Night, or what could best be described as night, had fallen on the USS Sisko as she warped towards her destination. The hallway lights throughout the ship were dimmed to fifty percent. The nonessential sections of the ship were empty. Ten-Forward was closed for business, all but the required track lighting turned off. A few people had still come in to watch the stars before heading to bed, but they were dwindling fast.
Even though the Sisko was a battleship, and was ready for anything twenty-four hours a day, the place seemed vacant. There were a couple of people manning the stations in torpedo control. There was one security officer working in the security office. Those seemed to be the only places on the ship where the lights were too full illumination. Even engineering turned down the lights at night to give one a sense of night and day.
Walking down the hallways there was no one. Occasionally a pair of security officers came down a corridor on their rounds, but other than that everyone was in bed.
Well, not everyone.
On the bridge the lights were also turned down to one-half illumination, the majority of the light in the room coming off of the control panels.
The third watch helmsman leaned back in his seat. There really wasn't anything for him to do. The navigational system automatically corrected the course when necessary. He let out a yawn as he turned to look at the third watch operations officer. He also didn't have much to do. He occasionally looked at his panel to make sure everything was okay, but if anything bad happened, or was about to happen, alerts would sound.
The third watch tactical officer was the only one who seemed to be paying much attention to his control panel. They were at an elevated tactical alert status, so he had to be watching for any ships that may attempt to intercept the Sisko.
Both chairs to either side of the captain's seat were vacant. There was no need for a first officer or a command support officer on third watch.
All the other stations situated on various parts of the bridge were also vacant and deactivated.
There was also very little noise on the bridge. The only sounds that could be heard were the blowing of the life support system, the hum of the artificial gravity plating, an occasional chirp from the helm control, and the soft, gentle groan of the warp engines. There was no talking though. With only four officers, no one really felt the need to chat with each other. If they did they usually used the instant messaging capabilities programmed into each terminal. They could just as easily talk to each other out loud, but the dimness of the bridge silently asked them to be quiet.
In the captain's chair sat Mina. She was leaning back in it as much as she could to try and keep herself comfortable. She had her legs crossed, right over left.
Mina didn't usually work third watch. However, that night, Lt. Girard, the third watch commander, wasn't feeling well and asked her to work.
That was fine with her. She was enjoying the peace and quiet.
That was until she started to think to herself.
She started thinking about what the captain had said to her. She was thinking about what she had done to Ryouga the day after. She was thinking about what would happen if she was pregnant. She had planned to go to sickbay earlier that day but didn't. She blamed it on being busy but looking at her six-sentence activity report she knew that was a lie.
Mina's big blue eyes shifted direction. They moved up the view screen to the chronometer right above it.
60150.2 02:17:13 it read.
She watched it a bit more.
Don't let something silly like this get in the way of something good that might happen. Mina readjusted her gaze to the stars.
What the hell did he mean by that? She pondered. She couldn't imagine that Ranma was trying to hook her up with Ryouga. Why would he want to help out Ryouga like that? The two of them were always arguing. The only thing that kept it from actually becoming fisticuffs was the fact that Ranma is Ryouga's C.O. And even Ryouga had to have some respect for the rank.
Mina shifted her eyes upwards again.
Mina began to ponder the idea of a relationship between herself and Ryouga. Ranma was right about one thing. Ryouga seemed like a really nice guy. He had been comforting her in her self-pity state that she had been in right after Lita's wedding. He had complimented her and told her she was a total babe.
As inappropriate as it was to tell your boss that, she appreciated it. He seemed genuinely concerned about her feelings, and she could not see any devious scheme that he was hatching at the time.
I guess I did want it as much as he did. Mina thought. But do I actually want a relationship with him?
Mina glanced at the digital timepiece once again.
Ryouga was a moron though, and that thought bounced around in Mina's head like one of those super high bouncing balls. He was constantly getting lost on the ship. He had gotten them lost while manually steering the ship through a nebula patch. He was unable to make simple turns, starts, or stops without sending the crew of the ship to the deck.
