Go to Prologue
The storm raged through out the night. Debris kicked up by the winds banged against the hull of the ship. Many crew members lay awake that first night wondering what sort of damage the debris was causing. Damage that would have to be repaired before the ship could lift off and continue it's journey in the vacuum of space.
Kacey looked out her window at the spectacular light show mother nature put on. Rumbles of thunder could be heard through the thick hull of the ship. The hull that was made to be able to withstand direct hits from meteors or asteroids without a breech.
There was no rain yet, just thunder lightening and wind. She flinched when debris hit the window in front of her. No damage was done to the transparency that was over a foot thick. Kacey worried about the smaller ships. Small dents and damage, they could repair themselves. However any large damage, they would have to scrap the ship and use it for parts. The damage would take time to repair. But they would have time to make extensive repairs. When they left Eternus, they would have two months of travel before they reached their next destination.
She thought about the men stuck in a cave waiting for the storm to pass. She stood at the window for a long time before she went back to bed and hoped the storm would not interrupt her sleep the rest of the night.
Natalia did not stir when Kacey got out of bed. The pills the doctor gave her for pain, knocked her out. Not even the noise of the storm seemed to bother her. Kacey was able to get back into bed without disturbing the peacefully sleeping woman. Natalia turned towards Kacey in her sleep.
Kate pace in front of the windows. Each bang she heard meant possible damage to the ship. The last report had the winds over one hundred fifty kilometers per hour. Worse than a cat five hurricane on Earth. She knew she was not the only one awake at this hour. She could see reflections of lights from other quarters.
She flinched at a nasty hit against the hull. Thankful the girls were sound sleepers. She had no doubt they would have both jumped into bed between her and Anya. Arms encircled her waist. "Close the drapes and come back to bed my Kate." Anya whispered.
Kate nodded and closed the drapes that hid the lightening show from them. The drapes could not hide the sounds of the storm. She let Anya lead her back into their bedroom.
The rain finally started late on the second day of the storm. Torrents of rain fell. During the day light hours they could see the level of the lake rising. It was soon lapping at the stone they leaned against not long ago. The rain continued through the night and into the next day. Shortly after noon the rain stopped and the winds died down. The clouds left leaving the sun shinning brightly and a spectacular rainbow in it's wake. A gentle breeze blew.
The ramps opened. Crews checked out the area for any dangers. The children were sent into the forest area of the ship for their classes instead of outside, while the adults worked to clear the area. All the adults worked to make the area around the ship safe.
The Engineers returned to upgrading the relay tower. Repair crews crawled all over Andromeda to repair any damage caused by the storm.
The first area the Marines cleared was the landing strip for the rescued ships. After three days of survival rations, the men were ready for something, anything that did not taste like cardboard.
Kacey supervised the clean up of debris around the Stingers and Shuttles. She helped Natalia to the bottom of the ramp. Natalia said she wanted to feel the sun on her face. That could have been true, but Kacey knew it was not the whole truth. She knew she was being watched to make sure she continued to follow the doctors orders about lifting. She should feel insulted that she was not trusted, but could not muster the feeling. Natalia loved her and worried about her.
One of the good things about the storm was that Kacey was able to complete all her paperwork. Typing one handed was a bitch, so the sling lasted all of five minutes. She took it off and threw it in the drawer. She would take it out before she headed back to her quarters.
Kate and Anya, wearing coveralls worked along side the crew. All gathering was put on hold until the areas were deemed safe for the scientists. They worked side by side.
Kacey felt useless watching every one work. She sat on the ramp next to Natalia. Then the thought came to her. There was something she could do.
"Don't be angry with me, " she said. "I am going to go check out the ships."
"The Doctor said no lifting." Natalia reminded her.
"Nothing over ten pounds, sweetheart. I promise no lifting, but I can do a visual check on the ships to make sure there is no structural damage. Then I can do radio and system checks. You can even help me."
"I can? How?" Natalia asked.
"I will be right back." Kacey left and returned with a radio, pen and clipboard that she handed to Natalia. A scanner, pen and clipboards with charts for herself. She turned the radio on checked the channel and handed it to Natalia.
"I will do an outside inspection first, then go inside and run a diagnostic on the systems to make sure the storm did not knock any of them out. Recalibrating can be a bitch. Then I will do a radio check. I will call you with the ship number and you tell me if you can hear me and if the sound is clear or has static or distorted. You check the ship number off this list. In order to talk to me, push this button, speak into this part, then release the button. Okay?"
Kacey walked first to her shuttle. She keyed the code to open the ramp. Before she entered the shuttle, she climbed the ladder that would take her to the top. Kacey walked around on the roof, checking carefully for any holes. Even a pin hole could mean death in space. Satisfied the roof was secure she climbed back down and walked around the shuttle, making note of any damage. She was looking up when she came around the shuttle and ran right into Kate and Anya.
"Thought you were supposed to be taking it easy?" Kate asked.
"Just doing structural assessment and diagnostic on the systems." She showed Kate her check list. "No lifting at all except for the clipboard and pen. Both are well under the limit."
"Just be careful. You know mom has her spies all over." Kate said with a smile. "Carry on." Kate and Anya left to go back to work.
Kacey entered the shuttle and closed the ramp. She checked the seal. Satisified the seal was intact she sat in the pilot's seat and plugged in her scanner. She checked out all the systems and marked any problems on her list. Once finished she put the headphones on and turned the radio to the correct frequency.
"Shuttle Shamrock radio check."
"Coming in loud and clear beautiful."
"That is not regulation communications crewman." Kacey chided her.
"This is not regulation anything. I love you." Natalia stated.
"Love you right back." Kacey said and shut the radio down.
"One down twenty to go." Kacey stated and left the shuttle.
She repeated this procedure with every ship that was out of the hanger. Three hours later, she closed the canopy on the last stinger. The recovery ships had returned halfway through her checks. They were enjoying their first hot food in three days then headed for the showers. The area around the ship was cleared by early evening. All work was halted for the day at eighteen hundred hours.
Kacey sat by Natalia after she finished her checks. She studied the papers in her hands.
"So Colonel, what do all those numbers and squiggles tell you?"
"Those squiggles as you call them, tell me that a few of the systems have been knocked out by the storm. There are not as many as I thought there would be. But enough to keep the ships grounded until the systems are all synched back up."
"Can you fix them?"
"I can. It is not hard just tedious. Each system that was knocked out has to be recalibrated. But that is a job for tomorrow. Right now I am ready for dinner. What about you?"
"That sounds great."
Kate and Anya with their children came down the ramp. They were out of their coveralls and each had the freshly showered look.
The girls ran down the ramp to where Kacey and Natalia were. Erin draped her arms across Kacey's shoulders, while Erica went to Natalia.
"Hey rug rats, what are you two up to?"
"Aunt Kacey mummy wants to know if you and Aunt Natty want to have dinner with us?" Erica asked.
"Do you want to Aunt Natty?" Erin asked. Kacey looked up at Kate who nodded.
"Mom wants to have a family dinner."
"What about it Aunt Natty? Feel like spending time with these two demons?"
"Sure. Where are we going?" Natalia asked.
"YAY" The twins yelled. Erin who was still draped over Kacey's shoulders yelled right into her ear.
"Erin" Anya called to her daughter. "You just yelled into your aunt's ear."
"I'm sorry Aunt Kacey" Erin said contritely.
"That's all right, I still have the other ear to hear out of." She said with a smile to show the child she was not mad.
To be continued...
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