Chapter 3 - Office Party

Rei stepped into the deck five turbolift and yawned. It had been a good day, but a long one, and she was ready to hit her bed. Hopefully, she would continue the dream she had last night, as it seemed to end far too soon.

Rei was beginning to realize that she'd been alone far too long. To many of her dreams were becoming THOSE kinds of dreams. Frustratingly, they all seemed to have far too much storyline to them, and her alarm clock was cutting them off before the good part began.

And of course, when they did get that far, it was her communicator that broke the mood.

Regardless, it was not a dream she needed.

That said, she wasn't sure exactly where she could find what she needed. At least aboard the Sisko. While she had mellowed out a bit, especially after she had finally come to terms with her demons, and again, come to terms with even more demons and made peace with Lieutenant Yuki, she had the reputation of being somewhat of a bitch.

Of course, that didn't scare everyone away.

She just had to find that one person.

She was open.

She was not going to discriminate and SAY man.

That would be preferable.

Just not necessary.

“Deck A.”

The turbolift began to move upwards. Rei leaned back against the wall of the lift and yawned again as it began to make its horizontal trip towards the shaft that would take it the rest of the way towards the NSO Control Center.

It was such a long trip. Rei did not know why she didn't just use site-to-site transports. But then there would be records of where she went.

Like the holodecks.

The lift slammed to a stop and began to buzz wildly.

Rei leaned forward and hit a couple of buttons next to the door and was met with non-compliant buzzes.

“What the fuck?” Rei growled. She hit her communicator. “Hino to security.”

“Security, Ensign Messa,” a female replied.

“Yes, Ensign, I'm stuck in turbolift,” Rei looked at the numbers next to the door, “six. Can you please do something?”

“Hrm,” the ensign replied. “For some reason, it appears the computer routed two lifts into the same shaft. Let me beam you out of there, where are you headed?”

“Deck A.”

“Right away,” Messa smiled through the channel.

Rei sighed as she felt herself being disassembled. When she reappeared she found herself in total darkness.

“Oh great, the transporter ate my eyes,” she mumbled.

Rei blinked when she heard the distinct laugh that was Usagi's.

“Lights?” Rei called.

The lights turned on and Rei found herself in a room surrounded by the entire NSO crew, the bridge crew, Akane, and Lieutenant Jeff Fuchs. Decorations, streamers, and banners that read 'Happy Birthday Rei', hung throughout the room. In the middle of everything, there was a large table with a punch bowl and a gigantic cake.

“SURPRISE!” everyone screamed.

A large grin grew on Rei's face. One by one everyone came up and gave Rei a hug, sans the NSO members who simply walked up and shook Rei's hand. The lone exception to that being Kio who did in fact hug Rei, tightly and whispered into her ear.

“Happy birthday, boss.”

A tear rolled down Rei's face as she hugged Kio back. Usagi bounced up to Rei and smiled. “I know you will like the cake,” she said. “It's my own personal recipe!”

The group chatted for a bit before Shampoo walked over and pulled out a lighter to light the candles on the cake.

Ranma looked to her worriedly, as did Ryouga.

“Shampoo,” Ranma asked. “Did you deactivate the fire suppression system on the holodeck?”

Shampoo continued to light candles as she cocked her head. “Fire suppression system?”

Ranma and Ryouga both dove under the table, knocking down at least three NSO people in the process. Shampoo laughed loudly as she finished lighting the candles. She then poked her head under the table and stuck her tongue out.

“Of course, Shampoo turn off fire suppression,” she said, giggling. “Shampoo no want to be cat.”

Ranma and Ryouga slowly crawled out from under the table, both smiling sheepishly at the NSO members they knocked over.

“Beside,” Shampoo continued as she motioned for Rei to come over. “Water system on old Sisko. Old pervert not have chance to sabotage new Sisko.”

Ranma looked up at the ceiling and nodded slowly. “I guess the idea of a water-based fire suppression system on a ship with as much electronic equipment on it as ours is pretty stupid.”

Ryouga chuckled a bit in agreement, his eyes drifting towards the fourth wall of the holodeck.

The group all began singing to Rei, Gosnell the loudest and most off-key, drawing a glare from Ranma. Rei did not seem to mind though. She did not seem to mind that she was still very tired either. She was simply happy that despite her past – actions – despite everything, she still had so many friends on board.

