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by segaman4
#25937 Arc 2: no need for ayeka!
Dawn was still a ways off and Jerren and Ami were fast asleep in their separate rooms, a vast improvement on their old slave quarters, resting peacefully.
A small commotion started outside their rooms as stewards argued with the guards assigned to watch over their rooms. Ami twitched at the noise while Jerren slept on oblivious. The stewards made their point and burst through the doors striding to the beds of the two heroes and roughly shaking the pair from their comfortable slumber.

"Wake up! Master Jerren you must awaken, you have been summoned to the Emperors presence.”
Jerren leapt from his bed igniting the light hawk sword in a blazing arc that narrowly missed the startled steward.
"Whoa, where’s the fire?” Jerren exclaimed in alarm, standing unsteadily on his bed blearily looking around the room, “What’s happening…?”
The startled man held up his hands in a calming gesture.
"There is no fire Master Jerren! The Emperor and Empress have summoned you…you need to meet with them in the throne room.” He waved towards the door.
“But I’m in my pajamas…shouldn’t I get dressed first?” He tipped off the bed the blade retracting back into the pommel.
“No time Master Jerren…” The steward pushed Jerren out the door with a relieved exhalation.

Jerren exited his room just in time to see a soaking wet, flustered female steward lead a bedraggled Ami from her room in her nightgown and slippers as she blearily rubbed her eyes.
"I am so sorry,” Ami apologized; her hands offered in supplication, “I thought we were under attack again…” Ami shuffled past her guard who openly smirked at the dripping steward.
“No need to apologize Mistress, it was…entirely my fault!” Walking behind Ami, the woman stuck her tongue out at the guard and flicked some water in his direction pushing her charge gently but firmly down the hall in Jerren’s direction. Jerrens’ steward raised an eyebrow at the condition of his companions’ state which she purposefully ignored.
"They woke you up too?” Jerren asked through a huge yawn.
"It would seem so!” replied Ami a little grouchily.
"You think today is the day we start training to become nobility?” Jerren scratched his head.
"Maybe…” Ami thought aloud, “But why so early?”
“Could be payback for getting them in trouble, maybe? I guess we’ll find out soon enough!”

Walking into the throne room the two stewards bowed to the throne and pulled the doors closed as they retreated through them.

"Hey Emperor and Empress is it time to start training now?” Jerren waved jovially. “I thought you were stepping down while you were training us?”
“Your training does not start until tomorrow so we are still in power for the moment.” Empress Misaki’s eyebrow twitched at the reminder of her impending demotion.
“No…the reason we brought you here is because we have received a message that the galactic union wants to reward you two for you heroics.”
“Oh that's nice of them to…” Ami nodded to Jerren.
"AND…” Azuza interrupted, “Princess Ayeka will finally finish her assignment by signing the treaty between Jurai and the Remzia federation.”
"Oh yeah, that’s right…” Jerren smacked the bottom of his fist into his palm, “Ryoko came in, blew up the place and kidnapped the Princess…and then there was that huge shootout between the galaxy police and her pirate goons.”
"We leave in twenty minutes,” said Misaki, “so get dressed and ready to leave.”
“Um, not griping, but couldn’t those servants have told us all this, instead of dragging us all through the castle in our pajamas?” Ami asked.
Azuza and Misaki just smiled at the pair.
"Ah…right, we’ll, um, go get ready then…” Jerren bowed and pulled at Ami’s arm and they both left the room.
Once the doors closed behind them the pair leaned back onto the solid frames and looked at each other. Shaking her head and sighing, Ami pushed off and headed back to her room, Jerren trailing behind her.

Within the hour, Azuza’s flagship gently touched down on the surface of the Galactic Unions latest planet of choice for the new attempt at signing the treaty.
Led into a winding hallway by a functionary whom Jerren would swear bore a familial resemblance to the ambassador that met Ayeka’s original group, they entered the main hall and inside they heard cheers and applause as they walked across the raised dais.

"Is…is…this…cheering really for…us?” Ami blushed at the attention.
"Of course!” replied Jerren, waving to the crowd, “Think about it…we saved Jurai and the entire universe! I think a little adulation is well deserved, don’t you?”

Mikami the headmaster of the GP training Academy, along with her brother Minami stood on stage. A guard presence surrounded the hall.
"Thank you all for attending this historical gathering for the signing of the treaty between the Jurian Empire and the Remzia Federation.” Mikami began, shushing the audience. “Before we continue, I just wanted to inform you that the surviving pirates that attacked the previous signing attempt have all been charged, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Ryoko, the leader of the pirates, sadly is still on the loose, but fear not, a joint taskforce is tracking her down as we speak.” Mikami pointed theatrically at the cameras.
“The security of the galaxy is no joke to the great men and women of the Galactic Police, and for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending the people under their care; a monument has been erected outside the main GP headquarters to forever symbolize the price that has been paid for our freedom and safety.”
“In honour of their memory, it give me great pride in presenting two courageous citizens of Jurai the highest accolade the GP may bestow; the medal of Courage.” Mikami signaled Jerren and Ami to step forward.
Jerren and Ami walked to Mikami and bowed as she presented them with their medals.
“For your heroism and bravery which led to the removal of the threat of Galactic Space Pirate Kagato, I am pleased to award you Jerren, and you Ami of Jurai the medal of Courage.” Mikami placed the medals around their necks and stood back clapping. The assembled crowd cheered and roared their approval. The two heroes waved and smiled.
Mikami walked forward again and signaled them to leave the stage. Continuing to wave they walked back to stand beside Azuza and Misaki.
“Now I welcome the Princess of Jurai to begin formal proceedings."

Ayeka smiled and walked on stage clearing her throat.
"We, Jurai and the Galactic Union Alliance, here by cease all militant action against the Remzia Federation, that we may both enjoy peaceful relations and trade within the boundaries of our respective borders in the hope of a harmonious and prosperous collaboration. Hence forth by the official decree of the holy council of Jurai and the Galactic Federation, we hear by admit the Remzia Federation as a full member of the Empire!"

The people cheered at her words and the rest of the ceremony proceeded without incident as the delegates came on stage to sign the treaty one by one.
After all the formalities were concluded and all the speeches recited, the audience filed out and the respective dignitaries congregated in the main hall to discuss politics and trade alliances. With nothing more to do, Jerren and Ami were left to their own devices.
Their quiet commiseration was interrupted when Detective first class Mihoshi came rushing over, grabbing a startled Jerren in a vice grip bear hug and swinging him around.
"Oh Jerren you’re ALIVE! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!"
“N…not for much l…longer if you don’t let g…go!” Jerren wheezed.
Mihoshi let him go and stepped back bowing to Jerren and Ami.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, I was just so happy to see you were okay!” Mihoshi smiled, blushing.
"Yeah I'm alive,” replied Jerren, “and since you’re here I also wanted to give something back to you..." He reached into his pocket and pulled out the cube she had given him and handed it back to Mihoshi.
“It was a lot more useful than I thought it would be, in fact you could say it saved our lives…”
"Thank you mister Jerren…” Mihoshi blushed harder, “Soooo, are you going take me out for donuts like you promised…?”
At this Ami couldn’t restrain herself anymore and pushed between them.
"Jerren, is this the cop you mentioned when we were on the Soja?” Ami blurted, “And what is this promise about donuts?”
"Oh yeah, uh, Ami this is Detective Mihoshi…”
“That’s ‘Detective first class’…” Mihoshi cut in raising her finger.
“Um, Detective first class Mihoshi...” replied Jerren as he blushed; “I kind of promised her if I came back I’d treat her to donuts.”
“You left out that part when you were telling the story before…” Ami fumed.
"Well I'm sorry Ami,” Jerren defended, “Everything happened so fast with the kidnappings and the rescuing and saving the universe.” He then turned his attention back to Mihoshi.
"I'm sorry Mihoshi but Ami can’t resist donuts, so is it okay if she comes too?”
"Sure!” Mihoshi beamed. “And I’ll bring my partner Kiyone too…Kiyoooooone!”
She rushed off and reappeared a few seconds later dragging her reluctant partner over to Jerren and Ami.
“Darn it Mihoshi, I was talking to the head of the…”
“This is my partner Kiyone!” Mihoshi exclaimed loudly cutting Kiyone off.
"Why hello Kiyone,” said Ami as she shook her hand, “You must be the other cop I heard about from Jerren, the, um…” she pulled her aside and whispered conspiratorially, “…competent one."
Mihoshi pulled Jerren out of earshot as Ami and Kiyone talked distractedly, his protests quickly drowned out by the ambient noise of the crowd around them.
"Uh, yes, you could say that.” replied Kiyone, “And you must be Ami? Good job saving the universe!”
"Why thank you!” Ami replied, “I’m just glad it’s all over. I heard you are very good at what you do in your work for the Galaxy Police. You played a major role in stopping Ryoko’s space pirates at the Remzia hall a couple weeks ago.”
Kiyone rubbed her neck and blushed modestly, grinning.
"Well yeah I'm very good at what I do,” replied Kiyone, “I just got promoted to detective, first class. My partner can be a pain in the neck at times but thanks for the compliment.”
Suddenly the pair noticed the missing Mihoshi and Jerren.
“Hey, where is…?” Ami looked up at Mihoshi’s laugh in the distance.
Ami huffed and stalked after the wayward pair.
Kiyone gave a weary sigh, rubbing the bridge of her nose, and followed.

