Captain’s Log – Stardate 60519.2. It has finally happened. I have reached the age where birthdays are no longer fun. I spent the entire day watching a mouse caper around in a feeble attempt to make a group of Bajoran children laugh.
Ranma shuddered at the memories the mouse gave him. He shuddered again as the memories of the mouse singing him happy birthday resurfaced.
Ranma flushed the nightmarish thoughts out of his head, and he looked back at his bed. Akane was laying on it, still fully dressed, sleeping away. Ranma smiled.
Akane and I are going back to the station later this evening for a more formal dinner. Her sisters will be here in a little under a day. It will be good to see them again. Looking forward to seeing if Kasumi will make some of her soufflés before she leaves.
Ranma scoffs at himself.
And not looking forward to seeing how much money Nabiki will manage to get out of me.
Ranma stands and removes his shirt. The increase in his muscle mass is very noticeable. The last few missions have given him quite the workout. He has also made a habit of getting back to the gym and working out daily, something that he had allowed to slip previously.
Ranma continued his log as he walked into the bathroom.
On a more professional note, I am still trying to get used to my new ship. Technically it is the same ship, but you would be hard-pressed to find something on board that hasn’t changed. There have been so many changes that Starfleet even changed the class. It has made my bartender a bit sad, as he enjoyed having a ship class named after him, but he will get over it.
Commander Hino seems to be settling into her new position nicely. She has been running drills daily with her group. From what she has reported she has the Neo Special Operations Team running like clockwork.
As she should. Starfleet has given her every resource that she could possibly need, including devoting an entire four decks of the ship to her group.
Ranma takes off his pants and sets them on a clothes hamper. He walks to the shower and turns on the cold-water faucet. After a couple of moments, he checks it to make sure it is cold enough and steps in.
Instantly Ranma converts to his female self. After wetting down her hair thoroughly she steps out. Female Ranma slides on a one-piece sports swimsuit as she finishes her log.
Once our personal time is complete here at Deep Space Nine, we are scheduled to head back to Earth. Commander Hino’s group is scheduled for some planetary training with the Earth Land Defense Forces. I have also scheduled Commander Kino’s security forces to receive some upgraded infantry training as well.
Everything, operationally, is okay right now. Assuming Ryouga will be able to back us away from the station without causing major damage we should have no problems.
“End log,” Ranma orders as she puts on a black bathrobe over her suit and picks up a towel.
The computer chirps and Ranma turns to Akane.
“Akane?” Ranma softly says.
Akane stirs slightly and turns towards Ranma’s voice.
“Yeah?” She sleepily asks, without opening her eyes.
“I am going to go for a swim. I’ll be back in about an hour.”
“Okay,” Akane mumbles as she drifts back off to sleep. Ranma smiles, walks over to his wife, and kisses her on the cheek.
Akane smiles in her sleep as Ranma walks out the door and into the hallway.
Ranma proceeds down the blah-grey corridor of deck two.
Ranma did not really care for all the grey the ship was coated in now. It was once a nice cream-colored interior with the black computer consoles on the wall.
Now it was grey. The lighting was not all that great either. It was far dimmer than the lighting was before. All the lights were built into the walls towards the ceiling. The grey walls did not provide for much reflection.
Ranma eyed the names on the doors as he walked by. Shampoo’s quarters were only a section down from his. There were also the quarters of a few other bridge officers.
One of the changes Ranma liked.
His quarters were moved from deck four to deck two, making it much easier for him to get to the bridge quickly. He was also able to make it back to his quarters quickly after a stressful day on the bridge. It was a win-win situation.
Ranma reached the turbolift and hit the call button. Usually, he didn’t have to wait long for a car to descend the one deck from the bridge to deck two, but this time he was stuck waiting for almost a minute.
Once the lift got there and the doors opened Ranma was greeted with a strong odor.
Shampoo giggled as she saw Ranma standing there waiting.
Ranma nodded at Shampoo. “Afternoon, Shampoo. How are you?”
Shampoo thought about this for a second.
“Shampoo okay.” She sized Ranma up for a second and continued. “Why Ranma a girl?”
Ranma groaned. He really disliked being in his female form.
“I am going swimming. Since it will turn me into a girl, I just get it over within the privacy of my own quarters,” she explains.
“Ranma want company? Shampoo don’t start work till 14:00.”
Ranma shifted uncomfortably.