Quite frankly she did not mind if this evening went on forever.

The singing ended and Rei leaned forward and blew out the candles. She managed to blow them all out with one huff, drawing loud applause from everyone in the room. Rei smiled as Usagi grabbed her sleeve and pointed to another table that was being rolled in by Kio and Anthony.

Usagi quickly bounced over and pulled off a tablecloth that was draped over the contents of the table, revealing a couple of dozen gifts. Rei again felt a tear come to her eye.

“What do you want to do first?” Usagi asked, looking to Rei. “Eat cake or open presents?”

“Cake!” Makoto demanded.

Rei laughed and nodded. “I am hungry,” she smiled to Usagi, agreeing with her friend.

Usagi nodded and began to cut up the cake and hand out slices, giving the first slice to Rei. The group chatted and ate for a while before Ranma noticed Rei looking over the presents. He walked over to her, motioning for the rest of the group to head that direction as well.

“Which one will you open first?” Ranma asked.

Rei looked them over. “I was looking for the one from you,” she smiled.

Ranma shook his head. “Usagi's might be more important,” he chuckled, motioning towards the blonde chief engineer who was pouting slightly. Rei laughed a bit then quickly found Usagi's gift.

“Oh!” Rei said, opening the box. “It's...”

“Bunny slippers!” Usagi beamed. “I've heard there's no carpeting up there. Must be cold on your feet if you have to get up in the middle of the night for...” Usagi blushed. “...stuff.”

Rei smiled and set the box to the side. “Thank you. I will put those to good use.” She leaned over and kissed Usagi on the cheek. She paused for a moment when she noticed her cheek was a bit red and swollen but didn't say anything about it as Gosnell started jumping up and down.


Makoto turned and whomped her husband on the head. Gosnell whimpered as Rei laughed. She opened the box from Makoto and Gosnell and pulled out several PADDs.

“I know you like the 'Art of War' type books, so I-” Gosnell cleared his throat. Makoto sighed, “-we got you basically nearly every known race's version of it.”

Rei smiled. “Thank you!” She moved to Makoto and kissed her. Gosnell puckered up but ended up being quite disappointed when he only received a hug. Makoto again whomped him simply for expecting a kiss. Rei moved on to another box as Gosnell leaned into Makoto.

“I thought we agreed on a gift certificate to the lounge,” he whispered.

Makoto rolled her eyes. “Nothing costs anything, why the hell would we get her that?”

Gosnell began to object but then suddenly stopped. “Hrm. Now I understand the meaning of better half.”

Makoto laughed slightly, despite wanting to turn around and smack the bearded alien again. Instead, she clapped at the digital picture frame Minako got Rei, which had already installed, a picture of the four women in it.

Rei quickly went through most of the presents. All that was left on the table was the one from Ranma. However, there was one person from who she did not get one from.

However, that really was not THAT surprising, even if they had made peace.

“Commander,” Kio whispered from behind Rei.

Rei turned and looked down at the shorter woman.

Kio moved up onto her tiptoes and whispered into Rei's ear.

“I will give you my gift to you in your quarters later.”

Rei's eyes went wide.

“WHAT?” she asked, covering her mouth. Kio backed up slightly as a few nearby people turned to them.

“I said 'my gift to you is in your quarters',” Kio repeated.

Rei blinked. It was official. She was up way too late and she was having far too many thoughts that she should not be having.

“Right,” Rei smiled, nervously. “Thank you... Kio. I appreciate it, all things...” Rei paused for a few seconds before exhaling deeply. “All things considered.”

Kio smiled a bit. “Well, you tried to teach me I need to keep moving forward, so I am.”

Rei smiled, gripped Kio's shoulder for a second, then turned back to the table. She smiled at Ranma and picked up the last box. The first thing she noticed about it was that it was quite heavy.

“Wow, what did you get me, a weight set?” Rei asked, laughing.

Ranma and Akane both chuckled. Neither said a word however as Rei pulled off the wrapping paper. Finally, she managed to get the paper off and the box open. From the box, she pulled out a piece of silver, slightly tarnished metal, molded into the shape of the Starfleet logo.

A metal base, coated in gold-pressed latinum made the statuette's base.  Etched into the latinum was a simple inscription.

