Captain's Log, Stardate 60988.1. I would be lying if I said that I am not getting damned annoyed by the constant attacks by the Western forces. I am grateful though that for whatever reason they have decided not to take another whack at us with their nuclear arsenal.
Ranma paused, thinking back to that night where the Sisko was unshielded and slammed by six Western nuclear bombs.
Fortunately, being a ship designed for war came in handy. The ablative armor, albeit badly compromised, held and thanks to that there was not a single hull breach.
Sadly though, one of the dorsal cannons could not stow fast enough and was destroyed, leaving them with a single weapon to defend themselves.
It was hardly enough. The Western government had stepped up their bombing campaign, using a policy of swarm, knowing that the Sisko would be unable to shoot down all the planes. They also realized the effectiveness of releasing their payload at the last minute, giving the Sisko extraordinarily little time to target and destroy the incoming ordinance before stowing the remaining cannon.
The Sisko was taking multiple hits per sortie. The armor was not able to absorb all of it. The polarized hull was beginning to buckle as well.
Damage control teams were working double-time to try and repair the small, but potentially fatal hull breaches that were being made in the enormous warship's superstructure.
I worry about what the Eastern Military is up to as well. They have stationed several dozen carriers a few hundred kilometers off the Western coast. I think about sinking them, but at the same time, they end up shooting down at least a couple of the bombers attacking us.
My crew is not doing well either. Everyone is ancy, nervous. I keep reminding them that the Crossroads is now only five days away, but of course to them, understandably, that just sounds like 'great, five more days of attacks.'
Ranma sighed and leaned back in his chair. He looked at his window, which had been permanently locked in dark tint mode by the nuclear blast.
There is a certain irony to all of this. I could end this all with a shuttlecraft that's floating in orbit or the two Runabouts in our shuttle bays. Yet I and my crew may very well be killed, and our technology taken, because of a rule set up to protect our killers.
“End recording,” Ranma groused. Ranma had jokingly mentioned to Larson in his last message about carpet-bombing the entire continent back a couple of thousand years and had gotten a truly angry reply from the older Admiral. So obviously he understood that despite the Western's desire to kill the Sisko's crew, the prime directive was still in effect.
But, Ranma pondered to himself, Larson had given him some latitude when it came to protecting the ship. Larson had no issue with attacking the encroaching forces, he frowned upon, but accepted Ranma's explanation for destroying the Eastern ICBM silos, even if Ranma did fudge the reason for doing it just a bit.
Ranma stood up quickly and stormed out onto the bridge.
“Do we know where those bombers are coming from?” Ranma asked anyone who could answer.
He looked around the bridge. Minako finally replied. “Northeast of here.”
Ranma rolled his eyes. “I know that. Where are they based?”
Kaii, who spent his shift in Nighthawk, began to speak. “There are several airfields in that direction...” he trailed off.
“Lieutenant?” Ranma asked.
“I think I have found one about 800 kilometers northeast of you that has heavy surface to air defense around it.”
Amanda, whose knowledge of early warfare was becoming more and more valuable every day, piped up. “It's unlikely that a civilian airport would be that heavily guarded.”
Ranma turned to Makoto. “What's our torpedo inventory look like?”
Makoto shook her head. “We have about fifty-six left that the shuttle can use. Engineering had to start using Mark Fives for power as using the phaser array really drained us.”
Ranma nodded. “Once the Crossroads arrives, they will be able to help us with our power issues.” He turned to the display of the airport that Kaii had transferred to the Sisko. “Lt. Jansen, what do you think is the best way to render this airport inoperative?”
“Easy,” she replied. “Destroy the runways.”
“Can't they just move the planes to different airports?” Minako asked.
“You can't just drive a bomber down a city street,” Amanda replied. “They will have to patch the runways first.”
Ranma nodded. “Plot targets and then transfer them to Nighthawk. Try and do it with a few shots as possible.”
“There's one issue though,” Makoto finally said.
Ranma turned to her.
“That airport is less than two kilometers from a fairly large city. They will see the torpedoes and the explosions.”
Ranma sighed. “Oh well. Hopefully, the civilians will just assume it's an Eastern attack.”
Makoto nodded slowly as Amanda sent information up to Kaii. Once the two had coordinated their attack, Kaii reported to Ranma.
Ranma noticing the feed of the airport bombers starting to leave their hangers narrowed his gaze.
Kaii decloaked his ship and began to fire in rapid succession. The small scout ship fired one, two, three, four, five, then six torpedoes before recloaking.
On the screen, Ranma smiled as he saw six flashes of light. The entire bridge crew became agitated that the smoke from the explosions was not clearing fast enough for them to see their handy work.
It eventually did though and what remained was two runways, each with massive craters in them in three different spots, and emergency vehicles attempting to put out the fire that used to be the bomber that was closest to one of the now useless runway 9R.
“So, you're saying we've just lost the use of half of our bombers?” Garone asked?
The air force general on the other end of the phone call, who was grumbling something to one of his underlings while talking to Garone, scowled back.
“Based on how many we've lost between the aliens and the Eastern forces in the ocean, I'd say it's closer to 80 percent.”
Garone set the phone down and took a deep breath.
Klasn looked at Garone. “Well?”
Garone turned to Klasn. “If this wasn't your office, there'd be very little left in one piece right now.”
“They demolished the runways at Kiaspals. We can't get the bombers airborne.”
Klasn blinked. “How bad?”
“One of the craters was estimated to be half a kilometer deep.”
Klasn shook his head. “What does that leave us with?”
Garone picked the phone up again.
NINE HOURS LATER – 00:16
The third shift officer assigned to sit in orbit in Nighthawk was keeping an eye on everything. It was quiet since they didn't have much action now that the bombers were grounded.
However, there was some movement that was a little bit out of the ordinary.
“Nighthawk to Sisko.”
“Go ahead,” the third shift supervisor replied.
“The Western blockade seems to be moving closer to shore, and south.”
The supervisor looked to his tactical officer who shrugged.
“Maybe they're trying to move away from the Eastern battle group?” he theorized.
“Keep tracking them. If they seem to be doing anything else strange, like launching landing craft, let us know.”
Two thousand kilometers away though, off the Western coast, two dozen Western navy missile cruisers parked and launched their cruise missiles. Each one launching six missiles each.
The missiles, flying about fifty meters above the ground, hugged the terrain, whipping through trees, dancing through and over valleys and hills, powered by the Western's favorite fuel source, hydrogen.
Leaving no trail, but a small puff of water vapor that was indistinguishable from the other water vapor caused by the millions of other hydrogen-powered devices on this planet.
