Go to Prologue
Saturn was two days away. They could see it on the view screen as long range scanners picked up the gas giant. They would land on Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons to upgrade the relay tower. They would need to check the dome that had been placed there years ago, before any work could be done. If the protective dome was functional, some of the residents would be allowed off Andromeda. Otherwise only crew members in full protective EVA suits would be allowed on the surface.
Life on board became routine as everyone went about their daily tasks. When Andromeda was on the surface, the Shuttles and Stingers would run around the clock guard flights.
Kacey sat in her office working on their schedules. Barring any storms the repairs would take about ten days. The crew would also make any repairs to the dome if needed. She had seventy one smaller ships, counting her own, at her disposal for the guard flights. Maybe, Kacey thought,maybe I can talk Natalia into taking a ride. She has not been on the shuttle since Marcus Prime. Kacey found married life exciting. It did not take long for them to develop a routine. Natalia was taking cooking lesson from Patricia. Once or twice a week they would get together as Patricia taught Natalia how to make Kacey's favorite meals.
She herself was all thumbs in the kitchen. Kate was the same. Luckily both of Patricia's daughters in law showed an interest in cooking. While she and Kate could only appreciate the final results. Granted, they could both manage a couple simple items like scrambled eggs and toast. Anything more complicated was beyond either of them.
Her communicator beeped. "Kacey?" Natalia's voice came over.
"Yes sweetheart, what can I do for you?"
"Will you be late tonight?"
"I should not be."
"Good we are having company for dinner tonight."
"That means you and mom have been busy today."
"We have. What time can I expect you?"
"I should be done in another hour."
"Good. Love you." She stated,
"Love you right back." Kacey said. The communicator went silent.
Kacey returned to her schedules. She added her name to the roster. She scanned the read outs of the latest reports on Saturn. Long range sensors have the winds on Saturn to be holding at twelve hundred KPH. The temperature at minus two hundred fifty degrees. Nothing they had in EVA equipment would protect the Engineers from those extremes. The domes would at least keep the Engineers out of the cold and wind if the generators were functioning properly.
The domes on the outer planets were put into place years ago. The farther they travelled, the colder the planets would be, until they reached the Kuiper Belt. Then hopefully they would find places to land that were not in the deep freeze. They would reach the belt by late Summer if they did not run into any trouble.
Great strides were made in space travel during the last hundred fifty years. A journey that would have taken 30 or more years could now be done in months.
Kacey finished her schedules and shut done her computer. She glanced at her watch. She was proud of herself. She finished ten minutes early. She left her office to make her way to her quarters.
"Bridge to Colonel O'Malley."
"Damn it." She swore. "Go ahead Bridge."
"Colonel you are needed on the Bridge."
"On my way" Kacey said. She pushed the private talk button on her communicator. "Natalia"
"Hi. Are you done for the day?"
"I thought I was, but I just got called to the Bridge."
"Kate, Anya and Liam were called also."
"Sorry about dinner."
"That is all right. It will not be ready for ninety minutes. You have time. Your mom and the twins are here. We will see you when you get everything take care of."
Kacey got off the lift and walked onto the Bridge. Kate pointed to her chair.
"What is going on?"
"Check it out." Kate told her and pointed to the view screen.
"What the hell? Is that an asteroid field?"
"Looks like it."
"What is it doing way out here? It is huge. Do you have any information on it Anya?" Kacey asked.
"It is almost half a million kilometers long and two hundred fifty thousand kilometers wide."
"So what do we do now?"
"We go around it of course." Kate said. "There is no damn way we can go through it without doing irreparable damage to Andromeda. Plot a course around it." Kate ordered.
"That will take us off course for Saturn, Captain."
"Can not be helped."
"How far away from Saturn is it?" Kacey asked.
"About ten hours, Colonel."
"If we change course we will have to approach Titan from another direction."
"Still have no choice. Andromeda is to big to take through it."
"Captain, the new course is plotted. It will add about thirty hours to our course."
"Anya are there any life signs hiding in the rocks?" Kacey asked.
"Sensors are not picking up any at this time. We may be to far away."
"Does not matter if there are life signs or not. We are not going any closer to those rocks." Kate snapped.
"Just wondering Kate." Kacey said defensively and quickly changed the subject. They had not fought for several weeks, which could very well be a record for them "How are the new sensors working Anya?"
"Very well Kacey. It picked up the rocks long before the older one would have."
"Good let me know if you see any fluxuations in it." Kacey said and stood up. "If you do not need me, I am officially off duty."
"Kacey wait. I would like to talk to you." Kate said and led the way into her Ready Room.
Kacey looked at Anya and Liam who both shrugged. She hesitated before she followed Kate.
To be continued...
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