THREE WEEKS AFTER RISA CONFERENCE; STARDATE 61295
Tokyo, Japan – The weather gods appeared to be cooperating with the dozens of Starfleet officers who had shown up in their dress white uniforms. Most had appreciated that as even the slightest bit of dirt showed up on them.
Most of the functions one would normally attend in these were indoors where everything was climate controlled, so that was not a big deal. But outdoors, it could get messy, quickly.
The day was chilly, an even cooler, salty breeze blowing in off Tokyo Bay. Akane was growing quite annoyed at Ranma's constant looking at the sky and she was not shy about telling him either.
“There isn't a cloud to be seen. Would you calm down?”
Ranma turned to her. “You know as well as I do that it just appears out of nowhere. I don't know why they didn't have this indoors.”
Ranma turned away. “Of all people, you'd think HE would know better.”
Most of the other Sisko/Salvation crew was there. The normal cliques were sitting together. Gosnell was dressed up in a very formal civilian outfit. Shampoo and Amanda, Kaii and Fuchs, JC, and his surprisingly hot wife were all in attendance.
Also in the group were several marines who Ranma recognized from his crew but did not know the names of.
Noticeably absent though was Admiral Larson, despite having gotten an invitation. Ranma had attempted to contact him once seeing he was not there but had quickly learned that Larson no longer resided on Earth.
This concerned him but was not something to be dealt with today.
At long last, the group got quiet as the Starfleet Chaplin walked to the front where an altar was set up. Music started to play as the wedding party started to march in.
Ryouga and his group of course came in first. While a few of the groomsmen were Sisko marines, Ranma had no idea who some of the others were. He was pleased that Ryouga had friends off the ship, but at the same time, was a little hurt that Ryouga did not ask him to be involved at all.
Of course, Ranma did not even invite Ryouga to his wedding, so, turnabout is fair play.
With the groomsmen came the bridesmaids. As one would expect, Makoto, Rei, and Usagi were all bridesmaids. Usagi seemed to be thrilled to be arm and arm with one of the marines, much to the chagrin of a security officer in the front row who, at one point at least, was apparently Usagi's date.
Once everyone had reached the front, the music changed and the traditional 'Here Comes the Bride' wedding march played. Everyone stood as Minako and her father came walking up the aisle.
“Wow,” Ranma vocalized what every single person in attendance was thinking.
Akane scowled. All the same, she agreed. Minako looked stunning.
Minako's dress was extremely elegant, with a train that flowed probably a meter behind her. Her makeup was perfect, making her already perfect face even more beautiful and her hair was made up in a spectacular way.
“You suck,” Ryouga's best man whispered to him as Minako approached.
Ryouga just smirked as he took Minako's hand from his future father-in-law and the pair turned to the Chaplin.
The Chaplin went on to talk about weddings and starships and yammer on for about twenty minutes, reminding Ranma why he was happy that he simply had an Admiral perform a legal ceremony over subspace, before getting to the important stuff.
“Ryouga...” the Chaplin turned to the smiling pig-boy. “Do you take Minako to be your wedded wife, and in the presence of these witnesses do you vow that you will do everything in your power to make your love for her a growing part of your life? Will-”
“Yes!” Ryouga stated.
“Please wait till I am done,” the Chaplin scolded.
“Sorry,” Ryouga said softly, the spectators, chuckling. Minako looked at him, a large grin on her face, reassuring him that his blunder was okay.
The Chaplin also smiled, forgiving Ryouga. “Will you continue to strengthen it from day to day and week to week with your best resources? Will you stand by her in sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth, and will you shun all others and keep yourself to her alone as long as you both shall live?”
“I'm done,” the Chaplin sighed.
“I will,” Ryouga nodded.
The Chaplin smiled and repeated the pledge to Minako. She looked into Ryouga's eyes and nodded.
“The couple will now read their vows.” The Chaplin stated.
Ryouga cleared his throat. “I, Ryouga Hibiki, take you, Minako Aino, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
“I, Minako Aino, take you, Ryouga Hibiki, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
Akane started to whimper. Ranma put his arm around her. “It's so beautiful,” she whispered.
Ranma nodded as a small child, blonde, likely a relative a Minako walked up with the ring box. Ryouga bent down and took one of the rings out and slid it onto Minako's finger.
“Because this ring is perfectly symmetrical, it signifies the perfection of true love. As I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be,” He vowed.
Minako took the other ring and slid it onto Ryouga's left ring finger. “Because this ring has no end or beginning, it signifies the continuation of true love. As I place it on your finger, I give you all that I am and ever hope to be.”
