire control to such an extent that they couldn't achieve the coordination necessary to saturate the corvette's point defense.

Until they could reestablish their datalinks, the only way they could currently engage that ship would be from within the Stallion's energy envelope.

And with that kind of firepower advantage, trying to close to beam range now would be an act of suicide.

{But once we get our launchers back up, then it'll be their turn to burn.}

A ship that size couldn't mount more then one or two capital missile launchers at best, and missile ranges were much longer then that of even the most powerful energy weapon.

Captain Kazorh nodded to himself. The initial panic had passed, and his customary cool logic reasserted itself.

{It managed to get the drop on us, but is still only one ship. We're going to get hurt, but time is on our side. Once our systems are back up, we'll be able to throw enough missiles that not even their defenses will be able to stop them all.}

They weren't beat yet, not by a long shot.

"How long till the Main Guns recharge?" Their desperate gambit had worked better then Ayla had dared hope.

"Sixteen seconds to go."

They were now almost in range of the HopeBringer and had taken only one hit so far, in return for their progress.

A lucky warhead fired wildly from one of the Berserkers had been missed by their defenses. But that had been the only one that got through, and their shields had held firm against the blast.

But it wouldn't last.

The Commander understood the fundamental weakness of their position. Although they had managed to disrupt the main group attacking the Command Ship, whoever was in charge of those cruisers knew what they were doing.

The Imps were moving outward to englobe the Stallion, reducing the number of potential targets for the heavy particle beam cannon. Although more maneuverable then the Smashers, the corvette's current acceleration reduced its ability to change its heading by any significant margin.

Once the Imperials got their missiles back, their spread-out formation would catch the Stallion in a crossfire. That would force them to divide their point defense, lowering accuracy and volume coverage.

And the next round would be no mere ranging volley.

"Engage the Berserkers with missiles. And if you manage acquire a torpedo lock on any of those cruisers, take the shot."

"With pleasure!"

The helmswoman's fingers danced across the controls.

Two capital launchers went to constant rapid fire, sending 48 missiles per minute scorching in on the Imperial war frigates.

At the same time the Stallion's sensors focused on one of the closest enemy cruisers and began the laborious task of decrypting the energy frequency of the force field shielding her target.

-A Life for a Life

"So you see, it was all Mara's fault."

Urd continued to devour their guest with her eyes even after she had finished her story of the earlier events.


"A Demoness First Class."

Something dangerous flashed in Ranma's eyes, but he gave no other outward reaction upon hearing that interesting tidbit of information.

"She likes to cause us trouble every now and then. But I truly believe that she possesses a good heart underneath it all."

Ranma was nothing short of astonished to hear a goddess, of all people, defending a demon. But looking into Belldandy's eyes, the Knight found himself starting to understand her.

{She really cares about this Mara. Her words come straight from her heart.}

And yet…

{I can't let a demoness run loose. She has to be dealt with, one way or another. The current situation is unstable enough already. I don't need this to worry about too. Hell and damnation!! Why couldn't I have gotten a ‘head's up’ from the Forge before getting into this mess?!!}

Something from his conflicting thoughts must have shown on his face, because suddenly Belldandy turned toward him with a serious expression on her face. "You won't hurt her, will you?"

He couldn't meet her gaze.


Urd watched with some concern as she saw her younger sister's eyes start to shimmer. A tearful Belldandy always gave her a panicky sensation in the pit of her stomach.

It had a similar effect on the CosmoKnight.

With a small sigh of defeat, he conceded.

"As you wish, Belldandy. I won't harm this Mara, you have my word on it."

"Thank you."

Ranma met her smile with a sheepish look. {Just the hint of tears, and I fall apart. Damn, I'm pathetic.}

Ishtar was just going to love this when she found out.

Speaking of which, wasn't he forgetting something?

{Uh, oh!}


{We're running out of time.} The numbers scrolled coldly down the readout of her seat's left arm.

They'd killed two more cruisers so far, with another one so badly damaged that it was limping away from the engagement.

But that still left eight Smashers, with the fourteen surviving Berserkers and four regrouped squadrons of Fangs in support.

