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CHAPTER 12 A
"Message coming through Colonel."
"On screen." Kacey said. The Chancellor's face appeared. "Good morning Chancellor."
"And to you Colonel. All is ready for you to land. I am sending you the coordinates to the landing area."
"We have them Colonel."
"We have received the coordinates, Chancellor." Kacey stated. "I ask your permission to launch our Shuttles before we land."
"Permission granted, Colonel. We have a special meal planned for tonight in your honor. You have also arrived during our Festival of Families. We would like to invite you to attend."
"Thank you Chancellor. We would be honored." It will take us about three hours to land and secure the ship."
"Then we will meet you in four hours."
"Four hours it is Chancellor." The screen went dark. "Lieutenant take us down."
"At one hundred kilometers, signal the Hanger to launch the Shuttles."
"Colonel O'Malley to Major Anderson."
"Mike, get all the Shuttles ready to launch at one hundred kilometers.. We will be landing shortly."
"All of them Colonel?"
"All of them, Mike including mine and the Captain's. You will fly the Captain's Shuttle out. Have Captain Taggart fly mine."
"Will do Colonel."
"Mike, tell Captains Taggart and Williams to wear their formal dress uniforms. All the others will wear dress blues. You three will be part of Captain Jensen's Honor guard."
"Rhea as Head of Security, I would like you to also be part of the Honor Guard. Choose two others to fill out the Honor Guard."
"I will take care of it, Colonel."
"Open ship wide channel."
"Channel open Colonel."
"This is Colonel O'Malley. We are preparing to land on the Gellary world. We will be planet side in approximately three hours. We have been invited to the Gellarians Festival of Families. All crew will be in their dress uniforms. Marines except for Major Anderson, Captain Taggart and Captain Williams will be in Dress Blues.
Andromeda had landed. Kacey left the Bridge and first went to her office to retrieve the shadow box of medals that hung on her office wall, before she headed to her quarters to shower and change.
Kacey entered her quarters to find her family already in their formal uniforms waiting for her. She handed the shadow box to Kate and kissed Natalia before she disappeared into the bedroom.
Twenty minutes later she came out carrying her hat, gloves, saber, belt and tunic. She sat on the love seat and took the medals Kate handed to her and pinned them on her tunic.
"That one goes on last, Kate. After I get my tunic on." She said, as Kate handed her the Medal of Honor. Kacey put on her tunic. Natalia helped her with the belt. Kacey looked into the mirror and made minor adjustments. She picked up the saber and clipped it to her belt. She went to Kate for the final medal. Kate handed it to Patricia.
"May I?" She asked Kacey. Kacey nodded and leaned down so that Patricia could fasten the short ribbon around her neck. "The day you were awarded this, was the day, I thought at the time, that I was the proudest of you. Today you make me prouder still."
Kacey took a ragged breath as she felt the tears fill her eyes. She bit the inside of her cheek to get her emotions under control.
"Thank you." She felt another tiny piece of hurt and anger break away. She managed to give Patricia a small smile before she turned to Kate.
"Is there some sort of protocol to follow for this face to face?"
"Yes. When we leave Andromeda, you will be flanked by the girls carrying flowers. As acting Captain, you will lead. Dad and I will be right behind you. Mom, Anya and Natalia will behind us. Major Anderson, Rhea and Bella after them as the Senior staff. Then the remainder of the crew and Marines will follow them."
"Is that line up carved in stone?" Kacey asked.
"I think you, as Captain, should have an Honor Guard. I have appointed my top three officers, Rhea and two others to make up the guard. I thought they could line the ramp as we walked down."
"Katie, I think that is a grand idea." Liam stated.
"All right, Kacey."
"One other thing, instead of walking behind me, would you walk at my side?"
"No. You are acting Captain. You handled First Contact. You will lead. That is carved in stone."
"What about introductions? Do I have to introduce everyone? I do not think I can remember every crew member's name."