Jerren woke early on the morning of his first training session. Excited, he quickly dressed and stalked from his room like a man on a mission…and almost collided with Ami as she raised her hand to knock on his door.
“OH! Jerren you frightened me,” Ami stepped back in shock, “But I’m glad to see you’re awake; ready for your first school day?”
Jerren laughed.
“It figures you’d beat me to the punch. Yeah, I’m ready, let’s go.”

The pair walked down the halls throwing ideas back and forth about what they might be taught in the course of their training as Jurain nobles.
They reached the room that had been indicated to them the day before and the guards opened the doors and they went inside. Azusa waited impassively with his back to them, staring from a window.
“Be seated!” he commanded.
Turning, Azusa picked up a book and began turning the pages as Jerren and Ami sat at the only two desks in the room.
“We shall start with Jurain Galactic history - the origin of Jurai and its rise to power.”

“150,000 years ago, the giant, sleeping humanoid form of Tsunami was found on the planet Jurai by a man from the house of Masaki who would eventually become its first emperor.
A space pirate, he was searching for his sister Masaki after she fled during a quarrel while they were being pursued by the remnants of the previous galactic Kingdom. It was during his search that this man came across the slumbering form of Tsunami. After waking, Tsunami detected evidence of great potential in this man and made a pledge to the House of Masaki to protect his descendants and bless them with great power, namely, with her descendants…the Royal Trees. The mighty power of Tsunami made it possible for the planet and its rulers to become a galactic superpower…”

"What kingdom were they fleeing?” Jerren interrupted.
"That is neither relevant nor necessary for you to learn in the course of your training.” Azusa stated flatly.

"…Rallying under his banner, over two million people fled to Jurai, settling and forming the rudimentary basis for what would become the Jurain Empire.
Eventually, the founder who would be the first Emperor of Jurai grew disillusioned with the idea of ruling the kingdom that Tsunami established for him so he intended to abdicate the leadership onto his sister, Masaki’s shoulders. Unfortunately for him she beat him to it and took her Royal tree ship and embarked on a voyage of exploration, eventually settling the Sol colony on the planet called Earth.”

“Wait…WHAT?” Jerren and Ami jumped up.
“Earth is a Jurain colony?” Ami leaned on her desk.
“Of course,” Azusa looked bemused by their reaction, “Why do you think there is a protective non interference order in place. It is at the express order of Lady Masaki herself.”
The pair slowly seated themselves recovering from the shellshock of such a discovery.
"Interesting origin story,” said Ami, “but like Jerren I also wonder about the kingdom they were running from and why!"
“Wonder as much as you wish, but from this point forward you will not bring this up again! Do you understand?” Azusa pointed at them sternly until they both nodded begrudgingly.

For two more hours they read from the textbooks and studied the minutia of how Jurai rose to power.
"Well that covers part one of Jurain history,” Azusa said as he closed his book. “Tomorrow we will talk about Jurais high imperial period.”
Azusa pulled out a new book.
“However, moving on, we shall now talk about Jurai’s culture and political setup starting with the royal houses of Jurai.”
Ami looked fascinated and absorbed every word as Jerren struggled to keep focused.

“There are four royal houses here on planet Jurai and at present the dominant ruling house is of course Masaki which I rule with the two empresess, first Lady Funaho and Misaki to whom we have two daughters, Ayeka and Sasami. The Kamiki house which lady Seto rules along with her husband Utsutsumi and her adoptive daughter Noike are the second tier ruling house. The third tier house, and most infamous, is the Amaki house…”

"Why is it infamous?" Jerren asked, raising his hand.
"Shuuzan,” Azusa almost hissed the name. “The leader of house Amaki attempted to thwart my efforts in becoming Emperor on two separate occasions and tried to kill lady Funaho in a duel.”
"Oh my, that sounds horrible!” gasped Ami.
Azusa nodded in agreement.
“Recently I have not heard nor seen any activity from him or his house.”

“…The fourth and last house is Tastuki. Very little is known about them since they like to keep to themselves and neither the Masaki nor Kamiki house has heard from them in quite a while. It is rumored that they collaborated with the Amaki house to over throw my appointment but nothing has ever been proven.”

"Fascinating…!” Ami rubbed her chin in contemplation, “But I do have a question, how are officials chosen?”
"I was just about to get to that,” said Azusa, “The four houses get together and choose them via election. Before I was elected, the previous Emperor was from the Amaki house. When he passed away, the four houses joined together to choose a new Emperor or Empress. Of course, if you have a first generation tree like I do then it is much easier to assure your victory in the election.”
"I see! Like in my country on Earth…” said Jerren, “The people elect a guy to be the leader for four years and if the people like him they re-elect him when his term’s up and he leads for another four years; a democracy?”
“Somewhat,” replied Azuza, “However we are an Imperial Empire and our power is absolute.”
“…This can be clearly seen when studying the class system here on Jurai; it is hierarchal in nature, so on the bottom level are the citizens or loyal subjects of the Empire who pay taxes and duties and fill the layers of the lower layer working class. In the middle class are the officials and higher level management class. Then there is the upper class; the nobles of Jurai, which you are being inducted into the ranks there of, who collects the citizens taxes and governs the provinces in each district of our mighty Empire. They have a considerable amount of authority within the limits of their duties and a small but powerful military force at their disposal to keep their provinces peaceful. They are loyal to the Emperor and Empress, but most of all to the Empire itself. Above all the levels of our society stand the ruling class who wields absolute authority over Jurai and its thousands of colonies. They only answer to the holy council of Jurai which will only step in for galaxy shaking decisions."

