Ranma nodded a thank you to a security officer as they helped the pig-tailed captain from the helicopter to the landing pad at the Western Executive Mansion, about 1,600 kilometers from the Sisko’s crash site.
Ranma looked around in awe as he is escorted into the main hallway. The palace was very lushly decorated with ancient Valari art that covered the walls from top to bottom.
There were also multiple pictures that looked to represent a man in a long flowing robe, like Earth pictures of God from the same era.
Ranma continued to look around at all the decorations. The huge, crystal chandeliers that adorned the ceilings, the plush, wool carpet that was so soft he could swear that even through his dress boots, he could feel how soft it was.
After walking down what had to be a Sisko’s length of hallways, Ranma and his escorts came upon two large doors. Two military officers in full formal dress snapped to attention and very methodically put on a huge production in simply opening the doors.
Ranma smiled. It was an interesting feeling being treated like someone who was more important than they were. Ranma had acknowledged that in the grand scheme of things, he was nothing more than just another cog in the machinery. So, when someone treated him like he was more than that, well, it felt good.
It felt good even if he did feel that the person treating him so well did have an ulterior motive for doing so. As well, despite how he was being treated he could feel some uncomfortableness, and even hostility, from some of those around him. Ranma just brushed it off. He would not judge them as he did not know how he would react in their place, seeing an alien for the first time. At this point, Ranma was not aware that the disdain and hostility was not about who or what he was, but rather, how he looked.
Mao looked up from his recliner as the doors opened. He smiled when he saw Ranma walk in, still flanked by the two security guards. Mao shot them a quick nod and they left the room.
The Prime Minister walked over to Ranma and bowed. Ranma returned the greeting and was escorted by the blue and silver speckled man to the dinner table.
“I hope you enjoy seafood,” Mao smiled.
Ranma chuckled. “I do. I am not that picky anyway. As long as I can catch it, I’ll eat it.”
Mao chuckled back. “Hopefully, we won’t have to chase this.”
The pair sat across from each other in silence for a few moments while the minister's staff brought out the first course, which consisted of a rather large salad made with some of the greenest lettuce Ranma had ever seen, other vegetables and fish. The waiter also filled up a glass with some bright purple wine.
Ranma took a bite of his salad. He then had to put forth every ounce of willpower he had to not inhale the rest of it.
“Wow,” Ranma stated.
“I take it you like it?” Mao asked.
Ranma nodded as he took another bite. “I’ve never tasted anything quite like this before.”
“You don’t have this kind of food on your planet?” Mao asked curiously.
Ranma shook his head.
“We do, but it tastes…” Ranma looked for what he was trying to say. “Different.”
Ranma took another bite and continued. “Plus, the food we have on our ship isn’t ‘fresh’ so maybe I am just used to that.” Ranma grinned.
Mao smiled. “Your ship is pretty big. How many people are on her?”
Ranma swallowed and paused for a minute. He quickly tried to sum up the nature of Mao’s request.
“448.” Ranma inhaled. “Actually 404, after the crash.”
Mao dropped his smile. “I’m sorry, Captain.”
Ranma nodded. “Please, call me Ranma.”
“Ranma,” Mao replied. “If there is anything my government can do to help, let us know.”
Ranma smiled. “I appreciate the offer. We are grateful for what you are doing to keep the cultural contamination as low as possible.”
“That’s probably in both our best interests right now,” Mao half grinned. “Mass hysteria is the last thing I need.”
Ranma nodded but did not say anything.
The pair continued to eat for a while. Once the second course had arrived – something that was like a lobster and shrimp pasta dish – Ranma began to reengage the Prime Minister in small talk.
“So, tell me about your planet,” Ranma requested.
Mao took a bite and began to talk.
“Our planet is called ‘Valari’. It means ‘Paradise.’ God placed us on this planet over a half million years ago.
“Our planet is pretty young. Scientists think that God created it not more than one billion years ago.”
Ranma nodded. “Our planet is believed to be about four and a half billion years old.”
“Makes sense why you would be far more advanced than us,” Mao commented.
“Eh,” Ranma replied between bites. “Your civilization is not that far behind us. Most of our advances have happened in the past 500 years. And based on everything I have seen, you’re just a few hundred years behind us, and very close to developing faster than light travel.”