CHAPTER 12 B
"Relax. All you have to remember is my name."
"You have not been cleared for duty yet."
"The doctor gave me the green light for this." Kate told her.
"Then you lead this procession."
"No you are the senior person on the ground."
"We agreed not to do that." Kacey protested.
"Today we are." Kate informed her.
"Do I salute him?"
"Follow his lead. If he salutes so do you. If he bows, you do. If he offers you his hand, shake it." Kate advised. "Now finish getting ready it is almost time."
"I do not think I can do this, Kate." Kacey stated with desperation in her voice.
"You can. Kacey it is Marine Mode time. I have full confidence I you."
Kacey closed her eyes for several heartbeats. She took a deep breath entered what Kate called Marine Mode. She squared her shoulders. They watched the visible signs that Kacey had assumed Command. She stood up and walked to the mirror. She pulled on her gloves and placed her hat squarely on her head. One last look that everything lined up and she turned.
"Ready Colonel?" Kate asked.
"Ready Captain." Kacey answered her voice steady.
The main ramp opened. The six member Honor Guard lined both sides of the ramp. Kacey stood at the top of the ramp flanked by her nieces who carried bouquets of wild flowers from their forest area. They would present the flowers to any woman on the council
They watched as large transports landed fifty meters from Andromeda. Dignitaries in colorful garment followed Chancellor Hime. Kacey started down the ramp followed by Kate and Liam and the rest of the Senior Staff. with the Honor Guard walking with the crew. They met the delegation at the halfway point.
The Chancellor stepped forward and bowed. Kacey followed his lead as Kate had advised her to.
"May I start the introductions, Colonel."
"I would like to introduce our Council Ministers. From the left Ministers, Willia, Forma, Ali, Rontia, Tibbi and Zill." Each minister stepped forward and bowed. Kacey returned each bow.
"It is my extreme pleasure to meet you all. With your permission, Chancellor, my nieces would like to present Ministers Willia and Forma with wild flowers from our forest area."
The Chancellor nodded. The girls walked forward and presented the two women with the bouquets, they bowed. When their bows were returned, they turned and walked back to Kacey's side.
"Chancellor at this time I would like to introduce the true Captain of Andromeda. Captain Kate Jensen." Kacey stepped aside as Kate stepped forward.
The Chancellor bowed, "Captain I heard you were injured . I am happy to see you sufficiently recovered."
"Thank you Chancellor. I would like to present my Senior Staff and members of the Honor Guard. My First Officer, and father Commander, Liam O'Malley." Liam stepped forward and bowed. My Chief of Security , Lieutenant Commander Rhea Torrino, Head of the Science Department and Star Navigator, Lieutenant Commander Anya Jensen. Chief Engineer Lieutenant Commander Bella Torrino, Chief Pilot Lieutenant Richard Minor. The Marine members of the Honor Guard Major Michael Anderson, Captain Jeremy Taggart and Captain Daniel Williams." Each person stepped forward and bowed. "At this time I would also like to introduce the rest of my family. My mother , Mrs. Patricia O'Malley. Colonel O'Malley's spouse, Mrs. Natalia O'Malley, Commander Jensen and my daughters, Erica and Erin Jensen.
" Captain, welcome to Gellary."
CHAPTER 12 C
The first of the command crew followed the staff down the ramp. Security and a squad of Marines stayed behind to guard Andromeda. They would trade off later in the day so that all members of the crew could enjoy the festival and the hospitality of their hosts.
The Command crew headed to their shuttles while the residents and staff climbed into the large transports. Kacey headed for her shuttle when Kate grabbed her hand and pulled her into the larger Captain's Shuttle.
"Not today Colonel. Today you are a passenger in my shuttle." Kacey shrugged and followed Kate.
"I am not cut out to be a good passenger, Kate."
"Today you will be. Relax and enjoy the ride."
