“It would be a very long story to explain everything, Captain,” Rei said as she looked down at the bio-bed that contained the Usagi doppelganger. “No secret Section 31 stuff though, nothing terrible. Just another life, another time.”
Ranma nodded. He could understand. He wouldn’t recognize himself from twenty years ago either.
“But,” Rei continued, “in some weird temporal, theoretical way, this could be an alternate Usagi.”
Akane walked over to the pair and handed Ranma a PADD. “Not could,” she smiled, “is. DNA is a one-hundred percent match.”
“Well,” Rei said, slightly confused, “that actually doesn’t make sense because the way I understand it, our spirits are reborn into human bodies. If her DNA is the same, that means this Usagi has the same parents our Usagi has.”
“Which is unrelated to your guardians of the...” Ranma trailed off, already confused.
Rei nodded. “Yeah. As I said, it’s complicated. It’s best not to try and get too far into it or look it up on Wikipedia or do anything that will ruin the fun of a good story.”
Ranma nodded as he and Akane looked towards the fourth wall of sickbay.
“Usagi-” Rei cut herself off, realizing the rest of this mission was going to be annoying, “this Usagi thought she knew me, so there must be an alternate me down there too.” Rei pondered some more. “There is likely all five of us.”
“All five of you?” Ranma asked.
Rei nodded. “Me, Usagi, Minako, Makoto and Ami - Captain Muzino.” Rei gasped. “I think it’s pretty important we find out exactly why they kidnapped, uh, Usagi-Two.”
“You really think we should wake her and interrogate her?” Ranma asked once he finished chuckling at Rei’s redesignation of the mirror Usagi.
“Interrogate is a little harsh, but yes.”
“I’m not sure DTI would approve,” Ranma smirked.
“Let me get the reasonable one to hang out with you while you do it,” Ranma smiled. “I have to at least pretend I care what they have to say.”
Rei smiled. “Thank you, Captain.”
“Don’t thank me,” Ranma said, walking to the door. “I want to stop the Kunos and I think your plan is the best one right now. I thank you.”
“Agent Kanaka, may I speak with you?” Ranma called to the science station as he stepped out of the aft turbolift.
“Is there something going on with the girl recovered from the Kuno cube?” Kirie asked.
“Yes,” Ranma nodded as he walked down the bridge to the science station and looked to first Miharu and then to Kirie. “And I’d like to speak with Miss Kanaka about it.”
“We’re a team, Captain,” Kirie pointed out.
Ranma leaned up against the science station and pondered thoughtfully for a moment as Shampoo watched from the Captain’s chair. “Fair enough. Right now, she’s sedated in sickbay. However, our best hopes of finding out what the Kunos are doing on the planet lie with her. So, we intend on waking her and interviewing her, and I would like Agent Kanaka to sit in on it, to observe and advise.”
Miharu was about to say something, but Kirie cut her off.
“Why can’t I do it?”
“To be perfectly blunt,” Ranma said, leaning forward slightly, “the last thing this poor girl needs right now is to be in the middle of a shouting match between you and Commander Hino.”
Kirie simply scowled. Miharu, after making sure Kirie didn’t appear to be mad at her, nodded to the Captain. “I’ll report to sickbay right away.”
“Thank you,” Ranma smiled.
Miharu scurried off towards the turbolift. Ranma began to walk towards his ready room but stops as Kirie begins to speak.
“Captain, I may be forward and loud, but it’s because I take my job very seriously.”
Ranma returned to the science station, Shampoo’s eyes following him all the way, and leaned on it again. He looked to Kirie and smiled.
“I’ll tell you a short story. There was a captain who didn’t follow protocol once. Was just a couple of breaches, but nonetheless, breeches. The result, six people dead and half his ship was destroyed. He lost his command and worst yet, he lost the trust, respect, and good standing he had built with Starfleet Command and his crew.”
Ranma chuckled a bit. “That captain was an idiot by the name of Ranma Saotome.”
Kirie eyed Ranma oddly as he continued.
“It took a lot of work to rebuild that trust and respect; not necessarily that of Starfleet Command, but of my crew. They are the ones whom I care if I am trusted and respected by.
“That trust and respect is not a given but is earned. And you don’t earn that by not taking this job dead-fucking-serious.”
“I have ordered people into situations that will and have led to their deaths. People will not blindly follow you into those situations unless they believe in you. I don’t command a Jem’Hadar or Borg ship here, Assistant Deputy Director.”
