Chapter 1 - Routine

Shampoo’s purple eyes slowly drifted over to Ranma. The young captain was sitting, semi-relaxed in his chair, legs crossed, one hand on his knee, the other on his armrest.

“Shampoo not going to explain this again,” the purple-haired first officer softly, but sternly stated as she placed her hand on top of Ranma’s right hand; causing the somewhat rhythmic tapping he was doing to cease.

“That’s really annoying.”

Ranma smirked and nodded. “Sorry about that. I guess I am just getting back into some old habits.”

Shampoo nodded in understanding. The crew had been back out in space for nearly a year since saving the Federation and getting their new U.S.S. Benjamin L. Sisko. In that time, they had hardly done anything.

Some of the crew appreciated the reprieve from the daily near death. Others, well, had they wanted office jobs, they would have gotten office jobs.

“RANMA!” Akane screamed from the back of the bridge, startling not only her husband but the entire bridge crew as well.

“What?” Ranma replied, quite a bit quieter.

“What exactly is going on between you and Shampoo?” Akane demanded to know as she stormed down the ramp and stood next to the CONN, burning a hole into Ranma with the gaze she was giving him.

“Huh?” Shampoo and Ranma replied in confusion before Ranma realized that Shampoo’s hand was still sitting on top of his. The pig-tailed captain screeched and yanked his hand away, causing Shampoo to roll her eyes.

“It’s a misunderstanding!” Ranma pleaded, regret overwhelming him the moment the words left his mouth.

Akane flailed her arms. “It's always a misunderstanding,” she groaned, exasperated. Akane walked towards Ranma’s ready room as she continued to speak. “I need to use your computer, okay?”

“Mmmhmmm,” Ranma replied, cowering.

After the doors to Ranma’s ready room slid closed, Makoto looked down to her captain. A man - this man - who had stared death straight in the eye and did not flinch. This man who had put her - a former Section 31 operative no less - in her place on more than one occasion, was now attempting to peek around the corner to see if Akane was still on the bridge; much like a naughty child attempting to avoid his parents.

“She’s gone, Captain,” Makoto smiled.

Ranma sat back up, wiped the sweat off his brow, and resumed his ‘captain stance’ in his seat as if nothing had happened.

“Shampoo happy she don’t have to deal with that!” she smirked.

Suddenly the port side turbolift slid open and Lt. Amanda Jansen shot out, barely allowing time for the doors to open completely. She began looking around the bridge frantically.

“I sensed that someone was fondling my dear Shampoo!” she bellowed, drawing nearly as much attention to herself as Akane had. Makoto and Shampoo began to lead her back into the turbolift, all the while doing their best to convince her that all was well, Shampoo remaining in the same condition Jansen left her in that morning.

Ranma, meanwhile, put his face in his hand and sighed, mumbling softly to himself. “Good lord. She’s a Mousse-Kuno combo package, but female.” The captain began to ponder this for a few moments, trying to figure out if that would just make her a blind, and far more attractive, Kodachi, when he was interrupted by Minako, whose terminal had begun to beep.

“Captain,” she called out from her operations station, “I have an incoming, Priority One message from Starfleet Command.”

Ranma nodded. “On screen.”

On the viewscreen, Vice Admiral Genma Saotome appeared. He smiled an acknowledgment to his only son. Ranma returned the smile as Genma started the conversation.

“Ranma. How are things?”

Ranma chuckled as Shampoo returned to his side. “Oh, you know. The usual. Cold, vast, and empty.”

Genma laughed at Ranma’s joke, maybe a bit more than he probably should have. Ranma got the distinct feeling that Genma may have been spending some time with Vice Admiral Happosai and his vast collection of panties and sake prior to this call.

Once Genma finally stopped laughing, he turned stern and serious quite quickly. “Indeed. Well, I need your NEO teams for a mission. Pretty routine, actually…” Genma paused for a moment as he appeared to be typing something into his computer.

“…I’m sending you the details, but it’s at Neba 3. A diplomatic function was stormed by some yahoos who are now holding several diplomats, including the Trillian representative to the Federation Council, hostage.”

