Rei was in her quarters, seated at her desk, glaring at the stacks of PADDs with disdain. She knew that the stacks were her own fault, but the only way around it was to do paperwork more often.
She wasn’t sure which was the more unbearable option.
“Maybe I should make Kio do it?” she asked herself. “Teach her what it’s really like being an officer.”
Rei laughed out loud at her own musings before her door chime went off.
“Crap, she heard me,” Rei smirked as she stood. “Come in!”
Rei was a little shocked when she saw Jitsia standing in the doorway, meekly looking in for her.
“Jitsia?” Rei asked.
Jitsia slowly stepped in and allowed the door to close behind her. The Miyazaki Commander was dressed in her camo duty pants, boots, and a workout shirt. Her hair looked quite unkempt, not tied back in her trademark pigtails, but rather loose and seemingly just dangling. Rei noticed that she didn’t seem to have any makeup on either.
Scratch that, she HAD some on, but appears to have cried it off...
“Hey,” Jitsia quietly mumbled.
“Are you okay?” Rei asked, hoping up so fast that she knocked her chair over, and rushing over to Jitsia.
“No,” Jitsia admitted.
Jitsia slowly shuffled over to Rei’s bed and sat down on the edge of it. Rei ran over to her replicator and made the pair some tea before walking over to Jitsia and handing her a glass. She quickly sat down next to her and watched her slowly sip a couple of sips before slamming the cup onto the deck plating.
“What’s going on?” Rei asked, scooting closer to Jitsia.
“My ship isn’t even built yet and I’ve already destroyed my NSO team,” she said, her voice breaking.
“I don’t understand,” Rei replied.
Jitsia never turned to look to Rei, instead just looked towards the broken teacup on the deck.
“I brought someone on based totally on personal feelings, rather than any kind of skill they had.”
Rei squirmed as she pondered this for a moment. “I’m sure we can reevaluate her and-”
“It’s Commander Ishran,” Jitsia stated, looking to Rei.
Rei looked back, confused.
Jitsia ran her hands through her hair and shook her head. “I picked him because I am in love with him.”
Rei stammered a bit. “Whu...”
Jitsia, either ignoring or oblivious to Rei’s mumbling turned back to her. “I can’t imagine that anyone has ever had to deal with this,” she said, quietly. “Being in love with someone they aren’t attracted to, or even know.”
Rei scooted even closer to Jitsia as the blonde shook her head in frustration. “This is really unfair, as I have absolutely no interest in him, but...”
“Then how...” Rei started.
“Gras,” Jitsia explained. “Gras loves him.”
Rei blinked. “Isn’t the symbiont male?”
Jitsia shook her head as she rubbed her midsection. “No, they don’t have a sex or gender, and normally their emotional attachments to a previous host’s...” she paused for a moment, “...friends… don’t carry over so strongly.”
Rei put her arm around Jitsia. “So why did you bring him aboard then? You had to know it would hurt.”
Jitsia closed her eyes. “I couldn’t stop myself.” A single tear rolled down her face before she laughed slightly. “In fairness, he is pretty good.”
Rei didn’t laugh as she wrapped both her arms around Jitsia.
“Well,” Rei sighed, “I’ll be here for you, but I guess we’ll just have to get used to him being here.”
Jitsia bit her bottom lip. “Easier said than done.”
“Gras...” Jitsia got quiet for a moment before she slumped down, only Rei’s tight grip keeping her from sliding off the bed.
“Gras is forcing me to think of us. Together.”
“As a couple?” Rei asked.
“No,” Jitsia said, beginning to cry. “Sexually.”
“Oh,” Rei answered.
“You don’t understand,” Jitsia said in between sobs as she turned around and stared into Rei’s eyes. “You were married to a man. You can be attracted to a man.”
Rei’s eyes widened.
“Yeah,” Jitsia nodded, sniffling. “I’m not just open, Rei. I’m a lesbian.”
