Chapter 5 - Ramifications

It was approaching day four of the Saint Paul’s exile to nebula 661-PD. A neutrino and hydrogen-based nebula that sat a half-light year from the four-planet Chidori system in sector 009. 

Tensions on the ship had grown high. Hanson had the remaining members of the Saint Paul’s security detail round up several officers who he feared would be too loyal to Captain McNamara and had them placed in the brig.

And now the brig was becoming overcrowded.

Unfortunately, with only six security officers remaining, he could not move them into a cargo hold. With that much room and thirty people together, they could easily overpower the guards and retake control of the ship.

So now thirty people were placed in five cells designed for two people each.

It was bound to get ugly.

To top things off, the Saint Paul was going to become missing soon. She was scheduled for a diplomatic mission in two days. When she did not show up, Starfleet would begin looking for her.

Hanson hadn’t slept much. He was too nervous. He did not really know who he could trust. He considered himself both lucky and curse that the Saint Paul had just gone through a crew rotation and most of the crew were young, new officers.

Lucky that they were still inbred with the strict ‘chain of command means everything’ that they were taught in the academy.

Cursed that a massive insurrection from the senior staff could easily overwhelm them. Cursed that they were not experienced enough to defend themselves from the four dozen interceptors that searched the system for them day and night.

“Admiral?” the operations officer called out.

“Yes, lieutenant?” Hanson replied.

“I’ve run thirty simulations. No matter how we leave the nebula, the interceptors will be able to detect us.”

Hanson sighed. Another case of luck and curse. Luck that the interceptors couldn’t scan into the nebula. Luck that the interceptors could not come into the nebula without taking serious if not catastrophic damage.

Cursed because they could not leave without being coming up on the interceptor’s scanners and potentially targeted.

“What if we detonated the hydrogen in the nebula as we left?” Alverez asked.

“Sure,” the ops lieutenant agreed sarcastically. “If we want to destroy them and ourselves.”

“Well, you sure as hell haven’t come up with anything.” Alverez snapped back.

“Maybe I expected the chief tactical officer to come up with a tactic,” Ops responded.

“Here’s a tactic. Why don’t you kiss my ass?” Alverez stated.

“Both of you shut up,” Hanson ordered.

Both young lieutenants stopped their quarreling and turned to the admiral.

“Sorry sir,” Ops stated.

“Yes sir, sorry,” Alverez also apologized.

“Just work together on figuring out a way for us to get out of the nebula and to warp before we get detected,” Hanson ordered.

“What about those still on the planet?” Ops asked.

Hanson continued to watch the blue and white colors of the nebula swirl around on the view screen.

“They’re probably all dead by now,” Hanson stated. “Getting this ship back to Earth is our number one priority now.”

Ops bowed his head and returned to work. Hanson sighed as he watched the nebula.

They would not be returning to Earth. There are thirty people in the brig who would tell Starfleet exactly what happened. Exactly why they were out here. Exactly why twenty security officers and one Federation Council member were dead on an unaligned planet in the middle of nowhere.

No, Hanson knew exactly what had to be done. He would have to get the ship somewhere else and destroy it.

Hanson had no intention of going down with the ship though.


Commander Sarah Earl moved to the force field that kept her and her four other cellmates confined and touched it.

The force field zapped her slightly.

“What are you doing, Sarah?” McNamara asked from the back of the cell.

“I’m just bored,” she replied.

She turned and looked to her Captain as he sat on the floor.

“I don’t suppose you have a plan, do you?” She asked.

McNamara stood. “Of course I do. We’re going to retake control of the ship.”

Sarah grinned. “And how are we going to do that?”

McNamara shrugged. “I don’t have the details worked out yet. But formulating a good plan is a lot like writing a mystery novel. You start at the end and work your way backward.”

Sarah chuckled. “Your novels suck.”

McNamara laughed. “You haven’t read my new one.”

The door to the brig slid open and two security officers walked in. They walked up to the first cell.

“Time for restroom breaks,” one of the officers stated.

“Ensign Thompson,” McNamara called out to the officer.

The young ensign walked over to the Captain’s cell. He turned to the second officer. “Hold on.”

