Admiral Hanson sat in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the U.S.S. Saint Paul. He casually stroked his beard as he watched the planet below slowly rotate.
It had been twenty minutes since they had last heard from the teams on the surface. Either they were obeying orders to maintain radio silence, or they were all dead.
Hanson hoped for the former, but based on their last traffic, he feared the latter.
“Admiral!” The operations officer shouted.
“I have ships decloaking in front of us,” he replied. The tactical officer also spoke up.
“We’re being hailed. It’s the shuttles.”
Hanson nodded as two Romulan shuttles decloaked a few thousand meters off the bow of the ship.
“Where’s the other one?” Hanson asked.
“Sir,” tactical spoke up. “They’re requesting permission to dock.”
“Yes,” Hanson stated as he turned to Ops.
“One aboard each ship.”
Hanson stood and walked to the viewscreen as the ships maneuvered towards the Saint Paul’s aft shuttle bays.
“Where are the away teams?” He asked no one in particular.
“INCOMING!” tactical screamed.
Hanson spun and looked to tactical.
“Fifty-six small interceptors,” he informed the admiral.
“Weapons?” Sarah asked from the first officer’s seat.
Tactical hit some buttons and checked the readout.
“Phase cannons and quantum missiles,” tactical finally replied. “They’ll tear us apart.” He whimpered quietly.
“Lock weapons,” Hanson ordered as he returned to his seat.
“Sir,” Sarah protested. “We could maybe hit fifteen or twenty of them before they get to us, but once they get to close, our weapons will be useless.”
“I’m not asking you, Commander,” Hanson replied.
Sarah stood. “Look, you don’t want anyone to know of Federation involvement in this? Then you need to move this ship to a safe location.
“Our weapons WILL leave a trail.”
Sarah began to walk to the helm. “Not to mention the debris of this ship will have Federation written all over it. Literally.”
Sarah turned to the helmsman. “Set course to that nebula.” She ordered while pointing out a small nebula a half light-year from the Chidori system on the helm sensor readout.
Hanson did not care for the insubordination, but she was right. The Saint Paul was not a warship. She wouldn’t be able to fend off all the interceptors.
The Saint Paul spun around and shot off at warp speed towards the nebula.
The turbolift doors at the rear of the bridge slid open and the pilots of the two remaining shuttles walked onto the Saint Paul’s control room.
“What happened?” Hanson asked as he turned to them. “Where’s the away team?”
“They’ve been either killed or captured. The third shuttle was destroyed,” the first pilot replied rather bluntly.
Sarah turned around upon hearing the news.
“Hideki,” she mumbled under her breath.
The Saint Paul dropped out of warp at the perimeter of the nebula. The helmsman turned to Sarah to receive his orders, but she was storming over to Hanson. The helmsman took it upon himself to steer the medium-sized ship into the protection of the cloud of gasses.
“You could have saved them,” Sarah grumbled at Hanson.
“Commander, sit down.”
“I will not,” she replied, her voice rising. “Contact Starfleet,” she called to the tactical officer.
“Belay that, Lieutenant,” Hanson contradicted.
“Do what I say,” Sarah responded. “I am the executive officer on this ship.”
“Not anymore,” Hanson grimaced. “Lieutenant, escort Commander Earl to her quarters.”
Sarah’s eyes got narrow as she turned to Hanson.
“No, escort the Admiral to the brig.”
The poor lieutenant caught in the middle, Lt. Jose Alverez, didn’t know what to do. He was almost at the bottom of the Saint Paul security totem pole. His primary job was to guard the small arms locker.
He had never been on the bridge before, much less caught in the middle of a power struggle,
“Lieutenant!” Both Sarah and Hanson barked.
Alverez looked back and forth between the two like he was watching a tennis match. On one hand, Commander Earl WAS the second in command of this ship. On the other, the Admiral outranked them all.
Alverez sighed and drew his phaser.
“Please come with me, Commander,” he requested as he began to walk towards Sarah.