Mao shook his head. “We’ve never really been interested in space exploration. God has given us everything we need right here on Valari.”
Ranma smiled. “Based on just the beautiful forest, that I again apologize for damaging, I can understand why.”
Mao chuckled. “The forest will grow back.”
Ranma continued to eat for a while.
“Does your world have a single government?” Ranma asked after a few moments.
Mao grew a scornful look on his face. Ranma hoped that it was not directed at him.
“No,” Mao stated, the contempt in his voice obvious. “There is a second race of Valarians who live on the eastern continent.”
Ranma’s eyes darted around the room as all the security guards seemed to have the same look of scorn – no – hate on their faces.
“I take it there is some bad blood between your peoples?” Ranma quietly asked although the question was quite unnecessary.
“Yes. The ‘Guraff’ are nothing more than thugs and murderers.”
Mao stood and walked to a television. He punched some buttons, and a news report came on. Ranma turned to it attentively.
“Final projections of damage from the Western Office of Information reports that five million, two hundred ninety-seven thousand, four hundred and two people are missing and presumed dead.”
The reporter paused.
“According to unnamed military officials, most of the bodies were vaporized, burning what one officer described as ‘a ghostly shadow’ into the wall behind where the person was standing.”
Mao muted the television.
“The Guraff consider us the enemies of God because of colors on our skin,” Mao explained, pointing to the marks on his face. “The entire history of our ‘conflict’ would take a long time to explain. But last week they stepped up the war by launching and detonating a nuclear missile in the center of the city of Vida; a city that was populated with over six million men, women, and children.”
“There were a few thousand military officers there, but Vida was not a military city. They deliberately attacked a civilian city and SLAUGHTERED innocent people.”
The anger on Mao’s face and in his voice was very noticeable. Ranma shifted uncomfortably.
“Do you believe in God, Captain?” Mao asked.
*Oh no.* Ranma shifted again. “I don’t disbelieve in God,” he dodged.
“Our scriptures say that God will take care of his chosen people. I believe that God caused you to crash here to help us eliminate the threat that the Guraff poses to us.”
Ranma shook his head. “We can’t interfere-”
“It’s not interference if it’s God’s will,” Mao countered.
Ranma sighed and quickly finished off his dinner.
“I will have to discuss this with my command staff,” Ranma replied.
Mao nodded. “I understand. But please understand Captain... Ranma... These people know you are here. They might forcefully try and take your technology.”
Mao looked to the television as it showed smoldering buildings.
“Or they might do THAT to you to keep you from helping us, regardless of whether or not you choose to do so.”
Ranma nodded and stood. Mao stood as well.
“Thank you for dinner, Mr. Prime Minister,” Ranma smiled as he bowed.
Mao bowed as well. “We’ll be in touch.”
Ranma nodded and walked out with the security officers.
From around the corner, Garone and Klasn walked in.
“Well?” Klasn asked as soon as Ranma was out of the room.
Mao nodded. “He’ll help. I’m sure of it.”
“What if he doesn’t?” Klasn asked.
Mao shrugged. “He will.”
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” a small, quiet moan came from the port side of the room.
Three doctors who were checking some readings on another patient turned to bio-bed four where Shampoo was trying to open her eyes.
“COMMANDER SAOTOME!” one yelled.
In her office, Akane jerked up from her head in her arms, asleep at her desk position.
Akane wiped the drool from her face and walked into Sickbay.
“What is it?” she asked, angrily.
“Commander Shampoo is regaining consciousness.”
Akane quickly dropped the anger and ran to the biobed. She smiled as she checked Shampoo’s vital statistics.
“The surgery worked!”
Shampoo slowly opened her eyes and looked up to Akane and the other four doctors.
“Where Shampoo?” She asked.
“You’re in sickbay,” Akane replied. “You were seriously injured in the crash.”
Shampoo slowly moved her hands up and wiped the sleep out of her eyes. She then went to scratch the front of her head but was stopped by the doctors.
“We need to let the stitches heal for another day before we can do dermal regeneration,” One doctor explained. “So, you mustn’t scratch it.”
Shampoo slowly nodded and began to sit up.
Akane helped her former rival into a sitting position.
“What happened,” Shampoo whispered.
“We crashed into a planet. You apparently suffered some serious head trauma and required surgery to remove a clot. But it was successful, and you will be fine in a couple of days,” Akane explained.
