Okay, here we go, the first actual 'episode' of the series. Let's hope it goes over well.
(Temporary Note: This fic hasn't been fully proofed by my beta reader yet. He would like you to know that the first few scenes were only quickly skimmed. Any mistakes in them are my fault.)
Well, on with the show.
"Let's start over again." Several dozen young men and women groaned at those words, as they lined up along the middle of a long, wooden floored room. Their gold and black Starfleet uniforms were a bright contrast to their location, a traditional and cozy looking Japanese styled Dojo, with a shrine to some people they didn't know along one end. "All right." Their instructor said. "Now, follow my movements as best ya can, and we can get outta here early, okay?"
"Sir, we've been doing this for two hours!" One of the officers in the line, a Bajoran man named Tarkin Misk objected, rubbing at one of his sore elbows.
Their sadistic teacher smiled. "Right, and next time I see you get thrown over a table by some random civilian, we'll be at it for four." He commented, referring to an incident that had happened two weeks before, when the Crazy Horse had been transporting colonists to their new home and a bar brawl had erupted. "I dunno what Starfleet Academy was thinking, teachin you people such bad hand to hand combat skills." He muttered, starting up a rant that the security crewmen knew well.
Just as the young martial artist was about to really hit his stride, his comm Badge beeped. He ignored the sighs of relief from his students, and spoke into the air. "Saotome here, what is it?"
"The Betazoid ambassador has arrived from the Enterprise, and the first officer and I are busy with other things. Please report to transporter room 1 and welcome her aboard." Captain Wright's voice came through the badge's tiny speaker, and Ranma could swear he heard… relief?
"All right, I'm on my way." He replied, before tapping the badge again. Seeing his men starting to walk for the door, he raised a hand. "As for you…" He started, and saw them groaning. "You've got the rest of the day off, enjoy it."
All of them smiled and began exchanging conversation as they left the Holodeck, followed shortly after by Ranma, who ended the program before he left.
Five minutes later, Ranma stepped into the Transporter room, thankful that the workout he'd been doing in the Holodeck hadn't been enough to work up a sweat. After all, he was supposed to be greeting an ambassador. As he thought that, he had to wonder if Captain Wright was out of his mind for sending HIM down to do this. He fought, he didn't talk.
"Sir, the Enterprise signals that the Ambassador is ready to beam over. Chief O'Brian seems to really want to do this quickly." The transporter chief said, looking down at her console and tapping it several times.
"All right, I heard the Enterprise's got a good reason ta wanna get going. Beam the Ambassador over, ensign." Ranma said, then watched the pad as a shimmering sheet of light deposited two figures on it.
One was an extremely tall man with pale skin, wearing a long black and silver robe and holding some sort of case. The other figure, a woman, appeared to be facing the wrong direction on the pad as she materialized.
"Um, Ambassador?" Ranma said, not really sure of which one of the two said person was, but knowing that he had to say something.
"Hmph, the nerve! Sending someone who doesn't even know who I am to greet me?" The woman said, spinning around. "I am ambassador Troi, young man, and I'll expect you to remember that!"
"Sure, I…" Ranma said, a little taken aback, as always, around an angry woman. "I mean, yes, of course Ambassador. I'm sorry, but the arrangements for transferring you aboard were pretty sudden, and…"
Ambassador Troi just nodded, making a dismissive hand gesture, apparently specifically to shut Ranma up, and stepped off the pad. Oddly, as she got closer to the pigtailed martial artist, she seemed to stagger slightly. "Are you all right, Ambassador?" Ranma asked, worried.
"Yes, I'm fine." The woman said, straightening up and shaking her head clear. "Now, I trust there's been a suite of guest quarters prepared?"
"Um, yes, there has. Follow me." Ranma said, and started for the door.
"Oh, and commander?" Troi said, causing Ranma to turn back to her. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't think of me in such an… erotic manner."
Ranma just blinked, shooting a very confused glance past the woman and at the tall man who was just stepping off the transporter pad. He didn't respond, merely shrugging imperceptibly.
Ranma decided not to object that he hadn't been thinking of the ambassador that way at all, flashes of a table being smacked into his skull reminding him just how those types of conversations usually ended. "Yes, right… um, please follow me." He temporized, leaving the room with Troi and her apparent aid following behind him.
HR – The Hunter. – HR.
"Chief of Security's personal log, Stardate 44308.2. The Crazy Horse has been rerouted to take over the mission of the starship Enterprise, after their captain and one of their crew members went missing on a trip to a local starbase. I can't blame the Enterprise's crew for wanting to find their captain, and the ship's sensors are probably better for hunting down the shuttle than ours, but even so, it's left us holdin the ambassador. We are required to ferry her to a conference meant to open up negotiations between the Federation and a race named the Nicari.