There was some more ceremony before the Chaplin turned towards the audience. “Now that Ryouga and Minako have given themselves to each other by the promises they have exchanged, by the authority granted to me by the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet Command, I now pronounce them husband and wife.”
He turned to Ryouga. “Smooch away.”
Ryouga, despite his aversion to public displays of affection, grabbed Minako and engaged her in a deep, passionate kiss. The group applauded.
Akane, no longer limited herself to sniffling and was now fully crying into Ranma's arm. Ranma was doing his best to applaud and comfort his wife at the same time.
Ranma paused. He looked at his hand and saw a single drop of water on it.
A sudden thunderclap echoed in the park. Ryouga, who was still kissing Minako, pulled away. He quickly looked at the clouds forming overhead. He turned to the group. “CAKE IN THE RECEPTION AREA!!” He called, grabbing Minako's hand and starting to try and pull her that way.
Ranma just laughed as the downpour started.
Akane looked down at her now shorter, female husband, who was just laughing, as the rest of the people at the wedding were yelling and running for the reception building.
“I told you,” Ranma said between laughs.
Akane pulled on Ranma. “Come on.”
Akane stopped. “Did I just hear P-Chan?”
Ranma kept laughing and pulled Akane herself. “No, no.”
Anthony felt a little out of place. Had he realized that Kio was going to wear her uniform, he would have worn his too. However, he realized that since he was simply tagging along, pretty much against her will to begin with, it did not matter that much.
Besides, if he was out of uniform, he had less of a reason to listen to her orders.
Not that she had been issuing any. The transport ride had been long and quiet. Kio insisting that they take the transport instead of beaming to their destination so that she would have plenty of time to think about exactly what she was going to say.
Anthony thought the whole thing was a bad idea. However, he knew he could not stop her, so he would at least do what he felt was his purpose right now, and that was to be there for her.
“Excuse me, Lieutenant?” a flight attendant asked, walking up to Kio and Anthony's row.
Indeed, the rank was right. Kio had finished her last class and had graduated from Officer Candidate School and was promoted from Chief Warrant Officer to 2nd Lieutenant in the Land Defense Corps.
Kio turned to the flight attendant. “Yes?”
“The pilot wanted me to let you know that we will be arriving in Portland slightly behind schedule due to some weather we had to fly around.”
Kio nodded. “I'm not in any real hurry anyway. Thank you.”
The flight attendant nodded and walked off. Anthony smiled. “I see those silver bars are really working out for you if you're getting transport pilots to make special stops.”
Kio snorted. “I think it was more the latinum that got him to make the stop than the rank.”
Anthony blinked. “Oh.”
Kio patted Anthony's knee. “Don't worry. Pets fly free.”
Anthony scoffed at the concept of being considered a pet, though he did not like the idea of having to come up with his share of whatever Kio paid this guy either.
The pair rode in silence for another hour till the transport landed at the Portland, Maine station. The two disembarked, thanked the transport pilot, and walked off to find a taxi.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Anthony asked.
“No,” Kio replied truthfully. “And to be honest, I don't know why I am doing it. But there is just something in me that makes me feel like I must, and that I won't be able to continue anything really until I do.”
She turned to Anthony. “I feel like I am going to be a risk until I do this.”
“What if you don't get the response you want?”
Kio shrugged as a taxicab saw them and pulled over. “Maybe it won't be as much the destination as the journey. Or maybe I will quit. I don't know.”
The pair got into the cab.
“Where to?” The driver asked.
“61 Bay Street.”
The driver nodded and set off. Kio turned to Anthony. “Nicky was my husband and asides from the funeral, I barely saw his parents after I-”
“You didn't,” Anthony interjected.
Kio nodded. “After we were ambushed.”
“You can't, Kio. Not if you want to be a soldier. Not if you want to be anything but a grunt,” Anthony argued. “We'd have Admirals from wars that happened a hundred years ago still visiting people.”
Kio leaned back.
“Sorry for eavesdropping,” the driver called back. “My son was killed in the Dominion war. He was on the U.S.S. Henry Lopez. They ordered them in to take out one of those white factories. Whatever that crap was called.”
“I'm sorry,” Kio said.
The driver shook his head. “It sucks he died, but the factory was destroyed, and it helped the greater good. I knew there was a risk, and I would have rather he did something nice and safe and still be here with me...” The driver stopped for a minute but then continued. “But I am proud of him. All you guys. And I certainly don't hold any grudges against the guys who ordered him into the mission that killed him.”
“None?” Kio asked.