Ranma leaned back and cleared his throat. “My whole point is that you can in fact take your job seriously while not acting like an obnoxious ass.”
Ranma nodded goodbye to Kirie before he walked into his ready room. Kirie simply stared at the viewscreen for a few moments before resuming the work at her station.
Shampoo watched Ranma’s door for a bit longer, however.
Miharu walked into sickbay and sat down next to Jeff who had sat down on the bio-bed next to Sailor Moon. Rei, who had taken off her combat vest and jacket, nodded to her before turning to Akane.
“Can you wake her up please?” Rei asked.
Akane nodded, injected Sailor Moon with a couple of hyposprays, then ran for cover, as the last time they woke her up to talk to her about how she was feeling, she started flailing and freaking out.
Sailor Moon moaned a couple of times before blinking and opening her eyes partially.
“Can I have five more minutes, Mommy?” she asked.
Rei rolled her eyes. This was a duplicate of Usagi, alright.
“No, uh, U-Usagi,” Rei softly said, shaking her, “wake up. I need to ask you some things.”
Upon hearing Rei’s voice, Sailor Moon quickly woke all the way up and began to scoot around on the bio-bed. The security officers posted in sickbay began to move towards her, but Jeff motioned for them the back away. Rei backed off for a moment as well, concerned about how upset this Usagi seemed to be.
“Where am I?!” she finally cried out.
“You’re...” Rei stuttered for the right words, “you’re-”
“...at a hospital,” Miharu helpfully piped up.
Rei nodded and ran with it. “Yes, a military hospital.”
Sailor Moon stopped squirming around and looked at Rei oddly. “What?”
“I haven’t been quite honest with you, Usagi,” Rei said, dropping into full melodramatics mode. “I’ve been leading a secret double life in the military for years now. Rescuing clumsy blondes all over the univer-globe.”
Miharu was slightly impressed by Rei. Jeff, however, found his eyes ready to roll right out of his head.
“Wow,” Sailor Moon smiled. “No wonder you’re such a jerk half the time. A busy schedule like that!” Sailor Moon smiled some more as Rei glowered.
“Yes, well, I need you to tell me what happened when you were abducted.”
“Why?” Sailor Moon asked. “You were there.”
“I was?” Rei blinked.
Sailor Moon nodded oddly. “Yeah. Boy, they musta really conked you hard on your head.”
“Yes,” Rei nodded, rubbing her head and feigning pain. “Ow, my skull.”
“Oh, well you know we were fighting that youma, then those dudes with the robots that all looked the same appeared and grabbed me, they tied you up, shot Tuxedo Mask, and-”
Rei gasped. “Wait, Mamoru?”
“Huh?” Sailor Moon blinked.
“Oh crap,” Jeff sighed.
Rei inhaled deeply and sighed. “Nothing, go on.”
Sailor Moon was again weirded out by the look on Rei’s face, as was Jeff who was clearing his schedule for the next six weeks. Sailor Moon thought for a moment then turned to Rei. “Well, then they took me away, even though Sailor Venus and Sailor Mercury both blasted them with their attacks.”
Miharu was confused, but she let Rei continue.
“Do you know why they took you?”
Sailor Moon again looked to Rei oddly. “Are you sure you’re Rei?”
Rei nodded. “Why are you asking me this again?”
Sailor Moon shrugged. “Well, you were there, and again, Rei doesn’t look so old.”
“I AM NOT OLD!” Rei snapped.
Sailor Moon looked wide-eyed at Rei. Rei smiled at her sweetly. “Why did they kidnap you, sweetie?”
“The-the Negaverse wants the Silver Crystal. They said if the others brought the crystal they would give them me back,” she sighed.
“Where is the crystal now?” Rei asked.
“In my broach,” Sailor Moon replied, tugging on her sickbay PJs. “Wherever you put my clothes.”
Rei nodded and ran her hand through Sailor Moon’s hair once. “Don’t worry. You’re safe here and we’ll protect the others.”
Sailor Moon looked to Rei. “Who are you?”
Rei smiled. “I’m Rei Hino.” Rei nodded to Akane. Akane came over and injected Sailor Moon. The blonde-haired heroine started to object before realizing that she was going to get to go back to sleep, then decided to simply allow the drugs to kick in.
“Where are her clothes?” Rei asked.
Akane pointed towards a table.
Rei scurried over to it, with Miharu right behind her. Rei went through the clothes, which were the mirror Usagi’s street clothes – she apparently transformed back from Sailor Moon during her stay in sickbay - and found the transformation broach. Rei popped it open and looked at the brightly shining Silver Crystal.