Unfortunately, she's a Betazoid woman, a little older than my mother, I'd say, and she's pretty well everything I ever found annoying or dangerous about girls. She can read my mind, she's got more confidence than I do, and she keeps insisting I'm thinking about her. If she pulls a giant spatula or mace outta nowhere, I'm leavin. As is, Captain Wright seems to be avoiding her as best he can, and leaving her in my care. If I didn't know better, I'd swear the old man's trying to punish me for something.
Now the ambassador wants a tour of the ship, and I don't wanna foist her off on any of my personnel, so I'd better do it. This is gunna be one hell of a trip.
Computer, end log."
The chime rang again, and Ranma stood outside of the quarters, tapping his foot impatiently. A moment later, he heard an annoyed female voice come through the speaker at the edge of the door's frame. "Oh, come in already!" Shrugging, he reached forward and was about to tap in the code to open the door, when it slid open on its own to reveal the giant of a man who Ranma had seen earlier, looking down on him impassively.
Ranma wasn't particularly intimidated by the big man, though he was annoyed that he had to look up so far at him. "Ambassador Troi requested a tour of the ship." He explained.
"Oh, just let him past, Mr. Homm. I'm sure he's been wanting to see this all day." The annoyed voice of the telepathic woman came from inside the quarters.
In retrospect, Ranma would later reflect that stepping past the big man, Mr. Homm, apparently, and into the room after hearing that was incredibly stupid. Regardless, he did, and immediately blushed as he saw that the older woman was half way through the process of slipping on the top portion of a voluminous silver colored dress. "Sorry, ambassador. I thought you would be ready when you called, I mean…" He trailed off, uncertain whether to start running now or later.
The woman flinched again, as she had earlier, before slipping part of the cloth over her shoulders and turning around. "My dear boy, why are you so terrified?" She asked, her annoying manor slipping for just a moment to reveal honest concern.
Ranma quickly stiffened, his pride offended. "I'm not afraid." He said, In a knee jerk reaction that had been honed from years of training.
"Of course not." The diplomat said, and then smiled. "Now, there was a tour of the ship?"
Ranma nodded. "I figured we could start at Eleven forward on deck 5, and work our way down from there." He offered. "If that's all right with you."
"Computer, lights." Ranma ordered, as she walked into her quarters, pealing off the still slightly soaked top portion of her Starfleet uniform and tossing it onto a chair, not even caring that her Comm badge went with it. "Damned dolphins." She muttered, squeezing out her pigtail and actually managing to get a respectable trickle of water out of it.
The tour with ambassador Troi had actually started off pretty well, and the woman seemed to fall into a more interested than annoying role when they got to some of the ship's more novel or pretty sights. Well, truth to tell, the tour had gone well all the way through, other than Ranma finishing the last half of it as a female.
It was quite amazing how many different ways a Starship could find of splashing someone with cold water, though this time, Ranma had to admit that she had been asking for trouble when walking into the marine sciences labs on the tour.
Sure enough, one of the Dolphins who resided in the tanks there had greeted him with a flick of a fin, sending a large amount of water over the edge of the tank he was working in, somehow completely bypassing the containment field.
Ambassador Troi's questions after that had been EXTREMELY annoying, and Ranma had only stopped herself from strangling the older woman with the mantra that she'd lose her rank if she did. Flopping down on her bed, she contemplated going down to the nearest lounge for a glass of hot water, but decided that she could do it in the morning, and closed her eyes to get some sleep.
Mr. Homm leaned back in his chair, contentedly reading a good book as his mistress lay beside him. He liked it when things were quiet, especially when his mistress was asleep and he could get some good reading in. Right now, he was half way through a book written in the 20th century on earth, something about "Armor." It was quite an entertaining war story, though a lot of the facts were slightly off or outright wrong.
Looking over to the bed next to his chair, the servant saw that his mistress was still sleeping soundly. That was odd, he thought, since he felt that there was something wrong. Still, as she lay there, he couldn't see any signs of distress, so he went back to his book.
Lwaxana Troi looked around the small entrance hall she found herself in, confused. It definitely looked nothing like anywhere on the ship, at least nowhere she had seen before. Perhaps it was a Holodeck, like the one Jean-Luc always played those little detective games of his in? But still, why was she here?
Moving into the main room that connected to the hall, the woman saw a curiously low set table, with cushions around it, and a large monitor set on a table next to a wall. "Hello, is anyone here?" She called, using the much more common vocal communication method that most humanoids used.
There was no response, and the woman began to get a little nervous. 'Is anyone out there?' she thought, casting her telepathic voice out as far as she could. Almost instantly, she felt a response. Unfortunately, the response definitely wasn't what she was looking for. A massive wave of fear washed through the room where she was standing, causing the usually self-confident woman to back up, looking around fearfully.
Seconds later, she felt something coming down the hall that lead into the room from the other side. Whatever it was, it was radiating the fear she felt, along with anger, and pain at such a high level that she could almost feel it physically. Seeing a shadow against the paper thin material of the far door, the dignified Betazoid diplomat broke and ran for her life, the long silvery robes that wrapped her seeming not to hamper her speed at all.
