|Chapter Nine||Index||Chapter Eleven|
Macross is owned by or licensed to lots of people - Tatsunoko Studios, Harmony Gold, Studio Nue, Streamline Video...note that none of them are me.
The same can be said of Ranma 1/2 - Rumiko Takahashi, Kitty, Shonen Sunday Comics, Viz Video. Not me.
I didn’t create any of them, and I certainly do not own them. Any use of them in this story is meant as nothing more than tribute. Please don’t sue me.
Chapter Ten: Little Sister
September 9th, 2009
"Alpha Tango Zero Three is on final."
Technically speaking, the massive shuttle had been on final for a good half hour - there was no room for error in this rescue operation. Every seal had to be perfect, every personnell transfer done by the book, or people were going to die. But as per orders from Gunsight One, each shuttle was to inform the bridge twenty seconds before contact was made. Just in case there was a wave-off.
The docking collar touched the skin of the shelter, and sealed with a clang. Ranma, along with nine other former or current members of the UN Marine Corps, stood ready, spacesuits sealed. As the officer on point, it was Ranma’s responsibility for the go/no go call. He eyed the environmental controls, and nodded.
"Okay, we got a green seal. Open her up."
The inner doors hissed open, revealing the shelter doors beyond the airlock. Two Marines pushed themselves forward, carrying an electric motor and winding mechanism that looked like a jackhammer. They jammed the tip into a socket on the left side of the shelter doors, and started the electric motor. The spindle rotated, spinning gears and cogs, and the massive shelter doors groaned open.
It took a while; the doors were large and heavy, and the electric motor on the remote winder was not. The noise of voices on the other side of the doors made it clear that the civilians were happy to see them, though, and wouldn’t mind waiting a bit longer.
With no remote power, the shelter was dark. Ranma pulled six glowsticks from his thigh pocket, cracked them and shook them, and launched them one by one through the opening doors. The sickly green light played among the civilians, and everywhere he looked, he saw nothing but relief, joy and welcome.
Man, I knew there was a reason I signed up for this job.
- - - - -
Misa shook her head. "I’m sorry, Captain. But I can’t sit on this board."
"The promotion board requires either the CO or the XO of the boat to sit in attendance." Global scowled. "I don’t think I need to remind you that the fold system is gone. Not just damaged, or burned out, but simply missing. I need to get the repairs organized, try to figure out just how we’re going to get this boat home." He waved a hand towards the frozen city outside. "I need to organize salvage efforts, get people resettled--"
"Technically speaking, Sir, that’s the XO’s job."
"Not all of it. I’ve got piles of work on my desk that needs attending to--"
"Sir. I recognize the amount of work you need to complete. My own workload is considerable as well. I’m not trying to avoid work; I’m trying to tell you that I can’t - not won’t, but can’t - sit on this board."
"And why not?"
"Conflict of interest." Misa sighed. "I’ve known Lieutenant Saotome for almost ten years, and not in a professional capacity. It would be a strict conflict of interest for me to sit his promotion board."
Global frowned, then admitted, "Okay. That’s a very good point. I’m sorry, Misa." He heaved a sigh. "I’ll sit this board. You get the next one, though."
- - - - -
Ranma looked up - yep, the famous television star. "Point of origin?"
"Russian Siberia." The woman paused. "Mind telling me why I’ve been forced to wait through all this? Surely there’s no need to question who am."
"Well, yeah, there is," said Ranma.
"Don’t you know who I am?"
Ranma sighed. He’d had to deal with variations on this from at least six other people. "Yeah, I do. But our computer don’t know you from Jane Doe, so we need ta verify that you’re on board. So we need to go through the screening process."
"Forcing me to sit through all this nonsense! And the nuisance of being penned up among all the common people in that shelter--!"
Ranma blinked. "Are you for real?"
"I am Jamis Merlin! Why have I been put through all this inconvenience and--"
Ranma stood up. "Miss Merlin." His expression darkened. "You mighta been some big shot back on Earth. But I gotta wakeup call for you. Right now, you’re nothin’ but a refugee. Which makes you no better or worse than those ’common people’. And right now, you’re holdin’ up the line."
"I demand to speak with the Captain!"
"Your demands mean nothin’." He tapped a key, and the computer spit a card at him. "Take this, go to deck five, and they’ll tell you where you’ll be sleepin’ tonight." He grinned nastily. "I can tell ya it won’t be on a feather bed with satin sheets."
She gaped at him, took the card, and stalked off. He sat down and rubbed his forehead.