'Vigilance, Perseverance, Success.'

Rei's smile dimmed as she looked closer at the main part of the statuette. Engraved on the Starfleet logo were several names. Kio walked up behind Rei and looked at it as well.

Rei began to cry as she read the names.

“I know it's kind of a dark birthday present,” Ranma said, walking towards Rei.

“No...” she said as she pulled the statuette close to her. “It's beautiful...”

“What is it?” Shelton asked.

Rei could not speak as tears rolled down her face. Ranma turned to the NSO members assembled in the room. “Unfortunately, because of what we do, if you guys give the ultimate sacrifice defending the Federation, you don't get added to the memorial in Geneva,” Ranma sighed.

“I'm not one for allowing heroes to go unrecognized, so I took a piece of the Sisko...” Ranma looked to Rei, “...the original Sisko and had a small memorial made.”

Kio looked into Rei's arms. She felt a tear come to her eye when she did indeed see 'Sgt. Michael Simpson' at the bottom of the list of seven names.

Rei wiped her eyes, handed the small memorial to Kio, and moved over to Ranma, and hugged him. Ranma returned the hug and smiled. Rei then moved to Akane and hugged her as well, as the NSO group applauded their captain.

“Thank you, Captain,” Rei again said, going back to Kio and taking the statuette back.

Ranma nodded and smiled. “I am confident that the way this team is now that we will not have to take that in to add any more names to it.” Ranma stomped his boot on the deck a couple of times. “Nor do I feel I will have to salvage any more pieces of our ship to make another memorial or anything else.”

The room all nodded in agreement.

The rest of the party was a bit more subdued, while still upbeat. However, through it all, Rei refused to put down the memorial statuette, even when she was drinking some of, what the crew was starting to realize, alcoholic punch.

Eventually, Rei excused herself to go to her quarters. Kio quickly ordered her group to help bring her presents up with her. Anthony was growing a little concerned about Kio as she had seemed to become attached to Rei over the past few months.

While it was good that they weren't fighting, he feared that now they were becoming too close.

He was certain he wasn't just jealous.

After the group dropped of Rei's stuff and Kio had shooed them away, Anthony somewhat reluctantly, Kio moved to Rei's computer terminal. Rei, for her part, had gone to her shower to change and clean up for bed.

“So where are you going to put it?” Kio called to her.

“The main briefing room,” Rei called back. “So everyone, especially those who just join us, will be able to see it.”

Kio nodded approvingly. “That's a good place for it.”

“So,” Rei said, walking back into the room. “What did you have for me?”

“Well,” Kio said reaching into her pocket and turning towards Rei. She froze however when she was staring at a nearly naked Rei. Having just gotten out of the shower, Rei, buzzed, felt it was unnecessary to put on anything more than a bra, panties, and the slippers Usagi got her.

Kio's eyes moved up, then down.

“I see you're using your new slippers,” she stammered.

Rei nodded, either ignoring or oblivious to, Kio's uncomfortableness.

“Uh,” Kio continued, “two things, and I guess they're not really 'birthday presents', but they wouldn't have happened without you, so...”


Kio nodded and fished around in her jumpsuit pocket a bit more. She then handed Rei a pair of small silver bars. “If these suits had rank insignia on them it would be cooler, but thanks to your recommendation the LDF went ahead and kicked me up to first lieutenant.”

Rei smiled and glomped onto Kio. “That's wonderful!”

Kio's arms went straight outwards 90 degrees in each direction. After a few seconds, Rei pulled back and grabbed Kio's shoulders. She smiled as she spoke, “You talk about my recommendation, but this wouldn't have happened without your skill and determination.”

Kio nodded. “Thank you, Commander.”

“When it's just you and me, you can drop the 'Commander', 'kay?”

Kio bit her lip. “I'm not sure if I'm ready for that yet.”

Rei laughed. “Fair enough,” she looked to her terminal. “Was there something else?”

Kio nodded and turned around. “Yeah, I guess the LDF was having an essay contest. I normally don't bother with that kind of stuff, but we were dry docked, so I thought, 'why not'.”

Kio punched up some things on the terminal and pointed to it. “Anyway, it was about how our C-O makes us a better soldier, and I won.”

Rei backed up a couple of steps. “You-”

Kio chuckled. “You can read it. It's not very long.”