As the Sisko's third shift supervisor began to look over the hourly status report on the ship, both the operations and tactical station began to chirp wildly.
Operations was the first to start screaming madly though.
“MULTIPLE CONTACTS!” he yelled.
Tactical joined in, although a little more calmly.
“Dozens of contacts, bearing 2-9-1, range fifty kilometers.”
“RED ALERT! SENIOR OFFICERS TO THE BRIDGE!” the supervisor called out. “Why are you just now seeing them?” he asked.
“They're small and fast,” Tactical replied as the klaxons started to blare.
“Polarize the hull. How's the armor?”
“Two minutes!” Ops squeaked.
“Are they planes?!” the supervisor asked.
“They can't be,” Tactical responded. “They're about fifty meters off the ground. I don't even think I can hit them without firing into the hull.”
“Shit, stow the cannon then,” the supervisor ordered.
He began to pace, trying to think of what to do. He really hated the fact that these people loved to attack at night.
Makoto was the first to walk out onto the bridge, still zipping up her uniform jacket. “SIT-REP!” she demanded when she saw that she was the most senior person on the bridge.
“We're about to get hit hard,” the tactical officer whimpered.
“ALL HANDS BRACE!” the third shift supervisor yelled as he sat down in the captain's chair and held on for dear life.
Outside the cruise missiles began to slam into the Sisko in different locations. Some into her saucer section, some into the NEO pod atop her struts, a couple into the bridge, a few into the port nacelle.
It took about three minutes for the explosions to stop, and another minute for the lights to stop flickering. Once that was done, everyone turned and looked at each other.
“Everyone okay?” the supervisor asked.
The group all nodded. Operations looked at his terminal. “I'm getting a few casualty reports, nothing serious. No fatalities.”
Makoto looked at the master situation display. The port strut connecting the bulk of the ship to the port nacelle was flashing red.
“I don't like the look of that.”
The turbolift open and a very disheveled Ranma and Shampoo walked out. Ranma looked around as Shampoo stumbled down to her seat and sat down.
“Okay... What the hell just happened?” he asked.
“We were attacked by missiles that seem to fly very low,” the third shift tactical officer replied.
Minako, who also looked like she was in an unfriendly place when the ship shook, tumbled out of the turbolift, and made her way to her station.
“Where they come from?” Shampoo asked.
“Don't know,” the tactical officer replied.
Ranma began reading the third shift notes as Makoto surveyed more of the ship's damage.
“Captain, the ablative armor took a huge beating,” she reported. “We can't continue to take these kinds of attacks for much longer.”
“Then what do you suggest we do, Commander?” Ranma asked. “Do you have a suggestion that will both protect us AND assure that we won't leave them defenseless against an Eastern invasion once we're gone?”
Makoto remained silent. She hadn't thought that far ahead.
“We are leaving. If we can't hold out till the retrieval ships get here...” Ranma paused for a minute. “We'll evacuate to the Crossroads and destroy the Sisko.”
Makoto nodded, before pointing to the flashing strut. “The attack seems to have caused a structural defect in this strut. Obviously in microgravity that wouldn't be an issue, but here...”
Ranma nodded. “Where's Commander Tsukino?”
Makoto sighed. “She's a heavy sleeper.”
Ranma shook his head. “Where's Lt. Devall?”
“Yo, sir!” J.C. called from the engineering station.
Ranma smiled. “Can you fix this from the inside?”
“Possibly. I have a damage control team analyzing it now.”
Ranma nodded. “Thank you.”
J.C. nodded and went back to work at his station.
“I think I know what we were hit with,” Minako reported.
Ranma walked up to Minako's station and looked at her display.
“I've finally managed to push into their military's database and have gotten some details on their weapons. Those may have been Tay-9 Class Cruise Missiles. Base range of 2,500 kilometers, but they can be retrofitted to convert hydrogen from the atmosphere to continually fuel them.”
“You say they have theoretically unlimited range?” Shampoo asked.
“Theoretically. But it's likely they would burn fuel faster than they could process it,” Minako replied. “Unless they moved really, really slow, but that would make them easy to shoot down.”
“500kg warhead,” Ranma pondered. “Doesn't seem like that much.”
“No, but when you take into account that our armor is compromised, and the fact we were hit 144 times...” Minako trailed off.
“It doesn't say anything about a nuclear variant.”
Minako nodded. “Fortunately. I don't think they have the ability to make a nuclear bomb small enough to fit on a cruise missile yet. The bombs that hit us were low yield and heavy, which is why they had to be carried by those large jet aircraft.”
Operations and tactical began to chirp again.
“CONTACTS!” Minako called out. “Bearing 0-2-1, range, 47 kilometers.”
Ranma moved back towards his seat. “More cruise missiles?”
Minako looked to Makoto who half-heartedly nodded. “Best guess is yes. They're moving at about the same speed, and they're very low. However, these are coming from an angle where I might be able to try and shoot them.”
“Do your best,” Ranma ordered.
Makoto began to work on firing at the incoming cruise missiles, but for the most part, ended up just blasting trees instead.
“Goddammit,” she swore. “They're too damned small.”
“One minute,” Minako reported.
As the seconds ticked by, Makoto's frustration level increased. Every time she missed, she slammed her hand against her terminal, not only frightening the third shift tactical assistant but also causing the terminal to buzz non-compliantly at her.
“Thirty!” Minako called out.
“Commander, if you can't get them, stow the cannon.”
“One more try,” Makoto called out.
Makoto fired again, this time hitting one of the cruise missiles.
“Stow the cannon!” Ranma ordered.
“ALL HANDS! BRACE!” Shampoo called out.
Makoto ordered the cannon to stow.
*BUZZ!* The console alerted her.
“It's jammed!” She yelled.
Ranma blinked as the ship began to rock.
Makoto, holding herself upright with one hand, continued to argue with her console with the other, attempting in vain to get the one remaining dorsal cannon to stow. Every time, it continued to buzz, till finally, it complied.
143 explosions were not much better than 144, especially to the bridge crew, seeing as how at least six of the cruise missiles hit the bridge, or close to the bridge.
When all was said and done, the master situation display was a mess of red and yellow. The overall ship's health was degraded, and Ranma was not a very happy camper.
“Status?” he said, picking himself up off the floor, then helping Shampoo up.
J.C. began to check the engineering terminal as Minako began to check reports coming in from around the ship.
“These hits were more focused on the saucer,” J.C. reported.
“Ablative armor is totally compromised,” Makoto reported.
“Causality reports from all decks,” Minako reported. “Some serious, but so far no fatalities.”
J.C. bit his lip and turned towards Makoto. “Ooh, Commander Kino...”
“Umm, yeah I know why the phase cannon suddenly complied and stowed for you.”