“Ensign, you do realize that you are part of a mutiny, don’t you?” McNamara stated.

“I’m just following the Admiral’s orders, sir,” he replied.

“Do you even know what has happened here?” McNamara asked him.

The young man shook his head.

“The Admiral has led us into an illegal, unauthorized mission. It has been four days. Don’t you think Starfleet would have sent us help by now?”

The ensign thought about this for a moment.

“We’re not supposed to be here, Alex,” McNamara stated as he walked as close to the force field as he could.

“And as long as you continue to support the Admiral you help prolong this illegal mission and hurt not only your shipmates, but yourself as well.”

McNamara looked right at Thompson.

“Is this really how you want to start your career?”

Thompson, an ensign who graduated from Starfleet Academy no more than four months ago, shook his head.

“Hey, Captain,” the other officer called out. “We’re following orders.”

McNamara looked to the other officer.

“Ensign Stevens, are you familiar with twentieth-century Earth history at all?”

Stevens walked to the cell.

“We had a class.”

“In the 1930s and 1940s, millions of people were murdered by German Nazis. When the rest of the planet came together and stopped them, the soldiers who committed these acts were put on trial.

“The soldiers said that they should not be held accountable for their actions because they were ‘just following orders.’ 

“However, the trials set a precedent that has been held in the military for five hundred years now. Subordinates CAN be held responsible for following illegal orders. It’s Starfleet’s standing order five. ‘No officer shall follow any order that is illegal or immoral.’”

McNamara looked to his four cellmates and then turned back to the two ensigns.

“This is both.”

“You disobeyed a direct order from the Admiral,” Stevens stated. “You shouldn’t be in here. You should have been shoved out the airlock.”

Stevens grabbed Thompson and brought him back to the first cell.

“One at a time. Anyone who attempts to escape will be shot, and we’re not using stun.”

McNamara sighed as the pair led one prisoner out and to the brig’s restroom. Sarah walked up to him.

“You got to Thompson,” she whispered. “Keep working on him.”

McNamara nodded and returned to his seat on the floor of the cell.

“This is the Runabout Class U.S.S. Satii to the U.S.S. Sisko. Request permission to dock,” Ranma gleefully stated over the communications system.

On the other end, Makoto’s voice proudly replied, “Permission granted, sir.”

Ranma smiled at Akane who was seated in the Runabout’s co-pilot seat. He turned and looked out the front window. There he saw the aft side of the Sisko. 

While it is not the most flattering side of a vessel, to Ranma it was a beautiful sight. He had not expected to ever see the ship again, so any view of her was a beautiful one.

A large bay door with the number ‘1’ on it began to open as Ranma lined up the Runabout.

“Sisko LC to Satii; please decrease speed to 30 KPH.” Landing control ordered.

Ranma complied and slowed the ship to a crawl as it approached the docking perimeter.

At about one kilometer out a low-powered tractor beam engaged and grabbed the smaller craft. Ranma smiled as his display switched off from manual control, indicating that the Sisko was now controlling the landing.

Within a minute the Satii was gently set down inside of shuttle bay one. Thirty seconds later the large door had closed and sealed. Mere seconds after that a green light lit up above the main hatch on the Runabout indicating that the shuttle bay had been pressurized.

Ranma took Akane’s hand, and the pair walked to the door. Ranma hit some buttons and the seal on the door disengaged. It quickly opened, the top half opening upwards, the bottom half opening down, making a stairway for the pair to walk down.

Ranma and Akane walked down. Ranma’s boots made a loud sound as he hopped from the last carpeted step to the cold metal deck of the shuttle bay.

“Home,” he simply stated.

The doors to the shuttle bay slid open and Karyn, Minako, Makoto, Gosnell, Rei, and Usagi walked into the shuttle bay.

Minako was the first to walk up to Ranma. She gave him a hug. 

“Congratulations, Commander,” she stated.

Makoto also walked up and hugged him.

“Likewise,” She grinned.

Gosnell grabbed Ranma and hugged him tightly, tears pouring down his face. “I’M SO HAPPY!!!” He bellowed as he nearly squeezed the life out of Ranma.

“GAK!” Ranma replied. Makoto quickly pried Gosnell off Ranma and took him to the corner to comfort him.