And the battle computer's best projection gave them only a few more minutes before the Imps restored their tactical networks. Which would leave them with the worst of both worlds. Still too far away to support the flagship, but easy meat for the ships surrounding them.

"Meia and the others are making their runs."

Ayla turned her head back towards the main screen. {Damn it all! There has to be something else we can do to keep up the pressure!}


"Are you sure that you won't spend the night? It wouldn't be any trouble at all."

"Yes, we've got plenty of space in my room."

The darkly tanned goddess was starting to make him nervous. Urd's behavior reminded him far too much of certain brassy crewmembers from the Untamed Stallion. What was it with women and their weird obsession with sex, anyway?

"Thanks, but no thank you. I've already imposed enough."

{Not to mention that the Tendos and my father are probably wondering where the heck I am right now. Hopefully I'll be able to think of something before I get back.}

Before he left the temple, Ranma pressed a small token into Belldandy's hands. "If you ever need my help, just call and I'll be there."

The goddess nodded in understanding. "You will always be welcome here. Please be sure to visit us again."

"Yes, I'd like that. Until next time then." He turned and walked away from the old temple. In mere moments the young man disappeared into the darkening streets.

"Do you think he'll really come back?” Urd looked slightly down. She missed him already.

"Yes. And I suspect it will be sooner then we think."

Belldandy went back inside to get dinner ready.

But her older sister stayed outside, watching and wondering.

-The Need for Speed

"Make these count, people." Meia and her wing(wo)man started closing to attack range of their target, weaving in a tight spiral to avoid anti-fighter fire from their target's gravity rail guns.

"Roger that."

Yukio took the lead as the Katanas split up to go after their own individual cruisers. Unlike the Eagles, their fighters were carrying enough capital missiles to make their own separate attack runs.

The screen of interceptors was already too far out to stop them. That just left the anti-fighter turrets and mini-missile launchers to watch out for. It was really a pity, since the twins would have enjoyed the added challenge.

{Oh, well. We'll make do.}

Giggling like a schoolgirl, the Turbojocky watched the distance between herself and her target evaporate like smoke as she dived for the kill.

50 miles.

The twin thrills of speed and the accompanying danger were what she and her sister lived for. In fact, those had been the only things they'd used to live for, before being recruited aboard the Untamed Stallion.

40 miles.

Now the twins had two loves in life. Flying and Ranma.

And since one wasn't available right now, they would make do with the other until they could get their hands on him again.

30 miles.

A flick of a switch armed the warheads. She was carrying a full load of FCAMs with heavy antimatter payloads.(3)

The Imps weren't going to enjoy this one bit.

20 miles.

The cruiser was already dead in her sights, but Yukio's Katana continued to close. She already had an iron-solid lock, but she wasn't about to give this bastard any chance to intercept.

10 miles.

That meant a zero range launch.

With less then 0.1 seconds for point defense to track, lock on, and fire, the possibility of stopping her missiles would be "a snowflake's chance in hell."

5 miles.

The range continued to fall.

{Almost there.}

2 mi—

"Missiles away!"

Four FCAMs belched from the Katana's internal racks and smashed into the Smasher's shield in the blink of an eye. The explosion blew through the energy barrier like a sledgehammer striking glass, but its destruction weakened the blast that actually hit the ship itself.

Armor slagged and twisted; yet the total damage was minor.

But that was okay.

Because Yukio had a little surprise for them.

"Burn, baby, burn!"

From her weapon pods came four more FCAMs, and this time there were no shields to stop them.

-There Is No Cow Level

The range had closed enough for the ship's six long-range launchers to add to the fray.

Dozens of third generation antimatter warheads smashed against shields and armor as the pitiful point defense of the frigates were overwhelmed. The Berserkers were missile ships, with powerful launchers but relatively few other weapons.

One died. Then another.

But it still wasn't enough.

The fighters had turned three more cruisers into air-bleeding wrecks, but the interceptors had closed up behind them and were now directly between them and the corvette. Tied up in dogfights, Meia and the others wouldn't get back in time to make any difference.

And the Berserkers were starting to shoot back.