Makoto blinked. “Why?”
Ranma and Shampoo looked to J.C.. “What?” They both asked in unison.
“There's nothing there but the support strut,” J.C. replied.
Ranma sighed and fell back into his seat. Makoto just buried her head in her hands. “Dammit.”
“Why it jam?” Shampoo asked.
“Damage control has found, quote, waterfowl remnants, unquote, in the storage area,” J.C. replied.
Ranma turned to J.C. and snarled. “Are you telling me a freaking duck jammed the phase cannon?”
Ranma continued to fume. “Freaking duck needs glasses.”
Shampoo glared at Ranma.
“Oh... Right.” Ranma said meekly. “Too soon, I guess. Sorry.”
Shampoo nodded forgiveness and returned to her seat. Ranma rubbed his head and looked to the tactical overview on the view screen.
“So, what do we do now?” he asked.
“We're going to start taking hull breeches from their attacks,” Minako replied.
“And without the phase cannons,” Makoto continued. “we have no chance of stopping anything.”
“Ranma,” Shampoo whispered. “Maybe we have to sink boats.”
Ranma gripped his armrests.
“We can't,” He said quietly. “If we did that, they'd have no way of stopping the Eastern forces from landing millions of soldiers and slaughtering them.”
Shampoo nodded, not really agreeing with Ranma. Ranma sensed her disapproval and turned to her.
“You think I'm wrong?”
Shampoo turned back.
“No,” She said. “Shampoo think you right. Shampoo just don't know if priorities in order.”
Ranma turned back towards the view screen for a minute, then stood. He reached down, and slightly tugged on Shampoo's sleeve, silently gesturing for her to head to his ready room.
Ranma walked behind her, turning to Minako. “You have the bridge,” he told her as he and his XO walked into the Captain's office.
Minako nodded as the door closed behind them.
“Permission to speak freely?” Shampoo asked immediately.
“You never have to ask,” Ranma told her.
“Shampoo think you making big mistake putting these people's lives ahead of the lives of crew. Ahead of my life. Ahead of Akane's life.”
Shampoo pointed to the permanently tinted window. “They going to all kill each other anyway.”
Ranma smirked. “If aliens would have landed on Earth a few hundred years ago, they probably would have said the exact same thing.”
Shampoo sighed. “We should be priority.”
Ranma motioned for Shampoo to sit on his couch. She complied and Ranma sat down next to her.
“Do you trust me?” He asked.
“Because you good man who do things with honor,” Shampoo looked to Ranma's wedding ring. “Usually.”
“We cannot be the ones who decide the fate of these people. Sure, we could use our power to put their military in a position where they would not be able to touch us, but then we'd have to do the same to the Eastern military.”
Ranma inhaled a bit.
“Of course, they can't let it be known that aliens did it, so they'd blame it on the other side, which would just foster more and more hatred.
“I don't know if these people are approaching an age where they might start to come together or an age where they will end up killing each other. What I do know is that we cannot allow ourselves to be any more a part of it than we have already been.”
Shampoo slowly began to nod.
“We're only 400 people,” Ranma continued. “They are billions. I certainly don't care for protecting a bunch of jerks who are trying to kill us, but that's, interestingly enough, what we're sworn to do.”
Ranma started to squirm awkwardly when Shampoo started to cry and glommed onto him. Mainly as he expected Akane to walk in at any moment and pound him.
“I sorry Ranma,” she cried.
Ranma, after becoming certain that Akane wouldn't walk in, hugged Shampoo back. After letting her cry for a moment, Ranma let Shampoo go and the pair pulled apart.
Ranma leaned in and kissed the pretty young Chinese girl on the forehead.
“You're my XO. Questioning me is part of your job,” Ranma smiled.
“Bridge to Captain Saotome,” Minako called out.
Ranma tapped his communicator. “Go ahead.”
“I have an incoming transmission from the Eastern government.”
“Oh really?” Ranma asked as he looked at Shampoo. “I'll be right there. Summon Lt. Fuchs.”
Lt. Fuchs slowly staggered his way onto the bridge and down to the command console where he stood next to Shampoo. The Sisko's XO looked him up and down, as did Ranma.
“Thank goodness this isn't visual communication,” Ranma said.
“Eh, sorry sir,” Jeff replied. “Not a morning person.”
Ranma nodded. “Put it through.” He ordered.
Ranma began to conduct the normal 'hostile pleasantries' with the Eastern president as Shampoo leaned into Jeff.
Jeff just pushed Shampoo away.
“Captain,” the president said, in a more friendly tone than their last conversation had been in. “I can't help but see that your ship has been under attack by the Garah on multiple occasions.”
“Indeed,” Ranma replied.
“I also see that you have something in orbit that is able to help defend yourself.”
“Mmmhmm,” Ranma again replied.
“But what's disturbing is that we now see that your ship has been rendered defenseless by the Garah's most primitive weapons.”
“Defenseless is a rather broad term,” Ranma countered.
“Fair enough,” Lahore replied. “But you no longer have the guns on the top of your ship to shoot down planes with.”
“Where are you getting this information from?” Ranma asked.
Lahore chuckled. “The Garah are not the only ones who can genetically modify their people to use as spies.”
“I see,” Ranma replied. “So, did you contact me to simply give me a status report on my ship, or do you need something?”
Lahore laughed. “Straight and to the point. I like you Saotome. It's a shame you didn't crash over here, as we'd have made you feel far more welcome.”
“Mmm,” Ranma mumbled.
“I'm willing to provide you with surface to air batteries that are able to shoot down Garah aircraft and their terra-hugging cruise missiles.”
“In exchange for...” Ranma pushed.
“Nothing,” Lahore replied.
Ranma looked to Minako and ordered the channel muted. Once that was complete, he turned to Jeff.
“He's got an ulterior motive, that's for certain,” Jeff stated.
“His motive is likely to keep the Western forces away from us till he can get here,” Makoto growled.
Ranma nodded. “So do we agree or not?”
“How do we get the stuff?” Minako asked.
“They have a desert they can leave it in,” Makoto replied, looking at a map of the Eastern continent. “We could transport it from there.”
Ranma order the channel unmuted.
“Mr. President, we need to discuss your offer. May I contact you back in a few hours?”
“Just out of curiosity, how did you plan on delivering this equipment to us?”
“We know about your little transportation trick. We assume if it works on people and...” he paused, “bombs, it will work on military equipment.”
“Mmmhmm,” Ranma again mumbled.
“Oh, and Captain,” Lahore said. “You should know, there is a group of missile cruisers to your southeast, moving up the coast. Once they get within 2000 kilometers of you, they will likely fire their missiles again.”
