Chapter 5 - Convincing

“We had to sedate him,” Akane explained. “He was flipping out.”

Ranma nodded. He would probably be flipping out too if he were broken out of jail only to end up on what was an enemy ship being run by other enemies.

“Not to mention that he was seriously dehydrated and malnourished. I don't think he's eaten in a week. I don't know if it was the jail that was starving him or if he was on a hunger strike or what, but I can't be certain he was going to live long enough to be executed.”

Larson sighed. “I don't want to be 'that guy' but can you revive him so we can talk to him?”

Akane nodded. “Yeah. But I don't know if you're going to get more than just gibberish out of him.”

“He knows who both Ranma and I are, Commander,” Larson replied. “Perhaps the familiar faces will calm him down.” Ranma looked to his boss with uncertainty, however, he trusted Larson's judgment. He nodded to Akane for her to do as Larson asked.

Akane pulled out a hypospray and put in the correct medication. She then injected it into Saanik and stood back, fully expecting him to start flailing around, as he did the last time she woke him up.

“Mmhm?” Saanik mumbled, before opening his eyes.

“Minister?” Larson asked.

Saanik's eyes opened wide. He began to scoot up the biobed quickly away from both Larson and Ranma. A couple of security officers who were standing watch nearby began to move in his direction, but a quick and stern look from Ranma kept them in their place.

“Minister, it's me, Scott Larson, from Starfleet.”

“And I... Ranma Saotome,” Ranma added.

Saanik looked around. “Where am I?” he finally asked.

“You're on a ship that we had to... borrow,” Larson explained. “I assure you, there are no Romulans on board.”

“Borrow?” Saanik asked.

“Yes. The people who are trying to tear apart our alliance – the people who tried to kill you by framing you for that attack on the LDF base, they destroyed the Sisko. So, to stop this, we had to borrow a ship from the Romulans; since they have covert abilities.”

Saanik slid back down in the bed slightly. “Why not borrow a ship from the Klingons?”

“They smell terrible,” Ranma groused.

Akane walked away, laughing. Larson glared at them both before continuing. “I have had dealings with the Romulans before. They owed me favors.”

The look of disgust on Saanik's face was quite unVulcan. “Favors?! What kind of favor could you have possibly done for a Romulan that he would owe you a starship in return?”

Larson sighed. “Minister, we are wasting time with semantics. You must understand that we rescued you to see if you could help us determine who is behind all of this. Surely you must have some clues.”

Saanik laid completely down in the biobed and closed his eyes. “Had I had any clue who was involved in any conspiracy, I would have presented it at my trial, and I would have been acquitted,” Saanik exhaled deeply. “If it is okay, I would prefer to continue my interrogation later.”

Larson sighed and walked away. Ranma stayed for a moment. “Minister, do you need anything?”

After a short pause, Saanik replied. “What I need, you cannot get me.”

“Are you sure?” Ranma asked.

Saanik did not reply.

Ranma stayed at Saanik's side for a little while longer, watching him, before returning to his office off the bridge.


It was about three hours that had passed. Ranma was off duty and he and Akane were enjoying a nice ramen dinner in their quarters. It was one of Shampoo's great-grandmother's recipes and both were pleasantly surprised that the Romulan replicator did not butcher it.

The horrid Romulan door chime came as a surprise, however. Neither was expecting a guest and usually, if Larson wanted to see them, he would make them come to him.

Ranma got up and walked to the door, unlocking it, and allowing it to open. There he saw Saanik, in what were apparently sickbay-issued pajamas and slippers, flanked by two security officers.

“Minister,” Ranma stated, rather shocked.

“May I come in?” Saanik asked, his voice stronger than before, but still weak from the days in prison.

“Yes, of course.”

Saanik walked in, albeit slowly. His weakened state was obviously frustrating the normally strong and independent man.

“We'll wait out here when you're ready to go back, sir,” one of the guards said to Saanik.

