Ranma came walking back to the campsite she and Shampoo had set up. Ranma was both reading her tricorder and carrying an arm full of berries and assorted fruits she had found in the surrounding jungle, and nearly tripped and fell over.
Shampoo stuck her head out of the shelter she had built and chuckled.
“Ranma getting clumsy being on ship,” she teased.
“Quiet you,” Ranma grumbled. She walked up and dumped the fruits on the ground. “I probably should have gone back and got one of those crocs I beat up, but they might have gotten their friends by now.”
Shampoo picked up something that resembled a banana and sniffed it. “Is safe?”
Ranma nodded. “I scanned them.”
Shampoo nodded back, peeled the skin off, and took a bite. The look on her face shifted between disgust and the look you make when you bite into a lemon.
“Not good?” Ranma asked.
“Sour!” Shampoo scowled.
Ranma decided to try his luck with one of the fruits that looked like it should taste sour. After all, if a sweet-looking fruit was sour, logic would dictate that a sour-looking fruit would taste sweet.
Ranma nearly gagged on the horrid-tasting purple thing she bit into. Shampoo couldn't help but laugh as Ranma forced herself to endure it, rather than face hunger.
Ranma scoffed, though refused to look in Shampoo's direction; unwilling to show his purple-haired companion exactly how much agony he was going through. “I've eaten Akane's homemade curry. This ain't nothing.”
Shampoo giggled a bit more before finishing her own fruit, as well as some of the nuts and berries that Ranma had brought. Once finished the pair washed down the vile taste with some of their water rations.
“So, you figure out where we are?” Shampoo asked after they finished.
Ranma shook her head. “No. And I didn't pick up any human bio signs either,” she sighed. “I'm assuming they are just out of range of my tricorder.”
Shampoo scooted closer to Ranma and put her hand on her CO's shoulder and smiled warmly. “I sure Akane is alright.”
Ranma smiled back, albeit half-heartedly. “She's tough. I am sure she's doing fine.”
The pair sat and ate the horrible food, their faces contorting wildly, as the sun began to set and a glowing, gas giant planet with rings began to rise off the opposite horizon.
“Wow,” Shampoo commented.
Ranma nodded. “Looks like Yaholo 4.”
Shampoo blinked. “Maybe it is?”
Ranma looked to Shampoo. “You think our transporter signal was bounced nearly one and a half light years?”
Shampoo shrugs as she takes a sip of water. “Stranger things have happen.”
Ranma had to agree with that. She leaned back and watched the planet for a bit, the light shining off it almost making it as bright as the sun had. After a few moments, she turned to Shampoo.
Shampoo dropped her green-black apple thing and turned to Ranma. “What?”
“How are things? How are you?”
Shampoo slowly picked up the fruit again before pondering the question. She took a bite- this fruit not seeming as bitter – then meekly shrugged. “Life good.”
Ranma seemed a bit confused by Shampoo's sudden shyness. “What's wrong?”
“Just confused by sudden interest,” she stated. “Ranma just making conversation?”
“No,” Ranma shook her head. “I told you before that I wasn't going to wait till things were bad before stepping in, so I want to chat occasionally to make sure that things are good for you.”
Shampoo eyed Ranma for a moment. “You confuse Shampoo.”
Ranma blinked. “How?”
“You no love Shampoo, yet you do act like you do sometimes.”
Ranma sighed. “You have to understand, I cannot love you, Shampoo, while still caring about you.”
Shampoo eyed Ranma intently as she spoke.
“You're my right-hand man, uh, girl. You are my friend. And most importantly, you're Shampoo, and you and I will always have a bond which will never be like the bond Akane and I have, it will be a bond of loyalty that I have to you, and I hope you have to me,” Ranma finished, taking Shampoo's hand.
Shampoo felt tears come to her eyes as she glommed on to Ranma. “I sorry.”
Ranma smiled as she hugged Shampoo back. “Well, maybe now Akane will appear.”
Ranma looked around.
“Ah, there was always hope,” Ranma sighed, as she hugged Shampoo a bit more.
