Go to Prologue
The excitement of the worms and their mother died down. Life on board Andromeda continued. Weeks turned into months with little to engage the minds of those on board. More parties were planned to stave off the tedium of day to day life.
Their next scheduled stop was a week away on the planetoid Eternus. The planetoid was discovered by an unmanned space craft halfway between Jupiter and Saturn. Its atmosphere was comparable to Earths. Previous scans showed abundant plant life and water. A stop over was planned to upgrade the radio relay tower there. The Geologists and Botanists would be allowed to gather and study whatever specimens they collected if the plants and water proved to be safe.
Daily meetings were held with all the department heads in preparation for their stop over. Once again samples would be gathered by remote ships for testing before any one other that the crew would be able to leave the ship.
The upgrades were scheduled to take at least a week. The relay systems were put in place over fifty years ago and really needed new parts. With more and more flights planned, these relay towers were very important. There were seven relay towers they were scheduled to upgrade on their journey.
The loss of the tower on Marcus Prime left them a gap in their ability to contact Earth. They had skipped upgrading the tower on Jupiter in order to evacuate Marcus Prime. Crews were sent from Earth to make the necessary upgrades. There would also be a tower erected on the dwarf planet Ceres to fill the gap left from the lost tower.
Reports from the unmanned ships showed a large flat area the ship could land on. Plants and water samples collected by remote control, were tested and found safe for humans. They would land on Eternus. The shuttles would not have to run taxi service for the residents.
Through the months in space Andromeda was able to put together an orchestra. The musicians on board worked around everyone's schedules to practice. The results of the hard work could be heard at the parties that were scheduled. And for the entertainment of the residents through concerts.
They would have one more birthday celebration before they reached Eternus. Liam's surprise birthday party was planned. That in itself was not an easy task. Clandestine meetings between Patricia, Kate, Kacey, Anya and Natalia were held all over the ship. It the Mess Hall, corridors, the hanger and gym. Whenever they could all get away for a few minutes. The plans for the party had been in the works for several weeks.
Every evening Kacey would take Erin and Erica to her quarters for secret meetings. They were planning a very special surprise and had been sworn to secrecy. So far no one but Natalia knew what the surprise was. Kacey had another surprise that she would spring on her unsuspecting lover the night of the party.
Things between them had progressed rapidly since that first time when they decided to move forward in their relationship. They periodically tried things they read about in the pages Kate sent them. They laughed about those first few times when they tried to follow what the pages said. Now more confident in their love making they looked less and less.
The walls between the Auditorium and dining hall were rolled back to make one large room. A stage was set up for the orchestra to perform. Tables and chairs were brought out from storage and surrounded the dance floor. Patricia was busy getting all the food cooked for the celebration which would start at lunch time at eleven hundred hours and go through dinner until nineteen hundred hours. That would give all the crew who wanted to attend a chance to. The festivities would be shown on video monitors throughout the ship.
A crew lottery was held in order to keep the ship manned and running. The losers took the first shift on the bridge. Each group would had time to celebrate.
When the time came, Kate and Kacey escorted Liam into the darken auditorium. Once they cleared the doorway, the lights came on with shouts of SURPRISE, and the party was in full swing. Liam looked at both his daughters and shook his finger at them. They both adopted innocent looks. "You lasses pulled one over on me. Thank you." He hugged them both. Patricia, Anya, Natalia and the girls joined them in the doorway. Liam hugged them all. Patricia received an enthusiastic kiss from her husband to hoots of encouragement from his family and friends.
"Patsy darling I can not believe that you were able to be hiding this from me."
"There are a couple more surprises Dad." Kacey stated.
"Your arm Commander O'Malley" Patricia said and escorted her husband to their table in the front of the room with a clear view of the stage.
Buffet tables were set up along three walls so every one who was there for the start of the festivities could eat. Back ground music was piped into the room while they ate. The orchestra would take the stage after dinner. The mood was festive as a steady stream of well wishers stopped by their table. Once the dishes were cleared away, Kacey took the twins and went back stage. She signaled the orchestra to take the stage. They all looked at Natalia who only smiled and shrugged. Kacey walked out onto the stage.
