Star 1/2
Bt Nicolai Tiger

Based on an idea by Jerry Unipeg.

Disclaimer: The one phrase I never wanna hear applied to me - Lawyers and Lawsuits and Money, Oh My!

Chapter 6: Off We Go Into The Wild Blue Yonder!

The crew gathered around the table in the dining room for a quick breakfast before leaving. Ukyo sat next to Ranma and kept glancing at her through the meal, while Shampoo sat next to Ukyo and had a wistful look. Nodoka watched the three, a smile growing on her face. She knew what the children had done last night but wanted her child to tell her.

When the meal was finished, Ranma leaned back slightly and smiled at Kasumi. "Thanks, Kasumi, Mom, that was an excellent breakfast." When the two ladies smiled at Ranma, she grinned. "We have two small matters to discuss before we leave. One, I think this ship needs a name." When the rest of the crew nodded, Ranma smiled. "I think we should call her, The Ghost Horse."

Ranma waited for a moment, watching everyone think about it. Finally, everyone nodded as they accepted the name. Ranma sighed inwardly. She had given the name a lot of thought and had been afraid they would reject it. "There is one other thing that needs to be brought up, but I am not sure how to do it." A blush crept over her face and she lowered her head quickly to try and hide it. Ukyo could feel the blush burning on her face as well, but did her best to control it.

Shampoo smiled as she watched her tribe sister and clan elder. With a dramatic sigh, she stood and cleared her throat. "Shampoo and Ukyo talk last night. Shampoo decide that she love Ranma and Ukyo as sister, so she no longer stand in way of Ranma happiness." Ukyo dropped her head at this, her face nearly glowing red from the intense blush.

Ranma lifted her head, blushing like mad and trying to regain her composure. When she felt ready, she faced her mother and smiled. "Mother, with your permission, I would like to introduce you to your newest daughter." Ranma put her arm over Ukyo's shoulders and pulled her in. "Ukyo and I, with Shampoo's acceptance, wish to be together."

Everyone at the table was smiling with the exception of Nabiki. She had a thoughtful look on her face and she let a sigh escape. "What about Akane, Ranma?"

Ranma's face fell. She looked at Ukyo and then at Nabiki. "Akane... I don't know, Nabiki. The Akane I knew was a violent person under the control of a demonic weapon." Ranma sighed and looked at her hands. "Those flashes of the real Akane that came through the possession were a person I could love, but now I see that a lot of my feelings were played upon to keep me close. I don't know if I truly love the real Akane, and she left before I could find out. I guess that shows how much she cared for me."

Nabiki frowned slightly and then nodded her head. "I see what you mean, Ranma. I can't say that I am overly happy with the way things have turned out, but as long as you are happy, I guess I can deal with it." Nabiki put on her traditional smirk and turned to Nodoka. "I can't wait to see this wedding. Who do you think will wear the pants in this relationship?"

After a round of laughter, Nodoka stood and hugged Ranma and Ukyo tightly. "My children, I am so happy for you." Nodoka broke the hug and turned her smile on everyone gathered. "Well now, are we all ready to leave?" With a nod, everyone left to their respective stations. Shampoo headed to the engine room while Ranma, Nodoka and Ukyo went forward. Nabiki and Kasumi made sure everything in the kitchen was secured and then secured themselves in their stateroom.

Ranma sat down in the pilots chair and pulled on the headset. She looked over at her mother sitting in the co-pilots chair and smiled. Nodoka smiled back and Ranma watched her turn to look at Ukyo, sitting in the communications chair. A nod from Ukyo and Ranma spoke into the microphone of the headset. "Initiating prestart of the engines."

A small hum and a growing vibration in the ship followed as Ranma warmed up the engines. After a minute of warm up, Shampoo's voice came over the headset. "Engines ready. Shields ready as well for breaking through ceiling." Ranma poured power through the engines and the craft started to lift. Slowly, the landing gear left the ground and Ranma felt the slight shudder that meant they were no longer on the ground. Slowly, Ranma increased power and the ship rose, finally stopping with a jolt as it met with the ceiling.

Ranma looked at the shield readouts and nodded. They were up and at full power. Keeping one eye on the indicators, Ranma started increasing the lift. The ship started to groan in protest until a sharp crack was heard over the noise of the ship. The ceiling fell apart and earth was pouring down over the shields. Ranma tilted the ship slightly to help remove the rocks and dirt, then leveled off and began to climb again.

The sky above Nerima drew a lot of attention as the ship blasted overhead. The sight of the ship caused most to breathe a sigh of relief. The source of the odd feelings had obviously left and hopefully taken most of the chaos with it. Several Nerima residents raged when they discovered who the ship had carried, but with the majority of the players gone, the rage was short lived and well contained.