“I am just going to work out, not really socialize. I wouldn’t be much fun,” she stated quietly. “Sorry.”
Shampoo grinned. “Is okay, Ranma!” She steps off the lift and allows Ranma to get on.
Ranma smiles at her as the lift doors closed.
After the doors close Shampoo loses the smile that she forced upon herself. She takes a moment, wipes some moisture out of her eye, and walks towards her quarters.
“Deck 16, pool,” Ranma tells the lift. It complies and begins its both vertical and horizontal trip down to the Olympic-sized pool near the deck 16 gym.
Ranma groaned with displeasure as he looked at the interior of the grey turbolift car. He had three weeks to get used to the color of the ship, but he had not.
There were a lot of things he hadn’t gotten used to yet. The new bridge, the total isolation of a group he was supposed to be the captain of, the fact that there was NOTHING for his ship to do unless it was needed for some mission.
He hated the old mission. Running up and down the Cardassian/Federation border but he hated doing nothing even more.
As far as he knew he didn’t even have an area he was supposed to be patrolling while waiting for a mission.
He hated having too much time on his hands.
It was good for him though. He and Akane had gotten to spend a lot more quality time together. His boredom had him working out more often and getting himself into better shape.
He had gotten to spend some time in engineering with Lt. Devall and learn a lot about the new engines and about cloaking technology. He was upset that the Sisko wasn’t equipped with one, but he understood why.
The Treaty of Algeron forbids cloaking devices on Federation ships. It was only recently that the treaty was changed to allow for cloaking devices on ships traveling in the Gamma Quadrant. Starfleet apparently assumed no mission would ever be there for the Sisko.
The lift finally comes to a stop and the doors open. Ranma walks out and down the hall to a set of large doors. He walks in to find the pool empty.
He sighs at the gray walls and sets his robe down on a chair. He picks up a towel and places it next to the pool. Ranma inhales deeply, dives in, and proceeds to fiercely swim lap after lap.
“It doesn’t seem to be broken, Commander,” a medic in sickbay informs Rei. “How did you hurt it?”
Rei groaned. “I fell. About 4 meters.”
The medic nods and continues to run scans on Rei’s swollen ankle. Rei looks up to Shelton who just stands and grins at her.
“What?” She asks.
“I didn’t say a word,” Shelton grins. “But it was closer to 5 meters.”
Rei groans once again, a bit louder this time. The sick bay doors slide open, and a young woman walks in. She is wearing the NSO uniform that both Rei and Shelton are wearing. She marched right up to Shelton and Rei and stands at full attention.
Rei nods at her. “At ease, chief.”
Chief Warrant Officer Kio Yuki loosens her stance slightly.
“Lieutenant Dowis wanted me to bring you the results of Bravo team’s hostage recovery drill.” Yuki states, her nervousness apparent in her voice.
Shelton watches the exchange as Yuki walks over and hands Rei a PADD. Yuki then quickly backpedals to where she was and stands, her hands gripped tightly together behind her back.
Rei takes a moment to read the report. Once she is finished, she slowly sets the PADD down next to her. She inhales deeply and slowly looks up at Shelton.
“They’re all dead,” Rei states.
“The hostages?” Shelton asks.
“No, everyone,” Rei looks to Yuki. “The hostages, the hostage-takers, Bravo Team. All of them. Blown to bits. Would you like to explain to me how this happened?”
Yuki looks at Shelton for just a second before being scolded.
“I DIDN’T SAY TELL COMMANDER SHELTON!” Rei yells. A couple of the medics in sickbay look to watch the exchange.
“I’m sorry, Commander,” Yuki softly replies, her eyes quickly returning their focus on Rei.
“What happened?” Rei asks again.
“One of the hostage-takers drew his weapon on us. We shot him, but he was wearing an explosive vest. It exploded and destroyed the building,” Yuki explained, doing her absolute best to keep her shame from coming out in her voice.
“Why did you shoot someone wearing an explosive vest in the chest?” Rei asked.
“We didn’t realize he was wearing one, Commander,” Yuki explained. Rei fumed.
“No one scanned him?”
Yuki knew she was being backed into a corner. She paused for a moment. The pause seemed to infuriate Rei even more.
“ANSWER ME!” She yelled.
Shelton eyed Rei with concern. He knew better than to intervene, but he also knew that Rei had the young warrant officer scared out of her wits.
Yuki backed up a bit upon being yelled at. She tightened her stance and continued her explanation.
