Go to Prologue
Kacey walked into her quarters, set the privacy code on the door, then turned the music machine on. She selected an old rock disc and turned the volume up. She shed her uniform as she walked into the bedroom and emerged a few minutes later in a sleeveless shirt and frayed barely legal shorts. She took off her wrist communicator. Hesitated for just a second before she turned it off. She knew that was against regulations, but she found that she did not care. If there was an emergency, there are ways to get in touch with her. She tossed the communicator on the coffee table.
She donned worn boxing gloves and started punching the heavy bag. But even the workout did not shut off her mind. It was not often Kacey doubted her ability to command. It fact the number was three. Each time it came after some sort of confrontation with Kate. Kate who was command material. Being eight years older, Kate had that self assurance that Kacey felt she herself lacked. Kacey admired that quality and tried to emulate her older sister. Most often she thought she had fallen short even if no one had said it.
The only area that Kacey excelled at was music. Kate gave up piano lessons after only a few months. Music came easily to Kacey She was even graced with a decent singing voice. Kate could not carry a tune if her life depended on it. Yet Kate had the perfect marriage to a beautiful wife and two fantastic girls. Kacey had her music but little else. She had never felt that all encompassing emotion called love. That love that her parents had, and Kate and Anya had.
She continued to punch the bag until she felt the burn in her arms. She was breathing hard and sweating freely. She pulled off the gloves and headed to the shower. Under the pounding spray, she felt the pressures of the day wash away with the sweat. After several minutes she turned off the spray, wrapped a large towel around herself. She fluffed her short hair then dropped the towel and pulled on another sleeveless shirt and equally ragged shorts. She picked up her communicator, debated whether to turn it on or not. Decided not to. She dropped it back onto the coffee table and walked into the kitchen area. She pulled a bottle of brandy out of the cabinet, grabbed a glass and filled an ice bucket. She poured a healthy amount of brandy into the glass. She swirled the liquid around and took a large drink. Kacey felt the familiar burn as the brandy slid down her throat. Took the bottle and glass and set them down next to her communicator. She shut the music off, and went to another device. She programmed a series numbers into it. Picked up her violin, waited for the percussion and background music to start, before she started to play. The music sheet played out on the wall. The machine gave the impression that she had a full orchestra in her quarters instead of just her violin. She was soon lost in her music.
Kate sat behind her desk and read the three reports that had been sent to her. Each one stated the same story. Each person had different writing styles, but all said the same. Kacey's was crisp and concise. No embellishments, no extraneous wording. Just the plain facts. Kate could always count on Kacey getting right to the point. Even when they had to write reports for school, Kacey always went right to the heart of the matter.
She had not heard from Kacey since she left the Ready Room hours ago. Kate sent a note to Kacey's computer. Seconds later she was informed that the computer had been shut down. While she was on duty, the computer was never shut off. This bothered Kate. " The day had been stressful enough but you had to go and accuse her of not doing her job. Good job Kate." She chastised herself. "You know Kacey has always look up to you. She wanted to be just like you. Wanted to join the same branch for her mandatory service. But her test scores placed her into the Marines where she advanced quickly. She has a real talent for leadership. If she was able to go from Private to full Colonel in just eight years, there had to be the ability to lead. Then there was her music. She started taking violin lessons when she was six and quickly passed all her teachers." Kate continued to talk to herself. "Great job Katie. You are such a total ass sometimes. You need to fix this. She has the potential to be a great commander, maybe even make it to General and you go and undermine her confidence. Really nice work, Katie. You have to fix this. Now." Kate touched the communicator on her wrist. "Captain Jensen to Colonel O'Malley." She received no response. "Captain to Colonel O'Malley." She tried again with the same results.
Communicators were never to be shut off. It was against all regulations. "Okay, there may be something wrong with one of our communicators. Captain to Commander O'Malley."
"Aye Captain. What can I do for you?"
"Would you come to the Ready Room?"
"Be right there." Within seconds the door chimed.
"Something wrong Katie?" He asked.
"Have you seen or talked to Kacey since this morning?"
"No lass. She is probably busy with her crew." He stated.
"She would still answer her pages. But all I got was silence. You try."
"Commander O'Malley to Colonel O'Malley." Silence was the only answer. "Could hers be broken." Kate shrugged.
"Computer locate Colonel O'Malley's communicator."
"Colonel O'Malley's communicator is not in operation at the time."
"Computer locate Colonel O'Malley using skeletal match."
"Enter security code."
"Jensen Captain Alpha Zeta nine seven four two gamma."
"Colonel O'Malley is in her quarters."
"Liam you have the bridge . I need to talk to Kacey"
"You girls will work it out." Liam stated, as he patted Kate's shoulder and left the Ready Room followed closely by Kate. She walked to the elevator. "Deck four" She stated as the door closed.
