The large silver container had materialized in the middle of sickbay scaring the living wits out of half the staff. The doctors and medics in the room looked at it for a moment. It was covered in ice.
One of the medics made the mistake of touching it. He jerked his hand back.
“COLD!” he exclaimed.
“Probably why it’s covered in ice,” another added.
The first looked at him with a ‘well duh’ look on his face.
The medics continued to check out the mystery container for a few moments. Some tried to scan it, but their tricorders weren’t able to scan through the protective shielding.
Soon it didn’t matter as they had a new distraction to look at.
Sickbay’s doors slid open and fifteen armed security officers came rushing in. The officers all moved the medics against the walls of sickbay. They then took up defensive positions around the container.
Akane rushed in a few moments later. She attempted to run up to the container but was grabbed and held back by one of the officers.
“Let me go,” Akane ordered.
“I’m sorry Commander,” the officer replied, moving Akane over to where the other medics were at. “We don’t know who or what is in there. We need to make sure it’s safe first.”
Akane did not like it, but she stayed put for the time being.
One of the guards up close to the container moved in and ran a quick scan on the control panel.
“It’s fused,” he reported.
Another nodded and opened a case he was carrying. He pulled out a small container of putty-like material. He then lined the perimeter of the opening with it.
“You can’t blow it open!” Akane protested. “You’ll kill them!”
The guard finished his work and backed up.
“No, I won’t,” he replied to Akane.
The guard set down his phaser rifle and pulled out his smaller type II phaser. He took aim and fired, hitting the tip of the putty ring.
The putty then began to fizzle.
“FIRE IN THE HOLE!” he yelled. All the guards that were closest to the container ducked and covered.
BOOM! The putty ignited and caused a small, controlled explosion. Sickbay began to fill with smoke as the guards moved up close. One managed to slip his fingers in the small space between the hatch of the container and the container itself. He pulled.
The hatch of the container pulled off.
The guards aimed their rifles.
“Nabiki and Kasumi Tendo?” the lead guard asked.
Nabiki weakly nodded. The guards lowered their weapons and looked over to the medics.
“Better get over here,” the lead guard stated.
The medics rushed over and quickly pulled Nabiki and Kasumi from the container. They were both weak and shivering. Outside of that though, they looked no worse for the wear.
Akane rushed over to the biobed Kasumi was being loaded onto. Kasumi smiled when she saw her sister.
“Hello Akane,” she softly said.
Akane had tears running down her face.
“K-Kasumi,” she grabbed her sister and embraced her. After a few moments, she pulled away and turned to the other biobed.
She walked over and grabbed Nabiki’s hand.
Nabiki looked up and grinned.
Akane continued to cry as she grabbed Nabiki tight and hugged her. She did not want to let go. She never wanted something like this to happen again.
“Are you two okay?” Akane finally asked.
Nabiki weakly chuckled. “I will be as long as the insurance on the ship is paid up.”
Akane laughed as well. She looked to one of the doctors running a scan on Nabiki.
“Well?” Akane asked him.
“They’re very dehydrated. They are also suffering from minor hypothermia. If that container had not been airtight, they would have frozen to death.”
Akane nodded and walked over to the medicine storage. She pulled out two hypospray cartridges and moves back to her sisters. She inserts one into a hypo and injects Nabiki.
“This will help re-hydrate you,” she said in between sobs.
Akane moved over and was about to inject Kasumi when one of the doctors took the spray away from her.
“We can handle this, Commander,” he stated. “I am sure you’d rather be their sister right now, not their doctor.”
Akane smiled and nodded. She walked over to Kasumi and took her hand.
“I knew you’d come and get us,” Kasumi grinned.
Akane grinned. “Ranma saved you.”
“You let them get away?” Admiral Larson nearly screamed.
Ranma was still not himself yet. The whole ordeal had left him shaken. Nothing had ever been able to do this to him, and he had been through a lot.
Not just in his life before Starfleet. In his career on starships, he had looked death square in the face more than once. Each time he had walked away the victor, even if it had been a close call.
The thought of him dying did not bother him.
It was the thought of her.
He had allowed his emotions to cloud his judgment. He knew damned well that he should have fired on the ship, regardless of whether Kasumi and Nabiki were on board.
He hadn’t and now many more could be killed.
But he didn’t know them – their deaths wouldn’t have hurt Akane, and somehow, at the time, that justified not ordering the Nerima destroyed.