Shampoo looked down at the terminal next to her seat while Ranma nodded, continuing to listen to his father. “Normally we’d have Starfleet Security deal with this,” Genma continued, “but with such a high-ranking diplomat and the fact that you guys are as close as you are…”

Ensign Ikuhara looked up from the helm. “Five hours at maximum warp.”

Ranma nodded to Shampoo who had turned her attention back to Ranma. She acknowledged the silent order and walked up to the helm station to get the ship moving. Ranma then turned back to the viewscreen.

“No problem, pop,” Ranma smiled, enjoying the informal relationship he had with his CO, “we’ll be there in five and have your Trill back in five and a couple of minutes with nary a spot scratched.”

“Thanks, boy,” Genma nodded. “Good luck.”

Ranma turned to Makoto as the communication ended and the ship shot into warp.

“Set us to yellow alert and have Rei meet us in the conference room as soon as possible.”

“Aye,” Makoto nodded with a sly grin crossing her face. She began activating the ship's defenses and changing the ship's battle readiness from condition blue to condition yellow.

Hopefully, today wouldn’t just be another ‘office day.’

“Good morning, Lieutenant,” Corporal Ian Kagurazaka nodded as Second Lieutenant Kio Yuki stumbled into the NSO briefing room.

“Mmm,” she mumbled back.

“Are you still having problems sleeping?” Sargent Anthony Schaefer asked her.

“Kinda,” Kio yawned as she walked up to the replicator and ordered herself a coffee. “I swear, this ship is louder than the Sisko was.”

“I don’t hear a difference,” Kagurazaka shrugged.

“Me either,” Anthony agreed, “but Kio is Kio.”

“What exactly does that mean, Sargent?” Kio asked, sitting down next to her team.

Anthony, a little frightened by the look Kio was giving him, grinned nervously. “Uh, it just means that you have those super-woman ears.”

Kagurazaka smirked as Kio laughed slightly. “Well done.”

Anthony beamed at his work. “Well, getting out of trouble was always my specialty.”

The two smiled at each other for a couple of moments before the briefing room doors slid open and the NSO senior staff walked in.

“ATTENTION!” Shelton called out. The room quickly stood and turned towards the senior officers as they walked towards the front of the room.

“At ease,” Rei stated as she arrived at her podium. After everyone was seated Rei began to explain the mission. She showed everyone a basic layout of the conference hall and their best way to assault it, as well as two or three backup contingencies.

“Now,” Rei finished up the presentation, “I know something like a simple hostage-taking is a little too ‘routine’ for us, but remember, these are IMPORTANT hostages.”

“Nothing is routine,” Kio dryly stated. “Believing that will kill you.”

Everyone’s eyes slowly turned to Kio, then slowly back to Rei, as they prepared for the verbal decimation of the young military officer.

“That’s actually very good advice,” Rei stated.

The simultaneous clanging of everyone’s jaw hitting the deck may have been audible on the bridge.

“Complacency is the harbinger of death,” Rei added. “Stay sharp. We’ll be on target in three hours. I recommend you spend that time getting ready. Dismissed.”

The room began to empty out. Shelton shifted his gaze between Kio and Rei.

Once Kio had left the room unmolested, he turned to Rei.

“Really?” he asked, not even attempted to hide the shock in his voice.


“You don’t have a problem with her showing you up like that?”

“She was right.”

“You still would have yelled at her.”

“She wasn’t an officer then.”

“She was an NCO.”

“Not the same.”

Shelton sighed. “So now that she’s an officer, you’re fine with her disrespecting you?”

Rei slammed her PADDs down. “What the hell do you want from me? I yelled at her, you said I was too mean. I don’t yell at her and now you say I am too lax. Just tell me how you want me to supervise, and I will do it.”

Shelton sighed again. “Well, I don’t want you to yell at her at all.”

Rei nodded as she picked up one of the PADDs and began to mockingly take notes on it. Shelton grabbed the PADD out of her hand and set it down.

“Look, Commander. I just want to make sure that everything is alright.”

Rei sighed. “She’s so much like me,” she admitted.

“Oh?” Shelton blinked.

Rei walked over to one of the briefing room chairs and sat down. Shelton followed her and sat down across from her. Rei did not necessarily make eye contact with Shelton as she spoke.

“She said something to me before as well. That I had a chip on my shoulder. That if she failed, I would fail. Again.