"Oh like the Congress like I have on my planet,” said Jerren, “I see!"
"I think this information will come in handy," Ami said, “I can’t wait to put the theory into practice, but I noticed you missed a class…what about the slave class?”
“They are slaves, not citizens, what more needs to be said?”
Azusa spoke casually.
Jerren and Ami looked at each other and their glance spoke volumes.After a week spent learning the history and etiquette of the Jurain nobility Jerren was seriously considering throwing himself head first from the window of their classroom. It being located a dozen stories from the ground becoming less of a deterrent with each passing day.
Fortunately, on the beginning of the new week they begin their martial training with Misaki and the stewards led them to another part of the castle where the temporarily demoted Empress paced back and forth impatiently.
“Ah, there you are!” She snapped when they were led in.
"Alright boys and girls, today you will be begin learning the basics of Jurain martial arts starting with a comprehensive test of your current capabilities and fitness followed by a complete work up of the more physical technique fundamentals. As neither of you have been formally trained nor have the abilities granted elite Jurian nobles joined with a Royal tree, we shall have to build the curriculum on the fly.”
Misaki paused for breath, her demeanor that of a stern drill sergeant.
“If you paid attention to Lord Azuza, then you know Jurains can manipulate matter on a subatomic level, project energy both offensively and defensively and we can even change our shape and appearance…” Misaki waved her hands expressively.
“There are even some gifted Jurains who can produce light hawk wings on their own without a ship…though there hasn’t been one of those in a few generations. Now I already know as mere humans you lack most of these abilities so we will have to start at the most basic level and see exactly what there is to work with…”
Ami had been quiet throughout Misaki’s speech, but had come to a decision.
"Your highness…?” Ami raised her hand and Misaki nodded for her to continue, “We might lack the abilities provided by the Royal trees, but we do have our own unique abilities. Jerren has developed enhanced strength and can use the Master Key, which can project the light hawk wings…” Ami paused considering her next words carefully, “And I have the ability to manipulate water in much the way a Jurain would use energy!”
Misaki glared at Ami, the tension in the room rising at the revelation of the powers Ami had so carefully concealed.
“I know that already,” Misaki scolded, shrugging, “So do not interrupt me again.”
Ami gawped at the nonchalant reaction of the Empress.
“Wait…YOU KNOW? You know about my abilities?” Ami blurted.
“Of course I do, silly little girl,” Misaki sighed wearily, “Did you honestly believe you could hide such abilities from us?”
Ami recoiled in shock.
“Since your return from Kagatos’ ship you and your partner have been studied thoroughly!”
Jerren looked perplexed staring at his hands as though they had betrayed him, before meeting the frightened eyes of Ami. He placed his hand on her shoulder comfortingly.
“Psychological analysis…physical pattern scans…a complete breakdown of your capabilities and potential…we knew every physiological detail of your abilities in a matter of hours.”
"Oh, I'm sorry your highness…” Ami bowed, flustered, “My sincerest apologies for not telling you about them sooner!"
"It is okay!” replied Misaki with a smug grin, “Showing cunning is not something to be punished, just be a good deal better at it. I can fail you if you get on my bad side so remember that.”
"YES MA’AM!” Jerren and Ami barked in unison standing to attention.
“Oh, I like that…” Misaki smiled. "Alright…! Since you lack our powers and scans can only tell us so much, we must start from square one…”

Misaki’s tests proved to be both rigorous and demanding.
Over the next few days Jerren and Ami discovered the limits of their mortal frames, pushing themselves in ways that did not seem humanly possible.
For a few of the sessions Ayeka and Sasami joined them, and cheerfully left them groaning, exhausted, in their wake. On those occasions, once Ami had recovered enough energy, a growl of annoyance would escape her lips at Princess Ayekas’ smug superiority as she looked down on the human girl in pity.
When Jerren was paired to face off with Sasami in order to practice posture for basic throws and counters he was worried he might hurt her with his heightened strength. After a few thrusts and parries, he was far more concerned that he wouldn’t be leaving the training hall alive.
Sasami happily threw him all over the room effortlessly. He began to find her cheerfulness rather unnerving as she belted him from one end of the room to the other.
Ami did not fare any better in Ayeka’s hands and the pair ached from the abuse their bodies had suffered at the Jurian’s hands.
And then the test of their powers began…

“This battle simulator was designed to test the two of you based on my observations of your abilities.” Misaki gestured towards a spherical building about two stories high, plain and utilitarian in appearance with only a small door to signify that entry was even possible.
“It was completed yesterday to my specifications I think you will find it to be quite challenging!” Misaki grinned.
“Alright…human girl, you go first.”
"Who me?” said Ami, “Um, okay...” Ami nervously approached the doorway hesitating at the entrance. Misaki exhaled in exasperation and pushed her forcefully through the entrance. Signaling for Jerren to follow, they all entered the battle simulator.
Ami stood transfixed just inside the doorway staring in wonder at the world presented by the marvel of Jurain engineering.
"Whoa! Check this out…” said Jerren whistling, “It's like that movie, ‘Tron’!”
"This is amazing! I know I said this before but your people coin the term ‘Space Age’!” Ami practically gushed at the surrounding technology.
A grid of pulsating lights encircled the room flashing beams of energy between nodes spaced evenly along the walls.
"Alright…! ‘Battle simulation three, mark one’…!” Misaki barked, “We will start at stage one, with icy terrain, and only moderate obstacle interference. It is also the lowest setting.” Misaki spoke condescendingly as the virtual landscape shifted into an open skied frozen wasteland with icy pillars and snow drifts dotting the landscape. Round balloon like targets floated lazily in the air and…obstacles…scurried furtively in and out of hidden crevasses.
The pair gulped at the sight of the spines, claws and teeth.
"Ok here are the rules…” said Misaki striding into the snow, “For every target you take out you lose half an hour off your physical training regimen today. Get all 12 and you may use the rest of your day however you see fit.” Raising her hand an energy pulse lashed out and struck one of the balloons causing it to burst in a static stream of energy. Almost instantly it reformed.
“You have five minutes and if you are tagged by one of the creatures, defeated or time runs out, an hour will be added on top of however many targets you miss.”
"Oh okay,” replied Ami stretching her limbs and warming up, “This actually sounds fun…um, not the extra work I mean, the course.”
Ami studied the obstacle course as she went in front of the starting line. The easier targets were located openly on easily accessible platforms, while more difficult balloons were floating in midair behind obstructions, some guarded by the ice creatures.

"I can do this!” Ami pumped herself up.
Pausing at the starting line Ami pulled out her blue visor.
“I sure am glad I was able to get these upgraded!” Ami placed it over her eyes, and giggled happily as the heads up display lighted in front of her. She loved the new improvements the castle technicians had given her visor. Looking around the environment the visor quickly marked all 12 targets in green and all creatures lurking in their vicinity in red. Optimal routes to reach the targets were highlighted in blue.
“Right…Here I go!” Ami went through the starting gate and summoned multiple bubbles to hit 3 targets that were very open but on separate sides of the field.
"Yes! That’s an hour and a half for me!” she grinned excitedly, “Just nine more to go!"
As she was running to the next target what could only be described as some sort of furry scorpion that had not been marked on her display jumped up from its concealed hiding place in front of her and spat out sharp needles at her exposed midsection. Ami reacted quickly and used her bubble force field causing several needles to deflect in different directions, one hitting the monster impaling its exposed throat, as others skittered harmlessly on ice a few actually contacted some of the more difficult to reach targets bursting them in a shower of sparks.
In the end two more targets had been hit and the creature defeated, but at a cost. As Ami moved towards the next target her heartbeat falling back to its normal pattern, she felt a pain in her leg. Looking down she saw a needle protruding from her calf.
“Oh darn!” Ami groaned pulling the sharp barb gingerly from her tender leg.

"Hmm, innovative and expedient use of outside resources…!” Misaki remarked as she observed Ami's reflexive course of action, “She not only deflected the stingers back at the chimera but also hit a couple of the harder to reach targets…but sadly, the confrontation did not leave her unscathed.”
“Alright Ami, you can do it, walk it off!” Jerren yelled from the sidelines.

"Okay, only seven more to go!” Ami said composing herself. “Only the obstructed ones are left so I need to think more strategically.” Her visor began to glow as she reviewed the information it had on hand.
"Now let’s see,” she said as she scanned the remaining targets and creatures, “It seems several targets are guarded by a den of those furry bugs and something…something bigger is covering the others. I need to draw them out and incapacitate them…nothing serious, I just need to get past them, a few seconds will be all I need…”
“So what to do in a situation like this...oh, of course, AQUA MIST!" Drawing all the moisture from the air a thick fog coalesced over the crevices and hidden lairs of the subterranean monsters. Suddenly creating friction throughout the mist created an electric shock that had all the lurking creatures bursting from their caves like an erupting geyser of claws and gnashing fangs. Spines twisted in irritation at the sudden shocking sparks that flared over their fur into their soft tissue.
And then a rumble in the ground almost threw Ami off her feet as an enormous grey serpent exploded from the ground. 3 more targets were destroyed by the frenzied thrashing of the serpent’s roaring maw.

“Ami look out…!” Jerren shouted.
Misaki held her arm in front of Jerren as he rushed to aid her.

But Ami had kept her head and poured more fog over the massing creatures. Focusing the energy around her she drew all the friction and movement from the water molecules creating a snap freeze that immobilized the creatures in an icy prison. Walking calmly past the mewling, trapped monstrosities, Ami nonchalantly shot bubbles at the remaining 4 defenseless targets.
The simulator turned off and Ami limped back to Misaki and Jerren.