Minako eyed some stew that was boiling in a crudely made wooden bowl. She sniffed it. The pungent smell knocked her flat on her back. The blonde operations officer slowly staggered to her knees and looked over to Akane, who was making more firewood, chopping it with a look of sheer hatred on her face.
“RANMA!” Akane screamed as she chopped the firewood into smaller shards.
“Commander?” Minako called.
Akane set up some more wood. “RANMAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Akane turned to Minako who had walked over to her. Akane began to gather the firewood as she spoke.
“Yeah?” she asked, in a complete reversal of moods.
“Is something wrong?” Minako asked.
Akane shook her head, still smiling. “No, why?”
“Well, you just seemed, well, infuriated at that firewood, and you were screaming the XO's name when you chopped it.”
Akane laughed. “Oh, that.” She went to the fire and dumped the wood on it. She then sat down next to it, leaning back. “Well, you ever just have a feeling like something 'bad' is going on?”
“Well, I just had a feeling like I should be angry with my husband for some reason,” Akane laughed. “I am sure it's nothing.”
Minako nodded, not really having a clue what Akane was talking about, and looked back at the stew.
Akane looked at it too. “I bet dinner is ready.”
The pair grabbed a couple of small bowls they made from wood.
“It sure is lucky you had that survival kit with you,” Akane mentioned.
Minako nodded, pulling out her trusty Federation issue Swiss Army Knife. “Never leave home without it.”
Akane scooped out a portion for them both. After saying a small thanks, both ate some of the stew.
Minako was the first to regain consciousness a little over an hour later. By then, the sun was on its way down and the pair were getting their first view of the yellow gas giant with rings that they were orbiting.
That was not Minako's first concern though.
“OH MY GOD I CAN'T SEE!!!!” she shrieked.
Minako, still lying flat on her back, began flailing around. Her blindness was only temporary though, as her vision quickly began to come back. She sat up and looked around, seeing that a wolf-looking creature had apparently attempted to loot their campsite while they were unconscious.
Unfortunately for him, however, he had decided to loot the stew first.
Minako walked over to Akane and shook her.
“Akane! Wake up.”
Akane began to stir. Much like Minako, waking up blind was quite a shock, but it wore off as well. Minako pointed to the wolf and the pair decided that rather than deal with the stew again, they would simply finish off the wolf and eat it.
As a couple of hours of time passed, the pair decided to turn in for the night. Minako had decided that searching for the others would best be done at the beginning of a new day, and Akane concurred.
Before crawling into their makeshift lean-to, the girls laced the perimeter of the campsite with the toxic stew. Akane decided to blame the horrid taste and blinding effects on the exotic ingredients, rather than anything she did.
After all, she had never actually HARMED anyone with her cooking.
At least not THAT bad.
Minako rolled around a bit on her jacket. “It's not so much that I hate sleeping fully clothed, it's just that I hate sleeping with my boots on.”
Akane chuckled and nodded from her spot next to Minako. “I feel the same way. Though if we have to split quickly...”
“...Yeah,” Minako nodded, bunching her jacket up into a makeshift pillow. The blonde girl yawned then rolled over to face Akane. “Do you mind if I ask you something?”
Akane rolled to face Minako. “No, what is it?”
Minako blushed slightly as she bit her lip. “Well, you've known Ryouga a lot longer than I have. What's he REALLY like?”
Akane smiled. This caused Minako to blush even more. “Ryouga’s a really nice guy.”
“I know that,” Minako complained. “But... Who is he?”
Akane thought about this for a moment. “He's very loyal, determined, he can be confident, but also very shy at times,” Akane started to laugh, which drew a strange look from Minako. “He's quite, uh, eccentric.”
Akane nodded, laughing, thinking of all the destroyed walls back in Nerima.
“But you said loyal too...” Minako trailed off.
Akane nodded. “If he's dedicated to someone, it will be hard to break that bond.”
Minako rolled back onto her back, remembering Ryouga’s crush on Akane. That was different though, Akane rejected him, he had no choice but to move on.