“Thanks,” Ranma sighed.
“I look forward to hearing from you,” Lahore concluded before closing the channel.
Ranma turned to Minako. “Can we find those boats?”
Minako and the Nighthawk’s pilot began their search. Soon, the armada of naval ships appeared on the viewscreen.
“Damn,” Shampoo said in awe.
“There have to be eighty ships there.” Makoto groaned.
“Most are probably escorts though,” Ranma hypothesized. “Range?”
“2,192 kilometers, moving at about 27 k-p-h,” Minako answered. “So, we have about seven hours before they're in range.”
“Will they fire in the daylight?” Makoto asked.
“Don't see why not. Friendly waters, nearly untouchable missiles flying over friendly terrain.” Ranma replied.
The bridge was quiet for a few moments before Ranma yawned. He then looked at the clock which was ticking away.
“Okay, we have time. Back to sleep. Everyone back here, ready to offer suggestions about the Easterns offer and what to do about those boats at 08:00.” Ranma ordered.
The awoken bridge crew complied and began to wander towards the rear turbolifts as the third shift bridge crew returned to their stations.
In a dark smokey room buried deep underground in the Eastern capital of Ballan, Lahore smiled at his top military commanders.
“I just don't see how Saotome could refuse our offer,” he said.
“I agree,” the air force commander agreed. “I understand that it's a spaceship, but still, anything can be destroyed, even with lackluster technology, if you hit it enough.”
“But what good would destroying it do?” the army commander asked.
“They don't have to destroy it,” the navy commander replied. “Just break it open, then nuke it again. Let the radiation kill the people inside and then guard it till it's safe for them to go in and take what they can.”
Air force nodded. “They have to know that's their main risk.”
“How far out are our Marines?” Lahore asked.
“Two days,” Navy replied.
“The army is right behind them,” Army continued.
Navy snickered. “And whatever the aliens have in orbit has destroyed all their spy satellites, so they have no clue we're coming.”
“They know about the battle group though,” Air force countered.
“Yeah, one of them,” Navy argued. “But not the other six with the landing groups.”
Lahore leaned back and lit a cigar. “Now all we need is for the aliens to grant us air superiority over their ship. Gentlemen, we might be looking at the easiest invasion known to man, God willing.”
The room all laughed as they plotted the demise of both the Sisko crew and their perceived enemies of God.
Ranma leaned up against the turbolift and yawned. He hadn't gotten a lot of sleep, half because of all the thoughts that had been going through his head, and half because Akane wasn't around.
He had gotten so used to sleeping with her in the bed with him, it had become difficult for him to sleep without her. He found that strange, especially considering the odd positions he used to sleep in. However, he just chalked it up to what married life will do to a man.
Akane was in sickbay helping there. For what it's worth, Akane had finally managed to get her paramedic certification. It was not quite the Ph.D. normally required for the ship’s Chief Medical Officer, but this was the Sisko, and it was a crew that – at least originally – haphazardly thrown together by a bitter old Admiral.
As the lift came to a stop, Ranma stood up. The doors opened and Ranma walked out onto the bridge. Ranma looked around and – to his own disappointment – found that he was the last one to arrive.
“Morning,” Shampoo said.
Ranma nodded in her direction. “Yo.”
The view screen continued to follow the Eastern armada as they steamed down the coast.
“Range?” Ranma asked.
“2,059,” Minako replied. “Bit over two hours.”
Ranma rapped his fingernails on Makoto's terminal for a few seconds before turning back to Minako.
“How much of an issue for those boats would we cause if we detonated a torpedo just under the surface, about a kilometer in front of them?”
Minako bit her lip. “It would certainly cause some waves. It could capsize some of the smaller boats, but I don't know.”
“Let's try it at five kilometers first, see if we can force them to turn away.”
“Aye,” Minako replied.
“Firing,” Kaii reported.
The viewscreen shot widened out. Suddenly, the torpedo fired from the scout craft hit the water, causing one splash, then detonated, causing a massive burst of water. The ocean around the detonation then rose, causing a tsunami-like wave of water to move in every direction, eventually hitting the Western armada.
The boats seemed to take the wall of water in stride, riding the wave up, then down.
“They are continuing on course,” Minako reported.
“Two point five kilometers,” Ranma ordered.
“Firing,” Kaii replied.
Again, one splash and then another post-detonation. Again, the tsunami-like wall of water came barreling at the blob of ships. The ships again rode the wave up, but this time came down much harder. The bow of one of the smaller escort destroyers was pushed underwater.
It managed to come back up, but it was obviously disabled, as it started to fall behind the rest of the group.
“Continuing on course,” Minako reported.
“One point five,” Ranma ordered, becoming slightly more frustrated at the persistence of the Western navy.
“Firing,” Kaii replied.
This time, the wave made a difference. Several of the ships were knocked off course. Others looked as if they were starting to list to one side or the other. Some had been knocked into each other, a side effect of their tight formation.
The surviving ships realized that the Sisko had no intention of letting them hit their 2,000-kilometer firing range and began to change direction.
“They're turning out to sea,” Minako smiled.
Makoto pumped her fist as Ranma grinned. “Lieutenant, see if you can find the other ones. Try and push them out of range.”
“Aye,” Kaii reported.
Ranma was getting ready to turn to Minako when J.C. and Usagi walked out of a turbolift.
“Captain,” Usagi said, the expression on her face not filling Ranma with the expectation of good news.
“Commander,” Ranma acknowledged.
J.C. motioned for Ranma to follow them to the master situation display, where he started to point out certain red areas on the ship.
“We've discovered sixty-eight hull breaches caused by the recent attacks,” J.C. stated. “Nine of them are serious.”
“Emergency force fields?” Ranma asked.
“In place, but here's the issue with that,” J.C. continued. “Because of all the rerouting we've had to do, there's no guarantee that when a new hull breach is formed, a force field will engage.”
“There are always bulkheads,” Usagi continued. “But they seal off entire sections, potentially trapping dozens of people.”
J.C. inhaled and continued. “Also, we're not able to 'fix' the port strut from inside the ship. We've reinforced it to the best of our ability, but if it gets hit again, it could break.”
Ranma rubbed his face. “Then the ship tip that way...” he noted, his Shampooish accent not going unnoticed.
J.C. nodded. “We wouldn't notice that asides from the actual falling, since the artificial gravity is still working. But it would expose the ventral side of the ship which is still heavily damaged and was only 'patched' to make us space worthy.”
Shampoo walked up to the group. Ranma turned to her. “Has everything for plan 'Exodus' been set up?”
