“Based on the inventory of all the items the assimilated people were stealing,” Kaii reported, “it seems that they’re trying to build weapons and replicators with twentieth-century parts and technology.”
“Is that even possible?” Ranma asked.
Kaii nodded. “If you know how to do it, and assuming they have some of the necessary parts salvaged from their ship.” Kaii sighed and looked over some of his previous scans from Nighthawk.
“I have to assume that they’ve got some kind of hidden base on the planet, and it’s being masked, which means they have both an energy source, and a subspace field generator. If they brought that with them, then it wasn’t a last-minute thing before they self-destructed, and it was something they were planning beforehand.”
Ranma grumbled. Every time he thought it was going to be a simple matter of zapping the Kunos and getting rid of them, something else complicated the matter.
“With the subspace field generator up, there’s likely no way to pinpoint their location, is there?” Ranma asked.
“Not from orbit,” Kaii said, shaking his head. “But Lt. Yuki said the thieves were on foot, so it seems reasonable to assume their base would be near the electronics store where the break-in occurred.”
“Seem like waste to have a NEO team just wander around scanning,” Shampoo pointed out.
Ranma nodded. “I know someone who loves just wandering around, though.”
Gosnell beamed down next to Anthony, scaring the living wits out of the poor enlisted soldier. Gosnell, who was no fan of heights, backpedaled away from the edge of the building the NSO team was situated on top of.
“Geeze,” Gosnell grumbled. “Spend all day in space, you’d think you’d want to be firmly planted on the ground on an away mission.”
Kio chuckled slightly as she took a gun and a couple of magazines of ammo out of her bag, as well as a power cell and handed it to Gosnell. Gosnell sighed and placed it in his waistline.
“Don’t like guns, eh?” Kio asked.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter, Lieutenant,” Gosnell nodded.
Anthony smirked this time. “I’m both.”
“You’re neither,” Kio scoffed as she patted Gosnell on the shoulder. “It’s ‘just in case’. If things get bad, yell at us, and we’ll come help, okay?”
Gosnell nodded and gingerly made his way down the fire escape.
Kirie was a little upset that she wasn’t getting status reports as often as she wanted them. Though part of that was because there wasn’t a whole lot going on. The deadline to exchange the girl wasn’t for a couple more hours, so the NSO teams were simply sitting and watching.
The other team on the planet had contacted their duplicates and, at least according to their report, had explained the situation without telling more than the duplicates needed to know.
As was stated before, it wasn’t ideal, but Saotome was right.
It was better than allowing the Kunos to succeed.
“Hrm,” Kirie said out loud as she looked at some new information.
“What is it?” Miharu asked.
“Just looking at the reports from sickbay,” Kirie explained. “Everyone who’s eligible to go to the planet has taken a physical except for the bartender they sent down there.”
“How did he get to go without taking one?” Miharu asked.
“Protocol was overridden by the Captain,” she said, typing in some more information. Kirie looked confused as she read the results of her query. “He’s never taken one.”
“Ever?” Miharu asked.
Kirie shook her head. “They’ve always been overridden by Saotome or his father.”
Kirie’s eyes looked towards the captain’s chair where Shampoo was seated, reading a PADD. They then shifted to the ready room. She then began to type something up.
“What are you doing?” Miharu asked.
“He cannot be down there if he’s carrying something,” Kirie whispered. “I’m having him detained and returned to the ship.”
“Are you sure you shouldn’t speak with the Captain first?”
Kirie rolled her eyes. “What’s he going to say? He’s the one who overrode the requirement.”
Miharu sighed and nodded.
“Yuki to Hino,” Rei’s communicator chirped.
Rei, who was chatting with... well, herself, excused... herself, and tapped her communicator.
Rei, Minako, and Usagi were sitting outside of the temple with their duplicates and Ami. Makoto had gone inside to freshen up and chat with her duplicate. All the duplicates, despite having their own walkie-talkie, were impressed with Rei’s communicator and eyed it curiously.
“DTI is saying that Gosnell didn’t get his physical done before he beamed down, and he needs to be detained and brought back.”
Rei blinked. “Can’t they just contact him?”
“They specifically are saying ‘detained’,” Kio said. “He’s closer to you guys and we really can’t leave.”
“That’s fine, I’ll have my team go get him,” Rei sighed.
“Roger,” Kio answered, ending the transmission.
Minako looked to Rei. “We’ve got time, and you really shouldn’t pull your teams off the perimeter. Usagi and I can go get him. Your guys would be too hard on him anyway.”