Ranma tried to pull his head out of the dark clouds hanging over him and respond to the admiral.
“We’re pursuing them now. We’d have overtaken them already, but they seem to have modified their engines,” Ranma stated. He tried to swallow the lump in his throat. “They’re heading to Vulcan at warp 8.78.”
Ranma looked at a PADD Kaii had brought him.
“Six minutes till they reach Vulcan,” Ranma paused and reluctantly finished. “Six minutes till we are within weapons range.”
Larson shook his head and put his head in his hands.
“I gave you a direct order to destroy that ship.”
Ranma gulped again. “I wasn’t sure if the hostages-“
Larson wouldn’t let him finish.
“THE HOSTAGES WERE NOT THE PRIORITY.”
Larson inhaled deeply and regained his composure. “The sixth fleet in en route, but they won’t be there for twenty minutes. I have the Vulcan’s scrambling as many ships as they can, but most of their battleships are with the sixth fleet.
“Captain, I will be perfectly blunt with you. If that ship completes its mission, there will be hell to pay. Starfleet Command will hold YOU personally responsible for every dead Vulcan.”
Ranma nodded but didn’t say anything.
“Have Commander Shampoo debrief the hostages right now,” Larson further ordered.
“Sir, Commander Shampoo has been relieved from duty,” Ranma softly stated.
“WHAT?” Larson yelled again. “WHY?”
Ranma looked towards his window, then back to Larson. “It’s a long story sir, but Commander Aino is acting XO.”
Larson threw his hands up in frustration. As days went this could certifiably be his very worst. “Well, whatever. Have her do it.”
“Yes sir,” Ranma nodded. He paused for a moment and then continued.
“I said I would stop that ship and I will.”
Larson just shook his head. “You’d better; otherwise, your career is over.”
Larson closed the communication. Ranma just looked at the screen for a moment, and then stood. He looked at the glass frame that contained his medal of valor medal from his last mission.
Ranma picked it up, looked at it for a moment longer, and then threw it against the wall.
The frame smashed into hundreds of pieces. Ranma clenched his fists and walked out onto the bridge.
“Commander,” He said as he saw Rei standing next to Minako. Rei marched right up to him.
“Sir, Chief Yuki is still onboard the target ship.”
Ranma cocked his head. “Is she alive?”
“She was when I was beamed off.”
“Why wasn’t she transported as well?”
“She was inside one of the containers,” Rei explained. “She was attempting to adjust the tricorders so that they could scan the through them. She was trying to find the hostages.
“I assume that the transporters scanners couldn’t pick her up because the containers were shielded.”
Ranma was ready to pull his hair out.
“Time to intercept?” he asked.
“Two minutes,” Kaii replied.
“Can we get any more speed?”
Usagi popped her head out of her cubbyhole.
“We’re barely maintaining the speed we have. If we push the engines anymore, they could overload.”
Ranma inhaled deeply. He looked up to Minako. “Admiral Larson wants you to debrief the hostages.”
Rei looked to Minako, and then to Ranma.
“Sir, I can do it. Minako’s place is on the bridge right now.”
Ranma looked at them both and then nodded to Rei.
Rei turned and began to go to the turbolift. Ranma called out after her.
“I will do everything I can to get her back.”
Rei smiled and nodded as the lift doors closed.
T’Sol looked to the second Vulcan on the bridge of the Nerima and smiled.
“Two more minutes and we will have completed our mission, Valen.”
“The Federation ship is still in pursuit, but they won’t overtake us in time. There are about thirty other Federation and Vulcan ships on an intercept course, but they won’t make it in time,” Valen stated.
“How about around the planet?”
Valen looked at his panel. “Three frigates, but I doubt very much they will be able to follow us into the atmosphere.”
T’Sol grinned. “Success is assured.”
Valen nodded somewhat halfheartedly while keeping his eyes on the security panel.
“What is it?”
Valen looked up. “They left a human female behind.”
T’Sol raised an eyebrow in typical Vulcan style. He then walked up next to his friend.
“What do you think she’s up to?” Valen pondered.
T’Sol scratched his head. “It doesn’t really matter anymore.”
Valen turned to T’Sol. “You do realize that she is probably armed and could very easily detonate the explosives before we reach the planet.”
T’Sol did realize this. He did not really think that a human of all races would be selfless enough to kill themselves just to stop them. But then again, humans were emotional and unpredictable. Anything could happen.