Ranma put a hand on Shampoo's shoulder and rubbed it for a moment. “Well then, for now, I guess we'll have no choice.” He turned to Minako. “Contact the Eastern -”
“Captain,” Kaii called out.
“What is it, Lieutenant.”
“I checked up and down the coastline and I found two other armadas, both appeared to be ported, either getting more missiles or fuel or something, I don't know.”
“Okay,” Ranma said.
“Yeah, so I decided to see if I could tell where the ones, we just shot at were going so I started scanning the ocean for ships and this is what I found.”
On the viewscreen, Kaii put up a shot of a carrier battle group.
“They been sitting out there for a while,” Shampoo stated.
“Those are moving,” Ranma said, pointing at the wake the boats were making in the water.
“Yes sir,” Kaii replied. “Let me zoom out.”
Kaii zoomed out, showing five more battle groups.
“Wow,” Makoto gasped.
“Now let me pan over a bit.”
Kaii moved the camera over showing more boats that anyone could count. They filled the Sisko's view screen. As Kaii pulled the camera out, more and more boats showed up. The occasional fighter jet flew overhead securing the airspace.
“Fuck me,” Ranma said, a tinge of anger creeping into his voice.
“Is invasion force,” Shampoo stated.
Amanda shook her head. “If we transport those surface to air batteries over here, the Western forces will have no way to stop them.”
“Easterns. Get them. Now,” Ranma snapped.
Minako quickly complied. After a couple of minutes, she nodded.
“Captain Saotome! Glad you could get back to me!” Lahore gleamed.
“Have you had time to think over our generous offer?”
“Indeed I have, and I am afraid I am going to have to decline,” Ranma said.
“Decline?” the president asked, not even attempting to hide the shock.
“We see your invasion fleet. We are not going to inform the Western military as we have no interest in being involved in your war, but we will not allow you to use us to place your military hardware on their soil.”
There was a pause and then some quiet talking in the background. Finally, the president spoke again.
“Very well. If you wish to be killed by monkeys throwing rocks, so be it. Hopefully, when you see God and he asks you why you did not accept the help of his chosen race to protect yourself, you will have a better excuse than 'I am an ignoramus' for him. Farewell.”
The channel closed.
Shampoo looked to Ranma. “Monkeys throwing rocks?”
Ranma shook his head and sighed. “How long before the invasion force gets here?”
“The battle group will be here in two and a half days, the second group of ships in three,” Minako replied.
“And the Crossroads?” Ranma asked.
“Oy vey,” Ranma whined.
Klasn knew that once this ordeal was done and over with, he was going to have to get his top general some anger management classes.
Garone was once again tearing up office furniture in the Western Military Command Center (WESTCOM). Garone was running around screaming as well, using terms such as 'inept', 'moronic', and 'useless', despite knowing that none of those words were true. After all, if they had the ability to shoot massive blobs of energy from space, they would be winning the war too. That was something the scientists were going to have to work on. Perhaps space travel was something that should not be ignored, just because home was so nice.
But Klasn had to think about the situation they were in now.
“UNA!” He barked.
Garone stopped just short of smashing a coffee pot.
“I am sure there will be plenty of things on that ship for you to break. Right now, I need you to help me plan our next assault against them.”
Garone set down the coffee pot and walked over, looking at the latest report on the downed alien ship.
“What next assault? We can't bomb them. We can't use artillery. They've scared away the navy. I'm out of ideas.”
“What about a full-scale invasion?” Mao asked, walking into the room.
Klasn and Garone stood to acknowledge their leader. Mao smiled at them and the trio all sat back down around their large conference table.
“How full scale are you thinking, Pho?” Klasn asked.
“Everybody,” Mao replied.
Garone checked his notes. “I think we could probably have a couple of million soldiers mobilized in a couple of weeks-”
“No,” Mao replied. “That will give them time to repair the damage we've done. We need to move in the next couple of days.”
Klasn and Garone looked at each other. “That will be hard,” Garone finally said.
“But not impossible?” Mao asked.
“Good,” Mao smiled, leaning back.
“The population will see the soldiers moving though,” Klasn stated.
“No worries,” Mao grinned. “I will go on the news tonight and announce that our glorious military is doing a massive readiness test, to prepare for a surprise invasion.
“It will show them that we can mobilize quickly and that they are safe. It will help boost morale.”
“Even more than our ‘special operations team’ that destroyed the enemy nuclear silos?” Klasn smiled.
Garone got off his telephone. “The orders have been issued. The 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 9th, and 10th armored divisions, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th armies, two provincial national guard corps, 8th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 14th artillery corps, and the navy is sending me a half dozen marine divisions.”
Mao blinked. “What the hell did you just say?”
Klasn chuckled as Garone grinned and simplified it for his Commander in Chief. “A whole bunch of tanks and artillery and about 600,000 soldiers and marines. If we do not take that ship, we’re never getting it.”
Mao nodded. “If God didn’t want us to have it, it wouldn’t be here.”
Klasn and Garone nodded in agreement.
40 HOURS LATER; CROSSROADS 33 HOURS OUT STARDATE 60995.4
Ranma nodded as he got the status update from Ami.
“We've increased our speed to 9.94, as we can maintain it for the duration of our flight without having to power down.”
Ranma smirked. “I appreciate that, as it's looking more and more like this is going to be an 'abandon ship' situation.”
“That bad, huh?” Ami asked.
“You have no idea, Captain,” Ranma glowered. “With the exception of the past 48 hours, we've pretty much been under constant attack by 'our hosts'.
“To top things off, they're about to be invaded, and the invasion is, of course, going to happen near us, since the purpose of the invasion is to gain control of the Sisko.”
Ami nodded. “Well from what you've been telling me, you've done a fine job, given the circumstances, of upholding the prime directive. And while those in the government might be aware of your existence, it's the population, the little guy that we tend to forget about, who need to be protected from our existence the most.”
Ranma nodded in agreement. “Sometimes I fail to appreciate my dumb luck. All the places we could have crashed on this planet and we landed in the middle of a forest over 180 kilometers from the nearest city.”
“I'm having Commander Kino-Gosnell send you some tactical coordinates.”
“We've found that an appropriately placed torpedo can 'encourage' military forces to turn back. If this invasion force lands before we can evacuate, we might need your help 'stalling' them.”
Ami nodded. “Understood.”
“Bridge to Captain Saotome,” Minako called.
“Captain, there is something you need to see.”
Ranma, on the verge of pulling out all his hair, shook his head. “On my way.” Ranma tapped his communicator and turned back to his terminal. “I'm needed.”
Ami giggled. “Understood. I look forward to meeting you, Captain.”
Ranma nodded. “I as well. Saotome out.”
