Kacey was finally released from Sick Bay three days later. There was some discussion if she would be allowed as the Doctor did not want her to be alone. Finally Patricia was able to convince him that she would not be left to her own devices. Then came the argument on how she would leave. Kacey wanted to walk out, but the Doctor insisted on a hover chair. Patricia and Kate sided with the Doctor. Finally after several go rounds, Patricia put her foot down.

"Kirsten Campbell O'Malley, get in that chair immediately and stop all this foolishness." Patricia ordered.

Giving up Kacey simply said "yes ma'am" and sat in the chair.

Kate pushed the hover button which raised the chair six inches off the floor.

The Doctor handed Patricia several pages of instructions. "I will be by daily to check on your progress Colonel. Page me if anything suspicious occurs."

"Thank you Doctor." Kate said and gave the chair a gently push. The chair rode on jets of air which made for a smooth ride. They headed to the elevators. "Deck four" Kate said. The lift took then to the deck when the officers were quartered. The door opened.

"Ten hut."

When the doors opened Kacey was surprised to see her Marines in full dress uniforms lining the corridor. They saluted as she passed by. Kacey returned their salutes. By the time she reached her quarters her eyes were full of tears. The Lieutenant opened the door to her quarters. Saluted then dismissed the Marines.

"Thank you Lieutenant."

"Welcome home Colonel."

Inside her quarters was another welcoming committee. Liam, Anya, Natalia and her nieces were waiting for her. Welcome home banners were hanging from the ceiling. There were hundreds of messages and cards from the crew. One banner held the signatures of the former residents of Marcus Prime who were housed on Andromeda. The signatures surrounded that of the Queen.

"What made her smile the biggest was when her mother handed her the first cup of coffee she was allowed to have since she was injured. She smelled the brew as if it were a fine brandy before she took a sip. "Thanks mom. This is positively orgasmic," she stated. Having been denied any sort of stimulants while she was in Sick Bay. She totally loved every sip.

"Mummy what is orga...orgam. what aunt Kacey said." Erica asked

Kacey had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. "Orgasmic. It means I really, really like it. How did you get the Doc to okay this?"

"He agreed to you having coffee in moderation. No more that two cups a day." Patricia stated "You will follow his orders"

"Of course I will mom" Kacey readily agreed thinking about how big a cup she could find.

"Natalia has offered to stay with you." Kate stated.

"That will not be necessary. Really your Majesty I do not need a baby sitter."

"Lets see what the instructions say." Patricia pulled out the pages the Doctor gave her. "Must not be left alone. Unless of course you want to stay with your father and I"

"All right, you win. I would be more comfortable here. Your Majesty my quarters are your quarters. It will give us a chance to get to know one another." Kacey stated.

"I would like that very much, Colonel, but please call me Natalia. As I have said before, I am now a Queen without a country to run."

"Then call me Kacey"

"We really should get you into bed to rest." Patricia stated.

"Mom I have been resting for days. I would like to sit up for awhile. Besides I have not finished my coffee yet. And I really could use some of whatever that is I can smell cooking. After days of clear liquids I am more than ready for something solid."

"All right dear. You eat first than rest. Agreed?"


"Then time to get you to the table and get you fed."

"We have chocolate cake for desert" Erin stated.

"With ice cream." Her sister Erica finished.

Kate pushed Kacey to the table that was already set. Patricia carried the soup tureen to the table. Anya filled everyone's bowls. The soup was thick, filled with noodles and vegetables. Liam carried a tray of drinks and handed them out. Wine for the ladies, a whiskey for himself and milk for the girls. To Kacey's consternation, he placed one in front of her. Kacey shook her head and went to say something, but one look from Patricia stopped her.

After they finished eating desert, they moved into the living room area. Patricia noted the furrows of pain in Kacey's face. "When was your last pain medication?" Patricia asked

"I am not sure. Before I left Sick Bay." Kacey responded.

"Then it is time. You should rest for awhile now."

"You may be right mom." Kacey admitted. She had been fighting the discomfort in her shoulder and it had grown into something she could no longer ignore. That signaled the end of the celebration. Anya left with the girls while Kate helped Kacey into the bedroom.

Patricia followed them and went to the dresser to get Kacey's sleep clothes. She picked up a ragged sleeveless t shirt and equally ragged shorts. Patricia held them up. "Good lord, Kacey these will not even cover you. Don't you have any pajamas?"

"Sure you are holding them mom." Kacey answered innocently.

"These look like hold overs from your basic training days."