“You okay?” Akane asked.
Minako nodded. “Yes, thanks,” Minako smiled, turning back to Akane. “I’m just overthinking a lot of stuff.”
Akane laughed. “What’s to overthink?” She turned to the sky herself. “You think Ryouga has any interest in Bajoran artifacts?”
Akane chuckled some more. “He loves you THAT much.” Akane turned away from Minako and closed her eyes. “You’re lucky. That husband of mine refuses to go to the ballet with me without turning himself into a girl. He’s scared people will see him and think he’s gay or some nonsense.”
Minako continued to look at the top of their shelter for a while, deep thoughts swirling around in her head till she finally fell asleep.
Ryouga dove at the pond that he and Jeff had come across, however a quick grab at the back of his uniform shirt had stopped him.
“LET GO! I'M THIRSTY!!!” Ryouga squawked.
“Do you really want to spend the rest of your time on this planet as a little piggy?” Jeff asked.
Ryouga stopped trying to run into the pond. “Oh yeah.” Jeff pointed to some coconut-looking things in a tree.
“If you can get those things down, we can make cups. I'll scan the water as well to make sure it won't kill us,” Jeff told Ryouga.
“Who put you in charge?” Ryouga asked.
Jeff sighed. “I'm a psychiatrist. Do you really think I can climb a tree?”
“Don't you go through the same basic training as the rest of us?” Ryouga protested.
“Yes, but that was twenty years ago.”
Ryouga sighed and relented. “Fine. But I am only doing this because I pity you. I hope you can live with that on your conscience.”
Jeff nodded and then moved off towards the pond. “Yeah, I don't have a problem with it at all.”
As Jeff begins to run his scans, he hears “BAKUSAI TENKETSU!!!!” Jeff turns to see a white flash of light, then fragments of the tree flying in his direction.
“WHAT THE-” he yells before being forced to dive into the water to avoid being hit by a large fragment of the trunk of the tree.
A moment later, Ryouga walked over to where Jeff was pulling himself out of the pond. Ryouga sets a couple of the coconuts on the ground and chops them in half, creating four cups. He looks to Jeff.
“I see you can dive into the water, but I can't.”
Jeff glared at Ryouga.
“Is the water safe?”
Jeff looked at his tricorder as water dripped off him. He turned back to Ryouga and nodded, all the while keeping the angry glare on his face.
“Okay then,” Ryouga stated, taking two of the coconut halves and scooping some water out, and then drinking it. “Ooo, this water is cold!” Ryouga commented. “You might want to start a fire so you don't get sick.”
“VIRUSES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!” Jeff screamed, knocking Ryouga over backward. Jeff stood up, grabbed a couple of coconut halves full of water, and made his way over to what was left of the tree Ryouga destroyed.
Jeff spent the next fifteen or so minutes attempting to start a fire. Eventually, he was successful. Once that task was complete, he began to start working on his tricorder. Ryouga, who was still drinking water, turned to him.
“What are you doing?” Ryouga asked.
Jeff, who was less angry now that he was starting to dry off, turned to him. “I am setting up my tricorder to emit a distress call. Hopefully either the Sisko passing overhead, or at a minimum, the others will get it and we can at least be all grouped together again.”
“So, you don't know how to climb a tree, but you know how to do that?” Ryouga smirked.
Jeff shrugged. “You don't either, apparently. You blew it up.”
Ryouga smiled. “I could have climbed it. This was just easier.”
Jeff smiled back. “I guess that's fair.” After a couple of minutes, the tricorder began to beep. “Okay, it's going. I guess all we do now is wait.”
“Someone has to be looking for us though,” Ryouga sighed.
“Of course they're looking for us,” Jeff growled. “A third of the command staff is down here.”
“What if they find them, but not us?!” Ryouga asked, worriedly.
Jeff sighed, shaking his head. “Well then, we're fucked. Starfleet doesn't care about lowly lieutenants.”
Ryouga began cursing to himself as Jeff sighed and began to eat some candy he had stored away in his pocket.