The shelter had been designed to hold ten thousand people without too much overcrowding, twelve thousand in a pinch. However, the total projected population of South Ataria Island had been two hundred and fifty thousand, and its shelters had been built to reflect this fact. As a result, most of the shelters had been underpopulated.
And a good thing, too, mused Ranma. The shuttles couldn’t lift ten thousand people. Even with twelve of them operatin’, they were stretched kinda thin.
The four thousand or so people in the shelter had packed the shuttles pretty good, but there was room for them all, if only just. After docking with Macross, Ranma had found himself pressed into duty processing the civilians in. He looked up as the next one arrived in front of him.
"Point of origin?"
He typed this into his laptop. "Resident of South Ataria?"
She shook her head. "No. I was one of Tennasaono’s security guards."
He raised an eyebrow. "Really? My mom’s an owner."
The girl grinned. "Oh! You must be Ranma!"
He grinned cockily. "The one and only."
"Is it true that you told the Boss you loved her?"
Ranma rolled his eyes; Nabiki’s habit of spreading half the gossip obviously hadn’t waned. "I was young, stupid, and trying to scare her."
"How did you think that was going to scare her?"
"I repeat. Young and stupid."
"Gotcha." She chuckled. "Speaking of whom. Have you heard from the Boss?"
"Saw her just before liftoff, but not since then." He paused, and tapped a query into his computer. "She’s not been processed through, yet." He bit his lip. "This was the last shelter. She wasn’t in your crowd?"
"Damn..." He turned, spotted Roy approaching him. "Yo, Guppy."
"Perfect. Just the Jarhead I needed to talk to." Roy leaned on his desk. "Corporal Brown showed up for duty pissed out of his skull. I don’t even know where he got the booze--"
"Coulda had it in his bird before the attack."
Roy shuddered. "I don’t want to even think about that possibility. No, he wasn’t willing to discuss where he got it - pity, I’m all out - just said that he got it from a friend of a friend."
Ranma frowned. "Black market?"
"I don’t like that idea," said Ranma. "You could take it up with Intel or the MPs. Why bring it to me?"
"Well, he’s been tossed in the brig, and that leaves a hole in our flight schedule. You get to fill it." Roy tossed a printout on the desk. "Orders from your girlfriend. We got a deep patrol slated, just as soon as you’re done here."
"Lieutenant Hayase is not my girlfriend, and I wish you’d shut up before you give your girlfriend any more ideas." He scowled. "I got a problem."
"My sister-in-law is missing in action. She wasn’t in this load, and as far as I know, this was the last load. Is there any chance that we missed a shelter?"
Roy shook his head. "I don’t think so. Reports bring us nearly to complete population."
"Shit." He turned back to his computer, tapped out another query. "Accordin’ to this, we’ve searched sixteen shelters. Aren’t there seventeen?"
"Yeah, but one was at the far end of the island. No civilians permitted there, no reason for any military personnell to be there either."
"Where is it now?"
"Floatin’ off towards Venus." Roy frowned, and pulled at his chin. "Lemme borrow your terminal." He pulled the laptop towards him, tapped a few keys. "Yeah...It’s got a vector that don’t match our own. I don’t think a shuttle could get out there."
"A Valkyrie could. We’ve got reaction mass for twice the delta-V of a shuttle."
"A Valkyrie could, yeah, but then what could you do?"
"We gotta make the effort. There could be civilians out there."
"Look, I understand, she’s your sister, but right now, we got orders. Deep patrol." He paused. "Yeah. And come to think of it, this sector’s inside the patrol area. A little further out than we’re technically supposed to go..."
Ranma nodded. "Understood. Sir, I’ve got another problem. My starboard-side reactor was actin’ a little twitchy. Might just be that it’s not tuned for vacuum, but I don’t think I can risk Switchblade until it’s looked at."
"Crap. Well, that really sucks." Roy didn’t sound terribly displeased. "I guess we’ll have to issue you a temporary bird. Lemme see..." He called up the Unassigned Motor Pool database. "Vee Tee One Zero Five is currently without a rider...why don’t you take it?"
"With the increased mass of a Delta, I won’t have as much range," pointed out Ranma with a grin. "Why don’t we issue a pair of FAST pack fuel tanks?"
"Oh, yes. That would only make sense." Roy tapped a requisition into the machine. "Okay, prep time is sixteen minutes. We launch in thirty, so don’t waste any time." He closed the laptop. We wanna get this done before your girl--I mean, Lieutenant Hayase--gets wind of this."
