No Tendo: A Fusion Tale
by Greylle (Kestral)

Chapter 40: Downtime DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything. Don't have money. Written for amusement.

"Captain Carol Farris reporting, sir."

"Ah, Captain Farris. I was expecting you tomorrow."

"Yes sir, the shuttle didn't have to make one of the planned side-trips."

"Excellent then. Not much to see yet," said General Hammond. "Welcome to Cheyenne Mountain. You'll be serving on Babylon Five when it is constructed I understand."

"Yes, sir. I still don't understand why 'Five'?" asked Captain Farris.

"Classified," said the General.

"Sir? I'm supposed to live and work there," said Captain Farris.

General Hammond considered that for a moment, eyeing the tiny woman. "Black Cat stuff. More than that, I can't really say."

"That's more than anyone else has been willing to say, sir, thank you," acknowledged Captain Farris.

"You've run into that sort of thing before then?" asked the General, noting the lack of any further reaction.

"I've run across other situations over the years, sir. I understand that 'Black Cat' means that things that are very highly classified, and 'outside normal parameters' as it has been put."

General Hammond considered that for a moment. "Yes, that's a good way of saying it. Better than some of the terms I've heard used to describe things that defy conventional description."

"The official explanation of several redesigns is rather lacking, sir."

General Hammond nodded. "What do you know of your temporary assignment here?"

"I'm here officially for transport to another facility that is adminstered from here," said Captain Farris. "Details classified. Other personnel classified. Length of tour roughly one year. I will be under communications blackout for nine months of that year, with exceptions made for letters that have gone through censoring."

"Do you know why you were chosen for this position, Captain Farris?" asked General Hammond.

"No sir."

"I see," said General Hammond, he turned towards a dog in the office.

Captain Farris glanced at the dog, fighting down a smile. A small mutt of some terrier breed.

"No contamination, surveillance devices, or other items noted," said the dog. "Outside of things already within personnel file."

General Hammond looked back and noted how the Captain's eyes and mouth had just gone wide. "Captain Farris, this is one of several K-9 liason units from the BOLO."

"The... BOLO, sir? The alien tank?" asked Captain Farris, recovering from the shock. "So - this is a robot dog?"

"Indeed, Captain," acknowledged the General. That she had recovered that quickly was sufficient indication that she just might fit in. "You were picked for this duty because you have a grounding in science fiction."

"My base commander in Alaska was a big 'Starship Troopers' fan," supplied Captain Farris. "Really hated the movie."

"There are a number of people who have read 'Starship Troopers' and hated that they threw out all the good parts for the movie," noted General Hammond. "I've heard you ran into the individuals responsible and the flight ran into heavy turbulence shortly thereafter. Not that you had anything to do with that."

"Of course not, sir," acknowledged the Captain.

"Most of the people recruited for duty aboard Babylon or other offworld posts have a grounding in science fiction," said General Hammond. "Those who dismissed such things previously as 'that science fictiony stuff' either do not apply for such positions or are unsuited for working there. Now that there is a chance of you working directly with alien life forms, spaceships, and the like - someone who read such things isn't as likely to freeze up as someone who had dismissed all this as nonsense."

Captain Farris realized the General had paused for acknowledgement. "Sir."

"You've also run into a 'Black Cat' operation before," said General Hammond. "Bangladesh, I believe."

"Hopefully, and with all due respect sir, this will have little in common with the Bangladesh operation," stated Captain Farris.

"Hector?" asked General Hammond. "Mission specs for Captain Carrie Farris."

"Affirmative," said the dog. "Captain Carrie Farris is to be escorted through to Refuge at 1300 hours tomorrow. Quarters will be acquired at the Saotome Dojo on Refuge. For two months thereafter you will receive advanced training."

"The... 'Saotome Dojo'?" asked Captain Farris. "Wait there was a news program-"

General Hammond nodded. "Understand that the term 'ninja' is just a term that Mister Saotome uses to indicate someone who has received advanced training in a martial arts style that allows for some fairly impressive feats. You're only there for two months to polish your hand-to-hand skills. If you can access their higher-end Art, an evaluation will be given at that time. We are very interested in acquiring personnel who can achieve that level of ability, but aren't counting on it. The reason for your hand to hand skills to be further worked on is that Babylon Five will have weapons restrictions. The Outer Hull areas are not areas where you want to use projectile weapons."

"Damage to hull integrity is to be avoided," added the dog, apparently named Hector.

"Trying to breathe without air is generally something I'd like to avoid," admitted the Captain.