Ranma ended the communication and quickly stood. He walked out onto the bridge and up to Minako's terminal.
“What's up?” he asked.
Minako pointed to the main viewer as she punched some buttons. On the viewer, the video of a newscast appeared. A reporter was talking some of her reporter gibberish with some Western soldiers marching behind her. There was generic b-roll of the soldiers getting their gear loaded up into their armored personal vehicles and other shots that would go into a story about soldiers.
“As usual, we're monitoring their newscasts,” Minako started. “Most of it is the usual 'people from the east suck' stuff topped off with 'God thinks we're awesome, huzzah!' But then there was this story with an interview with the Prime Minister.”
Ranma nodded. “Okay.”
“He said some things that I think we should be concerned about,” Minako replied.
Minako fast-forwarded the story a bit and then played it.
“Right now,” Mao grinned, “our military forces are doing a readiness evaluation drill.”
Ranma continued to watch as Minako moved the recording to a different part.
“What we're doing is making sure that we can move large numbers of forces, unexpectedly, in a short amount of time, long distances. This is to help keep our people – God's people – safe from the Guraf.”
Minako went forward some more.
“So, when people see the troops moving south...” the reporter asked.
“That's right,” Mao replied. “They're on a drill. There's no actual invasion or anything to be concerned about down there.”
“South?” Ranma asked.
Minako continued to go forward.
“There have been explosions down there though, Mr. Prime Minister,” the reporter stated.
Mao nodded. “Indeed. The Guraf have been bombing some of our airfields near the coast from their carriers, which is why we're running this drill in the south. However, our navy hasn't seen any other ships and certainly none with troops on board.”
Minako looked to Ranma. “It's just more 'Eastern's suck' from then on.”
“You think they're not running a drill at all, but coming after us?”
Makoto and Amanda nodded. “We'd bet our lunches on it,” Makoto replied.
Minako looked to her notes. “Oh, I guess there is one more thing.”
She quickly went to the end of the story.
“The defense ministry said that between all three branches, nearly one million troops are taking part in the readiness drill,” the reporter stated.
Ranma threw his hands up in exasperation. “What did we do? I mean really. All we did was get lost and crash.”
“We should have a couple of days before they can get here,” Makoto said, optimistic.
“That's assuming that story was taped today,” Amanda countered.
“Okay, you,” Ranma snarled at Amanda. “Soon as we're off this planet. You're taking glass-half-full classes.”
“Yes sir,” Amanda replied.
The rear turbolift door opened and J.C. and Usagi walked in. Ranma looked at the pair.
J.C. halted at Ranma's stare. “Usagi has the bad news, I only bring good news, Captain.”
“Huh?” Usagi whimpered.
Ranma turned to Usagi.
“Oh, never mind,” J.C. said as Ranma turned back to him. “The bad news is that while we've managed to get you guys enough power to use the phaser array one, maybe two more times, we will then only have enough power to last another week. Ten days if we conserve.”
Ranma shook his head. “That will not be an issue.”
“Oh,” J.C. said. “Well, then, I guess that was good news too.”
Ranma partially nods. “What's the actual good news.”
“Well, the port phase cannon was blown to smithereens,” J.C. stated.
“That's not good news,” Makoto snapped.
“I'm not done,” J.C. countered. “So, there wasn't anything we could do about that. However, the starboard cannon was kind of just blown off its mount cleanly. It didn't appear to be directly hit, except by that duck.”
“So, we went down and took one of the undamaged and unusable ventral phase cannons and attached it.”
“So, we have a working phase cannon again?!” Makoto beamed.
“Yup,” Usagi smiled.
If Makoto would have had room to dance in her and Amanda's cubbyhole, she would have.
“Good work guys,” Ranma smiled.
J.C. and Usagi nodded and began to walk to the engineering station. Ranma grabbed J.C.'s sleeve and tugged on him, motioning for him to follow him to a quiet corner of the bridge.
“Have you removed all the Borg material from Engineering?” Ranma asked quietly.
“The majority of it,” J.C. replied. “Some of it couldn't be removed without losing power or damaging it.”
Ranma bit his lip. “If we…” Ranma paused. “When we evacuate, is there a way for you to set up some kind of transport enhancers or something so that we can take those parts with us?”
“Do it. That's your top priority right now.”
J.C. walked off and towards a turbolift. Usagi eyed him, then turned back to her terminal, forced to try and figure out the gobbilty-gook on the screen for herself.
STARDATE 60997 – CROSSROADS ETA 1 HOUR
The red alert lights on the bridge of the U.S.S. Sisko slowly pulsated. Ranma had been in this position so many times before but never had he known for a fact that at the end of the battle, he was going to lose his ship.
The theorizing about the Western 'drill' had proved correct. A massive force, led by an uncountable number of tanks, was bearing down on the disabled warship.
The Sisko had already been forced to show that it had indeed regained its ability to shoot down aircraft when a high-altitude spy plane flew overhead.
Makoto, working with the overhead shuttle had managed to track it and destroy it. The cold night air working against the Westerns. Their aircraft didn't put out much heat, but the negative one-degree temperature at the surface was much colder at the 14 kilometers the spy plane was flying at.
Either by coincidence or by design, the Eastern forces were due to land at about the same time the Western forces would be in range. The Eastern carrier groups had been sitting off the coast for the past eleven hours, waiting for their fellow countrymen to catch up.
Either the Western forces didn't see them, or they were more interested in the Sisko.
Whichever was the case, the Sisko was in the middle of what was about to be one ugly, and bloody battle royal.
“Sir,” Makoto called out. “Security reports that all decks have been cleared.”
“Good.” Ranma nodded. He had no intention of leaving anyone behind. Dead or alive. “Stasis chambers?”
“Moved to cargo bay four.”
“Very well,” Ranma replied. He looked to Akane who had asked to be on the bridge with him. “I really wish you'd be down there, so I know you'd be off the ship.”
Akane smiled. “You'll know better if I'm here because you'll see me disappear with you.”
Ranma leaned over and kissed her quickly. For what seemed like the first time ever, he did not feel Shampoo's dreadful glare burning into the back of his head, nor did he hear Ryouga's insults. Could things finally be turning in his direction?
“Eastern ships appear to be launching jets,” Minako reported.
*Guess not.* He thought. “At us?”
Minako shook her head. “To early to tell. They don't appear to be headed anywhere in particular.”
“The boats are all definitely moving again.”
Kaii spoke up. “Explosions on the water.”
“They might be anti-submarine planes,” Amanda guessed.
“Looks like the Eastern forces just got discovered,” Ranma stated.
The group watched as the Eastern forces attempted to fight off the Western submarines that were attempting to sink their carriers.