Usagi then walked up, gave Ranma a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Akane raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything despite her natural urge to whollop Ranma.

“Glad to have you back,” she giggled.

Rei then walked up and gave Ranma a hug.

“Welcome back, sir,” She smiled.

Ranma nodded to all of them.

“Thank you, everyone, for all your support in this,” Ranma looked to Karyn for a second before continuing. “I will perform my duties as Executive Officer to the best of my abilities.”

Ranma looked around for a minute.

“Where’s Ryouga?”


Meanwhile on deck seventeen…


“You’re in the brig, sir,” A marine explains to Ryouga as Ryouga looks around the lobby of the brig.

“What happened to the shuttle bay?” Ryouga asked.

The marine looks to another marine.

“Sir, the shuttle bay is still on deck twelve.”

Ryouga scratched his head.

“What deck is this?”

“Uh, deck seventeen sir.”

Ryouga nods.

“I see,” He looks at the marine’s collar. “Sergeant, please escort me to the shuttle bay.”

“I’m supposed to stay in the brig, sir,” the Sergeant replied.

“There are no prisoners for you to guard!” Ryouga complained.

The second marine looked to his partner. “Go ahead. I’ll be fine.”

The sergeant nodded and motioned for Ryouga to follow him.


“Commander, may I speak with you for a moment?” Karyn asked Ranma.

Ranma nodded and turned to Akane.

“Back in a flash.”

Ranma walked over to one side of the shuttle bay with Karyn as Akane walked over to the group of well-wishers.

“Captain,” Ranma stated once they got out of earshot of everyone else.

“Commander,” Karyn stated. “I just-“

“May I speak freely, ma’am?” Ranma interrupted.

While Karyn didn’t really care to be interrupted, she did want to hear what Ranma had to say.


“I know what you are concerned about. I know why you wanted to talk to me. I just wanted to say that you have nothing to worry about.

“I made mistakes and the loss of command is one of the ramifications of those mistakes. I accept responsibility for that. You do not have anything to worry about. I’m not going to try and get back command. My job here is to be your XO and I will do that with every piece of my being.

“You are the captain of this ship and I respect and accept that. My purpose is to execute your commands and that is what I will do, without question and without hesitation.”

Karyn simply stood there in silence for a moment. That was exactly what she was worried about. She finally nodded and extended her hand.

Ranma took her hand and shook it.

“I guess I should be happy to have such a well-respected officer as my XO,” she smiled.

“And I for having such an exceptional officer for my CO. Not many people can become Captain so quickly,” Ranma smiled.

Karyn blushed. “When I want something, I get it. No matter how hard I have to work.”

Ranma nodded. “We’re a lot alike, you and me.”

Ranma looked at Karyn for a moment immediately noticing the resemblance between her and his other half.

*In more ways than one.* He mused to himself.

Ranma motioned for Karyn to come with him back to the group.

“The others are planning a reception for me at 20:00. I’d like it if you were to come.”

Karyn grinned but shook her head.

“You’d be the only one.”

Ranma stopped. Karyn noticed this and stopped as well.

“Why do you say that?” Ranma asked.

Karyn sighed. “Well, no offense Commander, but you were a little lax on procedure and discipline. I’m not. So, I think a lot of the crew resents me for that.”

Ranma wasn’t quite sure what to say.

“Besides,” Karyn continued. “I really like to make sure I get a good night’s sleep in.”

Ranma nodded. “I understand.”

Karyn’s communicator chirped.

“This is Walker,” She stated.

“Captain, we have Starfleet with a priority one message for you.”

Karyn turned to Ranma. “If you will excuse me.”

Ranma nodded. “See you on the bridge tomorrow.”

Karyn nodded as she informed the officer on the other end of the communication that she was headed back to the bridge.

She stopped dead in her tracks though when she saw Ryouga walking in, a marine holding onto his uniform.

“Oh lord, what did he do?” Karyn asked.

The marine snapped to attention.

“Nothing, Captain. He’s just so directionally challenged that I had to hold onto him to make sure he didn’t wander off,” the marine looked to Ryouga, “again.”

Ryouga chuckled nervously.