- - - - -
"Vee Tee One Zero Five, Gunsight One. Say state, over."
Ranma toggled the communications button. "Vee Tee One Zero Five, seven thousand kilos reaction mass, on the go line."
"Heavy load, One Zero Five."
Ranma shrugged. "I can carry it, so I figured, why not?"
"Fair enough." Misa chuckled. "Confirm nav data."
Ranma pulled up his waypoints list, and transmitted them to Gunsight One. "Six points, two hour patrol."
"Confirmed. You are clear to launch. Transferring to cat control."
"Roger. One Zero Five, clear."
Macross had no actual catapults; Ranma’s fighter was merely elevated, in GERWALK form, to the launch bay. The hatches sealed, atmosphere was bled off from the lock, and the outer doors opened. His engines were already warmed up; he appled a bit of thrust from the back-mounted rockets, and slid the fighter into space.
A quick pull of the reconfiguration levers shifted his jet into Fighter Mode, and he started the reaction mass feed to the main engines. Water exploded into plasma, and the fighter surged ahead at just over half a gee of acceleration. He cut the feed when he reached fifteen meters per second, and slipped out of Macross’ shadow.
Now the navigation computer took over. His directional thrusters tilted the fighter to align itself just offset from the first waypoint, and then started his burn. It was programmed for a thirty-second burn at 0.4 gees, and carefully monitored his remaining mass to keep the acceleration pegged. The fighter roared away from Macross, its velocity vector building until it intersected the first waypoint, and then cut its engines. He relaxed as the burn ended, and pulled up his waypoint information again.
He reached into his shin pocket, and extracted a pair of wire-cutters. The nav link system was on the left-hand side of the cockpit; he popped the inspection panel, scowled down at the mess of components, then extracted a single wire and cut it. His screen flickered, the words "Link lost" appearing on the screen, then adjusted.
"Gunsight One, Vee Tee One Zero Five. My nav link is acting a bit cranky." He tucked the wire-cutters back into his pocket. "I got vector match with Waypoint One, but I’m not getting correctional data from your end."
"One Zero Five, Gunsight One." Misa sounded somewhat concerned. "Can your computer handle the corrections by itself?"
"Affirm, Gunsight. The Delta model has twice the computer power; I’ve handed the feed off to my rear seat." He tapped a few commands into his computer, adjusting one Waypoint.
"All right. We won’t worry about that now." Misa paused. "Your course is currently being tracked by Cat’s Eye, but at least one leg of your patrol will be outside their coverage. I’m launching a repeater drone to match Waypoint Three, so you can stay in contact."
"Affirm." He scowled; he didn’t really want that drone following him. But there was no way he could refuse it. So he had to avoid communications between Waypoint Two and Four.
Because it was Waypoint Three he was most concerned with.
- - - - -
Misa leaned back. "He’s having no luck with birds today."
"What do you mean?" Claudia had a cup of coffee in each hand; she set the first one - black with one sugar - on the Flight Officer’s terminal.
"His personal jet developed an engine flutter, and maintenance is looking into that now. And now his temporary ride is acting up. Lost a commo link."
"That is bad luck." Claudia peered at her. "You worried for him?"
"Of course!" Misa picked up her coffee cup, not quite registering what she’d just said. "Deep space is no place to have to worry about a flaky bird."
"I quite agree." Claudia sipped her double-double. "You know, Roy’s bird has three hull breaches."
"So I notice you’re not overly concerned about him."
"I’m concerned, but Major Focker didn’t seem overly worried about it."
"You’re concerned, but you didn’t send a commo relay chasing him. Just Saotome."
Misa opened her mouth to retort, and then abruptly realized that she didn’t have a leg to stand on.
"I see." Claudia grinned.
"Oh, shut up!" Misa scowled.
"My boyfriend doesn’t warrant using up a commo relay, but your boyfriend--"
"Ranma is not my boyfriend." Misa set her coffee cup down, hard enough to slosh the contents. "We’ve never even dated!"
"Oh, what a crock." Claudia looked disgusted. "You two were a regular feature at the White Dragon, the theatre, the O-Club. The only two people on this rock who weren’t convinced you two were dating were you two."
"Claudia, he lost his wife."
"More than ten years ago!" She shook her head. "And I notice that you mention Akane, but not Riber. Your loss was a hell of a lot more recent, but it’s his loss you’re worried about."
"If I want to be psychoanalyzed, I’ll go see Doctor Wood," scowled Misa.