All eyes were on Sarah. The short blonde looked to Alverez, then to Hanson. She then looked around the bridge. She looked into the eyes of every crew member.
“Hands up, Lieutenant,” one of the pilots of the shuttle stated as he drew his phaser and pointed it to Alverez.
The second pilot turned to his comrade for a moment before drawing his own phaser and pointing it at Hanson.
“Put the phaser down,” Hanson ordered the pilots.
The first pilot shook his head. “No sir. You had a chance to save them, and you didn’t. You’re not fit to wear that uniform, much less be on the bridge.”
The standoff seemed to last forever. Helm, Science, Operations, and Engineering could do nothing but watch since none of them were armed.
The hiss of the turbolift doors on the front of the bridge finally broke the silence.
Out of the turbolift walked the six remaining members of the Saint Paul’s security detail. All enlisted crewmen.
They looked around; unsure of whom they needed to point their weapons at.
“Take the XO and Lieutenants Sloan and Gore into custody,” Alverez ordered them.
Not knowing what was going on, the ensigns blindly followed their orders and drew their weapons on the two pilots.
One of the pilots, Lt. Sloan, quickly pointed his phaser at the security officers. All six of them fired, striking Sloan in the chest. He slammed against the rear wall of the bridge and slid to the ground.
Lt. Gore quickly moved to check his friend. He turned back to the security officers as they converged on the two pilots.
“You killed him.”
The security officers stopped in their tracks.
“We were set on stun.”
“Idiots!” Sarah yelled. “It doesn’t just stun them if you shoot them with six guns!”
“Take them to the brig,” Hanson ordered as he returned to his seat. “Call sickbay and have them retrieve Lt. Sloan’s body.”
Three of the officers moved in and detained Sarah. The other three grabbed Gore. They then began to pull them to the turbolift while Alverez moved back to his station.
“You just don’t give a damn who you kill, do you?” Sarah called to the Admiral as she is forced into the turbolift.
Hanson just watched the viewscreen as the turbolift doors shut. The bridge returned to silence as Lt. Sloan’s lifeless body lay on the cold deck of the Saint Paul’s bridge.
Gosnell looked around the Sisko’s lounge. Everyone needed to be in position for his plan to work.
So far, no one was.
Makoto was nowhere to be seen. Minako was also not in the bar.
Gosnell looked to Ryouga who was seated at his usual table. Ryouga was looking around as well. He turned back to Gosnell who simply shrugged.
Gosnell hit his communicator.
“Gosnell to Makoto.”
“Go ahead.” Makoto’s voice replied.
“Where are you?”
Makoto, from her station on the bridge sighed.
“We’re running an exercise. We’re going to be late.”
Makoto eyed Minako who was at the operations station. Minako’s sixth sense told her that she was being watched. She turned to Makoto who did a bad job of trying to pretend that she wasn’t staring.
“I’ll call you when we come that way,” Makoto stated, ending the communication.
Minako brought up her instant messaging terminal.
*maino* - What?
*mkinogosnell* - Nothing. Just waiting for this thing to end.
*maino* - Okay.
Makoto returned her attention to the exercise for a moment before sending Minako another message.
*mkinogosnell* - Hey when we are done here let’s go down to the lounge.
*maino* - Eh, I’m tired. I think I am just going to go to my quarters.
*mkinogosnell* - NO!! Please come with me, just for a little bit!
Minako turned to Makoto and eyed her for a moment.
*maino* - Fine. For just a little while.
Makoto grins and goes back to working on her terminal. Minako eyed Makoto for a bit longer, before resuming her work.
“Excellent,” Makoto grinned to herself.
Gosnell set down another drink in front of Ryouga. He then took a seat across from Ryouga.
“They will be coming soon. The drill they are doing is taking longer than expected.”
Ryouga nodded and took a swig of the highly potent ale that Gosnell had brought him. He then looked up and across the room. He casually motioned with his head for Gosnell to look in that direction as well.
“What do you think is up with them?” Ryouga asked about the pair seated in a booth directly in front of one of the large observation windows in the forward part of the lounge.