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Saanik replied as the door closed. He turned to Ranma as Akane helped the older man to a chair. “Your security personnel are quite professional and courteous.”

“They are the best in Starfleet,” Ranma boasted.

“May I get you something to drink?” Akane asked.

“Oh, whatever you are having will be fine,” Saanik smiled.

Akane nodded and walked off. Saanik turned to Ranma. “She didn't mention she was your wife.”

Ranma smiled. “It's not something she is proud of.”

Saanik allowed himself a quiet laugh. He allowed himself a bit of a louder laugh when he saw the look of disbelief on Ranma's face. “Yes, Captain. Vulcans can and do laugh.”

Ranma blushed. “I apologize.”

Saanik shook his head. “Don't. We repress our emotions. We still have them. I have not meditated in many days, as while I was in prison, I was using my emotions as a form of protest.”

Ranma looked at Saanik, much thinner than he was the first time he had met him. “Were you on a hunger strike as well?”

Saanik nodded. “Yes.”

“Well then,” Akane smiled as she set down a glass of tea and a bowl of ramen in front of Saanik. “Good thing we broke you out. Now you can enjoy tea and ramen with us.”

Saanik bowed his head in respect. “Thank you.”

The trio ate in silence for a moment before Saanik spoke again. “Captain, you asked me earlier if there was anything I needed.”

Ranma nodded.

“Anything at all?”

Ranma again nodded.

Saanik looked out the window at Vulcan. “My... lawyer.”

Ranma looked at Saanik.

“They will kill her.”

Akane looked to Ranma who had turned and was looking at Vulcan himself. Ranma turned back to Saanik and put his hand on the older man's arm. The pair looked at each other for a good minute.

Nothing was said, but nothing needed to be. Ranma understood exactly what needed to be done.

“No, they won't,” Ranma tapped his communicator. “Saotome to Hino.”

“Yes sir?”

“Can you come to my quarters, ASAP?”

“Yes sir.”

A smile crept across Saanik's face as he continued to eat. “She doesn't deserve to die just because she's associated with me.”

Ranma nodded. “Where can we find her?”

“She should be coming home from work soon,” Saanik replied.

<Nifty Star Trek Romulan Doorbell Sound>

“Come in,” Ranma called.

Rei walked in, slightly out of breath as she had taken Ranma's 'ASAP' instruction to mean 'run.' She looked to Saanik and nodded. “Minister.”

“I don't know if you've met,” Ranma smiled. “Minister, this is the officer who's responsible for your escape.”

Rei smiled. “Well, Chief Yuki found you.”

Saanik grinned. “A soldier is only as good as their commander.”

Ranma nodded. “She's the best in Starfleet.”

Rei beamed.

“Commander,” Ranma continued. “I need you to do another snatch. This one a bit easier, though. Even though the target doesn't know you're coming.”

Rei blinked. “Kidnapping?”

Saanik chuckled. Rei gave him the same expression that Ranma did. Saanik again laughed. “Everyone thinks we don't laugh.”

Akane laughed this time and went to refill everyone's tea.

“She will forgive you for the assault once she sees me, I promise,” Saanik assured Rei.

Ranma nodded. “One team, Commander. Small, in and out. The Minister will give you the coordinates of the target’s house.”

Rei nodded, jotted down some coordinates and a time from Saanik, and headed for the door. “Okay, back with her in a couple of hours.”

“Commander…” Saanik called out, trying to stand, but failing. Akane rushed over to him but is waved off. Rei paused and turned to Saanik. “Thank you.”

Rei nodded and walked out.

“And the Ministry of Intelligence is coming why?” the Warden asked in an annoyed Vulcan tone.

“They think this was a military operation, not just some jailbreak,” one of the jailers replied.

The Warden sighed. “Of course it was a military operation. They had transport inhibitors, projectile weapons, and high-grade explosives. We don't need our operations shut down for a week to tell us that.”

The Vulcan jailer shrugged as the MoI ship landed outside of the prison and several dozen MoI security guards jumped out, securing the perimeter. After them, multiple MoI officials emerged, including Salek.