They still couldn't coordinate their attacks, but each frigate could put out four twenty-missile volleys a minute. With a dozen of them still operational, the corvette's anti-missile defenses worked overtime to keep the valiant vessel alive. Only the fact that the Imps couldn't synchronize their fire together gave the Stallion any chance at all.

And despite their best efforts, a few still managed to get through.

They died against the shields, but each hit weakened the corvette's energy barrier a little more.

{It's not over yet!}

"Navigation, how long till we reach the command ship?"

"We'll enter effective support range in eighty seconds."

An alert began flashing on the main screen.

-Warning - ECM field has expired - Enemy Datanets now active-

{Damn it all, not now! …Wait a sec, what's that?!}

"Missile targeting is back online, Captain."

"Good work, commander. All missile bays: lock onto the Untamed Stallion."

The other remaining cruisers and their escorts were already turning their launchers toward the corvette. Darkshar settled back into his command chair and prepared to watch the Rebel ship die.


"Enemy missiles incoming!!"


"Look at those birds go!!"

The whoop of victory came from the communications officer, but just this once Ayla decided to let it slide in light of the reason for her behavior.

The entire bridge crews’ eyes were fixed on the main screen, where over eighty fighters led the way for three battleships and a pair of starcruisers.

The outnumbered Fangs began to flee, but the Stallion's fighters now took a savage toll on the Imps as they turned to run.

Even as the crew watched, the comm crackled and a voice from the approaching strike force started coming over the speakers. "This is Captain Dominic of the Tempest. Thanks for punching us a hole, Stallion. But those cruisers seem to have you a bit outnumbered. Break off; you've done your job. Now let us do ours."

The starcruisers' heavy missile batteries pounded relentlessly on the Smashers while the battleships turned their own mixed assortment of missile and energy batteries on the Berserkers.

"You heard him, people. Time to move it or lose it!"

The Stallion veered sharply to the left, putting distance between itself and the carnage taking place. Her main guns took out another Berserker as she swerved, and then it was the HopeBringer’s turn.

The superdreadnought used its brief reprieve to go back on the offensive, pouring a hurricane of fire from its surviving weapon systems into the surrounding enemy vessels, and ship after ship blew up. Even as they died, the flagship's main engines began moving her clear of the Imperial blockade.

"This is Admiral Iblis. Good work, Stallion."

"Thank you, Admiral." The commander suspected that her satisfied smile was being duplicated all over the ship.

{We did it!}

"Now prepare to retreat."

"Retreat?!" Startled, Ayla turned back toward the main screen and punched in a request for an update on the battle. She had been so busy worrying about how they were going help the flagship that she hadn't been paying much attention to the status of the rest of the Rebel fleet.

The resulting display was far worse then she could have possibly imagined.

"Mother of the First Ones…"

Earlier, the fight had been on the verge of catastrophe. Now it was a complete disaster. The Rebels were down to barely three-quarters of the capital ships that they'd brought into the system, and their losses among the fighters and escorts had been even worse. Even now, most of the surviving ships were being driven into a last-ditch defensive cluster that would last only as long as their remaining fighters could keep the swarms of Fang Interceptors off their flanks.

Even as she watched, fresh scarlet icons appeared on the monitor as yet another pair of dreadnoughts jumped into the system to join the sixty already hammering away at the Rebel fleet.

That was bad enough. Aside from the flagship, the heaviest unit class they'd brought were only battleships, and they only had forty of them left now. But the Imps also had a solid wedge of five superdreadnoughts, supported by a full screen of lighter units. The Rebels didn't have anything that could possibly stop them.

It wasn't possible— it went against every existing Imperial doctrine— but they bastards had finally done it. The Empire had finally integrated their heaviest ships of the Wall with the rest of the Imperial Fleet.

Always before, the reigning emperors had been too paranoid about putting that kind of firepower in any admiral's hands, but the new Emperor had somehow found a flag officer they could rely on. And those five ships were the hammer that was going to smash the Rebels against the anvil of the dreadnoughts and the rest of the Imperial fleet.

"All ships, this is the Flag. Prepare to withdraw from the system."

