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CHAPTER 13 A
The festival ended on a high point as the Gellarians held a formal dance for any members of Andromeda's crew to enjoy. For the first time in their journey, Kacey wore her evening formal uniform, complete with formal cape which Natalia loved.
The large open area in the meadow, halfway between Andromeda and the city was transformed. Banks of replicators were set up for food and drink. The large bandstand under the lights held the forty member Gellarian orchestra. Their music filled the meadow.
Gellarians in their colorful outfits showed the visitors how to do their dances, while the visitors reciprocated by showing their hosts the dances popular on Earth. There were many similarities as the Earth's influences showed through.
The multicolored uniforms of the crews dress uniforms dotted the dance floor. Kacey stood off to the side as she watched the dancers. She held a cup of coffee in her hand. Anya, after Kate whispered in her ear, asked Natalia to dance. Kate went to Kacey's side.
"That was not very subtle, Kate." Kacey stated as her eyes scanned the crowd.
"Relax, Kacey and enjoy yourself." Kate ordered.
"I am enjoying myself Kate. And I am as relaxed as I will allow myself to be."
"What are you drinking?"
"Why are you only drinking coffee when you can have anything you want?"
"Maybe I only want to drink coffee. Did you eve think of that?"
"Is that the truth?"
"You know damn well it is not, Kate."
"Kacey don't go looking for goblins under the bed."
"I am not doing that. I was a little kid when I believed there were goblins under my bed."
"You are little sister. At times you are still that little kid. Has something happened to get your goblin meter racing?"
"Not at all."
Kate sighed. "Kacey, I am going to give you a direct order that you had better obey."
"What is the order? I will tell you if I will be able to obey it."
"I order you to come out of Marine Mode, relax and enjoy yourself."
"You don't know what you are asking me to do."
"Yes I do and I was not asking, Kacey. That was an order. Understand, Colonel?"
"Understand, Captain." Kacey smiled and mock saluted Kate.
"Come with me and I will replicate us both a drink. The brandy is very good." With a backward glance at Natalia, Kacey let Kate lead her to the bank of replicators.
Anya waltz Natalia around the floor. They watched the sisters talking.
"Do you think Kate will be able to get Kacey to relax?"
"I have confidence in Kate." Anya stated. "If she can not do it, then it will be my turn to work on her. My methods are more extreme and Kacey might not like them at all."
"Does this have anything to do with that guide you sent me?"
"It does." Anya smiled. "If anyone would need the information to be used on them it is Kacey. How are you feeling, Natalia?"
"I am fine once noon hits. The crackers have helped, but some mornings all I have to do is smell the coffee and I am running for the bathroom. Kacey has been waiting until she goes to her office before she has her first cup."
Anya laughed. "I could not stand the taste of coffee for my entire pregnancy. Have the cravings started yet?"
"At least now with the replicators, Kacey will not drive herself crazy trying to find Chinese food or a mushroom Pizza at three hundred hours."
Natalia laughed. "Did you do that to Kate?"
"Many times. I would wake her from a sound sleep to go out for some really weird combinations. She never knew what I would ask her for. She tried to keep every weird combination in stock, but at least twice a week she would have to get dressed and go out."
"Poor Kate." Anya how bad is labor?"
"It is very painful, but the end result makes all the pain worthwhile. At the end of all that pain, I held my two beautiful babies in my arms. Look Natalia, I think Kate has succeeded. At least Kacey has a drink rather that just coffee."
"She must have ordered her to relax."
"More than likely. That is her only option now that she can not threaten her with bringing Patricia in for back up."
"Do you think Kacey will ever completely thaw towards Patricia?"
"Eventually. But Kacey is extremely stubborn and glacially slow when it comes to letting go of the guilt and hurt."
"I feel guilty when I spend time with Patricia."
"Do not feel guilty. Kacey would not want to jeopardize your relationship with Patricia. Has she asked you not to spend time with her mother?"
"No, but I have noticed that she works out more when I do, if we are both off duty."
"She is working through the problem, trying to bring it into perspective. She will find her way back. Do not worry."
Anya led Natalia back to where their partners stood talking. The Chancellor along with Liam and Patricia joined them.
"Colonel, your parents were telling me that you are a musician."
"I know my way around a few instruments."
"Would you consent to play for us?"
"I did not bring my violin with me."
"That would be no problem. We will have the replicator make you one. You can give us a small glimpse at what we can expect at the concert your father has invited us to."
"Please Kacey?" Natalia asked.
Kacey smiled. "For you sweetheart, anything." She finished her drink. "Lead on Chancellor."
