Chapter 7 - Forty-Eight Hours

There wasn't a thing in the report that the repair ship, the U.S.S. Arava, issued that was making JC feel like the likelihood of meeting the self-imposed forty-eight-hour deadline to have the ship ready to go back into The Badlands would actually be met.

Ignoring the issue with the nacelle there were several hundred outer hull breaches. A majority of the Sisko's shield emitters were either damaged or destroyed. Hull plating was compromised. Ablative armor was compromised. Power relays were damaged all over the ship. Repairing all of this would take massive work and massive coordination.

Yet for some reason he was not entirely upset that the Chief Engineer had spent the first several hours of damage control 'golden time' cooking dinner for the Captain, rather than helping him.

What he said to her was true. She had gotten better at her job. He really felt that she had grown as an engineer, and he would be content having her on his engineering team.

Of course, what he did not mention is that he'd prefer to have her in some low-level position as a Petty Officer.

In this kind of situation, he really did feel it was better for him to be in control. Again, he did not mind having her underfoot, learning - under normal circumstances. But when time was of the essence, and when there were an additional couple of hundred engineers from a repair ship – and a few dozen from the Infinity - on board that needed coordination, that was not the time for teaching or worse yet, a power struggle.

“Lieutenant,” Ranma called to JC from across engineering.

JC looked up from the terminal he was working on and acknowledged Ranma. He quickly scurried across the room and nodded.

“Good morning, Captain.”

“Good morning,” Ranma replied. “How are things going?”

“Well, we've ascertained what all needs to be repaired,” JC answered, looking down at a PADD that he was carrying. “That pretty much took all night. Now it's just a matter of fixing things, highest priority downward.”

Ranma nodded before looking around. “Where is Commander Tsukino?”

JC motioned for Ranma to follow him into his office. Ranma did and JC shut the door. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”

Ranma nodded, despite not wanting to. It never ended well when people asked him that.

“I understand that she is the Chief Engineer, but...” JC paused, making sure he phrased this in just the right way. “…but right now is not the time for her to be 'the Chief Engineer'.”

Ranma sighed. “Lieutenant, I understand your concerns, but-”

“Captain, I don't want to be rude, but Usagi cannot handle this kind of incident.”

“What about after the crash? I understand she was a help with that incident.”

JC nodded. “Yes, but we had a single system to deal with. Power. It was far easier to contain her.”

“Contain her?” Ranma asked.

“She wants to get her hands in everything.”

“As Chief Engineer isn't that her job?”

JC sighed. “If she knew what she was doing, it would be one thing.”

“Lieutenant, I'm not going to demote her. The whole reason I haven't gotten rid of her was to allow her to grow and succeed.”

JC nodded. “And she has. That said, she still does not think people believe she's qualified to run engineering, so she has to micromanage everything.”

“However did she get that impression?”

JC paused.

“Look,” Ranma continued, “I appreciate your concern. I want the ship fixed in forty-eight hours and if it's not, it's not. However, if you have an issue with Commander Tsukino and how she's handling things down here, then you need to work that out with her. I'm not going to usurp her authority unless you bring me something more concrete than 'she gets in the way'.”

Ranma sighed. “If that was a reason to get rid of people, I wouldn't have half my senior staff.”

JC nodded. “Yes sir.”

Ranma put a reassuring hand on JC's shoulder. “Look, If I didn't have faith in you guys, I would just say 'to hell with it' and just worry about the nacelle so we could get back to a shipyard.”

JC nodded. “Forty-eight hours.”

Ranma grinned and left JC's office. Usagi slowly walked in a couple of moments after Ranma left. “What was that all about?” she asked.

JC shook his head. “I'm sorry.”

“What for?”

“I'm just curious, where were you just now?”

Usagi pointed to a cross-section of the ship on one of JC's monitors. She tapped the area near a forward torpedo launcher. “Well, I'm not good at much, but the crash made me really good at fixing power relays, so I was helping with those.”

JC brought up the power flow diagram and noticed that the once red launcher was now green.

“Dammit, I'm a fucking idiot.”

Usagi looked at him strangely. “Why?”

JC plopped down in his chair and turned away from Usagi. “I asked the Captain to find something else for you to do till we were done with this because I thought you'd just be in the way.”

“Oh,” Usagi softly replied.

“I don't have any right to think of you that way,” he continued. “And even if you do push yourself into things, it makes you better. So, what right would I have to stop you?”

Usagi ran her hand through JC's hair and smiled. “Ha! We're both stupid now.”

JC laughed, despite not wanting to.

“The Federation's greatest starship. Her engineering department run by Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum,” Usagi continued.

“Which one am I?”

Usagi pondered this for a minute. “Which one was the boy?”

JC just put his face in his hand before pointing to another red spot near one of the ventral phase cannons. “There are some blown-out power relays down here.”