“Had it been for no purpose or something self-serving, maybe,” the driver admitted as the cab came to a stop. He turned to the pair in the backseat. “But as I said, this was for all of us. Thumbprint here, please.”
Anthony grabbed the PADD before Kio could and placed his thumbprint on it. “Least I could do.”
Kio smiled at Anthony, then at the cab driver. “Thanks.”
The driver nodded as Kio and Anthony got out of the cab. Kio looked up the walkway at the large house in front of her.
“Goodness,” Anthony commented. “Why didn't he become a doctor?”
Kio smiled as she stepped forward, Anthony right behind her. Anthony shadowing her caused her to stop. “Tony.” She said, not turning around. “I need to do this,” Kio stressed the word 'I' causing Anthony to back up a bit.
A little concerned, Anthony relented. “You know why I came, don't you?”
“Because you'd be lonely otherwise?” Kio smirked.
Kio nodded. “I'll be fine.”
Anthony nodded, stepped forward, wrapped his arms around Kio, and kissed the back of her head. “I will be right here, Lieutenant.”
Kio grabbed Anthony's hands and held them for a moment. Anthony let her go; Kio slowly released his hands and slowly walked up the pathway finally reaching the door.
She hit the buzzer and waited.
After what seemed like forever, an older man finally answered the door. Kio was almost knocked over backward by the resemblance. It was almost like she was staring at a, albeit slightly aged, ghost.
“Can I help you?” the man asked, surprised to see, another, Starfleet person showing up at their doorstep.
“Dr. Simpson, yes.”
Kio nodded. “I'm sorry. Dr. Simpson. I'm...” Kio inhaled. She was getting pretty upset with herself. She was a professional soldier. Why was talking to someone so goddamned hard for her?
“Who is it, Michael?” a woman asked, walking to the door.
Kio looked to see who she assumed was Mike's mother standing there.
Kio stood up a little straighter. “I am Lt. Kio Yuki,” she finally got out. She was about to explain who she was with, but the look on both parent's faces told her that Mike had already told them about her.
“I see,” Dr. Simpson replied.
“I was wondering if I could speak with you?” Kio asked.
The Simpson patriarch nodded and escorted Kio in. “What about your friend?” Mrs. Simpson asked.
Kio looked at Anthony who was simply standing at the end of the walkway, looking a little pathetic from that viewpoint.
“He's okay,” Kio replied, following Dr. Simpson.
Dr. Simpson sat down at the dining room table. “Would you like something to drink?” Mrs. Simpson asked.
“No, thank you,” Kio replied.
Mrs. Simpson walked into the room and placed a cup of coffee down in front of her husband, who had not taken his eyes off of Kio since he sat down and sat down with one herself.
“Please sit down,” Mrs. Simpson instructed.
Kio complied, sitting down across from the pair.
“Michael told us you were a Chief Warrant Officer,” Dr. Simpson stated.
“Yes, but I had been working on completing Officer Candidate School, and just finished it a couple of weeks ago,” Kio explained.
Dr. Simpson nodded. “I see.”
“We didn't see you at his service,” Mrs. Simpson mentioned.
Kio shook her head. “We were stuck in debriefings. I can assure you I was not pleased about it.”
“Why are you here now?” Dr. Simpson finally asked.
Kio paused. She did not really know herself. “I don't know. I haven't been myself since he was killed, and I thought maybe if I apologized-”
“Apologized?” Dr. Simpson interrupted. “Was it your fault?”
“I- I don't know.”
“I'm not in the military, but I know if a patient dies in surgery, I can figure out pretty quickly whether or not I caused it,” Dr. Simpson barked.
“Michael,” Mrs. Simpson scolded.
“He was providing cover fire for myself and Sgt. Schaefer – the man outside,” Kio explained.
“That was his job?” Dr. Simpson asked.
“Then how could it be your fault?” Dr. Simpson asked.
Kio started to talk but couldn't.
“Lieutenant, the only one who could possibly apologize to me for making a stupid decision is dead,” Dr. Simpson stated. Kio looked at the doctor as he continued. “I wanted my son to follow in my footsteps. He carried my name. The boy even looked like me.”
Dr. Simpson stood and walked to a desk and picked up several PADDs and brought them back. He set them down in front of Kio before walking back to his seat.
“Instead, he decided he was going to be his own person and run off and join Starfleet. He and I didn't speak for years after that.
“Despite my instructions otherwise, his mother did in fact talk to him, and we eventually made amends once I realized how foolish I was being, and his mother got him to admit that being a doctor would have been a better decision.”
Kio laughed, despite trying not to. “He said as much.”