Gosnell looked at the pair. They were sitting close together. Much closer than casual friends do.
“I don’t know. She helped her a lot. They probably have a close friendship.” Gosnell suggested.
Ryouga shook his head. “No. It’s more than that, I can tell.”
“You can tell?” Gosnell questioned. “You didn’t even know when the captain was disguised as a girl teasing you. How can you tell anything about something as complicated as love?”
Ryouga scowled at Gosnell. “How did you hear about that?”
“The captain has quite the loose tongue when he’s been drinking.”
Ryouga grimaced and turned back to the pair and watched for a moment. One of the ladies, in a gold Starfleet uniform, took the hand of the other, wearing civilian clothes.
“I’ve never seen Shampoo smile so much,” Ryouga explained.
Shampoo took the hand of her blonde companion and squeezed it softly.
“Plus, I’ve seen Lieutenant Jansen on deck two a lot,” Ryouga continued.
“What are you doing on deck two?” Gosnell asked.
Ryouga turned to Gosnell and glared. “I still try and visit Akane as often as I can.”
Gosnell whimpered. Ryouga’s glares could put the fear of God into God himself.
Ryouga turned back to Shampoo and Jansen.
“Do you think they are a couple?”
Gosnell scratched his head. “Given her obsession with Ranma, I really don’t think she’s into girls in, ahem, that way.”
Shampoo and Lt. Jansen shared a kiss.
Ryouga raised an eyebrow and turned to Gosnell. Gosnell shrugged.
“Well, I guess you can’t control where you find love, eh?”
“Obviously not. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have married a gossip and a voyeur,” Makoto stated.
Gosnell cowered. Makoto chuckled as she kissed her husband on the cheek and sat down next to him. She then looked up to Minako, who had a look on her face. A look that seemed to say ‘ah, I get it’.
“Hi,” Ryouga managed to squeak out to Minako with a nervous smile on his face.
Minako smiled at him. “Hi, Ryouga.”
“Sit down!” Makoto instructed Minako.
Minako complied and sat down next to Ryouga.
One of Gosnell’s staff came up to the table.
“Howdy boss. What can’t I get for you guys?”
Gosnell nodded to his subordinate. “I’ll take a Corona, two limes.”
Makoto also nodded. “Same.”
Minako looked to Ryouga as he ordered.
All eyes were on Minako.
“Just an iced tea, please. No sugar.”
“Okay, I’ll be back with those in just a minute!” The waiter said as he bounded off to the replicator.
The group sat in awkward silence for a little while before Makoto finally spoke up.
“So, Ryouga,” Ryouga looked up at Makoto upon hearing his name. “What’s your opinion on the new captain?”
Ryouga nervously looked around.
“Is this some sort of security test?” He asked quietly. “I mean, I answer in the wrong way and you send me down to the brig and eventually to the Starfleet prisons at Gitmo?”
“What?” Makoto asked. “No, I’m just making conversation!”
“Oh,” Ryouga blushed. “Your husband has been talking to me a lot about things like that.”
Gosnell cowered again as Makoto glared at him.
“She’s alright. Far stricter than Ranma was, but that might not be a bad thing,” Ryouga explained.
Makoto nodded as the waiter brought everyone’s drinks. He set them on the table at their respective places.
Once he walked off, Makoto slapped her forehead.
“D’oh! I forgot! I need to do a security check on the – the – LCARS manifolds behind the bar!”
Minako turned and eyed her friend suspiciously as Makoto stood.
“Come on, Gosnell,” Makoto ordered.
“I don’t work in security,” Gosnell complained. “And what the hell is an LCARS manifold?”
His complaints were short-lived as Makoto grabbed him by the ear and dragged him and the couple’s Coronas back behind the bar.
Ryouga looked to Minako and chuckled nervously. Minako smiled at him. She really liked his nervous chuckle, and it was nice to hear it again.
“So, how have you been?” Ryouga stammered out.
Minako leaned back in her seat and took a drink of her tea.
“I’ve been okay. How about you?”