Kio moved out of Rei's way and allowed her to sit at her terminal. Rei read the 1,000-word essay at least twice before she turned back to Kio.

“This is...” Rei looked to the deck then back to Kio, “very flattering.” Rei turned back to the terminal and began to look over it again. “Far more than it probably should be.”

Kio shrugged. “Nothing in there is a lie,” she said. “Perhaps I wasn't very... forthcoming... with your... delivery mechanisms, but I mean all of it.”

Rei quickly spun back around and looked to Kio again.

“Anyway,” Kio continued, “the prize is ten days of shore leave for the winner and a guest and accommodations on Risa. I don't really have any interest in that and the LDF said they'd be fine with me transferring it, so...” Kio smiled, “happy birthday.”

Rei just stared at Kio for a good fifteen seconds. “Are you serious?” she finally asked.

Kio smiled and nodded. “Besides, who would I go with?”

Kio gingerly gave Rei a hug, doing her best to avoid touching any of her that would be even slightly awkward, and started to move towards the door.

“See you in the morning, Commander.”

Rei sat in silence for a moment before calling to Kio just before she would activate the door sensor.

“Who would I go with?”

Kio stopped. She did not want to turn around as she didn't want to have this conversation at all. Not with Rei, not while she was drunk, and certainly not now.

“You could at least take Schaefer,” Rei said, standing and walking towards her window.

“You and I both know that's not possible.”

“What if I said it was okay?”

Kio continued to look towards the door. “Even if it was allowed, it wouldn't make it a good idea.” Kio began to move forward again. “I should go.”

“Please,” Rei called after her, “...stay.”

Kio stopped again. “Commander,” Kio closed her eyes for a moment. “R-Rei, I'm not-”

Rei sat down on the side of her bed. “I've isolated myself from people for so long that I thought I was fine being alone.” Rei slowly turned towards Kio. “I'm just so tired of being alone...”

Kio remained at the door. Another few centimeters and she could make a break for it. Something was stopping her, though. She did not know if it was the same pity that she felt for Rei the last time they had a personal conversation or if it was something else this time.

Perhaps it was because she knew exactly how Rei felt. Kio was alone. The pain of it burned her every single day. However, she'd not been alone as long as Rei had, nor had she done, or been through what Rei had done or been through.

Whatever it was, it was keeping her from moving those final centimeters to where the door would open, and in fact was causing her to move backward, then finally turn around.

“May I use your shower?”

Rei nodded as she lied down on her bed. Kio moved to the bathroom, showered, then came back to the bedroom area of the studio apartment-sized officers’ quarters on A deck.

She looked to Rei, who sleepily looked up at her. Kio was dressed a bit more than Rei; wearing the tank top and shorts she usually wore underneath her NSO jumpsuit.

Rei smiled. Kio returned it as she moved to the other side of the bed and climbed in. Rei pulled herself as close as she could to Kio before pulling her arm around her. It did not take long for Rei to drift off to sleep. Kio, however, lay awake most of the night, staring at the back of Rei's head, wondering exactly how the non-stop screaming at her from Rei turned into this.

JC leaned back in his chair as he finished his breakfast. He was not a heavy eater, but for some reason, he was particularly hungry this morning and had ordered a full steak and egg meal from his replicator.

Now that he was full and content, his desire to finish getting dress and go to work was diminishing.

He knew, however, that he would get into quite a bit of trouble if he was not down in engineering by 07:00. They had an extensive diagnostic they were going to run today while they were siphoning power from the station, and it needed to get started as soon as possible if they wanted it to be complete by lunchtime.

JC was planning on going to the station for dinner as well, so he did not have any interest in staying late.

The engineer stood and took his dishes back to the replicator. The machine quickly devoured them as he moved towards his living area, picking up his rank pips from off his coffee table in the process. He positioned himself in front of his mirror and methodically attached them to the right side of his gold turtleneck.

While not obsessive-compulsive by any means, JC was an engineer, so a certain level of order and uniformity to everything was required. His uniform being no exception.

He looked to his dresser, after verifying that his pips were lined up straight, and smiled at the picture of his wife, a South African woman with long, blonde hair, and his daughter.