The shuttles followed the transports to the city where the festival was held. Colorful lights, and music filled the streets. Vendors lined the walkways. Delicious smells wafted to them as they walked through the festival area. Kate and Kacey walked with the Chancellor as he pointed out various vendors, buildings and games.
The Gellarians were as multi colored as the lights around them. They saw shades of greens, blues, reds, and yellows.
"If I may ask, Chancellor, how is it you speak our language so perfectly?" Kacey asked.
"There are two reasons, Colonel. The first is that ancestors of my people spent many years living on Earth. Before you ask, we have the ability to change colors. You may have noticed there are many different colors and shades of colors among the Gellarians. We still have representatives and relatives living on Earth. You government is aware there are Aliens residing there."
"My daughters are excited about all the shade and colors they are seeing. To be perfectly honest Chancellor, so am I." Kate said
"You said there were two reasons, Chancellor?" Kacey asked.
"Yes, this badge we are all wearing is a translator. With these we can speak what ever language the person we are with is talking. It is programmed for over three thousand languages and dialects."
"Those would be fantastic to have in our travels, Kate." Kacey said.
"We will be more than happy to share our technology with you."
"Perhaps we can trade some of our technology with you in exchange." Kate stated.
"That would be acceptable, Captain. I have something else I would like to show you that we could trade for." The Chancellor led them to a row of machines. "Captain, you are on a very long journey. Food, drinks, even machine parts or clothing can be produced simply by stating what item you desire. Let me show you. What size tunics do your daughters wear?"
Kate looked at Anya for that information. "They wear a size four, Chancellor." Anya said with a smile.
"What is their favorite color?"
"This week it is blue."
"So now we tell the replicator two blue tunics size four." Within seconds two blue tunics materialized. The Chancellor picked them up and handed them to the girls.
"Thank you, Chancellor." They said together.
"You are most welcome."
"This machine will make anything you ask it for?" Kacey asked. "Even if it is not native to your world?"
"Try it Colonel. Do not forget we have had many years on Earth so our machines can make over two billion different items. What would you like, Colonel?"
"Coffee, black please."
The Chancellor turned back to the machine. "Coffee black." He said. With in seconds he held up a steaming cup of coffee. He handed the cup to Kacey who took a sip.
"This is delicious." She handed the cup to Kate who sampled the beverage.
"This is excellent." She did not return the container.
"All right, Kate, relinquish the coffee and no one will get hurt." Kate laughed and handed the cup back to Kacey. The Chancellor handed Kate another coffee.
"We will supply your ship with three dozen of these replicators. That way you can install them through out your ship."
"Thank you Chancellor. That is extremely generous, Chancellor."
"Can you put a price tag on friendship and alliances with other worlds?"
"No we can not. Tell me Chancellor, do you have any sort of problems with raiders or warring civilizations?"
"We have in the past. We also have had problems with space pirates who attack and raid our ships."
"We can show you how our shields work to avoid having your ships damaged. We can trade you a shield matrix, which while it will not protect your entire planet, it will protect your cities and can be converted to protect your flyers."
"That sounds like a trade that would be beneficial to both our worlds. We could always replicate more of those shield matrixes if we had one."
"Chancellor we would also like to negotiate the placement of a communication relay tower on Gellary. So that we can reestablish contact with Earth. It would be beneficial for both your world and Andromeda."
"We can negotiate the placement Captain. After we enjoy the festival."
They walked around the stalls. Sampled the various food, played games, and enjoyed meeting the citizens of Gellary. They all tried out the various rides and relaxed until the festival shut down for the night. They left their hosts and made their way back to the shuttles and transports. The festival would run for three more days with plenty of opportunities to further strengthen the ties and new friendships they had started.
Kate and the Chancellor decided to spend the next day in negotiations for trades. Give the Gellarians a demonstration of their shields and a tour of Andromeda.