Rei nodded as Usagi and Minako stood. “Sure,” she said, not sure why Gosnell would need to be detained in the first place.
Minako looked over a PADD that contained the details of Gosnell’s whereabouts and why DTI wanted him before she and Usagi ran off. Rei resumed chatting with the duplicates for a few more minutes before Makoto and Makoto-2 walked out.
“Where’s Minako and Usagi?” Makoto asked.
“DTI told us to arrest your husband because he didn’t take his physical before beaming down,” Rei explained.
“WHAT?” Makoto snapped.
“Sheesh,” Ami-2 grumbled. “Are all of us in that universe married but me?”
“I’m not,” Rei-2 said, pointing towards Rei’s hand.
Rei turned and glared at her duplicate, considering whomping her for a moment before turning back to Makoto. “What’s wrong?”
“Shit, they’re making a huge mistake,” Makoto said before running off in the general direction Minako and Usagi went.
“That Usagi wasn’t married either,” Luna pointed out.
This time Rei glared at Luna before turning in the direction Makoto ran, concerned about what exactly was going on.
Every block or so Gosnell would stop, stealthily pull out his tricorder, and scan. And, of course, it would tell him the same thing. ‘No subspace distortion fields located’.
Gosnell didn’t mind too much. Hell, if time wasn’t a factor here, he would consider this a nice vacation. The weather, despite the occasional drizzle, was decent. The people seemed to be friendly, and while he wasn’t certain, he was pretty sure there was a Hello Kitty megastore nearby.
Unfortunately, Google Maps hadn’t been invented yet, so he was going to have to find a phone book to know for sure.
His next scan was much of the same. Nothing found. Though the tricorder did show something interesting. Two Starfleet communicator signatures, 40 meters away, closing in on him rather quickly.
Gosnell turned in that direction. He could see, as the tricorder had reported, about 40 meters away, Minako and Usagi running in his direction.
He waved at them.
“GOSNELL!” Minako yelled. “STOP!”
“PREPARE TO BE DETAINED!” Usagi added.
Gosnell looked at them oddly for a moment before turning in the opposite direction and taking off running.
“Why did you yell that?” Minako asked Usagi.
“Seemed like the thing to do,” Usagi shrugged as she tried to run faster.
The two blondes continued to chase Gosnell as he ran through a small shopping district and around some food carts. He quickly stopped to look at some cute anime toys that he thought Makoto might like but realized that he was simply allowing his pursuers to close in on him and resumed running and turned into an alleyway.
“STUPID!” he yelled at himself once he realized the alley dead-ended.
Usagi and Minako slowly marched down the alley, their steps almost in sync with each other. Both looked down towards their target who was making a feeble attempt to stack cardboard boxes, then climb on top of them in hopes of getting over a retaining wall.
Gosnell's weight crushed the boxes causing him to fall to the pavement. He turned and looked up to the two officers mere meters from him.
“Why are you chasing me?” he demanded to know.
“Why are you running?” Minako asked back.
“Because you're chasing!” Gosnell cried.
“Why do you get out of having to take your physical?” Usagi asked.
Gosnell blinked. “How do you know about that?”
“Your medical file says you're exempted from a physical from special order of the Captain,” Minako said as she squatted down next to Gosnell while pulling out the PADD with the DTI information on it. “How come?”
Gosnell shifted his eyes away from her, refusing to take the PADD she was trying to hand him. “You really have no business looking through my personnel files.”
“DTI made us,” Usagi explained.
Gosnell stood up, dusted himself off, and began to walk away from the two women.
“It's a personal matter that I would really rather not discuss.”
Minako looked to Usagi before calling after Gosnell. “It's not a personal matter if it's something that can hurt Makoto.”
Usagi looked to Minako before turning to Gosnell. “Is there something wrong with you?” she asked.
Gosnell stopped, but he did not turn around. “No.”
“So?” Minako asked again, this time tapping the PADD, “What is it?”
Gosnell ignored Minako and began to walk away. Minako, growing quite frustrated with Gosnell stormed after him and grabbed the back of his collar. She quickly spun him around and slammed him against a wall.
The rage on her face disappeared when she noticed that his eyes had begun to fill with water.
“I promised her I would not tell anyone,” he whispered.
“LEAVE HIM ALONE!” an out-of-breath Makoto called from the entrance to the alleyway.
“Her,” Gosnell replied softly.
Minako released Gosnell and turned to Makoto. Usagi slowly walked up to Minako as Makoto came running up, shoving her way past Minako, to check on Gosnell.
“DTI wants him detained and brought back to the ship,” Usagi explained.