“Wow,” Amanda smirked.
Makoto turned to her.
“If they weren't all coming to kill us, this would be cool.”
“People are dying,” Makoto reminded her.
Amanda nodded. “Yeah, but it's war. Granted for a silly cause, but still. It's kind of like time travel, only without causality issues.”
Makoto returned her attention to her terminal.
“I guess cool is the wrong word,” Amanda continued. “But seeing the past come to life is every history buff's dream.”
Makoto nodded, pretty much just to end the conversation. Minako checked her sensors and began to squeak.
“Incoming contacts. Small aircraft, about two hundred.”
“Western?” Shampoo asked.
“They're not playing around this time,” Ranma noted. “They headed our way, or towards the carriers?”
“At us,” Minako replied.
“Range?” Shampoo asked.
“175 kilometers, moving supersonically. In range in three minutes,” Minako replied.
“Makoto?” Ranma asked.
“Adjusting for speed,” she replied. “Firing.”
The phase cannon deployed and began to fire. The jets started to break formation after the first couple was hit.
“Crap, they're breaking formation. The cannon is having trouble moving fast enough to track them,” Makoto groaned.
“Shit, they're all over the place, altitude-wise as well.”
Ranma nodded. “Just do your best. But once they release their payload, stow the cannon. We can't afford to let it get damaged.”
“Yes sir,” she said, still shooting away.
Slowly, but surely, fewer and fewer aircraft were being displayed on the Sisko's tactical overview. However, it was the slowly part that concerned Ranma as the countdown timer ticked ever closer to zero.
“Stow it,” Ranma ordered.
The phase cannon quickly righted itself and disappeared back into the ship's protective hull.
“Range,” Minako called out.
Amanda looked at her display.
“They've deployed ordinance.”
“Scan?” Shampoo asked.
“Checking,” Minako replied. “650-kilogram, conventional explosives.”
“Time to impact?” Ranma asked.
“Damage estimate?” Ranma asked.
J.C. sat up. “Depending on where they impact and whether or not they all hit at the same spot, negligible to catastrophic.”
“ALL HANDS! BRACE!” Shampoo called out.
Ranma looked to J.C. “You're going to class with Jansen.”
J.C. grinned before ducking for cover.
The ship rocked slightly as some of the bombs hit the Sisko's hull. However, most of them exploded harmlessly in the forest away from the ship.
Ranma stood and looked to J.C. “Report?”
“Meh,” J.C. replied.
Amanda grinned. “Without any guidance, those bombs essentially rely on the pilot to 'chuck' them to their target.”
“'Chuck' them?” Ranma asked.
“Yeah. Throw them. Let inertia and gravity carry them to the target,” Amanda clarified. “Once we knocked them out of formation, the pilots had to guess where the best release point would be.”
Shampoo giggled. “Lots of them guess wrong.”
“Yeah, except...” Kaii started. “Now if the military doesn't get you, the forest fire the bombs caused will.”
Ranma growled. “You're in the class too, Kaii.”
Akane laughed. “Who's teaching this class?”
Ranma pondered this for a second. “Gosnell.”
Makoto looked up. “Oh my God. We're all doomed.”
The entire bridge laughed. It was a nice moment. It unfortunately only lasted for a moment though before Minako's panel started to beep again.
“Western ground forces have breached 50 kilometers.”
“Damn, they're moving fast,” Ranma complained.
“Their line stretches for about another 20 kilometers. They aren’t able to spread out far due to the forest,” Kaii noted. “As well, the Eastern forces have engaged the Western naval blockade.”
“The Western navy doesn't have a chance, does it?” Ranma asked.
“It's about 30 ships against about a thousand. So, maybe, if an asteroid hit,” Kaii replied.
“I'm practicing for class.”
Ranma stifled a laugh. “Well done, Lieutenant.”
The bridge crew watched the view screen for a while, able to do nothing but grimace as the Eastern naval forces decimated the Western blockade ships.
Once the Eastern navy was on the move again, Ranma turned to Minako.
“Was a single Eastern ship destroyed?”
Minako shook her head. “Doesn't appear so.”
Ranma shook his head. “Range?”
“Everyone!” Ranma barked.
“The Western forces are at 35 kilometers. The Eastern forces are 30 from the shoreline.”
“Okay,” Ranma said, unsure of what to do.
“Sir,” Minako whimpered. “The Eastern ships appear to be launching landing craft.”
“How many?” Ranma asked.
“Dozens...” Minako answered. “No, hundreds...” Minako continued to look at the information she was getting from Nighthawk.
“There has to be over a thousand.”
“ETA?” Shampoo asked.
“Fifteen to the shore.”
“Fighters,” Makoto reported.
“Target?” Ranma asked.
“They're headed this way.” She replied. “But they could be headed to the invasion fleet.”
Ranma did not want to stop the fighters if they were going to attack the Eastern forces, but at the same time, he did not want to let them get within range of shooting his ship.
“DAMMIT!” he snapped out loud before putting his head in his hands and rubbing his face.
“Fighters are being launched from the carriers,” Minako added.
Ranma slumped down in his chair.
“Wonderful. A nonsensical holy war right above us where we're the prize.”
Ranma rapped his fingers on his armrest for a few moments.
“Captain, I am fairly certain these fighters are not going to attack us,” Amanda called out.
“Oh?” Ranma asked.
“Yes sir,” She replied. “They don't appear to have any bombs on them. Just missiles.”
Minako looked at her scans. “She's right.”
Ranma nodded. “Well good then.”
“Uh, I don't know if I can sort them out if they do send ones with bombs though,” Makoto interjected.
“Well, I'm not going to send you to the brig for shooting down the wrong one,” Ranma responded.
Makoto took some solace in that.
A little time passed as the two blobs of fighter jets got closer to each other. During the same time, the blob of Western armor and soldiers and Eastern landing craft came closer and closer to the Sisko.
The operations terminal began to chirp. Minako looked at it and concluded that things were about to get very, very ugly.
“Captain, the Eastern amphibious force will be landing in 10 minutes. The Western armored forces will be here in fifteen minutes and their air forces will be engaging each other in-“
The sound of an explosion and the remnants of either a Western or Eastern fighter jet slamming into the hull of the Sisko paused Minako.
“-now,” she finished.
“ETA on the Crossroads?” Ranma asked.
“They will be in transporter range in five minutes,” Shampoo replied. “But to get everyone on board will take fifteen-minute.”
Ranma acknowledged that he needed a way to slow both advancing forces down. There was far too much air traffic to send up the two Runabouts the Sisko still had in her shuttle bays, they would be shot down easily.