Ryouga also leaned back and took a drink of the concoction that he was sipping on.
“I’ve been good,” He explained. “Very busy though.”
Minako nodded. “The captain has been keeping us very busy.”
Ryouga sighed. “I’m lying.”
Minako cocked her head slightly. “You haven’t been busy?”
Ryouga shook his head. “No, I haven’t. And I haven’t been good either.”
Ryouga scooted closer to Minako and gathered every single bit of his courage. Granted that it was not a lot, but when he balled it all up into one courageous burst, it would be enough.
“I’ve been sad and upset. I realize every single day that I screwed something – perfect – up. And I hate it.”
“Ryouga,” Minako sighed.
“Minako, what happened was… Well, my problem is that I have never been good with women. Or people in general, I guess. Anyway, I’ve never had a real relationship or anything even remotely serious before in my life.
“I was afraid that if what was going on between you and me didn’t work out that I would never be able to find someone again. So, I was pushing too hard to cement it so that it would never end.”
Ryouga sighed and took Minako’s hand.
“Problem was I didn’t take into account how you felt.”
Ryouga squeezed Minako’s hand.
“I overreacted big time. I had no right to be as selfish as I was. And even if there isn’t going to be an ‘us’, this sucks. I want us to at least be friends.”
Ryouga blushed. “But I do hope that you will give me another chance.”
At the bar, both Makoto and Gosnell were ducked down, their eyes peering over the top of the bar, watching the pair. Makoto turned to Gosnell.
“What’s he saying?”
Gosnell shrugged. “I don’t know. I can’t hear him.”
Makoto stood and completely turned to her mate. “WHAT? I thought you said you had super hearing!”
Gosnell stood and shrugged again. “I assumed I did.”
Makoto promptly found the wettest noodle she could and began to shellac Gosnell with it.
Two off-duty security guards walked into the lounge and saw Makoto beating the ever-loving snot out of Gosnell.
“Way to work the face, boss!” One exclaimed.
Minako looked right into Ryouga’s eyes. She took her free hand and touched his face.
“I –“ she stammered. “I’m sorry. I should have been more understanding of your feelings.”
Minako leaned in and kissed Ryouga.
“WOO HOO!” A male and female voice yelled from the bar area.
Both Minako and Ryouga blushed and broke their embrace.
“Why don’t we go back to my quarters where we can talk in private, eh?” Minako grinned.
Ryouga nodded and smiled. “Lead the way.”
The pair stood and walked out of the bar, hand in hand, all the time Gosnell – with several red marks on his face – and Makoto were doing some sort of happy dance behind the bar.
As they were walking out, Karyn walked in. Everyone stopped as they met up at the doorway.
Karyn looked to Ryouga, then to Minako, and then began to walk into the bar.
“Absolutely adorable!” She exclaimed.
The clock above Courtroom Six kept ticking the seconds away. It had been over four hours since Captain Sanchez had gone into her office to decide Ranma’s fate.
“I guess this might be a good sign,” Ranma decided to break the silence and mused to the group of people that were there to support him.
Akane, Genma, and Admiral Larson all looked up at him.
“If this was just a mock trial for show, I am sure she would have returned with her decision by now. After all, you know how much those office types hate staying past 17:00!”
The group all laughed.
It was the only thing they could do. If Ranma was found guilty he would be sent to a Federation prison for thirty years. Even with good behavior and parole, he would not get out for at least ten.
None of them had gone the whole time with their spirits up though. Even Ranma, after a harsh cross-examination, broke down and wanted to give up.
He was not one to give up, but when you’re facing a certain defeat, it can be hard to want or try to continue.
Akane wasn’t sure what she would do if Ranma was to be found guilty. She still felt at fault. She still had what Ranma said etched into her mind. But she could not imagine a life without him anymore. Even worse, she could not imagine a life where she was the one who lost him.
Genma, while keeping the usual stone-like face on the outside was hurting on the inside. He was an immensely proud man, and he was very proud of his son. It would take its toll on him if his son, an honorable man in his own right, were to be convicted of such a dishonorable act.