Ranma lifted the nose of the craft straight up and applied full thrust. As the ship lept up, Ranma closed her eyes and said a silent goodbye to those she was leaving behind. After a moment, she opened her eyes and looked out into space, a large smile on her face. The universe was a big place and she was ready to enjoy life.

Ranma entered the jump coordinates as soon as they left Earth's atmosphere. They had selected a planet listed in the spools as peaceful and diplomatic. A good place to get familiar with the working of galactic society and perhaps pick up some cargo or passengers. "Ok, I got the course punched in for Alderaan. Computer estimates show us getting there in four days." Ranma watched the star field shift and blur, then got out of her seat. "I'm gonna go do some practicin'. It's been a while since I had a good workout."

Two days had passed since they had entered hyperspace. Everyone had spent a lot of time in the cargo pod/dojo, desperate for something to do. Even Nabiki started to learn how to dodge. She remembered a few of the lessons her father had given her when she was little and she wanted to be able to watch out for herself. She showed an incredible aptitude for predicting strikes and exactly how do dodge them. After two days of practice, even Ranma had trouble scoring touches on Nabiki. When they asked her about it, she just smirked and announced that she was good at reading people.

It was three A.M. Earth time when the klaxon sounded. Everyone scrambled out of bed and into the hall, pausing only to watch Ranma, clad only in boxers, run out of her room followed closely by Ukyo, wearing a black lace bra and panties. A quick smile from Shampoo before she ran off to the engine room was enough for Ukyo to realize where she was and what she was wearing. With a startled cry she lept back into Ranma's room and came out wearing a robe.

When they arrived in the cockpit, they saw Ranma struggling with several controls. The star field had shifted back to normal and there was a large ship ahead of them. "Everybody hold on, I gotta lose a lot of speed and try to steer this thing!" The ship lurched and shuddered as the thrusters fired in an attempt to slow down the ship. With agonizing slowness, the ship began to slow, finally coming to a stop mere inches from the other craft.

Ranma let out the breath she was holding and settled back into the chair. Shampoo came into the cockpit a moment later with a frown. "Shampoo cannot fix problem with engine. Shampoo needed power relay, could not make one. Shampoo took one from weapon, only one on ship and it just blow up."

Ukyo started to make her way to the communications chair when the ship shuddered again. The Ghost Horse began a slow rotation then moved to the top of the other ship. With a loud clang the two ships docked together. Everyone ran to the docking port and waited. Within moments the port opened and four figures came through, closing the port rapidly behind them. The two groups sized each other up and smiled.

The crew of the Ghost Horse saw four bulky men, probably brawlers armed with blasters and no armor. The way they carried themselves spoke of little to no training in combat. The four borders simply saw six women gathered, all of them in robes except for the redhead that was half naked. They started leering at the women and took a step forward.

"Well well, what do we have here?" Spoke the largest of the four. He turned to look at his friends. "Looks like we got us a ship full of the prettiest slaves we ever found!" He turned back to the women, a lustful smile on his face. "Maybe we can all have a little fun before we have to lock you up."

Ranma laughed and turned to Ukyo. "Can you take the guns?" Ukyo shook her head no, gesturing to the lack of a bandolier. Nodoka smiled and placed her hand on Ranma's shoulder. "I can, dear. I am a ninja, after all." Nodoka ran her fingers through her hair and then snapped her hand down quickly. Nodoka's hair fell free as the four straight pins she had in her hair imbedded themselves in the barrels of the blasters.

The four men looked dumbly at their blasters, now rendered useless, then threw the guns to the ground and snarled. As they moved toward Ranma and the crew, Ranma turned and looked at Shampoo. "I want them alive. Anything else is at your discretion, and have fun."

Shampoo grinned and lept at the four. She tucked into a roll and sprang up, catching the largest with both fists under his chin. The audible snap of his jaw preceded his fall into unconsciousness. Shampoo spun into a side kick, striking another in the side, causing him to bend over into an open palm strike, knocking him out. The last two managed to move toward Shampoo, bringing a larger smirk from her.

Shampoo ducked under the first swing then worked her way up the third man. Right fist to the knee, breaking it, left fist to the hip, right fist to the stomach bringing down the shoulders into a blow from the left fist, dislocating the shoulder, resulting in a twist from her target bringing his head into the open palm strike to his face from her right hand. Shampoo jumped back slightly and turned to face the last man.

It only took a second for him to make his decision. He raised his hands in surrender. Shampoo sighed audibly and turned away from him. When he dove for Shampoo, she drove her elbow back and struck his head. He dropped quickly and Shampoo smiled at Ranma. "Shampoo know stupid man not surrender." The crew quickly secured the prisoners and moved away from the hatch. Precious minutes were spent getting dressed and the crew met in the dining area to discuss the situation.