“Sergeant Simpson was told to scan him. I assumed that if he had something like that on, he would have told me.”
Rei shook her head.
“You assumed.” Rei hopped off the bed, ignoring the protest of the medic who was still scanning her foot. Rei hobbled over and came to within a half-foot of Yuki.
“You can’t fucking assume out there. You oversee that team. YOU are responsible for the death of the hostages and your team. If you cannot handle something like a god damned simulation how do ever expect to be able to handle yourself in a real situation where the program does not end, and you stay dead?”
Rei did not want an answer to that. Not that it mattered. Yuki did not have one to give her anyway. Rei moved closer to Yuki to finish. Rei’s voice was quiet, yet stern as she stood nose to nose in front of the young soldier.
“I want you to rerun this simulation until you can do it perfectly. I don’t want to see you or anyone else in Bravo team out of that holodeck until then. I don’t care if it takes you a fucking week. Do you understand me, Chief?”
“Yes Commander,” Yuki softly replies.
“I’m sorry, what?” Rei asks.
“YES, COMMANDER,” Yuki replies much louder.
Yuki nods quickly turns around and exits sick bay.
Rei groans. The medic walks over to her.
“If you are done belittling your troops, would you mind if I finish fixing your ankle?” He asks.
Rei grumbles at him and hobbles back to the bed. She tries to hop onto it but puts too much force on her hurt ankle.
“Shit,” she cries.
“Here,” Shelton states as he walks over to her. He helps her hop onto the bed. The medic resumes his work as Shelton looks at Rei.
“Was that necessary?” he asks her.
“Don’t question me, Commander,” Rei dryly states.
“With all due respect, Commander, I doubt very much you would have made me your second in command if you never wanted to be questioned.”
Shelton was right. Rei had known Shelton for a while and knew from both experience and his service record that he was not one to stay quiet when he thought something was not right. Rei wanted someone who agrees with her when she planned something right, but also questions her when she planned something wrong.
“She got her entire team killed,” Rei said. She sat up slightly but the medic treating her pushed her back down flat onto the bed.
“What should I have done?” Rei continued while staring at the overhead lighting. “Tough cookies, better luck next time?”
“She made a mistake. One that she will not make again. That is what these simulations are for. To make mistakes.”
“We can’t afford mistakes.”
Shelton looks down at Rei’s ankle. Rei sits back up and notices this. She exhales loudly as the medic once again shoves her back to the bed.
“Fine, point taken. What do you suggest?”
Shelton leans over Rei. “Work with her. Obviously, her fighting skills are superb. Why else would you have chosen her to be on the team?” Shelton stands upright and starts to walk towards the door. “You need to make sure she knows she’s a leader. And only a leader herself can mold another leader.”
Shelton walks out of sickbay. Rei sits up and looks towards the door.
She hates it when other people are right.
The medic shoves her back down onto the exam table.
“A ‘screwdriver’ for the gentleman and a beer for the lady.” A Ferengi says as he places the drinks in front of their respective owners.
Ryouga applies his thumbprint to a pad the Ferengi hands him. Once the bill is paid the Ferengi scampers off to wait on the next table.
“How was your day?” Ryouga asks.
Minako takes a sip of her beer and groans.
“Boring. There is absolutely nothing to do while in command when a ship is docked. I look forward to the Captain coming back on duty so I can go back to operations.”
Ryouga took a sip of his drink.
“I thought you liked being in command.”
Minako nods. “When there is something going on. Being in command while sitting around simply means you do the most sitting around.”
“Well don’t feel bad,” Ryouga smiled. “There isn’t much piloting for me to do while docked.”
“How do you like that new helm console?”
Ryouga laughs. “It’s so long I get lost from one end to the other.”
Minako laughs as well. He may not have a sense of direction but at least he’s got a sense of humor. One of the qualities of Ryouga’s that Minako has come to enjoy.
“Seriously though,” Ryouga continued. “It’s not as complicated as it looks. It is actually less so. Instead of having to switch from screen to screen all I have to do is slide a bit.”
Minako nods. “Operations is like that now as well.”
Ryouga takes another swig of his swill. “Another nice thing is I don’t have Ranma sitting above me in his throne like chair.”
Minako takes a second to look at Ryouga as he finishes his drink and motions for the waiter to come back.
“You honestly don’t like him, do you?”
Ryouga tells his order to the waiter and turns back to Minako.