'Is anyone out there?' Ranma heard the words, though he couldn't tell where they were coming from. At the moment, though, he didn't care. He was too terrified to worry much about odd words coming from mid-air. It was happening again. No matter how many times he tried to fight it, it was happening again, and he was being lowered over the pit by his father. He would be let go any moment now, and plunged into the darkness, where they would bite him and scratch him until he went insane from the experience.
He knew what was going to happen. He'd gone through this experience so many times that he knew EXACTLY when Genma was going to let go, to let him drop into the hatch that covered the top of the pit. He could time it down to the last second. In fact, Genma was going to let him go right… about…. "Oof!"
'That was different.' Ranma thought, as the giant hand let go of the back of his collar, but not in order to drop him. The balding man had apparently been knocked off balance by something, and Ranma found himself dropped onto the ground with a thump.
Looking around, he saw that Genma was gone, but another form was laying on the ground nearby, and it was shaking. "Ambassador?" He asked, recognizing the silvery garments the figure was dressed in.
The form's head shot up, and the older woman looked into the confused eyes of the security officer who had been showing her around the ship all day. "Mr. Saotome?" She asked, confused. "What are you doing here?" It was such an absurd question, since she didn't know what SHE was doing here, that it almost made her laugh, but she held it back.
"I…" Ranma looked around him to realize that the landscape had changed. He was no longer above the pit, but rather sitting in the middle of the Tendo Dojo. "How did we get here? This place shouldn't even exist here…"
"You know where we are?" Lwaxana asked, sounding very relieved.
"Yeah, but… the Dojo doesn't exist in this universe. We shouldn't be here." Ranma said, and then something dawned on him. "Am I… home?"
All of this almost totally confused Lwaxana, and what was worse, the blanket of fear she had felt earlier was still covering the whole area, making it impossible for her to read Ranma's emotions. When he jumped to his feet and started running for the door to the large, empty room that they had found themselves in, she quickly followed. "Wait, you don't want to go out there!" She warned, but it was too late. He'd already thrown open the door, stepping into a large yard area, with a small pond to one side.
"I…" He wasn't sure what to say. He'd given up on making it back to the Tendos and his family a long time ago, but now the compound stood right in front of him.
"Mr. Saotome, wait." Troi said, grabbing him by the arm. "There's something in there, and it didn't like me very much."
Ranma frowned. The Tendo house was right in front of him, but this situation was pretty weird, and the ambassador had been running from something. Still, if it was a chance to see his family again, he had to take it. Slowly, he began to walk forward, towards the house's entrance… just as something large and black tore its way out from the inside, trailing a stream of wreckage.
Ranma fell into a defensive crouch, as the black thing thundered towards him. He saw, however, that as it moved it left huge gaps of… nothing… in the ground, and though he couldn't get a clear look at the thing his danger sense was screaming that it was more powerful than Saffron.
Looking between it and the ambassador, who had gone catatonic for some reason, Ranma's mind quickly rationalized that he wasn't running away, just getting an innocent out of the way of a battle. Dashing over, he grabbed the older woman around the waist and shoulders, and jumped to the top of the wall.
The creature altered course to follow, but it was slower than he was, and he managed to get many roofs away… before everything changed. Suddenly, he was on a descending arc into the side of a corridor. Changing his trajectory in mid-air, he landed with his feet against the bulkhead and sprang into the middle of the corridor. 'You are INSANE!"
Ranma looked down at the screech that had just pierced his thoughts, to see a petrified and shaking woman in his arms. "Um, sorry?" He offered, setting her down and scratching the back of his neck.
Lwaxana was about to make an acidic reply to such an.. insufficient apology, when the deck below them shook violently. "Where are we?" She asked, deciding to berate the boy later.
Ranma looked around, and then saw a conveniently placed window at the end of the corridor. Stepping up to it, he gulped at what he saw. Seeing that he had gone silent, Troi stepped up next to him. "Is that…" She started, very concerned. "What I think it is?"
Ranma mutely nodded, as the two stared out at the Borg cube.
"And why, exactly, didn't you report this yesterday?" Dr. Catherine Pulaski scowled at a young woman who was wearing a gold security uniform, her face crinkled in obvious pain.
"I thought it was just a strain and it would go away." The younger officer said, looking at the older.
"You thought a DISLOCATED shoulder would just go away?" Pulaski asked, and then snorted. "Sit down, I'll get some pain killers and then snap it back in for you."
"Thank you doctor." The security crewman said, slouching over to one of the sickbay bio beds.
"Now, I'm going to have to explain to commander Saotome that you can't be stressing that arm for a few days." Pulaski commented, carefully loading the Hypo-spray and checking the setting. "Lucky for me, he's a closet chauvinist, and won't particularly mind."
The crewman couldn't help but smile. Even if she hadn't had the sense to come to sickbay the day before, this meant that she would be let out of the commander's dreaded drills. Just as Pulaski was about to inject her in the arm, the door to the room slid open with a sharp hiss, and an extremely tall and pale man tromped in, a limp form over his out-stretched arms.