“Ah, well carry on,” Karyn stated as she ran off towards the bridge.

“Will you make it inside okay sir?” the marine asked.

“Yes Sergeant,” Ryouga replied. “Thank you.”

The marine nodded and headed back to the brig.

Ryouga walked into the room. He smiled at Akane. Akane grinned back and Ryouga blushed. He then walked up to Ranma.

“Hello Ranma,” he stated.

Ranma turned to his old friend slash old enemy.


The pair stood there in awkward silence for a moment before Ranma reached out his hand.

Ryouga looked at it, ignored it, and embraced Ranma.

“I still hate you,” Ryouga explained quietly as he hugged Ranma.

“And I still have Akane,” Ranma chuckled as he hugged the wandering boy back.

Hideki finished the rice bowl that his captors had given him for lunch. While he was upset with the fact that he was being held, at least the food was decent. 

His treatment was going well. Apart from that first day where he got kicked around a bit, the Chidori Security Services had been very good about making sure he had plenty of food, water, and other necessities. 

He wished they had a bed for him to sleep in though. The floor was killing his back. 

His jail cell was improvised from an equipment storage room. The guards had told him that the remaining Saint Paul officers, thirteen of them, were being held in similar rooms as well. Two others were still in the facilities infirmary being treated for their injuries.

It had been six days. Hassan had come in to check on him several times, informing him that they still have not found the Saint Paul and that they were still waiting to hear back from his superiors on what was to become of the captured officers.

The only real torture was the fact that he was sharing a room with him. Councilman Alexander.

“Hey,” Hideki called to one of the guards.


“Let me borrow your gun.” 

“What?” the guard laughed.

“No, I promise I won’t escape, and I will give it right back. I just want to pop a couple of rounds into that piece of crap over there,” Hideki pointed to Brett.

Brett looked up from his rice bowl.

“Come on. Please?”

One of the guards turned to the other. 

“It would be kind of fun to watch the two of them battle to the death.”

The second guard laughed.

The doors slid open, and Hassan walked in.

“Except it would be your asses if either of them dies,” Hassan growled. “We’re not animals.”

“You might not be making FOX but you’re still making something that will result in the death of millions,” Brett stated from the floor on his side of the makeshift jail.

Hassan shook his head as another person walked in behind him.

“If the Klingons want to melt each other with this junk then good riddance. But like many weapons of mass destruction, simply having them can save millions of lives.”

Brett shook his head. “That’s backward reasoning.”

“Maybe,” Hassan stated. “I am sure you can tell that I am human. So, I know a little bit about human history.

“There was a thing back in the mid-twentieth century; I believe it was referred to as the ‘Cold War.’ Peace was enforced even though there were many enemy factions by a concept known as ‘mutually assured destruction.’ If one faction attacked another, it would be assured that even though the faction they attacked would be destroyed, that faction would return the attack and destroy them.”

Hassan pulled up a couple of chairs and sat them in front of Hideki. The second man sat in one and Hassan in the other as he continued talking.

“Despite the Federation’s claims of the opposite, truly little has changed in the past five hundred years. Just look at yourself, Councilman. You abused your power to launch a mission of revenge. I thought humanity had evolved beyond such things.”

“This is different,” Brett stated.

“Why? Because you’re a parent who lost a child?” Hassan asked him. “Because of your actions, six other parents lost their children.”

“Six?” Hideki asked.

“I’m sorry, Commander. I forgot that one of your shuttles was destroyed trying to escape and the pilot was killed.”

Hideki sighed.

“You don’t seem to be very mad at us,” the second man finally spoke up.

Hideki looked at him. “I am. I’m furious. But at the same time, I can understand. You were simply defending yourselves from an attack. I’d have taken out as many of you as I could as well if you invaded my ship.”

The man nodded.

“Oh, where are my manners,” he stated. “I am General Stephen Johansson. I oversee security here. I would have talked to you sooner, but I was off at our corporate office.”

Hideki looked at the man. “Who are you people?”

“We’re a corporation,” Johansson stated. “United Chemical Defense. We have plants in many systems throughout both the Alpha and Delta Quadrants. We make various kinds of munitions for many races, some of which the Federation has never heard of.