Larson’s communicator beeped.
“Admiral, please return with your client to the courtroom. Captain Sanchez is read to render her verdict,” the bailiff’s voice instructed.
Ranma inhaled deeply.
“I need a smoke,” Akane stated.
Ranma looked to his wife. He had gotten her to quit a month ago. He was certainly not going to be the one who started her up again.
Ranma took Akane’s hand. He nodded to Larson who led the group into the courtroom.
Larson walked up to the defense table. Ranma stopped at the spectator row that Akane and Genma were seated in. He continued to hold Akane’s hand.
“I need you to know something, Akane.”
Akane looked into Ranma’s blue eyes. They were as piercing as ever they burned right into her soul.
“No matter what happens, I love you. I always have and I always will. As a man, I need to take responsibility for my actions. All of them.”
“I’m sorry for everything. For putting you through this. For doing everything I’ve done in the past. For it all. I’m sorry.”
Akane began to cry. “Ranma. It’s my fault. If I hadn’t been there-“
“If you hadn’t been there, I might have killed your sisters. And even if you weren’t there, it would have hurt me as much as it would have while you were there.
“Just because you weren’t around, doesn’t mean I didn’t love you.”
Ranma pulled Akane into his arms.
“You are my soul. You are my conscience. You are my life.”
Ranma felt a tear welling up in his eye. He quickly wiped it away when Larson cleared his throat.
Ranma kissed Akane once and walked up to the defense table. Genma wrapped his arm around Akane and led her to her seat.
“ALL RISE!” The bailiff yelled.
The room stood. Gwen walked into the room and looked around. She took her seat, as did the rest of the courtroom.
Gwen straightened out some of the PADDs on the bench for a moment. For Ranma, it seemed like an hour.
“Commander Saotome, please rise,” she requested.
Ranma stood as did Admiral Larson.
“Commander, while I have never served on a starship, I have done this job long enough to understand how difficult it can be. How mind-boggling and frustrating it can be to have to decide who lives and who dies.
“I understand how hard it can be to have to separate your personal feelings and emotions from your job. Sometimes they must go hand in hand, and how other times they have to be light years away from each other.”
Gwen looked at one of the PADDs before looking at Ranma.
“Commander, I have PADD after PADD of mistake and bad decision here. I really cannot wrap my mind around this. How someone so decorated, so competent can make so many stupid mistakes.”
Gwen looked towards Akane.
“Yet at the same time, I can.”
She turned back to Ranma.
“You’ve lost your command because of this, and if it were up to me, I would send you back to the academy for a few years and have you retake starship command courses. But of course, that’s not my decision.
“What is my decision is if you spend the next thirty years in prison. And that is why my decision took so long.”
Gwen looked to Orayyo, Young, and Salek before returning her attention to Ranma.
“Mistakes, mistakes, and more mistakes. That is all I have heard in this case. From before it even started. Mr. Salek and Councilman Young made the mistake of trying to convince me to find you guilty despite the evidence; something that I am certain is illegal.
“Lucky for both of them they have diplomatic immunity,” Gwen groaned.
“At any rate, while I have found more mistakes than I can count, punishing those mistakes are the responsibility of Starfleet administration, not of the judiciary. What I did not find is clear and obvious evidence of negligence.
“Commander Ranma Saotome, I find you not guilty on all six counts of negligent homicide.”
Gwen banged her gavel.
“This court-martial is dismissed.”
Ranma exhaled deeply. Larson grabbed the younger man and hugged him tightly. Genma smiled as Akane broke down into tears.
“ALL RISE!” The bailiff yelled.
Young and Salek stood and looked to Ranma. They then turned to Orayyo.
Orayyo turned around as Gwen left the room.
“I told you,” he stated as he gathered his belongings and walked out of the courtroom.
“So, what now?” Young asked.
“I can have him tried in a Vulcan court,” Salek stated.
“You’ll have to wait till either he retires or quits.” Young groaned. “Active-duty Starfleet officers cannot be tried in a Federation civilian court for actions taken in the line of duty.”
