Go to Prologue
The soft chiming of the six hundred hours sounded. Kacey's eyes opened at the first chime. She looked over at the peacefully sleeping body next to her.
Kacey shook her head at how much happened in the last twenty four hours. Her body felt like it was on overload. So many emotions bombarded her. She felt mentally exhausted. She was happy with the woman at her side. But no matter how happy she was there was no getting past the fact that she took a life. She knew what she had to do. She would not wait for Kate to make the decision.
Kacey slipped out of bed, not disturbing the still sleeping woman. She put on her sleep clothes after splashing cold water on her face, walked into the kitchen area where coffee was waiting for her. She filled a cup and took it back to her desk where her computer was.
Once the computer booted up, she stared at the screen for several minutes before she started typing. She made her letter as formal as possible. When she finished, she reread the words and made corrections and changes. Satisfied that everything was perfect, Kacey added her signature and hit send.
"Hey why didn't you wake me?" Came the sleepy voice from the doorway.
"You looked so peaceful, I did not have the heart to." Kacey stated. "Ready for coffee?"
"I would love some." Natalia replied. "But first I need you to come here Colonel."
Kacey closed the computer and walked to Natalia who kissed her.
"You keep that up and you will not make your duty shift." Kacey said with a smile.
Natalia looked at the clock. "I have an hour before my shift starts."
"Then you had better go shower. I will get breakfast ready for us."
"That is a deal. Then you can tell me what you were doing." Natalia stated.
"I will." Kacey said softly.
Natalia emerged from the shower a short time later dressed in the solid blue uniform of a crewman with no designated position. She was being allowed to work in each area to give her a chance to find one that she would be comfortable with. When she decided the shoulder stripe would change to reflect the area she chose.
"Smells good Colonel."
"Thank you. I hope it tastes all right. Breakfast is one meal I can usually cook without poisoning anyone. Sit. Coffee is on the table." Kacey filled two plates and carried them to the table.
"This is very good." Natalia said.
"Thanks again. Where are you heading today?"
"This is my last day in engineering. Next week I will be in the Science Department with Anya."
"She is the best person to learn from." Kacey stated. "She is very good. She is also very truthful and fair. If you show an aptitude for Science she will tell you. If not she will tell you that also. She does not sugar coat anything."
"So tell me Colonel, what were you working on earlier?"
"I could lie to you and say I was working on the duty rosters, flight schedules or a half dozen other things, but I won't. I submitted my resignation."
"Why for heaven's sake?"
"I would rather resign my commission that have them take it away from me." Kacey stated.
"Who did you send it to?"
"Kate. She is the first in line in the direct chain of command."
"Then what happens?"
"She can approve it and send it to General Millhouse and High Command. At which time I will surrender my saber and insignia to her. Or..."
"She can yell at me for an hour, kick me in the ass and delete the resignation. It is in her hands now."
"An hour?" Natalia said. "She would yell at you for only an hour? Natalia joked. "I would have said at least two hours."
"Captain Jensen to Colonel O'Malley."
"Speak of the devil." Kacey said then answered the page. "Yes Captain?"
"My Ready Room one hour Colonel." Kate said. Her clipped tone evident over the communicator.
"Yes Captain." Kacey replied.
"She sounds mad." Natalia observed.
"She does at that. Guess I had better shower."
"Wish I could go with you." Natalia stated. "But it would not look good to blow off my scheduled rotation this early." Natalia kissed Kacey. "Speaking of which, Bella does not like it when her people are late. Meet me for lunch?"
Kacey nodded. Natalia left their quarters as Kacey headed for the shower.
After her shower, Kacey walked to the closet and took out her dress uniform. She took down the box with her hat and gloves. Unhooked her saber and placed both on the bed. She planned for the worse case scenario. Surrendering her saber and insignia would be painful, but not as painful as having them taken from her in front of the crew. A lump formed in her throat as she thought about having her saber broken and the insignia ripped from her collar, if she waited to be dishonorably discharged. She clipped the saber to her belt. Pulled on her gloves and hat, making sure the brim was regulation distance from her eyes. A quick look in the mirror to make sure everything from the buttons on her tunic lined up perfectly with the buckle on her belt. Her shoes had a mirror shine to them. One deep breath and she left her quarters.
Liam watched Kate pace the Ready Room after he finished reading Kacey's resignation.
"Will ye be accepting this Katie?"
"Of course not Liam. She is not thinking clearly right now."
"What will ye do?"
"I don't know. I do know she was very upset over what happened yesterday. I had hoped Natalia could help her snap out if it."
"Some people can not get past something like this, Katie. Have ye ever taken a life?"
"No thankfully." Kate said. "That is what makes it so hard. I have no idea what she is going through. How can I help her if I have never had the experience?"
"Be thankful you have never been in that position, Katie."
"That sounds like you have." Kate observed
"Aye lass I have. Tis not a good feeling no matter what the circumstances. Have ye ever heard of the McCall brothers" Kate shook her head no. "Not surprising Katie, it happened before you were born. These brothers went on a murdering, robbing spree. I had just finished me basic training and home on leave before I started my first assignment. These brothers decided my family's home would be their next target. They had done quite a bit of damage by the time I found them. They were just starting to cut up my brother when I got home. I called the authorities, but knew they would not get there in time. I confronted them. I got the first one right away, but the brother got in a couple cuts before I was able to stop him. It took thirty two stitches to close the gashes. They said it was self defense and I was cleared of all charges. No matter what they said, I still felt like Kacey is feeling now."
"How did you cope?"
"My commanding officer had me talk to several people who had been in the same situation. Not to mention half a dozen doctors. Finally the day came when I did not feel like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders."
"You should tell Kacey that story."
"I will Katie. Do you have any of those fancy head doctors here on board."
"Yes and several counselors also. I may have to order her to talk to them, She will not go willingly."
"Do ye want me to stay when Kacey gets here?"
"As much as I want to say yes, I would love the support, this would probably be better with just the two of us. You can contact the Doctor and make an appointment for Kacey." Kate stated.
"Then I will get back to me post and contact that Doctor. Good luck Katie."
"Thank you Liam. I may need it."
Liam left the Ready Room. Kate waited alone.
To be continued...
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