“We're on it!” Usagi smiled heading out and grabbing a couple of engineers.

It was not an abnormal sight to see the NEO teams in what they referred to as the 'southern' part of the ship. They conducted counter-mutiny drills with the security forces as well as 'control reacquisition' drills that Rei felt were better run in the actual corridors, Jefferies tubes, and turboshafts rather than the NEO holodecks.

However, it wasn't that often that any of them were seen 'down under' in a more relaxed mode.

Kio and Anthony got a couple of looks when they entered the lounge not dressed in their combat jumpsuits but rather their gray, black and green duty uniforms.

“Lieutenant, Sargent,” Gosnell smiled at them as he walked up to the table where they sat down. “What can I get for you?”

“Green tea, please,” Kio smiled.

“Coffee, thank you,” Anthony answered.

Gosnell looked a bit disappointed that they didn't want anything exotic. He'd expected a couple of battle-hardened soldiers like them to drink something strong. Topped off with a stern order of 'leave the bottle' or something along those lines.

He sighed and wandered off to process their order. Kio looked out the window at the swirling clouds of The Badlands in front of the Sisko. She turned to Anthony who appeared to be thinking the same thing she was.

“I was pretty sure that was it,” Kio said.

Anthony nodded. “If it hadn't been for the marines and the Infinity's security officers, it would have been.”

Gosnell returned with the drinks. Both Kio and Anthony nodded a thank you before Gosnell scurried off to deal with some engineers from the repair ship who had come in for a quick break.

“It's funny,” Kio said, taking a sip of her tea.

“What is?”

“It's not that I am afraid of dying,” she adjusted her gaze back and forth between Anthony and the gas cloud. “It's just that I didn't think I was done yet.”


Kio shrugged slightly, drinking a bit more. “Done with whatever I was created for.”

Anthony smirked a bit. “I never knew you were so philosophical.”

Kio again shrugged, her dark eyes lingering on her glass a bit. “Don't you think you have a purpose?”

Anthony nodded. “Yes, but as far as I am concerned, I dictate my purpose.”

Kio leaned back in her chair. “So, what is it, oh wise sage of the Sisko? What purpose does Anthony Lawrence Schaefer have in this universe?”

Anthony chuckled a bit at Kio's sarcasm. “Well, obviously it's to keep Miss Kio Yuki alive.”

Kio rolled her eyes. “Well, based on your last performance, you might want to look for a new purpose.”

“Hey, you're not dead now, are you?”

“No thanks to you!”

“You don't know that. Perhaps I willed those marines to us!”

“If anyone did, it was the glorious spirit of our dear, departed friend, Sargent Michael Simpson. Watching over us and protecting us as he always did.”

Anthony raised his glass. “To Mike.”

Kio raised hers. “To Mike.”

The pair clinked their glasses together and took a drink. After a few moments of silence, Anthony vocalized another question that was on his mind.

“So, how did you and Commander Hino become such good friends all of a sudden?”

“Friends?” Kio scoffed. “What ship are you on?”

“Please,” Anthony scoffed right back. “She's referring to you now as 'Kio', she hasn't scolded you once in the last two days-”

“I haven't done anything wrong!” Kio objected.

“Never stopped her before.”

Kio scowled.

“And I am not even sure what was going on over there,” he said, pointing towards The Badlands. “I mean, Lt. Parker said you guys were making out-”

Kio spit the tea she was drinking all over Anthony.

“Well, okay then...” Anthony mumbled trying to wipe off the tea-slash-Kio-saliva from his uniform. Gosnell, upon hearing the commotion walked over. He looked to Kio, who had tea dripping down her face, then to Anthony who had quite a bit more tea dripping down his face.

“You'd be surprised how often this happens,” he smiled. “I'll get a towel and some refills.”

Gosnell scampered off for a minute and returned with two towels and two new drinks for the pair. He nodded and then walked off as the pair attempted to dry themselves off.

“Look,” Kio said quietly after cleaning off her face. “Keep your mouth shut about that. They over-drugged her, and she didn't know what she was doing.”

Anthony looked to Kio inquisitively. “It doesn't seem like someone would do something like that, even when high, unless there was an underlying reason.” Anthony turned away a bit before finishing quietly. “Or attraction.”

Kio sighed. “It's irrelevant. Even if she is...” Kio slowed down and spoke softer, “like that, I'm not.”

“I know,” Anthony nodded. “I was very good friends with Nik, you know.”

Kio's eyes very slowly moved to Anthony and burned a very, very deep hole into him. “What do you mean by that?”

Anthony realizing he was getting into territory best left untouched diverted the topic slightly. “Okay well ignoring that, there is still the other stuff. What gives?”

Kio pondered demanding what her late husband told Anthony about her but decided that it was not worth potentially starting an argument about, especially considering the man she should be mad at for spilling the beans was dead. She leaned back again, sipping on the new tea.