Shampoo inhaled deeply. “Ranma?”
“My husband is fine.”
Akane frowned for a moment. “The captain is dead, though.”
Shampoo exhaled and said a silent, amazon prayer for Karyn.
“When can Shampoo return to work?”
Akane looked to one of the doctors who checked Shampoo’s readings.
“I think she will be okay to return to duty in 48 hours.”
Akane smiled at Shampoo but was quickly knocked out of the way by what appeared to only be a gold streak.
“SHAMPOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Amanda cried as she glommed onto the Amazon. If one had not been paying attention you would have almost thought that it was Mousse. Or maybe someone who had been taking lessons from Shampoo herself.
Shampoo groaned from the impact but quickly got over it as Amanda squeezed her. Shampoo brought her arms around Amanda and returned the embrace, albeit weakly.
Akane pulled herself off the floor. “Well, I know how to take a hint. I’ll be in the lounge if anyone needs me.”
The doctors nodded and everyone went their separate ways as Amanda, almost like a puppy, cried and smothered Shampoo with loving kisses.
Ranma materialized in transporter room three. Rei, Makoto, and Minako stood there, awaiting his report.
“Well?” Minako asked.
Ranma motioned for the three to follow him.
The quartet quickly walked out of the transporter room and headed towards a turbolift.
“We’ve landed in the middle of a nuclear holy war,” Ranma groaned.
Minako nodded as the three arrived at the turbolift.
“I’ve managed to hack into their decentralized computer network,” she explained as the doors opened and the four of them step in.
“Bridge,” Ranma interrupted.
The turbolift began its trip upward as Minako continued.
“This war has been going on for millennia. The people from the east have always had the technological advantage, but the people on the west outnumber the east nine to one.”
Minako check her PADD.
“It appears the east stepped up their campaign just recently by launching a nuclear weapon.”
Ranma nodded. He slowly turned to Minako.
“Can you see what the word ‘Guraff’ means?”
Minako paused and looked it up.
“’Bastard animals’,” she replied.
Ranma sighed as the lift came to a stop and the four young officers stepped onto the bridge.
“Commander,” Ranma turned to Makoto. “I want you to start security patrols around the outside of the ship. There needs to be at least a one-kilometer perimeter buffer between us and them.”
Makoto nodded and began to move off.
“Oh, and Commander,” Ranma called out. Makoto stopped and turned to him. “There is a chance that the people from the east may attempt to attack us.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Makoto replied as she scurried off.
Rei looked to Ranma. “What do you want us to do?”
Ranma shook his head. “Nothing, yet.”
“Yet?” Rei pondered.
Ranma motioned for the two to follow him into his ready room. Once inside, Ranma ordered himself some coffee from his replicator and sat down on the side of his desk.
“The Westerns asked for our help in fighting off the Easterns,” Ranma informed them.
“You’re not going to help them, are you?” Rei almost gasped.
“Captain-” Rei started.
“No,” Ranma stated dryly. “I’m not going to violate the prime directive and interfere.
“That said, I want to keep all my options open.”
Rei looked to Minako.
“Understood,” Minako replied.
Rei, unsure of what to make of such a vague statement, adjusted her uniform and began to move towards the door.
“I need to brief my people on the new information.”
As the door opened, Kaii turned from his position in Ops towards the ready room.
“Captain!” he called.
Ranma stood and he and Minako walked out the door with Rei.
“Yes?” Ranma asked.
“I have an audio message from someone claiming to be the president of the Eastern Valari Republic.”
“Can you verify where it’s coming from?” Ranma asked.
“No, our long-range sensors are still offline.”
Ranma nodded. “On speaker then.”
The speaker buzzed.
“Good day to you. I hope that you can translate this into your language. My name is Erie Lahore, I am president of the Eastern Valari Republic, a democratic republic that covers the eastern continent of this planet.
“On behalf of my government and people, I welcome you.
“I would very much like to meet with your leader face to face, but current – circumstances – prohibit that. However, if you would like to speak in a more, conversational way, you can contact me on digital frequency 8-2-1 point 5 gigahertz.
“Again, good day.”
The communication ended.
Ranma groaned. He had hoped to get in a nap before doing anything else diplomatic that evening.