Jitsia looked back to the floor, blankly staring at her own reflection in the spilled tea. “I’ve never questioned my sexuality. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to women.”
She turned and looked back to Rei. “I...” she paused for a moment, “To me, the idea of a man touching me in that way... the idea of me touching a man in that way...” she again paused, obvious discomfort on her face. “The idea of a man... in me... It’s...” Jitsia’s face contorts as she spoke her final word, “...repulsive.”
Rei looked to Jitsia for a moment before leaning forward, wiping the tears out of her eyes, and kissing her forehead.
“I will find something that will disqualify him from Black One security clearance,” Rei smiled to Jitsia. “I know Starfleet vetted him, but I am sure I can do a more thorough job.”
Jitsia half-heartedly smiled back. “I know this is good, but it hurts.”
“You love him,” Rei replied. “Kinda.”
Jitsia laughed slightly before grabbing her abdomen in pain.
“Are you okay?” Rei asked.
Jitsia nodded after a moment. “Gras is just making his objections known.”
Rei nodded as Jitsia moved up on the bed, laying down, obvious discomfort on her face. Rei watched her for a while before lying down next to her, making a point to hold her tightly.
The largest table in the lounge was full of what Gosnell would consider ‘rowdy’ customers. On a rowdy scale of one to ten, the group of NSO sitting there, chatting, and laughing would rate probably a three, but considering the usual rowdiness level in the lounge was about a one-point-five, that was pretty darn rowdy.
Gosnell had demanded that his wife send down security to keep an eye on them, to which he had simply gotten sworn at and hung up on, so he realized that if a riot did break out, he’d likely have to deal with it himself.
He wasn’t sure how he’d be able to do that considering the closest thing he had to a weapon was a fire extinguisher, but he’d make do.
“Boss,” one of the waitresses called to him.
“Yes?” Gosnell asked from his position, crouched, yet peering over the bar.
“You do realize that even if they did start fighting, which they aren’t, they would literally kill you, right?” she pointed out.
Gosnell opened his mouth to reply but said nothing.
The waitress nodded. “Okay then. I need three more coffees, two green teas, and five Xindi Root teas, cold.”
Gosnell simply nodded and went to make the order.
At the table, Alpha team, minus Rei was there, all of Bravo team, and Lt. Pan. The entire group was semi combat-ready, as the ship was at yellow alert because of whatever happened at Earth, but none of them had their weapons or their vests with them.
Kio and Anthony were both getting a kick out of the consistent glaring their Andorian medic, Ensign Yayo was giving Lt. Parker. The whole incident proving to be more humorous considering it was not a sexual escapade that discovered the scar, but rather a run-in at the pool.
“So,” Pan said, nodding thanks to the waitress as he took his drink, “you guys think I made the right choice?”
All the Sisko NSO soldiers nodded.
“It’s dangerous,” Kio sighed, “but worth it.”
Pan nodded. “I saw the memorial plaque. I’m sorry about your friends.”
The Sisko group nodded thanks.
“Their losses were not in vain,” Shelton stated. “All of them sacrificed themselves for this ship and the Federation.”
Parker nodded. “Great people.”
Pan raised his glass and took a drink. The doors to the lounge slid open and Ishran walked in. He looked around and noticed the group.
Pan looked up at him as he began to move towards them.
“What’s wrong?” Kio asked.
“Something about Lt. Commander Ishran just doesn’t sit well with me,” Pan admitted.
Kio’s eyes followed the Bolian as he meandered his way around the lounge and to the group’s table.
“Good evening,” he smiled.
“Good evening, Commander,” the group responded.
“Mind if I join you?”
No one objected and Ishran pulled up a chair and sat down next to Pan. Ishran ordered a beer from the waitress, then turned to the group.
“Wow, what’s with all the sissy drinks?” he asked, laughing.
Anthony looked sadly at his coffee as Shelton cleared his throat.