“We bought this facility from the Anjarians two years ago when they ceased FOX production. Most of what we needed to produce weapons were here, minus some alterations we made ourselves.”

“So, you’re a corporate security department?” Hideki asked.

“That’s right. Our board of directors are the ones deciding what is to be done with you and your crew.”

Johansson leaned forward. “Now that I have answered some of your questions, will you answer mine? Your cooperation will help me convince the board to allow a deal.”

Hideki nodded. “But I won’t give you details about my ship.”

“That’s fine. We know where your ship is now anyway.”

Hideki looked to Hassan. “You’re not going to destroy it, are you?”

Hassan turned to Johansson. Johansson nodded.

“No,” Hassan replied, turning back to Hideki. “Your ship has taken refuge in a nebula our interceptors can’t enter.”

Hideki sighed in relief.

“However,” Johansson stated.

Hideki looked up at him.

“They are maintaining a perimeter around the nebula. They have been ordered to seize the ship if it comes out of the nebula. If the ship fires on our ships, they will have no choice but to defend themselves.”

“And to be frank, Hideki,” Hassan continued. “While your ship is bigger, the Federation’s short-sightedness on not equipping ships with short-range, point defense weapons will make it no match for our ships.”

Hideki nodded.

“You have someone special onboard?” Hassan asked. He could tell it was something more than just loyalty to his ship.

“The Executive Officer is my fiancée.”

“Do you think you can talk them into surrendering?” Johansson asked very matter-of-factly.

Hideki just looked to the floor.

“We’ll worry about that later, eh?” Hassan smiled, trying to lighten the mood.

“Yes,” Johansson agreed. “First, I need to inform you that this conversation will be recorded, okay?”

Hideki just nodded.

“Commander, who ordered this mission?” Johansson asked.

Hideki didn’t look up.

“Vice Admiral Jack Hanson,” Hideki stated.

“STOP TALKING!” Brett ordered.

“Gag him, please,” Hassan instructed the guards. The guards complied and applied a generous amount of duct tape to Brett’s mouth.

“Why did Admiral Hanson order the mission?”

Hideki looked to Brett who was flopping around on the floor as the guards were changing the hand restraints to behind his back.

“I guess he and that were friends,” Hideki replied, not attempting to hide the contempt for Brett in his voice.

“What was the point of the ground forces? Your ship could have easily annihilated this place from orbit.”

“The ODP – orbital defense platforms – we assumed would log sensor readouts. While we could have destroyed them, we didn’t know where they would transmit their sensor data too.

“The admiral made it very clear that Federation involvement could not be discovered.”

“Because the mission was not authorized by the Federation?”

“Yes,” Hideki replied. He looked to Brett who had finally calmed down, yet still had a guard pinning him down.

“That said that it went to the Federation Council and asked for authorization and that they denied it.”

“How do you know that?” Hassan asked.

“The admiral apparently told my captain that. My captain was leery about launching the assault, so the Admiral gave him more details than he gave others. The captain then told me.”

“So, if we contact the Federation, they will back up your story?” Johansson asked.

“I would assume so,” Hideki replied. “I would think that the Federation would be worried that the Klingons would construe this as an attack against them, so I can see them wanting to wash their hands of this.”

“Do you think the Federation would be willing to turn over this Admiral Hanson to us?” Johansson asked.

“I don’t know.”

“The shuttles you had. They were Romulan. Did you get them from the Romulans?”

“No,” Hideki replied. “We got them from a Ferengi arms dealer.”

“Where is he located?” Hassan asked.

“He’s dead,” Hideki answered. “Admiral Hanson ordered him, and his outpost, destroyed.”

Johansson sighed and leaned back.

“These chairs are not very comfortable,” He turned to one of the guards. “Have someone go find Commander Montasori an office chair.”

“I don’t suppose you have a cot or anything?” Hideki asked, half-jokingly.

“No,” Johansson replied. “But I can have someone bring you a mattress from the barracks.”

“I was joking,” Hideki replied. “If my men have to sleep on the floor, so should I.”

Hassan got on the radio. “Echo one to supply.”

“Go ahead,” the voice on the other end replied.

“See if you can find fifteen spare mattresses and bring them up to where the prisoners are being held.”