“I think she was right about that. And what’s worse is that I think I almost caused it.” Rei turned to Shelton, her dark eyes not filled with sadness, but more with disappointment and regret.

“I thought I was boosting her confidence, but then I saw me in her - a bratty, tough girl doing everything she can to hold in the pain of losing someone she loved - and it forced me to ask myself, ‘is that how my confidence would be boosted?’”

Rei sighed as she leaned back, propping her feet up onto the half desk in front of her.

“And of course, the time when she really needed encouraging words from me, after Sargent Simpson was killed, I actually physically assaulted her.”

“You...” Shelton stammered.

Rei shook her head to move them past the court-martial-able offenses. “I realize that I can’t be her friend, you know,” Rei smirked at that thought, “not that she would want to be mine anyway. But I certainly can do a better job of being her boss and mentor.”

Shelton shrugged. “Well, you’ll get very little argument from me.” Rei gave Shelton a look that let him know that she was not exactly pleased with his reply, but he continued anyway. “That said though, you must have done something right. She’s done a wonderful job.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Rei smiled a bit. “She came to us good, though.”

Shelton nodded. “She was – she is an excellent soldier. However, we're not infantry,” Shelton reminded her. “You can't just slip from infantry to special operations seamlessly. Don't write yourself off so quickly.”

Rei smiled a bit more and nodded.

Shelton motioned for the door as the pair stood up. “Come on. We have a hostage rescue to prepare for.”

Lieutenant JC Devall chuckled at the scene playing out before him on his terminal. Say what you want about other forms of entertainment, but in the last three to four hundred years, the quality of animation coming out of Japan has just gotten better.

His eyes slightly drifted to an engine monitor. The plasma flow regulator slipped slightly, causing the number displayed on the screen to change to yellow. However, the computer quickly compensated for the issue and within a couple of seconds, the number was brought back into the ‘green’ range.

JC smiled. While it had been almost a year, and he and his team had essentially disassembled and reassembled the engines, looking for any - unexplained pieces - Starfleet Engineering still was not totally upfront with them on why or how the engines could maintain a warp field for as long as they could.

JC had assumed he would be able to reverse engineer everything, but so far, he has had no luck.

“Still worried?” a voice called to him from his office door.

JC looked over to the Sisko’s chief engineer, Lt. Commander Usagi Tsukino, and shrugged.

“No, I guess not,” he responded as he sat up in his chair and paused his anime. “I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t still suspicious of the shipyard, but as I’ve said before, we’ve been over these engines dozens of times. I’m all but certain we’re not going to shoot off into transwarp again.”

Usagi looked to JC with slight concern. “All but certain?”

JC grinned. “Well, nothing is one-hundred percent certain when it comes to warp physics.”

“Mmm,” Usagi groaned, not really wanting to think about another crash. “So, what were you watching?”

“Plasma flow-”

“No,” Usagi interrupted, already tired of talking about work. “The anime.”

“Oh,” JC replied, a bit surprised. “It’s one that came out recently called Kureiji Uchuusen Shouboushi. Based on the manga-”

“By Satsuki Konoe,” Usagi nodded, stepping a bit more into JC’s office. “Is it any good? I am always concerned with animated adaptations of quality manga.”

JC pulled up a chair next to him and silently motioned for Usagi to sit there as he spoke.

“I think they did a wonderful job of preserving Satsuki’s intents in the anime.” JC paused for a second, giggled, then continued. “They did take some liberties in order to take advantage of the comedic timing animation can give you, but all in all, it’s pretty faithful.”

Usagi leaned back, a certain, smugness crossing her face. “Glad to hear that.”

JC restarted the video and the pair sat in silence, watching the animated goodness. Occasionally they would laugh, sometimes loudly, their laughter echoing out into main engineering.

Outside of JC’s office, a couple of low-ranking engineers watched them.

“Do you really think it’s fair that they get to sit in there and watch TV while we toil away?” The first asked.

The second eyed his partner for a moment. “Toil?”

“Well...” the first trailed off.

The second sighed. “I guess it’s the advantage of being in charge. It gives us the motivation to work hard and become chief engineers ourselves so that we can do that!” The first was the one now eying his partner oddly.

“Besides,” the second continued, “do you really want *HER* out here trying to help?”