"Wow Ami, when did you learn that?" Jerren smiled in congratulation.
"Just yesterday,” replied Ami, “I wanted to tinker with my water abilities, and so I thought of all the forms water can take and how they could be mixed. It was just theory though until I put it into application and this seemed like as good a time as any.”
Misaki crossed her arms.
“It was risky trying an untested technique in the thick of battle, but it paid off, so well done. In a real battle such a stunt could very well mean the difference between life and death… and not necessarily your own. You destroyed all the targets with only one penalty. An impressive display…”
Ami blushed at the praise as Misaki turned to Jerren and pointed to the flickering battle space.
"It is your turn boy,” Misaki said impassively, “‘Battle simulation one, mark one’!”
The simulator transformed as ship hull plating formed with coils and tubes running around the perimeter. Soon it became apparent that the battle ground was to be a cargo bay.
"So I'm fighting inside of a ship huh, well this shouldn’t be too hard to deal with…” Jerren pulled out the light hawk sword.
"The rules are the same,” said Misaki, “Get all 12 targets and you have a free pass for the rest of the day.”
"Okay, sounds simple,” replied Jerren, “I am so ready to do this!”
Jerren charged into the room prepared to slash his way through anything that popped up, but the room blinked red and the cargo bay disappeared.
“Hey what happened?” Jerren spun around looking for his targets.
“Oh yes,” Misaki held her hand over her mouth, “I forgot…No weapons allowed. This is a test of your inherent abilities, what you can do with what is built into you.”
“But Ami used her visor…and she has water powers!” Jerren pointed out.
“A visor does not enhance your physical abilities, merely your awareness, and as she discovered, it is not infallible…and her water powers are inherent to her. No weapons!”
Grumbling, Jerren handed the light hawk sword to Misaki.
“You can use my visor if you like Jerren! It will help you keep track of the targets.” Ami offered.
“Nah…It would only slow me down.” Jerren waved the proffered tool away. “But thanks for offering.”
"Okay, no weapon…all that means is this is going to take a little longer than I thought. This is STILL going to be a cake walk…” he said, his confidence unshaken.
The cargo bay reformed and as soon as Misaki gave the signal Jerren charged into the room again.
Immediately a group of automated stinger orbs surrounded him and fired a volley of blasts. Sliding under the blasts Jerren kicked the lid off a metal crate and snatching it in the air flung it at the clustered orbs, destroying half of them as the lid rebounded from one to the next smashing their circuitry. The metal tray skittered over the ground and Jerren tumbled over to it raising it to shield himself as more blasts zipped past him. The energy hit the makeshift shield and was redirected sending the dangerous beams back to their source and the rest of the orbs were taken out in a shower of molten slag. The randomly returned blasts also managed to destroy 4 targets littered around the room.

“Only 8 more to go Jerren…!” Ami shouted.
“Make shift, ungraceful but an adaptive and practical solution…” Misaki noted.

"This is a piece of cake!” Jerren laughed, “Just 8 more and I win! How about we make this more challenging?”
Misaki grinned, and nodded.
“Alright Boy, but remember, you asked for it. “Battle simulation two Mark two!”
A door opened on the other side of the room. Strutting confidently towards it he sent the container lid flying into the rafters where a shimmer of sparks verified another target hit.
“Make that 7…”
He walked into the next room to discover a smelter operation with only a narrow walkway held by chains and surrounded by molten metal that flowed underneath. Several branching platforms circled over him. The door slammed shut behind him.
Walking slowly Jerren had just counted the final 7 targets high above him when a burst of burning metal bubbled and exploded from the central river melting through the platform and chains just in front of him. He leaped back as the spatter covered where seconds ago he had stood.
Gulping at the near miss, Jerren was startled at the screeching, groaning sounds that came from the damaged walk way. In juddering fits chains snapped and the platform began to fall. Jerren heard Ami gasp in horror.
A heaving liquid monster rose before him spewing molten metal as it latched onto the faltering twisted platform.
"Not good, I need to get out of here, NOW,” he cried in panic. He leaped onto one of the snapped chains swinging himself over the creature as it continued to pull itself from the burning muck. Jerren swung from one chain to the next until he landed on a higher walkway. Holding the last chain, Jerren grunted and pulled the links from their anchor points.
Looking over the edge he noticed the still rising form below him. Looking around he sighted the nearest targets and using the improvised chain link whip, quickly snapped three targets from the air.
“A…and then there were 4!” Jerren wiped his brow, his heart beating hard in his chest.
Jerren leapt high into the air just as the platform beneath his feet was wrenched from its moorings. His hand snaked out and caught the next platform by the barest margin.
Slowly he pulled himself over the railing. Looking down the creature pulled the metal platform into its gaping maw.
Gasping from the heat and exertion, Jerren pulled himself to his feet, snapping the chain whip at another target, missing by a small sliver. He wiped the sweat from his eyes and flicked his wrist again snapping the balloon in a puff of sparks.
Stumbling to the other side of the walkway Jerren lined up another shot. Another hit and he lined up for the last two when giant molten fingers latched on to the edge of the walk way throwing him off balance, and sent him tumbling over the side.
Grabbing the edge, Jerren shouted involuntarily and held on for dear life as the creature swung the platform this way and that, trying to pull it free.
He swung his makeshift whip at the creatures’ wrist in the hope of freeing its grasp on the tortured platform but succeeded only in melting his chain.
Realizing the hopelessness of a direct attack, Jerren tried to pull himself up.
The chains finally snapped, the platform ripped from its hold and Jerren entered freefall…

Ami screamed, and suddenly it was all gone thus ending the simulation.
Jerren found himself floating a few feet off the ground.
“H…huh? What happened?” He stuttered in incomprehension.
Jerren floated just above the ground as Misaki and Ami approached him.
"Nice job Jerren,” Ami said impressed, “You almost got them all."
"Ah nuts…!” Jerren hung his head.
“Your partner is correct human. You showed ingenuity, an impressive ability to adapt and a remarkable will. However your overconfidence was your undoing.” Misaki ticked off her observations tapping her fingers with the light hawk sword.
“It was…?” Jerren asked in a small voice.
“Yes! You asked for a higher difficulty setting when you were obviously not prepared for it. Added to that is the lack of focus you showed when confronted with a powerful adversary. You chose to focus on the magma giant rather than stick to your true objective of quickly destroying your targets. When you were hanging from that railing you could have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat but you attacked the wrong target…”
“Okay, I’m going to work on that!” Jerren pumped his fist energetically as the field evaporated and his feet returned to the ground.
"Good! Constantly seeking to improve your self is the key to becoming a good martial artist. Now with scores tallied, 1 hour of reaction improvement training for Ami and 3 hours of strategic course running for Jerren.”
“Wait…3 hours?” Jerren queried. “There were two balloons left and I failed, shouldn’t that be two hours?”
“No, two balloons and you were tagged and defeated...just because the program didn’t let you fall into the molten metal doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.” Misaki critiqued.
“Yes your highness.” Jerren and Ami groaned in unison.

To be continued...

