Go to Prologue
The week flew by. The Marines had tested the new scanners and after tweaking the frequencies had great success. Kacey took her shuttle out and dropped the test field in a secret location. When she returned, she turned the device on. The first test was a failure. They brought the Stinger back and did more adjusting to the frequencies before sending it back out. After several tries they finally had successfully programmed the scanner. Even with a low level frequency, the scanner picked up the field.
The Marines were busy installing the scanners on all the Stingers and Shuttles. Kacey and Anya worked to install the new scanner in Andromeda's systems. It was more powerful and bigger than the scanners on the smaller ships. They worked together to get the frequencies adjusted. For several days they were half under the console, working to get the scanner programmed and calibrated in order to be accepted by Andromeda's main computer. The crew on duty quickly became used to stepping over two pairs of legs that protruded from under the console.
Before they knew it, New Year's Eve was upon them. The hours of the day passed quickly. When they finally pulled themselves out from under the console, Kacey looked at her watch.
"Twenty minutes to spare, Anya."
"Kate was adamant about our finishing in time to get dressed for dinner." Anya stated.
"What if we didn't? I would really like to see her try to drag the two of us out by our heels."
"Do not under estimate Kate's strength. She may be small, but she definitely has the strength enough to try."
"It is about time you two finished up for the day." Kate said from the lift. We are expected at mom's for dinner in an hour."
"We had to finish this today or we would have to wait until mid week. Unless you would rather we work tomorrow." Kacey said with a smile.
"Hit the showers both of you before we are late." Kate ordered. Both women saluted her. They broke into laughter as they all entered the lift.
Dinner was over and the three couples watched the old year tick away. Even though Kate and Anya allowed the girls to stay up to see the New Year in, they were both asleep on the spare bed. Liam brought out a bottle of champagne and a tray of glasses. He twisted the wire off the bottle as the last minute went by. He popped the cork and poured them each a glass as the old year ended.
"Happy New Year" They said together. The couples paired off as they kissed in the New Year. They each hugged and kissed each other. Kacey kissed Natalia again, putting all her energy into the kiss that left them both breathless.
"That is quite enough you two." Patricia said as she handed them each a glass. "You have twenty five minutes until you are separated until the ceremony."
"To new beginnings." Liam said.
"To new beginnings" They all repeated and touched glasses.
At precisely zero thirty hours, Patricia and Kate each took one of Kacey's arms and escorted her to her quarters.
"Will you give me your word that you will not leave your quarters to try to see Natalia, or do I have to have Kate put you under security lock?" Patricia asked.
"You have my word mom." Kacey said.
"I will be around by noon to help you dress. I remember how hard it was to dress when you are nervous." Kate told her.
"That was you Kate. Just because you were all thumbs does not mean I will."
"That is very true, but I will be by anyway. Just in case. Get some rest little sister." Kate said. They watched Kacey enter her quarters.
"She was a lot easier than you Kate." Patricia stated.
Kacey kicked off her shoes and changed her clothes. She was restless so she changed the strings on her violin, and tuned it. She programmed several sets of numbers into the music machine and started to play. She let the music take her away. She played until exhaustion made her fingers clumsy. She glanced at the clock, surprised to see it was five hundred hours. She did not honestly think she would sleep when she went to bed, so she failed to tell the computer to wake her up. She went to bed and fell into a deep sleep where pleasant dreams of Natalia filled the remainder of the night.
She slept until well after eleven hundred hours. Kacey stretched and opened her eyes. She glanced at the clock and closed her eyes again. The time registered in her brain and her eyes popped open. She jumped out of bed. "Damn" She shouted as she grabbed a quick cup of coffee from the pot that stood ready.
Kacey went to the closet and took out her dress shoes. There was a definite scuff mark of the toe. She pulled out her polishing kit. She applied the paste to each shoe and buffed them to a high shine. She could almost see her reflection when she was done. Kacey checked her saber and found a bit of tarnish on the hilt. She grabbed the saber polish and started to apply the paste when the door chimed. She looked quickly at the monitor.
"Come on in Kate." She called out. The door opened.
"Mom sent you some lunch..." Kate noticed Kacey standing there in her barely legal clothes holding her saber in one hand and a polishing cloth in the other.
"Why the hell are you doing that now?" Kate demanded.