"After the two months duration, providing special talent is not uncovered during stay at dojo, advanced training and fitting with a new exosuit is scheduled," said Hector. "On the ground and in microgravity conditions. Evaluation is to be made after additional month."

"Hector, if you'd show the Captain to her quarters," said General Hammond. "She is going to start a very busy schedule tomorrow."

Setsuna Meiou stood vigil, the Gates Of Time her duty station.

That didn't mean she wasn't aware of things though, especially with Castle Charon active.

Time continued to pass even though the Gates connected to various periods of time. The Modern Era, the Silver Millenium, and the Past Eras were all one to the Gates.

Time and Space were linked, but these were the Gates Of Time and not the Gates Of Space. If it were not forbidden, travel through time was possible and to a lesser extent travel through space.

The world was different, the world was the same. Things had changed.

She monitored, she guarded. She had tea with Belldandy.

Setsuna Meiou paused, glancing to the side where the Asgardian Vanir had apparently set up a tea kettle, table, and chairs in between moments.

"You know, intruders are forbidden this area," noted Setsuna, changing to Sailor Pluto since this had just become official business.

"To use the Gates Of Time," noted Belldandy, "is forbidden. To have tea nearby is not addressed in the directives levied by Queen Serenity."

"Ah," said Sailor Pluto. "Well, it was generally understood that approaching the Gates was part of that which was forbidden."

"Tea?" asked Belldandy, beginning to pour her own cup.

"Purpose of this visit? Besides tea," said Sailor Pluto.

"A time loop is about to stabilize, it has already occurred and yet it is about to happen," said Belldandy. "I thought you'd appreciate some notice."

"Ah, so it loops from current time to some part of the past and has already stabilized," said Sailor Pluto as she finally sat down. "Not using the Gates?"

"No, it's an accident relating to use of the Stargates and a gravitational lensing effect," said Belldandy.

"Ah," said Pluto, sipping at the cup of tea before her. "How nice."

"Yes, I am rather happy with this blend," agreed Belldandy.

"Well, yes, the tea is rather nice but the warning that something like this is about to happen is also very good," said Pluto.

The disc was twice the size of a regular Terran dinner plate, set in an elaborate desk-like device. It was Ancient as well, in both the sense that it was made by the Ancients and that it was old enough to have seen generations of long-lived Goa'uld use it.

"Bastet, why have you contacted me?" asked Cronus.

"I'm arranging a conference call," stated Bastet. "I have information to share."

"Then do it through regular channels, some courier you won't mind getting killed if I don't like your information, and be done with it," said Cronus. "I don't have time for this."

"Make time," said Bastet simply. "What I have learned is something of consequence to the Goa'uld as a whole. I will commence the conference call in 48 standard hours. Be ready then."

Cronus looked at the disc briefly, considering. Heru'ur was gone. Apophis had lost a number of ships. While every Goa'uld tried to keep everything they did secret, especially from other Goa'uld, it was also normal for every Goa'uld to spy on the others as much as possible. All part of their constant jockeying for positions of dominance over the others.

That each and every one of their number had multiple agendas, projects, and secrets was just part of what and who they were as species and as a civilization.

So he was not wondering if Bastet had an agenda on this - he knew very well that she did. WHICH agenda - that was a more relevant question.

"Space, boys and girls, is the single most deadly environment we can currently access. Contrary to Hollywood films though, you will NOT explode the moment you are exposed to it. You will not be sucked out of a one-inch hole in the hull. You will not immediately die from radiation poisoning or the cold. You have about a minute, maybe two, where you can survive. At that point though, yeah, you're pretty much gonna die."

The assembled crowd stirred, most of whom most likely had the usual preconceptions about such things drilled into them.

"Bottom of the Marianas Trench is more deadly in terms of pressure. In terms of atmosphere or temperature - the surface of Venus will kill you faster than if you get sucked out an airlock in space. We have space probes that have survived for decades in space itself, but none of them would survive a Jupiter or solar landing for even a minute. So, just to get it up front - we can build something to keep you alive in space for hours. Fall into Jupiter's atmosphere and nobody can save you."

The graphic behind the speaker now showed the massive planet with the storm of its great eye just off-center.

"So we've got this under-suit," said the speaker. "It'll protect you from the loss of pressure in an emergency. It is NOT 'fancy space long-johns' as reported over on a certain TV program. Technically it IS underwear as in something you wear under everything else. If you find yourself in an area losing pressure, your first reaction should be to get a sealed airlock between you and the leak. That isn't always a possibility so we're designing little closet areas with helmets and a sort of pullover disposable space-suit. Unfortunately, due to legal problems and manufacturing difficulties it will take years to get enough to properly outfit the station."