Epilogue:
It was in the second hour of his training that Jerren decided he hated Ami and Misaki.
The pair lounged sedately by a pool sipping ice tea from exotic glasses with umbrellas in them.
“Should we really be doing this while Jerren is training?” Ami asked self-consciously. “That is the third time he’s glared at us.”
Misaki lowered her sunglasses from the bridge of her nose and spied Jerren as he wove in and out of her obstacle course.
Misaki grinned maliciously.
“Do not concern yourself,” The former empress placated, “Just lie back and enjoy this wonderful weather.”
Her laughter echoed.
Over the past 11 months Jerren and Ami had trained their bodies and minds under the tutelage of Azuza and Misaki, learning all they could about the Jurain Empire; its history, etiquette and combat styles. They had pushed themselves beyond their limits and the year of study was approaching its end. It was midnight and Jerren and Ami were cramming in one final study session before their exams.
Ami felt prepared and went to bed early while Jerren sat at his desk, frustrated, still struggling with his Jurian history.
"Oh cruuuud!” Jerren moaned as he blankly stared at his text book, “There is no way I can remember all this. I love history but Jurian history just fries my mind…I mean, it covers over 150,000 years! Ugh!" Jerren planted his face in the textbook, ‘resting his eyes for a moment’ he told himself. There was a knock on the door and Jerren jerked awake.
"WHO IS IT?” Jerren yelled out as he got up from is chair and walked to the door. “If it’s another guard, you can go away. I don’t need anything!”
"It is I, Princess Ayeka,” a voice said, “May I enter?”
"Oh it's you Princess,” replied Jerren, “thank goodness you’re not one of those guards; they’ve been bothering me all night. Yes, please come in.” The door opened and Ayeka walked into the room.
"Why hello my servant,” she said as she fondly tousled his hair, “or should I just call you Jerren from now on since you will soon no longer be in my service."
"It's nice to see you too Princess!” Jerren smiled tiredly. Yawning, he slowly walked back to his desk and sat down.
"Oh my, you do not seem well,” Ayeka stated in concern as she walked to his side, placing the back of her hand on his forehead. “You seem to be exhausted, your eyes are bloodshot and you feel very warm. You need to rest or you will get sick."
"You don't know the half of it princess,” said Jerren as he picked up his text book. “My brain is so full of information right now it feels like it's about to burst…”
"It is because of Father’s test tomorrow,” Ayeka clucked sympathetically, “that is why you are in the state you are in, is it not?"
"You hit the nail right on the head Princess,” said Jerren with his head still in the book. “I can't get pass chapter 29 and wrap my head around Jurai and Seniwa’s feud for dominance."
"That is all…?” Ayeka giggled, “That is child’s play, the Jurain - Seniwan conflicts are the least complicated chapter of Jurain history so what is the problem?”
"It's easy for you Princess,” replied Jerren, “you grew up with this stuff."
"True…” replied Ayeka, “I was immersed in my planets history and culture by my parents from an early age and was also taught by the legendary swordsman Yosho...so perhaps I could…help you study?” Ayeka spoke quickly blushing furiously.
“Really…you would actually do that for me?” said Jerren looking up from his textbook.
"Of course,” Ayeka smiled shyly looking away from Jerren’s earnest stare, “you helped me in my time of need when Kagato kidnapped me, so I will gladly help you study. It seems the least I can do…”
"Thank you,” Jerren grinned, “I really need to get a handle on this."
"What are friends for?” said Ayeka picking up the book. “In space calendar year 9506 Jurai had grown in strength and prestige and expanded its borders across the galaxy. But a rival to Jurain dominance would soon challenge the still expanding Empire. Like Jurai, Seniwa had claimed nearly a thousand planets and had massive influence over the galaxy at that time. But as Jurai’s influence expanded into Seniwan territory, space became a premium commodity. We came into conflict and that conflict would eventually escalate into a galactic cold war for influence and dominion over the galaxy. The bitter rivalry between Empires lasted for about a millennium until Seniwa was drained of all its essential resources and their economy stalled. Unfortunately Jurai was not doing much better and neared the same level of economic collapse. Jurai and Seniwa agreed to make a covenant of peace and we helped them stabilize their economy while they provided security and peacekeeping forces. These agreements are still upheld today under the Galactic Police charter…which I believe you have at least a passing familiarity with."

"You make it sound so simple. I'll definitely remember this, thanks!” Jerren made some notes.
"You are welcome.” Ayeka beamed at Jerren.
“It was generous of lady Seto to let me keep you as my servant this whole year after you were done with classes. It was…fun. We did not have much time left together to...to…! So, I…I wanted to be by your side as much as I possibly could!” Ayeka then turned her face and tears dripped from her face.
"But now...that time is almost done...and after I just started to get to know you as a person too! You are a bit naive, but funny…and very talented.” Ayeka laughed through her sobs. “I am really going to miss having you as my servant...and friend!"
"Hey it’s all right,” Jerren walked around his desk and hugged Ayeka. She buried her face into his shirt, “please don't cry Princess. Hey, when we graduate, you can still hang out with me and Ami. We can still be friends, can’t we?”
Ayeka looked into Jerren’s eyes.
"Yes that would be nice,” she said as she laid her head on his chest, “nice...and warm and...cozy...!” The Princesses voice trailed off.
"Uh, Princess…? Princess…?” Jerren shook Ayeka’s shoulders lightly. “Hey princess, snap out of it!"
"OH my…!” she said as she let go of him blinking rapidly, “I am sorry, you were so nice and huggable I think I drowsed off. But let us finish studying so you can pass Father’s test!"

For the next 3 hours they studied long and hard and in the 4th hour Ayeka had fallen asleep, tired from all the studying. Jerren picked her up, laying her gently in his bed and closed the door softly behind him. Stealing quietly into Ami's room Jerren plunked himself on the floor with a blanket and a pillow his mind drifting into slumber the moment his head hit the pillow.

To be continued.....
User avatar
by segaman4
#27696 It was late morning when two Jurain guards burst into Ami’s room: “WAKE UP! The Emperor has DEMANDED your presence…AT ONCE!” Jerren and Ami jumped at the sudden outburst. Ami sleepily noticed Jerren and her eyes widened.
The guards casually stepped outside once it was apparent the humans had understood the message and were fully awake.
"J...Jerren…!” Ami stuttered. Her face flushing the young woman jerked her sheet up to cover herself, “What are you doing in my room?”
"Well that’s actually a funny story,” replied Jerren as he stretched, “You see I was studying and the princess came in…”
"The Princess...?" Ami interrupted, “You mean Ayeka? And what business could the…Princess,” Ami scowled, “possibly have in your room after midnight?"
"Well,” said Jerren obliviously, “the Princess wanted to check to see how I was doing, and we talked and she ended up helping me study for the exams. I studied until…um, oh, about five, but by then the princess was fast asleep and I put her in my bed to sleep…”
"Well I'll admit that was generous of her,” said Ami reluctantly, “considering she didn't have to assist you when she has a very tight schedule being the Princess and all. But you could have asked me for help and...wait; why were you sleeping in MY room then?”
Jerren fidgeted a bit and looked a little uncomfortable.
"Well uh, it was late and by that time you were fast asleep and plus she did it of her own free will so who was I to protest, I was getting help for free…” Jerren waffled, trailing off.
"That is not what I asked.” Ami frowned again tugging her sheet. “If I had to guess I think Princess Ayeka has feelings for you and as thick as you can be, even you finally noticed. That is why you slept in my room isn’t it? She IS a princess, and if she has a crush, and you slept in the same room…?"
Jerren laughed a little too enthusiastically.
"Feelings for me…?” Jerren spoke at a higher pitch than normal, “Like she has a crush on me? Don’t be ridiculous. I…I mean, she’s a Princess and she has treated me like her whipping boy…always scolding me when she thinks I’m out of line, and sometimes slapping me in the face when I say something "disrespectful". Even though she has mellowed a bit during the last 8 months and she started to treat me more like…like a person than her property. Maybe even, say, more like a close friend or…” Jerren suddenly wailed, “OH MY GOSH, Princess Ayeka LIKES me Ami, what am I going to do?”
Ami sighed, exasperated.
"Well it's best to keep a clear eye on her, her moods are ironically, mercurial at the best of times,” said Ami, “but other than that I suggest you do nothing for now.”
“…and speaking of now; we must report to Emperor Azuza for our first exam, we don't want to be late…” Ami looked at Jerren and Jerren nodded and looked at Ami.
Ami fumed and pouted and finally lost patience, picking up a brush and hurling it at her friend.
“GET OUT OF MY ROOM SO I CAN CHANGE…!”
Jerren hastily fled from Ami’s room back to his own in which Princess Ayeka was, thankfully, nowhere to be found.

A short time later the pair sat in silence as Azuza placed pads on their desks.
"As you know, today you will be tested. This test is comprised of 200 questions worth about 70% of your final grade.” Azuza smiled grimly.
"70%...?” said Ami, “that is worth about 4 letter grades!”
"Correct,” Replied Azuza, “and failing this test will give you an automatic zero and stifle your chance of becoming nobles in our house!”
"Good thing we studied,” Ami turned to Jerren, “or we would really be in a predicament."
"Yeah…” gulped Jerren, and added under his breath, “good thing the princess came in when she did."
"Alright you have 5 hours to complete this exam so pace yourself the best you can, and...” Azuza smirked at them. “Do not fail. You may begin!”
Jerren and Ami picked up their pads and began reading.