The prison's warden, Tukon, walked out and greeted them.

“Hello. I am Tukon, Warden of the Jav'Cao Prison.”

Salek nodded. “I am Minister of Intelligence, Salek. We will try and keep this as short as possible, seeing as you have a lot of work to do to repair the damage. We need to interview all the guards who had any contact with the assailants and any prisoners who saw them as well.”

Tukon nodded and motioned for the group to come with him.

The MoI spent the next ten hours going over the prison with a fine-tooth comb. The forensics people became confused as all the transporter signatures were Romulan, however, the guards swore up and down they were fighting, mostly, humans.  

The phaser signatures left did not match any known race and very few races still use projectile weapons and even fewer would start off using projectile weapons and then switch to phasers.

It was all starting to point to hired mercenaries.

That was until one MoI investigator found him.

“Salek,” he called.

Salek turned to the investigator. “Yes?”

“I think you should come and hear what this prisoner has to say.”

Salek nodded and began to walk with the investigator. “I am pretty sure he's crazy,” the investigator continued. “However, some of the things he is saying sound familiar.”

“Familiar? In what way?”


Salek pondered this until the pair got to the jail cell. The investigator looked to the prisoner and barked at him. “Tell him what you just told me.”

“Which part?” the detainee asked.

“The whole thing!” The MoI officer snapped.

“Oh, well there was this woman, she was dressed all in black, and she was going to let me go if I told her where the death row was. But then she shot me in the back.”

“TELL HIM ABOUT HER SHOULDER!!” The investigator yelled.

“Oh! Sorry! You said to tell him the whole thing!” the prisoner cried. “Anyway, on her shoulder, there were some squiggles and a picture of a spaceship!”

Salek continued to listen.

“Was she alone?” the investigator asked.

“No. There was a brown man and a white man and a yellow man and a blue girl with her. They all had round ears. I don't think any of them were Vulcan.”

Salek's mind began to churn. He was beginning to understand what the investigator meant by 'familiar.' However, he did not think the investigator realized exactly how familiar this might have been to Salek.

The head Vulcan spy pulled out a PADD. He punched up some information on it and waited for a moment. It finally beeped in compliance and he showed an image to the prisoner. “Is this what you saw on the shoulder of the woman?”

The prisoner looks at the image. “Yeah. Except that it was darker. I could see it because I have really good eyes.”

Salek turns the PADD back and looks at it. On the screen is the NEO mission logo. Salek does not even bother repressing as he smashes the PADD into the ground.


Salek turns and begins to walk away.

“Minister?” the MoI investigator calls out.

“We're done here,” Salek calls back. “Have anyone connected with Saanik arrested.”

The investigator hurries to catch up. “That shouldn't be hard. He has no friends, family, or life really. The only one he ever spent any time with outside of work was his lawyer.”

“Grab her,” Salek ordered.

“Yes sir.”

Salek stormed off and into the MoI ship.

T'Pah thought it was fair to not include grocery shopping on her list of favorite activities. While it would be simple enough for her to simply replicate everything she needed, she preferred the taste of real vegetation. Some people swore they could not tell the difference. T'Pah swore that they were lying.

Regardless, it was still a long walk for her, having used up her transporter credits for the day. She realized if she went to the store more often, she would not have to carry so much, but then of course that would mean that she would have to go to the store more often.

While the long walk was good for her, it, unfortunately, gave her time to think. And of course, all she could think about was Saanik. It had been five days. In two days, he would be dead and there was nothing she could do about it.

You tried your best.

“I did try my best, but I failed,” she said out loud to herself. It annoyed her to no end that she failed in not only defending her client, defending someone who was innocent, but defending the man that she loved.

And because her best was not good enough, he would be dead.

She would probably have felt a little bit better though had she known that the deck was stack against her and that she did not have any chance to win regardless of how good of a lawyer she was or how much evidence they had.