“We only need fourteen.” Hideki scowled, looking at Brett who was lying face-first on the ground.

Hassan laughed. “Make that fourteen.”

“Roger.” The voice replied.

Johansson stood as did Hassan.

“I will keep you informed as to what is happening, Commander,” Johansson said. “Just so you know, if I can get Admiral Hanson, I can probably talk the board into releasing all of you into Federation custody.”

Johansson and Hassan walked to the door. Johansson stopped just short of it though.

“I know what it’s like having to follow orders,” The general stated, looking over his shoulder to Hideki. “I don’t want to have to hold you responsible for this, but if all else fails, I will have to.”

The two CSS officers walked out the door leaving Hideki, Brett, and the two guards alone.

*Captain’s Log – Stardate 60697.1. We’ve been dispatched by Starfleet to a system about 16 light-years from Earth. The system has no planets in it, yet it used to apparently have a Ferengi trading post.

I say used to because a scout ship studying the rare blue giant star detected a debris field where the outpost used to sit.

That isn’t the most worrisome part though.*

Karyn stood from the captain’s seat as the Sisko slowed to a crawl and approached the highest concentration of debris. In the middle of the debris field, an Intrepid class ship, the U.S.S. Las Vegas floated taking scans and an inventory of what debris was left.

“We’re being hailed,” Minako called out.

“On screen,” Karyn ordered.

On the viewscreen the Vulcan captain of the ship, Kelis, appeared.

“Good morning, Captain,” Kelis greeted.

“Good morning. What have you found?”

“There is a heavy mix of deuterium in the debris field, leading us to believe that this wasn’t just a Ferengi junkyard, but an arms depot.”

Ranma stood. “An illegal arms depot in the middle of Federation space?”

The Vulcan looked at Ranma for a moment.

“Hello, Commander.”

Ranma could see that the man on board the Las Vegas wasn’t too pleased to see him, even though they had never met. 

*Word travels fast, even if it’s inaccurate.* Ranma thought to himself. 

Rather than cause a conflict, Ranma walked up to ops to assist Minako with her scanning.

“The fact that this is an arms depot isn’t the most bothersome fact,” Kelis stated. 

“What is it?” Karyn asked.

Minako spoke up before Kelis could. “Ma’am, I’m detecting a Federation weapons signature in the debris.”

Everyone looked to Minako.

“Yes,” Kelis confirmed. “This station was destroyed by a Federation ship.”

“Maybe Starfleet figured out what was going on and sent a ship here to destroy it?” Ryouga pondered.

“No,” Makoto said, shaking her head. “They wouldn’t have destroyed it with the weapons on board.” She looked at her scans. “Or with the Ferengi on board.”

Minako nodded confirmation that there was one dead body included in the debris field.

“Well, we must get back to surveying the star. We will leave this in the Sisko’s capable hands.” Kelis stated. “Good day.”

The screen went blank, and the small ship pulled a 180 and headed back towards the giant blue star off in the distance.

Karyn walked up to ops. 

“He didn’t seem happy to see you. Old friends?” She asked Ranma.

Ranma shook his head. “Depending on which Vulcan you ask, I am either a hero or a murderer.”

“It’s not going to cause any problems, is it?” Karyn asked Ranma with concern.

“No ma’am, assuming we don’t have to go to Vulcan for a while.”

Karyn nodded and turned to Minako.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Minako grumbled.

“What?” Both Ranma and Karyn quizzed.

“The station had no defenses,” She stated, running some more scans. “Whoever it was, they blew up a totally defenseless target.”

Ranma and Karyn looked at each other for a moment before Ranma turned to Makoto.

“Commander,” he called. “Contact Starfleet. I want a list of all ships that have been in the sector over the past week.”

“Aye,” Makoto replied.

Karyn looked to her XO.

“There’s a long-range observation post about four light-years from here. Set up to monitor Maquis ships going from Earth to the DMZ. This system should be within its range.”

Ranma turned and looked at the debris field.

“If we figure out who was here, maybe that will tell us why they did this.”

Karyn looked at Ranma for a moment. Despite her initial concerns, Ranma was turning out to be a fine first officer. Even though it had only been four hours since they started the shift, his natural leadership had already shown through.