13 LIGHT-YEARS FROM VULCAN
The operations officer on the oversized cargo freighter looked up from the Girls Bravo manga he was reading at a flashing light on his display.
He pondered it for a moment, before turning to the freighter’s captain.
“Leroy,” the ops officer called out.
Captain Leroy stirred slightly.
The ops officer smirked.
“I’ve got three ships on an intercept course.”
Leroy shifted a bit more before sitting upright in his seat.
“Can you identify them yet?” Leroy asked as he wiped some of the sleep drool from his neatly trimmed goatee.
Ops shook his head. “Not yet. They’re still a light-year out. But they’re big.”
“Alright then,” Leroy stated. “Yellow alert. Notify the rest of the convoy.”
Ops nodded and activated the ship's minimal defensive platforms. He then got on the radio and informed the other five ships that there was possible danger ahead.
The six ships belonged to the Federation. Most were taking raw materials and food across Federation space. Being in Federation space, they weren’t issued an escort. After all, who would attack them? They had the defensive measures to handle raiders and over ambitions Ferengi, but no one else would dare march into Federation space.
Leroy walked up and around the small bridge to his operations officer.
“Sam, notify Starfleet. See if they have any ships nearby.”
The operations officer, known as Sam, complied. After a few moments of quiet chatting, he looked to his Captain.
“The U.S.S. Navajo is not too far. They are sending them.”
Sam checked his readings.
“And the ships?”
Sam sighed. “Nine minutes.”
“Great,” Leroy groaned. “How soon till you can identify them?”
“Another minute or so,” Sam replied.
Leroy returned to his seat and watched the viewer intently. After a few moments, Sam piped up.
“They’re Vulcan,” Sam replied.
Leroy sighed in relief.
“Go ahead and stand down from yellow alert,” he ordered.
Sam nodded and deactivated the defense systems. “I wonder why they are running without their transponders on,” The bearded Scotsman pondered.
“Eh,” Leroy replied. “There is no telling why those Vulcan’s do anything.”
Sam, Leroy, and the helmsman all shared a laugh.
Their laugh ended and quiet consumed the bridge for another four minutes until another one of Sam’s lights began to blink, and his panel began to beep like crazy.
“THEY’VE LOCKED WEAPONS!” Sam screamed.
“WHAT?” Leroy screamed back, standing.
Before anything else could be said, the three Vulcan battle cruisers had brought the small cargo ships out of warp. Within another few seconds, nothing was left but left-over grain, some sparking metal fragments, and the lifeless bodies of her crew.
The three Vulcan ships, without saying a word, turned and shot off into the darkness.
Aboard the Navajo, her captain, Mary Wilkens, screamed at the helm officer.
“CATCH UP WITH THEM!” she yelled.
The helmsman whimpered.
“We’re moving as fast as we can.”
Mary turned to operations.
“Can you plot a pursuit course?”
The ops officer shook his head.
“Sorry, they’re masking their warp trail.”
“I’ve lost them,” the weapons officer stated.
Mary sighed and resigned herself to the captain’s chair.
“Are you SURE those readings were accurate?” she asked operations, not bothering to look in that direction.
“Yes ma’am,” Ops replied. “They were Vulcan battle cruisers.”
“Notify Starfleet,” Mary ordered as the Navajo dropped out of warp and began to scan the debris field for survivors.
VULCAN; THE CITY OF NAGAYA – POPULATION 43,112,992
Several hundred Vulcans proceeded to mill around Nagaya’s central shopping district. There was little idle chatter since chit-chatting seemed to be a waste of time and therefore was not logical.
So, when there was chatter, it got everyone’s attention.
Of course, gawking was not logical either, so paying too much attention was frowned upon.
But when you see a couple of drunk, smelly, noisy Starfleet officers stumbling through the crowd you cannot help but watch.
“DAMN POINTY EARED BASTARDS!” the first slurred as he tripped over himself and fell to the ground.
Both officers were clad in the green uniform of the Land Defense Forces. A patch on their shoulders them as part of the Starfleet contingent assigned to Vulcan.
“ALWAYS SO LOGICAL!” the second officer laughed. “It’s NOT logical to be SO DAMN LOGICAL!”
The first officer laughed as well as he pulled himself up.
“Excuse me,” a voice called to them.