Salek nodded and turned towards the door.
“Who says that Vulcan will be a Federation planet for much longer?”
Young grinned and followed Salek out the door.
Out in the hallway, Larson, Genma, Akane, and Ranma stood around, chatting when a blue light began to appear.
Once the light was gone, a screeching voice bellowed out.
“That’s Admiral to you!” Happosai snarled. “I see you managed to get yourself out of another mess.”
“Hrmph,” Ranma hrmphed. “Maybe if you hadn’t had the sixth fleet out stealing panties you could have been some help.”
“YOU LITTLE INGRATE!” Happosai yelled.
“Stealing panties?” Larson asked.
Happosai turned to Larson, all ready to yell at him. However, his ability to count stopped him.
Happosai’s admiral pips: One, two, three.
Larson’s pips: One, two, three, four.
“It was a training exercise, sir,” Happosai mumbled.
Akane laughed. She had never heard Happosai humbled before. It was a nice sight.
Ranma smiled at Akane. It was the first time in months that he had heard her laugh and seen her smile. Not the forced laughs and smiles that she had been putting on, but a real one.
“It’s better this way, any way,” Happosai sighed, returning his attention to Ranma.
“Oh yeah?” Ranma asked.
“Yeah. They’d eat you up in prison!” Happosai grinned as he tossed a bucket of water on Ranma.
“WHAT’D YOU DO THAT FOR?!” Ranma-Chan screamed. Her question was answered though as Happosai pounced on the now dripping wet officer and began to feel her up.
“Ah, the wonderful memories!” Genma happily cried as Larson simply stared in shock.
“PERVERTED OLD MAN!” Ranma-Chan screamed as she booted Happosai out the window and into the twilight that made up the evening San Francisco sky; Happosai laughing all the way.
Ranma-Chan looked to Larson, who was trying to comprehend what just happened.
“I – uh – I turn into a girl when splashed with cold water,” Ranma-Chan explained.
“It breaks my heart,” Genma cried.
Ranma-Chan grumbled and dumped a bucket of cold water on Genma.
“I can understand, Admiral Ling-Ling,” Ranma-Chan mused.
Larson turned to see a large panda where Genma once stood.
*It’s a long story.* Genma-Panda’s sign read.
“I don’t want to know,” Larson stated. “I’m going to go home and take a nap now.”
Larson walked off, leaving Genma-Panda, Ranma-Chan, and Akane alone in the hallway.
Ranma-Chan looked to the clock.
“Let’s go get dinner.” She suggested.
Genma-Panda and Akane both nodded in agreement.
Inside the Chidori III facility, Hideki sat in a wooden chair. He was placed in what seemed to be a storage room turned interrogation room. There was some sunlight coming in through a set of small windows towards the top of the walls. There was also dim track lighting in the center of the ceiling. A single door also sat in the center of one of the walls.
Hideki, albeit dirty, was not that bad off. The people who captured him had him handcuffed, but in front of his body, rather than behind. He was not secured to the chair in any way. The seemingly lax attitude in not restraining him more made an escape attempt a thought to ponder, but only ponder and not attempt.
Next to the door stood two uniformed Chidori Security Service officers. The number of weapons they had attached to them; a handgun, magazines, what looked to be some kind of stun gun, as well as the semiautomatic rifles they were carrying made it obvious that no attempted escape would end with him remaining alive.
The lock on the door disengages and a shadowy figure walks into the room.
“Good morning. I am Lieutenant Dolf Hassan of the Chidori Security Services.”
Hideki simply nodded.
“I don’t get the pleasure of knowing your name?”
“I don’t have a name,” Hideki stoically answered.
“That’s fair. I’ll think of a name for you later.”
“Okay,” Hideki nodded.
Hassan walked across the room and pulled up another chair. He slid it across from Hideki and sat down in it. The guards moved over and stood to each side of Hassan. Hassan looked around for a table or anything to set the items he was carrying down on but found nothing. Annoyed, he simply put them down on the floor next to him.