Question one. In what year did the first emperor arrive on what would be later called the planet Jurai: A. space calendar year 50,000, B. space calendar year 100,000, C. space calendar 5501, or D. space calendar year 4000?
“Oh that’s easy it's b!” Jerren chuckled as he circled b and continued. Ami was circling her way up to question 12.
Who are the 4 royal families of Jurai?
“Ah, a simple one; Misaki, Kamiki, Amaki and Tamiki.” Ami smiled.
The test continued.

Jerren circled the last answer and put down his pad, looking at Ami who had finished half an hour earlier. A bell chimed and Azuza pulled out a pad from a pouch in his robes and studied the readout.
"You paced yourselves well, only a little over 4 hours for the both of you to complete the test. And now for the results…” Jerren crossed his fingers and Ami fidgeted nervously.
"Okay girl you first,” said Azuza “your score was…198 out of 200 so you got an overall score of 98% so you pass!" Ami was relieved.
"That is a relief!” Ami sighed relaxing.
"Now it is your turn boy,” said Azuza reading the statistics. Sweat ran down Jerren’s face and he bit his lip nervously as the silence stretched out.
"You…you got 199 out of 200!” Azuza stammered completely shocked, “Giving you an overall score of 99% so you…passed this class!”
"I…passed…?” said Jerren numbly.
Ami walked over beaming joyfully.
"Good job Jerren, you...”
"WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Jerren jumped on his desk startling Ami, and did a jig of happiness.
“I passed! I passed! Thank you PRINCESS! Thank you! I actually did even better than Ami!"
Ami laughed and let her friend have his moment.
After a while Jerren calmed down and looked at Ami sheepishly grinning as he climbed down off his desk.
"Sorry about that Ami,” he apologized “I didn't mean to say that!”
"Forget about it,” Ami grinned and punched his arm, “you really earned it this time, and I’m very proud of you.”
"Well that concludes my involvement,” Azuza smiled happily, “The next test is all Misaki’s responsibility…”

"Yes your highness!” Jerren and Ami said in unison, grinning.
After lunch Jerren and Ami were ordered to report to Misaki.
Walking out into the familiar training grounds the lively pair were taken aback by the drastic changes that had taken place. Where there was once a comfortable but rigorous obstacle course and fitness training area, they now walked out into a fully fledged battle arena.
Misaki stood in the center waiting impatiently for them.

"Alright children,” Misaki tapped her foot, “your final test today will be a battle between the two of you using the techniques and abilities you have developed over the last year. If you put on a good show, and demonstrate you have mastered the forms, then…you pass!"
"A one on one battle between me and Jerren…?” Ami looked at her friend quizzically, “Well that sounds like an interesting challenge. I would love to test the full extent of my abilities…in a friendly competition of course."
"So what you’re saying is; I have to face Ami in a battle in order to pass?” said Jerren scratching his head.
"Yes that is exactly what I mean,” replied Misaki with a smile, “and it will be especially entertaining for me…so ready your positions and face each other.” Jerren and Ami did as instructed and stared each other down.
"Ready, set and...GO!” Misaki snapped her fingers.
Jerren swept out the Light Hawk Sword and activated it.
Ami sighed, unimpressed.
“Ah, Jerren, such obvious tactics…I really wish you weren't so predictable, but I have something to counter that sword of yours.” Ami then formed a sword out of a shimmering ice crystal and pointed it at Jerren.
“Ooh…” Misaki clasped her hands excitedly.
"So…you managed to make your own sword,” Jerren grinned, “I would be impressed if I thought ice could possibly stand up to the Light Hawk Sword.”
"Don’t you worry; you will be surprised at how strong it really is…” Ami stepped into a ready position.
Jerren and Ami charged at each other and their swords clashed together in a shower of sparks and glittering ice particles. Ami’s ice crystal sword was undamaged after the exchange of blows just as Ami had warned.
"I guess you weren't bluffing!” Jerren twirled and countered a wild swing from Ami. “The Light Hawk Sword can’t seem to cut through it but I can use my super strength to add power to my attacks.” Jerren sent blow after pulverizing blow onto Ami’s sword. Ami gasped as Jerren threw in an overhead swing that brought their blades together with his full weight and strength pushing her down. The crystal sword cracked under the pressure and shattered sending Ami sprawling to the floor."
"Humph, had enough?” Jerren asked as he looked down on Ami.
Ami pursed her lips together as though she was about to whistle and a thick icy fog spewed from between her lips. The mist spread quickly and in seconds she was obscured from view.
Jerren stepped back in surprise as the mist covered his legs, his chest and then was everywhere.
"So you made a fog to blind me…that’s pretty clever,” Jerren whirled in the fog, “but still useless. The sword enhances my senses as well!"
“There you are…I have you now!” He leapt and kicked, his foot sending his target flying back. The mist cleared a little as Jerren approached his fallen opponent and saw an ice statue shattered on the ground.
"A trick…? Where is she?" Jerren nervously spun around trying to spy his friend. Ami flew through the air with her newly formed Ice sword. It clashed with his blade until Jerren overpowered her and sent her crashing to the ground. But this time as she hit the floor her body shattered into ice crystals.
"So you can also make clones of yourself out of ice too huh?” said Jerren recovering his balance. “You've been hiding stuff from me while we were training?"
"A little bit,” Ami’s voice echoed through the fog, Jerren spun, trying unsuccessfully to locate the source, “I did a little personal training on my own time. I need a few aces up my sleeve, it’s only good strategy.”
Piercing the mist, bubbles shot towards Jerren and he dodged. The fog whirled in front of him and he raised his sword to parry until he felt a shiver of cold around his neck as he felt the edge of Ami’s blade touch his exposed throat as it slid into position from behind him.
“Got’cha…!” Her voice whispered into his ear.
"W...What? How are you behind me when you shot bubbles in front of me?"
The mist lifted slowly as the pair stood frozen in place.
"It was simple really, I already knew the fog would only last about two minutes, so I made clones in the mists to divert your attention, then when the time was right, caught you where you least expected me.”
Three more ice clones stood around the pair with ice swords pointed at Jerren. Misaki chuckled.
"Nice trick, but I'm afraid you lose!” Clamping his chin down onto the blade, Jerren braced himself and sent out a shockwave that pulverized the clones and sword and sent Ami flying backwards. Ami quickly stumbled to her feet and brushed herself off.
"That’s some power you’ve got in your arsenal. You seem even stronger than when we faced Kagato.” Jerren grinned as Ami raised her hands in a sign of mock surrender. “But I'm a lot stronger myself!” Ami shut her eyes, concentrating, her open hands curled into fists and then her fingers uncurled again as liquid flew from her hands in waves. “SHINE AQUA ILLUSION!”
Jerren was flung back by the force of the waves, impacting hard against a wall. Curling her fingers into a fist the water solidified freezing him in a block of ice.
"N…nice one Ami,” Jerren chattered through the cold, “but still f…futile…I can break out of this easily.”
Flexing his muscles Jerren suddenly contracted and then expanded, shattering the ice into shards, spraying them all over the room. Falling to the ground Jerren immediately charged at Ami. His friend prepared to unleash her next attack…
“Stop…!” Misaki commanded, stepping between them. The pair halted mid attack and waited for Misaki to continue.
"You two put on an entertaining show,” Misaki clapped, “Your form wasn’t perfect, but you have mastered it and shown that in time it can only improve. You both pass. Congratulations.”
Jerren and Ami leaped for joy as Misaki walked away.
"Finally we get our reward,” said Jerren grinning broadly, “I'm so excited.”
"Yes…” replied Ami hugging her friend, “I'm a bit excited myself; we'll finally get what we worked so hard for.
Next morning Jerren and Ami watched nervously from their seats as the last of Lord Azuzas’ entourage filed onto his ship. The doors closed and the vessel lifted smoothly from the ground, leisurely gliding through Jurai’s atmosphere and into space. In a matter of hours the Mikagami loomed before them; inside Lady Seto, and her attendants Harada and Minaho waited patiently for the vessels to dock. Seto sat drinking a cup of saki upon her throne while elegantly fanning herself as all the functionaries of Azuza’s court entered the chamber.
"Well daughter, time is up…how did the humans do?”
“They have excelled in Jurian martial arts Mother; their skill is equal to the rank of an elite infantry soldier…though of course, there is always room for improvement…!”
"As well my lady, their study of Jurais culture and history has progressed apace at an equal level!" Azusa cut in proudly.
"Interesting…!” Seto smiled, “Ami, the Jurain Empress that saved the empire from the monster Yugi over 3,500 years ago, to whom do I refer?”
“Oh that's easy,” said Ami, “that was Empress Hinase. She imprisoned the rogue mutant during the 27th year of her reign and banished it deep into space.”
"Very informative,” Seto nodded. “Jerren…? What engines power Jurain royal ships?"
“They are powered by the royal trees which are the heart and soul of the ship. Bonded to a partner for life the tree also has the power to generate light hawk wings like the sword I wield."
"Excellent…!” Seto remarked amicably, “I officially declare that the conditions have been met and the rewards promised have thus been earned. They are now to be given, in full, to the humans known as Jerren and Ami.”