The two officers turned to find two Nagaya police officers standing in front of them.
“What do you want, pig?” The first officer laughed.
The old-school insult was lost on the Vulcan policemen.
“You two are being very loud. Would you mind coming with us, please?”
The Starfleet officers laughed.
“You have no jurisdiction over us!” The first explained.
“Yeah,” the second continued. “We’re Starfleet.” The drunkard poked himself hard in the chest, attempting to bring attention to his communicator. “We can do whatever we want to you and there is NOTHING you can do about it!” The second belched, also pointing to the first officer's communicator.
“Yeah!” The first laughed. “Like that village we blew up!”
The pair laughed as the Vulcan police called for assistance. However, if the goal of the two drunks was to cause a scene, they had succeeded. A majority of the city center’s patrons were crowding around to see what was going on.
“Gentlemen, I insist you come with us, or we will have to arrest you,” The police officer explained again, still monotone, yet stern.
“What?” The second Starfleet man screeched. “YOU ARREST US?!”
A couple more police officers came, as well as a pair of Starfleet officers in gold security uniforms.
The two drunks noticed this, as well as the large crowd. They nodded to each other and began to laugh.
“See you in hell, you green-blooded assholes,” the first stated before both men tapped their communicators.
In a blinding flash, an enormous boom is heard. People and buildings alike are blown in every which direction. Screams are muffled and short-lived.
After the smoke cleared, everyone within a kilometer of the two Starfleet officers turned suicide bombers were dead. Others were seriously injured, crying out for help. Their cries were hard to hear over the sounds of sirens and alarms as more Vulcan police, military, and medics began to arrive.
Shampoo scratched at the spot on her forehead where the incision used to be.
“Didn’t they tell you not to scratch there?” Ranma asked her from the captain’s seat.
Shampoo grinned. “They said no scratch before it heal.”
Ranma returned the grin. It was a quick grin though as he looked around the bridge and groaned. Ranma's eyes moved from one station to the next, surveying his crew before they moved to the rear of the bridge. There his eyes sat, watching the alert status indicator on the master situation display blink yellow.
11 HOURS EARLIER
“I understand that you don’t wish to help us,” President Lahore stated. “The problem is that you are helping the Garah.”
Ranma checked his PADD that Minako gave him. Garah translated to ‘Marked beasts.’
*Gee, these people just have all sorts of nice names for each other.* Ranma thought to himself.
“We’re not helping them, President Lahore. We’re just borrowing some land until our people can come and rescue us.”
“Then I don’t suppose you’d mind if I came and toured your ship?”
“That isn’t possible,” Ranma replied. He noticed Jeff waving his arms. Ranma nodded. “They have not been on board either.”
“I’m not blind, Commander,” Lahore growled. “I see the military presence near your ship.”
“They’re protecting us from exposure.”
“LIAR!” Lahore growled. “Be careful who you bed with, Commander. God doesn’t care for those who would lie with the dogs.”
“If I find that you are assisting them in any way, I will come and take your technology and punish both of you with it.”
The communication ended before Ranma could reply.
“That went well,” Ranma groaned.
Jeff smirked and nodded.
“You should have done diplomacy as a career, sir.”
Ranma scowled at Jeff.
“I have to go now,” Jeff grinned before running out of Ranma’s ready room.
BACK TO NOW
“Devall to Bridge.”
“Go ahead,” Minako replied.
“We’re almost done down here.”
Ranma grinned. “You have the bridge, Shampoo. I want to go check this out.”
Shampoo smiled as Ranma, Minako, and Lt. Kaii left the bridge.
J.C. looked down as Usagi fused the final junctions together between the Nighthawk’s EPS grid and the harvested communications system. It was already a tight squeeze in the small ship’s cockpit, and the bulky terminal made it even tighter. What was once a three-seat shuttlecraft was now a two-seater, assuming one of those people was tiny.
Once she was complete, Usagi looked to J.C.
“I think it’s done,” she stated.
J.C. turned slowly and pressed a sequence of keys on the terminal, which he hoped would power it up.
The panel chirped and the lights began to light up and blink. J.C. grinned.
Usagi smiled and climbed out of the ship. J.C. quickly made sure the console was locked down and then climbed out as well. The pair high-fived each other.