Makoto looked to Gosnell, then to the pair.
“I'll take care of it,” she informed them.
Usagi nodded as Makoto began to take Gosnell away, but Minako quickly grabbed her sleeve.
“What happened?” she asked.
“Nothing,” Makoto barked, attempting to pull Gosnell away.
“I thought we-” Minako paused for a moment as Makoto slowed her pace. “I thought you'd moved beyond keeping secrets from your friends. Lying to your friends...”
Minako looked to Gosnell who was still on the verge of crying. “Hurting the ones who loved you.”
“God damn it, Minako,” Makoto softy swore as she dropped Gosnell's arm. She looked up at him, tears forming in her own eyes.
“I don't know how many times I have to tell you,” Gosnell said, taking her hands, “it wasn't your fault.”
Makoto leaned up against a wall and slid to the ground, crying. Gosnell followed her down, grabbing a hold of her, embracing her as she dropped. Minako and Usagi ran over and dropped to their knees next to them.
Makoto looked up to Gosnell for a moment, nodded to him once, before putting her head back on his chest. Gosnell kissed the top of her head before turning to Usagi and Minako.
“I am a Q.”
Usagi audibly gasped while Minako looked at Gosnell with a look of utter shock on her face.
“That would be the correct reaction,” he acknowledged. “However, unlike most Q, I do not have most of my powers.”
Makoto's crying increased.
“Anymore,” Gosnell amended.
THE Q CONTINUUM
Gosnell appeared in the middle of a darkened room, surrounded by seven other Q’s, all in formal Q attire. It was obvious that Gosnell was not expecting to be here as he was in mid-dance when he appeared.
“...just watch me do the Humpty-Hump...” he sung before realizing the music had stopped. Gosnell looked around.
“Your human friend is not here right now,” the ‘head’ Q stated.
Gosnell looked to him. “What’s going on? Why have you brought me here?”
“Do you not understand what it means to be a Q?” one of the other Qs asked.
“I don’t understand that question, no.”
A different Q sighed. “The last time you were here, you stated that you opposed the actions of a certain Q.”
Gosnell nodded. “I do.”
“So why do you act like him?”
“I oppose his actions,” Gosnell argued. “I do not oppose his views on individuality and freedom.”
“That is not what we’re talking about,” the head Q stated. “You told us you opposed his interference with the linear universe. How he treated it like it was his plaything and how he would do things just because he could.”
“Yes,” Gosnell nodded. “I do.”
“Then why do you do it?” another Q repeated the earlier question.
“I don’t!” Gosnell snapped.
“You do,” the head Q retorted. “You change their events to your whim. Yes, you justify it through your relationship with the human female, but regardless, you still do it. In our eyes, you’re no better than he was.”
“An action to save someone is not the same as an action because ‘it’s fun’,” Gosnell growled.
“The result is,” another Q responded. “Their universe has been irreparably changed because of your interference.”
“This is in direct violation of the agreement we made when we allowed you to go on your little journey,” the head Q concluded.
Gosnell simply scowled. “So, what are you going to do?”
“We’re not as intolerant as you might believe, Q,” the head Q stated, snapping his fingers, and making Makoto appear next to Gosnell. Makoto looked around; a bit frightened before moving next to Gosnell.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
“We are giving you a choice,” the head Q continued. “You may continue your life as a Q, but you will no longer be allowed into their universe. Your interference is unacceptable, especially after you terminated lives.”
Gosnell inhaled deeply.
“HE WAS PROTECTING US!” Makoto cried out.
“He shouldn’t have been there in the first place,” a Q responded.
“Your other choice,” the head Q continued, “is that you shall be stripped of your powers and given a linear existence.”
Gosnell looked to Makoto and scoffed. “Well, that’s an easy choice.”
The head Q nodded, but then started to gawk as Gosnell kissed Makoto passionately.
“I choose Makoto and linearhood.”
“You would snub the Continuum like that?” one of the Q’s asked, befuddled at such a ridiculous concept.
Gosnell shrugged. “Yes.”
“So be it,” the head Q stated, quite obviously angry at Gosnell’s rejection of who he was and where he rightfully belonged. “But to remind you for all eternity of what you’ve given up, I will curse you with immortality. You can spend the rest of existence pining over your lost home.”
Gosnell glared at the head Q as he felt his powers zapped away. He allowed a smug grin to cross his face, however as he gripped Makoto tightly.
“Fine. More time to remember Makoto.”
The head Q simply shook his head in disgust as he zapped the pair back to where they were.