T'Pah paused. Her sixth sense told her that someone was following her. She looked behind her but saw no one.

Very few people live in this area of her town, so there should not be anyone else around, especially at this time in the evening. Likely she is just imagining things. At least that was the reasoning she gave herself as she continued the walk home.

Nonetheless, she picked up the pace.

After several more minutes of speed walking, T'Pah rounded a corner and approached the walkway to her house. She began to move up it when she was confronted by several people dressed in official Vulcan uniforms.

“T'Pah?” one of them asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“By order of the Ministry of Intelligence, you are under arrest.”

“WHAT?” she snapped. “Under what charge?”


T'Pah started to argue again, but the officers started to move in to make the arrest. Their actions were quickly ended as multiple phaser blasts shot from the surrounding bushes.

Before T'Pah could react, Rei had run up behind her, slapped a transport enhancer on her, and initiated transport back to the Salvation. Shelton was transported as well, however, Parker ran over and grabbed the groceries that T'Pah dropped before beaming back.


Rei was having an exceedingly difficult time holding onto T'Pah in transporter room one. Not to mention the extreme pain she was enduring from T'Pah constantly kicking her in the shins and stomping her feet.

“Please stop that,” Rei growled. “Minister Saanik asked us to bring you here.”

T'Pah stopped. “Saa-”

The transporter room doors opened and Saanik limped in with Ranma right behind him. T'Pah turned her head and smiled. Ranma nodded to Rei who acknowledged the silent order and let T'Pah go.

T'Pah slowly walked down to Saanik and looked at him. “What happened to you?”

Saanik grabbed T'Pah and embraced her. “Don't worry about that.”

Ranma smiled. Rei hobbled down to Ranma. Ranma patted her on the back. “Good work.” Rei just smiled and hobbled out of the transporter room. Shelton followed her out. Parker walked to where T'Pah was.

“Ma'am, I didn't want your groceries to go to waste, so I brought them on board. They're right behind you. Take care,” Parker nodded and walked out, Ranma trying his best not to laugh the whole time.

“Why?” T'Pah finally asked, tears coming down her face.

Ranma turned to the transporter chief and motioned for him to leave. The chief complied, leaving just Saanik, T'Pah, and Ranma in the room.

“I felt you were in danger,” Saanik replied, “so I asked Captain Saotome to send some people to bring you on board.”

T'Pah nodded. “Just before they did, some police from the Ministry of Intelligence tried to arrest me for treason.”

Saanik sighed. “I knew Salek had something to do with everything.”

“Salek?” Ranma asked.

Saanik nods. “He's got to be a major player in this.”

“How can we prove it?”

“There might be proof inside of the MoI,” Saanik replied.

Ranma sighed. “Breaking into a jail is one thing. Beaming into a government building in the center of the Vulcan capital is something completely different.”

“What about the facilit-” T'Pah started before Saanik put his hand over her mouth.

Ranma walked over to the pair. “Is there another MoI facility off Vulcan?”

Saanik paused for a moment. He ran his hand through T'Pah's hair, then he and Ranma walked to another area of the room.

“Captain, I am in your debt for rescuing T'Pah. I will not deny it. I love her. However, I have been betrayed by people who have sworn their lives to me, by people I considered close friends...” Saanik sighed. “And here I am on a Romulan ship of all things, being asked to trust again.

“You will forgive me, Captain, if I am unsure who I am to trust or not.”

Ranma rubbed his eyes. “What would you need from me to convince you that I am trustworthy?”

Saanik thought about this. “I would need to know that you mean what you say and that you are only interested in saving our worlds.”

“Can you achieve that through a mind-meld?”

Saanik nodded. “Though they can be dangerous.”

Ranma shrugged. “Your trust in me – your trust in us and your help is more important than my wellbeing.”

T'Pah stepped back as Saanik placed his hands on Ranma's face. Ranma's teeth clenched as the meld took effect and Saanik's hand gripped his face tightly.

“Your thoughts to my thoughts...” Saanik chanted.