Dr. Simpson, for the first time, grinned. It did not last long though. “I am far from pleased about losing my only child. It breaks my heart and is one of the most devastating things one will ever have to go through.
“However, the decision to join Starfleet and then the decision to go onto your ship was his. Despite my objections and everything, I understand what he did and why he did it. I am very proud of him and respect him.”
Mrs. Simpson pointed to the PADDs. “These are letters he was sending us. He tells us a lot about the missions you guys did. Nothing he wasn't supposed to say, but more of the social aspect of your interactions together.”
Kio began to look at one.
“He really enjoyed working with you, Lieutenant,” Mrs. Simpson added.
Kio began to laugh as she read one. “...It's like waiting for the high school quarterback to ask the captain of the cheerleading squad out to prom?”
“He apparently thought that Sgt. Schaefer had a crush on you,” Dr. Simpson stated.
Kio smirked. “I think he does as well.”
Mrs. Simpson smiled as she went through some of the PADDs. She finally found the one she was looking for and handed it to Kio.
Kio felt a tear come to her eye as she read it. “...sometimes I really thought I should have listened to dad. However now it's different. She's the most solid CO I have served under in these seven years...”
Kio paused before reading the last line.
“Kio's the only one I actually think I would step in front of a phaser for.”
Kio set down the PADD and looked to the two parents. Mrs. Simpson took one of Kio's hands in hers to comfort her as Dr. Simpson spoke.
“Lieutenant, if you want reassurance that we're not upset, angry, or heartbroken, then I am afraid you've come to the wrong house. Our family ends with us now, and that hurts.”
Kio nodded slowly.
“And we certainly cannot forgive you for Michael's death, simply because his death was not your fault,” Dr. Simpson said, placing his hand on Kio's other hand. “I know it, my wife knows it, Michael would know it. You must know it as well.”
Kio nodded and the group stood.
“Would you like to take these?” Mrs. Simpson asked, motioning towards the PADDs.
Kio shook her head. “I have my own memories of Mike,” she said, looking at a picture of Mike in his dress uniform that hung on the Simpson's wall. “Besides,” she smiled, “there are likely some things in there I don't want to know.”
Mrs. Simpson smiled as she and Dr. Simpson escorted Kio to the door. Once there, Kio turned and hugged both.
“Lieutenant,” Dr. Simpson spoke, just before Kio activated the door.
“Yes sir?” she asked.
“Michael was very smart, despite his decision to become a soldier instead of a doctor,” Mrs. Simpson scowled at him. He ignored it and continued. “If he believed you are quality commander, then I am sure you are.”
Kio smiled. “Thank you.”
The doctor smiled at Kio as she turned and left the residence, finding Anthony exactly where she left him. The two Simpsons watched her walk down the pathway before shutting the door.
Once Kio had reached Anthony, she sat down on a stone step. Anthony sat down next to her. He turned to her, to see her both smiling and crying.
Kio turned and embraced Anthony. Anthony returned the embrace and let Kio cry into his shirt for a while. Finally, Kio spoke.
“Do I remind you of a cheerleader?”
STARDATE 61372 – 7 WEEKS AFTER RISA CONFERENCE
Ranma peered out the window of the crowded transport. He could see nothing but stars. The last time this happened he ended up with a cloaked ship, an overbearing Admiral, and in the hospital for almost two weeks.
They assured him that he was being assigned to a Federation ship. In fact, a majority of his crew was still intact; and based on the number of people crammed into this transport, all being transported at once.
“Shampoo no see ship,” Shampoo stated, squeezing between Ranma and Akane, echoing Ranma's thoughts.
Akane, none too happy to have Shampoo's breasts touching her husband, pushed her back. “We're still early.”
Shampoo growled, before being pulled back by an also growling Lt. Jansen. Ranma, not interested in being involved in THAT type of fight again, squeezed his way up towards the transport pilot.
“Ryouga?” he asked.
Indeed, marine Captain Ryouga was at the helm of the transport. “Yo.”
“Well, that explains it.” Ranma snarled.
“I'm on course, Captain,” Ryouga countered, pointing at the controls. “The ship is just not here.”
Ranma looked at the panel. As Ryouga indicated, the ship was indeed on course and was being piloted by the computer, so Ryouga's sense of direction was playing no part in his piloting.
Ranma sighed and began to move back towards the passengers when a bright flash of light appeared in front of them. The group suddenly found themselves face to face with a port nacelle.
The screams of the passengers were barely overheard by the proximity alarms going off. Ryouga managed to pull the ship away, keeping it from slamming into the engine.
“Jesus, who's piloting that thing?” Ranma asked.