He sighed, upset that his shore leave with them was so short. At times he wished that he were on board one of the larger, more family-friendly ships so that he could be with them. However, he knew that despite the fact that those ships were not battleships, they were often called – or forced – into combat, and occasionally destroyed.

The only thought worse to him than being away from them was the thought of losing them.

JC sighed wistfully and walked back to the living area. Being a lowly lieutenant, albeit an important one – assistant chief engineer – he only had a one-room cabin. Granted it was larger than one that would be assigned to an ensign or a lieutenant, junior grade, but still, he thought that he belonged on deck two with the important officers and not deck three with the less important ones.

JC picked up his uniform jacket and put it on. Before he was able to start zipping it up, however:

<Nifty Star Trek Doorbell Sound>

JC looked to his door, a bit wary. A guest this early was not good. He moved to the door and hit the release button on it. The doors slid open; the man standing in the corridor causing JC to step back slightly.

“Captain,” JC stammered.

“Good morning,” Ranma smiled. “May we come in?”

JC blinked and looked past Ranma slightly, seeing Shampoo standing a couple of meters behind him.

“Of-” JC stammered again, stepping out of the way. “Of course, please.”

Ranma continued to smile as he walked in, Shampoo right behind him. Shampoo passed JC a nod, a neutral expression on her face. JC allowed the doors to close as he followed the pair a bit, before turning towards his replicator.

“Can I get you something to drink?”

Ranma shook his head as he had a seat on JC's couch. Shampoo sat down as well, next to him.

“No, thank you,” Ranma said, continuing to smile.

JC nodded and pulled one of his chairs over by the couch. He quickly remembered his unzipped uniform jacket and zipped it up, slightly embarrassed by the untidy state he had greeted the two command officers in.

JC's nervousness caused Shampoo to chuckle a bit.

“What brings you by, Captain?” JC asked after he had zipped up and sat down.

“I need to speak with you about an incident you had with Lt. Commander Tsukino near one of the anti-proton turrets,” Ranma said, his smile fading.

“What?” JC asked, not making any attempt to hide the shock in his voice.

“She say you hit her,” Shampoo said.

JC just stared at the two for a moment before finally shaking his head and sighing angrily.

“She...” JC started, trying to make sure he was using the right words and not allowing his anger speak for him, “...she was wearing an EVA suit and two radiation suits. She was dehydrated and delirious and was freaking out and I may have slapped her to get her to come to her senses.”

Ranma looked to Shampoo, who then turned to JC. “So, you did hit her?”

JC nodded. “Yes, I slapped her.”

Shampoo turned back to Ranma. Ranma looked to JC, a rather disappointed look on his face. “Have you apologized to her?”

“I haven't seen her since then,” JC sighed. “Sickbay gave her two days off, and...”

“I think it might be best if-” Ranma started but was interrupted by JC.

“With all due respect, Captain,” he said, looking Ranma dead in the eyes, “but with EVERYTHING I have done for her if she is going to not come to me with a problem and escalate it to you, then...” JC laughed a bit and leaned back. “No, I won't apologize.”

Shampoo turned to Ranma. Defying Ranma's will was pretty much unheard of on this ship, and she had no clue how this would end.

JC leaned forward again, shaking his head. “Captain, you know I have nothing but the utmost respect for you, and I do apologize, to you, for you having to deal with this.” JC leaned even closer to Ranma, leaning as far as he could without falling out of his chair.

JC's speaking became very slow, deliberate, and angry; a tone that no one had ever heard the normally upbeat and fun-loving JC use before.

“But Captain, aren't I entitled to SOME respect as well?”

Ranma looked to JC as the engineer sat back upright in his chair. Shampoo watched Ranma intently waiting to see what his response would be.

“You understand,” Ranma finally spoke, “that because she's reported this, I am going to have to make a notation in your record, don't you?”

JC nodded. “I made a stupid mistake, and I accept the consequence.”

Ranma nodded and stood. “Per Starfleet protocol, I'm also going to have to relieve you from duty for three days, effective immediately.”

JC nearly pointed out the massive diagnostic that was to be run today, however a voice in the back of his head screamed at him to shut up, so instead, he simply nodded and responded; “I understand.”

Shampoo stood and followed Ranma to the door. Ranma stopped just shy of the door sensor and turned back to JC.


JC stood and turned to Ranma. “Yes sir?”