"Long story Kate." Kacey replied.
"Give me a quick unabridged version."
"I did not go to bed after you and mom escorted me home. I changed the strings on my violin and played for awhile. I went to bed around five hundred hours. I honestly did not think I sleep, so I never set the computer wake up call. I only woke up about half an hour ago. Found I needed to polish my shoes and then found some tarnish on my saber that had to be taken care of."
"Mom will definitely never let you out of the dog house if you are late. Let me finish polishing that while you hit the shower."
"It really has to shine Kate." Kacey told her. The scabbard needs a polish also."
"I know how to do this. I may not be a Marine, but I do know how to polish a sword. Hit the shower Colonel."
"Aye Captain." Kacey saluted Kate and went into the bathroom. She turned the water on and stripped down. She dimly heard the sound of the door chime over the sound of the water. She finished showering, wrapped the bath sheet around her, brushed her teeth and combed her hair. Of course she had trouble getting the part straight.
Without the water blocking the sounds she heard Liam's distinctive voice. His Brogue was more pronounced when he was excited or nervous. She had just finished putting on her underwear when a knock came at the door.
"Kate if that is you, come on in." Kacey called out as she stood in front of her closet. The door opened.
"Why the hell are you just standing there?" Kate demanded.
"Just trying to decide which uniform to wear. Daytime or nighttime formal."
"Daytime of course." Kate said as she made the bed. "Why do Marines have to have so many damn uniforms?"
"We only have four Kate."
"Whatever, time to get you dressed little sister. Wait , I do not think that underwear is sanctioned by the Marines." Kate said as she noticed the filmy material.
"Younger, Kate. My underwear is Natalia approved which carries more weight than the Marines at this time." Kacey stated as she grabbed the box that held her hat and gloves. She pulled the trousers off the hook and put them on. She then donned the white shirt and buttoned it before she tucked the shirt into her pants, zipped the fly and fastened the clasp. She slipped on the uniform jacket. Her hands were shaking. Kate slapped her hands out of the way and fastened the buttons. She help Kacey put on the white belt. Kacey checked to make sure everything was lined up. Kacey took her hat and gloves out of the box. "I am ready, Kate."
Kate watched the process as Kacey turned into a recruiting poster for the Marines. "Really?" Kate asked with a smile. "Look down."
Kacey looked down at her bare feet. She groaned. "Oh damn."
"No. Yes. Maybe a little, Kate." She said, as she sat on the bed to put her socks and shoes on. When she finished she stood and rechecked her reflection. She moved the belt buckle by the tiniest amount, brushed at some lint that only she could see and pulled her sleeves straight. "Any last minute advice?"
"Love and respect each other. Make time each day to laugh and never forget to tell Natalia that you love her. But most of all, remember not to lock your knees." Kate told her. "Now give me a hug." Kate ordered.
Kacey threw her arms around Kate. Thank you Kate. Wait where is my saber?".
"Liam has it. Now deep breath." Kacey took a deep breath. Kate opened the bedroom door and they walked out. "You have about ten minutes to grab a bite or two."
"Tis about time you lasses are coming out. Your mother has called me twice already. They are at the hall so tis safe for Kacey to be walking the corridor. Hurry now lass, ye do not want your bride to be thinking that ye are standing her up."
Kacey took a few hurried bites and a swallow of her now cold coffee. She picked up her saber and clipped it to the special belt which she put around her waist, making sure it was regulation distance from her waist. She put on her gloves and picked up her hat which she placed squarely on her head. The gold braid stood out against the shiny black brim. She checked her reflection again. Her medals all hung straight and gleamed under the lights. She made minute adjustments to her uniforms. She was ready with one minute to spare.
"Almost dad." Kacey said and hugged her father. "I love you daddy," she whispered. Liam sniffed.
"Tis not nice to make me cry lass." Liam said. "Now lets be getting ye married." Kate picked up a thin box from the table and handed it to Liam, who slipped it into his pocket. Liam opened the door.
"Attention" Marines in full dress uniforms lined the corridor. Kacey knew this was her Honor guard. Kate walked out first followed by Kacey and Liam. They waited in the doorway. "Line up" The Marines turned and lined up. Kate took her place behind the Marines. Kacey and Liam behind her as they started walking towards the lifts that would take them to the hall.
To be continued...
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