Pulaski turned, and then blinked at him. "Something I can do for you?" She asked, unsure of precisely how to react. The tall man didn't speak, merely nodding and walking over to a bio bed, where he placed his bundle. Pulaski moved up curiously, and looked down on the form of someone she recognized as the ambassador the Crazy Horse had taken aboard. Instantly, she drew a scanner from the edge of the bed, playing it over the still woman's body.
She was relatively sure that the ambassador wasn't just sleeping, since the tall man, she assumed he was Troi's aid, had managed to carry her into the sickbay without waking her up. "Hmm, isolated brainwave activity on several bands." She muttered, looking at the screen at the head of the bio bed. "How long has she been like this?"
The ambassador's aid just shrugged helplessly, and Pulaski sighed. "All right…" She said, resigned. "This is going to be fun."
Captain Wright stepped onto the bridge for the beginning of Alpha shift, running a hand through his hair and taking a quick look around. He saw the helmsman sitting and tapping her controls for occasional course corrections. The OPS officer was absent, but Wright had seen him finishing his breakfast when he was on his way up to the bridge. The thing that caught his attention, however, was that the tactical station was manned by a young Tellarite who normally took Gamma shift.
"Where's commander Saotome?" He asked, falling into the captain's chair and making himself comfortable.
"He hasn't reported yet, sir." Commander Tsung responded from the seat next to him. "Perhaps I shouldn't have dumped ambassador Troi on him yesterday."
Wright chuckled. "I'm sure that, despite Jean-Luc's warnings, she can't be all that bad." He responded, and then reached up to tap his comm Badge. "Captain to Commander Saotome. Report." There was no response, so he tapped the badge again. "Commander Saotome?" Frowning darkly, he turned to the Tellarite at tactical. "Ensign Sprint, go and get the commander, please."
"Aye, sir." The ensign said, turning to leave the bridge.
"Helm, ETA?" Wright asked, turning back to the business at hand and putting off reprimanding one of his senior officers until later.
"Seven hours, captain." The Helmsman responded, crisply.
"Okay, this is getting damned weird." Ranma muttered, though there was a trace of nervousness in his voice. "What the hell's goin on here?"
I don't know!" The ambassador replied, instantly. "You said you were home before, what did you mean? Do you know where we are?"
"I.. don't know." Ranma admitted. "This looks like a corridor on my old ship, and if that Borg ship's out there it's probably Wolf 359, but I don't got a clue how we got here. Maybe some sorta time travel or something?" He guessed. He had been told that there were dozens of ways of finding yourself where you weren't supposed to be, especially when you were on a Starfleet ship. Still, this was just plain odd.
"No, I don't think…" Lwaxana started, before the two were interrupted by another rumbling shudder through the ship's deck. Within seconds, a strange… shimmering… sound seemed to echo down the corridor, and four mechanical beings materialized from greenish beams of light. She stepped back, her face going pale.
She had heard of the Borg, but had never actually seen one, and seeing the sight now was not doing wonders for her piece of mind. She didn't even notice as Ranma shoved her against the window, taking up a stance in front of her. As he did this, the Borg drones who had appeared seemed to take stock of their situation, and find the two humanoids as the only interesting things in the area.
All four of the Borg started towards them, and Ranma reached for his phaser. Almost instantly, his hand came in contact with the silken material of a red shirt where his belt holster was supposed to be, and it dawned on him for the first time that he wasn't wearing his uniform, but rather his old Chinese clothes.
Grunting in annoyance, he stretched out an arm, launching a Chi blast into the nearest Borg. The drone stumbled backwards, its body sparking, and Ranma took aim at another drone. This time, however, when his blast hit, a greenish force-field appeared to block it.
He gulped nervously, and tried to launch another Chi attack, only to find the same force field blocking it from hitting. When the next Borg reached hand-to-hand range, Ranma hit it with a vicious straight punch, sending it flying back, and he smirked. "Can't adapt to that, can you?" He called, his confidence seeming to return. Unfortunately, he was proven wrong, when he launched another blow… and the third Borg raised an arm, catching his hand in its own with apparent ease. He tried with the other arm, only to obtain the same results.
As the fourth and final Borg raised its arm and tubes shot out towards Ranma's neck, he yelled "Ambassador, run!" …but the world flashed white before the tubes could come into contact.
Dr. Pulaski frowned at the readouts on her tricorder, tapping its buttons again to try and make things make sense. Still, the readings stayed the way they were. There was a Betazoid on her bio bed, in a coma for no apparent reason, and with a heightened mental activity level indicative of a dream. Also, by the look of it, it wasn't a very pleasant dream either.
This was bad, since the ambassador in question was supposed to be mediating an important trade conference in less than seven hours. "Try the neural stimulator again." She ordered, a nurse nearby quickly nodding and walking to a console on the wall.
"No effect." The nurse said. "The first time, it caused some distortion, but now… nothing."