“My thoughts to your thoughts...” Ranma repeated.

T'Pah watched as the human captain's face contorted due to the pain he was feeling as Saanik's grip became tighter and his mind pushed deep into Ranma's psyche.

“What is your goal?” Saanik asked.

Ranma's teeth clenched, his eyes closed tightly, and his hands gripped what they could. The closest thing being Saanik. T'Pah started to move towards them, but Saanik shook his head, telling her to stay back.

“To find...” Ranma said through his pain, as he pulled on Saanik's sickbay issue shirt. “ find who is trying to pull apart...

“Vulcan and the Earth,” Saanik finished. He paused. “To what end?” Saanik demanded to know.

“To protect the alliance,” Ranma replied.


“Both my people and your people will die if...”

“...we fail,” Saanik paused for a moment. “You don't want humans to die?”

“I don't want humans or Vulcans...” Ranma replied.

“ die,” Saanik slowly finished Ranma's thought. He continued to look at the blue-eyed captain. “You wish for us to live in peace?”

“I wish for us to live as brothers...” Ranma let go of Saanik and started to drop to his knees. Saanik lowered himself with Ranma to keep his hands on Ranma's face.

“...None of us can survive without the other,” Saanik took one of his hands off Ranma’s face and grabbed his arm, ensuring that Ranma was able to go to the ground without falling. He then pulled his left hand from Ranma's face and put it on his shoulder. Ranma blinked a couple of times before wearily looking at the elder Vulcan.

“Well?” Ranma weakly asked.

Saanik grinned. “I trust you, Captain. I believe you have only the best interests of Vulcan in mind and I will do what I can to help you.”

Ranma smiled back. “Thank you.”

“Do you want a medic?”

Ranma shook his head. “Just need a minute to shake this off.”

Saanik nodded. “While I trust you, do you know that everyone on your ship is trustworthy?”

Ranma nodded. “Whoever is doing this tried to kill us. All of us. I can assure you, that nasty human emotion of vengeance is alive and well on this ship.”

Saanik nodded. “Very well then. I will not worry about such things.”

Ranma smiled slyly at Saanik. “I suppose now we can have you transferred from sickbay to your own quarters. 

Saanik grinned back, his eyes looking at T’Pah for a moment. “I do have a caretaker.”

Ranma smiled as he tapped his communicator. “Saotome to Shampoo.”

“Go ahead?” Shampoo's voice replied.

“Please assign quarters to Minister Saanik and his guest.”

“Right away!” Shampoo replied before pausing a moment.


Salek impatiently rapped his fingers on his desk as he waited for Young to answer his communications system. The Vulcan spy was not happy with having to use covert channels, as everything took so much longer, but any direct communications between Vulcan and Earth would of course be monitored.

But the wait was the least of his worries right now. The fact that his assistants had not gotten his entire office packed by the time he got back was irritating him as well.

It was getting so that you could not get any good help anymore.

Of course, now he was going to have to decide whether or not to pack the rest himself or to just leave it.

That was assuming that he managed to make it off the planet even.

“Salek?” Young's voice called out.

Salek turned around and looked at the communication system. The display read 'audio only', another irritant of the covert system they were using.

“Yes. I am here.”

“It's the middle of the night here. This better be important.”

Salek growled. “You're damned right it's important. Saanik has escaped from prison.”

Young was silent. “That was a super-max facility. How?”

“SAOTOME IS HOW!” Salek screamed.

Young was silent again for a moment before replying in the way one would expect him to. “You're fucking kidding me.”

“No, I am not,” Salek snapped. “They beamed in that special operations force, grabbed him, then beamed out.”

“Are you sure it was Saotome? They were nearly three months away...”

“THAT WAS NEARLY THREE MONTHS AGO!!” Salek again yelled. “A prisoner described one of their uniforms and mission patches to a tee, and one of the security cameras that they must have missed caught one of their faces and I did in fact match it to one of the officers who was assigned to the Sisko.”