He also did not necessarily want to torpedo the soldiers either, despite the fact that expected them to all kill each other soon anyway, assuming any of them survived the destruction of the Sisko.
“The trees. Can we knock down more of the trees to slow the tanks?”
“I think so,” Makoto replied. She turned to Amanda who began to enter in targeting parameters.
“The Crossroads will be in transporter range in two minutes,” Kaii called out. “The NSO Teams say they are ready to go.”
“Ready!” Amanda said.
“Fire,” Ranma ordered.
“Transport when ready!” Shampoo ordered.
The ship rocked at the same time her forward phaser banks lit up. The phasers hit the trees, knocking them over, stopping the Western tanks' forward progress.
“It worked,” Minako yelled. “The Western armored column has stopped.”
“What hit us?” Ranma asked.
“Artillery,” Makoto replied. “The battleships off the coast are shelling us.”
“Why?!” Shampoo cried.
“Why not,” Makoto snarled.
“Is it a threat?” Ranma asked?
“Yeah, but…” Makoto trailed off. Ranma nodded.
“Crossroads is in range, beginning transport,” Kaii stated from his position aboard the scout ship.
“Bombers inbound,” Makoto reported. “Conventional weapons.”
“Shoot them down,” Ranma ordered.
Makoto and Amanda complied and downed the bombers with the Sisko’s phase cannon. Amanda sighed.
“More coming in from the sea.”
“Fuck!” Shampoo swore.
“Transport 10 percent complete,” Kaii reported.
“Keep shooting,” Ranma ordered as he watched the tactical situation on the main viewer. He cautiously eyed the Western armor as it had regained mobility over the tree barricade. The Eastern amphibious assault was just a couple of kilometers from the shore and would then only be a few minutes from them.
He would not have much choice soon, he realized as another artillery bombardment slammed into the hull. He would have to ask the Crossroads to hit both sides with torpedoes and kill several thousand soldiers at once.
Not something he wanted to do at all, but he could not let the Sisko fall into their hands. Neither side could obtain this technology.
“Transport at 35 percent.”
“Western forces reaching yellow line,” Minako grimaced, seeing the Western military pass the fifteen-kilometer mark.
Ranma sighed. “A warning shot. Open a channel to the Crossroads.”
Minako nodded. The communications system chirped, and Ami replied. “Yes, captain.”
“We need some cover fire. One torpedo, position yellow-bravo.”
“You got it,” Ami replied.
From the mighty Sovereign class ship, a single red orb shot from her forward torpedo bay and descended to the planet, slamming into the forest about ten kilometers north of the Sisko, and about five kilometers south of the advancing army, exploding in an enormous fireball, leaving a massive crater behind.
“I think it worked, Captain,” Minako smirked. “The Western armored column has halted their advance.”
“Have they turned back?” Shampoo asked.
“No,” Minako replied.
“Didn’t work well enough.” Ranma sighed.
“The Eastern advance is still coming as well,” Minako said as another bombardment from an Eastern battleship hit the Sisko.
“WAIT!” Minako yelled. “The Western troops! They’re turning back!”
Ranma smiled. However, his elation wasn’t to be long-lived.
“The Eastern forces though have landed. And I am picking up numerous aircraft inbound from the northwest. They appear to be armed with nuclear payload,” Minako groaned.
“Captain, we've got too many hull breeches and the ablative...” J.C. trailed off.
“Transport at 75 percent.”
Ranma looked to Shampoo, then to tactical. “Can you shoot them down?
“Most of them,” Amanda replied. “They are stealth aircraft, so I have to wait for them to get pretty close to get a lock.”
“ETA,” Shampoo asked.
“5 Minutes,” Kaii replied.
“How much fun is this?” Ranma joked. “Start shooting. Do what you can.”
*WHAM* *ALARM BELLS*
“SHIT!” both Makoto and Amanda screamed.
“WHAT?!” both Shampoo and Ranma screamed back.
“That artillery barrage nailed the phase cannon.”
“So, you’re saying the Eastern military just helped the Westerns?” Ranma asked.
Ranma sighed. “Kaii?”
“Two more cycles, then you guys,” Kaii replied.
Minako bit her lip. “The Eastern infantry has just reached red line.”
“They’re all going to be fried by those nukes, aren’t they?”
Minako sighed. “Yes.”
“You’re next!” Kaii stated.
“None too soon,” Amanda sighed. “Bombs away.”
Ranma looked up at the viewer as the planes broke formation and 15 small blips headed towards the center image of the Sisko. Ranma turned to Akane and smiled as the blue glow surrounded them both and Ranma felt the familiar sensation of his body being taken apart and then being reassembled. Within an instant, he found himself and the rest of the bridge crew in transporter room three of the U.S.S. Crossroads.
Ranma quickly looked to make sure Akane was on the pad as well. Once he saw her, he scurried out of the transporter room, Shampoo hot on his trail. The pair shot into a turbolift and up to the bridge. There was one last thing Ranma had to do. He did not want to do it, and it was going to break his heart, be he knew it had to be done.
Ranma stepped out onto the bridge of the Crossroads and nodded to the crew. Ami turned around and greeted him and his first officer.
“Captain Mizuno. Thanks for the rescue.”
“Captain, there is one last thing we need to do.”
“Indeed. I figured you should do it, since she was your ship, for so long.”
“First, establish a link with the Sisko's computer.”
“Established,” the operations officer said.
“Computer, run program 'Exodus Zero',” Ranma stated.
Aboard the Sisko, 192 tricorders turned bombs suddenly activated with a ten-second countdown. Once they reached zero, every critical piece of equipment, including the ship's computer core was blown into billions of pieces.
“Captain?” Ami asked.
“Insurance,” Ranma replied.
“Tactical, load all torpedo bays, full spread of quantum torpedoes,” Ranma ordered.
“Aye,” Tactical replied.
“Lock on to the Sisko.”
Ranma looked to Shampoo and took her hand. He then looked at the image of the stricken and smoldering image of the Sisko, which had obviously just been hit by dozens of nuclear bombs, on the viewer.
He blinked. “Fire.”
The front end of the Crossroads lit up silver as every torpedo fired, in all, twenty quantum torpedoes were jettisoned from the from of the Sovereign class ship and propelled towards the surface of the planet till they contacted the hull of the U.S.S. Sisko. Simultaneously, all detonated causing a blast that made the earlier nuclear explosions look like New Year’s firecrackers. Ranma and Shampoo watched as the smoke began to clear. Shampoo squeezed Ranma’s hand tightly.
“Better safe than sorry.”
Ranma nodded. “Again.”
Tactical nodded and repeated the attack, ensuring that not a scrap of the warship could have survived the onslaught.