“Those morons had it all along and they didn’t even realize it.”
“Looks like just a diamond to me,” Miharu said.
Rei shook her head. “If this universe is like ours, then this crystal falling into evil hands could be disastrous. And considering everything THAT Usagi just said, only Kuno stupidity stopped that from happening.”
Miharu watched as Rei packed up Usagi’s clothes and placed them in a locker. She then placed a biometric lock on the locker and summoned a couple of extra security officers.
“If anyone tries to get into THAT locker,” Rei said, making a slicing motion towards her neck.
“Aye,” both guards replied.
“I cannot believe you lost our ship,” Kodachi glowered at George.
“I cannot believe you did not make the drones bulletproof,” George replied in a mocking tone. “What would you have me do? Stay up there and die?”
“To die in battle is better than to live in defeat,” Tatewaki proudly stated.
“That explains why you’ve died in battle so often,” George snapped.
Tatewaki scowled as Kodachi cocked her head. “You seem perturbed, dear brother,” she pointed out.
“Perturbed?” he exclaimed. “Dear sister, there is not an adjective or adverb in the entire universe - either of them - to convey my level of annoyance right now.
“The ship is gone, we lost one of our hostages, and I’ve not had a decent meal since I left jail. And the only thing I asked you two to do was to get the Hive built, and you couldn’t even get that done.”
Kodachi sighed. “I said it just needed a bit more decorating.”
“THERE ARE NO LIGHTS!” George screamed, spinning around, and pointing towards all the darkness that surrounded him and his kin. “You guys haven’t done any electrical work, the drone construction alcoves are not set up, nothing! You do realize that if Saotome sends those people down here with their projectile guns in the position we’re in now, THEY WILL WIN.”
“Nonsense,” Tatewaki scoffed.
George shot Tatewaki and stunned him. He then turned to Kodachi. “And I like him.”
Kodachi nodded, becoming serious as Tatewaki staggered to his feet. “We’ll get it done, George.”
“Knock, knock!” a voice came from the opening of the cave that concealed the Kuno hive. George, Tatewaki, and Kodachi turned to see Nephrite and Kunzite come in.
Kunzite drug behind him college-aged man and woman.
“Welcome to the Great and Noble Hive of Kuno,” Tatewaki boasted.
“Sure is dark,” Nephrite noted.
“The lighting hasn’t been installed yet,” George sighed.
“What’s with the brats?” Kodachi asked.
“Oh,” Kunzite smirked, “we found them poking around outside. Weren’t sure if you used humans for energy or not.”
Kodachi and Tatewaki walked up to them. “Not usually for energy,” Kodachi smiled as she raised her arm to the girl’s neck. “But they can help.”
Two prongs shot out of the top of Kodachi’s hand and into the female’s neck. The same thing happened to the male from Tatewaki.
“Ah man,” George groaned. “I wish I knew you were going to do that. I would have done it first so they wouldn’t end up being daft.”
“You can let them go,” Kodachi smiled as she cupped the girl's face in her hand. “They won’t be going anywhere, now, will they?”
The girl shook her head. Kunzite let the pair go. Both turned around and ran as fast as they could out the exit of the cave. Kodachi sighed.
“The assimilation process used to be faster,” she grumbled. “It’s all the high-fructose corn syrup the kids drink nowadays.”
George simply shook his head and motioned for Nephrite and Kunzite to come with him.
“Those kids will be back. Maybe we’ll be lucky, and they’ll assimilate a small labor force along the way,” George chuckled.
Nephrite and Kunzite nodded.
“We’re all set up to meet the Sailor Senshi tomorrow night to trade for the Silver Crystal.”
“That long?” Nephrite asked.
“Yeah, well, there’s been a complication - and before you guys get mad it’s partially your fault,” George chuckled nervously.
Nephrite and Kunzite looked to George with concern. “What do you mean?”
“Well, apparently that portal you made was too stable, and Starfleet - the Sailor Senshi from my universe except with spaceship and big fucking guns - followed us through.”
George sighed. “They attacked our ship and boarded it. I had no choice but to blow it up, killing the intruders. Unfortunately, that killed our hostage as well.”
To George’s surprise, Nephrite and Kunzite laughed.
“What? What’s funny?” George asked.
“Well, we can just attack them tomorrow and get the Silver Crystal now,” Nephrite smiled.