"I’m not trying to psychoanalyze you. I’m trying to get you to stop bloody lying to yourself!" Claudia poked a finger at Misa. "You two have something great going on. Hell, Roy and I don’t get along as well as you two. When will you admit it?"
Misa turned back to her terminal, and picked up her coffee cup again. "It doesn’t matter what I think, or what you think, or even what the Captain thinks. What matters is what he thinks."
"And what does he think?"
"Misa. When was the last time you talked to him about this?"
"...Well, never, really." Misa looked down at her coffee. "I didn’t want to...to wreck our friendship."
Claudia shook her head. "Girl, if you don’t bring it up, he sure ain’t gonna."
The sound of a throat clearing caused both of them to turn in surprise. Captain Global looked down at them, his expression a mix of amusement and annoyance.
"Ladies. We have patrols to deal with. The soap opera can wait until off-duty hours."
"Aye, Sir," they chorused.
- - - - -
The sweep through Waypoint Two provided nothing more than routine data. Ranma checked the logs, then nodded and started the nav computer again. His fuel state was down to ten thousand pounds, and he jettisonned the now-empty FAST packs to reduce his mass further. The computer took this into consideration, chewed his new mass and fuel states, as well as his required times and the velocity vector of the last shelter, and selected his next burn: Over five minutes at 0.6 gees, turnover at 3.5 minutes. It would consume four thousand pounds of reaction mass, leaving him just barely enough to return to the ship and match velocity for docking.
He nodded, and pushed the commit button.
Nothing happened at first; the Valkyrie’s computer adjusted for his current vector, and knew he had to drift for two more minutes. Ninety seconds later, his directional thrusters fired, rotating the Valkyrie to its new heading.
His headset crackled. "Vee Tee One Zero Five, you should have started your burn sixty seconds ago. Is everything all right?"
He cursed, then opened the channel. "Gunsight One, Vee Tee One Zero Five. I think my nav comp is buggered. It insists my burn starts in...fifteen seconds."
He didn’t even touch the computer. "It’s not letting me!"
The engines roared, pushing his Valkyrie towards his next destination.
"Vee Tee One Zero Five, your burn does not match our computations. I’m declaring a Dutchman."
"Negative, Macross." He scowled. "Just gimme a minute to try an’ figure out where it’s sending me."
"We don’t have a minute!" Misa was starting to sound frazzled. "You’re already out of sensor range, and you’ll be out of commo range in thirty more seconds."
"When the commo drone catches up with me, I’ll send my new burn data." He had a flash of inspiration. "Request tanker support at Waypoint Five. I should have enough fuel to make that point."
"Saotome, if you get yourself lost in space, I will personally--" The comm faded to static before she could finish her threat, and Ranma sighed.
"Misa...I’m really sorry...but she’s my sister."
- - - - -
"Dutchman!" Misa’s hand held the commo link open. "Gunsight One to Skull One. Vee Tee One Zero Five has gone Dutchman!"
"Gimme his nav link data," ordered Roy.
"I can’t! His nav link went down."
"Okay. Cross-deck his last burn data to my ship."
Beside her, Claudia started the data feed. Roy paused as the information was transmitted to his Valkyrie.
"Gunsight One, regret that I cannot intercept. I lack the delta-vee."
Claudia opened her own link to Skull One. "Roy, if you abandon your current mission, you can overtake in twelve minutes, and have enough delta-vee for the return trip."
"I don’t think so."
Misa was more than a bit puzzled; Roy sounded like he had very little concern over the possible loss of his friend. "Skull One, I am ordering you to match velocity with Vee Tee One Zero Five, separate his cockpit--"
"Hold on, Gunsight One. Did Lt. Saotome report the Dutchman to you?"
"Negative. He believed that he could recover from the burn."
"Shouldn’t we trust him on that? He’s been flyin’ a long time."
"What about a tanker? Did he request that?"
Misa paused. "Yes, he did."
"So he reported that he can recover from the Dutchman, and requested tanker support. I think he knows what he’s doing, Gunsight One."
"I don’t care!" Misa was starting to sound a bit unglued. "I want you to intercept him, and bring him back. Detach the nose section of his Valkyrie if needed."
"Misa..." Claudia was looking at the navigational data. "He can’t do it now. He’s been burning towards his next waypoint, and no longer has the delta-vee."
"What?" Misa glanced over at Claudia, then back to Focker. "Why did you not abort your burn?"
"Sorry, Lieutenant." He didn’t sound it. "Guess it slipped my mind."