“He’s a cocky, arrogant jerk. He treats Akane like she was something he stepped on. She could do so much better than him.”
Minako slowly nurses her beer.
Ryouga signs for his drink and starts to drink it before he realized exactly what Minako said.
“ME?” Ryouga begins to blush. “Maybe once.”
Minako continues to nurse.
“I understand what that is like. Loving someone who doesn’t love you back.”
Ryouga gave Minako a soft look. She didn’t really notice though.
“It’s hard to let go.” She continued. “But you have to. Even if you don’t want to, you have to.”
Ryouga just continued to look at Minako. She looks up finally and smiles.
“Would you get me another beer please? I’ll be back in a moment.”
Ryouga nods as Minako stands and walks away.
“So let me get this right…” A man says as he sits down in Minako’s seat.
“HEY! THIS SPOT IS TAKEN!” Ryouga bellows. He then notices the man’s rank insignia. “Sorry, Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Jeff Fuchs, the Sisko’s new chief councilor, grins. “No problem. I’m Lt. Fuchs, the ship's councilor. I’d like to help, but I need to make sure I have everything straight.”
Ryouga isn’t quite sure how to respond, but before he has a choice Jeff continues.
“You’re in love with Akane Tendo, who is Akane Saotome now, and you hate Ranma Saotome because she chose him over you.”
Ryouga attempts to butt in but Jeff continues.
“Now, even though you were madly in love with Akane you never told her because you were embarrassed about the fact that you turn into a little black piggy.”
“How did-“ Ryouga gasps.
“I’m Betazoid,” Jeff clarifies without pause. “Anywho, now you want to try and start a relationship with Minako Aino but still, for some reason, think that you would be betraying Akane Tendo, who is now Akane Saotome, even though she doesn’t know how you feel and doesn’t have those feelings for you.”
“She might have feelings for me,” Ryouga interjects.
“That’s why she married Ranma?” Jeff asks.
“NO! She married him because her father and his father arranged it!”
Jeff laughs. “Son, this is the 23rd century. That kind of stuff does not matter anymore! Besides, we’ve gone three stories without sticking to anything even closely related to the original storylines, why would we start now?”
Suddenly a dart comes out of nowhere and jabs Jeff in the back. Jeff pulls the dart out and turns towards a dartboard where a fat man with a shaved head and a goatee is standing.
“Hey, sorry about that! Damn dart just got away from me!” The fat man apologizes.
“Yeah, okay,” Jeff grumbles, tossing him back the dart.
Jeff turns back to Ryouga.
“Akane made her choice. You must accept that, like it or lump it. If you don’t, nothing more than meaningless, albeit great, sex will be all you have.”
Ryouga enjoyed the great sex with Minako but he did want more. The pair got along very well. They made great friends. But could he ever really get over Akane?
“You’ll have to,” Jeff smiled as he stood up.
“STOP READING MY MIND!” Ryouga screamed.
Jeff just laughed as he passed Minako. “Commander,” He greeted her.
Minako nods to Jeff as he walks away giggling. She comes and takes her seat.
“What was that all about?” She questions.
“Just someone giving me some advice.”
“Advice? What about?”
Ryouga inhales deeply. He then reaches his hand across the table and takes Minako’s.
Minako smiles as she holds Ryouga’s hand back.
Shampoo’s head was pounding, and this evening just wasn’t going fast enough. She did not fully understand why she even needed to be on the bridge. It is not like they were going anywhere or going to do something.
No, they were just sitting.
It was not even sitting! They were attached to the station, orbiting the planet, and spinning with it.
They were hanging.
Shampoo sighed. The purple-haired beauty had far too many things going on in her head. Currently, the strongest one was her hangover. But the other things were placing a close second.
As much as she would deny it, she still wasn’t over the loss of Mousse. He was indeed especially important to her, yet she still treated him poorly. That made his death even worse.
Then, not more than three days later, Ranma had left her. He had not died, but he might as well have. He killed her that was for sure. His secret marriage to Akane was a stake that was driven right through Shampoo’s heart.
While her Amazon law required her to marry Ranma, it was no longer about that. Shampoo had genuinely fallen in love with him. But no matter what she did, he constantly tried to push her away. She couldn’t understand it. She would have been the perfect wife. Obedient. Cheerful. A master cook. An excellent lover. She was everything Akane was not.