Anya carried one of their sleeping daughters, while Liam carried the other as they walked out of the city. Kacey had one arm around Natalia, and the other around a large stuffed toy, she had won for Natalia. They were loaded down with items bought from the various vendors.
"So what is the schedule for tomorrow, Kate?" Kacey asked.
"At nine hundred hours we will have a demonstration of the shields. That will be followed by a tour of Andromeda. Break for lunch and then we will negotiate our trades. You and dad must be present for all three. For the negotiations, Anya and Rhea must also be present. We will meet at oh eight hundred hours for breakfast and discuss our strategy."
"I was afraid you would require my attendance."
"Buck up little sister, at least you do not have to wear your formals until the last night of the festival when they have a grand ball."
"Younger Kate. My formals need a good cleaning after today. Will fatigues be all right or should I wear my dress blues?"
"Fatigues will be fine, Kacey. Just think you will be able to wear your night formals for the ball. You have not had a chance to wear them yet." They entered the shuttle. Kate sat next to Kacey instead of her usual seat next to the pilot. "You can come out of Marine Mode now, Kacey." Kate told her.
"Was it that obvious?"
"Only to those who know you. I noticed that even when you seemed to relax and enjoy the festival, you were constantly watching the crowds around us."
"Yeah, well we all know what happens when I lose focus and do not pay attention to our surroundings."
Kate sighed. "Are you ever going to let go of the guilt?"
"Maybe someday when we are both old and grey with a dozen or so grandchildren running around." Kacey said. At Kate's frustrated look she continued. "Of course you will always be older and greyer than me."
"That will only be because you gave me all the grey hairs and worry lines." Kate said. They both laughed.
CHAPTER 12 D
The Gellarian Council gathered on the Bridge to watch the demonstration of the shields. The Bridge crew waited for the Captain's orders. Liam and Kacey sat in their chairs.
"Close all ramps." Kate ordered.
The tactical officer pushed buttons to close the ramps. After a minute she said. "Ramps closed Captain."
"Ready Captain. Shields at one hundred percent."
"On screen." The video screen in front of them lit up to show a shuttle a kilometer away. "Who is in the shuttle?"
"Major Anderson." Kacey responded.
"Andromeda to Major Anderson. Fire."
They watched the shot leave the shuttle. The Gellary Council ducked reflexively as the shot hit against the shields. The shot was blocked. Those on the Bridge felt the shot hit the shields.
"Could we see that again, Captain?"
"Certainly Chancellor." Kate said. "Major again."
They watched the second shot leave the shuttle. This time they followed it to the shields.
"What is the strength of your shields?"
"Right now the shields can handle a direct hit of one hundred fifty kilometers per second. Our shuttles and Stingers can handle one hundred KPS. Those shields are not as strong, but they have more maneuverability that Andromeda and can move out of the way faster. We are working to make all the shields stronger." Kacey stated.
"Very impressive Captain. I think we can come to an agreement on our trades."
After the demonstration, the crew gave the council a tour of the massive ship. The Gellarians were impressed by the massive engines, the Forest area, Safe Haven, Sick Bay and the Hospital. They found the store level interesting. The Hanger and Stingers really caught their attention. They watched a video of the Stingers in action. The Virtual Reality rooms were intriguing.
The tour took several hours with a break for lunch in the Mess hall, before they headed to the Conference Room to negotiations. The chairs around the table were full with Chancellor Hime and five of his top Council members on one side of the table. Kate, Kacey, Liam, Anya, Bella and Rhea as the senior staff on the other.
"Captain, I can assure you we will not try to take advantage of you in these negotiations."
"Neither will we, Chancellor. I have learned over the years, that stronger friendships and alliances are forged when both sides are treated fairly."
"There is a very old saying back on Earth that fits these negotiations perfectly. Let's haggle."
"Certainly Chancellor. Seeing as you are our guests on Andromeda, you begin." Kate said
"That shield matrix you demonstrated is worth more to us than three dozen replicators. We will increase that amount to five dozen. We will also install them for you and show you how to access the inventory."