Another stir went through the auditorium.

"Yes, it's all a work in progress." The speaker clicked her clicker and the image behind her changed again - this time to images of what looked like scuba diving suits. "The official suit is cheap due to several governments backing the deal. There are several more expensive versions out there as various companies try to get into the market. If you go with an established commercial vendor you'll be waiting six months to a year and have a decent no-frills undersuit. If you go with an ad that seems too good to pass up - it's probably bogus. If you are suddenly in 'death pressure' with such a thing you will die."

The speaker looked out over her audience. "Let me emphasize that again. Space is NOT a friendly environment and does not require bug-eyed monsters or alien creatures to be deadly. Too much radiation will kill you. Lack of air will kill you. Bad air will kill you. Falling into just about any planet's gravity well can kill you. Lack of food and water won't kill you immediately, but yeah - if you can't get to either it'll kill you. Moving something incredibly heavy and then trying to stop it with your body in zero g - yeah that can kill you too. Weightless does not mean massless. One of your crew or squad being careless in any number of ways can definitely kill you."

There was a restless stir that seemed to spread through the audience.

"I know I'm repeating myself folks," said the woman, clicking again and now bringing up different pictures. These caused definite reactions in the audience. "These are aliens. Real life ones. Going from the leftmost - the first is a Goa'uld outside of a host body. Yes, they're ugly. They also tunnel inside a human body and take it over - wearing someone like a cheap suit. The vast overwhelming majority of Goa'uld are NOT inclined to be your friend. They regard you like a cow or a horse - property and something that can be made into useful items. Second are a sort of ally we have who will be introduced to the public at large soon. Descended from something like lions, a warrior culture similar to with some differences to Japan's Warring States period. We took to calling them 'Caitians' as human mouth-parts have trouble with a language that involves a muzzle. The Lyorn Nation is the largest and most powerful nation there - something like a constitutional monarchy with a bloodline descent from a mythic ancestor. They are VERY honor-oriented, VERY pack-oriented. They tend to give some initial respect to rank, but they're definitely into the 'acts speak louder than titles' philosophy. A proven battle-leader will always be listened to over a less-proven but higher ranked commander. Dueling is VERY common, though rarely fatal. They prefer ceremonial curved shortswords. Scars are considered a personal mark of honor for either gender. Caste-oriented, warriors are the SECOND highest in regard and the ones you're most likely to encounter."

The laser pointer indicated the three next in line by circling them.

"These three are machine intelligences," indicated the speaker. "In a sense, living machines. They are capable of independent thought, emotions, and friendships. These are very rare and built by our ally the BOLO. The first example is what they call a gynoid, shaped and programmed to act in a manner similar to a human female for interactions with humans. Don't bother them with jokes about compatible hardware or software as they will have heard anything you can come up with in the first month or so. The second example is a nonhumanoid variant, and yes - the BOLO has seen Star Wars and actually liked the movies. And will argue various plot points or character details for hours given a chance. So, yes, they're even called 'astromechs' due to Lucas giving permission as long as he could hire one. I think he has it crop-dusting or something like that. The third example is a non-mobile, non-humanoid variant. These are typically built into ships or literal smart-weapons and are the least human-seeming in personality."

The laser pointer indicated the next one in line. "Some of you have heard that we are taking soldiers and turning them into metal monsters without their permission. This is not true. Due to technology obtained from the BOLO, some soldiers who would otherwise be retired due to losing an arm or leg or other injuries will volunteer for cybernetic replacements. These are humans. They have to pass psych tests, they have to agree to it and understand what they are agreeing to, and the whole procedure is expensive as hell. However it IS an alternative to being minus an arm or a leg. They're included in this briefing because if you continue on from here - you WILL encounter them. The vast majority of cyborgs have no special abilities, it's a replacement for a lost limb and not an upgrade."

The last figure on the display was pointed to. "Which brings us to the last figure on the list. These are the Aesir branch of the Asgard, a race that has visited Earth in the past. Any encountered on Earth are usually going to be renegades, their equivelant of criminals hiding out in a backwoods town. In space and on Earth-vessels, they will be the more officially tolerated and cooperative varieties. They are highly advanced, have less sense of humor than an astromech, and are physically fairly frail. We are currently negotiating treaties with them. It is not expected for any of you to come into contact with them prior to Babylon being operational. If you DO - be polite and truthful and then report the encounter to Command or Security."