“I cannot put into words how much I value you as a crew member on my ship,” he said, keeping a neutral expression on his face. “However, I will not tolerate any tit-for-tat nonsense between you and Commander Tsukino.”

JC nodded. “I understand.”

Ranma allowed his smile to return. “Good. I suggest this be the end of this because if I have to, I won't bother finding fault, deciding who did what or who started what.” Ranma turned around and went to the door.

“I'll just boot both of you,” he said as he and Shampoo walked out into the corridor.

JC watched the doors slide shut before he took off his jacket and slammed it onto the floor.


“Where's Lt. Devall?” one of the engineers asked another.

“No clue,” the other responded. “He was supposed to be here at 07:00 so we could get started on this crap.”

The first looked towards the Chief Engineer's office. “Should we get her?”

A third walked up. “She's not here either.”

“What the hell?” the first growled.

“Maybe they're,” the second grinned, “...bow-chicka-bow-wow?”

The other two engineers laughed.

“Oh,” the third pointed as Usagi walked towards her office, Makoto right behind her. All three engineers looked towards a clock.


“Only fifty-six minutes late,” the first sighed.

“Yeah, but she's with the chief of security, so it's probably excused,” the second said, sarcasm dripping from his words.

“Well, we can't start it without one of them,” the third groaned, “and I'd like to have lunch before dinner time, so...”

The first nodded and walked towards Usagi's office. He knocked on the window to get Usagi's attention. She smiled at him and waved him in.

“Commander, Commander,” he smiled at both officers.

Makoto nodded to him as he turned to Usagi.

“Lieutenant Devall isn't here, and we need a supervisor to begin this level one diagnostic.”

Usagi cocked her head slightly. “Where is Lt. Devall?”

The engineer shrugged.

“Computer,” Makoto called out, “where is Lt. JC Devall?”

“Lt. JC Devall is not on board the U.S.S. Sisko,” the computer replied.

Makoto blinked. “Where did he go?”

“Lt. JC Devall left the U.S.S. Sisko through port airlock two at 07:24,” it replied.

“Why's he on the station?” Usagi asked.

Makoto shrugged, as did the engineer. Usagi sighed and looked to the engineer. “I'll be right over.”

The engineer nodded and walked away. Usagi stood and looked to Makoto who was slapping her comm badge.

“Gosnell to security,” she called out.

“Go,” a security officer reported.

“I need a small security team assembled to go onboard DS9 and retrieve an AWOL officer, Lieutenant JC Devall.”

There was a short pause before the security officer responded. “Ma'am, I'm showing Lt. Devall as being relieved from duty and having been cleared to go onboard the station by the X-O.”

Usagi dropped into her chair as Makoto blinked. “Does it say why he was relieved?”


“He hit me.”

Both Usagi and the security officer responded at the same time. Makoto's head slowly went towards Usagi.

“Thanks,” Makoto slowly said, ending her conversation with security. She then sat down across from Usagi and grabbed her hands. “What did you say?”

“He hit me,” Usagi repeated her earlier statement. “And I went to the Captain. That's why he's been relieved from duty.”

Usagi looked out into engineering. She looked towards the group of engineers waiting for her so they could start their diagnostic. She looked to the warp core. She looked towards the matter and anti-matter containment pods.

The engine room had never looked as big to her as it did right now.  

“What have I done?” Usagi whimpered.

Makoto gripped Usagi's hands tight. “You can't let people hit you,” she said.

Usagi ignored Makoto and stood, quickly pulling away from her. “I'll... I'll talk to you later...” Usagi slowly started walking towards her door, but tripped and fell, smashing her face into the deck. It didn't seem to faze her though as she stood right up and continued walking, zombie-like, towards the door of her office.

“...I have to work now...”

Usagi again tripped and fell, again, face-planting into the deck.

The aptly named Federation Runabout, the U.S.S. Panda Express, which Genma was all but certain James conspired with Larson to name before Larson retired, landed perfectly on the set-up landing pad on the north end of Starfleet's Forward Operating Base 'Sark'; Cardassian for foreigner or off-worlder.

After the Runabout took a few moments and powered down, the doors opened and Genma started to walk out, a couple of LDF enlisted soldiers running up to help him. Both were a little surprised when they saw that he didn't have any luggage or personal effects with him.

