Go to Prologue
"Maybe if you ask nicely Aunt Natty will let you ride on her chair." Kacey added.
"Can we?" Erin asked.
"If it is all right with your mothers." Natalia said.
Both girls look at their mothers . Kate nodded.
"As long as you sit still. No kicking " Anya said.
The girls climbed up onto Natalia's lap. Kacey pushed the hover button to raise the chair off the ground. She pushed the chair up the ramp.
"Kate did the storm knock you off schedule very much?"
"Actually Natalia, we really do not have any sort of schedule. We have several missions to do like upgrading the relay towers. But no time table in which to do them. We have at least three years out here. That could easily be extended to four."
"I will send the Stingers out as soon as they are all synched up. I want to have a complete map of the Northern sector. We flew over it without any problems. Then if we have time I can send them to do at least a partial map of the Western sector. Maybe I should have started the in the West."
"Do not second guess yourself Kacey" Anya stated.
"We flew almost across the whole North section, we had no problems."
"For all we know that storm could have kicked those fields up all over. So no area could be considered safe now." Anya told her. "Scanners did not pick up any fields in the West."
"I wonder if Andromeda's scanners could pick up on that field. They are larger and more powerful that the scanners on the Stingers. What about it Kate? When we leave we take a trip around just to see?"
"Sure. We can also set out some sort of warning markers or beacons to warn the next ships that come this way to avoid that area."
"We can lay out ground markers also before we take off." Kacey stated.
"Who exactly is 'We'?" Kate asked.
"My pilots can do it Kate. I told you I would not go back in there. I meant it. Although I would really like to know why it affected only me. But I will stay here and take care of the excitingly tedious job of resetting the systems. I do not know if I will be able to stand all the excitement that will create."
"Not every day can be exciting and loaded with danger. We all have to put up with some tedium in our lives."
"Hey I just spent the last two days doing nothing but reports." Kacey protested.
"What is our next stop, Kate?" Natalia asked.
"That would be Saturn. Depending on the condition of the dome that was built many years ago, it might just be repair crews that will go to the moon's surface. There will be other opportunities for everyone to take a holiday off ship."
"It will take two months to reach Saturn after we leave here, right?"
"Around that. Depends on when we leave here, or if we take any side trips." Kate said." That will put us there after the New Year. Which reminds me, we have to start planning the next round of parties. Before we get to Saturn we have Christmas, New Years Eve, Mom's birthday."
"Christmas?" The girls shouted and started to jump on Natalia's lap.
"Would you two like to walk?" Anya asked.
"No mama." They both said.
"Then you should both sit still or you will walk." Anya told them. "Understand?"
They arrived at the dining room where Patricia and Liam were waiting. Kacey helped the girls off Natalia's lap. They ran to their grandparents as soon as their feet hit the floor. Everyone took their seats. Patricia sat at one end of the table, Liam at the other. Kacey and Natalia sat on one side with Kate and Anya and the girls on the other.
"Have you ever thought about having children, Kacey?" Natalia asked.
"Me?" Natalia nodded. "I never really gave it a lot of thought. I love children, even after knowing those two demons, but it is impossible to get maternity fatigues." Kacey joked. "Have you?"
"Yes. It was expected of me to produce a female heir to the throne. That was one of our laws. The queen had to produce a female child before her thirtieth birthday or the title would transfer to the Central Government. The baby had to be female as the title only passes in the female line."
"What if you had a boy?"
"Then I would have to keep trying until a girl child was born."
"So you would be forced to marry and have a child to continue being queen." Kate asked.
"I did not have to marry just take a lover until a child was conceived. The last Esperanza woman to marry was my great grand mother." Natalia stated.
"Would you want to have a child now that it is not expected of you?" Patricia asked.
"I would love a child of my own. I love children. If Marcus Prime had not been destroyed I probably would have been pregnant by now. I was scheduled to take my first lover when the quakes started." Natalia told them. "Kate have you and Anya ever talked about having more children?"
"We have but decided two was a nice round number."
Kacey had just raised her glass to take a drink but stopped mid motion suddenly and looked at Kate.
"Is something wrong, dear." Patricia asked.
"Nothing is wrong. I was just trying to picture Kate pregnant." She replied. "Nope I just can not picture that at all."
Kacey lay under the console on the shuttle as she replaced the equalizer that had been burnt out from the storm. She had earphones in as she tested the circuits. Outside noises would have made it impossible to hear the beeps that told her everything was synched up. The earphones allowed her to hear the beeps yet blocked out the noise from the residents of Andromeda as they enjoyed the sunshine. Synching the systems was as much hearing the sounds as seeing the numbers line up. The earphones also blocked out the beeps from her communicator.
Kate tried for twenty minutes to locate Kacey Not even the computer could find her on the ship. Which meant she was some where on the surface. She sent Security to locate her with the instructions to "just find her and let me know."
Fifteen minutes later she had the information she needed and entered Kacey's shuttle. She noticed Kacey's feet sticking out from under the console.
"Kacey" Kate called out and got no reply. She kicked the boots.
"Yeah, yeah, keep your short on." Kacey hollered. Kate kicked her boots again.
"Jesus Christ" Kacey swore and pushed out form under the console. "What the fuck Kate."
"You kiss mom with that mouth", Kate joked. "I have been trying to reach you for over half an hour."
"What?" Kacey asked.
"Hold on Kate." Kacey removed the earphones. "What is going on?"
"I have been trying to reach you for over thirty minutes. Is your communicator off?"
"Of course not. But with the ear phones on I can not hear anything but the sounds of the systems. Did you need something?"
"Yes we have a video conference with the Joint Chiefs in fifteen minutes."
"Shit I forgot."
"We can make it if we leave right now and not let anyone stop us." Kate stated and held out her hand to help Kacey up off the floor. Kacey closed the ramp to the shuttle. They laughed as they raced each other into the ship.
To be continued...
Return to the Academy