The speaker folded her arms behind her as the image clicked off behind her. "While you are here in the Center, you will learn the skills needed to keep you alive at Babylon and in space. Whether you go into Mining, Hydroponics, Life Support, Security, Maintenance, Command, or any other field - you will be representing not only your nation-of-origin but the human race as a species. You will not only be responsible for your life, but the lives of others. Individualized department training will take place after the four-month mark for those of you who pass. Many of you will fail and be sent home, others will quite literally rise to the challenge of the stars. For now though - welcome to the Babylon Project."

"The Kobayashi Maru? Seriously?" asked Mamoru Chiba.

"Seriously," said the officer. "The city of Kobayashi had a Death Glider impact several buildings. Scrap recovered from the site is being used to construct it."

"Still, with that name-" Mamoru couldn't help but wince.

"Yes, well, it IS unfortunate," admitted the officer.

"Isn't Kobayashi mainly farms?" asked Mamoru. "I think I saw it from a train going through Miyazaki province once."

"Well, true," admitted the officer.

"Nobody is getting sued for the name are they?" asked Mamoru.

"No, and per the official legal stance on military vehicles - this is designated a freighter," said the officer, whose name tag read "Sanada" and who seemed somewhat understanding of Mamoru's reluctance.

"A freighter? We have enough trade for that?" asked Mamoru.

"It's a freighter in that it carries freight, specifically parts and equipment for the Babylon space station," said the officer. "It's a modular sort of thing. Standard shipping freight containers are loaded in groups of six, then sent up to the station. Nonstandard containers can be substituted for things that require refrigeration, or life support, and so on."

"And I'm going to be serving aboard one of these for how long?" asked Mamoru.

"Six months," said Sanada. "By that time you'll have had hands-on experience with most of the systems on board. For now though, we want you to get additional hand-to-hand training at the Saotome Dojo."

"You expect trouble?" asked Mamoru.

"Chiba-san. All this is very new and this IS space with at least two groups of enemies out there. Of course, we expect there to be trouble."

The screen flashed, lines of text appearing one by one and read off by an aide.

"HMS Hood, Captain D. Tennant commanding. Stationed near the Babylon space station as support and security."

"SBS Yamato. Decommissioned. Stripped and scuttled."

"Bismark. Decommissioned. Currently performing as the beginning of a space habitation following a crash landing on an asteroid."

"USS Iowa. Captain Tobias Drake commanding. Stationed near-Earth orbit as Security."

"I thought Harrington was in command of the Iowa."

The aide looked up at the Congressman. "Apparently someone in the Chain of Command got leaned on. She was transferred to a picket ship, the USS Charleston - which will be one of the Oort Cloud patrol craft. Estimate three months before it is operational."

"I see. Pity. She struck me as being particularly competent. Continue."

"The Tuatha De Danaan - MITHRIL, a high tech mercenary group. Apparently has access to a number of technologies and information gathering sources. Currently patrolling in international waters near the Sea of Japan."

"USS Ophinicus - Captain David Riggs temporary commanding. Severely damaged in Earth-orbit battle. Currently in Portsmouth being repaired."

"Diamond Dreams - Personal Yacht of Princess Diamond. No weapons. Was used as telemetry and communications hub mainly. Currently grounded with no plans for deployment."

"USS SBC Arizona - Currently deployed - classified mission."

The congressman paused before glancing at the aide. "Any details we DO have? There were eight ships at the start of that battle. Having one unaccounted for sounds a bit fishy."

The aide nodded and checked a second set of notes. "Looks like it was one of those alien ships refitted for human habitation. When it was launched to deal with the invasion, only eighty-three percent of the ship could be accessed without resorting to breather packs. Apparently the original owners breathed oxygen-nitrogen but a lower oxygen content and higher pressure. Also, the Arizona suffered minor damage from a strafing run by a Death Glider and major damage from another Death Glider impacting their secondary turret. Most likely they're still repairing things in a drydock somewhere but want any spies or monitoring agencies to think they can come running if there's trouble."

"Ah, makes sense," allowed the congressman. "That's all eight, right?"

"No, Princess Diamond's ship doesn't count as it's just a personal yacht," said the congressional aide. "Likewise, not counting the Senshi vehicles due to size. Eight capitol ships was the observed number. The last is the USS Prometheus under Colonel William Ronson. Currently on 'exploration of nearby star systems to determine suitability for colonization or resource gathering' - meaning they're probably looking for that space-fuel that's in short supply."