Young pondered this. “How did they get back? There were no Federation star-”

“IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW THEY GOT BACK!!!” Salek screamed, getting very tired of Young questioning his findings. “There are more than just Federation starships out there. The transporter signatures matched Romulan transporters and knowing Larson he could have a stockpile of old Romulan freighters hidden away somewhere.”

Young sighed. “Larson hasn't been seen in several weeks. His location is still classified Black Five, so I can't even find out what ship he's on.”

Salek laughed. “I can tell you where he probably is,” Salek looked up. “I guarantee you that he's in orbit of Vulcan right now.”

“Is your military deploying mines?”

Salek nodded even though Young could not see him. “Yes. But it will take a week to get the entire planet covered...” Salek looked to his door and saw one of his officers standing there. “Hold on a moment,” Salek said to Young as he motioned for the officer to come in.

“Minister, sorry to disturb you,” The officer meekly said as he walked in. Salek knew this could be nothing but bad news as no one was ever sorry to bother him to deliver good news.

“What is it?” Salek asked.

“The police forces sent to arrest Saanik's lawyer were ambushed. She was then captured and transported to an unknown location.”

Salek nodded. “Okay.”

The officer relieved not to be injured or yelled at, turned, and walked away. Salek turned to the communication terminal. “I have to leave. Saanik is going to implicate me, and if they can come and go on the planet at will, they will have no problems capturing me.”

“I understand,” Young replied. “Where will you go?”

Salek grabbed a few PADDs and stuck them in a satchel. “There is an MoI facility disguised as a mining colony near Ferengi space. I will go there.”

“I see. Safe voyage my friend,” Young replied.

“Thank you,” Salek replied before shutting down the terminal. He then punched some commands into his computer, gathered some more PADDs, and headed for the door.

“Computer, execute command Salek Evacuation Bravo.”

“Authorization code?” the computer asked.

“6-4-7-8-Alpha-Echo,” Salek replied.

“Confirmed. Time?”

“One Hour.”


Salek nodded, turned off the lights, and left the room.

09:00 - Six hours after Salek's conversation with Young, 13 after Ranma and Saanik's mind-meld.

In the Salvation's main conference room, the senior staff had gathered along with Larson and Saanik. Saanik, who was appearing much less disheveled, either due to T'Pah being with him now, or because he was eating and meditating regularly again, acknowledged the group and began to speak.

“I would first like to extend my appreciation to this crew for granting me both my freedom and my life.”

“Wasn't nothing,” Rei smirked.

The room chuckled. “As well,” Saanik continued, “while you may primarily be doing this to save the Federation, you are doing a great service to the people of Vulcan. I will see to it that this is never forgotten.”

“As I said before,” Ranma smiled, “without Vulcan, there is no Federation.”

The room mumbled in agreement.

“Very well then,” Saanik stated. “There is a large amount of evidence that points to elements within the Ministry of Intelligence, specifically Minister Salek, being behind a number of these events.”

Saanik sighed. “Obviously, there are also elements within the Defense Ministry that have sided with Salek; an entire battalion will not simply obey an order to attack a Federation base and then slink away into the night. That just wouldn't be logical.”

“There were also several Federation and Starfleet ships destroyed by Vulcan battlecruisers,” Larson added. “Our fleet on route to salvage the Sisko was attacked as well, however we, luckily, had a significant Romulan escort that was able to deal with them.”

Saanik shook his head in disgust. “I had hoped that was just a rumor, but if you have seen Vulcan ships attack Starfleet vessels with your own eyes, then...” Saanik shook his head again. “I can't find the logic in this at all, but I guess that is not what is important here. What is important is finding the players and ending this madness.”

The room nodded affirmatively.

“Capturing Salek will not be easy, the MoI building is highly guarded, and since my escape, we have to assume that he will not go home.”

“Salek is no longer on Vulcan,” Larson informed Saanik, looking at a PADD.

“How do you know?” Saanik asked.