“She came to my quarters the other day.”

Anthony raised his eyebrows.

“If you think I won't kill you in front of all these people...”

“Sorry, sorry...”

Kio scowled a bit before continuing. “She, of course, took a few minutes to insult me, but then she apologized to me. What was weird was that it felt genuine. She went on to talk to me about what she went through with her husband and his death, and I honestly felt...”

Kio leaned forward and looked Anthony straight in the eyes. “I felt bad for her.” Kio shook her head, laughing slightly. “I mean, I have hated that woman since nearly the second day I met her yet suddenly here I was feeling like she was on the same level as me. I could relate to her. I could understand what she went through and on some level, I could see how she could feel what she was doing was right, even though she knew it wasn't.”

Kio leaned back and smirked. “And at the same time, I realized to myself that despite her doing everything wrong to make me a better leader and a better officer candidate, she actually made me a better one by forcing me to succeed for no other reason than to spite her.”

“Wow,” Anthony remarked.

Kio half shrugged as she took another drink. “Of course, I know now that we can succeed on our own, as a team, but it won't be as fun anymore knowing that it won't irk her.”

Anthony laughed. “Maybe you should have died over there, as your purpose was to piss off Commander Hino?”

Kio laughed as well. “Maybe.” She looked out the window towards The Badlands. “Still time. The job's not done yet.”

Anthony frowned. “Don't say that.”

“Would you miss me?” Kio grinned.

“There's that,” Anthony acknowledged. “But if you die it means I likely died as well, which I am not cool with.”

“We all have our time.”

Anthony grumbled. “Is it all that green tea you drink? Is that what causes you to go from Happy-Kio to Morbid-Kio so damned quickly?”

Kio smiled. “Not sure. But it does keep my hair nice and shiny.”

“Smells nice too.”

“That's my shampoo,” Kio acknowledged. “And really, you shouldn't be smelling my hair. That's just weird.”

Anthony shrugged. “Gotta smell something.”

Kio laughed at her friend as the pair continued to drink and chat.

Ranma, Shampoo, JC, and Makoto sat down in the main conference room of the Sisko. Ranma and Makoto both looked to JC who dumped about thirty PADDs onto the table in front of him before Shampoo pointed out the obvious.

“Lieutenant,” she said, cautiously watching him try to rearrange the PADDs in whatever order he thought they needed to be in, “Admiral Saotome asked for department heads.”

JC nodded. “I know, but Commander Tsukino asked me to deal with this as she wanted to make sure DC on the shield generators was running smoothly.”

Ranma eyed JC suspiciously. “Lieutenant...”

“I swear, Captain,” JC turned to Ranma. “You can ask her. I believe her exact words were, quote, I don't have time to ramble off a bunch of 'gobblty-goop', unquote.”

Ranma scowled. JC shrugged a bit, seeing how upset Ranma was at Usagi disobeying the instructions of Starfleet.

“Captain, I know SHE was the one who was supposed to be up here, but now she's got something to prove to the other engineers and herself...”

JC noticed Ranma still staring at him.

“And I guess, to me, that she's not just some idiot who is always in the way.”

“How is she doing?” Makoto asked.

JC nodded approvingly. “She's doing fine.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “I'm not going to lie and say that she's doing as well as someone who went to the academy to be an engineer, but nothing she has repaired has failed or exploded or otherwise went awry.”

Ranma smiled. “Well, I guess then we can let this slide.”

“To be fair, I have been 'coordinating' things, so I am a bit more familiar with the overall status and issues,” JC said, not wanting to sell himself short.

Ranma nodded, still smiling. “Fair enough.”

“Aino to Saotome.”

“Go,” Ranma replied.

“Admiral Saotome on encrypted subspace.”

“Patch him through.”

Minako closed the channel and Genma appeared on the viewer. He smiled brightly at Ranma and the officers in the room.


“Hey pop-” Ranma cut him off and smiled. “Good evening, Admiral.”

Genma smiled. “How are you doing?”

“We're beaten up, but-”

“No,” Genma interrupted. “How are YOU doing?”

“Oh,” Ranma blinked. “I am good, thank you.”

Genma nodded. “I am glad. You're not stressing yourself too hard, are you? I remember very vividly what happened last time you had a very important mission.”

Ranma remembered as well. Well, most of it that is. “No, sir. As well, this respite has given me time to rest. Slept very well last night, as a matter of fact.”

Genma nodded approvingly. “I am glad.” Genma picked up a PADD and began to go over it. “Before we talk about your ship and what we will do, I thought I would let you know some things we found out, based on the information you sent us.”

“Oh?” Ranma asked.

“Pallor, the Vorta that Commander Hino mentioned in her report, he wasn't in any of our databases. So, we contacted the Dominion and demanded to know who he was. Fortunately, we managed to speak with Odo, so the conversation was not hostile,” Genma explained.