The congressman nodded. The current situation WAS why he'd started checking for potential aides who had a grounding in either the military or who were into science-fiction.

"As I understand it," said the aide. "Most everything on those ships is using a form of fusion reactor - technology supplied by the BOLO. It's the interstellar travel that requires the space-fuel... here we go - naquadah."

"I thought that was the material used for the armoring of the ships," said the congressman.

"Yes, apparently it's not only a strong material but has superconducting properties," said the aide. "So - it's used for both. We're also using several alloys produced with assistance of the BOLO."

"The BOLO is helping us out a lot it appears," said the congressman. "Is anyone else concerned about the fact that our greatest ally among the stars is a three-mile-long tank?"

Unaffiliated Star System:
Fat sparks fitfully sprayed from one console until a stabbing finger turned off that section.

"All stations, report!" she ordered, reaching for a breather mask to filter out the smoke.

"Life support nominal," came the first reply.

"Engineering. We're working on it, but we only have 40% power at present. May be able to get it to 60% but that last attack took out a section of the outer hull. We'd need to be able to put in for repairs at a drydock to fix some of this."

"Engineering, I'm looking at a playback of our departure from our world," said the acting commander. "Not happening. Not possible. It's gone."

"Command. Could you repeat? 'Gone?'"

"All divisions. I will put recording on available to all division heads. AFTER you get your department stowed away and can spare some time - look at it then. We cannot return home under any circumstance because there is no home to return to." The acting commander cursed herself for having her voice break halfway through that. Understandable perhaps - but it was less than what the situation demanded.

"Command. Engineering still. Will assess what we can do with sections and equipment, but expect we'll need to put down SOMEWHERE within a month at the very longest."

"Command. Life Support. Seconding on that one month estimate. Damage to spires and heat radiators mean we're going to have some problems maintaining past the third ten-day."

"Command. Supplies and Repair. We loaded everything we could in the amount of time we had - and a full inventory will take another three days to sort everything out."

"Acknowledged, Supplies. Individual stations, report when you have time estimates on being able to get things together. We'll need to know which sections are functional at least. Command out."

"You realize that most of us onboard are not military personnel, we're refugees," said the navigation officer.

"I know that, but we have to keep everyone busy - otherwise we're going to be no damn good in this crisis," said the acting commander. "Do we still have that weird EM signal?"

"Aye, we aiming for that?" asked Nav.

"It's a direction," said the acting commander. "Best speed."

Alpha Centauri:
"USS Prometheus. Colonel William Ronson commanding. Captain's Log, ship time of 1330 hours. We have arrived in the Alpha Centauri system and have begun sending out probes and accumulating data. Science?"

"Alpha Centauri was chosen as it's only 4.37 light years from Earth and our closest star system. Trinary star system, Alpha Centauri A, Alpha Centauri B, Alpha Centauri C. C is not visible from Earth from the naked eye. Single planet detected, temperature of 1500 degrees Farenheit or 1200 degrees Celsius. Uninhabitable. Several large asteroids though may be usable as potential forward bases. Probes launched at 0400 hours, with first results expected from first probe at 1700 hours."

"Right. So basically we just deploy the cooling vanes to use up the excess heat we generated getting here and placing probes, and while that's going on we're sitting around collecting data. Medical?"

"Colonel, Sick Bay here. We have three cases of that subspace vertigo that hit, also two injuries from improperly stowed equipment coming loose. One's a broken leg and the other just a few contusions."

"Fine. Make appropriate logs. Engineering, before we make the trip to the next target - can we have a shipwide equipment check to make sure nobody else left something loose?"

"Engineering here. Colonel Ronson, we're initiating cooldown. Take about two hours. After that we can run the drill."

"Good enough, Engineering. Computer - End Captain's Log. Append system snapshot - all departments."

His first view of the ship was less than inspiring.

"That's the USS Charleston?" asked the new Lieutenant Colonel.

"Air Force, right?" asked the little girl piloting the ship. "I still don't have all the ranks and services down."

"Yes, and I understand it's all a jumble right now," admitted Lt Colonel Alistair McKeon. "They'll be sorting things out for months as they hash out the space service. Right now everyone's arguing what their part is. Are you a civilian pilot?"

"No sir, not in that sense at least," said the girl, not turning her eyes from the displays as she brought the small aircraft into a holding pattern. "My assigned name is Aida 244."

McKeon blinked as he worked out the implications of that. "Bolo?"