The first engineer blinked. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

The second nodded, patted his co-worker on the back, and started to walk off. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Ensign.”

The first, who wasn’t familiar with that old Earth saying, wandered off as well, mumbling, “Why would you look any horse in the mouth?” He paused. “Well, I guess if you were a horse dentist...”

He continued to ponder this as he went off to check EPS manifolds.

After Usagi and JC were done with their 22-minute episode, JC turned to Usagi, awaiting a critique.


Usagi nodded. “You were right,” she smiled. “That was pretty much about what I would expect the manga to be if it were animated.”

JC smiled back. “I tend to not read the manga or novels till after I watch the anime. I am a real fan of the visual style and everything, so I would hate for the story to be ruined.”

Usagi nodded in understanding as JC checked the clock on his wall. “Look, I was planning on finishing off the series after work, but if you’d like to come by and watch them with me this weekend, we can combine anime with crew reviews.”

Usagi nodded. “Yeah, that sounds like a plan.”

“Excellent,” JC gave the thumbs up to Usagi as the ship dropped out of warp. Both officers grimaced as the red alert klaxons sounded, their loud shrill sound echoing throughout engineering.

“I swear, this ship is louder than our old ship,” JC complained.

Usagi smiled. “I have to go to the bridge.”

“See ya,” JC nodded as Usagi scurried out of his office. JC shut down his anime and walked into the main engine room, where he took his position at damage control.

“There should only be the Capstone and two Trillian cruisers in orbit,” Minako stated.

Shampoo turned to tactical. Amanda checked some sensors, and after seeing only a single Starfleet and two Trill ships she turned back to Shampoo. “Confirmed.”

“So,” Ranma began, walking towards the tactical station, “the intel about the hostage-takers coming from the planet’s population appears to be correct.”

“It would be difficult for them to escape the planet,” Makoto explained. “Unless they could cloak, one of those three ships could surely destroy them, or at the very least, pursue.”

Ranma nodded. “Keep sweeping for ships and set up tachyon mines around the planet. I don’t want them getting away from right under our noses.”

“Aye,” Makoto, Minako, and Amanda all replied. At the back of the bridge, the turbolift opened and Usagi walked out. Minako acknowledged her, however, Makoto did not notice her as she had her face buried in her terminal.

Usagi shrugged it off and began to head down to her terminal.

“Commander Tsukino,” Ranma called after her. Usagi stopped and turned towards Ranma and Shampoo, who were both walking towards her. Usagi shot both a quick nod.

“I’m not expecting it, but are the engines ready to handle a potential pursuit?”

Usagi nodded. “Running well enough to almost make my assistant chief engineer angry.”

Ranma grinned. “Great.”

“Establishing geosynchronous orbit over the target,” Ikuhara reported.

Ranma tapped his communicator. “NEO, you are go for insertion.”


Kio nodded to her group as they materialized on the backside of what was the twenty-fourth century equivalent of a car park, a hundred or so meters from the conference hall where the hostages were being held.

The five Sisko soldiers walked up to a group of Starfleet Security personnel who had assembled a makeshift command post. The highest-ranking one, a lieutenant, looked at the group slightly disappointed.

“Only five of you?” he asked.

Kio blinked, pondering whether to berate this idiot or simply explain things to him. She decided, at least in this case, diplomacy would be the better alternative.

“No sir, there are two other teams that have beamed down as well.”

The lieutenant looked around. “Where are they?”

Kio sighed as Anthony held in his laughter. “You don’t do this very often, do you, Lieutenant?” Kio asked.

“What does that mean?” he asked.

Kio shook her head. “Where in the hall are the hostages being held?”

“As far as we know, in the main conference room,” the lieutenant started, pointing it out on a PADD. “They may have moved them to the cafeteria though.”

Kio nodded, then turned to point at Kagurazaka who was setting up a small transport zone. “We don’t think that they have a ship overhead, but we have to worry about cloaked ships.

“One of our other teams has set up transport inhibitors around the building. The corporal there has set up a transport relay station, so once we start finding the hostages, we’ll tag them and send them to you guys to secure.”

The lieutenant nodded. “You want to take some more people with you?”

Kio smiled. “No, thank you. Our party size is exactly right.”