“Tell him, Admiral,” Ranma told, more than asked.

Larson thought about it for a moment, then agreed. “Minister, I am sure you have heard of the Federation group 'Section 31?'

Saanik nodded. “Anyone within the government has.”

“I am involved with them. Right now, they have the same goal as we do, and as such, they have been watching Salek, at least as much as you can watch someone in his position without being detected.”

Saanik blinked. “I see.”

Larson nodded. “They don't know where he went, but he,” Larson paused, wondering how much information to give out. “...crashed the MoI's computer and boarded a civilian transport. They couldn't follow him into the transport station due to the bio scanners.”

Saanik nodded. “It would show they were human, and they would be arrested.”

Larson nodded.

“Well, that might be no problem then,” Saanik said, much to Larson's disbelief.

“Oh?” Ranma asked.

“The MoI has a facility here,” Saanik pulled up a small system on the view screen. “It looks like a mining facility, but it's actually a listening post and a black site for...” Saanik sighed. “Undesirables.”

Ranma shook his head. “Undesirables?” Shampoo asked.

“Outside of Federation space,” Makoto replied bluntly. “Legally one could say certain rules don't apply.”

Rei blinked. “That's horrible.”

“Now is not the time for this discussion,” Larson stated, bringing the conversation back on track. “Ranma set a course there – best speed. Stop us at the perimeter of the system.”

Ranma nodded to Shampoo who scurried off to get the ship going.

“Admiral, if I may ask,” Saanik continued as he moved the star map to a large number of Starfleet ships assembling between Earth and Vulcan. “Is this some kind of defensive line?”

Larson bit his lip. “No,” he replied bluntly, unsure how much he really wanted to tell Saanik. He realized though that if he kept anything from the Vulcan military officer, he might lose his trust and in turn lose any hope of stopping Salek and his human co-conspirator.

“So?” Saanik prodded.

“The Federation intends on invading Vulcan,” Larson replied.

Ranma's head slowly turned to Larson, as everyone else’s. “What?” Saanik finally asked.

“It's part of this conspiracy. The final nail in the coffin to push our people apart. However, my associates in Section 31 have managed to convince the Starfleet Chief of Staff to delay as long as he is allowed, which gives us six more days to bring to light proof and stop things,” Larson explained.

Saanik rubbed his head. “Okay then. I will be in my quarters if you need me.”

“Thank you, Minister,” Ranma smiled.

Saanik nodded at Ranma and left the room. Larson turned to the group. “Okay, dismissed.”

The group all stood, apart from Ranma, and walked out of the room as the ship turned away from the red planet of Vulcan and shot off into warp. Once the room was empty, Ranma and Larson sat looking at each other across the long table.

“While I can appreciate the need not to tell Saanik everything, I would like to be kept in the loop on things like a massive Starfleet force preparing to invade Vulcan,” Ranma stated.

Larson nodded. “Fair enough. And I would like to be consulted before you send my forces down to pick up people's girlfriends.”

Ranma rapped his fingernails on the table for a moment, before stopping suddenly. “Permission to speak freely?”

Larson nodded.

“They are my forces. This is my crew. While I do appreciate everything you have done for us, getting us off that planet, getting us this ship... I am her captain. If you want to be captain and take that responsibility, fine. But until then, please don't question me or try and usurp my authority.”

Ranma blinked, unsure if his mouth just got him a one-way ticket to the brig. He was rather surprised when Larson smiled.

“Ranma, you're right,” Larson said, standing. “I apologize. Doing what you did gained us favor with Saanik, and that's what matters.” Larson patted Ranma on the shoulder. “However, I don't think I will be giving you permission to speak freely again. You're a bit too ballsy for my tastes.”

Ranma laughed as Larson walked out of the room.

“Wow. Ranma almost get shot from torpedo tube,” Shampoo called from a different doorway.

Ranma continued to laugh. “Yeah. That I did.”

Ranma stood, walked to Shampoo, put his hand on her shoulder, and guided her out of the room.