"Actually from my Academy days. They are and they are comfortable. Besides with the brace they will be easier to get in and out of."

"She does have a point there mom." Kate agreed

After they helped Kacey into her sleep clothes and then into bed, Natalia brought in a glass of water and some pills. Kacey took them without argument.

"You get some rest. Your father and I will check back later with your dinner."

"Will it be all right if I sit with her for awhile?"

"Of course. We will finish cleaning up." Patricia said and they left the room.

"Can I ask you something Colonel?"

"Kacey please. You can ask me anything."

"Did you mean it?"

"Did I mean what?" Kacey responded.

"What you said twice in Sick Bay? That you thought I was beautiful?"

"Do you mean no one has ever said that about you?"

"No. I have been told that I was cute or perky but never beautiful." Natalia admitted

"Then you have been deprived. Because you are very beautiful. I hope you believe me."

"In a way I do, but every time you have said it, you were injured or under the influence of medication. Say it when you are clear headed and I will believe you."

"Will not change my mind in...." The medicine kicked in and Kacey drifted off.

Natalia watched her sleep for a minute then left the room. Patricia was seated at the table with a pot of tea. An empty cup across from her. She pointed to the empty seat in invitation. Natalia smiled and sat down.

"Tea?" Patricia ask.

"I would love some Mrs. O'Malley."

"Patricia please. Is Kacey sleeping?"

"Yes. We were talking and she fell asleep mid sentence."

"I just glad they can give her something for the pain. She will rarely admit to being in any sort of pain unless a body part is falling off. It is that never show weakness of any sort, Marine training." Patricia said. "Tell me a about yourself."

"Not a whole lot to tell. After my great grand mother relocated her people to Marcus Prime they spent the early years terra farming .They lived in tents and small cottages made from the space huts that they had brought with them. They mined stone and built the city. The palace was more like a large house instead of those opulent buildings royals used to have. No crystal chandeliers no fancy china. The Queen lived just as her people did. She was sixty when she died. I never had the chance to know her. My grandmother fell ill when I was two. She abdicated and my mother was made Queen. A position she held for almost twenty years. By that time we as a people flourished. Everyone was equal. The relay towers kept us in touch with Earth. Several times a year ships would bring supplies that we could not produce ourselves. Then three years ago a weird virus that we had no immunity to swept through. Many people died. It was gone as quickly as it appeared.

My mother was one of the last ones to get sick. She knew she was going to die and she abdicated to me. We mourned and buried our dead and life went on. Until the quakes started."

"That makes you about twenty five?"
"Yes I am."

"What will you do now?"

"I could return to earth with my people. But that is not my home. I was born on Marcus Prime. It was the only home I have ever known. Now it is gone."

"You could always talk to Kate about staying on board."

"I could, but..."

"I have an ulterior motive, Natalia. Kacey has never shown the least bit of interest in any other person, man or woman outside the family. I can not recall her ever going on a date or parties with her friends. She always kept busy with school work, her music and the Marines. I thought she would do her mandatory service then join the symphony. The violin is her true passion. But she stayed with the Marines. She made it to full Colonel in eight years. I would never have considered her to be a lonely person until now." Patricia admitted.

"Why now?

"She is very taken with you. Kacey would never say another person was beautiful. Then she said you were the girl of her dreams."

"She was hurt and in a lot of pain at the time."

"Does not matter. If she said it she meant it. She is a very honorable person."

"I did ask her if she meant it, but the medicine was kicking in so I told her to tell me when she was clear headed."

"Give her time. She will say it again. What about you? Have you ever considered a relationship with another woman?"

"I have never really thought about being in a relationship with any one, man or woman. Never had the time."

"Well if you decided to stay, you will never find a more honorable person that Kacey. I am not saying that because she is my daughter. She takes every word of her oath to heart. She would never betray you in any way."

"I think I would like to get to know her better." Natalia admitted.

"You can not do that if you are on earth and she is out here among the stars. This mission is supposed to last at least three years. That would give you plenty of time to get to know each other."

"I will think about it, Patricia."

"Besides clothes, is there anything you need?"

"I can not think of anything at this time. I have clothes in one of my ships, but I am not sure which one."

"We will get you some from our stores."

They finished their tea and Patricia left. Natalia wandered around Kacey's quarters. She picked up a stack of papers and looked through them. Not being musical in any way, she did not understand any of what she looked at. Placing the papers exactly as she found them she leaned against the arm of the couch and dozed off.

To be continued...

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