While she had grown to accept the marriage, she would never be happy with it. She would like nothing better than to shove Akane into a torpedo tube and send her on an endless voyage through space, but she could not. Not just because of the obvious legal ramifications, but because Ranma loved Akane.
And Shampoo loved Ranma too much to put him through the same pain she had been put through.
It was a conundrum she had grown tired of.
Shampoo looked around the Sisko’s new bridge. She liked the new look. She had a thing for grey. Plus, it really seemed more like the battleship it was now.
Shampoo, a warrior, felt right at home.
A young, enlisted man walks up to where Shampoo is and snaps to attention.
“The security reports from 14:00 to 18:00, Commander,” he informs her.
Shampoo silently takes the PADD and nods to the crewman. He returns the nod and walks off.
She looks down and begins to glance over everything. Most of it was just reports of people coming and going. She makes a note of both Ranma and Akane leaving the ship at 17:55. She notes that there were several Bajoran tourists detained after being found on board.
The tourists were released after it was determined that they were simply curious. Having a ship named after their emissary was drawing the Bajorans on board like flies.
Shampoo continues to peruse the report and notes that Ryouga and Minako returned to the ship at 15:41. She chuckles silently.
‘Why she pick Ryouga?’ She thinks to herself. ‘Maybe she like to hear him say oink-oink when they together?’
Shampoo laughs out loud at her own joke. A couple of the other bridge people look at her, but she does not notice. She simply places the PADD into the center console and leans back.
It was obvious that Shampoo’s mind was not what it used to be. Far from it even. Shampoo could be diabolical, resourceful, and just plain smart.
Her mind only thought of very few things. When it was able to think at all that is.
She had begun to drink far more than she ever did before. Since docking at DS9, she had probably spent most of her off-duty time, and probably a good chunk of her on-duty time, drunk.
She was restless the remainder of the time. It was impossible for her to drink while she was on the bridge. Occasionally she would wander off under the guise of using the restroom, but she would just return to her quarters and have a quick drink.
She knew it was clouding her thinking and her judgment, but what does that matter? They were docked. The extent of any decisions she would have to make would be to allow resources to be diverted for tests.
Some of the other bridge crew was noticing her change. Some of them had been on the ship since it first departed, but others had just joined after the refit.
The ones that had been around constantly asked her how she was doing, or if she needed anything. They hesitated in bringing anything specific up because Shampoo was an angry drunk. The new ones just avoided her as much as possible. They wanted to bring up their concerns with the Captain but being new they did not want to make any waves. Even some of the older crew members wanted to say something but didn’t.
In Shampoo’s mind though, she was fine. She didn’t get lost, so she was one up on Ryouga. She never tripped on her own hair, so she was ahead of Usagi. And, in her opinion, she wasn’t a psychopath, so she was better than Rei.
Shampoo wanted to attack the clock sitting above the main viewer. It seemed to be mocking her. Every time the colon blinked it seemed like she could hear it say, ‘Three more hours!’.
It was starting to fucking bug her.
She needed to go for a walk.
Shampoo stands and turns to the operations officer.
“I be back in a bit. You have bridge.”
The operations man nods but remains where he is. Shampoo moves towards the turbolift and gets in.
The woman manning the security station turns towards operations and gives him a look.
The concern in her face was not missed by the operations officer.
“I know. Just let it go.”
She looks at him for a moment longer as he goes back to his duties. The security officer moves back to a small terminal in the back of the enclave where security was stationed. She begins to type a message.
TO: Saotome, Ranma (CPT)
FROM: Jansen, Amanda (LJG)
RE: CDR Shampoo
((PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL))
Please keep this message in the strictest confidence. I would like to issue my concerns regarding Commander Shampoo. I know several other of the bridge officers won’t voice their concerns because they care for the commander and don’t want her to get into any trouble. But however, I feel that because I care for her, I must.
Recent events have gotten to her. She has become very easily distracted and I believe that she is drinking while on duty. Surely you have noticed how much she has been drinking while off duty.
I do believe that you should attempt to talk to her about what is bothering her. I also believe that if her drinking is not gotten under control immediately, it will be necessary to relieve her from duty.
The safety and security of the ship must remain our number one priority and I do not feel that it can be maintained while our executive officer is in the current state of alcoholism she is in right now.
Thank you for your time.
Lt. Amanda Jansen.
Amanda sighs and hits a button. The letter is saved into her draft folder.
‘Maybe it won’t come to this...’ She hopes as she turns her chair around to watch the tactical display.