“The ship’s NEO teams are tasked with mutiny suppression,” he explained. “We rotate as to which of the three teams will be ‘off duty’. Right now, both our teams are on duty, so we cannot be drinking.”
“Hrm,” Ishran nodded, seemingly disliking his new job already.
“As well, while at alert status,” Shelton continued, “our primary mission is authority reassertion, so we have to be ready in case we get boarded.”
Ishran chuckled. “I guess the easiest job on this ship then is a security officer if we do all the work!”
A couple of off-duty security officers at a nearby table turned and glared at Ishran before returning to their drinks.
“Everyone has a role, Commander,” Kio mumbled.
“Indeed,” Ishran replied, slurping on his beer. He looked around the group a bit before speaking up again.
“So, where’s Gras and Commander Hino?”
“Commander Hino had a lot of paperwork to catch up on before we got to Earth,” Shelton said. He started to growl a bit as he continued. “I don’t know where COMMANDER Gras is. This wasn’t a mandatory night out.”
Ishran chuckled. “Gras has always been kind of a homebody. I’d always try to get her to come with me to the bar on the Starbase where we were based during the war. Was like pulling the teeth of a feral shelat cat.”
Kio looked to Ishran curiously. “Commander Gras was a teenager during the war.”
Ishran shook his head. “No, no. Not that one. Her previous host, Deka. He died a couple of years ago. I keep forgetting what it’s called. Carrots Disease or something.”
“Carat’s Syndrome?” both Yayo and Masters asked.
“Yeah, yeah,” Ishran nodded. “I was there when Deka died. Gras told me she’d wait for me, and she did.”
Ishran sighed. “Stupid Symbiosis Commission almost got it right too. Put her in a pretty, young girl and everything. Just forgot to ask her if she was a fuzz muncher.”
The entire table stared at Ishran in shock.
“You guys didn’t know?” Ishran asked.
“Not really anyone’s business,” Kio mumbled.
Ishran shrugged. “Well, doesn’t matter. I’m back with my buddy, have a good job and that’s all I care about,” he smiled as he gulped down the rest of his beer and stood. “Guess I’ll see you guys in the morning at the range!”
Ishran patted Pan on the back before walking off, the eyes of every single one of the Sisko NSO members and Pan following him.
“That man is disturbed,” Pan stated bluntly. “We should really keep Commander Gras away from him.”
The rest of the group, knowing full well that Pan could sense what Ishran’s true intentions were, nodded and fully planned to do just that.
Nephrite and Kunzite materialized aboard the Kuno cube to loud ovation from both Kodachi and Tatewaki. Several Kuno drones shot off fireworks and fired confetti cannons into the air in celebration. George simply rested his head in his palm while slowly shaking his head as his two siblings walked over to the two Negaverse generals, smiling.
“WELCOME!” Tatewaki exclaimed, “Welcome, welcome! To the great and noble Cube of Kuno!”
“Please,” Kodachi smiled as a couple of drones rolled out a red carpet for the pair, “make yourselves at home while you are our guests here!”
The Generals looked to each other cautiously, then walked down the path as the drones showered them with black rose pedals. Kodachi and Kuno followed them, with George bringing up the end.
‘Don’t you think you’re going a little overboard?’ George asked Kodachi, via their hive-mind connection.
‘I certainly don’t want them doubting our intentions, do you?’ she responded.
‘I think over-kissing their asses is going to raise doubts,’ George sighed.
‘You question our motives?!’ Tatewaki interjected.
‘Quiet you,’ both George and Kodachi snapped.
Tatewaki simply glowered.
‘Besides, once we smack those ‘Senshi’ around a bit, we will have their full trust,’ Kodachi chuckled.
Kodachi began to cackle loudly, out loud. Both Nephrite and Kunzite turned to her. She blushed and looked at them sheepishly.
“Sorry, was thinking of something I saw on...”
“My Little Pony,” Tatewaki smirked.
“Yes...” Kodachi nodded, reluctantly.