Misa ground her teeth. "Major Focker. If Lieutenant Saotome fails to recover aboard this ship, I shall be forced to call charges against you for violation of Article Fourteen, section three, of the United Nations Code of Military Justice."
There was a lengthy pause. Article Fourteen was gross insubordination, with section three carrying additional penalties for said insubordination causing the death of a fellow officer.
When Roy replied, it was in short, tight, clipped tones. "As you feel you must do, Lieutenant." He closed the network.
Claudia coughed softly. "Misa, I know you’re worried about Ranma. But I’d just like to point out to you that you have just threatened my fiance with the death penalty."
Misa looked down at her console. She knew she’d crossed the line with her last comment.
But she couldn’t apologize. Not yet.
- - - - -
The Valkyrie’s burn brought it to relative rest next to a large chunk of rock. Ranma checked his gravity sensors, and decided that there was no way he could orbit the rock successfully. Since it was tumbling, this would pose difficulties for what he planned.
"--nsight One to Vee Tee One Zero Five, please respond." Claudia’s voice sounded in his ears. "Gunsight One to Vee Tee One Zero Five, please respond."
He toggled his mike. "Gunsight One, this is Vee Tee One Zero Five. I’ve come to rest relative to a large chunk of the island, but I’ve still got some vector relative to Macross. Requesting navigational data."
"Affirmative, Vee Tee One Zero Five. Give us a minute; the drone has a lock on you, but we need to cancel out the vectors."
"Not a problem. Hey, Claudia. There’s a shelter on this rock. Did anyone check it out?" Plausible deniability was a wonderful thing.
"What’s the number, One Zero Five?"
"Looks like shelter seventeen."
There was a brief pause. "Negative. Shelter seventeen was not found by the sweeps. Since we had almost everybody accounted for, we assumed that seventeen was deserted. It’s a VIP shelter, and most of the big-wigs bugged out when the shooting started."
"Well, I’m here now, and you got that tanker headed for Waypoint Five. Request permission to search the shelter."
"You don’t have a shuttle or a docking collar."
"No, but I got my environmental suit."
Misa broke into the channel. "Lieutenant Saotome, that e-suit is only rated for up to sixty seconds of vacuum. It’s for emergencies, not for EVA."
"You’re forgettin’ that I’m a martial artist, Lieutenant. I can probably withstand up to sixty seconds of vacuum on my own." He paused. "Okay, shelter seventeen has an airlock, and it looks like I can grab somethin’ to hold my Valk next to it. Total EVA time should be less than twenty seconds. Will that pass muster?"
"Vee Tee One Zero Five, the shelter is almost certainly deserted."
"’Almost certainly’ is not the same as ’known to be’, and you know it. It’s our job to protect civilians, ain’t it?"
There was a pause. Ranma knew he was hitting below the belt; protecting others was the very reason that he’d joined up, and she knew it. It was a medium-large trump, and he hoped she’d let it go through, so he didn’t have to spend the big ones.
"Lieutenant Saotome, you’re cleared for EVA. Make it quick, okay?"
"You got it."
He jockeyed the Valk around and clamped onto a steel girder, then exhausted the cockpit. As the air pumped out, he started to hyperventilate, oxygenating his blood as much as possible, then sealed his suit. He popped the canopy, and pushed off towards the lock.
It took him six seconds to cycle it open, and clambered in. Six more seconds to close it, then explosively recompressed it. He popped his mask, and checked his watch.
"Eighteen seconds total."
He opened the inner hatch, and floated in. It was pitch black, so he flipped on his suit lights, and played them around the compartment. One fell on a human figure, hunched up against one wall.
She looked up.
She launched herself towards him in an Amazon-class glomp, aided by the zero gee.
He chuckled. "Hiya, Nabs. Didja miss me?"
"Oaf!" She punched him, and ended up floating slowly away.
"There anyone else here?"
She shook her head. "Just me."
"Okay, then let’s get you out." He started to unzip his pressure suit. "You’ve gotta put this on, and we’re gonna go out to my Valkyrie."
"Wait." She frowned. "Isn’t that a space suit?"
"Yep." He pulled his arms out of the sleeves. "You mighta noticed the whole no-gravity thing."
"But if you’re telling me to put this on...what are you going to wear?"
He shrugged. "I got a uniform."
"I mean...if we’re in space, aren’t you going to need a space suit?"
"That depends on how long we linger. I don’t intend to stop for pictures, do you?"
Nabiki bit her lip. "Ranma...I don’t want to see you get hurt for me."