"Damn it." Pulaski mumbled, studying the readouts. This made almost no sense. As she thought that, the doors to the room hissed open again, and an almost exact duplicate of the scene that had taken place thirty minutes earlier happened again, this time with a security officer holding an obviously unconscious redhead.
"Let me guess, she won't wake up." The doctor said, rubbing her temples.
The Tellarite blinked in slight surprise. "Yes.. how did you know?"
"We may have a problem here…" Pulaski replied, desperately wishing she'd had a cup of coffee this morning.
"Captain's log, stardate 44310.9. Next time I volunteer to take a mission from Picard, I think I'll have the computer replay this mission log. We're only 6 hours away from an important diplomatic conference, and our delegate and my Chief of Security are now in comas.
Dr. Pulaski informs me that this was likely an isolated incident, and that there isn't a virus loose on the ship, but even though the rest of my crew are not likely to end up in a similar state, this situation is grim. The Nicari value the forthrightness of emotion, such as in body language, so much that they actually demanded a telepathic diplomat, specifically so that we couldn't possibly misunderstand them. There are a few Vulcans on my crew, but it's doubtful that the Nicari ambassador will much like having to keep in constant contact, and I'm sure the Vulcan crewmen wouldn't like me for the suggestion either.
For the moment, all I can do is hope that the doctor can find a way to wake ambassador Troi up before we reach Nicaren space, or at least before the beginning of the talks. Until then, I'm brushing up on non-verbal communication…
Computer, end log."
"Are you waiting for something?" The cool female voice caused Ranma to open her eyes, surprised that she wasn't feeling the stinging of a Borg drone's assimilation tubules piercing her neck. She was about to ask what the owner of the voice was talking about, when she realized that she was staring at her own legs. The world rushed in around her, and she found herself kneeling on the Tendo dojo's floor, her hands clenched around a knife blade that was pointed at her abdomen.
She let her vision drift up, seeing the grim face of her mother. She wanted to cry out in happiness, finally having seen a member of her family again, but the call died in her throat as she saw that the older woman wore a white Kimono, and held her unsheathed sword in one hand. Looking to the side, she saw her father sitting next to her, the blade of a small tanto knife buried into his stomach, and behind him, the horrified face of Ambassador Lwaxana Troi as she stood at the entrance to the Dojo.
"Well, are you going to prove at least SLIGHTLY honorable, even though you can never be a man, or will I have to perform the finishing stroke now?" Ranma's mother's voice came again, and the martial artist returned her eyes to the blade in her hands.
She didn't know why, but she felt compelled. She HAD to finish the scene that was started, if only because her mother wouldn't finish Genma off until Ranma went through with the ritual, and she could hear the old man whimpering in pain. Plunging the blade towards her body, she prepared for the pain… when she heard the thump of feet on floor, and someone knocked her over and away from the blade.
Ranma blinked in surprise when she saw that it had been the ambassador who had jolted her out of almost slitting her stomach. "What in the name of the holy rings is going on here?!" She demanded, dusting off the floral print Kimono that her dress had become when the scene had changed.
"Whoever you are, you're interfering with family business." Nodoka Saotome said, scowling at the interloper on the private ceremony.
"Family?" Troi asked, throwing a confused look to Ranma.
"She's my mother." Ranma replied, climbing to her feet from where the older woman had knocked her.
"Your moth… That… she is…" Troi's face was turning redder by the moment, as she began to stutter. "Your MOTHER was going to allow you to kill yourself, and HELP?" For some reason, this seemed to strike a cord in the black haired woman. "How could you do something like that to your son?"
"This is none of your business, Gaijin." Nodoka said, coolly.
"Mr. Saotome…" Troi gave the obviously female martial artist an odd look before continuing, "…may be one of the most annoying humans I've ever met, but it most certainly is!" Troi replied, angrily, and grabbed Ranma by the arm. "Come on, you have to get me home before I can let you die!"
"Guh?" Ranma asked, watching her mother's shocked face as she was pulled out of the Tendo dojo.
Dr. Pulaski wiped yet another annoying drop of sweat out of her eyes, looking at the disheartening scan results from yet another test. "The electro-magnetic interference field seems to have minimal impact." She mumbled. "Well, that was my last idea… Time?"
"The bridge reports we'll be entering the Nicaren system in twenty minutes." A Vulcan nurse replied, immediately.
"Damn." Pulaski exclaimed, rubbing her temples again and walking into her office, where she slumped down in front of her terminal. The screen was currently displaying everything the Federation database had on Betazoid mental abilities and brain patterns, and none of it had been of any use. She'd thought that she'd be free of all the seat of the pants medicine she'd practiced on the Enterprise when she transferred to this smaller and older ship, but apparently not.
"You know, if I didn't know better I'd say these brainwave patterns were from a Vulcan mind meld." She muttered, studying the waveforms on the screen.
"Betazoids are not capable of mental contact on that level, at least not with those of alien species." The Vulcan nurse contributed.
"I know that." Pulaski growled, receiving a steady look from her nurse.