“Pallor oversaw a small battalion of some of the Alpha Jem'Hadar. However, he was never successful in battle and the Founders planned on having him...” Genma cleared his throat, “...eliminated. However, he and his task force fled and were not seen again for the rest of the war.”

“Do you think they held out in The Badlands?” Makoto asked.

“It's possible,” Genma nodded. “They may have found an old Maquis base there.”

“Still doesn't explain fleet,” Shampoo said.

Genma nodded. “I asked Odo about Blackout and the device. He said it was something the Founders were designing during the latter parts of the war but never completed before their surrender. As far as he knew, there shouldn't have been a way for Pallor to have the schematics for either Blackout or the device.”

“Perhaps there is a Founder with Pallor?” Ranma hypothesized.

“That's possible,” Genma nodded. “I personally find it hard to believe that a single Vorta could control upwards of a million Jem'Hadar by himself.”

“Potentially more,” Makoto replied. “They were bringing reinforcements. There might be another breeding facility. We haven't yet gotten scouting reports back from the Infinity's fighters.”

“If there is a Founder, Ranma,” Genma continued, “I would like, if possible, for it to be captured, rather than killed.”

Ranma nodded slowly. “I understand. Though, now that Pallor knows we're here, and knows about how much force we have, I am wary about simply sending over the NEO teams. They barely made it out from the shipyard.”

Genma nodded. “Well, if you can do nothing but destroy him, then what has to be done, has to be done. Though, wasn't Pallor killed on the shipyard?”

Ranma shrugged. “The NEO teams never saw him, only heard him. There's no guarantee he was ever on there to begin with. As well, we wouldn't have been able to see an escape pod in the interference of the plasma clouds.”

Genma sighed. “Very well, tell me about the status of your ship.”

Ranma turned to JC who cleared his throat.

“The worst damage is to our port nacelle,” JC said, looking to a PADD. “It took a hit from a gas cloud that exploded between the nacelle and our shields, which actually caused the force of the explosion to be directed back towards the nacelle, intensifying the damage. It was then damaged again when the shipyard exploded.”

JC moved to another PADD. “We had to get people outside to survey the full extent of the damage. We cannot fully repair it in space. However, we can fix it enough to make us warp-capable. Though to avoid any catastrophic,” JC sighed, “incidental damage to the ship, we're having to remove the affected plasma coils which will seriously nerf our warp speed.”

“What will your top speed be?” Genma asked.

“Warp four,” JC replied. “And only for about eight hours at a time, with about an eight-hour cooldown.”

Ranma whimpered as he slid down in his chair as JC continued. “Unfortunately, because we don't use normal engines, we have to limp back to Chii to have everything repaired, rather than just limping to the nearest shipyard.”

Genma nodded. “So, what you're saying is after this mission I can forget about using you guys for what, a month?”

JC nodded. “Plus repair time.”

Genma quietly swore to himself before nodding. “Well, it could be worse.”

JC nodded. “At least we have a warp core.” Ranma, Shampoo, and Makoto all nodded in agreement.

“How is everything else?” Genma asked.

JC looked over his PADDs before turning back to Genma. “There are a few hull breaches that we're likely just going to have to seal off with the emergency bulkheads, but they aren't that big of a concern, assuming we're not as close to an exploding space dock as we were again.

“Impulse will be fully restored, shields will be fully restored, weapons as well. The ablative armor and hull plating took a pretty nasty beating and won't be 100 percent by the forty-eight-hour deadline, but will be acceptable.”

“Excellent,” Genma smiled. “Your engineering team is doing great.”

JC smiled. “Well, it's Lt. Commander Tsukino's team. And we couldn't do it without the Arava's and Infinity's help.”

Genma nodded. “Where is Lt. Commander Tsukino?”

“She's probably headfirst in a junction box, trying to help get us going again,” JC smiled.

“Literally,” Makoto smirked, drawing a stern, yet sly grin from Ranma.

“Very good,” Genma smiled. “Well, I am immensely proud of you guys. Keep me updated on your status and I will contact you back again in about thirty-six hours.”

“Yes sir,” Ranma smiled.

Genma ended the transmission. JC began to scoop up his PADDs but wasn't having much success in getting them all into his arms.

“Do you want me to have someone to help you with that?” Ranma asked.

“Oh, no sir,” JC smiled. “I can get them.” JC, after a couple of minutes finally managed to get them all, albeit sloppily in his arms, and walked out of the conference room and onto the bridge. From the conference room, a sudden crash is heard, followed by JC screaming.


Shampoo laughed as did Ranma and Makoto. Ranma turned to first Makoto then to his XO. “A month.”

“Like Devall said,” Makoto chuckled, “at least we have a warp core.”

Shampoo nodded. “Though as often as we say that now, it feel like now destiny to jettison it.”

