Go to Prologue
The judges reach a verdict quickly. It was an open and shut case, of that there was no question. But to make that fact known would lead others to think they did not take the case seriously. There was little discussion past the judges casting their ballots. After twenty minutes they let the bailiff know they were ready.
"The judges have reached a verdict." The Bailiff said from the doorway. Kate and Kacey finished their coffee and returned to the court room. The judges entered the room.
"We have reviewed all the evidence presented today and have come to a unanimous decision. We find that the shooting of Barry Castor by Colonel Kirsten O'Malley to be justified. Colonel O'Malley shot in defense of not only herself but in defense of Private Hastings who had been brutally beaten and sexually assaulted by Barry Castor." Every one breathed a sigh of relief. "However" Captain Anderson continued, "video evidence and testimony provided by Colonel O'Malley, we find Colonel O'Malley guilty of disobeying a direct order from her commanding officer, Captain Kate Jensen. That does not fall under the jurisdiction of this court. Captain it is your responsibility to decide how you want to handle this breach. This Military Inquiry is concluded. Case dismissed."
The room emptied except for Kacey She remained alone with her thoughts until Liam sat beside her.
"Something on you mind lass?"
"It just does not seem right, dad."
"What doesn't?" Liam asked.
"I took a life dad. It should not have been so cut and dry."
"Let me tell you a tale lass." Liam said and recounted his story.
Kacey listened without interruption. When he finished she asked, "How did you cope?"
"Much the same way you are right now. Happy one minute, down the next. I felt like I should not have been commended for killing two people. Even though it was in defense of my family. The law from several states were looking for them. I did not want the awards and rewards that were given to me. I did not deserve them. Taking a life should never be rewarded no matter what the circumstances. I talked to several doctors and people who had been through the same thing. Every one said the same thing. Time. Time would be the only true healer. One day you will wake up and find that pain you are feeling will be a wee bit less than the day before. And the day after and the day after. Each time the pain will be less. Then one day you find that the weight is gone from your shoulders. You will never be forgetting it, but your mind will have put it into perspective and put it away."
"Kate has ordered me to talked to the shrinks on board." Kacey said.
"Aye. I know. You will be doing that, right lass?"
"Yes. I do not want any additional reports for disobeying orders. My first appointment is tomorrow morning."
"That is good to hear lass. Now what do you say we get out of these fancy duds and have some lunch."
"I would like that." Kacey hugged Liam. "Thanks daddy." She whispered and kissed his cheek.
"Captain, sensors are picking up a mass about two hundred million kilometers away." Anya stated.
"On screen" Kate ordered. The view screen changed from the stars in front of them to a mass far away. "Magnify" The screen zoomed in to show a closer view of the mass. "Can we get any readings on it yet?"
"No, we are still too far away."
"Is this on any of your charts Anya, or is this an undiscovered planetoid?"
"There are several planetoids in that area, but this is not on any of the computer charts." Anya responded.
"Any one feeling adventurous?"
"That is one of the reason we are here Captain." Lieutenant Minor stated. "I vote for checking this out."
Kate looked around the bridge to the crew who all nodded. Liam said "Go for it Katie. As soon as we are closer we can send the stingers and shuttles in to see if it is safe to land."
Kate touched her communicator. "Colonel O'Malley report to the bridge."
"On my way Captain." Kacey responded.
"Lieutenant at our present speed, how long will it take us to reach that mass?"
"Two days, three tops." The Lieutenant stated.
"My curiosity is screaming. Lets push the speed. Warp seven Lieutenant."
"Yes ma'am. Warp seven."
They barely felt the speed changes any more. The lift opened and Kacey walked to her seat.
"What is going on Kate?"
"We are taking a little side trip. We are going to investigate what may be an undiscovered planetoid about two hundred million kilometers away."
"I am in."
"How far away can you launch your stingers for a recon mission?"
"Fifty thousand kilometers."
"Send one squadron. There will also two shuttles going with them."
"Fantastic timing. Doc just gave me a clean bill of health. I am cleared to fly. When will we be within range to launch?"
"Tomorrow afternoon at the earliest Colonel." The pilot stated.
"I will get my pilots lined up." Kacey stated and got up to leave.
"Kacey hold on a minute." Kate said.
"Sure Kate." Kacey said and followed Kate into her Ready Room. "What's up?"
"Have a seat. Coffee?"
"Love some." Kate poured them each a cup of coffee then sat in the chair next to Kacey instead of behind her desk.
"How are things going? No bull shit Kacey the truth."
"I am getting there Kate. Talking to the doctor has helped. Don't you get reports from her?"
"The only thing she tells me is that you have kept all your appointments. Other than that she is not allowed to tell me anything unless you tell her it is okay. Be completely honest with me Kacey."
"There are times when I still want to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb, but those times are getting fewer and fewer. Both dad and the Doctor have told me that it will take time for the mind to push it to the background. So that someday I can take it out and look at it objectively. At this point I can see what I did right, what I did wrong, what I would change if I could and what I absolutely would not change if I had it to do over. I was only kidding about the sucking my thumb part."
"That is good to hear. But if memory serves me right, you gave up your favorite teddy bear long before you gave up your thumb when you were little."
"Kate" Kacey protested. Kate laughed.
"How are things on the home front?" Kate asked still smiling.
"So when are you going to marry Natalia?"
"Give us time Kate. It will come eventually. Neither of us want to rush into things."
"You love each other right?"
"I would not call it love yet. Right now I would call it a very strong ' like' headed into the direction of love. When that time comes will you stand with me Kate?"
"Hell yes little sister."
"Younger sister Kate."
"Serious time Kacey Are you certain you are ready to get back into the pilot's seat?
"Doc says I am. It has been a month since I got hurt. I have not had any headaches, dizzy spells, double vision or seen the little people in weeks. I am more than ready to get back behind the controls. Please do not tell me I can not go on this mission."
"It is against my better judgment, but I will not stop you." Kacey started to talk, but Kate held up her hand to stop her. "However, I will pick your crew. Agreed?"
They finished their coffee. Kacey stood. "Will that be all Kate? I have a lot of planning to do before tomorrow."
"That is all Kacey." They both left the ready room. Liam watched Kacey head for the lift. Kate sat in her chair.
"Talked you into letting her go on this mission didn't she." Liam stated. "I could tell by that little bounce in her step and the smile on her face when she left,.
"She did, but I get to pick her crew."
"Ye got away with that?"
"It is the only way she would go on this mission."
"I am guessing you will be part of that crew."
"You know me so well."
"You are not that hard to see through Katie. Your sister was injured on her last mission so you hope to protect her on the next mission. I am not faulting you Katie."
"This will all be for nothing if there is no breathable air." Kate stated.
To be continued...
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