"I only wished to be of assistance." He said.
"I'm sorry, Tarek." Pulaski responded. "I'm just getting frustrated. Betazoids can't link minds with aliens, so why is the mental activity so similar with those two? I think I sympathize with what you said last week." Pulaski stopped for a moment, and then her eyes widened. "Last week! What you said, that's it!"
The Vulcan looked at her and raised an eyebrow slightly. "I said many things last week, doctor. Would you please clarify?"
"Last week, you said that Saotome gave you a headache! When I thought you were joking, you said that you were serious, and it had something to do with his bio-electrical aura…" Dr. Pulaski ran over to the bio beds where her two patients were laying, and keyed in a set of commands. Almost instantly, an image appeared in a sensor screen at the top of Troi's bed, and Pulaski started smiling. "I've got it!" She exclaimed. "Saotome's aura acted like an extremely strong telepathic signal for the ambassador's abilities, and caused a mental link to form that's very similar to a mind meld. I'm guessing that it was triggered through some extreme emotional state."
"So you know how to revive the ambassador now?" Nurse Tarek asked.
Pulaski stopped for a moment, and blinked several times before growling angrily. "NO!"
Moments after ambassador Troi had grabbed Ranma by the arm and started pulling, he found himself standing on a hillside, a blanket lying at his feet with a basket and a scattered variety of foods. At the bottom of the hill was a wide lake, mirroring the images of trees along its edges. "Where?" He asked, surprised.
"This is a lake on Betazed." Ranma's head shot around, to see that ambassador Troi was sitting on the edge of the blanket, still wearing the Kimono.
"How'd we get here?" He asked, still looking cautiously around.
"I've finally figured out where we are." Troi responded, slowly.
"You just told me, we're somewhere on Beta… whatever your home planet's called." Ranma interrupted, earning an annoyed look from the much older woman.
"No, I mean I know how we got here. Tell me, do you notice anything odd since we suddenly changed locations?" Troi waited, obviously impatient, as Ranma considered. Seeing that he wasn't getting anywhere, she then burst out. "Do you not even NOTICE that your gender has changed twice in the past ten minutes?"
"Oh…" Ranma said, sheepishly. "Actually, come ta think of it, I went to bed female last night, and didn't notice water when I woke up."
The older woman just sighed, and then breathed deeply as if to re-capture her patience. "Exactly. I think that you must not have woken up. In fact, neither of us have. I think this is a shared dream."
"Shared dream?" Ranma asked, then remembered an odd incident involving Happosai and some special incense. Basically, whenever anyone fell asleep, they'd been drawn into the old pervert's dream world. He shuddered, not wanting that to happen again.
"If you're thinking of something unpleasant, STOP!" The black haired woman said, snapping Ranma out of his train of thought. "If we are in a shared dream I don't want to be put in danger by a stray thought."
Ranma looked at her, sheepishly. "Sorry… but if that's what's goin on, how do we… wake up?" He questioned, tentatively.
Troi frowned. "I… don't know." She admitted, her pride in matters of Betazoid mentality similar to his in his martial arts. "My father told me it could happen with Betazoids under enough emotional stress, but… you aren't a Betazoid, are you?" She cocked her head to the side, actually curious.
Ranma shook his head. "Nah, I'm human."
She snorted as if to say 'yeah, right,' and then stood, beginning to pace around the blanket. "Well, if I were to GUESS on how we're supposed to wake up, we have to break whatever is connecting us… which, in this case, is probably your fear."
Ranma stiffened, as he had when she'd accused him of being afraid earlier. "I'm not scared o' anything here." He said. "It's just a forest."
"Not here." Troi said. "I'm not sure where we're here, but this is obviously part of my mind, maybe a sanctuary. As for you being scared, I personally wouldn't blame you if your mother was seriously considering killing you." She shuddered. "How a mother could do that…" She trailed off, turning her eyes to the lake at the bottom of the hill, and staring at it for a long moment.
"You okay?" Ranma asked, worriedly, snapping his fingers in front of the black haired woman's face as she stared off into the distance, vacantly.
"Oh… yes, I feel fine." She said, shaking her head, and then sighing. "Mr. Saotome… Ranma." She corrected herself, slowly. "I know that you don't like to admit that anything scares you, but I've seen it… at least, most of it, and what you're afraid of is pretty respectable."
Ranma grumbled in annoyance, but didn't say anything as he looked away.
"There's just one thing, something serious, that sent us running when this whole… nightmare.. started. It's bigger than the Borg, and bigger than your fear of your mother cutting your head off, though I can't imagine why." She walked over in front of him, and reached a hand out to grip his shoulder. "What is it?"
Ranma gulped nervously, his mouth suddenly feeling dry. It was as if ambassador Troi's mere talking about it made it come nearer. He could feel it, could feel the hillside suddenly starting to darken. "N… neko." He croaked.
"What?" She asked, confused.
"Cats. All right, I'M AFRAID OF CATS!" he yelled it at the top of his lungs, and if the clearing had the acoustics for it, the sound would have echoed.