Ryouga drank a lot as well. He would spend several hours after his shift sitting in ten-forward going through glass after glass of peach Schnapps.
Of course, I'd drink a lot too if I had his problems. Mina thought to herself, of course referring to the little black piglet that he turns into upon contact with cold water.
Mina checked out her companion.
Mina had learned a lot about Ryouga over the past few days. She had sat down and talked to Lita, who talks to Gosnell, who talks to the Captain. Granted that would make what she learned hearsay hearsay, but it would have to work.
Mina knew that Ryouga had a crush on Commander Tendo. She didn't understand why Ranma and Akane didn't just end his little crush by announcing their marriage publicly, but she assumed they had their reasons.
Mina had also learned of Ryouga's curse. Both from her source and from seeing it first hand when the bridge's sprinkler system went off a few months ago. She found it interesting. She knew the curse would have to be a factor in any decision that she would make.
But there was an easy answer to the curse. They could just fly back to Earth and have Ryouga jump into the spring of drowned man. Why no one had thought of that yet was beyond her.
Do I really want to be stuck in a relationship? Mina asked herself silently.
It was obvious that she didn't. If she had she wouldn't have used the word 'stuck' to refer to the situation. Mina knew that this job was a relationship killer.
She had kept in contact with Ami prior to the war. She had learned that Ami had met a great man. A man she had planned to marry and spend the rest of her life with.
Then the orders came in. The orders sending the two of them their separate ways. Neither of them really had the change to explore all the possibilities. Both of their futures had been determined by some no-name admiral in a cold grey building who didn't even deliver the PADD himself.
Could I handle that? If he and I fell in love and planned to get married? Could I handle receiving that PADD that sends us in different directions?
"Does this night ever freakin' end?" Mina stated out loud.
The three other officers on the bridge all turned in unison and stared at Mina for a bit. Mina, realizing she had just broken some weird third watch silence rule, meekly adjusted in her seat so that she was looking in a different direction than the others.
Ami was thinking nearly in unison with Mina all those light-years away.
That was a name that Ami never thought she would hear again in her life. She had thought that he had gotten killed in the Dominion Wars like so many others.
Then, here of all places, she gets a distress call from a computer sounding just like her. The computer tells her that her 'should have been' fiancée was on some pre-warp planet. Stranded and in jail no less.
The name kept ringing in her ears. It was keeping her from getting to sleep. Ami kept readjusting herself in her bed but the moment she got comfortable she heard it again.
Clear as day it echoed in her head; in the perfect computer facsimile of her voice.
About Eight Hours Ago:
Ami slides into her seat behind the large oak and glass desk that sits in front of the window overlooking the starboard side of the USS Crossroads.
She pulls up her computer and hits some buttons. The Federation logo appears with some text below it flashing 'AUDIO ONLY'. She inhales deeply and starts to speak.
"Who are you?" Ami asked.
"I am the computer on the U.S.S. Sydney." Computer Ami replied.
"And who is Trevor?"
"Trevor Watts. You know him."
Ami sighed and took in another breath. "And explain to me again why you sound like me."
The computer copied Ami's sigh and began to reply. "After he was discharged from Starfleet he was given this Runabout. Trevor didn't have any friends left. All had been killed in battle.
"Trevor didn't want to go home. There was nothing for him there, he told me. So he decided that he was going to see if he could perchance find you out here somewhere. The problem was he didn't know which way you went.
"So he decided that he would just roam around and if fate decided that you two should be together then he would find you. About a year ago Trevor gave up. He decided that he would just find somewhere to build a house and grow old. He couldn't bear to be without you though, so he used some old communications that you had sent him and programmed me to sound like you.
"He also upgraded my AI circuits so that I wouldn't just be a computer, I could also be a friend."