"If we don’t get you outta here, you’re gonna die. Mine was the only ship that could reach this shelter." He tossed her the suit. "Put it on. Don’t worry about the plumbin’ fixtures. You won’t be needing ’em."
"Fine. Be that way." She caught the suit, and started struggling into it. "How does this go--Oh, I see."
He looked around the shelter, found a scarf floating by. "This yours?"
"Can I borrow it?"
She shrugged. "I suppose. Won’t match this outfit, after all."
He snagged it, started wrapping it around his face. "This’ll help when we go out." He saw her zip up the suit, pushed himself towards her, and helped her fit the helmet. Then he double-checked all her seals, and nodded. "Okay, you’re set. Into the airlock."
He grabbed her hand and kicked off against the wall, towards the lock. He pushed her in, and climbed in behind her, then triggered the hatch. As it closed, he started hyperventilating again.
"Scared?" He couldn’t see her face, but he could hear the smirk in her voice.
"Naw. Just wanna saturate my blood with oxygen." He gave a final, deep, exhale, and triggered the lock.
The hatch opened, still pressurized, and blew them towards the waiting Valkyrie. He kept one hand on her wrist, and with the other, grabbed one of the "holy shit handles" on the dash, and pushed her towards the back seat. Then triggered the canopy, waited for it to close, and punched the cockpit pressure button.
Air burst back into the cockpit, and he gasped. His face felt sore, especially around his eyes, which had not been protected by the scarf, but his greatest worries seemed to have passed him by. He could still see, could still move his arms and legs with no pain. He hadn’t been exposed to vacuum long enough to cause decompression sickness.
"You all right, Nabs?"
"You crazy bastard." Her voice was thick. "Now I know how Akane must have felt. You risked your life for me, and all I’ve ever done was be rotten to you."
"Someone had to do it, and I was the only one here." He chuckled. His throat felt raw. "Buckle up, we’re gonna be blasting at two gees."
- - - - -
VT-105 touched down in the hangar bay, reconfigured to Gerwalk - that mode was still classified, but Ranma felt that Nabiki wasn’t going to be telling anyone who didn’t already know. He waited until the far hatch opened, then gimped the bird into the bay beyond. He knelt the fighter, popped the canopy, and hopped out.
Misa was running towards him, her eyes red and puffy. "Ranma! Thank God you’re all right."
He flashed her a thumbs-up. "Never been better."
She grabbed him in a bear hug. "Don’t ever do that to me again!"
"Ah, Ma’am...this is nice, and all, but there’s like fifteen people watchin’ ya do it."
She dropped him and stepped back, blushing furiously. "Sorry." She paused. "Wait. Why aren’t you wearing your e-suit?"
He jerked a thumb back at the fighter. "One civilian in the shelter. Only way I could rescue her was to give her my e-suit."
She stared at him in disbelief. "So you went EVA in your underwear?"
"Naw. I had my uniform." He deliberately misunderstood her. "I think I need to report to the medics, though. I took some vacuum-burn in the process." He looked down at his hands; they showed small red traces of burst capillaries. And he’d been wearing gloves. If his hands looked that bad, God alone knew what his face looked like.
"All right," she laughed. "Go see the doc."
He flashed her a salute, and jogged off. Misa chuckled, and turned to the civilian. "And you are?"
The civilian removed her helmet, and Misa gasped.
Nabiki nodded. "Thank all the heavens that Ranma had that malfunction. Otherwise, I’d be dead."
- - - - -
"What the hell’s this?"
The technician stared down at the open inspection panel. Several wires appeared to have been ripped out.
"This isn’t tied into the nav comp at all; it’s part of the communications array." He frowned. "And this isn’t battle damage, or even maintenance failure. Looks more like sabotage."
"What’s that, Sarge?"
He looked up, and hurriedly saluted. "Sorry, Ma’am. It looks like Lieutenant Saotome’s fighter was sabotaged."
"Really?" She climbed up the service ladder opposite the Sergeant, and looked in. "I dunno. Looks like maintenance problems to me."
"All due respect, Ma’am, but--"
"You misunderstand me, Sergeant." She allowed the temperature of her voice to drop a few degrees. "This is a maintenance failure, and it is part of the navigational computer. Am I understood?"
The sergeant swallowed nervously. "Perfectly, Ma’am."
"And the entire navigational system was dumped, and Mister Saotome had to restore from the ROMS. Right?"
"Sure looks that way."
"Excellent." She smiled. "I’m glad we’re clear on that." She stepped down, and walked off.
|Chapter Nine||Index||Chapter Eleven|