Go to Prologue
They took the opportunity while they waited to hug each other. Kacey picked both girls up so they could both put their arms around their Aunt Natty.
Anya shook her head. "Kacey they are getting too heavy for you to pick them both up together." Anya told her.
"These two bundles of giggles are not that heavy, although if grandma keeps feeding them cookies they will be."
"Jealous Kacey?" Patricia asked.
"Hell yes mom." She replied.
"Well you might get cookies more often if you learned to behave yourself." Natalia told her with a gleam in her eyes.
"She has your number lass." Liam stated.
"Maybe Natalia can keep you on the right path and keep you back side out of Sick Bay." Kate stated.
"Hey isn't anyone on my side?" Kacey asked.
"We are Aunt Kacey" The girls said together. Kacey ducked behind Erin's head and stuck her tongue out at Kate.
"Kacey do not be teaching our children any of your bad habits." Anya chastised her.
"Thank you rug rats. At least I know you love me."
"Do you want a little cheese with that whine, dear?" Patricia asked.
"Why do you have some on you?" Kacey joked.
"Aunt Kacey is it 'ficial now?" Erin asked.
"Yes it is official. Aunt Natty and I are married."
"When are you going to have kids?" Erica asked.
Kacey cleared her throat. "What have you been telling them Kate?"
"Not a thing, Kacey, I swear. They figured it out all by themselves."
"Is that right you little demons?"
"Yes." Erin said. "Grandma and grandpa are married and mummy and you are their kids."
Erica continued. "Mama and mummy are married and they have us. So now you and Aunt Natty are married, you will be having kids."
Kacey cleared her throat again. "Things are not that simple. But your mothers can tell you all about that when you are older." She put the girls down. "I think we are ready to go in" She said as the doors opened. They lined up.
They heard the announcer. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Commander Liam and Mrs. Patricia O'Malley." They walked into the room. "Miss Erica and miss Erin Jensen" The girls followed their grandparents. "Captain Kate and Lieutenant Commander Anya Jensen" They walked into the room. "In their first public appearance as a married couple, Colonel Kirsten and Mrs. Natalia O'Malley." Hand in hand they walked into the room as all the guests stood and applauded. Kacey looked at the video screens and saw the Joint Chiefs and former residents of Marcus Prime joining in.
They took their places at the head table. Kacey pulled out Natalia's chair. She removed her hat. "I hope they feed up soon or I will start to eat the butter." Kacey said softly. A waitress came over and took their drink order. "Seltzer with a spritz of lemon." Kacey said. Natalia looked at her. "I will take the same." She said.
"Why not have your usual brandy?"
"I will after we eat. If I have a drink now, I will be under the table before the first dance." Kacey told her.
"Why didn't you eat breakfast at least."
"I woke up too late. I barely had time to get dressed."
"Just how late did you sleep?"
"It was after eleven hundred hours."
"You never sleep that late. Are you feeling all right?"
Kacey told her what had transpired after she was escorted to her quarters. She finished with, "I did not set the wake up call. Then I found I needed to polish my shoes and saber. That is when Kate arrived and hurried me along. I did manage to get a bite or two of lunch and a sip of cold coffee."
The waitresses went through and filled the glasses with wine and juice. Kate stood up when all the glasses were filled.
"I have watched Kacey go from a skinny little kid who used to follow me around, to a teenager who at fourteen was taller that I. Then watched as she entered the Marine Academy and four years later watched as she gave the Valedictorian address at her graduation. I have watched her career as a Marine Officer. Through the years we have had many arguments and there will probably be hundreds more. Even at our worst, I have always been proud of my little sister, but never more proud as I am right this minute. Natalia, you are a strong woman. You have to be in order to deal with Kacey To my little sisters Kacey and Natalia, may you have many years of love together." Kate lifted her glass in their direction. Everyone in the room did the same.
Kacey stood up. "Thank you Kate. There is only one thing I would like to say so that we can get this party started. Younger sister, Kate, younger sister." She sat back down. Many in the room laughed.
The food was delicious when they were finally able to eat. It could not have been any different, with Patricia at the helm driving the kitchen staff crazy as she made sure everything was just right.
The orchestra leader took the stage . Kate leaned over and whispered to Kacey "Put your hat and gloves on Colonel."
"You will find out. Just do it. You will have to do it when you get up to dance so it just a little early. Protocol remember?"
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I direct you attention to the video screens. It seems we have a little business to do before we start the dancing."
General Millhouse smiled down at them. "On behalf of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Tracher, the former residents of Marcus Prime and myself, we want to wish you a long and happy life together. It is also our pleasure to announce that everyone who took part in the difficulties with the Megarans has a commendation in their files as well as a pay increase. I would like to single out the following Marines. I ask that they stand when their names are called. Major Michael Anderson, Captain Jeremy Taggart, and Captain Daniel Williams. These men were instrumental is bringing down the E.M. field that held the Andromeda captive. Captain would you do the honors."
Kate stood up. "With pleasure General." She picked up three slender boxes from the table. She went to each Marine standing, opened the box before she handed the medal to them. She shook their hands. Liam handed her a fourth box. She walked on stage.
"Colonel O'Malley would you join me onstage?" Kacey shook her head no. "Do I need to make it an order Colonel?" Kacey sighed, stood, pulled her gloves on straighter and straightened her tunic. Ram rod straight she climbed the stairs and walked across to where Kate waited.
The General spoke again. "Colonel O'Malley, your actions to save Andromeda during the Megaran difficulties went above and beyond your oath as a Marine officer. I have read all the reports and viewed all the footage of the face off. I am certainly happy the little people stayed away from this one." He joked. "Captain it is in your hands now."
"Thank you General. Colonel Kirsten Campbell O'Malley, on behalf of a grateful crew, it is my great pleasure to award you the United World Medal of Valor." Kate opened the box and removed the medal and ribbon. "Bend down Colonel. I still will not stand on my toes to put this over your head." Kacey laughed and bent down. Kate slipped the ribbon over her head. "Congratulations Colonel. I am proud to be your big sister." Kate hugged Kacey The room erupted in applause.
"Older sister, Kate." she said softly. "Do I need to say anything?"
"It would be nice."
Kate stepped back as Kacey stood behind the microphone. The crowd quieted. "I want to thank the Joint Chiefs for this honor. It was a team effort. We could not have accomplished what we did without the cooperation of the entire crew of Andromeda. Which includes all the Bridge crews, Captain Jensen, Commander O'Malley, Commander Anya Jensen, Commanders Rhea and Bella Torino, and my fellow Marines. The only way we could have won was with their help. Thank you again."
She stepped away from the microphone. The guests were on their feet as applause erupted again. Kacey waved to everyone. Together they walked off the stage. Natalia met them at the bottom of the stairs and kissed her.
"Did you know about this?"
"No I didn't"
Kacey looked up at the screen. She came to attention and saluted the General. He returned the salute. The orchestra took their positions. Kacey reached to take the medal off.
"Leave it on please." Natalia said.
"Just for your sweetheart."
"Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't you supposed to wear all your medals when you are in formal dress?"
"Technically yes. Only the Medal of Honor is worn around the neck. All others are pinned to the tunic. "
"So the next time you are in full dress you will wear them all."
"It would mean taking down one of mom's display, but yes I will, just for you."
To be continued...
Return to the Academy