“I apologize for not having better facilities. We’re not equipped to handle prisoners,” Hassan stated.
“I’ve been in worse.” Hideki mused.
Hassan nodded. “Did you get fed yet?”
“Good,” Hassan smiled. “So down to business then.”
Hassan paused, hit a button on a small device, and continued.
“For the record, our conversation will be recorded,” he explained as he returned his attention to Hideki. “Why were you attacking our facility?”
Hideki looked up at him. “We’re terrorists. That is what we do.”
“You are not terrorists,” Hassan shook his head and frowned. “You are Federation.”
Hideki paused for a second and then laughed.
“You’ve been up to long. The Federation doesn’t hire terrorists.”
Hassan smiled, stood, then quickly turned and punched Hideki in the side of his face. Hideki was knocked out of the chair he was sitting in.
The two guards in the room quickly picked up Hideki and set him back in the chair. Hideki turned and spat some blood out of his mouth.
“You are right. Your assault drug me out of bed way too early,” Hassan said, shaking his fist slightly. He had forgotten how much punching someone hurt his hand. “You are the leader of this group, yes?” Hassan asked.
“I am,” Hideki replied.
“So, who are you?” Hassan asked after a moment. “Starfleet Intelligence? Starfleet Security? The rumored Section 31?”
“I am not affiliated with Starfleet.”
Hassan sat back down in his chair. He picked up Hideki’s phaser rifle, what did look to be a matte black version of the standard Starfleet rifle, and showed it to him.
“No matter what color you paint it, this gun has a Starfleet energy signature.”
“Just because I am not affiliated with Starfleet doesn’t mean I don’t steal weapons from them.”
Hassan laughed heartily. The two other guards also laughed. Hassan stopped laughing and jammed the butt of the rifle into Hideki’s stomach. His hand still hurt, so he wasn’t going to punch Hideki again. Not that he really cared for this kind of interrogation anyway. He really was just trying to get things over with.
“Why must you lie to me?” Hassan asked as Hideki groaned and fell out of his chair once again.
Hassan turned to one of the guards. “Bring him in.”
The guard complied and left the room. The other uprighted Hideki and moved him back into his seat. Hassan tossed the phaser rifle back to the floor and crossed his legs.
“While we wait, would you mind telling me why you stormed the facility?” Hassan asked.
“My employer is angry that you have the monopoly on FOX in the quadrant.”
There was a pause of about a half-minute as Hassan and the guard looked to Hideki with one of those ‘are you serious’ looks you give someone who has just said something incredibly stupid.
“FOX?” Hassan finally laughed. The guard that was with them also laughed. “Your ‘employer’ needs to do better research. FOX hasn’t been made at this facility in years. Your starship, which we intercepted communications to from you, by the way, needs to run better scans. All the fulnahuric gas was mined out of the atmosphere two years ago.
“This is a chemical weapons facility now. We make weapons for the Klingons, among others. Of course, you would know that if you’d have checked the Starfleet Database before coming. It’s common knowledge. The Federation has threatened to shut us down on multiple occasions. I figured this was one of them.”
“What?” Hideki groaned, looking up and making eye contact with Hassan.
Hassan pointed to the guard standing with him. He pointed to the various weapons the guard was carrying as he spoke.
“Do you really think a party drug manufacturing facility would be so heavily guarded? One outside of Federation space that makes a product that is legal pretty much everywhere outside of the Federation?” Hassan asked.
“Did you see any atmosphere miners flying around up there? How about the storage towers? Didn’t anyone notice they were gone?”
Hideki clenched his fists at what he just learned. Several of his men were killed over incorrect information.
Not just incorrect, wrong. Blatantly wrong.
“I think FOX is now made on a moon orbiting Anjaria Six,” Hassan laughed.
The door reopened and the guard walked in with a dirty Brett Alexander.
Hassan stood and smiled. He instructed the guard to seat Brett across from Hideki.
“You want some good advice?” Hassan asked Hideki.