"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being here to help celebrate the birthday of Liam O'Malley, my father. Dad come up here please." The party goers clapped to encourage him to go to the stage. "I would like to tell you a little bit about him. His family moved to America shortly after Liam was born. He enter the Space Academy at eighteen. He graduated and through hard work became Commander. His family came from the most beautiful place on Earth. If you doubt that, just ask him." Laughter filled the room. "So in honor of his birthplace, it is my great pleasure to introduce Miss Erica and Miss Erin Jensen in their singing debut. The girls walked out onto the stage. Applause greeted them. Kacey handed them each a microphone then bent down to whisper to them. "Remember what I told you. Just look at your mothers or grandpa while you sing to him. Just relax and have fun. Grandpa may join you in singing. But that is okay. Watch me, I will nod when it is time to sing. Okay?" They both nodded. Kacey positioned them near Liam. She stood on the opposite side so they could see her. Kacey picked up her violin and began to play. She nodded to the girls and they started singing.
"If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
Then maybe at the closing of you day
You can sit and watch the moonrise over Claddagh
and see the sun go down of Galway Bay."
Their voiced blended with Kacey's violin. Kacey glanced at their table to see everyone wiping their eyes. Even Liam had tears running down his cheeks. The girls continued singing. Liam joined them for the last chorus. His tenor voice in harmony with their sopranos.
"And if there going to be a life here after
and faith I'm sure there's going to be
I will ask my God to let me make my Heaven
in that dear land across the Irish Sea
I will ask my God to let me make my Heaven
in that dear land across the Irish Sea.
The song ended and everyone was on their feet applauding. Liam hugged his grand daughters. Lassies that was beautiful. Yes sounded just like the angles singing. I am so proud of you." He kissed their cheeks. Kacey took the microphones from their hands as Liam lifted both girls in his arms and carried them to their chairs as the applause continued. "Take you bows girls, ye deserve them"
They both bowed. The music started up. Kacey placed her violin in its stand and left the stage. Liam took her into his arms. "Lass that was the best present I have ever received, other than you of course. Thank you"
"You are welcome Dad." Kacey kissed his cheek.
Liam held his hand out to Patricia. "Patsy me darling would ye dance with me." Patricia stood up and took Liam's hand. He led her to the dance floor. Anya stood and offered her hand to Kate which was readily taken. Kacey offered her hand to Natalia. The three couples were on the dance floor. Soon other couples join them until the floor was full. The song ended. Kacey lightly kissed Natalia and said." I have a surprise for you also," and went back on stage. She picked up her violin.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we will return to the dancing shortly. I beg you indulgence for a few minutes. I have been working on a special piece of music for a very special person for several weeks. But I felt that it lacked something. Commander Rhea Torino suggested I give the piece a name to see if that would fix the problem only I could hear. In a rare bit of stubbornness...
"Rare since when?" Kate shouted from her seat. Everyone laughed.
"Yes Kate, rare, but as I was saying before I was interrupted, I held off giving the music a title. Finally I gave into the suggestions. No one was more surprised than me when the problem was no longer there. The music flowed as intended. So for what it is worth here is "Natalia's Smile" Kacey picked up her violin and started playing. The notes flowed smoothly and floated in the air. For several minutes the only sound was the sound of a violin played by very skilled fingers. She pulled the bow across the strings on the final note and held the bow in the air. For a heartbeat there was silence. Then everyone was on their feet. The applause was deafening.
Natalia had tears flowing down her cheeks. She beamed a smile at Kacey She mouthed "thank you, Kacey, I love you" Kacey winked at her, bowed repeatedly then turned to the band and motioned for them to play. She left the stage, to take Natalia's hand and led her to the dance floor.
Kacey held the smaller woman close. The top of Natalia's head rested just below Kacey's chin. She nestled close. Natalia could hear Kacey's heart beat, as she rested her head. Secure in the arms that held her, Natalia felt Kacey kiss the top of her head. She tilted her head to get the next kiss she knew would be coming.
Kate who danced close b with Anya gave them a nudge. "Hey you two get a room." She chided them.