“I guess we need to go and kill her before she gets the chance,” T’Sol stated.
Valen looked to the helm control.
“Once we beam out there, we can’t get back in here.”
“Don’t worry about it, friend. We’ll drop out of warp well within the planet’s gravity well. The ship will drop down on its own.”
Valen nodded at T’Sol’s explanation and grabbed his plasma rifle. He and T’Sol walked over to a transport station in the corner of the bridge and beamed the pair back into the cargo bay.
Kio grumbled a low grumble. She had now scanned all forty-nine cargo containers and not even one of them had life signs in them.
This could only mean one thing. Either the hostages had already been rescued – or they were dead.
Either way, it really did not seem to matter anymore. The ship was at warp and headed for her destination. Kio had no idea where that was; for that fact, she had no idea where she was.
What she did know though was that she still had a mission to do. She was going to have to stop the ship. While shutting down the engines would not work, she had found that the engine room had now been sealed off like the bridge was, it would still be a relatively easy task.
All that would be necessary was to detonate one container of the explosives. The remaining containers would rupture and detonate sending the ship in a million different directions.
Kio walked back to the front of the ship and looked at the transparent aluminum containers holding the silver liquid. It looked somewhat like mercury.
She picked up the container and jiggled it a bit. It sloshed around like mercury as well, with a very metallic flow.
She was amazed. The container only held about 10 kilos of the liquid, yet it was enough to destroy a large building.
She had a hard time imagining how anyone could think this would be used for mining.
Kio sighed and set the container down on the ground. She walked over and picked up the other three containers – one at a time and carried them over to where the first one was set.
Kio carefully lined them up. She was going to put one shot through them with her hybrid pistol. The phased charged projective would go through all four containers, igniting the liquid explosives.
The containers would explode with such force that all the other containers would be blown open – their contents igniting.
Destroying the ship.
Once Kio had completed her alignment she sat down against the wall, on the floor. She snapped the strap holding the pistol in its holster. She pulled the gun out and took aim.
Her finger approached the trigger.
She closed her eyes. She whispered to herself.
“Nick. I’m coming.”
Suddenly Kio felt a burning in her arm. She slowly turned to see T’Sol standing ten meters from her, his phaser looking down on her.
“What the hell are you thinking?” T’Sol asked as Kio dropped her gun and grabbed her arm in pain.
Valen quickly swooped in and kicked the gun away. He then kicked Kio, hard, in the stomach. He pointed his phaser at her.
Kio looked up to T’Sol and spat some blood that had made its way into her mouth.
“I won’t let you do whatever you’re doing,” she grumbled.
T’Sol let out a boisterous laugh as he walked over to Kio. He squatted down to the ground to look at her closely.
Kio refused to make eye contact with T’Sol. She simply eyed the explosives as the Vulcan taunted her.
“Say what you want about humans, but on some level, you have to admire their tenacity. She doesn’t even know what we’re doing and yet she’s bound to stop us.”
“I have orders,” Kio softly responded.
“Orders?” T’Sol stood. “Orders from the ship that abandoned you?” T’Sol began to pace around Kio.
“You know, they had the chance to destroy us. But they chose not to. Either because of you or because of the hostages, someone on that ship allowed their emotions to override good judgment.”
T’Sol smiled as he walked towards the explosives.
“And because of that, thousands are going to die, and the Vulcans will declare war on the Federation.”
Kio looked up at T’Sol. The look on her face was somewhere between anger and confusion.
“Within five minutes we will drop out of warp within 60 kilometers of Vulcan. The ship will then plummet to the surface. Upon contact, the ship will explode and thousands of my people will be martyred. In the end, though, the Vulcan people will once again be strong and no longer forced to serve as dogs; following in the shadows of humans.”
Kio shook her head, as she pulled herself to her feet. Valen moved closer to her, his phaser pointed right at her.
“You’re insane. How will THAT start a war?”
“Typical that you know nothing about my people,” T’Sol stated. “While we are logical, and we repress our emotions; we won’t be scorned. It will be obvious that a human ship carried out a terrorist attack. As a bonus, they will hear of the great Federation ship that allowed this to happen by not destroying us when they had the chance.”
“The Sisko WILL stop you,” Kio defiantly growled.
“The Sisko? Your ship is too far behind. We will be out of warp for at least thirty seconds before they arrive. By then we’ll already be in the atmosphere.” T’Sol explained.