She had also noticed how different the crew was reacting to her since his return. They acted more like she wanted them to. More disciplined.

She did not know what he had done to make that happen, but she was happy he did.



“I can’t STAND her!” Rei mumbled.

“She a total bitch,” Shampoo stated.

“At least you haven’t had to work with her yet,” Makoto groaned to Shampoo.

“She keeps yelling at me,” Ryouga added.

“She said I was incorporate,” Usagi slurred.

“Incompetent, sweetie,” Minako corrected.

“That’s even worse!” Usagi wailed.

“She was pissed that she had to approve my leave,” Akane added.

“And those god damned exercises,” Lt. Jansen concluded.

Ranma could do nothing but stare at the table of officers as they continued to complain about Karyn.

Ranma took a mental note to never ask the crew what they thought of the new captain again.

“What’s so different?” Ranma asked.

“She’s just so into ‘procedure’,” Rei responded. 

“Takes all the fun out of the job,” Usagi said.

Ranma looked out the window at the stars whisking by. They were now at warp, but he wasn’t sure where they were headed. He did know that the ship took off an hour or so after Karyn had received a priority message from Starfleet.

However, the ship was still her normal alert level, the level she is always at when not in combat or docked. The NSO teams had not been alerted and the marines weren’t put in any type of heightened alert.

Ranma turned back to the group.

“It’s not supposed to be fun,” he stated.

“Yeah, but with you, it didn’t seem as –“ Makoto tried to look for the right word.

“Strict?” Ranma asked.

“Yeah,” Everyone replied.

Gosnell walked over from where he was fetching drinks and set one down for everyone. He then sat down next to Makoto and put his arm around her. Shampoo and Lt. Jansen were sitting close together as were Minako and Ryouga. Akane scooted closer to Ranma when she noticed that his mind appeared to be lost in thought.

“Maybe that was the problem?” Ranma quietly asked.

“Huh?” Akane queried, looking at her husband with concern.

“Maybe that’s why everything fell apart?” Ranma asked. “If we had been more into procedure maybe I wouldn’t have allowed Shampoo to suffer for weeks before intervening?”

Shampoo looked to Ranma and then lowered her head.

“Maybe if we had been more into procedure then there would have been the proper checks installed to keep the missions flowing smoothly.”

Minako and Makoto looked at each other. They knew what he was talking about, blindly following the order to lower the shields in the atmosphere.

“And if I had followed procedure then we – all of us – wouldn’t be on the receiving end of major Starfleet and Federation scrutiny.”

“It’s not just procedures, Ranma,” Akane replied.

“She’s constantly ragging on us about ‘captain on the bridge’ and micro-managing departments. It’s like this ship has become a prison,” Rei stated.

“Or more like a military ship,” Ranma replied.

“Yeah, but-“ Rei started.

“This isn’t some fucking luxury cruise liner,” Ranma snapped. “This is a battleship. This ship has one purpose and that is to defend the Federation and its citizens from ANY threat.

“Her captain is in charge and if she wants to run the ship the way it is supposed to be run, then she will. And each and every single one of you will do what she wants done, the way she wants it done. You won’t question her; you won’t talk about her behind her back and you WILL NOT expect her to run the ship like an amusement park; like I apparently did.”

Everyone could only stare at Ranma after his unexpected outburst.

“This is HER ship now, like it or not and I expect – no, I DEMAND that you give her the same respect and obedience that you gave me. Is that understood?”

“Yes sir,” everyone, including Gosnell, replied.

Ranma sighed as everyone else sat in silence. Finally, Ryouga broke it.

“Does anyone else think she looks exactly like Ranma when he’s a girl?”

It took six marines to pull Ranma off Ryouga.



Makoto looked up from her terminal.

“I have the observation stations records.”

Karyn and Ranma both stood from their seats and walked over to the security/tactical station.

“There have only been two Federation ships in the sector in the past fourteen days.”

Ranma looked to Makoto.

“I know you said seven, but there were only two ships, so I went back another week just to make certain that they were the only ones.”

“Good thinking,” Ranma acknowledged.

“One, the Las Vegas. But she’s outfitted to log star, uh stuff.”