Lwaxana Troi did her very best not to fall over in shock or start laughing. She'd been drawing on the little she knew about her daughter's profession for the last bit of her current conversation, and even she knew that after getting someone to admit their greatest fear to you outright laughter wasn't the best idea, but still… cats?
Saotome was small, but he was also fast, tough, and most importantly proud. He'd disabled two Borg, if even in his own mind, and he was evidently good enough at his job to be a Starfleet security officer like Mr. Woof. It seemed almost impossible that such a person could be afraid of cats. Trying to get her composure back, she listened as he started to talk.
"Starfleet's been counseling me for it for a while. Now, I can stand sitting in the same room with a housecat, but I still have nightmares about it every once in a while. I was havin one of 'em when you first showed up." He finished, almost in a whisper. As if his words were the catalyst, right after he'd finished speaking a black shape shot out of the water of the lake, trailing droplets that gleamed in the sun.
Unlike when she'd first seen it in the garden, Troi could now make out the details of the black blur. It was large, maybe about the size of a Federation shuttlecraft, but it LOOKED for all the world like a midnight black version of that android's cat back on the Enterprise. A giant housecat.
Still, she could see that wherever its feet impacted, its claws shredded the ground to pieces and blackness was left in its wake. As a result, she could sympathize with Ranma when he grabbed her in his arms and started running for his life.
As Ranma tore through the forest, Lwaxana Troi reflected that, if there wasn't a giant feline monster chasing them, and if they weren't going in excess of 100 kilometers per hour, this would be somewhat enjoyable. Ranma was far too young for her, but his arms were strong, and the view every time he leapt off the top of a tree was fantastic.
Unfortunately, her trying to make the best of a really bad situation was interrupted, as Ranma jolted to a screeching stop, landing unsteadily in another clearing in the forest. He didn't set the older woman down, but rather let her drop, and she glared up at him imperiously as she got to her feet. "Why did you do that?" She demanded.
Her question wasn't particularly answered by Ranma's pointing finger, but as she followed it she did notice a wooden decking laying on the ground, with a hatch constructed in its center. She began to walk up to it, but Ranma flinched away from it is if there were a force field between the two.
Kneeling down, the woman flipped open the hatch in the middle of the floor, and staggered back as the smell of rotten meat hit her. "What is this place?" She asked, disgusted.
She wasn't answered, however, as the giant cat that had been following her and Ranma suddenly burst out of the bush, lunging at the martial artist. She thought that he would be paralyzed with fear for a moment, but then sighed in relief when he jumped out of the thing's way… and straight down the trap door she'd opened.
She was about to ask the boy if he was all right, when she heard the rather un-mistakable sound of a hissing cat. Whipping around quickly, she saw that the black cat creature was pouncing to leap at her. "Nice kitty?" She tried, relatively certain that it wouldn't work.
He was in the pit again. It had happened so many times before that he knew it by heart. Somehow, though, this time it felt different. There were no cats. In fact, he wasn't even tied up. Still, as he looked up to where he knew the hatch that lead out was supposed to be, he saw blackness. "H… hello?" He called, cursing his own weakness for the quavering tone that his voice came out in.
"Someone else is here?" It wasn't really a voice that he heard. It was more a rush of feelings, a set of impressions, of curiosity, happiness and uncertainty that all came together to form the idea of the question.
"Who's that?" Ranma asked.
This time, the voice didn't respond to his question directly. "Am I going to be let out?" it seemed to ask, leaving Ranma confused.
"I don't know how to get out." Ranma said, his nervousness starting to recede a little bit. "Believe me, if I could get outta here, I would."
"Now, you know." The not-quite-a voice replied. "Trapped, darkness… getting closer."
"I… I don't get it." Ranma replied. "Look, if ya tell me who ya are, I might be able to help you."
"You, help?!" The other asked, its impressions very angry now. "You hunt me, trap me here… I just want to play." Its voice had gone from angry to petulant in only moments.
"Who… what are you?" Ranma demanded, for the third time. Oddly, though, this time, something responded. The darkness didn't exactly brighten, but he could suddenly see a tiny dark shape in the middle of the black. He almost flinched back, but his training with Starfleet had combined with his recent encounter with the giant cat to keep him under a bit more control.
"Why are you locking me up?" the tiny black kitten seemed to say, and it was so pitiful that even Ranma didn't feel much fear. "I only want to play."
Ranma growled, angry. "Only wanna play, huh? Then what's the big idea chasin me around?" He demanded.
The cat seemed to flicker, and suddenly, Ranma found himself standing in the clearing above the pit again, facing a rather astonished and annoyed looking ambassador Troi.
"This is entertaining, I must say, but can you get this… thing… off of me?" She demanded from where the giant nightmare cat was trying to curl up on her lap. Given that it was, as previously mentioned, about the size of a shuttlecraft, it wasn't working terribly well.