“Not me!” Ryouga smirked.
“We're being hailed,” the co-pilot mentioned.
Ranma nodded and the transmission started. “Hey boy,” Genma's voice bellowed.
“Dammit pop,” Ranma scowled. “You nearly hit us.”
“Listen you little ingrate. I bring you a brand-new ship and this is how you treat me?”
“A lot of good a new ship will do me if I am dead.”
Genma snarled a bit before relenting. “Please dock in shuttle bay one, and then make your way to the bridge with your senior staff.”
The transmission ended. Ranma looked to Ryouga. “Can you back us up? I wanna take a look.”
Ryouga nodded and backed the transport off. Back and back. Ranma blinked a couple of times and then smiled broadly.
“She looks just like her,” Ranma finally said.
The all the passengers looked out every available window to see. Sitting before them was a ship, apparently right out of drydock. Spitting image of the U.S.S. Benjamin Sisko.
“Okay, let's dock,” Ranma ordered.
“I wonder if she's Akira class or Trinity class?” Minako pondered.
Ryouga and the co-pilot complied and brought the ship around to the aft side. As they passed the nacelle that nearly killed them, Ranma's grin grew. Painted on the top of the engine was the registry NX-74133.
“NX,” Shampoo grinned.
Akane took Ranma's hand.
Ranma and the remainder of the senior staff walked out onto the bridge. Ranma took in a deep breath and grinned. “Still has that new ship smell,” he stated.
The rest of the group agreed and followed him down to Genma who was standing next to the unoccupied helm station.
“IT WAS YOU?!” Ranma exclaimed.
“Shut up,” Genma ordered.
Ranma sighed and let it go. For now.
“Captain Ranma Saotome,” Genma began to read from his PADD. “By order of Starfleet Command, you are hereby requested and commanded to take command of the U.S.S. Nassau, NX-74133, Trinity Class starship; and her crew order dated 61372.”
Genma flipped to another PADD. “Furthermore, you are requested and commanded to take command of the NEO Special Operations Task Force, hereinafter known as NEO, to be assigned to U.S.S. Nassau, by order of Starfleet Command, dated 61372.”
Genma smiled at his son. Ranma smiled back. “I relieve you,” Ranma stated.
“I stand relieved.”
Genma transferred the authorization codes to Ranma before poking him in the chest. “Now don't go crashing this one. We aren't made of secret spaceships.”
Ranma smiled. “I'll do my best.”
Genma slowly began to walk away for Ranma started to speak again.
“Nassau is a nice name and everything...”
Genma laughed and tossed a PADD back to Ranma. “I knew you were going to say that.”
Ranma read the PADD. “From Starfleet Command, special authorization to change the name of the U.S.S. Nassau to USS Benjamin L. Sisko.”
Ranma turned to his father.
“I had them repaint the ship before I left. That's why I was late.”
Ranma smiled, walked up to his dad, and hugged him. “Thanks, pop.”
“You know I love ya, you ingrate.”
Genma pulled away from Ranma and walked to the turbolift. Ranma quickly turned in that direction.
“I never asked, now that Larson is gone, who is our oversight admiral?”
Genma smiled as the doors closed. “Me!”
“Oh,” Ranma nodded. He made it halfway down to his chair before stopping. “Wait, what?” He turned back towards the turbolift, but it was far too late. His father was long gone.
Shampoo smiled at him, as did Akane who was standing next to the captain's chair at the CONN. “Could be worse,” Akane smiled.
Ranma nodded. “I suppose.”
Shampoo turned to Ranma. “Last transports boarding now.”
Minako, who was fidgeting with the ring on her finger, noticed her panel beeping. Kaii turned to her. “You going to get that, or should I?” he asked.
Minako, still in happy bliss, waved at him. Kaii sighed and decided he would do it, simply to have a reason to get her to do something for him later.
“Captain, Starfleet needs us to respond to a distress call nearby. Klingon outpost is being attacked by Breen raiders,” Kaii reported.
Ranma nodded and turned to Shampoo.
“All crew on board, all transports and Admirals off,” she reported.
Ranma nodded. “Ensign Ikuhara, set a course, maximum warp.”
“Aye,” Ikuhara replied.
“The Sisko to the rescue,” Makoto stated.
“As it was, as it is, and as it always shall be,” Ranma stated.
“Course laid in,” Ikuhara stated.
Akane leaned into Ranma. “I think I'd like to have a baby.”
“Engage,” Ranma stated, before turning to Akane, his bottom jaw hitting the deck with a loud echoing clang.
The ship turned and shot off into a flash of light.