Ami was speechless. She could do nothing but stare at her wall and take in what this computer had just informed her. She had missed Trevor as well. She had hoped that he would think about her and find her once he got out of the service.
"Hello?" The computer Ami asked. Real Ami came back to reality and looked at her terminal.
"Where is Trevor now?"
"Last I heard he was in jail. He had been arrested."
"What?" Ami screeched.
"Don't worry, Ami." The computer replied. "I've nearly gotten the transporters repaired. Once I do I will beam him out of jail and back to the Runabout."
"Nuts to that," Ami replied. "We'll be in orbit in just a few minutes. We'll beam you to the cargo bay-" Ami cut herself off when she realized she was talking to the Runabout's computer, and not to a real person.
"We'll beam the Runabout to the cargo bay and also bring Trevor aboard."
"Ami, you know that you can't come in orbit around this planet." The Sydney's computer explained. "This is a pre-warp culture, but they are very technologically advanced. They will detect a ship of your size and that would violate the prime directive."
"The prime directive has already been breached. Trevor's made contact with these people." Ami stated.
"Yes, but they do not know that he is an alien. This race looks identical to humans. His universal translator is working fine and he told me that that did not give him a DNA test.
"The local authorities have passed off our crash as a meteorite and I am securely hidden in a cave."
Ami realized that she could not argue with her proverbial self any longer. "What do you want me to do then?"
"Just wait a while. The transporters should be fixed by nightfall. I will retrieve Trevor then and we will take off. We can then rendezvous with you."
Ami sighed. "Alright, fine. But if anything goes wrong, we're coming over there."
The computer chirped what is best explained as a computer's way of saying okay. The transmission then ended and Ami is left to sit in her office and think about everything she just heard.
Back to the present:
The problem Ami was having is that the thinking she was doing didn't stop when she left her ready room. Ami stayed on the bridge until 00:45, six hours after her duty shift ended.
She sat in her chair that whole time waiting.
Nothing happened though. She had them hail the Runabout again only to be told that things were going slower than originally planned and that they should continue waiting.
Ami wasn't sure what she was worried about though. She wasn't even sure if she was actually worried. She could easily hop over to the planet, scoop Trevor and the Runabout up, and be gone before the people there even realized something had happened.
But she felt compelled to wait.
Her diplomatic training and the lectures she was given about the prime directive kept coming back into her mind.
Yes, Ami's mind was busy that night. It seemed the only thing her mind didn't want to do was shut down and go to sleep.
"Computer, time?" Ami asked.
"The current time is zero two forty-seven hours." The computer replied.
Ami sighed and slid upright in her bed. She got up and went to her closest. She picked out one of her grey uniform undershirts and a pair of black shorts. She walked into her bathroom and grabbed a towel.
Ami walked back out, threw on a pair of running shoes, and left her quarters. She casually walked down the brightly lit hallways.
In a ship as big as the Crossroads there was always something going on. None of the lights on this ship were dimmed. There were numerous people walking up and down the hallways, each acknowledging their captain as they walked past her.
Ami walked on down to the turbo lift. After waiting a few moments the doors opened up and she stepped in.
"Deck eight." She ordered. The lift complied and took her down the six decks to deck eight. Ami walked down the hall to a corridor that was thinner than most of the others.
Along this corridor, there were no doors. Just every couple hundred meters there was another corridor that came to connect with it. Ami stood and looked down the corridor as a man, drenched with sweat came running past her. Ami drops her towel at the junction she walked up at and begins to jog.
The Crossroads was one of the first ships to have a running track installed in it, rather than making crew members either use a treadmill or a holodeck. Ami preferred this to a treadmill or holodeck anyway. The distance all the way around the track was near three kilometers. It went all the way around the saucer section of the ship, and it was on the deck that had the largest circumference.
Ami knew that in order to get back to where she started that she would have to keep going. She liked having something to work for and after the third lap or so she started to really have to work for it.