T’Sol laughed somewhat maniacally. Kio growled at him and dove at him.
T’Sol was knocked to the floor. Kio took her elbow and hit him square in the nose, smashing it, causing green blood to spurt out. T’Sol dropped his weapon. It clanged on the deck and Kio dove at it.
She made it about two meters before she felt a burning sensation pulse through her back. She collapsed and looked up at Valen who once again was standing over her with his phaser to bear.
Kio groaned in pain and frustration as she attempted to pull herself up to her knees.
T’Sol covered his nose and stood. He promptly went over and kicked Kio. Hard. She screamed as T’Sol’s foot smashed across her face. She screamed again as T’Sol, with a look of rage never seen on a Vulcan, kicked her in her stomach.
T’Sol reached down and pulled Kio to her feet by her hair. He then effortlessly flung her ten meters down the cargo bay.
Kio screamed upon slamming into the cold metal deck. She slid to a stop and whimpered in pain as she lay on the deck. T’Sol began to move towards her. Tears came to her eyes as T’Sol once again pulled her up and threw her farther down the bay. Kio slammed into the cargo containers and slid to the deck, like a rag doll being thrown into a wall.
T’Sol looked back to Valen as the pair felt the ship drop out of warp. T’Sol gave Valen a nod. Valen pulled the trigger on his phaser. The blast struck Kio dead center in her chest. She let out a muffled scream.
The two Vulcans then moved to the front of the cargo bay. They both sat down and inhaled deeply.
With the last threat dead, they decided they would spend their last few moments in meditation.
However, they underestimated Kio and the equipment she was wearing. They did not hear Kio groan as the ship began to rumble as it entered the atmosphere of Vulcan.
Kio gently pulled herself to her knees. She felt the rumbling of the ship. She knew what was happening outside. Part of her wanted to just lie down and allow death to come.
But this part of her wasn’t the strongest part.
*I have faith in you,* The voices of all the people who had told her that echoed through her head. She would not – no she could not allow all those people to feel like fools because she had let them down.
She still had some time. Detonating the ship in the atmosphere could still kill many people, but not as many as detonation into a highly-populated area.
Kio stumbled to her feet and quickly moved down the corridor. The two Vulcans were in deep meditation. The sound of her movement could not compete with the rumbling of the ship moving into the upper atmosphere.
Kio spied the clear containers. They had all fallen over and were rolling around. She knew she did not have time to set them back up. She would need another way to detonate all four at once.
She realized that she still had her type one phaser. She quickly picked up the containers and placed the in the corner. She hit some buttons on her phaser and set it down next to the containers.
She then sat down, closed her eyes, and cried.
The display on the phaser began to blink.
“THEY’RE STILL AT WARP!” Kaii screamed.
“They want to avoid any resistance,” Ranma noted. “They will probably come out of warp on top of the planet.”
“Ryouga keep us in warp as long as possible,” Minako ordered.
Ryouga nodded and kept an eye on the console.
35 seconds and they would be in weapons range.
Unfortunately, it was only 20 seconds to Vulcan.
“THEY’VE DROP OUT!” Kaii screamed. “54 KILOMETERS FROM THE ATMOSPHERE.”
Ranma stood. “MATCH RYOUGA!”
“RANGE?” Minako asked.
“Ten seconds,” Makoto replied.
“Anyone else have them in range?” Ranma asked.
“No. They’ve entered the atmosphere,” Kaii responded.
The Sisko dropped out of warp. They could see the Nerima begin to glow as it entered the atmosphere.
“FIRE!” Ranma screamed.
Makoto hit the button on her terminal. It buzzed at her.
“I can’t lock!” Makoto replied.
Ranma ran down to Ryouga. “FOLLOW THEM! FULL IMPULSE!”
“Into the atmosphere?!” Ryouga screeched.
“YES! CATCH THAT FUCKING SHIP!” Ranma yelled back.
Ryouga hit the impulse engines and the Sisko zipped into Vulcan’s atmosphere.
“Makoto?” Minako asked.
“I can’t lock. Get me within 10,000 meters and I won’t need a lock.”
Ranma stared at the ship as alarms began to sound.
“FORWARD HULL TEMP 2,000 DEGREES!” Kaii stated.
“Forward shields to maximum,” Minako ordered.
The second operations officer piped up. “I have one human bio-sign on board.”
Makoto spoke at the same time. “Five more seconds.”