Ranma glared at Shampoo for a moment before the door to the conference room slid open again and Ukyo walked in. Ranma nodded to his friend as she walked up to him. “Hey!”

Ukyo smiled. “Hi. They said you said for me to stop asking for permission to come on board.”

Ranma nodded. “You're always welcome on board the Sisko, Ucchan.”

Makoto and Shampoo nodded.

“Well, still a courtesy,” Ukyo smiled.

Ranma nodded and pointed to a chair. Ukyo moved to the chair and sat down. “What brings you by?” Ranma asked.

“I have reconnaissance from the remaining four planetoids.”

“Ukyo expression does not fill Shampoo with feelings of easy victory,” Shampoo sighed.

Ukyo shook her head and tapped her communicator. “Kuonji to Lt. Kaii, would you please transfer the Infinity recon reports to the conference room?”

“Yes, Captain,” Kaii replied, the sounds of JC still swearing slightly audible in the background.

“Did all your fighters make it out okay?” Makoto asked.

Ukyo nodded. “Despite a LOT of Jem'Hadar ships roaming around, as expected the fighters were unnoticed. They spent longer than planned in there as they mapped out tactical coordinates so that we could assist with orbital defense turrets from outside of normal targeting range.”

Ranma patted Ukyo on the shoulder. “That's quite clever. I wouldn't have thought of that.”

Ukyo smiled at Ranma. “We figured it would be helpful for the facility we dubbed Alpha Base.”

“That it?!” Shampoo blinked, looking at a massive, planetary facility on the screen.

“No,” Ukyo sighed.

Ranma looked it over. “That's another breeding facility.” He turned to Ukyo. “Could the fighters scan it?”

Ukyo shook her head. “They don't have that kind of sensor power.” Ukyo changed the image again. Ranma nodded as did Shampoo.

“Of course, with a breeding facility, they have another White facility,” Shampoo stated.

“That planetoid was guarded by four warships and about a dozen fighters,” Ukyo reported.

Ranma shook his head. “Damn.”

“We're going to go with you, rather than stay behind,” Ukyo said.

Ranma nodded. Ukyo looked at him rather surprised. Ranma noticed this.


“I didn't expect to win that easily.”

Ranma laughed. “At full strength, that would be tough for us. We're damaged and we still will be going into this. I'd be a moron to not accept your assistance. In fact, I should almost make you go in first.”

Ukyo smirked as she advanced to the next image. “The sixth and seventh planets were empty, however as you can see, they appear to have had some activity on them at some point.”

Shampoo nodded. “We noticed mining on one other as well.”

Ukyo advanced to the last one. Ranma blinked. On the planet, there was a small facility, barely visible.

“That's Alpha Base.”

“What that?” Makoto asked. “Our Runabout could destroy that.”

“Not before this got you,” Ukyo said, advancing to the next slide. On it was a massive net of orbital defenses; no less than about a hundred turret and torpedo batteries. Also sitting in orbit were thirty warships and fighters.

“FUCK!” Makoto barked.

“What that, bank?” Shampoo asked.

“The Founder,” Ranma dryly stated.

“Founder?” Ukyo asked.

Ranma nodded. “There is likely a rogue Founder in here as well. Starfleet would like it captured if possible.”

“Well,” Makoto said, leaning forward and taking a better look at the small facility below the gaggle of orbital defenses, “a small building like that will be much easier for Rei's team to storm than that shipyard was.”

Ranma nodded. “Alright. We move out in thirty-six hours.”

Ukyo nodded and stood with the rest of the room. Shampoo and Makoto left, however, Ranma grabbed Ukyo's arm and kept her in the room. Once the doors to the conference room had closed, Ranma smiled at Ukyo.

“Ucchan, thanks again for everything.”

“No problem, Ranchan,” she smiled back. “That's what friends and fellow Starfleet officers are for.”

Ranma nodded, leaned forward, and kissed Ukyo on the cheek before walking to the doors and out and onto the bridge. Ukyo blinked a couple of times before smiling slightly, still upset that she had lost a lover but content in knowing that she did still have a friend.

Minako panted a couple of times before rolling off Ryouga and looking up towards the ceiling of their quarters. The pair both continued to breathe heavily while staring upwards for about a minute before Minako finally wiped some of the sweat from her face and adjusted herself, so she was facing Ryouga.

Ryouga also wiped off his face, but only turned his head to face Minako. He allowed his eyes to run up and down her still naked body slowly, drawing an approving grin from his wife.

“I did good,” Ryouga commented.

Minako smirked, her eyes moving up and down Ryouga. She allowed her eyes to linger below Ryouga’s waist a bit longer than necessary though, causing Ryouga to blush slightly.

“I also landed a prized piece of pork,” she smirked.

Ryouga glowered a bit. Minako laughed quietly at his discomfort. “You're still too sensitive about that,” she continued to laugh.