Ranma, Minako, and Kaii were standing outside of the ship when J.C. and Usagi emerged. Kaii had already begun walking around the ship as part of his preflight.
“Well?” Minako asked.
J.C. nodded. “It should work.”
“Should?” Minako asked.
Kaii walked back to the group.
“If we are too far away, continuum drag will pull the signal out of subspace. If that happens before the signal hits a subspace amplifier, it could be years before the signal gets to Federation space.”
Ranma nodded. He understood what could happen.
“Beats sitting here and hoping they just happen to pass by,” Ranma acknowledged.
The group nodded in agreement with their captain.
“Once I get up there,” Kaii continued, “I will run a stellar cartography scan and we can determine our location. Then we can aim our signal towards the nearest relay, fire it with full power, and hope for the best.”
“Alright, good luck, Lieutenant,” Ranma stated. Kaii nodded and boarded the small scout ship. Ranma, Minako, Usagi, and J.C. turned and walked out of the shuttle bay.
“Nighthawk to control, request departure permission.”
“Granted,” the voice replied.
The shuttle bay door began to open. Kaii lifted the craft off the deck to about 3 meters above the deck.
“Engaging cloak,” Kaii stated.
“Copy,” control replied.
Kaii activated the cloaking device. The external view of the shuttle shuddered a little and then vanished. Kaii slowly pushed the ship out of the shuttle bay, and then pitched upwards.
“Nighthawk to Operations, Minako can you give me a clear heading?”
Back on the bridge, Minako had her computer plot out the patrol patterns of the fixed-wing aircraft overhead. Within a few seconds, her computer chirped and showed a blinking green line, with a short countdown timer.
“Heading 2-1-0 mark 0-1-6, engage full speed on my mark,” she replied.
Kaii programmed in the course. The shuttlecraft adjusted its nose to be ready to shoot off in its programmed direction at a moment’s notice.
Kaii readied himself to hit the engage button.
Minako eyed her terminal.
“Four, Three, Two, One, MARK!”
Kaii engaged the engines and the small invisible ship shot off into the early evening sky, blowing through the net of fighters overhead. The Nighthawk quickly breached the atmosphere and within a few minutes was comfortably orbiting several thousand kilometers above the surface of the planet.
“Nighthawk to Sisko, I’m in position. Beginning phase one.”
“Roger,” Shampoo replied.
Kaii squeezed himself into the co-pilot's seat and set up his first set of scans. After a moment, the results began to appear on his terminal.
“It appears that they do have some ‘near terra’ detection telescopes and radar which might detect me,” Kaii informed the Sisko.
“Do what you can to minimize that risk, Lieutenant,” Ranma ordered. “But if you have to decloak to transmit with enough power, then do so.”
“Aye,” Kaii replied. “Beginning astrometric scans now.”
Kaii began the first set of scans.
“Unable to locate universal positioning beacon,” the computer replied.
“Well,” Kaii mumbled. “We’re out of Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian- well, we're out of any know civilizations space.”
Ranma simply groaned in reply.
“Beginning scan number two.”
Kaii worked on a second computer for a moment, then began the scan. A few seconds later the computer chirped at him again.
“Unable to triangulate location based on stellar landmarks.”
“Why not?” Kaii angrily asked.
“No landmarks conform to Federation star charts,” The computer replied, ignoring Kaii's attitude towards it.
“Bah,” Kaii grumbled. He began to punch in more commands.
“Beginning stellar recording,” he informed the Sisko. “The computer on the ship should be able to run more complex comparisons.”
“Recording complete,” the computer informed Kaii.
Kaii grinned. “I’ll just hang out up here while you guys figure it out.”
Minako went to work in her station. Well, she just programmed the parameters into the computer system, and it did all the work.
However, it took longer than they hoped it did.
After an hour Minako’s computer chirped.
“GOT IT!” she called out.
“On screen,” Ranma ordered as both he and Shampoo stood to look at the star chart.
“We’re on NZ-12G...” Minako paused, then began to continue. The elation in her voice from having found where they were being replaced with the disappointment in knowing exactly where they were. “...The nearest Federation outpost is 14,926 light-years away.”
Shampoo gasped. “It will take a rescue ship from Earth months to get here.”