“Would you like us to get your things, Admiral?” one asked.

Genma shook his head before turning towards a Starfleet security admiral who was walking towards him. “No, thank you. I'm not staying that long, so there's no need to unload the Runabout.”

The pair nodded and began walking with Genma as he walked towards whom he assumed was the base's commander.

“Admiral Barret?” Genma asked.

Barret nodded and extended his hand. Barret, a two-pip admiral, was a tall, gruff human, about Genma's height, but a bit bulkier. Genma shook his hand as Barret spoke.

“I'm not going to lie, sir,” he chuckled a bit as he motioned for Genma to follow him. “I'm pretty upset you're taking her.”

Genma smiled a bit and patted the lower-ranking admiral on the shoulder. “From all I have read about her on the trip over here, I'd be more than upset.”

Barret laughed loudly. “I was trying to be polite.” He turned to Genma as they walked into a building. “Out of respect for the chain of command.”

Genma laughed as well. “Unfortunately, that's the problem with having such a spectacular officer. They always move on to something else.”

Barret looked to Genma and smiled. “You're already trying to think of who's going to take her from you, aren't you?”

Genma laughed loudly. “I had hoped moving into Starfleet Intelligence would have made it so I wasn't so easy to read.”

Barret patted Genma on the back as he led him into the officer's mess. He looked around, noticing several officers eating dinner, but didn't see who he was looking for.

“LIEUTENANT T'LAN!” he barked.

A short Vulcan female quickly hopped out of her seat and turned towards the Admirals. “YES SIR?”

“Have you seen Lt. Commander Gras?”

T'Lan thought about the question for a moment before remembering. “Yes sir. She was going to help one of the Cardassian military police units on a raid.”

Barret cocked her head. “Just her?”

T'Lan nodded and shrugged. “They asked her if she wanted to come along.” T'Lan again, in a very, un-Vulcan-like manner, rolled her eyes and shrugged before continuing, “I told her it didn't seem logical to just go for no reason, but she said she was bored, and it would be... fun.”

Barret sighed before nodding. “Thank you.”

T'Lan nodded and went back to her meal. Barret guided Genma back out into the corridor and towards his office.

“Discipline problems with her?” Genma asked.

“Eh,” Barret said, shrugging a bit, “I wouldn't go that far. The Cardassians love her. She's a great teacher and I don't know if she's just got a brilliant mind for tactics or if it's that worm in her-”

“What?” Genma asked.

“She's Trill, you know,” Barret answered.

Genma laughed. “The report didn't say that. But that explains a lot.”

Barret nodded. “Yeah. I'm sure that helps, but she was just recently joined.” Barret brought Genma into his office and motioned for him to sit down in the chair across from his desk.

“Corporal,” he called to one of the guards. “Can you please have security inform Lt. Commander Gras that we need to see her when she gets back?”

“Yes sir,” he said, heading out as his partner stayed stationed outside of the Admiral's office.

“As I was saying,” Barret began again, leaning back in his chair and lighting up a cigarette, “that kid is really, really smart. It's by the sheer grace of God that we got her because had she not come from a military family, she'd probably be off inventing some device that makes everyone immortal.”

Genma laughed. “That sounds like a better use of her talents.”

“Speak for yourself,” Barret laughed. “If I believed I was going to live forever, I'd kill myself right now.”

The pair chatted for about twenty minutes till there was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Barret called.

The doors slid open, and a young, blonde woman walked in. Genma nearly fell over backward at the sight of her. He was not sure what it was. Her very defined face, dark, gray eyes, very defined spots on her neck, the Cardassian military uniform she was wearing, that most of her 170-centimeter body was her long, slender legs, or the fact that there was a lot a bit of blood on her.

Like, a whole lot.

“You needed to see me, sir?” she asked.

Barret sighed and shook his head. “What in the world?”

The woman blinked a couple of times before realizing what the Admiral was concerned about.

“Oh, it's not my blood, sir.”

Barret again sighed.

“I'm aware of that, Commander.” Barret bit his lip for a second, then exhaled. “Please go clean yourself up, then return.”

“Yes sir,” she smiled and began to turn around.

“Uh, I'm Admiral Genma Saotome,” Genma smiled, standing.