Jerren and Ami rejoiced as they heard Lady Seto’s proclamation.

"Finally…no more sleeping in those dusty dorms…!” Jerren said excitedly.
"Yes and now we have power and influence on Jurai from the Misaki house. We can even command their royal guards!” Ami thought out loud.
"A moment of your time young nobles,” Seto gestured to the pair as Misaki, Azuza and his retinue filed from the chamber. “I have an assignment for the both of you. It would seem that General Daluma, a rather notorious pirate,” Lady Seto’s eyes narrowed and her tone grew cold spitting the word ‘pirate’, “has escaped from prison and reunited with a few of his former crew members to loot the planet Beta where they quite foolishly plan to begin raiding the outlying colonies. I want you to go with Captain Seina Yamada to take back control of the planet and eliminate these miscreants.”
"Yes my lady.” Jerren and Ami said in unison.
"You may begin in the morning, in the meantime Azuza and Misaki will show you to your new home. A small summer palace in the lower foothills as I recall…"
"We have a palace?” Jerren exclaimed, “Now that is cool!"
"It was built while you were training and was finally completed last month."
"Oh, that’s wonderful,” Ami smiled and clapped before her face fell, “but I must ask you a serious question my lady…!”
"What is on your mind my child,” Seto said, sipping her saki. “Do not be afraid to speak candidly with me dear."

"Well…,” said Ami tentatively, “It’s about the people of Mercury…?”
"What about them?” Seto looked bored, “Is there anything in particular you wished to ask me about these people.”
"I certainly would,” stated Ami firmly, “my question to you is why did you send your army to attack Mercury a year ago when they never posed a threat to you?”
Seto remained silent for a while, Minaho and Harada exchanged sharp glances. Seto then sipped some more of her saki and after her cup was empty, she put it down.
"Oh you poor little girl,” Seto raised herself from her throne and walked over to Ami placing her hand on the young woman’s shoulder, “I understand why you feel conflicted; it must have seemed so random to you and you want answers…”
Ami looked up to the tall woman and met her gaze.
“I am sorry to say, that this information is classified!”
"What...classified?” Ami mumbled in confusion. “What do you mean by classified?”
"Like I said, it is classified dear,” said Seto turning away, “Only select individuals are privy to the reason behind our attack on Mercury, and I am afraid that you do not qualify to be put in the loop, as it were!”
"B…but we’re nobles in the Misaki house now!” Ami protested, “Doesn’t that give us the clearance to...”
"That’s enough Ami,” Jerren interrupted, “let’s just go ok?”
Ami looked at Jerren in concern.
"Jerren…I…!” she stammered.
"We’re new here,” said Jerren, “maybe down the road Lady Seto will reveal the reason to us. We’ve got a palace to check out…so let’s go.” Ami looked at Seto and then back at Jerren.
"Oh alright then,” Ami sighed, “I guess I must be patient about things. I just hope they’re alright.”
"They are;” said Seto, “Even though they are slaves, the people of Mercury are being treated fairly and kindly by the citizens of Jurai, so do not concern yourself with such matters…if you so desire I will send you an update on them from time to time, fair enough?”
"Yeah that sounds fair,” said Ami, “because for a while I thought you might be treating them badly."
"We might be a little rough my dear, but we are most considerate of our slaves wellbeing."

Everyone then teleported out of the Mikagami and Minaho turned to Seto.
"That girl is a bit too nosy Milady!” she said softly.
"A little,” Seto replied as she fanned herself, “but it is a natural curiosity and one easily distracted from its point, she and her friend were caught in the crossfire while Mercury was being pacified after all.” Seto’s fan snapped shut and pointed at Minaho. “Nevertheless…they must never find out the secret behind the attack on Mercury. If they did they would rebel against us and expose our plans to the entire galaxy showing the people who we really are; not the heroic, beneficent rulers they have come to know but the reality…! We would surely be punished by the Master for such a foolish lapse, and deservedly so. If they ever begin to suspect...” Seto paused, looking pointedly at Minaho who nodded grimly.
“What news from the Tamiki and Kamiki house?"
"Oh them,” replied Harada with a weary, frustrated sigh, “Tamiki is a den of secrets and misinformation, we have yet to even determine their full number, and as for the Amiki family; you can forget it, we have not heard from them in over 700 years. It is like they ceased to exist.”
Minaho scratched her head.
“They are both so secretive, it is most suspicious my lady.”
"They might be planning something,” said Seto, “Minaho, be a dear and discover what they are up to! Discretion being the word, mind you."
"It will be done my lady,” said Minaho bowing, “I will contact a few of our deep cover agents to begin making quiet inquiry.”
Lady Seto nodded.
“Very good…you may go!” She said as she stared into the stars.


About 34 minutes later back on Jurai, Azuza and Misaki was showing Jeremy and Ami their brand new palace. "Wow take a look at this," Jeremy gaped in astonishment, "It's like the 8th wonder of the world!"

"Don't you mean the 8th wonder of the galxay," Ami corrected while starting to chuckle.

The palace was was a mixture of gold and silver as a gigantic tree peaked out through the highest recesses of the roofing. Braches extended from the walls, suggesting the building had been built around it. There were also paintings of the Lighthawk Sword on the outside walls. Everyone went inside, where Jeremy and Ami went silent at the size of the grounds.

"My goodness, the size of this place," Ami breathed astonished, "It's boundaries seem to have no limit!"

"I agree," replied Jeremy ,"This place is the size of a football field!"

Azuza and misaki shown them to the living room where Jeremy and Ami could not find the words to describe what they were seeing. The entire room including the walls and furniture and floor were plastered with pure gold and it was 30 feet in width and 80 feet in height. After showing off the living room, Azuza and Misaki continued the tour which Jeremy and Ami drinking in the mind-bending sights surrounding them.

"Here are the rooms that were built in most recently," Azuza explained as he guided them through the hallway, "The rooms I'm showing you are the guess rooms."

"Well", said Ami, "there are a quite of a number of guest rooms, by my estimate I would say about 11."

"Close," corrected Misaki, "actually 12 were built in."

"Well that is quite a lot," Ami replied. They all look very elegant and majestic. Whoever designed them had a great sense of creativity and free expression. Misaki and Azuza then showed them the the bathrooms. The palace had a total of 13.

"Look at all those bathroom," conjectured Jeremy, "Well, we defiantly won't be complaining about finding one when its time to do our business. Also, we won't have to share one, either."

"Yes," agreed Ami, "but why does it have to have 13? If I was the architect, I would have recommended up to only four."

"True," said Jeremy, "but then again, why are there 13 guestrooms?"

"You do have a point there," replied Ami, "but I do wonder what the kitchen looks like."

"Not yet," Azuza interrupted, "we haven't shown you your master bedroom yet!"

They showed Jeremy and Ami the master bedroom. When they all entered, Jeremy and Ami's jaws dropped. They remained speechless as they saw the entire extremity of the room.

"This room...," Jeremy stammered, "It's..."

"I know," Ami said as she finished Jeremy's sentences, "It's huge, very huge!"

The master bedroom was about 400 feet in length, 300 feet in height and 600 feet in width. There were separate beds also, one black and blue one for Jeremy, and one pink one for Ami. The room was adorned with velvet tapestries woven with shades of purple,green and blue.

Azuza and Misaki then showed them to the kitchen which was even bigger than the master bedroom. It was 600 feet in length, 500 feet in height, and 300 feet in width.

"My goodness! This kitchen is the size of any restaurant franchise back home," Ami said in a stunned voice.