Ranma groaned. He wanted nothing more than to go nuts on the main viewer for delivering him such grim news, but he knew that would accomplish nothing. Plus, he had the morale of the crew to think of. He simply turned to Minako. “Well, let’s get them started.”
Minako nodded and began to do some work on her computer. It chirped at her a couple of times before she looked up.
“I’ve found a relay station about 3,000 light-years from here,” she explained. “We should be able to hit it before the signal falls out of sub-space.”
“That should also mean that there is a chance there is a Federation ship out here somewhere.” Makoto pondered out loud.
Ranma nodded and stood. He turned to Minako.
“You guys ready?”
“SIR!” an ensign screamed as he ran into Larson’s office, barely waiting for the sliding doors to open completely. Larson and Genma looked up at the over-excited ensign.
“Yes?” Larson asked.
The ensign nearly tripped over himself as he ran to Larson’s view screen and began to punch in commands. “DS9 received this about fifteen minutes ago.”
Both Larson and Genma stood as the image of Ranma appeared on the screen.
“This is Commander Ranma Saotome of the U.S.S. Benjamin Sisko to Admiral Larson.
“I hope you get this message, sir. It’s being sent on Stardate 60722.4 at 17:28.”
Ranma paused for a moment to look over a PADD.
“About four days ago we suffered an unexplained engine malfunction which threw us into transwarp. We forcefully terminated the warp field by ejecting the core approximately 24 seconds later. We found ourselves exiting transwarp within the gravity well of a planet.
“All attempts to pull ourselves from the dive that we were in failed. We were forced to execute emergency landing procedures on the planet NZ-12G IV.”
The pain in Ranma’s eyes became more and more apparent as he continued to talk.
“We lost forty-four members of our crew, including our captain.”
Genma bowed his head. Larson could only shake his in disbelief. Even though the admiral had dealt with death throughout his career, it was still hard for him to hear such reports.
“There are further complications,” Ranma continued. “Our assistant chief engineer has found – foreign – devices on our engines, including one of obvious Borg design.”
“What?” Larson asked the recording.
“In addition, NZ-12G IV, Valarie, is an inhabited-” Ranma inhaled, “-pre-warp civilization, about at early twenty-first century Earth technology.”
“Ah crap,” Genma replied.
“Obviously, we had no choice but to initiate contact with them,” Ranma added, before pausing once again.
“While the government of the region that we landed in is friendly and is assisting in limiting the cultural contamination caused by our arrival, they are in the midst of a war with another government who has threatened to attack us to obtain our technology.”
Ranma leaned back in the captain’s seat and sighed.
“This government has also requested our help. They feel that we were sent here by God in order to eliminate the other government.”
Ranma paused, looked around, and leaned towards the camera.
“To be blunt, sir, it's a goddamned mess. The sooner you can get a rescue ship here, the better,” He said quietly.
Ranma leaned back and resumed speaking in his normal voice again. “We are in the process of restoring all our vital systems to ensure our survival till then. The ship suffered massive EPS and electrical damage in the crash, and damage control teams are checking hull integrity to see if she will be flight-worthy once a ship arrives to tow us back into space.”
Ranma paused for a moment, checking a PADD.
“Assuming this is being picked up by DS9, there is about a 4-and-a-half-hour delay, so face-to-face conversations won’t be possible. I will be awaiting your reply. Sisko out.”
The communication ended.
Genma, who was already pulling up a star chart, began to sob.
“NZ-12G is a fifteen-week trip from here.”
Larson, not really paying attention to Genma – who was looking a little more like Soun now – tapped his communicator.
“Yu here,” the person on the other end replied.
“Petty officer, contact Starfleet Engineering. Inform them that they will need to prep a repair ship, a tow ship, a recovery ship, and a warp core for NX-95077. They will be making a six-month round trip.”
“Aye,” the young, enlisted man on the other end replied.
“I’m going with them,” Genma bawled.
Larson sighed, stood, and walked to Genma. “I need you here. This crisis is escalating.”
Genma sniffled and nodded.
“You can send the message to them, letting them know that we’re sending a rescue team.”
Genma smiled and nodded.
Larson nodded and began to resume his paperwork. Before Genma could make it to the door though, Larson piped up again.
“Don’t worry, old friend,” Larson smiled. “We’ll get them home. It’s just going to be a while.”
“I just hope they’ll have a home to come back to.”