"We will hook the shield matrix up to you power grid and show your people how to do repairs in ever needed." Bella offered.
"Thank you Commander. We will accept your help. Captain, how many service members do you have?"
"Four hundred twenty seven."
"We will furnish every man and woman on your crew with a translator badge in exchange for, what did you call that thing that can play any scene?"
"Virtual Reality. We have extra players, complete with a dozen different scenes and consoles that we will hook up for you." Kacey stated.
"Agreed, Colonel. That brings us to the tower you wish to erect. Exactly what will its function be?"
"It is a communications relay tower. It will help us reconnect with Earth. We have been out of communication range for several months. This tower will help us reestablish that contact. You also will be able to take advantage of that tower to talk to any people you still have on Earth."
"How much training did your pilots have to go through to learn to fly those Stingers?"
"Each pilot trained for several months before they were approved to fly the Stingers." Kacey stated.
"Can you pilot the Stinger, Colonel?"
"Yes sir, I can if the need arises. I prefer the shuttle because the cockpits on the Stingers are small and cramped. They were designed for a person shorter than I am."
"Would you be willing to trade one of your Stingers for erecting the relay tower?"
"If it were in my power to do so, Chancellor, I would. The flyers belong to the military and Space Agency. What I can do is give you copies of the schematics and the manuals needed to learn how to build and fly the stingers. I also have a Virtual Reality program so that any pilot can get training to fly. It is how we pilots learned before we even climbed into the cockpit. I can get consoles built so that the pilots will get the feel of the equipment." Kacey added. "We have also developed a scanner that has increased sensor range by a million kilometers. In addition I can add several personal scanners that will pick up electromagnetic fields as small as point one five megahertz. It will also pick up life signs of anything bigger than an insect. Although after our last stop, I may have to adjust that to include insects. Plus it will emit a small electrical charge that will discourage any predators."
"If I may ask, Captain. What happened on your last stop?"
"I accidently bumped into a nest and was stung by a hornet type creature and had a very bad reaction to it. We also had problems with other animals there, that became impervious to our phasic rifles. Do you know anything about those animals?"
"Unfortunately I do. Fifty years ago we had leaders who were greedy and wanted to claim more territory. The scientists under them genetically enhanced several Earth species. They would attack with out any sort of provocation. They were according to the scientists the perfect killing machines. Even the most docile of creatures would attack. Our leaders planned to release these creatures on unsuspecting worlds and let them decimate the population, making it easier to conquer them. As soon as their agenda became public knowledge, we worked to over throw those leaders. We were able to round up all the animals and released them on the uninhabited planet you stopped on, to live out their lives. We did not approve of the whole sale killing of any creatures. They would be allowed to die off. Unfortunately it seems they have thrived by themselves. We did have warning markers around the planet at one time."
"I am sorry to say, we did have to kill off a few of them after their attacks." Kate stated. "If as you say even the docile creatures were enhanced to attack, I am certainly happy I pulled you away from those zebra types."
"Do not worry Captain. You did this section of space a service."
"We also set out new warning markers." Kacey added.
"Thank you Colonel." The Chancellor stated. "Captain, I believe we have come to an agreement on you tower. We will allow you to erect your tower in exchange for the Stinger information Colonel O'Malley mentioned, and the scanners."
"I would say these negotiations have been very successful for both of us Chancellor." Kate stated.
"Certainly, Captain. Now I suggest we get back out there and enjoy our festival. We can a suitable place for your tower after the festival is over."
They all rose from the table and filed out of the Conference room. "Once a spot is chosen, how long do you estimate it would take to erect the tower?" The Chancellor asked.
"A few weeks at least. While our structural engineers are working we can help each other install the equipment we have negotiated today." Kate answered.
"That is agreeable, Captain."
To be continued...
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