Kacey left with the Chancellor. He returned alone.
"The Colonel said she wanted to test the instrument first. Shall we go closer to the stage? She said to give her ten minutes then she would join us after she has warmed up."
"I will wait for her lass." Liam told Natalia. "You go get a good spot."
Liam waited for Kacey to return. He watched her check out the instrument before she tried a few notes. Satisfied the violin sound good, she turned to see her father waiting for her.
CHAPTER 13 B
"How does it sound, lass?"
"Pretty good for something that was just replicated. I like mine better though." Kacey said. "Dad whose idea was it to tell the Chancellor?"
"Your mother's. She is very proud of ye lass. We both are."
"I know that dad. There are other excellent musicians on board."
"Aye there are lass, but they are not you. Ready to dazzle them? Do ye know what ye will be playing?"
"Do you have a special request?"
"How about something for your mother. It would go a long way in healing the trouble between you. Would you do that for me?"
"All right, dad, because you asked me."
"Do not be letting that be your only reason. Do it because you really want to." Kacey nodded. "Now go make me bust me buttons with pride lass."
Kacey kissed her father's cheek. She walked to where the Chancellor stood with her family.
"How are you doing? Did the violin sound all right? Do you know what you are going to play?"
"Whoa there. You sound as if you have been spending way to much time with the twins. But to answer your questions, I am doing fine. The violin sounds good and yes. Dad asked me for a special song." Kacey removed her cape and handed it to Natalia.
"Well that leaves out everything we guessed."
The Chancellor climbed the stairs to the stage and waited for the song they were playing to end before walking to center stage.
"May I have every one's attention." He spoke into the microphone and waited until he had the attention to all who attended the dance. "I am told, our guests have several fine musicians on their ship. We have all been invited to a concert they will be giving. I would like to call up one of their musicians to give us a sample of what I am sure will be very enjoyable for us." The audience applauded. While the Chancellor was speaking, Kacey stood off to the side with her eyes closed. "Colonel you are on."
Kacey opened her eyes and walked to the microphone to polite applause. She tucked the violin under her chin, looked at Liam, and started playing. Liam's smile grew as he recognized the song as one of Patricia's favorites.
"Oh Liam." Patricia whispered as her tears began when she recognized the song."
"Aye Patsy darling. Tis just for you."
As she started to play, Kacey thought of her father's words and the song changed from being a favor to her father, to one she really wanted to play. She looked at her mother who smiled at her with tears running down her cheeks. Liam put his arm around his wife as they listened to the pure notes.
Anya held Kate as she cried when she also recognize the song and Kacey's attempt to bridge the chasm to their mother. Anya leaned over and whispered to Natalia.
"That is one of Patricia's favorite songs."
The song ended. Kacey raised her bow in the air. The audience gave her an enthusiastic round of applause. She took a bow as the Chancellor walked back to her side.
"Colonel, I see your mother did not exaggerate your talent. Would you consent to play another song for us?"
The audience gave their approval.
Kacey smiled at Natalia's nod. "It would be my pleasure, Chancellor."
Kacey walked off the stage. Patricia waited for her at the foot of the stairs. She pulled Kacey into a tight embrace. Kacey returned her hug.
"Thank you, Kacey. I know you will never forget those hurtful words I said, but do you think you will ever be able to forgive me?"
"I am working on that mom." Kacey said.
"I can accept that." Patricia said and kissed her daughter's cheek.
Patricia stepped aside. She slipped her arm through Kacey's as they walked to the front of the stage where the rest of the family stood.
"Twas a good thing you did lass."
Kate handed her a drink. "I think you have earned that little sister."
Kacey accepted the drink as Natalia took the violin out of her hand.
"What was that first song you played?" The one that had both Kate and your mom crying?"
"It is called, You Raise Me Up. Did you like it?"
"I did. Why haven't you played it before?"
"No one has ever asked for it."
"Is that all it would take?"
"That is all." Tonight I played it because dad asked if I would play something for mom. I figured what the hell, he has never asked me for very much. I would do it for him. He read my mind and said not to do it only because he asked, but because I really wanted to. I wasn't going to until I got on the stage and realized that I really wanted to.
"What did your mother say to you."
"She asked if I thought I could ever forgive her."
"And. Getting information out of you is next to impossible. Do not make me hurt you."
"You must have been talking to Kate and Anya because you are definitely getting feisty." Kacey smiled. "Do you think you are big enough?"
CHAPTER 13 C
"I may not be big enough, but I have had offers to help if I needed it."
"Oh yeah? From whom?"