Ranma looked to both. Everything got dead quiet. The ship was shaking violently, alarms were sounding, people were screeching, but Ranma couldn’t hear any of it.
He couldn’t let the person who had tried to save Akane’s sisters; the person, who had in the process saved Akane, die like this.
“Beam her aboard,” Ranma ordered.
Everyone stopped speaking. Minako looked at him. “If we lower the shields-“
Ranma turned to Kaii. “BEAM HER ABOARD NOW!”
Kaii nodded and began the process.
The shields dropped and even more alarms went off. Ducts and panels exploded. Ranma turned to Makoto.
“Fire,” He dryly stated.
Makoto fired one torpedo.
The torpedo sailed out of the Sisko’s forward tube and went right past the Nerima.
“AGAIN!” Ranma ordered.
It became unnecessary as Kaii screamed.
“THE SHIP IS EXPLODING!”
“PULL UP!!” Minako screamed to Ryouga.
“VENTRAL HULL PLATING FAILING! ARMOR IS GONE!”
An enormous explosion hit the Sisko dead on. The Sisko was assisted out of the Vulcan atmosphere by the explosion.
The Sisko’s nacelles are blown clean off their moorings. The ventral side of the ship has pieces of hull blown off it. Debris was blown from the Sisko.
Main power on the ship died as explosions could be felt rocking the ship. One of the now detached nacelles exploded, rocking the Sisko back in the direction of the planet.
“HULL BREACHES!” Kaii screamed.
“Did we get her?” Ranma asked.
No one answered him.
Ryouga finally managed to get the Sisko under control and pulled her into orbit. Several Vulcan ships swooped in on her.
“DAMAGE?” Minako yelled.
“The Vulcan’s are hailing us,” The second ops officer stated.
“Did we get her?” Ranma asked again.
“Multiple hull breaches,” Kaii stated.
“Saotome to sickbay,” Ranma stated into his communicator.
“They want to know if we need assistance,”
Minako turned and saw Ranma talking into his communicator. She then turned and saw a damage control team using an extinguisher to put out a fire. She looked to the port side of the bridge as she saw a support beam dangling and eventually falling to the deck. She turned behind them and looked at the master situation display. The entire bottom six decks of the ship were flashing red. The rest of the ship was solid red, orange, or yellow.
The nacelles did not even show up on the display. They were colored black.
“Yeah, we do,” Minako replied.
Kio kept crying as she watched the overload display on her phaser blink faster and faster and faster. She blinked once, and the phaser detonated.
A white flash of light overcame her. She closed her eyes, ready to accept her fate.
When she opened her eyes, she assumed she was dead. She became disappointed when she realized that heaven looked an awful lot like transporter room two.
Kio was knocked off the pad as the Sisko was rocked violently. The ship was rocked again, and she was thrown into a wall. She closed her eyes and slid to the floor.
“Chief?” a male voice that she could barely hear due to the ringing in her ears called out to her.
Kio opened her eyes slightly and saw the transporter chief, Chief Malcolm, standing over her.
“Wha?” She whimpered. She had heard about Chief Malcolm. If he was here, she must have been in hell. It did not really seem fair; all that she had done for humanity she still ended up with eternal damnation.
“Malcolm to sickbay. I need EMTs in transporter room two immediately.”
“Where am I?” Kio managed to whimper.
Malcolm went to his knees next to her and began to scan her with a tricorder. He shuddered when he saw the results. She was in bad shape.
“Chief, you’re back on the Sisko.”
Kio looked up at Malcolm. Tears began to fall down her face. Malcolm reached out to her. She accepted his embrace. She cried profusely in his arms until a pair of medical officers came in.
On the planet below people looked up at the amazing flash of light in the sky. Behind the flash was a red glowing streak. The streak continued to approach the ground. Inside the Vulcan Ground Defense Center, a military officer stood and turned to his superiors.
“The ship has been destroyed,” he informed them.
The Vulcan in charge almost showed emotion as he sighed in relief. Another Vulcan stood and began to yell.
“WE HAVE AN INCOMING TORPEDO!”
“Shoot it down,” the lead officer ordered.
On the ground, in the middle of a desert, the ground opened, and a phase cannon came out. It spun around and took aim at the streak as it came hurtling towards the ground.
The cannons fired.
The torpedo slammed into the ground six kilometers from a small village. The massive explosion flattened everything within 10 kilometers.
Including the village.