“You would be too.”

Minako grinned before moving a bit more and laying one of her arms across Ryouga’s chest and wrapping her legs around one of his. “Mind if I ask you something?”

Ryouga shook his head. “Not at all.”

“Were you scared?”


“On that Jem'Hadar ship or when you went onto the shipyard.”

“No,” Ryouga answered without hesitation.

“Not at all?”


“How is that possible?”

“Because I knew I had three important things on my side,” Ryouga explained.

“And those were?”

“My training,” Ryouga said, smiling slightly. “They have taught me a lot over the last year.”

“You were already pretty tough.”

Ryouga nodded. “Yes, but I think we can both agree that I lacked a bit of discipline.”

Minako nodded, thinking back to the two times he beamed off the ship, without permission, in idiotic attempts to try and rescue his then crush, Akane.

“The second thing,” Ryouga continued, “is that I had my fellow Marines with me. We all have each other’s backs, so I knew that I would be safe.”

Minako again nodded. If there was one thing the Marines had a lot of, it was loyalty and camaraderie.

“Finally,” Ryouga allowed his smile to grow wider as he turned towards Minako completely, pulling her arm around him before running his hand through her tangled mess of hair, “I knew I had you waiting here for me, and I knew we were destined to be together, so I knew that no amount of Jem'Hadar could stop me from returning safely.”

Minako leaned her head up against Ryouga’s, a single tear forming in her eye.

“Were you scared?” Ryouga asked.

“For you?”

Ryouga softly shook his head. “No. Here.”

Minako paused for almost a whole minute. She wanted to say something as wonderful as what Ryouga has said, but she couldn't. It would not be true. 

“Yes,” she finally answered. “When I realized we wouldn't be outside of the blast radius of the shipyard, I thought the ship would be destroyed.”

Ryouga again ran his hands through Minako's hair before kissing her softly. He then chuckled a bit. “Things like that make me glad we're down in the bowels with no windows so we don't know it's coming.”

Minako forced a grin upon herself. Ryouga hugged her tightly when he realized that she was genuinely upset.

“A few kilometers one way or the other would have made all the difference,” Minako said softly, while letting Ryouga continue to hold her.

“Are you having second thoughts?”

Minako looked at Ryouga. “Second thoughts?”

“Do you want to leave?”


“You don't have to stay.”

Minako lay there in silence for a moment. “No, I love this work. I love this ship; the people, the adventures,” she sighed before looking back to Ryouga. “I guess when you actually sit and THINK about how close you were to forcefully acknowledge your mortality, it's strange.”

Ryouga nods, before laughing a bit. “We've faced the Kunos twice, been blown out of an atmosphere, took on a Klingon battle force, crashed on a planet, survived an entire army's nuclear assault, battled a Vulcan armada, saved the Federation, and now fought off an unholy number of Jem'Hadar.” Ryouga began to laugh a bit more. “I don't think our immortality is in question anymore.”

Minako chuckled. “You sound like Makoto.”

“Great minds think alike.”

Minako chuckled again before allowing her gaze to move past Ryouga and blankly towards the wall behind them. “I usually don't think about it. Not that I am ignoring it, you know,” she added, sighing, “it's just that there's no point in thinking about something you can't control.”

“Of course you can control it,” Ryouga countered.

Minako looked back towards him. “How? How could we have controlled it had we still been in the wrong part of the blast radius of that station?”

“We weren't in the blast radius of that station,” Ryouga argued.

Minako sighed. Ryouga just wasn't getting what she was trying to say. “If we had been-”

“We weren't.”

“If we-”

“We weren't,” he repeated.

Minako scowled. “Why are you being so stubborn?”

“Why are you dwelling on what could have happened rather than on what did?” Ryouga asked. “You could have been killed in a transporter accident beaming up here from shore leave. I didn't hear you rambling on about that.”

Minako glared at Ryouga. Ryouga, for his part, simply shook his head and again ran his hand through Minako's hair. “Look, we controlled our fate by moving far enough away. We controlled our fate by being strong enough to defeat our enemies. And we will control our fate by choosing to go in there again and confronting what is left of them.”

Minako's glare softened to a simple look as she nodded. “You're right.”

Ryouga nodded. “It happens,” he said.

“You have to acknowledge, though,” she argued, “that when we crashed on Valarie, we had no control over that.”

Ryouga thought about that for a moment. “I guess I can concede that one.”

Minako happily grinned as Ryouga climbed on top of her. The pair began to kiss passionately; Ryouga’s hands moving up and down Minako's body before he lined himself up.

<Nifty Star Trek Communicator Noise>

Ryouga paused and glared at Minako's communicator. Minako also gave the communicator a glare before grabbing it from the table next to the couple's bed and tapping it once.

“Go ahead,” she dryly stated.