"Who do you think offered." Natalia smiled and looked at her sisters in law. "Are you ever going to answer my question?"
"I forgot the question." Kacey teased.
Anya walked over to them. "Do you need help, Natalia? Is Kacey giving you a hard time?"
"Do I need Anya's help Kacey?"
Kacey looked at Anya trying to judge her mood, but she kept her face neutral with only a raised eyebrow.
"We are fine, Anya." Kacey stated.
"Good decision, little sister." Anya said and went back to Kate's side.
"So tell me."
"You are just so damn cute. Do you know that?" Kacey asked. "To answer your question of twenty or so minutes ago, I told her I was working on it."
The music continued. Anya grabbed Kacey's hand and pulled her roughly to the dance floor. Kate more gently led Natalia to the floor.
"Are you giving Natalia a hard time?"
"Of course not Anya."
"That is good to hear little sister. If you were to give her a hard time, we will be having a private conversation."
"We have conversations all the time."
"We have not had this type, Kirsten." Anya said seriously.
"Why are you angry with me?"
"I am not angry with you. I am just giving you fair warning that if you ever give Natalia a hard time or disrespect her in any way, it will end up being very uncomfortable for you. Do you get my meaning?"
"I would never disrespect her, Anya. I love her."
"Then we will not ever have to worry about a private conversation." Anya stated with a pointed look which caused Kacey to realize exactly what Anya was talking about. "You made Patricia very happy tonight. Have you decided to forgive her?"
"I am working on it,"
"Good." Anya stated. "Kacey, thank you for keeping everything running. You are doing a fantastic job."
"You are going to give me a big head."
"Do not worry. If you get too big for your britches, I will smack you back down to Earth."
"You know, Anya, I do not doubt that for a second."
Kate directed Natalia away from where Anya and Kacey were dancing and talking.
"Is Anya really angry with Kacey?"
"No. She is just talking to her. Giving her a sisterly reminder. Any time you think she need a private word, you let us know."
"You were serious that evening in Sick Bay."
"Very serious." Kate said.
"I will keep that in mind." Natalia said. "How long do you think we will be here?"
"A few weeks at least. It all depends on how long it takes to get all the equipment hooked up and running and the tower built. Are you tired of travelling?"
"Not at all. I lived my entire life on Marcus Prime. The first time I ever left it was that day Kacey rescued me. I am really enjoying the travelling."
"That is really good to hear. You know, Natalia, you joined the crew at the right time."
"What do you mean?"
"When we get back to Earth, this will count as your mandatory service. So you will not have to worry about leaving your family."
"That is really good to hear."
"Want to have some fun with Kacey?"
"What are you going to do to her? She looks nervous enough."
"I think we can put her a little more on edge. Come on."
The song ended. Kate led Natalia back to where they had been standing. Kate kept her face serious.
"Kacey, Natalia and I just had a little talk."
"About anything in particular?"
"As a matter of fact yes. Report to my Ready room at ten hundred hours tomorrow morning, Colonel."
"Now what the fuck did I do wrong?"
"You kiss mom with that mouth?"
"Not lately, no." Kacey snapped her eyes blazing with anger. "Do you plan on telling me what I have done wrong?"
"Do you have a guilty conscience?" Kate asked.
"Then you should not be worried." Kate smiled. "Relax Kacey. I was just having a little fun with you."
"Jesus, Kate." Kacey swore.
"I really do need to see you tomorrow at ten hundred hours. We have to decide where the replicators will be placed."
"You could not have led with that?"
"It was more fun the other way." Kate stated with a smile.
"Kate that was not a nice thing to do." Anya stated.
Kate went to respond but one look at the glare Anya was giving her, stopped her. Her smile vanished.
"I am sorry, Kacey." Kate said contritely.
"What do you say we have one last dance then head back. I am getting tired." Natalia stated.
"Sounds like a good idea, sweetheart. It looks like everything is winding down." Kacey led Natalia to the dance floor.
"Have I told you how good you look in your night formals?
"You have several times." Kacey stated.
"What did Anya say to you that made you so nervous?"
"Basically what she said was that if I ever disrespect you, she and I will have a private conversation that would be very uncomfortable for me."
"What does that mean?"
"I did not ask, but I think she was threatening me with an ass whopping. How did this come about?"
"That night when Kate was in Sick Bay, and you disappeared, Erin asked if you were in trouble. Then Erica asked if you were going to get a spanking? Kate asked my opinion. I told her I was not big or strong enough to do that. Then she said she would get me some help if I needed it."
"I hope you know, I would never disrespect you."
