Kate, Liam and Patricia stepped off the elevator and walked directly into the ready room. Liam pulled a chair around to the back of the desk for his wife and helped her sit down. Kate sat next to her with Liam behind them. "Computer replay the video of Colonel O'Malley's mission from take off to landing."
"Searching for video." Desk top computer came to life. The video started with Kacey's order, 'all pilots to your ships. Prepare to launch'. Through Kate's private message."
They watched the ships take off. Followed their course to the planetoid. Saw Kacey land her shuttle at the foot of the stairs that led into the palace. They saw her exit the shuttle and speak to some of the residents. Watched as she rushed up the stairs into the palace. Saw and heard her talk to the queen. They witnessed the quake hit and their run for the door. Patricia's eyes filled with tears. Liam placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Computer pause playback." Kate ordered "Mom are you sure you want to continue?" Her answer was a pointed look from her mother. "Computer continue play back."
The video restarted. Through the billowing dust they watched Kacey and the queen run out the door. Heard the argument, heard Kacey's threat and follow through as she picked up the queen and started up the ramp. Patricia cried out as the debris hit Kacey and knocked her down. Waited for her to rise with the helping hands of the queen. The video continued . "Oh my God" Patricia exclaimed as they saw the fissure open up seconds after the shuttle lifted off.
Through the erratic journey back to the Andromeda. The all had to chuckle at Kacey's comment about the little people and the whiskey. The play back ended with the shuttle landing in the hanger.
Patricia sat with her hands over her eyes and shook her head. Tears coursed from beneath her hands.
"Mom?" Kate spoke. "Patsy darling." Liam spoke at the same time.
After several minutes of silence Patricia looked at them. "So close... so very close. We almost lost her and for what? An oath she took?" Patricia started to yell. "An order given by an idiot General who is sitting safe and sound on his fat ass behind his desk back on Earth."
"Patsy darling don't do this..."
"Do what Liam. Don't hate that bastard General who gave Kacey that God damn order. That order almost killed our daughter." Patricia hollered. Don't you dare ask me not to hate him. Our daughter is laying in sick bay with serious injuries because of him. And Kate you were going to go after your sister. Risk your life to bring her back. I could have lost you both." At that point Patricia broke down and sobbed in her husband's arms.
"Bridge to Captain"
Kate sighed. "Go ahead bridge."
"Admiral Tacker insists on talking to you"
"I had better take this. Liam take mom back to your quarters?"
"No I want to go back to sick bay to be with Kacey" "Then that is where ye shall be Patsy Darlin." Liam escorted Patricia out of the room. Before the door closed her said, "Remember Katie he is your commanding officer." "Patch the Admiral through." "Captain I have been waiting for over two hours."
"With all due respect Admiral" Kate interrupted. "I was in sick bay with Colonel O'Malley who was seriously injured rescuing the queen."
"I did not know about that Captain."
"Well Admiral now you do. You will have my full report as soon as I know my sister is out of danger. For right now you will have to make do with The Queen is safe aboard Andromeda. There a hundreds of minor injuries and several serious injuries. Mission accomplished." She signed off before he had a chance to respond and left the ready room.
"I will be in sick bay Commander Torino if anyone but the Admiral needs me."
"Aye Captain. How is the Colonel?"
"Banged up but the doctor says she will be fine. Thanks for asking."
The lights were still dimmed in Kacey's room Her family sat quietly around the bed. Anya held their twin daughters on her lap. Kate walked into the room and the girls ran to her. She knelt down to hug them.

"Mummy when is Aunt Kacey going to wake up?" Erin asked.

"Shh. You have to be really quiet so we do not disturb her. She will wake up when she is ready. So we have to let her wake up on her own. Okay?"

"Yes mummy," both girls answered softly.

"Any change?" Kate asked.

"A bit of movement but nothing more. We expect the doctor will be in shortly." Anya said.

Kacey opened her eyes and cleared her throat, as the doctor walked in.

"Welcome back Colonel." He said.

"Damn Doc what the hell are you yelling for?" Kacey asked. "Was my hearing damaged?"

"Colonel, that is all part of having a concussion. Sensitivity to sounds and light. I have to ask you a few questions to make sure your brain was not rattled too much."

"Sure Doc but softly."

"What is your name."

"Do you want my full name or will the shorten version do?" "Either one will do." "Kacey O'Malley." "Good. Where are you?"
"Sick back on Andromeda."

"On a scale of one to ten with ten being intense, what is your pain level?"

"Twelve. How about some of that joy juice you give out for pain?"

"Not yet Colonel. Do you have any nausea?"
"No thirsty though."

"Well I just happen to have some ice chips with me. That is all you can have for now." He handed the glass to Patricia who spooned the chips slowly into Kacey's mouth.

"Thanks mom."

"More sweetheart?"

"No. Tired... So tired mom." She closed her eyes and slept.

"She will be in and out for a few days. Everything looks fine. Tomorrow we can give her something for the pain."

"Bridge to Captain"

"Damn it. Go ahead Bridge."

"Captain we are still monitoring the quakes on Marcus Prime. The last one was eight point nine. The geologists say were are still too close and advise we back off another two hundred fifty thousand kilometers."

"Do it. Advise all the ships to follow us. Contact the rescue ships of our new coordinates. Keep me posted."

"Aye Captain"
"Captain if I could make a suggestion that you all go get something to eat and some rest. Especially if you plan on keeping watch tonight. There will be someone with her, the Colonel will not be left alone."

"Katie darling, the Doctor is right." Liam sated.

"I agree also Kate. The girls need to have dinner and we need to find quarters for Natalia."

"I am so sorry your ma... Natalia."

"Please do not apologize Captain. You have all had more important matters on you minds then where I would sleep."

"Mummy", Erica interrupted, "She can use Aunt Kacey's quarters. She won't need them because she is here."

"From the mouths of babes." Liam stated. What do ye think Katie. Kacey did offer her quarters before."

Kate looked at Patricia who nodded. "Sure, she will not need them for a few days. Are you all right with that Natalia?"

"That will be fine Captain." Natalia answered.

"We will take you there after everyone gets something to eat. We may even be able to find you some other clothes to change into. Liam would you take everyone to the dinning hall?" "Of course Darlin. What about you?"

"I will be right there. Just give me a minute."

"Ye all have your orders girls, let's go." He ushered everyone out the door except for Kate and Patricia. Natalia hung back. "Captain would it be all right if I stay here with Colonel O'Malley?" "That depends, Natalia. When did you last eat?" "What day is it?" "In that case Natalia, please join the family for dinner." Patricia stated". "Natalia we have all learned that there are times when you should just say 'yes ma'am' and go with the flow." Kate said. Natalia smiled. "Yes ma'am, thank you." Kate bent down and whispered into Kacey's ear. "You hang in there little sister. That is an order." She straightened and walked to the door.

Patricia whispered in her daughter's other ear. "You listen to me Kirsten Campbell O'Malley, I will not accept anything less that your full recovery. I love you sweetheart." Patricia kissed her daughter's cheek and left the room with Kate and Natalia.

To be continued...

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