Ami somehow ran twelve laps that night. When she returned to her quarters her mind didn't have anything to think about. Not a thing except sleep.
"SNORT!" Ranma snorted as he rolled a bit in his bed. The loud sound woke Akane up from one of her deepest sleeps. She glared at Ranma but the drool dripping from his wide-open mouth was just so cute that she didn't have the heart to wake him up and hit him.
"Computer, time," Akane whispered.
"Zero three thirty-six." The computer replied, not whispering.
Akane pointlessly tried shushing the computer. Ranma stirred a bit, but mumbled something about egg rolls and rolled over the other way. Akane grinned and slid out of bed. She walks over to her dresser and throws on a set of loose 'laundry day' clothes. She slowly walks back up to the bed, kisses Ranma on the forehead, and walks out of their quarters.
Akane walked down the hallway, stopping a couple of times to look at the names on the door. She passed Raye's quarters. Then Serena's. Then Lita and Gosnell's. She finally came to the room she was looking for.
<Nifty Star Trek Doorbell here!>
Akane sighed and continued down the hallway.
She's usually up by now. She doesn't sleep all that much. Akane thought to herself as she arrived at the turbo lift. Akane hit the call button and waited patiently. The lift arrived and she stepped inside.
"Deck eight." She ordered. The lift quickly took her down the four decks to deck eight. Once the doors opened she stepped out of the lift and began to walk towards the front of the ship. She nodded an acknowledgment to a pair of security officers on patrol.
Akane finally arrived at ten-forward. She walked in through the double doors and looked around. Behind the bar, she saw a man doing what could best be described as opening duties. She smiled when he saw her.
"Good morning, Commander." He stated. Akane smiled back at him. "We won't be serving anything for about twenty more minutes." He added.
"That's okay," Akane said as she walked towards a table that was near the windows. There she saw who she was looking for.
"I dropped by your quarters. I wanted to talk to you." Akane said.
Shampoo just continued to look out the windows. Akane pulled out a chair.
"May I?" She asked.
Shampoo nodded. Akane sat down. The pair sat in silence for a few moments.
"What you need?" Shampoo finally asked, not bothering to look in Akane's direction.
"I just wanted to do the best I can in explaining why Ranma and I didn't tell you about us."
Shampoo didn't move. "I listening." She stated. Akane cleared her throat.
"We got married in a spur of the moment thing. We were going to wait until we got done with this mission, but it was just something about the events that happened that made us hurry up and do it. We haven't told anyone except Lita."
Shampoo turned to Akane. "That not a reason. That an excuse. You still should have told Shampoo."
Akane shifted uncomfortably. She was beginning to think that this wasn't the best idea she's had in the past few weeks.
"Well, Ranma didn't want you to be in any more pain. You were still getting over Mousse-"
Shampoo cut her off. "I NO GETTING OVER MOUSSE!" She yelled. Shampoo took a deep breath and continued, this time more calmly. "You do not get over someone you love dying. Would you get over Ranma death?"
Akane didn't even want to think about it. "I don't know." She said meekly.
Shampoo turned back towards the stars. "Shampoo would have been hurt, but would have understood."
"I'm sorry," Akane said.
Shampoo turned back to Akane. "I'm sorry. That going around a lot lately. Everyone tell Shampoo that they sorry. Shampoo tired of hearing it. If Akane really were sorry you wouldn't have kept your marriage from Shampoo…" Shampoo paused. "…And wouldn't have married Ranma to begin with!"
"Shampoo, I love Ranma."
"Shampoo loves Ranma too!" She grumbled.
Akane just sat there, really not knowing what to say. Shampoo stood, and turned towards the door. "Now, if Akane no mind, Shampoo have to get ready for work."
Shampoo walks out and into the hallway. Akane just remains seated.
"Damn." She mumbles.