"I do know it, Kacey and I believe you with all my heart."
"It is nice to know that they are watching out for you. I am glad, Kate is ready to take charge again. I have so many reports waiting for me. Plus the reports on the incidents on Hell world. Those will be the hardest to do."
"I imagine they will be. Why can't you just submit the video?"
"That would be great, but all videos have to be accompanied by a written report." The music ended. "Ready to head out sweetheart?"
"I am. Should we see if Kate is ready?"
"Looks like they are saying good night to the Chancellor."
"Colonel, thank you for your little concert. Hearing your entire orchestra will be an experience."
"Thank you Chancellor. The festival was a great enjoyment for everyone. Unfortunately it is time to call it an night. We will see you tomorrow."
The walked away from the Chancellor. They met up with Liam and Patricia and they walked back to the shuttle together. Natalia held Kacey's hand as they walked a little ahead of the others. She carried the replicated violin in her other hand.
In the quiet, Liam started singing. Kacey glanced back at him, smiled, and joined in.
CHAPTER 13 D
"Coffee, I need coffee." Kacey said as she walked into the Ready Room.
"Get up late this morning?" Kate asked .
"No regular time. Even after a short night. But the smell of coffee in the morning really bothers Natalia, so I try to hold off on that first cup until I leave our quarters."
Kate poured a second coffee and handed it to Kacey who gratefully accepted the beverage.
"You should try to get more sleep Kacey or did Natalia keep you up late?"
"What do you think?" Kate laughed.
"I remember how Anya was during her pregnancy. Between her late night cravings and the increased libido, there were times when I only managed one to two hours a night."
"Is dad joining us?"
"No just the two of us get to decide where the replicators will be placed."
"Being the top two really sucks some times."
"Buck up little sister. This will not take long. I came up with a preliminary list. Take a look at it and see if you agree or want to make changes."
Kacey put her glasses on and looked at the list Kate handed her. "Okay." Kacey looked at the list, took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes. She put the glasses back on and still could not make sense of what she was seeing. "Were you tired or drunk when you came up with this?"
"No to both. Why?"
"Your shorthand needs a bit of translation." Kate moved around the desk and sat next to Kacey. "What does K, K, L, M A, R, mean?"
"You can't figure that out?"
"If I did, I would not be asking for a translation."
"Kate, Kacey, Liam, Major Anderson, and Rhea. The top five officers on Andromeda. M.H is Mess Hall, which I think could use eight. Two in each bar. One in each of our offices which includes the Hanger office. Sick Bay and Hospital each get three. Each crew deck gets two for a total of six. One for the Conference Room. Hanger and Engineering each get four. One in each of the labs for a total of three. Each civilian deck gets four for a total of twelve. Shop level gets two. With two held in reserve."
"Wouldn't Sick Bay and the Hospital need more that the Mess Hall or Bars?"
"All right, drop the Mess Hall to four and the bars to one each. Raise the Sick Bay and Hospital to six each."
"That does make more sense. There is no need to piss mom off by having too many replicators in the Mess Hall." Kate said. "Speaking of mom, what did she say to you last night?"
"She asked me if I thought I could ever forgive her." Kacey answered. "When will everything be delivered?"
"Everything is in Cargo Bay four right now. The translators are being handed out. Bella is hooking up one of the shield matrixes to their power grid. They were able to replicate several more. The scanners were delivered earlier also. The Gellarians have begun installing the replicators in Sick Bay and the Hospital. Then the Hanger and Engineering before the non essential areas are done." Kate stated. "So tell me what was your response.?"
"I said I was working on it."
"Why did you chose that song?"
"Natalia asked me the same thing. Dad asked me to play something for mom."
"Was that the only reason?"
"At first it was. But dad said not to do it just because he asked but because I really wanted to. I guess he thought if I did it just because he asked, it would be sending out the wrong idea and he did not want to hurt mom by getting her hopes up."
"That is true. So why did you chose that song?"
"I wasn't going to at first, but once I got up on stage and was getting centered, I found, I liked the idea. Then when I put the bow into position, that was when it hit me that I really wanted to."
"There just might be hope that you will completely become a grown up."
"What the Hell does that mean, Kate?"
"It just means that when that little kid in you peaks out, there are times when she is a real brat."
"Thanks a lot, Kate. Guess I have to make sure that kid never shows up again."
"Come on Kacey. Relax, I was only kidding with you. I enjoy seeing that kid peek out once in awhile and wish she would show up more often.'
"Well do not hold your breath." Kacey stated . "If we are done here, I have a stack of reports to get to." She stood and left the office.
To be continued...
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