“Minako!” Usagi cheerfully chirped, obviously oblivious to what she just interrupted. “I need your help dealing with the trio-feral bell-packs in the targeting system.”

Ryouga, still perched over Minako looked at her oddly.

“What?” Minako asked.

Usagi could be heard talking to someone in the background, before yelling at them, then speaking to Minako again. “Bio-Neural Gel packs.”

Minako sighed. “Can't someone from engineering help you?”

“There isn't anyone available, and we're afraid we're going to miss our deadline.”

Ryouga looked to Minako sadly as she simply dropped her head onto her pillow. “Okay, I will meet you in Operations Control in about ten minutes.”

“Okay!” Usagi said, happily. “Where is that, anyway?”

Ryouga rolled off Minako and covered his head so that his laughter would not be audible. Minako looked to her communicator in frustration. “Deck seven.”

“Thank you!” The communication ended and Minako sat up. She looked to Ryouga who was also sitting up.

“Damn Ranma,” Ryouga scowled while laughing.


“Well, I can't be mad at Usagi.”

“What are you going to do?”

Ryouga blushed. “I have to do something about... that,” he answered, pointing towards his lower body.

Minako slid down on the bed, brushing the hair off her face. “It won't take me ten minutes to get to deck seven.”

An exceptionally large grin crossed Ryouga’s face.

Gosnell was pleased to see all the additional people on board the ship. It was great for his business. It would be even better if anything cost money in his establishment and he was making a profit, but he acknowledged that he wasn't in it for financial gain.

He just like serving people.

It was a good thing too. Globs and globs of both engineers from the repair ship and the Infinity had been over to assist the Sisko's engineers in getting her fixed up and they all wanted drinks. Gosnell and his staff were working non-stop. In fact, for the past forty hours, Gosnell had kept the lounge open so that regardless of the time, the hard-working officers and enlistees would have a place to come and take a break.

They all seemed to appreciate it too. He had gotten several messages complimenting him on his staff and the service.

That might be why he had the extra skip in his step as he jaunted down the corridor towards the lounge around 05:35 that morning. His positive attitude is likely why he did not notice someone waiting for him.

“Help me,” a voice spoke as a hand grabbed the back of Gosnell's shirt and pulled him into a crevice.

Gosnell nearly screeched like a small child till he was spun around and found himself face to face with Lt. Jeff Fuchs.

“You scared the hell out of me,” Gosnell growled.

“Sorry,” Jeff said, looking around nervously. Gosnell also began to look around nervously, thinking the pair of them were about to be ambushed by something.

“Come with me,” Jeff demanded, grabbing Gosnell by the arm, and taking him into the corridor.

“I have work,” Gosnell protested. Jeff ignored him and drug him down the corridor and to the turbolift.

“Deck five,” Jeff instructed the lift.

“I was already going that way. You could have just ambushed me there.”

“Look, I made a mistake and I need your help to fix it.”

“What kind of mistake?”

“Jaxson- Lt. Kaii-”

“Oh!” Gosnell smiled. “How are things between you two?”

Jeff glared at Gosnell.


The lift doors opened, and Jeff began to drag Gosnell out.

“Look,” Gosnell snarled, “I'm not going anywhere, you can stop dragging me.”

Jeff sighed, stopped, and let go of Gosnell. Gosnell looked to Jeff, who was obviously flustered, frustrated, and sad.

“What the hell is wrong?” Gosnell asked.

“Kaii isn't gay,” Jeff said bluntly.

“Awkward,” Gosnell blinked.

Jeff nodded. “Yes. Especially when I tried to kiss him.”

“I thought you... You know... brain scanned him.”

Jeff turned and glared at Gosnell again. “I honestly thought I sensed homosexual tendencies from him.” Jeff turned away and sighed. “I guess I was wrong.”

“But you guys have been... hanging out...”

“Kaii is very sociable.”

“You two were sitting very close together at Commander Aino's wedding...”

“He's also apparently quite oblivious to overt flirting.”

Gosnell rubbed his head and sighed. “Well, okay. But what do you want me to do?”


Gosnell shook his head. “I don't do that, you do!”

“I can't!” Jeff groaned. “I broke!” Jeff snarled at Gosnell for making him use incomplete sentences before looking down the hallway towards Lt. Kaii's quarters. “Please, just see if you can clear things up. You seem good at talking to people. I figured if anyone other than me could talk to him, it would be you.”

Gosnell sighed. He really did not want to have any kind of weird, awkward conversation this early in the morning, but at the same time, he couldn't abandon the poor councilor in his hour of need.

“Fine,” he finally relented. “Stay here.”

Jeff nodded as Gosnell walked down the corridor and stopped at Kaii's doorway. He inhaled deeply and moved his finger towards the buzzer but stopped just shy of it as he saw JC.

“Lt. Devall!” Gosnell called.