The woman turned towards Genma, her smile a bit brighter. “Lt. Commander Jitsia Gras.” Jitsia extended a hand to Genma, covered in the blood of some hapless Cardassian, like the rest of her.

“COMMANDER!” Barret barked before either of the two could make contact.

“Right,” Jitsia smiled and nodded, retracting her hand, and heading out the door.

Genma quickly turned to Barret who had already begun puffing away on another cigarette.

“She's so...”

Barret nodded. “When we first had her instruct the Cardassians in counterinsurgency, you should have heard their laughter. Now, well...” Barret put out his cigarette and lit another, “ you can see, they ask her to come along on raids on her free time as an adviser.”

Barret grinned at Genma. “You will soon be persona non grata here.”

Genma sat in the chair and thought about things for a while till Jitsia returned, now in her gold Starfleet Security uniform. She quickly walked up to Genma, and the pair introduced themselves properly before the young Trill sat down in a chair next to Genma and across from the Barret.

The three chatted for a while, Genma explaining the job 'offer', doing his best to describe what he would like for her to do, without explaining too much, since if she declined, she would have information she would not be cleared to have.

After the conversation, Jitsia looked to Barret.

“What do you think, sir?”

“Honestly?” he asked.

She nodded.

“I don't want you to go,” he replied. “But I cannot stand in the way of what sounds like a spectacular career opportunity for you.”

Jitsia thought about it a bit more. “I have been very interested in special operations.”

She looked to Genma and nodded. “Yes.”

Genma smiled and extended his hand. “I'm pleased to hear that.”

Jitsia shook his hand as Barret sighed sadly. “Well, this place will be going to hell in a hand-basket then.”

Jitsia smiled at Barret. “Come now, Admiral. I think we both know that there are plenty of great soldiers stationed here.”

Barret smiled. “Yes, yes. That doesn't mean I won't miss you.”

Jitsia grinned as Genma stood. “I need to speak to Commander Gras alone for a bit, but after that, I will be departing. The Sisko and I will be back then in a few days to pick her up, so that should give you guys plenty of time to take care of whatever you need to and give Commander Gras time to say goodbye and everything.”

Barret nodded and stood as well. “Was good to meet you, Admiral. I'd say I'd hope to meet you again soon, but I'm afraid if I did, you'd just be back to poach more of my officers!”

Genma smiled. “Maybe I'll poach you next time?”

Barret shook his head. “Not unless you're commanding a moon. I've grown quite fond of rock beneath my feet, thank you.”

Genma laughed. “Guess we need to get you a green uniform.”

Barret laughed as well. “Perhaps. Brigadier General has a nice ring to it.”

Genma shook the Admiral's hand before both he and Jitsia left the office.

The nearly falling over for the seventh time woke Usagi up with a jerk. She quickly looked around, her eyes moving down the corridor from one direction to the other, then to the two security officers stationed on each side of the airlock.

Both looked at her, seated on the deck, leaning against the bulkhead, with concern. She had been sitting there now for five hours. She refused to tell them why she was there, and what or who she was waiting for.

Or even if she was waiting for anything in particular.

The guards heard the outer airlock door open. Both turned as the inner door opened and a very inebriated JC, dressed in civilian clothes, staggered in.

One of the guards held out a PADD and after about six attempts, JC managed to smack his thumb onto it, allowing the device to confirm his authorization to come aboard.

This new security measure having taken effect after several more Bajorans had managed to override the door seals and get on board, again.

JC began to stumble off. Usagi, having started to fall asleep again, noticed him and quickly stood. She almost immediately tripped and fell, slamming into the deck. The noise gathered JC's attention, as well the two security officers.

JC looked to Usagi, who was slowly standing up with security's help. JC said nothing and turned away.

“WAIT!” Usagi called.

JC ignored her.

“PLEASE!” she called after him.

JC continued to ignore her and continued to walk towards the turbolift. Usagi quickly scampered after him, catching up fast, and walked behind him.

“Look, I didn't mean to get you in any trouble,” she said, quietly.

JC came to a stop.

“You didn't mean to get me into any trouble?” he asked, never turning around.

“No,” Usagi answered.


Both of the security officers came running down from the airlock to what the commotion was. JC was now turning back around and heading back towards the turbolift.

“I'm sorry,” Usagi said, not following JC.

“Leave me alone,” he simply replied, as he hit the call button on the lift.