Kunzite nodded. “Without Sailor Moon, they cannot use the full potential of the crystal. If she’s dead...” Kunzite began to weep in joy before the two Generals began to dance around in circles.
“Well,” George smiled, “I am glad things will still work out, except that we’re kind of stranded on your planet now.”
“You’ve done the Dark Kingdom a great service,” Kunzite said. “We will return it by doing whatever we can to get you a spaceship again.”
George smiled. For probably the first time since coming to this universe, he was feeling a little bit bad about his plans to backstab the Negaverse.
The electronic lights in the cave came on. George blinked when he noticed there were several assimilated Tokyo citizens walking around and carrying various items that would make up the inside of a Kuno hive.
“See!” George pointed out.
“Won’t people notice their friends and kids missing?” Kunzite asked. “I mean, we use magic to take care of that...”
George shrugged and took the pair to the entrance to the cave. They walked out and George laughed slightly as he pointed towards the entranceway. Where there used to be an opening, now there were just rocks and a faux waterfall streaming into a small stream.
“Holoemitters,” George smiled. “Poor man’s magic.”
The Generals both smirked. “See you tomorrow evening,” Kunzite said.
Rei sat with Minako and Makoto in the Sisko’s main conference room. The three of them had arrived an hour before the scheduled start of the meeting at Rei’s request. Now, both Makoto and Minako were curious about what had gotten Rei so worked up.
“You guys remember when we were fifteen or so?” Rei asked the two women.
Both Makoto and Minako nodded. “Yes,” Minako replied. “Well, sorta...”
Makoto kinda grinned and gritted her teeth as she looked at Minako. “Well, you won’t really remember it well because you kinda died.”
Minako blinked. “Wait, are you talking about THAT?”
“And Ami died too, okay?” Minako scowled.
Rei again nodded, chuckling a bit. “But you both were revived by the Silver-”
“Why are you bringing this up?” Minako asked. “I thought we agreed that with the Black Millennium threat gone and there being no need for us anymore, we’d move on and just be normal people.”
Rei, upset at Minako interrupting her, glared at Minako for a moment before bluntly reporting what she had to say.
“Sailor Moon is lying in sickbay.”
Makoto this time blinked as Minako looked at Rei in shock.
“I just passed Usagi on the bridge not more than five minutes before coming in here,” Makoto argued.
“Yeah,” Rei nodded. “Our Usagi. This universe apparently has duplicates of us, and those duplicates are fighting the Negaverse.” Rei sighed a bit, “A Negaverse apparently being aided by the Kunos.”
“Fucking balls,” Makoto swore.
“Does Usagi -” Minako cut herself off for a moment, “our Usagi know?”
Rei shook her head. “It would just confuse the hell out of her.”
“What would?” Usagi asked from the conference room doors.
All three women jumped in the seats before growling at Usagi.
“You’re becoming even worse than Jitsia,” Rei snarled.
Usagi ignored Rei and sat down next to Minako. Usagi, while some might call her ‘technically’ dumb, was sharp when she needed to be, and she’d learned how to manipulate the right people.
She knew Minako wouldn’t lie to her.
“What would confuse me?” Usagi asked Minako, their blue eyes staring into each other.
Minako sighed and put her hand on Usagi’s shoulder. She then put the other one on the back of Usagi’s chair and turned her so she was facing Rei.
“You were saying something about a duplicate Usagi?” Minako smiled at Rei.
Rei narrowed her gaze at Minako before shifting towards Usagi. She wasn’t exactly sure how to phrase it so the cute engineer would grasp it.
“Apparently, we have duplicates in this universe, Usagi,” Rei started.
“Oh,” Usagi said, nodded. “Kind of like how there is a double of everyone in the Terran Empire universe, only EVIL!”
Rei blinked. “Well, yeah. And how do you know about that?”
“JC showed me where to find the information,” Usagi smiled. “And I have been writing...” Usagi slightly blushed, “...T-E erotic fanfiction.”
“Only you could make the phrase ‘erotic fanfiction’ sound adorable,” Makoto laughed.
Usagi smiled and shrugged. “JC encouraged me to express myself.”
Minako rubbed Usagi on the head lovingly. “There’s a whole ‘nother Usagi in there that we’ve never met, isn’t there?”
Usagi simply smiled.
“Speaking of ‘a whole ‘nother Usagi’,” Rei said, clearing her throat. “There is literally one in sickbay.”
Usagi gasped. “Can I see her?”