Happiness was not something that came easily for Akane. She had grown up without a mother. She came across as a strong, confident woman, but underneath it all, she knew that she was a sad person.
Her father had tried to force a marriage down her throat. That didn’t make her happy. She thought that no one in the world cared what she thought or how she felt. It made her angry.
She had been constantly attacked when she was younger. People feeling that if they could forcefully get past her physical and emotional barriers, they would have her. She lived in fear of that eventually happening to her.
But as she leaned against Ranma’s chest while the two slowly swayed to the music playing in the Bajoran restaurant they were in, she made an admission to herself. One she never thought she would make.
She was happy. Truly, one hundred percent happy.
Her life had made a turn for the better. She had a great job and got to work with some great people. Except Shampoo, she conceded. But that was neither here nor there. She had gotten married, but not because she was forced to.
Because she wanted to.
When the two first met things were different. Never in a million years would she have thought she would enjoy being married to Ranma. They fought constantly. He was always insulting her. He was nothing but a perverted, disgusting jerk.
But that changed. She began to get to know the real Ranma. The man who risked his life on countless occasions to save her. The only man who truly acted as if he cared about her.
They still fought from time to time. But it was not anything that couldn’t be fixed. Both had learned to do something that neither of them could do before.
They were both very stubborn. It took a lot of work and courage, but they had both learned that when it was necessary, they would have to suck it up and just say it.
Ranma looked down at his wife as the music ended. Akane returned the look and they both engaged in a passionate kiss.
Yeah, it was love alright. Ranma was too easily embarrassed to do such a thing in public otherwise. But the intoxication that being with Akane gave him pushed his fears and inhibitions aside.
It was the same for Akane. The fear of people seeing them and judging them went out the airlock when she was with him. She didn’t care. Not one bit. She loved this man and there was no one who was going to make her feel silly for that.
Once the pair have completed their act, Ranma took Akane’s hand and led her back to the table where they were seated.
After they were seated, the waitress returned to them.
“Anything else I can get for you two?” She asked.
“Want anything else, Akane?” Ranma looked to his wife.
Akane shook her head. “No, I’m fine.”
Ranma returned his attention to the waitress. “No, just the check.”
The waitress grinned.
“Compliments of the house. Happy birthday, Captain.”
Ranma smiled. He was his father’s son alright. The thought of a free meal just tickled him pink.
“Thank you,” Ranma stated.
The waitress continued to grin and walked off. Ranma looked to Akane who was finishing off her glass of wine.
“Shall we go?”
Akane nodded. Ranma stood and being the chivalrous man that he was, helped Akane out of her seat.
Akane was wearing a tight, low-cut black cocktail dress. The dress perfectly showed off her figure. From her pert breasts down past her trim waist. The dress draped perfectly around her soft buttocks and clung nicely to her long silky legs.
Ranma wondered how he ever could have called her ‘uncute’.
Ranma’s features were more hidden within his loose suit. Even though, Akane had no problem locking her eyes on his broad shoulders and well-toned chest.
Both knew that they were sizing each other up. And both loved it.
Ranma and Akane walked from the restaurant, arm in arm, down the promenade. Through the hideously brown corridors of the station to a turbolift. Once in the lift, Ranma ordered it to proceed to airlock seventeen, where the Sisko was docked.
They would not make it, though. It wasn’t long before the desire inside the two boiled and had to be released.
It started with a deep look into each other’s eyes. Akane’s, a dark fiery brown. Ranma’s, a piercing blue.
“Computer, hold,” Ranma ordered.
Upon reaching their quarters Akane headed towards the shower. Ranma moved to his terminal on his desk and noticed that he had an email.
Ranma opened it up.
TO: Saotome, Ranma (CPT)
FROM: Jansen, Amanda (LJG)
RE: Message from TICI Nerima
Nabiki Tendo, Captain of the TICI Nerima wanted us to advise you that they would be delayed due to some business. They stated it shouldn’t take more than an additional six hours and that they should be here by 03:00. They’d like to meet you and Commander Saotome at 10:00 for breakfast on the station.
Ranma grinned. He was pleased that Nabiki had not changed any. She was never one to not pass up an opportunity, even if it meant a slight inconvenience for others.
It didn’t matter though. They were not required to be back at Earth for two days. There was plenty of time.
Ranma walked over to the door of the bathroom.
“Yeah?” She called out from the shower.