Minako chuckled at Makoto’s scientific ineptness.

“The other was the U.S.S. Saint Paul.”

Karyn pondered the results.

“What about non-Federation ships?”

“There were thirty-eight but based on these readings none appeared to be armed well enough to destroy the station. Besides, the Federation uses weapons technology developed in-house, so there isn’t any way a non-Federation ship could be equipped with Federation weapons,” she explained.

“What about masking the weapon's signature?” Ranma asked.

“It’s impossible to do it completely,” Makoto stated. “The scans Commander Aino completed were VERY thorough, so we would detect any variation.”

“Where is the Saint Paul now?” Karyn asked.

“According to Starfleet, she should be en route to Starbase 552 for a diplomatic mission.”

Karyn turned to Ranma and nodded.

Ranma spun around. “Lt. Hibiki set course for Starbase 552, maximum warp.”

“Aye,” Ryouga called back.

In moments, the Sisko adjusted her pitch, albeit clumsily, and shot off towards her destination.



“Approaching Starbase 552, Captain,” Ryouga stated.

“Drop to impulse,” Karyn ordered. “Yellow alert.”

Lt. Jansen, in the tactical/security station with Makoto, reached over and hit the button on her console that activated yellow alert.

The status bar on the master situation display switched from blue to yellow. The torpedo launchers on the display, which were currently colored blue to show they were unloaded and offline, quickly switched to yellow, then green to show they were armed and ready. 

The phaser bank indicators also switched from blue to yellow to green. 

The Sisko’s defensive shields fired up. The main shields switched from offline to hot standby. 

The new additions to the ship, short-range phase cannons, activated, but stayed in their compartments inside the ship’s hull; two dorsal, two ventral. If needed the cannons would rise out of the hull and fire in an attempt to destroy incoming torpedoes.

The life support system switched to battle mode; where the one system that controlled the atmosphere on the whole ship switched to four systems. One for the bridge, one for engineering, one for deck five – the deck with most of the lifeboats, and one for the rest of the ship. The NSO area in the former flight operations center, sitting upon the ‘pontoons’ that housed the warp nacelles, had its own separate system already.

Down on deck seventeen, marines and security officers grabbed weapons and ran to sensitive locations on the ship to make sure if they were boarded it would be exceedingly difficult for the enemy to gain control of the ship.

Ranma hit a button on his chair and the tactical display screen emerged from its retracted state between the XO and CO’s chairs. Both Ranma and Karyn looked at it, puzzled.

“She should be on long-range sensors by now,” Ranma stated.

Karyn agreed. She turned to Minako. “Any contact?”

Minako shook her head. “No ma’am. The Starbase has attempted to contact them on subspace but got no reply.”

Karyn and Ranma watched the display for almost an hour in silence before Minako spoke up again.

“Captain, Starfleet Command on subspace.” 

“On screen,” Karyn ordered.

On the viewscreen, Admiral Larson appeared. “Good afternoon, Captain,” he stated.

Karyn nodded.

“The Sisko can stand down.”

Ranma looked to Karyn who was as befuddled as he was.

“Sir?” She asked.

“The Saint Paul is not coming to Starbase 552,” he informed the crew. The tone of his voice told everyone on the bridge that something was not right.

“Understood,” Karyn stated. Ranma turned to Makoto.

“Stand down yellow alert,” he ordered as Karyn continued her conversation.

“What would you like us to do?”

“Head back this way. I am hoping you won’t be needed to handle this – situation. But I’d like you back here just in case.”

Karyn nodded as Larson terminated the communication.

“What do you think is going on?” Ranma asked.

Karyn shrugged. “Take us home.”

Ranma nodded as Karyn walked to her ready room.

“Set a course for Earth. Warp six.” Ranma ordered.

“Sir,” Minako called out. “I have the Starbase on the line. They have an ambassador who wants to know who is going to take him to his meeting.”

Ranma shrugged as Ryouga plotted the course for Earth. “Tell them to call a taxi.”

Minako looked at Ranma for a moment before informing the Starbase that transportation would need to be arranged for with Starfleet.

Ryouga tapped the large yellow button on his console and the ship swung around and shot off towards Sol.