George fought off the urge he had to shoot both of his siblings right there and instead continued to follow them around as they gave the Negaverse pair a very... obtuse... tour of the ship.
Nephrite and Kunzite seemed to be impressed, yet at the same time, were seeming a little apprehensive.
“With all this power,” Kunzite said, looking around the cube’s control room, “it almost seems like you really have no use for us anymore.”
Nephrite nodded a bit. “We trust you, but we’re a little worried that...”
Kunzite chuckled. “That you might just decide to throw us outside and destroy the world on your own.”
Both Tatewaki and Kodachi feigned shock.
“YOU DARE QUESTION THE MORALS AND ETHICS OF THE GREAT KUNO COLLECTIVE?!” Tatewaki bellowed. “Why... Why... I should box your ears for that, you rapscallion!”
George looked to Tatewaki, flabbergasted.
“I am hurt by your words!” Kodachi cried, turning, and running off to sob in the corner. George’s eyes followed her for a moment before he turned back towards Nephrite and Kunzite.
“Despite the overacting by my kin,” he sighed, “they’re ‘right’.” He moved up and patted both Nephrite and Kunzite on the shoulder. “We Kunos may be eccentric and, yes, I’ll admit it, bloodthirsty, but we’re loyal. We’re also true to our word.”
George smiled reassuringly and turned towards the window, which overlooked Earth, off in the distance.
“We agreed to help you defeat the Sailor Senshi and obtain the silver crystal, and we will do just that.”
Kunzite nodded. “Then we will not worry about such things then.”
“Good,” George grinned. He turned back around to face the Generals. “Now, you said you had a trap set up for them?”
Nephrite nodded. “In about one hour there will be a youma attacking a gathering of people for a small concert. The Senshi will assume it’s one of our usual energy-stealing ploys and come to stop us.”
Kunzite chuckles. “Except you guys will be there! We’ll capture their leader, Sailor Moon, and then force them to hand over the Silver Crystal in exchange for her release!”
George nodded. “Hostages. I like the way you guys think.”
“We must prepare,” Nephrite said. “See you in an hour?”
George nodded and beamed Kunzite and Nephrite back to the planet. Kodachi halts her crying and walks over to George.
George rolls his eyes. “Just try and keep the melodramatics to a minimum till we have what we need, okay?”
Kodachi sighs and nods. “Since we have an hour, I am going to go find my darling Ranma!”
“OH!” Tatewaki calls out, “and I the pig-tailed girl and Akane Tendo!!”
George, not caring, nods. However, before they beam away, he calls out to them.
“If you happen to see Shampoo, will you tell her I said ‘hi’?”
Ranma figured that eventually, they would be getting a call from Starfleet Command. He couldn’t imagine that with Earth being declared a ‘security zone’ and the Sisko so close that they wouldn’t somehow be issued orders that had to do with whatever was going on.
It did shock him, though, that it took them as long as it did. It had been almost two days. The Sisko had just been ‘hanging out’ around Titan, waiting to go home.
Finally, they got the call.
Ranma sat down at his computer and activated the terminal. The image of his father that appeared perplexed him.
“Pop?” Ranma asked.
“Hey boy,” Genma replied, a half-grin on his face.
“We've sent you on some pretty important missions, yeah?”
“And some pretty strange events have happened, you'd agree?”
Ranma again nodded.
“You've heard of the Department of Temporal Investigations, right?”
“Heard of them, yes,” Ranma replied.
Genma nodded. “Well, they basically monitor space and the timeline to make sure people aren't going around changing history and whatnot, either on purpose or on accident.
“Yesterday they noticed a pretty massive temporal incursion near Earth.”
Ranma looked around. “I don't notice anything different.”
“Neither do I,” Genma agreed. “They don't either, but that's a moot point. They determined that there was also a quantum, inter-dimensional breach.”
“I don't have a clue what the hell you're talking about,” Ranma said.