“Your sisters are running behind. They want to meet tomorrow at ten hundred for breakfast.”
“Okay,” She replied.
Ranma started to walk back over to his desk when Akane called after him.
“There’s a spot I just can’t get to. Can you come and help me?”
Ranma grinned. Akane can be so dirty when she wants to be.
Ranma walked to the bathroom and slid the door shut behind him.
The large silver ship streaks to a slow crawl about 60 au from Deep Space Nine. The perimeter of DS9’s traffic control.
Nabiki leans back in her chair as the Ferengi pilot calls DS9 for authorization to enter its space.
“Deep Space Nine, this is the Tendo Intersystem Commerce cargo ship ‘Nerima’, requesting permission to enter your space.”
The communication system crackles. “Nerima, this is DS9 flight operations, what is your destination?”
The Ferengi checks something on his terminal. “System F-21AD in the delta quadrant.”
“Standby please,” The radio responds. The Ferengi looks confused and turns to Nabiki.
“Don’t worry,” Nabiki says, answering the Ferengi’s unasked question. “There is a trade embargo against Dominion aligned systems. They are just checking our destination in their databanks. F-21AD is unaligned, so we will have no problem.”
The Ferengi nods and turns back to his computer. The radio begins to speak again.
“Nerima, you have clearance to proceed through DS9 space to the wormhole. Be advised though there is still some Jem Hadar activity in the delta quadrant. Ships have been known to be attacked by fringe groups that don’t want to believe the war is over. We are uploading a map to you and suggest you take the course recommended on the map.”
The computer chirps to advise them that an upload has been received. The voice on the radio continues.
“Because you are not a Federation ship, we are unable to assign you an escort. Be careful and please notify us prior to reentering the wormhole. Do you have an approximate time you will be spending in the delta quadrant?”
“Ten hours,” Nabiki states loud enough for the radio to hear her.
“Roger that. If you will be delayed, please advise, DS9 out.” The voice concludes.
The Ferengi brings the ship to full impulse and heads towards the location of the wormhole. Kasumi looks at her sister with concern.
“This person couldn’t have met you in a safer location?” She asks.
Nabiki chuckles and turns to Kasumi. “Our ships have been into the Delta Quadrant dozens of times, all without incident. The only Jem Hadar attacks have been on Federation ships that were moving through Dominion territory. We’ll be light years from that.”
The look of concern doesn’t leave Kasumi’s face.
“We’re delivering explosives to a mining company that is mining on F-21AD. They don’t have cargo ships this large to make it in one trip.”
Nabiki grins and turns back towards the window as the ship creeps through the sky towards the wormhole. “Besides, they are making it VERY worth our while.”
Kasumi sighs. She has faith in Nabiki but still thinks her lust for money overrides her judgment at times.
The ship eventually reaches the outer perimeter of the wormhole, causing it to open. Both the Ferengi and Nabiki continue concentrating on the road ahead, but Kasumi stares wide-eyed.
Kasumi has never seen the wormhole before, much less this close-up. The brilliant colors illuminate her awestruck face.
“It’s beautiful,” Kasumi states.
Nabiki nods. “That it is, sis. That it is.”
The ride through the wormhole lasts about three minutes. After exiting the other side the Ferengi gets to work plotting the advised course sent to them by DS9.
“Just go straight,” Nabiki orders.
The Ferengi pauses for a moment, and then complies, setting a straight course from where they are to F-21AD. Before he can engage the engines, a Sovereign-class starship comes swooping down out of nowhere and parks in front of them.
“We’re being hailed,” the Ferengi pilot advises Nabiki as the computer begins to chirp.
“Open a channel.”
“This is the U.S.S. Columbia,” a female voice on the other end advises them. “Please advise your ship name and destination.”
Nabiki stands and walks to the window to get a good look at this ship.
“This is the TICI cargo ship Nerima. We are enroute to F-21AD.”
There is a pause. “Can you advise the purpose of your cargo?”
Nabiki groans. “No.”
“Ma’am,” the voice continues. “This is currently a volatile area. I need you to advise the intended use of your cargo before we can allow you to pass.”
Nabiki slaps the console she was leaning on. “Under what jurisdiction?”
The look of concern increases on Kasumi’s face as she watches the exchange between the faceless person on the Federation ship and her sister.