Kacey was lost in her music. All problems went to the back when she played. Since she was a child she felt that nothing could touch her while she had her music. It was like she was surrounded by a force field. All problems were outside the field. She quickly lost track of time. Even when she dimly heard the door chime it did not penetrate the walls of the field. She knew no one could enter. She made sure her privacy code was in place. Only one other person knew that code. Nothing could force the code from her father. He would not use it unless there was some dire emergency. With her back to the door, she did not see it open. She was not even aware that Kate had entered. She picked up the glass and sniffed it. Kate waited patiently until Kacey finished playing.
"I have always like that piece." She said softly, clearly startling Kacey.
"HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET IN. I HAD THE PRIVACY CODE ON." Kacey yelled.
"Captain's privilege. No one gave me any codes. As Captain, I can override any security codes. We need to talk."
"Want to go for round two. Have a seat."
Kate pointed to the glass on the table. "How many of those have you had?"
"I am logged off duty, Captain. That is the first one." Kacey picked up the glass and took a drink. "So what do you want to talk about? The weather? How many stars we have passed? How incompetent I am?"
"I never said you were incompetent. I came to apologize to you. I went over the line by suggesting you would deliberately let a man like Sergeant Castor in a closed environment. I should have known better. You are a far better officer than that. I know how many times you went over your lists of candidates before you submitted them. How much work you went through to get the right people assigned to the ship."
"Apology accepted, Captain."
"You disappeared this afternoon." Kate stated.
"I finished my report, and everything is set for tomorrow. My work was done so I logged off." Kacey answered
"No one could locate you. Not even on the communicator."
"I did not want to talk to anyone so I turned it off. I was having what mom used to call my sulk time."
"I tried to reach you. Liam tried. You know it is against..."
"Against regulations to ever turn the communicator off. Yes I am aware of that. So are your going to put me on report or write me up?"
"I should, but you know I can be bribed."
"How much is it going to cost me Captain. Do you want me to make an announcement that I am an ass, or that I broke the rules? Money? " Kacey asked.
"Look can we drop the Captain, Colonel bullshit routine, please?" Kate asked. "As for my price, just some of your very excellent brandy. No ice."
Kacey got up, went to the kitchen and picked another glass and the container of ice. She placed them both on the table. She poured a generous measure into Kate's glass and handed it to her. Poured more into her own glass and added ice.
"Kacey, I know that because of what I said to you, you were doubting your abilities to command."
"I did do a lot of thinking about that." Kacey admitted.
"Kacey you are a damn fine commander. Do you honestly think you would have attained the rank of Colonel if you did not have what it takes? You deserved every rank you achieved."
"I had to work harder to just prove myself." Kacey admitted.
"We come from a military family Kate. Your father was an Admiral. You are a Captain. Dad is a Commander. That is quite a legacy I had to live up to. There was a lot of noise from some who thought that my family's History was the only reason I was promoted so quickly. Just to prove myself, I had to work harder, put in longer hours, grasp concepts quicker. Who knows maybe it is true."
"That is total bull shit Kacey. You earned each and every rank. I had those rumors also. There were other Captains who said the only reason I was given command of the Andromeda was because my father was an Admiral. Did not matter that I was just a child when he died.
"So how do you deal with it? Keep it from getting to you?" Kacey asked.
"By doing the very best possible job I can do. I know at the end of the day, that I have crossed every 't' dotted every 'i'. Making sure I follow every major rule to the letter and only slightly bend some of the minor ones. That, and knowing I can visit my baby sister and drink her excellent brandy."
"Younger sister Kate, younger sister. So are we good?"
"We're good. But Kacey remember you cannot turn off your communicator again. Eventually doing things like that, will reach channels above my head that brandy can not fix no matter how excellent it is." She poured herself another. Kate held her glass toward Kacey and they clinked glasses.
"So what are we going to do about Sergeant Castor? I know dad is supposed to pick a third person for the Tribunal, but because I witnessed his actions, I have to excuse myself from serving. At least for this case."
"We can have a meeting with him tomorrow to set some sort of parameters. I really hoped we would never have to use this. But if it had to happen I am glad it happened early in the voyage."
"Well those guidelines we were given are just that, guidelines. We can set this up however works best for us." Kacey stated.
"We will also need to see if anyone on board knows law. Even a scumbag like the Sergeant deserves representation."
"Dad will have to be told about needing two people instead of one. Maybe even selecting alternatives in the event someone is unable to serve."
"Bridge to Captain Jensen." Kate's communicator came to life.
"Go ahead Bridge." She responded
"We have an incoming message from High Command for you and Colonel O'Malley. We are unable to reach the Colonel."
"We will be there shortly." Kate put her glass down. "Guess we are back on duty Kacey. You might want to change. That outfit is definitely not legal outside your quarters." Kacey walked into her bedroom and returned shortly in her fatigues. "Oh and Kacey turn your communicator on."
Kacey grabbed her communicator off the table, turned it on and put it on her wrist. They walked out the door together.
To be continued...
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