"The way I see it, we have two choices. Either they capture us or we capture them." Nabiki made a sweeping gesture with her arm. "Besides, there may be a reward for capturing these guys and we could use all the currency we can get to repair our ship." Ranma cracked her knuckles and smiled. "Good, I've been itching for a fight." The crew stood and moved to the hatch. Ranma opened the hatch and Ukyo fired two quick shots through.

Ranma and Shampoo were the first through the hatch, landing on the two guarding the hatch. Ukyo followed while Nodoka and Kasumi stayed behind to secure the hatch. "That way first, secure the bridge, then start a sweep of the ship to get stragglers." Ukyo, Ranma, and Shampoo moved quickly through the ship. When they reached the bridge, Ranma tried to listen at the door with no results. "Ok, we have no idea how many are in there, so we go in hard and fast. Try not to kill any of them, but don't hesitate if it means your life." A nod from the two and they went through the door. Ranma went high, Shampoo rolled in low while Ukyo stayed in the doorway, blaster at the ready.

There were five men on the small bridge, along with one woman. Shampoo moved directly to the captain's chair, intent on delivering great bodily harm. Ranma landed on the chest of one of the men, a chop to the neck removing him from the fight. Ranma was already heading toward the next man when she heard three quick blaster shots from the doorway. A quick survey showed three destroyed weapons and Ukyo running in, spatula in hand.

Shampoo reached the captain's chair and struck fast, a precise blow to the captain's elbow, breaking the joint. Shampoo then scanned the room and found Ukyo and Ranma taking care of the other four men. With an evil smirk, Shampoo moved face to face with the captain. "Shampoo teach you lesson, stupid man. Never ever mistreat woman again."

When Ranma and Ukyo reached the captain's chair, he was unconscious. Covered in bruises and light cuts, he would be in a lot of pain when he awoke. Ranma knelt next to the woman beside the chair and smiled at her. She was shaking and had her eyes closed. Ranma placed her hands on the woman's shoulders and spoke softly. "Shh, we are not going to hurt you, but we need your help." The woman opened her eyes and looked into Ranma's blue eyes.

With a strangled cry, she lept into Ranma's arms, the chain falling out of the captain's chair. She buried her head into Ranma's shoulder and started to cry. Ranma placed her arms around the woman to comfort her for a moment, then slowly disengaged the woman. "We took care of eleven slavers so far and we need to know how many more there are. Can you tell us?" The woman spoke in a shaky voice, tears still flowing down her face. "There are five more, they are probably down with the other slaves."

Ranma smiled and looked at the collar the woman wore. It was a thin metal collar with no visible lock, the chain attached by a link to the metal band. Ranma pressed two fingers against the metal and squeezed, snapping the band with a little effort. Ranma bent the band back and removed it, smiling at the woman. "Not slaves, not anymore." Ranma then stood and helped the woman to her feet. "Ukyo, Shampoo, restrain these prisoners and get ready to take the last of them."

Shampoo and Ukyo worked quickly, shredding the slaver's shirts to use as ties, securing them and placing them in a corner. They gathered next to Ranma and the woman when they finished, smiles on their faces. Ranma then turned to the woman, a grim smile on her face. "Can you take us to the last of the slavers?" When the woman nodded, they moved, Ranma leading with Ukyo and Shampoo protecting the woman.

She led them through the ship, finally arriving before a door. She pressed a couple of buttons on a console and everyone watched the readout closely. "They are all in there, probably with several slaves." Ranma's face took on a grim look and she turned to the others. "No mercy this time. We need to take them down quick and make sure nothing happens to the captives." A quick nod from Ukyo and Shampoo and Ranma's aura sprung to life. She turned to the woman and spoke quickly. "Open the door and stay back. This is going to be quick and messy and I can't protect you while keeping the others safe." The woman shuddered at the amount of malice in Ranma's voice, but nodded quickly. Ukyo knelt before the door, blaster out while Shampoo and Ranma took up positions on either side of her. With a nod to the woman, the door opened and the three moved into action.

Ukyo fired one quick shot, the only clear one she had, striking the slaver in his chest. Ranma fired a ki blast at another, striking him in the shoulder and driving him into a wall. Shampoo moved quickly, reaching a third slaver and dropping him with a hard blow to the throat. The two slavers left standing froze in shock for a crucial moment, allowing the slaves to move slightly. A shot from the doorway dropped one while Shampoo took the other down in a flying tackle. A quick rap on the head took him out and the three warriors joined each other in the center of the room.

A quick check of the slavers showed that while injuries were severe, none were in danger of dying. They were quickly secured and the collars on the slaves removed. Ranma moved to the doorway and smiled at the woman from the bridge. "Now that this ship is mine, take me to where the other slaves are." Ranma turned back to Shampoo and Ukyo. "Shampoo, see if one of these ladies can take you to the engine room, we need to see what condition they are in. Ukyo, can you go get the others, I have a feeling that these people could use a good meal and some decent clothing."