(BY WHICH I MEAN 500 YEARS AGO)
“If you had never met me...” Makoto sniffled, “you'd still-”
“I'd still be wandering around aimlessly and pointlessly,” Gosnell said, cutting her off. “Look, the only time I have been even slightly miserable without my powers was the time after we parted ways.” Gosnell pulled Makoto closer to him. “And that was mainly because I had to pay for transports.”
Makoto chuckled a bit as Gosnell continued. “I've said it before, and I will say it again. I regret nothing. All the power in the universe is frivolous compared to the love I have for and the love I get from you.”
Usagi began crying. “That's so sweet!!!!” she bawled.
Gosnell smiled at Usagi as Makoto looked up at her husband. She slowly reached up and kissed him, the kiss lingering long enough for Usagi to go from 'aww sweet' mode to 'now I am jealous' mode.
“Have you ever regretted not having your powers?” Minako asked.
Gosnell shrugged. “A couple of times,” he acknowledged. “I would have like to have stopped the crash, obviously. And helped keep the Captain out of trouble by making sure that freighter never made it to Vulcan.”
Gosnell sighed. “But in the end, even with all the tragedy that happens, there is so much good that occurs in your -” Gosnell paused and smiled, “-in our linear existence that even if they offered me my powers back, I would refuse.”
“If you're still immortal though,” Usagi asked, “doesn't that mean Makoto will get old and die and you will still be just like you are?”
Makoto turned and glared at Usagi. Gosnell also gave her a look, though not one as... evil... as Makoto's. Minako also gave Usagi a weird look.
“I... I will deal with that when the time comes,” Gosnell said, a little perplexed by Usagi's morbid way of thinking.
“What if something explodes next to you? Do you just get seriously injured and not die?” Usagi asked.
“I think we're done here,” Minako quickly said, grabbing Usagi after seeing the burning red battle aura begin to radiate from Makoto.
Gosnell blinked a couple of times, not sure he wanted to think about what kind of a mess he would be in if that were to happen.
Minako and Usagi walked off, heading back towards the temple, leaving just Gosnell and Makoto in the alleyway as it began to rain lightly.
“Is it really okay?” Makoto asked.
Gosnell nodded. “I could be in this alley, in this strange universe, in the past, in the rain, and as long as I was with you, it would be okay.”
Makoto sighed contently as she snuggled a little closer to Gosnell. “Are you worried now that people will find out that you're a Q?”
Gosnell smirked. “I'm more worried that people are going to find out that you're not as much of a badass as you portray yourself to be.”
Makoto laughed. “Just because I am a romantic doesn't make me any less of a badass. Usagi nearly lost an arm there.”
Gosnell scoffed. “A real badass would have taken her leg.”
Makoto laughed as the rain began to come down harder.
It had been almost an hour. Kirie was quite confused as to why the bartender had not been brought back on board yet.
There were other things that were starting to concern her as well. Shampoo had been watching her for the past ten minutes. There were now three security officers on the bridge, just hanging out at the tactical station, and seemingly this close to the time when the Sisko personnel would be going into battle, the Captain was still not on the bridge.
Miharu sensed it too.
“I think you might have crossed a line,” Miharu whispered.
“I was doing my job,” Kirie whispered back.
Miharu was about to respond when the doors to Ranma’s ready room slid open.
The science station was the closest station to the ready room, so it was a short walk for Ranma. The fake smile that Ranma had perfected over nearly three years of captaining the U.S.S. Sisko was not adorning his face. It was a derisive smile that Ranma used even on his worst enemies, but right now he was angry to a point where he couldn’t even muster the effort to fake it.
The Captain sauntered up to the science station and crossed his arms.
“Simply asking me ‘why’ would have gotten you a full explanation,” Ranma said.
“Captain, I-” Kirie started.
“Zip it,” Ranma growled. “You’re done talking. I’ve protected him because he’s special. He’s literally immortal. I’ve seen what certain people have done in the name of science and I will not risk a member of my crew and quite frankly a very, very close friend to that.”
Ranma exhaled deeply. “He could swim through radioactive sewage and other than smell terrible be perfectly fine. He can’t catch a cold, he can’t get sick, hell if you cut him open, he can’t even bleed to death.”
Miharu looked to Ranma as sweetly as she could. “I don’t think they’d dissect him...”
Ranma laughed a bit derisively. “Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, this could have all been worked out with a simple conversation.”
Ranma turned and began to walk towards his chair. “Lt. Jansen, please confine Agent Kojime to her quarters.”