Ranma stopped, but instead of fear, an image of that pathetic little black kitten asking why he wouldn't let it out flashed into the back of his brain. He slowly approached the giant hell beast of a feline, and reached out to gently stroke its side. The cat immediately got up and stepped back from the woman it had previously been crushing. "I… won't lock ya up." Ranma said, slowly. "I promise."
Within moments, the world seemed to shimmer slightly, and Ranma looked oddly at Troi. "What's happening?" He asked.
She shrugged. "I'd presume we're waking up."
"Wha…" Ranma started, before everything went black.
Captain Wright looked directly into the face of a Nicari diplomat on the Crazy Horse's main view screen, understanding why they had felt that the Federation needed a telepath to read their expressions. The man's face looked almost totally immobile, and his voice was a perfect monotone. Wright reflected that this man would be absolutely vicious at poker. "Where is the ambassador?" The man asked, evenly.
"She's been delayed slightly." Wright said, quickly. "She should be here shortly."
"You are lying." The Nicari ambassador said, simply. "Perhaps the Federation did not heed our requests, and you are attempting to negotiate in her place?"
"No, no!" Wright replied. "Ambassador Troi's just run into a slight problem, and she will be here shortly."
"I hope that you are telling the truth. This time, it appears so, but we would not wish to begin negotiations with the Federation on the wrong foot." The Nicaren said, and Wright was suddenly very sure that, if the man had any expressions what-so-ever, he would have looked offended.
"Why minister, you are so impatient!" Came a slightly nasal voice from the back of the bridge, near its main terbolift. Captain Wright hadn't been so glad to hear that voice in his entire life. "
"This is ambassador Troi, as promised, Mr. Elith." He said, stepping to the side and then back, slumping into his command chair with a sigh of relief. "Note to self, promote Pulaski." He muttered, only loud enough for his XO to hear.
Ranma slipped off of the edge of her bed, about to follow Troi out of sickbay, when Dr. Pulaski grabbed her by the collar of her uniform. "And where exactly do you think you're going?"
"I'm fine, doc." Ranma replied. "I can go back to duty, and..."
"I had to let the good ambassador go, since Captain Wright is going to have a stress related heart attack if she isn't on the bridge in ten minutes. YOU, on the other hand, are going to be put through a full physical so that I can ensure that everything still works in that head of yours." She looked contemplatively at the redhead. "Well, at least so I can see nothing else's broken...."
The pigtailed security chief nodded only slightly, before sitting back onto the bed. As she leaned back, she heard a voice in her mind. "Can I come out now?"
With a slight sigh, she reached up and rubbed at the side of her head. This was probably going to be a long day, after a long nightmare.
"Chief of Security's Personal Log, stardate 44311.4, Saotome Ranma recording... The preliminary negotiations with the Nicari have been completed, and the ambassador is about to beam down to the planet to continue them. The Crazy Horse is to leave orbit afterwards, and Enterprise will take her back to Betazed. This mission's definitely been hard to forget, especially since it's left me with one less fear and one more annoying voice in the back of my head, though the cat usually leaves me alone so long as I let it out in the Holodeck every once in a while. This, of course, has reduced my own Holodeck time dramatically, but I can live with that.
As for the ambassador, I guess I've got to talk to her, at least to apologize for the incident. I haven't seen her since she left Sickbay yesterday. Still, I'm hoping that since she's too old, my usual track record with angry women won't come into play.
"Oh, Mr. Saotome, I thought you'd disappeared!" Lwaxana Troi said, happily, as Mr. Homm stood on the transporter pad behind her with her personal suitcase.
Ranma shrugged. "I just came to apologize for…" He started, but was cut off by the woman.
"Oh, nonsense. That was quite the adventure for someone like me." She said, and laughed as she saw that he was looking at her, mouth open in shock. Smirking, she continued. "Besides, I can finally prove to that daughter of mine that I'm pretty good at counseling, too."
"Um, thank you… I guess." Ranma said, unsure, but also knowing that the older woman wasn't, apparently, angry at him.
"There was no problem, dear boy. In fact, I don't suppose you'd be interested in meeting my daughter…? she's such a nice girl, oh, and that Mr Riker..."
Ranma just gaped, his stomach suddenly tightening. "Miss Archer, energize." He said, quickly.
"Oh, now that was ru…" Lwaxana started, before being engulfed in the beam of the transporter.
Okay, about TNG continuity... When I know it, and it doesn't get in the way, I'll keep to it. I'm doing my research, and trying to keep things from conflicting, but I'm not carefully analyzing every line in the series to make sure I don't contradict something, and if I see a plot point I don't like, or can't accommodate, I'll ignore it.
This fic is ranked as a parody for a reason. I've made fun of Picard and Subspace mechanics already. I don't dislike Trek, in fact I'm a pretty devoted Trekkie though I'm probably put to shame by some of you, but I honestly am not trying to keep its continuity intact particularly hard in this fic.
That's all for now, folks. Please tell me how you feel about the fic, and any suggestions are, as always, welcome.