"That is not very nice, Kate" Anya scolded her.
"It is not very often that I get to mph...." Kate could not finish her sentence because Anya captured her lips. When they parted, Kate was breathless.
"Who needs a room, Kate?" Kacey joked.
"Evidently we do." Kate answered. She whispered into Anya's ear. "How long do we need to be here?"
"All day Kate. You can wait my Kate. I will make it worth the wait." Anya whispered.
"I more than promise, I will..." She whispered in Kate's ear. What she told Kate made her blush.
Kacey noticed the blush and open he mouth to kid her sister when Natalia nudged her. "Do not even think about it Colonel." She told the taller women. "Bend down a bit." Kacey bent so Natalia could reach her ear. "If you say anything I will not..."Soon Kacey sported a blush equal to Kate's.
Liam and Patricia laughed at the twin blushes their daughters sported and tried to hide.
"Patsy darling I think our girls will be a bit busy later."
"I believe you are right Liam. We need to liven up this party or our girls will do something indecent on the dance floor."
Liam steer Patricia across the dance floor where he motioned for the guitar player to bed down. He ask him if he knew how to play a certain tune to which he nodded yes. "Would ye play it laddie?"
"We will need the Colonel for this one."
"I will get her back up there." Liam caught Kacey's eye and motioned to her to come closer. He whispered what he wanted. She nodded.
The song ended and the guitar player took the microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen we have a special request from Commander O'Malley. We will need the assistance of Colonel O'Malley for this request." Kacey climbed onto the stage and picked up her violin.
"There are certain things in life that every Irish man loves. First his wife, then his children, his homeland. After all those, the other things every Irishman loves is a wee drop of good Irish whiskey, singing and dancing. This is a dance every Irish person learns from the time we know our right foot from our left. I have had the pleasure of teaching my beautiful wife, our two lovely daughters, their partners and our grandchildren. Everyone is invited to join us for a traditional Irish dance." They were lined up in a straight line with their arms at their sides.
Kacey tapped her foot and started playing a lively tune. The band joined in and the family danced for the enjoyment of their guests. A couple brave souls joined their line and attempted the complex steps. At the end everyone was breathless.
The party was a huge success. Faces changed as the shifts changed, but the affair remained boisterous. Dancing continued, partners changed. Liam made sure he danced with all his ladies. During one of the breaks the band took, Kacey pulled Liam up to the stage.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I beg your indulgence one more time. There is a song that is near and dear to every Irish heart. I will ask you assistance on this particular song. This song is familiar any anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them. For those who are not that lucky but wish they were, the words will be shown on the screen behind us. The melody is an easy one. I will ask my father to lead us in what I know is one of his favorite songs "
Kacey picked up her violin and started to play. She notice the smile cross Liam's face. He started to sing. His tenor voice filled the room when he started singing.
"I've met some folks who say that I'm a dreamer,
and I've no doubt there's truth in what they say
Some of the audience joined the song at the beginning. More and more voices joined in until everyone in the room took part.
"That was beautiful. Thank you for this fantastic party. I want to thank my lovely wife Patsy, our daughters Kate, Kacey, Anya and Natalia and our granddaughters Erin and Erica Jensen, for all your hard work and planning. Was a grand party to touch this Irishman's heart. Now back to the dancing."
Kacey escorted Liam off the stage as the band began their last hour of playing. The romantic mood of earlier returned, as the final dances were danced. Anya whispered in Kate's ear as she held her close. Kate had a glazed dreamy look on her face. With her eyes closed, Kate held tightly to Anya. Just inches away Kacey and Natalia were in their own special place.
"What would you say if I told you I loved you?" Kacey said softly.
"I would say I love you right back." Natalia answered.
Even in her dreaming state, Kate's ears picked up on the word love that passed between them. She smiled. Her sister has finally opened up and admitted her feeling for Natalia. Feelings she knew Kacey had long felt, but refused to admit.
"Kate" Anya warned. "Stop eavesdropping."
They finished the last dance in silence. The party ended and the cleanup crews were going to work. The three couples made their way to their quarters. They all said good night at their doors.
To be continued...
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