Aboard Andromeda, the crew watched as Kacey ran into what was left of the palace. They watched as the quake shook the ruins. Watched in horror as dust billowed out the same doorway Kacey had entered. Kate and Liam jumped to their feet. Eyes glued on the view screen. Each willing the familiar tall form to walk out of the dust. They were able to draw breath when the dust covered forms of Kacey and the Queen emerged. Kacey had her hand on the Queen's arm as the stumbled down the stairs.

"All ships report in." She spoke loudly into her communicator.

"Colonel we have found several pockets of survivors. The shuttles are picking them up now. The ground is very unstable and filled with fissures. Shuttles are having a hard time finding a place to land."

"Do your best." Kacey signed off. "Now your Majesty, time to get you out of here."

"As soon as I know all my people are safe, Colonel."

"You heard the report. Survivors are being picked up as we speak."

"I will leave when I have confirmation of their safety." The Queen argued.

"Your majesty, my job is to get you to safety. My commanding officers have ordered me to get you out."

"You are in my territory, Colonel. What ever orders your commanders gave you mean absolutely nothing here. I will remain."

"Damn it. They said you were stubborn, but no one said anything about being foolish." Kacey argued. "If anything were to happen to you, I will be held responsible and busted back to Private. I am not about to let that happen. Now you either get on board my shuttle under your own power or I will carry you."

"Colonel, I do not think you understand..."

Kacey bent down and with one hand under the Queen's knees and the other around her shoulders easily picked the smaller woman up. After a few stunned seconds of silence the Queen protested and banged her fist against Kacey's shoulders.

"Put me down, Colonel. I order you to put me down immediately."

"Shortly your Majesty." Kacey stated and continued down the stairs, with her precious bundle, as another quake hit. Stones fell around them. Several hit Kacey's head and shoulder as she ran down the stairs. She had one foot on the ramp when a large piece of stone hit her and knocked her off her feet. She dropped the Queen unceremoniously onto the shuttle floor. She lay dazed on the ramp. Rocks continued to fall.

Kate saw Kacey fall. "Damn it. Hanger this is the Captain. Get a shuttle ready. I will be right there. I need to get down to the surface.'

"Captain all shuttles are already on the surface."

"Call one back. I have to get down there. The Colonel is down."

"Katie, look, she's up."

Kate watched as hands helped Kacey to stand. Blood from her back and head clearly showed against the tan of her flight suit. Her left arm hung uselessly by her side. The ramp closed and seconds later the shuttle rose unsteadily. A large fissure opened just as the shuttle left the ground. The crew watched as buildings crumbled into the fissure. Some hitting the shuttle making it sway as it rose.

Inside the shuttle, Kacey sat in the pilot's seat and pushed the controls to take them up and away from the destruction below them. "Better sit down and strap in your Majesty. This is going to get bumpy." She said through gritted teeth. Her shoulder felt like it was on fire and her head pounded. She remained conscious by sheer will power.

"You need to let me take care of your injuries"

"No time. Put on those ear phones. " Kacey said her words slurred. "Shamrock to Andromeda. I have the Queen and we are heading up."

"Kacey are you all right?" Kate asked.

"I have one Hell of a headache Kate." Kacey struggled to keep a tenuous hold on consciousness as she piloted the shuttle to the hanger bay. Her pain increased with every movement. Her vision blurred She reached over and turned on the Auto Pilot.

"Captain, this is Queen Natalia. The Colonel is hurt worse that she is saying. She will need medical attention immediately."

"Can you pilot a shuttle?"

"No, but I can try." The Queen answered.

"My responsibility. I will get her back" Kacey protested.

"Kacey lassie don't you be stubborn." Liam ordered.

"Keep a light in the window dad, I am bringing her home."

The bridge crew watched the erratic course of the shuttle. "Get a tractor beam ready. As soon as they are within range bring them in." Kate ordered.

"Aye Captain."

"Captain to Sick Bay."

"Sick Bay Doctor Kipling."

"Doctor can you spare anyone to go to the hanger for an injured crewman?"

"Any possibility he can be brought here. We are swamped."

"It's Colonel O'Malley doctor and she is not on board yet."

"Do you know the extent of her injuries, Captain?"

"She was hit by falling debris and from what we can see, head, back and shoulder."

"I will be there immediately."

"Shamrock to Andromeda. ETA four minutes. May need some help Katie me darlin. I think the little people have been around. I see two ships. Must have had a wee drop too much of dad's whiskey." Kacey slurred in a slight brogue. Then lost consciousness.

"Captain, the Colonel is unconscious. What to do I?"

"Can you see a red light above the steering lever?"

"Red light, red light. Yes I see it."

"Good at least she set the auto pilot. The shuttle will take you within range and then we will grab you with a tractor beam and pull you the rest of the way in. Is she breathing?"

"Yes, but she is bleeding quite a bit from the head wound."

"We have a medical team waiting in the hanger for her. Make sure she is strapped in. Liam we need to get to the Hanger. Commander Torino you have the bridge."

Natalia felt the bump as the tractor beam latched on. She felt the ship being pulled into the hanger. As soon as the ship stopped she pushed the button to open the ramp which was dented by the debris and only opened halfway. Crewmen went to work with tools to force the ramp open. They could not force the ramp opened and had to resort to removing the hinges and take it off completely. Once opened several Marines rushed on board and lifted their unconscious leader out of her seat. They gently carried her making sure her spine was straight, and lay her on the waiting stretcher.

Kate and Liam arrived as the Marines were attempting to pry the shuttle ramp open. Liam held her out of the way as the ramp was removed. It was all Kate could do to stop herself from rushing on board. She knew she would only be in the way. She watched silently as the Doctor examined Kacey.

"Pupils uneven. Definite concussion. Lacerations to the left side of the head and back. Left shoulder," Kacey jumped with the pain. "Left shoulder is dislocated. Get her to Sick Bay immediately. Start cleaning all the cuts and lacerations. I am going to need four Marines to help set her shoulder." Every hand went up. "Preferably those with knowledge of how to set broken bones."

"We are Marines Doc. We are taught how to handle any situation." The Lieutenant stated.

"Pick out three men and meet me in Sick Bay in about an hour." The Doctor ordered. "Now your Majesty, any injuries that I should know about."

"Just some bumps and bruises and small cuts from falling rocks, and from when the Colonel dropped me."

"We will get you checked out also." He stated. "Captain, Commander, I will have more to report as soon as I can examine her fully."

"Carry on Doctor. Liam you had better break the news to mom."

"Aye lassie. Not a task I am looking forward to." He left shaking his head.

"Your Majesty, my apologies. I am Captain Jensen."

"No apologies needed Captain. It is a pleasure to meet you. This is all my fault."

"What is, your Majesty?"

"I argued with her. We lost precious time when I argued with her. If I had just got on the shuttle, she would not have been hurt. Do you know if all my people got to safety?"

"We are still looking. But the ground has become very unstable, the shuttles can not land. We have been able to take some of the overload off your vessels. We have them as comfortable as possible. Now let's get you to Sick Bay." Kate stated.

To be continued...

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