Rei leaned back against a tree and checked her watch. Delta team had gotten the transport inhibitors up almost three minutes ahead of schedule. Bravo team would be inserting soon, and her team would be moving in soon afterward.

Everything seemed to be running exactly as it should.

So why was she so damned angry?

“Tired?” Shelton quietly asked, sitting down next to her.

Rei shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Or you still thinking about earlier?”

Rei sighed. “I’m going to stick with tired.”

Shelton patted Rei on the back. “Well, being frumpy isn’t going to scare away all your demons,” he grinned. “As well, it’s probably going to distract you, which will, in turn, end up getting me shot, which I can assure you, I will be very upset over.”

Rei smirked, albeit somewhat forced. “These guys kidnapped a Trill ambassador at a solar emissions conference. I doubt they are the brightest terrorists that have ever existed.”

Shelton shrugged.

Rei got back on her feet and pulled out her rifle. “I promise, if one of them does manage to have the brainpower to point a gun at you, I will jump in front of the shot.”

“That’s very noble of you, boss,” Shelton chuckled as he also rose to his feet and pulled out his rifle.

“Bravo to Alpha,” Kio’s voice came over the comms. “We’re entering the building.”

“Roger,” Rei replied, motioning to the rest of her group to follow her towards the doorway. “Delta, you guys in position?”

“Yes ma’am,” Delta team replied. “Doorways and windows are all covered. Anyone tries to flee... Pow.”

Rei grinned as she and her group ran up to an emergency doorway. “Great.”


Kio stopped her group. She quickly ran a scan with her tricorder; the results displaying on her eyepiece. She turned to the rest of her group, a slightly more somber look on her face than there was before.

“This room has seventeen bio signs in it,” she explained, “and seven of them are Orion.”

“Orion?” Anthony asked.

Kio nodded and activated her communicator. “Commander, it appears the hostage-takers are Orions.”

After a momentary pause, Rei finally responded. “Interesting. Resistance will be heavier, then.”

Kio deactivated her communicator and rolled her eyes, “No kidding.” She turned to the group as she turned up the setting on her rifle. “The Orions won’t hesitate to kill the hostages. Go to heavy stun. We need to down them in one shot.”

Anthony, Kagurazaka, Yayo the medic, and Xiang the combat engineer, all nodded and adjusted their rifles accordingly. The group then waited for their leader’s signal.

Kio nodded.

It was like a game at a street fair for Bravo team as they slinked in and shot at least four of the seven in the back; two of the other three were shot as they were turning around to see what the commotion was, the final managed to fire at Bravo team, but missed terribly and was hit by three blasts from the Federation rifles.

Bravo team quickly secured the downed Orions and transported the hostages into the waiting arms of Starfleet security. Before they could move on, however, a door opened and several more Orions came in, apparently startled by the noise.

“WHAT’S GOING ON?” one yelled.

“STARFLEET?!” another gasped, reaching for his weapon.

Like their brethren, the new Orions were systematically placed in an unconscious state at the hands of Second Lieutenant Kio Yuki and her team.

“There are six bio signs in the next room where the Orions came from,” Kio informed the group. “No Orions though.”

Kagurazaka smirked. “They must have all came after us.”

Kio nodded as the group stepped over the now restrained Orions and into the next room where they went to work beaming out the hostages.


“We’ve rescued sixteen,” Kio informed Rei. Rei nodded, despite Kio’s inability to see it, as the pair walked down the final hallway before reaching the main conference room.

“We’re about to go into the main conference room,” Rei responded vocally, finally. “Once you’re done checking the side rooms, head this way.”

“Aye,” Kio replied.

Rei activated her tricorder and scanned into the conference room. On her display, it informed her that there were forty bio signs. One of them was the Trill ambassador. Fifteen of them were Orion.

“Fifteen hostiles, as well as the Trill ambassador,” she told her team.

“You think we should wait for Bravo team?” Shelton asked.

Rei watched the dots in her eyepiece move around. They seemed to be moving everyone to one side of the room. Something did not seem right about what they were doing.

Rei’s intuition was proven right when the forty bio signs became thirty-nine.

“No time,” she stated. “They’re executing the hostages. Move now.”

Rei activated the door and the group burst in, opening fire on the Orions who were lining up the hostages face-first against the rear wall.