Hideki just looked at Brett with utter scorn in his eyes. He could not care less about what Hassan had to say at this point.
“If you don’t want people to know that you are Federation, don’t bring a high ranking – and therefore very well know – Federation official with you.”
Hassan turned to Brett.
“Isn’t that right, Councilman Alexander? As Chairman of the Federation’s Foreign Relations Committee, you should know that this isn’t really the best way to relate to foreign governments.”
Brett looked to Hassan and grumbled. “You killed my little girl.”
“FOX ISN’T MADE HERE ANYMORE YOU JACKASS,” Hideki screamed. “YOU KILLED GOD KNOWS HOW MANY OF MY MEN!”
“Five,” Hassan helpfully stated.
“What are you talking about?” Brett asked turning to Hideki.
“How old was that god damned report?” Hideki demanded.
“A few years, but-“
“Jesus Christ!” Hideki screamed. He looked to Hassan. “Can we make a deal?”
“COMMANDER!” Brett yelled.
“Screw you, I don’t work for you,” Hideki bluntly stated.
“If you give them information, you’ll be court-martialed!”
Hideki laughed. “You’re assuming we won’t all be court-martialed anyway?”
Hideki continued to laugh more.
“Commander Hideki Montasori;”
“ID number Sierra 7-2-3-2-1 dash 2-1-9 Echo Zulu;”
“Chief of Security for the Federation ship the U.S.S. Saint Paul.”
Brett quickly stood and made an attempt to rush Hideki. One of the guards grabbed him and threw him to the floor before he could get close.
“This was an unauthorized assault; the Federation had no knowledge of this. My government-“ Hideki looked to Brett as he lay face down on the ground with the guard on top of him. “Well, most of my government had no involvement in this.”
“Where is your ship?” Hassan asked.
“I won’t tell you that until I have a deal.”
Hassan kicked Brett aside and sat down across from Hideki.
“What do you want?”
“Release my men. Keep me; I will bear all responsibility for this attack.”
“What about him?” Hassan asked, chucking his thumb at Brett who was feebly attempting to get from underneath the much larger guard.
“I could not give a single damn what you do with him,” Hideki stated, glaring right at Brett.
“I will plead guilty at a trial for whatever charges you place on me. All I ask is for the freedom of my men, and for safe passage of my ship out of this system.”
Hideki shook his head and laughed. “She’s not a battleship. For crying out loud, we’re a science and exploration ship. I’m in charge of ship’s security, not some damned infantry unit.”
Hideki stopped laughing as a tear came to his eye. He looked to the floor.
“That’s why we got killed. Because HE could not use official channels. He had to go behind everyone’s back.”
Hideki looked back up at Hassan.
“I can’t let the loved ones of those who died to sit and wonder for the rest of their lives what happened to their family members. If you keep everyone here, no one will know what happened. Even if you contact the Federation, they won’t allow this event to become public.”
“No one will know the truth.”
Hassan leaned forward and looked at Hideki for a moment. He finally sighed, nodded, and stood.
“I will talk it over with my superiors. Maybe I can work something out since you killed none of our staff.”
Hassan walked to the door, stopping just shy of it though.
“There is no government here, Commander. We’re the only thing on this planet. It’s unaligned. There will be no trial. No charges. Just an execution.”
Hassan left the room but left the two guards to watch Brett and Hideki. The guards lifted Brett up and sat him down across from Hideki.
“You’ve betrayed your oath,” Brett stated dryly.
Hideki looked up at Brett.
“You are lecturing me on betrayal? You led five good officers into a slaughter. You illegally attacked a sovereign planet. All for what? Because your daughter didn’t know when to say when?
“Was avenging the death of your daughter worth the lives of five officers? Well, Ahab? Does it make you feel better knowing that at least she isn’t the only one dead?”
Brett was on the verge of tears. “Shut up.”
“You know what the really bitch is, Ahab? You caught your damned whale, but it was the wrong fucking one. And guess what, not only do you not have your leg back, but you’ve lost your arms as well.”
“I really hope they execute you first.” Hideki chuckled.