“Aye,” Jansen smiled as she and the three security officers moved towards the science station.
“YOU CANNOT DO THIS, CAPTAIN!” Kirie yelled.
“Mutiny is a criminal offense,” Ranma stated, turning towards her. “Would you rather go to the brig?”
The threat of the brig seemed to shut the DTI agent up as two of the security officers manhandled her, pulling her out of the station, and all but drug her to the turbolift.
Ranma sat down in his seat as Shampoo moved to hers. She leaned into him as Ranma glanced down at his terminal.
“Starfleet not going to be happy with Ranma,” she mused.
Ranma smiled as he shrugged. “Then they can send another ship into a parallel dimension and back in time next time.”
Shampoo laughed a bit. She looked around and after confirming that Jansen had gone with the security teams, leaned back into Ranma.
“Do a favor?”
“Hmmm?” Ranma asked.
“Have dinner with Shampoo later?”
Ranma nodded. “I think the lounge is making up-”
“No,” Shampoo shook her head. “Just Shampoo and Ranma, in Shampoo’s quarters.”
Ranma looked to Shampoo a bit cautiously. She had been getting a bit more... aggressive... with him lately. He wasn’t sure if this was more of that or just a friendly invitation.
“I am not sure if Akane or Lt. Jansen would care for that,” Ranma grinned.
Shampoo didn’t grin. “Please?”
Ranma and Shampoo stared at each other for a couple of moments before Ranma nodded.
Shampoo smiled. “Thank you.”
Makoto eventually made her way back to the temple where the rest of the group was waiting with their counterparts. Minako slowly walked up to her, took her hand, and walked with her as they approached the others.
“I’m sorry,” Minako softly said.
Makoto shook her head. “It’s okay. You’re right, we shouldn’t have kept it a secret from you guys.” Makoto paused to sigh. “I should know if there is anyone we can trust, it would be you.”
Minako squeezed Makoto’s hand before releasing it and jogging over towards the group, Makoto right behind her.
“Okay,” Rei started to speak once she saw Makoto arrive, “here’s the plan. We’ve replicated a fake Silver Crystal that you guys can give the hostage takers. They don’t know that you know that your Usagi is safe.”
“Speaking of which, we could use her,” Rei-2 said.
“She’s still recovering in our medical facility,” Minako replied.
“Will she be okay?” Luna asked.
Minako nodded. “Yeah, she was just traumatized by the whole ordeal.”
“Anyway,” Rei continued, “the fake Silver Crystal will enact a dampening field around them that will keep them from running off and should limit their powers. You guys can then do what you need to do.”
Minako-2 looked to Usagi. “Maybe she can use our Usagi’s transformation broach and that way we can have a Sailor Moon surprise for them?”
Usagi shook her head. “No, thank you.”
“Sailor Moon is the most powerful,” Artemis sighed. “If we want assured victory, it would be helpful,”
Usagi grumbled and reluctantly accepted the real broach and Silver Crystal from Rei.
“I don’t even remember how to do it,” Usagi mumbled.
“Say ‘Moon Prism Power, Make Up!’,” Luna instructed her.
Usagi, seemingly out of pure instinct, did several Sailor Moon poses and yelled at the top of her lungs, “MOON PRISM POWER, MAKE UP!”
The group just stood there and watched as nothing happened.
Rei looked to Rei-2. “May I borrow your pen?”
Rei-2 nodded and handed Rei her transformation pen. Rei, again likely from instinct, made the proper motions and shouted out “MARS POWER, MAKE UP!”
Again, nothing happened.
Minako-2 turned to Artemis. “I didn’t realize how silly we looked when we did that...”
Artemis grinned before walking over to Luna who was standing next to a very relieved Usagi.
“It seems that because you girls have abandoned your roles as protectors, the crystal’s power is useless to you,” she theorized.
Makoto and Rei both looked at Luna rather angrily.
“We may have decided to no longer protect the universe as Sailor Senshi, but if you had any idea what we’ve done, you’d feel pretty stupid saying we have ‘abandoned’ our roles as such,” Makoto growled.
Usagi handed the Silver Crystal back to Rei as Rei-2 takes back her transformation pen.
Rei looked to Makoto and nodded slightly as she rubs Usagi’s back, hoping what she’s about to say won’t hurt her.
“While we may be duplicates, that doesn’t mean we won’t choose different futures and destinies.”
Usagi simply inhales deeply as Rei continued. “We’ll be near you, in case things get out of control, or the Kuno’s show up.”
The duplicates all nod. “Well,” Rei-2 sighed. “Let’s get going then.”