“I don't either,” Genma admitted. “But the gist of it is that the people who committed the breaches not only went back in time but went into another 'universe'.”
“Is that even possible?”
Genma nodded. “You've heard of the Terran Empire, right?”
Ranma nodded slightly. “Yeah, I forgot about that.”
“There are theories that there are multiple universes running side by side.”
All of this was getting well over Ranma's head. “So, what does this have to do with me?”
“Well,” Genma continued, “prior to the breeches, the Kuno Collective broke a reluctant George Kuno out of a Federation Prison in the Gamma Quadrant.”
“Oh, for God's sake, the Kunos?”
“And what do you mean 'reluctant'?”
Genma smirked. “George repeatedly attempted to flee his 'liberators', and even assisted the jailers in attempting to repel them.”
Ranma laughed before understanding why his father brought up the Kuno jailbreak. “You're not insinuating that the Kuno's caused the breach?”
“No,” Genma frowned. “I'm flat out stating it. The Kuno's caused the breach.”
“Indeed,” Genma agreed. “The DTI has enough data to be able to replicate the breach and generate it again.”
“Well, that's good,” Ranma smiled.
Genma just looked at Ranma.
“You guys have had incredible success against the Kunos. As well, the NSO teams might prove useful to potentially fix any damage the Kunos have caused to that universe's timeline.”
Ranma puts his face in his palms. “Do you know when and where they went?”
Ranma sighed for almost a full minute. “Hoooooookay. Well, we’re just up the road, so it should only take us about ten minutes to get back there.”
“Great,” Genma smiled. “Also, be aware, a pair of DTI agents will be coming aboard when you arrive to observe and advise.”
Ranma looked to his father, a narrow gaze on his face. “Are you kidding me?”
“Ranma, the protection of-”
“Do you not think I heard this enough from Admiral Larson when we were shipwrecked?” Ranma asked. “I am aware of how important minimizing cultural contamination and the sanctity of the timeline is. I don't need a freaking bureaucrat hovering over me, much less two, questioning everything I do.”
Genma sighed. “It's really out of my hands.”
Ranma groaned. “As I said, we'll be at Earth in a few minutes.”
Ranma nodded and ended the communication. He waited a moment, silently cursing to himself before tapping his communicator. “Saotome to Shampoo.”
“Take us to Earth please, full impulse. Also, need senior officers in the conference room ASAP.”
“Aye,” she responded.
“Tell them to bring their 'shocked' faces,” Ranma added.
VALALA (GAMMA QUADRANT/DOMINION SPACE)
There were two acceptable outcomes to this mission. And one very, very unacceptable one. The first acceptable one was that Makoto managed to alter the protein pattern on the Ketracel White, making it poisonous, the second, assuming the computer wouldn’t cooperate she simply destroyed the facility.
Of course, the unacceptable outcome would happen if she got caught.
She would die.
Either at the hands of the Jem’Hadar or her own. Either way, she was not being taken alive.
“Fuck,” she whispered as the computer beeped again. The one they had tried this on from the facility Starfleet had captured was quite a bit more cooperative.
Either the Dominion had seriously upgraded their security, or she was doing something wrong, and she wasn’t sure what.
She was running out of time too. The computer core wasn’t going to be empty forever. Plus, the planet was mined to hell and back, so the Minneapolis had to maintain a strict orbit. There were only so many windows she had to be beamed up.
Hers was closing shortly.
She really wanted to get the protein string changed, rather than just blowing the place up. Poisoning millions of Jem’Hadar would be so much better than simply causing a supply inconvenience.
Makoto looked up. She could hear voices.
In her other ear, she could hear her ship. She had two minutes before she would be trapped for sixty.
“Fuck!” she cursed as she again tried to get the computer to comply.
She suddenly felt metal being pushed up against the back of her head.
“Stand up slowly,” a deep voice told her.