Rei shook her head. “Not now. But I have a feeling we’re going to end up being tasked with protecting them.”
“If they’re Sailor Senshi,” Makoto asked, “won’t they be okay on their own?”
Usagi’s eyes went wide. “Sail-” she stopped speaking and simply started rambling incoherently to herself as Rei again shook her head.
“No, because first off, the Kuno’s technology has apparently allowed them to adapt to... our counterpart's attacks.”
Minako, who was attempting to comfort Usagi slightly, sighed. “That’s a bummer.”
Rei nodded. “Yeah. The other thing is, we have the Silver Millennium Crystal locked up on the ship.”
Usagi shot to her feet. “YOU HAVE THE WHAT IN THE WHERE NOW?!?!”
“The crystal,” Rei said, eyeing Usagi oddly. “It’s locked up to keep it safe till we can return it and the other Usagi to the planet.”
Usagi nodded a bit, then paced around. She then started towards the door.
“I need to go to engineering,” she said. Before anyone could object, Usagi was gone.
“Wow,” Makoto said, looking to first Minako and then Rei. “I’ve never seen her so worked up before.”
“It is a strange turn of events,” Minako nodded, “but her reaction was really... wild.”
The three girls continued their discussion till Ranma, and the rest of the senior staff came in, as well as the two DTI agents.
The Sisko command staff debated the pros and cons and went back and forth a couple of times with DTI - Ms. Kojime to be exact, but eventually, it was determined that a group, most likely an NSO group, would have to beam to the planet to shadow the potential targets, while Rei, Minako, and Makoto contacted their alternate selves and explain the situation.
It certainly wasn’t ideal, and Ranma acknowledged that.
“It’s very dangerous,” the Captain sighed, “what we’re planning on doing here. But I cannot believe for a moment that it is any more dangerous than allowing the Kunos free reign on this planet and allowing whatever scheme they are hatching to come to pass.”
The group, DTI included to Ranma’s surprise, nodded in agreement.
“There actually is a procedure for situations like this, Captain,” Miharu smiled. “We need the shuttle to scan the area where the away teams will be, then each away team member will need to be inoculated for any viruses or bacteria that could potentially harm the planet’s inhabitants.”
Ranma nodded. “Sounds reasonable.” He turned to Minako. “Will you make sure Kaii gets the scan done ASAP and pass along the results to Akane?” he said, motioning towards his wife.
“Yes sir,” Minako nodded. She really didn’t think that she had any diseases that would kill anyone, seeing how she spent nearly all her time in the recycled air cooker that was a spaceship. However, she could see the other side too. She didn’t want to be killed by some disease that humans had lost their immunity to simply because it hadn’t existed in 500 years.
“Also,” Miharu continued, “Only humans or aliens that could pass for human in, quote, a basic medical exam, can be allowed to beam down.”
Rei grumbled. “I really could use Jitsia.”
Kirie looked through her records. Ranma was about to give Rei a ‘sorry’ speech, Kirie spoke up.
“It’s probably out of protocol, but I don’t see why she can’t go.”
Miharu turned to Kirie and whispered, “She’s a joined Trill.”
Kirie looked to Ranma, who seemed to be pleased with her allowing Jitsia on the away team.
“I think that as long as she’s careful and is in constant transporter lock in case things go badly, it will be okay,” Kirie smiled. “And you know how the kids love crazy tattoos,” she joked, motioning towards her neck, an obvious reference to Jitsia’s spots.
Ranma nodded and looked to Rei. “I want your guys in civilian’s clothes. Do what you can to minimize personal injury risk, but...”
Rei nodded. “We can work something out.”
“Good,” Ranma looked over his PADD and sighed. “I know phasers won’t work well against the Kunos, but if this Japan is anything like the late 20th century Japan I have read about, your guys wandering around with rifles will not go over well.”
Rei pulled out her LA-15 phase-projectile hybrid handgun and plopped it onto the table. “That’s what these babies are for.”
Ranma smirked. “Well then, let me know when your team is ready to go.”
“Appears to be sunrise now, Captain,” Makoto reported, checking out a report. “I think it would be best if they waited till evening to beam down.”
Ranma nodded. “What is that? Morning up here?”
“If you could call it that,” Makoto grumbled. “Around 04:00.”
Shampoo chuckled as the room stood. “Okay then. If possible, I want the first set of scouting boots on the ground around 04:00. We’ll see how to deploy from there.”
“Aye,” the room replied as they filed out.