"Yeah, I'm with you with that," replied Jeremy, "I don't really know what to say about this though except that is huge."

They saw hundreds of cooks, some that were Mercurians, preparing meals nonstop. Jeremy and Ami took a whiff of the food and were rubbing there stomachs.

"Oh my goodness, the food smells exquisite," Ami sighed dreamily as she took another whiff.

"I wonder what there cooking," wondered Jeremy, "chicken, fish, cake!"

"Or maybe there rice dumplings, or maybe shrimp, I can't beat it! It's making me hungry!"

"There's one more thing we need to show you, boy and girl and that is... your own hot spring!," Azuza squealed.

"Our own hot spring?" Jeremy and Ami said in unison, "Yes!"

They sprinted outside and showed them there hot spring. The hot spring was the size of a wide pool and there was tons of steam coming up.

"Finally, a place to relax my body inside," Ami beamed, "This is a dream come true."

"Hey, I wouldn't mind taking a bath in that," said Jeremy, "It looks pretty cool."

"Well that's the end of the tour," Misaki announced, "so we'll be seeing you later. We have a meeting with the Holy Council of Jurai." They teleported out of the area leaving Jeremy and Ami to talk among themselves.
To be continued..........
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by segaman4
#33083 About an hour later, Jerren and Ami were bathing in the hot spring. They had kept their towels on while they were relaxing.

“Man, this hot spring really hits the spot…” Jerren said as he leaned his head back. “I could be in here all day.”

“I wouldn’t mind that.” Ami replied, “My muscles really need the rest…”

Just then, a giant hologram of Seto appeared before them.

“Your Highness.” Both said in unison as they stood and bowed their heads to pay their respect.

“No bowing is necessary.” The hologram said as she motioned her hand for them to rise, continuing the message. “As I told you earlier, the planet Alpha is being ransacked by Captain Daluma and his escaped accomplices. Well, now it is time to go on your mission and stop this man. He has already taken hostages and the manager of the museum captive. Galaxy police officers are stations around the building and are attempting to negotiate with him but it is not enough. I also regret to inform you that Seina Yamada and his crew will be unable to make it due to a rebellion that arose in our colonies.”

“Which colony is it?” Ami questioned, “He might need some help…”

“He’ll be fine.” Replied Seto. “The colony is not important right now, the important thing is that you save the planet’s museum and the day. So get dressed, and meet me at the transport center. Ah, and I have a surprise waiting for you two.”

“Yes, your Highness.” Both replied, again in unison.

~

Thirty minutes later, Jerren and Ami arrived. Seto was already waiting for them.

“Ahh, good you’re both here.” Seto said as she waved her fan in her face. “C’mon, I want to show you that surprise.”

They followed her into a large room, which held a huge ship. It was incredible in size, with mixtures of purple and blue hues. Its outer layers were unlike the average ships, made of a mixture of metal and wood instead of only wood. It was shaped like the Ryo-Oki, only the orb was blue with red velvet crystals around its layers. Above the sphere was a bun-shaped mass.

“My goodness… The size of that ship!” Ami cried, “And the design… For some strange reason it’s calling to me, like I recognize it somehow.”

“Yeah, it’s different from the others.” Jerren commented, “It’s more original and classic. Unlike Ayeka and Seto’s, this one stands out from the others.”

“Well, thie is because it’s a royal ship built for the two of you.” Seto explained, “It’s a Jurain royal ship, it was made by the people on planet Ryuten.”

“A royal ship!?” Ami exclaimed, “But I thought only members of the royal family are allowed to have one. We’re just nobles representing the Misaki house… And it was made by your sister planet too?”

“This ship is a token of our gratitude. For saving out planet, and rescuing my daughter.” Seto replied, “And yes, our sister planet Ryuten was generous enough to make one for you two… Even though some member protested the construction, notably Azuza and Misaki, my vote was final. The one who directed the design was your own 3rd generation tree.”

“We have a 3rd generation tree!?” They both said, again in unison. “Cool!”

“Those are the most powerful trees on Jurain!” Jerren exclaimed.

“How did we get such a tree with such immense power?” Ami questioned.

“We didn’t pick it.” Seto explained, “The tree picked the two of you. It’s been calling to us during your years training, to make it your partner. It directed the blueprints for construction telepathically, giving its own style especially with the crescent moon. However, it said it wanted to fit your style.”

“I see…” Ami smiled, “Does this tree have a name?”

“No.” Seto said simply. “It wants to be named by your two when the tree ceremony commences.”

“We’re having a tree ceremony!?” Jerren said surprised.

“I can’t believe it.” Ami said, appearing breathless for a moment. “The ritual is only for royal family members… I’m honored to have such a pleasure to bind with a tree, especially a 3rd generation one…”

“Let’s go.” Seto said, “Your tree is waiting for you. Let’s make this as quick as possible.”

~

The three went to the garden, Jerren and Ami could see the tree from the entrance. It was small, only inside of a vase to make transportation easier.

“Oh my goodness…” Ami said in surprise, “It just spoke to me! It said, ‘come to me, Ami. Come closer.’”

“I heard it too…” Said Jerren. “It said, ‘we must bind together to become as one.’”

“Awww, isn’t that cute?” Ami smiled, “This little tree is so beautiful…” She put her hand out to pet the tree, watching it wiggle around a bit against her.

“You’re petting it…” Jerren tilted his head, “It’s weird, but cool…”

“It asked me to.” Ami replied, “Don’t you see that it loves us?”

Jerren soon joined in, the tree felt soothing under his hand. “You’re right, it does feel a little ticklish… And warm.”

“So, what should we call it?” Ami asked, continuing to pet the tree.

“I got a name, let’s call it Woody!” Jerren laughed, “You know, since he’s a tree? You get it?”

“That wasn’t funny.” Ami huffed, “Not ont bit… I swear, your jokes get more over the top corny as time goes on.”

“Well at least I try… Do you have a name in mind?” Jerren asked.

“Yes, I do.” Ami gave a small smile, “Usagi. I based the name off the main character of the show I was in, and because the ship actually looks like a rabbit.”

“Hmm… The Usagi.” Jerren put his hand to his chin. “I kind of like it. It has that ‘mystique’ to it. But if you asked me, my second choice would have been Wispy Woods from that Kirby game.”

The duo then took the tree inside of the ship, it was mostly empty and had nothing other than more metal and marble inside.

“Now if I’m correct, you put the tree into the pod in the middle correct?” Ami questioned as she held onto the vase.

“Correct,” Seto replied, “and it will do the rest.”

Ami put the tree into the pod and the tree began to grow. Extending branches and vegetation across the soil, and animals and water appeared. A light blue sky appeared overhead, but instead of a sun a bright moon appeared. Crystalline stars were in the sky, giving out a light of their own. The pod was much like its own ecosystem.

“This is beautiful!” Ami exclaimed, “It reminds me of the design set for the Moon Kingdom when I was acting on Sailor Moon!”

“This does look incredible…” Jerren said, “I feel like I’m in a whole different world.”

“Yes, it is.” Seto smiled, “But, it’s time to start your mission. I have business to take care of, but have fun!” She then teleported off the ship, in an instant.

“Okay, this ship should work just like the Ryo-Oki. Sooo…” Jerren said, hitting few switched.

Big screens popped up, text writing out ‘Destination: Planet Alpha’

The ship took off quickly, at a blinding pace. In just one minute flat, they achieved hyper speed and were joined by a fleet of Jurain ships. They approached the planet Alpha, a large red planet, and begun to land. Thankfully they had landed on the soil safely. After a few moments, the two came out with the soldiers.

“So, this is the planet Alpha… It’s pretty big.” Jerren commented.

The planet was a huge city, similar in structure to Remzia but much larger. There were hover cars and futuristic buildings plastered in metals.

About thirty minutes later, they arrived at the museum where a crowd was forming. Over a hundred people were being driven back by authorities. Jerren and Ami approached one of the officers to question them on the issue.

“Is it true that Captain Daluma is holding hostages?” Ami asked.

“Yes, he is…” The Officer sighed, “He has the manager of the museum at gunpoint, and his goons are taking everything they can get their hands on… Negotiating hasn’t helped.”

“Well, it’s our turn to stop him.” Jerren said, “C’mon Ami, let’s go!”