“This and the surrounding systems are under the control of Alpha Occupational Authority, under the terms of the cease-fire between the Alpha Quadrant Coalition and the Dominion. You are carrying extremely dangerous explosives. Under that authority we can detain and seize your ship and cargo if you do not cooperate,” the voice explains.
Nabiki sighs and surrenders. “Vor’Gal Mining Corporation is operating on F-21AD. They ordered these explosives from the Romulans. I am just delivering them. I don’t know what they are going to do with them, but I would assume they are for mining.”
Another pause. After a few moments, the Federation ship begins to move away.
“Thank you for your cooperation. For future reference, any cargo that is embargoed against the Dominion will receive this kind of scrutiny. Columbia out.”
The communication ends. Nabiki looks at her Ferengi pilot.
The Ferengi nods and engages the engines. Nabiki returns to her seat. Kasumi watches her sister for bit before Nabiki turns to her.
Kasumi shakes her head. “Nothing. Just don’t think you need to always be so confrontational.”
Nabiki rolls her eyes and continues to watch the stars shoot by.
After about three and a half hours of near-total silence, the Nerima drops to impulse. About seventy million kilometers away a blue and brown planet, like Earth shines. The large cargo ship begins to creep towards it at half impulse.
“Will we be landing?” The Ferengi pilot asks Nabiki.
“No. We’ll meet Vor’Gal in orbit and once payment is received transport the cargo down.”
The Ferengi nods and begins the procedures for standard orbit. After a few seconds, the communications panel begins to chirp. The Ferengi acknowledges it and calls back to Nabiki, without ever taking his eyes off the controls.
“Vor’Gal,” he states.
Nabiki nods and hits a button on her console.
“This is the TICI transport ship Nerima.”
Vor’Gal’s voice pipes up on the other end. “Greetings. Thank you for the prompt delivery. I assume the Federation gave you no problems getting here?”
Nabiki laughs. “Nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Vor’Gal returns the laugh. “Well, I assume you are going to require payment prior to lowering your shields?”
“You assume correctly,” Nabiki replies smugly.
Some time passes and the Nerima’s computer chirps. The Ferengi looks at the console and reports to his boss.
“Eight million bars of latinum have been transferred into the corporate account.”
Nabiki smiles and turns to Kasumi. Kasumi has a look of shock on her face.
“Oh my,” is all she manages to mutter. Nabiki turns back towards the window as Vor’Gal’s ship approaches the Nerima. Nabiki smirks. “Damn right ‘oh my’.”
Nabiki looks to the Ferengi. “Lower the shields.” She orders.
Nabiki waits for the explosives to disappear.
Instead, ten figures appear on the bridge of the ship. All armed. They quickly swoop down on the trio and detain them.
“What the hell are you doing?” Nabiki demands.
One of the men in the boarding party says something into his communicator in what sounded to Nabiki like Vulcan. Shortly thereafter Vor’Gal and T’Sol transport onto the bridge.
“Hello,” Vor’Gal grins. “I want to congratulate you. You are all going to be a part of the ejection of the occupation forces from Vulcan!”
“What are you talking about?” Nabiki glares.
“Oh, there is no need to get into details now,” Vor’Gal explains. “All you need to do is cooperate.”
T’Sol walks over to the control console. The guards holding the Ferengi move. T’Sol draws his weapon and fires at the Ferengi, killing him instantly.
T’Sol moves in and takes a seat at the console.
“Course to the wormhole set,” T’Sol explains.
“Good,” Vor’Gal acknowledges. “I’ll be back on the Ek’Skil. We’ll cloak and be right behind you.”
T’Sol nods and Vor’Gal, along with two of the boarding party vanish. T’Sol turns to Nabiki and Kasumi.
“Here is the deal. You don’t do anything a hostage shouldn’t do; you won’t be harmed. Otherwise, you will be killed, starting with her,” T’Sol points to Kasumi.
“Look,” Nabiki growls. “You want the explosives and the ships, take them. There’s no reason to kidnap us.”
“Sure, there is.” T’Sol states. “If we get found out, we need some sort of bargaining chip. And you, my dears, are them.”
T’Sol begins to turn back to the console but notices the dead Ferengi on the floor. He looks to one of the guards.
“Get rid of that.”
The guard nods and drags the lifeless pilot off the bridge and towards an airlock. The other guards forced Kasumi and Nabiki next to each other and move them back into the cargo bay where they are left to sit next to one of the cargo containers.
Kasumi leans into Nabiki.
Nabiki shushes her sister and gives her a reassuring nod.