"The Bolo manufactured me, I'm one of the most recent development series," said Aida, turning to speak directly to him. "The animal replicants seemed to throw people off, and the purely mechanical designs seem to evoke a sense of distrust in many. I am sorry if my inexperience in human interaction is a problem - but that IS one reason for my being stationed aboard your ship."

"You don't need to keep an eye on the instruments?" asked McKeon.

"No, sir. I am linked directly to the ship's electronics, but I understand that you might be discomfited by the lack of apparent attention," said Aida, returning her attention to the controls and cockpit. "We have been scanned. I have sent passcodes. Passcodes have been verified. We're just waiting for final clearance."

"So that's the Charleston? My home for the next tour of duty," said McKeon, deciding to concentrate on that.

"Actually, sir, that's only half of the vessel," said Aida. "The remainder of the ship is a particularly large freighter that was obtained by one of the scavenger crews on a particularly hostile world. It was largely salvaged, however it was not something designed for human habitation. Therefore the part of the USS Charleston you are seeing is the human quarters and decks. The remainder of the ship is currently in the Oort Cloud undergoing modification. The two halves are scheduled to link up in four terrestrial months."

"I see," said McKeon.

"Full details are classified of course, but as you are the second-in-command - you will be briefed in full. Clearance given. Beginning approach. I believe the designation is that the USS Charleston will become a 'missile frigate' though I would think 'torpedo' would actually be a better term for the devices currently being assembled. Beam weapons will be secondary to missile capabilities."

"So what other functions are you cleared for?" asked McKeon. "I can't believe that you're around just to ferry crew."

"Correct, sir," said Aida. "I am also an intermediary for the ship systems. When the ship itself is operational, I will be linked directly to it and able to speed functionality. Do you wish to know my kill switch?"

McKeon blinked a couple of times as he processed that. "You have a 'kill switch'?"

"Your Joint Chiefs insisted that a means of instantly disabling me be available," said Aida, "if I were to be allowed aboard your ships. The simplest method is to strike where the sternum is on a human being. There is also a verbal code. You'll forgive me if I don't give it while I am piloting a small aircraft."

"You are okay with letting me know you can be shut down?" asked McKeon, a little put off by that.

"Of course not," said Aida calmly. "Knowing that there are three people on that ship who can shut me down temporarily or permanently isn't something I would prefer. However, even in the human species - sometimes you have to risk things in order to improve your situation."

"Ah, well, it's a lot of unknowns for all of us apparently," admitted McKeon.

"Whatta ya mean I gotta train 'ninja'?" asked Ranma.

"Hand to hand fighting, sneaking, that sort of thing," said General Hammond.

"Oh. Is that all? Well, that's okay then," answered Ranma. "How many?"

"Initial group is twenty," said General Hammond.

"Too many," said Ranma. "This is gonna be rough too."

"I would expect you to not hold back any of your training, and to allow for drop-outs," said General Hammond. "SEAL training uses a bell for symbolism. Anyone giving up at any point just rings the bell and leaves."

"A 'bell'?" asked Ranma, looking around the Dojo's main square. "Will a gong do? We gotta big one of those."

"It's more for symbolism than anything else," said the General.

"Oh," said Ranma, thinking maybe his initial idea of throwing rejects at the gong would have been possibly too much.

"It's for elites, so a high dropout rate is to be expected," said General Hammond.

"Anything particular to train 'em in?" asked Ranma, scratching his head. "I mean - I been learning this stuff since I could walk, and I practice constantly. 'Anything can be training in the martial arts' - if you get to a certain point."

"Basically as much of the 'ninja' arts as you can," said General Hammond. "Stealth, takedowns - both the lethal and nonlethal variety, whatever you can. We'll be doing an assessment at the end of the course."

Ranma thought about that, then nodded - already making plans on how to go about this.


Because of Kender no longer being around, and the Anime Addventure being largely down, this fic is taking MUCH longer to update. Kind of obvious, of course.

i'm thinking of doing a major timeskip and ending this very soon - because it IS such a long read and because there's so much not getting done. While i'm not ready to concede to certain individuals and stop writing altogether, i am certainly reconsidering the writing of fanfics and such. Some of which i'm rather embarassed by when i go back and reread it. Okay, a LOT of it falls into that category.

When i started this fic it was on May 21, 2004. Yeah, ten years of working on this every so often while juggling everything else - though admittedly that was a lot of other projects going on. So, while i want to finish it, i'm also quite aware that my health isn't as good as it used to be and life has gone on while this little project has been chugging along.