With a sense of numb horror, Ayla realized that the only chance the Fleet now had was to try and outrun the trap before it closed shut around them. And the only way they could do it was for the more expendable ships to drop back and play rearguard in order to buy the slower capital units the time they needed to break off and clear the hyperlimit.(4)

"Carriers and transports are first priority. All other remaining units fall back to hold off the enemy."

Even as Admiral Iblis' orders went out, a small part of Ayla's mind idly wondered how many of them were going to survive the coming gauntlet.


Ranma gingerly held the intelligent sword at arm's length.

[R-A-N-M-A ! ! !]

The martial artist cringed on the roof he was currently perched on.

Ishtar was PISSED!

He would rather fight hordes of bloodthirsty monsters any day then have to face the goddess's spirit when she was angry. Less pain and suffering that way.

{Er… would it help if I said I'm sorry?}



So much for that idea.


At times like this Ranma wished that the bond between himself and the rune weapon was not so intense. He could literally experience her honest concern, the fear and anguish that her outraged front hid, and it made him feel even worse. Worse, he knew that she knew that he was picking up her emotions.

Guilt was not something that Ranma knew how to deal with very well. {Ishtar.}

So he did the very first thing that came to mind.

[What are you doing?!]

He expanded the link between them, embracing her with his presence. The thin line between his consciousness and hers blurred and through their connection he tried to reassure her at the most basic level.

[Ran— ma?!] The sudden unexpectedness of it caught her off guard. Ishtar was swept away in the sudden influx of her owner's innermost thoughts and feelings.

Normally it was only while he slept that Ranma revealed this side of himself to her. Even in battle he reserved something back when they joined together to fight. For some reason that not even Ishtar had been able to figure out during their partnership, Ranma seemed to always be trying to keep a part of himself at a distance emotionally from other people. She suspected that it had something to do with that strange mental block deep within his mind. It bothered her that there seemed to be a gap in his memories, an empty hole from shortly before they had met that she suspected might hold the answers to her dear but often confusing CosmoKnight. But Ranma had always avoided the subject whenever she'd brought it up, and although she was curious, she would never attempt to violate his consciousness by trying to find out without his permission.

And yet now he was letting her inside of him, letting her feel his genuine remorse and his reaffirmation of the promise he had made with Ishtar.

[{Together. The bond that marked them both. She was his and he was hers. Always touching, never apart. Yin to Yang, an elemental joining that only death could sever.}]

She clung to his mental presence with a strength born of uncounted millennia of loneliness, seizing the comfort and reassurance his soul offered and almost crying with relief that he was really here, that she wasn't alone again.

{Ah?! Ahh!! Please don't cry! Ack!} For Ranma, the sensations coming from the sword were practically the same thing as if she'd actually started crying in his arms. And if there was one thing that really sent him into a panic, a crying female was it.

[Dummy. You big dummy.]

She couldn't seem to stop herself; the relief after that long awful suspense of not knowing was too great. Her bottled up emotions needed release, and so Ishtar wept tears of thought while her owner awkwardly held her and absorbed the tempest of her feelings as they swept through him.

Ranma's sense of time faded as he rode out the storm, but he eventually sensed a shift in the turbulence of his partner's spirit. {Ah…Are you all right now?}

The rune weapon glowed softly. [Just hold me a little while longer.]



To be continued.

Author's notes:

1) -dono: an honorific attached to the end of a person's name similar to -san and -chan. But it is more formal and indicative of considerable respect, also used a lot by a certain redheaded rurouni… :P

2) EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse; a burst of electromagnetic energy normally produced by a nuclear reaction that is infamous for frying electronic circuits.

3) Fighter Capital Assault Missile (FCAM): Big missiles equipped with heavy antimatter warheads, the preferred weapon of choice for fighters to use against larger warships. The main problem with them is that their size limits the amount that can be carried by the fighter, 2-6 is a standard payload. Not effective against small targets like fighters or power armor.

4) Hyperlimit: The gravitational boundary surrounding a planet/star within which no ship can go into hyperspace (faster then light). Attempting to do so is a fast way to commit suicide, since FTL drives tend to blow up when used inside the hyperlimit. Ships also tend to lose against planetary bodies when they collide since planets and stars are bigger and more massive then they are. Size does matter. :P

Part 4-B
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