Makoto began to stand. As she did, she slowly went for her left arm. The Jem’Hadar with the gun suddenly disappeared and Gosnell grabbed Makoto’s arm.
“Dammit, don’t do that!” he snapped.
Makoto sighed. “I can’t be taken alive.”
“You know I won’t let them keep you,” he whimpered. “NEVER do that!”
Makoto chuckled. “Will you watch the door?”
Gosnell nodded and moved to the door as Makoto resumed her work. After about a minute, and noticing Gosnell snapping his fingers at least twice, she managed to get the protein resequenced.
“Yes!” she cheered.
“Do I even want to know what you’re happy about?” Gosnell asked.
“No,” Makoto shook her head, grabbing her jacket and hitting her transport button.
“Unable to comply,” her earpiece told her.
“Why not?” Makoto scowled, despite knowing.
“No line of sight to ship.”
Makoto sighed. Gosnell shrugged. “I can just snap you up there.”
Makoto shook her head. “I am going to get into trouble if they know I have been bringing you with me,” she sighed.
Gosnell nodded in understanding. “Well, how far do we need to go to get you where you can be beamed out?”
Makoto pulled out a PADD and checked it. “If we move 15 kilometers north of here, they should pass over us in about six minutes.”
Gosnell nodded and zapped the pair to about where he thought they should be. Sadly, however, they ended up in the middle of a small, Jem’Hadar lookout post.
The Jem’Hadar started screaming and shooting, to which Gosnell responded by killing the whole group of thirty at once. Makoto, who had ducked behind Gosnell gripped him tightly.
Gosnell blinked a couple of times.
“I killed them,” he mumbled.
“They were going to kill us,” Makoto said, turning Gosnell around.
Gosnell nodded and sighed. “I know. I’ve just never taken a life before... I just kind of thought I feel more...”
Gosnell looked to Makoto and placed his forehead to where it was touching hers.
Makoto ran her hand through Gosnell’s hair as the Q leaned back and smiled at her.
“I guess, or at least I hope, that if it had been for any other reason than saving you, I would have.”
Makoto kissed Gosnell. “You’re the sweetest person I have ever met. I can’t imagine you hurting a fly in any other circumstance.”
“Transport available,” Makoto’s earpiece informed her.
“Gotta go,” she smiled.
Gosnell nodded. “See you later.”
Makoto kissed him again, then beamed away.
Gosnell walked up to one of the Jem’Hadar, looked at him for a moment, then kicked him for good measure.
Makoto walked onto the bridge of the Minneapolis and smiled at Giles. “Hiya.”
“MK!” he blinked. “I figured we’d have to wait an hour to see you,” he laughed. “Bloody chunder!”
Makoto shook her head. “Nope. Wasn’t staying down there any longer than I had to.”
“Good, then let’s get the hell out of here,” Giles said. “Take us back to the wormhole!”
The cloaked Minneapolis began to pull out of orbit. Unfortunately, as she was doing so she hit a cloaked tachyon mine, destabilizing her cloak.
“THE CLOAK IS FAILING!” the engineering officer called out.
“That ain’t good,” the executive officer noted.
Giles shook his head as about forty Jem’Hadar ships began to swoop down on them.
“SHIELDS TO FULL! GET US THE HELL OUT OF HERE!” Giles screamed.
“They’ve enacted some kinds of subspace destabilization field!” engineering called out. “I can’t generate a warp field!”
“Balls,” Giles whimpered as countless torpedoes barreled towards the helpless Minneapolis.
Everyone on the bridge closed their eyes, fully expecting to be dead within seconds. After about ten seconds with no impact, no shaking, no nothing, Giles cautiously opened one, then the other.
He looked around, as did everyone else.
“Why aren’t we dead?” Giles asked.
Operations looked confused as he checked out his display.
“Sir... I am not sure how, but it appears we’re in The Badlands...”
Everyone but Makoto stared at him in shock. Makoto simply smiled and whistled a happy little tune as she headed towards the turbolift.