“STARFLEET! KILL THEM!” one Orion yelled.

Rei’s team scattered for cover as they ducked the return fire. Even though they were vastly outnumbered, Alpha team had the upper hand as one Orion after the other was hit and dropped to the ground in a single shot.

However, it was slightly slow going for Rei’s group as they were constantly having to duck and move around. Whereas their shooting was methodical and targeted, the Orion's shots were sloppy and sporadic; their lack of training and the fact that they were scared was showing.

By the time Kio and Bravo team had made it to the room, there were no Orions left for them, and Alpha team was already in the process of transporting the hostages.

Kio walked over to one of the Orions to attempt to detain him, however, it turned out to be a moot issue.

“He’s dead,” Kio stated.

“Yeah,” Rei agreed as she checked on the Trill ambassador. “They all are.”

Kio stood up and looked in Rei’s direction. “Heavy stun would have worked fine.”

Rei did not turn in her direction. “Our concern was the hostages, not the hostage-takers.”

“What if-”

“We’re not having this conversation here, Lieutenant,” Rei snapped, turning to Yuki for a moment. Yuki nodded.

“Yes ma’am.” She paused. “The building is secure.”

Rei nodded. “Okay. Let’s get the inhibitors down then and turn things over to Starfleet security.”

Yuki groaned. “Aye.”


“That guy is a yutz.”

Rei laughed. Shelton turned to her, nearly falling over.

“Sorry,” Yuki shook her head, walking away as Rei nodded, returning her attention to the Trill ambassador.

“Orions?” Ranma asked.

Rei nodded. “The group that survived is being interrogated by Starfleet Security, but so far they haven’t gotten anything out of them.”

Ranma pondered this as Shampoo came walking up to the tactical station where Ranma and Rei were standing. “If they were Orions,” she offered, “then they didn’t come from planet’s population.”

Ranma agreed and turned to Makoto. “Start scanning for Orion ships.”

Makoto nodded and began to work on her terminal. Lt. Jansen also began to work on her station as well. Ranma turned to Minako in Operations. “How long before the Trill ambassador’s escort fleet arrives?”

“Another hour,” Minako replied.

Ranma sighed. He was not that interested in babysitting a bunch of diplomats for any longer than he had to. Of course, it was not like there was anything else they had to do right now.

“Captain,” Makoto spoke up, a sly grin on her face appearing. “I have two Orion cruisers on scan, about two light-years from here, heading away from the planet at warp eight.”

Rei smirked, as did Shampoo. “They must have gotten the news,” Shampoo guessed.

“There aren’t any Starfleet or allied ships in range of them,” Minako sighed.

Ranma shrugged, his lack of interest obvious to the bridge crew. “We did what we came to do. Everyone is safe,” he explained. “I am sure they will be poking their noses in someone’s space soon enough and get what’s coming to them.”

The bridge crew mumbled agreements and began to wander back off to their respective stations and duties. At the tactical station, Amanda’s terminal chirped at her slightly.

She eyed it curiously, not saying anything.

“Amanda?” Makoto asked, turning towards her.

Amanda continued to watch it for a second, till it chirped again. “What the hell?” She asked no one in particular. She quickly turned towards Kaii, on the other side of the bridge.

“Kaii, can you bring up 002 dash 726 mark 721?” she requested.

Kaii complied and brought the section up on his terminal. Both Ranma and Shampoo turned around to watch the exchange.

“Something going on?” Ranma asked.

“I’m not sure, sir,” Amanda replied. “For a second, I thought I saw a Jem’Hadar ship.”

“What?” Makoto gasped.

Ranma bit his lip. “It’s possible. There were Jem’Hadar born in the Alpha Quadrant. However, if they have ships and they are flying around, this could be an unbelievably bad thing.”

Shampoo nodded in agreement. Kaii shook his head. “It’s impossible to get a good scan of anything where you asked me to,” he complained. “This is right on the edge of The Badlands.”

Amanda nodded. “Yeah, I know. And it could have just been a sensor glitch. Both contacts were less than a half-second.”

Ranma turned back towards the front of the bridge. “Well, better safe than sorry. Keep looking. Even if we don’t find anything, I’ll send a request to Starfleet to have someone check the area out.”

“Aye,” both officers replied.