Shampoo was in tears when she stepped off the turbo lift on deck four. She didn't really know if she was sad or mad or both. All she knew was that whatever the emotion was, it was making her cry.
Shampoo was sick of crying. She knew it was all her fault though. If she hadn't gotten so damned attached to Ranma. She had known from nearly day one that he had no interest in her. She just thought that she would be able to sway his opinion.
Then there was Mousse. She knew that if she had bothered to tell him how she felt that things would have been different. He may still have died, but at least she wouldn't have to bear the pain of knowing that he never knew how she felt.
Shampoo closed her eyes to try and clear out the tears as she rounded a corner on the way to her quarters. Suddenly she ran into something.
"I'm sorry!" Jeff stated as he hit the ground. Shampoo also fell, the other way.
"Shampoo's fault." Shampoo whimpered.
Jeff quickly stood and started to help her up. She accepted his assistance. Shampoo blinked a couple of times and recognized him.
"You the new councilor?" Shampoo half asked.
Jeff nodded. "Lt. Jeff Fuchs."
Shampoo looked around, then grabbed Jeff by the arm and practically dragged him down the corridor and into her quarters.
"We need to talk." She stated.
Jeff nodded and sat down in a chair. Shampoo hopped onto her bed and sat facing him. Shampoo then proceeded to tell Jeff about everything.
After she finished Jeff thought for a few moments. He then cleared his throat.
"Sometimes good intentions appear to be bad." He stated.
"You saying what Ranma and Akane did was good intentions?"
Jeff nodded. "They both knew how you felt about Ranma. They knew that telling you that they got married would hurt you. They honestly didn't want to hurt you anymore after what happened."
Shampoo nodded but didn't really take it too seriously, since that is what Ranma and Akane had been saying. It wasn't a valid explanation. Jeff sensed this and continued.
"I will be the first one to say that they should have told you right away. But they didn't. You need to work on forgiving them."
"Forgive them?" Shampoo asked.
"Forgiveness is the only way to free your own soul. It WILL make you feel better."
Shampoo sighed. "So what? Shampoo just accepts marriage and say I forgive you for deceiving Shampoo?"
Jeff shook his head. "You're under no obligation to accept the marriage. Though not accepting it isn't going to do you any good and may just cause more problems in the future. But you do need to get the two of them together, let them both know exactly how much that their deception hurt you, and let them know that you are ready to forgive them, as long as they promise to be honest with you from here on out."
Shampoo nods and smiles at Jeff. "You really good."
Jeff smiled back. "Thanks. As for the issue with Mousse…" Shampoo lost her smile. "You cannot be expected to 'get over' his death. If that ever happened you would be a terrible person. You do need to accept it. Take comfort in knowing that he loved you. Find strength in knowing that he died in honor, protecting the person he loved and doing his duty. And know that deep down he knew you loved him too. When someone loves you, you know it.
Shampoo nods once again and stands. Jeff also stands. Shampoo walks over to him and hugs him.
"You help Shampoo a lot today." Shampoo smiled.
Jeff smiled back. "We all have a purpose. Mine is to help people get through times like this. Being alone in our pain is the worst thing that can happen. Anytime you need to talk, let me know."
Shampoo nods and watches Jeff walk out of her quarters. Shampoo sighs and goes to her closet and gets ready for work.
At 05:30 all of the lights on the bridge and the rest of the ship shifted to full illumination. It was as close to sunrise as you are going to get on a starship.
Mina quickly fills in Shampoo on the whole lot of nothing that went on that night. She then jaunts down to her quarters, gets changed, and goes straight to bed. Sleep eludes her for a few hours as her mind processes the decisions that she had made that night sitting on the bridge.
She had quietly logged in an appointment for 04:15 the next morning to get a physical and pregnancy test in sickbay. She had figured out exactly why she had slept with Ryouga and determined the best course of action for what was to happen next.
Yup. Mina was ready now. All there was left to do was wait.