JC looked at him. “Hey.”

“You busy?”


Gosnell sighed. “Damn.”


“No reason,” Gosnell said.

JC nodded and continued on. Gosnell went ahead and pushed the button. After a moment, the doors slid open and Kaii, still only partially dressed in his black pants and gray undershirt opened the door.

“Hi, Lieutenant. How are you?” Gosnell asked.

“Uh, good morning,” Kaii replied, a little surprised. “I'm good, thank you. What can I do for you?”

Gosnell adjusted himself a bit and cleared his throat. “Um, I was wondering if we could have a conversation?”

Kaii scratched the ridges on his nose before nodding slowly. “Sure, come on in.”

Gosnell smiled and followed Kaii in.

“Would you like something to drink?” Kaii asked. “I was just having breakfast.”

Gosnell shook his head. “No, thank you.” He paused for a second. “How come you don't have breakfast at my establishment with the rest of the bridge crew?”

“My morning prayers have to be done right before work, so I eat before them. You're not open early enough,” Kaii explained.

“I see,” Gosnell said. “I didn't know I was alienating our Bajoran crew members like that. I will have to make adjustments.”

Kaii shrugged as he brought his drink over to his couch and sat down next to Gosnell. “I normally don't like to get up too early before my shift anyway, so I wouldn't call it 'alienation',” he smiled.

Gosnell nodded.

“So,” Kaii said, turning to Gosnell, “what is it you would like to talk about?”

“Hmm?” Gosnell asked. “Oh, right. I heard Lt. Fuchs tried to kiss you.”

Kaii, who had begun to take a drink of his orange juice began to choke on it. Gosnell began to look around worriedly.

“Should I call sick-bay?”

Kaii shook his head negatively as he coughed a few times, getting the orange juice he inhaled out of his lungs. Once he was finished, he turned to Gosnell.

“Who told you that?”

“Lt. Fuchs.”

“Did he send you here?”

“Are you going to throw me out if I say yes?”

Kaii sighed.

“He feels really terrible, Lieutenant,” Gosnell said. “He misunderstood and he wants to be your friend. He-”

“Look,” Kaii interrupted. “He didn't misunderstand anything.”

Gosnell looked to Kaii confused. Kaii cracked his knuckles a bit nervously before leaning into Gosnell. “I am gay.”

“Oh. Then, why-”

“Because it's not as tolerated on Bajor as it is in the general Federation population,” Kaii explained. “My father is a very prominent Vedek there and if it were to get out that he had a homosexual son, it would not do well for him.”

“So, why didn't you just tell Lt. Fuchs that instead of lying and saying you weren't gay?”

“I never said that,” Kaii said. “He assumed that when I told him 'we can't do this'.”

Gosnell scowled. “For God's sake.”

“I don't have any problem hanging out with him, or being with him,” Kaii sighed. “I just cannot have a relationship with him or really anyone.”

Kaii looked to Gosnell. “You'll explain that to him?”

Gosnell shrugged. “I doubt I'll have to. I know he's right outside with his ear up against the door.”

Kaii looked to the door. “Jeff?”

The door slid open, and Jeff walked in. He looked to Kaii and sighed.

“Sorry,” Kaii said.

Jeff shook his head. “You really shouldn't have to put your own happiness behind your father's.”

“You're making assumptions again.”

Jeff walked in further allowing the doors to close. “Oh?”

“You assume I am unhappy,” Kaii stated. “I am not. I was – I am happy with you as a friend, I am happy with all my friends here. I do not need sex or really any kind of 'physical' contact to be happy.”

Kaii stood and walked to Jeff. “Would it be nice to be able to openly express myself? Sure. But we all make certain sacrifices. I mean, we both traded some of our freedoms to wear this uniform.”

Jeff nodded slowly, understanding Kaii's point. However, being born and raised in the quite liberal Federation, he wouldn't agree with the restrictions placed upon his friend. He conceded, however, that he would respect them, as that is what his friend desired.

“Okay,” Jeff finally answered. “Sorry for not asking first.”

Kaii smirked. “Thanks for wanting to, at least.”

Jeff nodded, smiling.

“Well,” Gosnell said, standing and walking towards the door. “My work here is done. Off to my real job now!”

“If you do start opening earlier, let me know,” Kaii said to Gosnell.

Gosnell nodded as he walked out, followed by Jeff. Jeff walked with Gosnell as the alien headed towards the ship's lounge.

“Thanks,” Jeff meekly said after a few minutes of walking.

Gosnell nodded and smiled. “Happy to help.”

“You're pretty good,” Jeff added. “I may use you as an assistant on some of my harder cases.”

Gosnell again nodded, but then suddenly stopped. “Fine, but if you do, simply summon me. Next time you grab me in the hallway, I am calling my wife and her goons.”

Jeff laughed as he resumed walking with Gosnell.