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CHAPTER 15 A
Andromeda lifted off after six weeks on the Gellary world. They said good bye to their gracious hosts with a promise of a return visit on their way back.
Her first day back in the command chair, Kate smiled when she spied the flowers on her chair. She looked up at Anya who only shrugged.
"Those are a welcome back token from your very grateful Bridge crew. They are happy to be back in your capable hands, Kate." Kacey stated.
"That is not entirely true, Colonel. Yes, we are very happy the Captain has recovered. You did a fantastic job in her absence."
"Thank you, Lieutenant, but we all know who does the better job and it certainly is not me. Welcome back Kate." Kacey said.
"Thank you all." Kate said as she sniffed the roses. "Report."
"We will be out of the gravitational pull of Gellary in five minutes, Katie." Liam stated.
"How are the new star charts?"
"They are excellent and include many features our star charts never had. The information covers planets for many thousands of light years." Anya stated.
"Does that mean the Stingers will not have mapping duties anymore?"
"You sound disappointed."
"I am. My pilots will have little to do without that duty."
"No. I will not take away their or your fun. When are you planning on going out?"
"In about an hour when the next wave goes out."
"Please be careful out there."
"Always, Kate. Permission to return to the Hanger, Captain."
"Permission granted, Colonel."
Kacey left the Bridge.
"She seems to be settling down, Katie."
"If you can call that restless bundle of energy, settling down, you are correct. She is so much happier with her Marines."
"You know, I do not think she would have ever been happy with the Space Academy."
"You are correct, Liam. No matter how much she wanted to follow Kate, she would not have been happy or even advanced as she has." Anya stated.
"She might not have even stayed in the service once she graduated." Kate said. "The Marines helped her find her way in this world.
"What is our next destination, Katie?" Liam asked.
"That depends on what our new star charts and sensors show?"
"Sensors are clear. There is nothing within in three million kilometers from us. The next planet is four point seven million kilometers away." Anya reported.
"Set a course for our next stop. Does the planet have a name?" Kate asked.
"It only has a number. ST-715." Anya answered.
"On to ST-715."
Kacey was in her element. Flying through the stars with the glowing balls of gas surrounding her. The peace of being alone gave her time to reflect on her life. She missed the solitude of being alone with only the stars for company. Her life was full and she was extremely happy. She had a wife she loved with all her heart and they were expecting their first child or children. Kate was healthy and back at the helm.
Two months had passed since Kate was injured. Kacey still felt that little piece of nagging guilt in the back of her mind. Nothing any one said to her would ever take that away. She could not redo those few minutes. She would just have to make sure something like that would never happen again. If that meant she would never come out of Marine Mode as Kate called it, then that is what had to happen.
Kacey checked all the readouts from all the gauges. She also checked her distance. Another few minutes and she would have to head back to Andromeda. She keyed the mike.
"Shamrock to Andromeda."
"Go ahead Shamrock. Where are you?"
"I am fifteen thousand kilometers from Andromeda."
"Then it is past time for you to turn around and come home."
"Shortly, I have another ten minutes before I turn around, Kate. It is so peaceful and quiet out here."
"And you let that peace and quiet take you away. Any problems."
"Not even a stray ion trail to follow. I should be back in ninety minutes or so."
"I would have thought you had enough excitement to last for awhile."
"You know me Kate."
"That I do. Lets be content with a few days of quiet."
"I suppose I could find it in me to try for a few quiet days if I put my mind to it."
Kate laughed. "Be careful."
"Yes Captain." Kacey mock saluted her. "Shamrock out."
"She is still such a brat at times." Kate stated.
"Aye, lass. Tis good to see that side of her peeking out again."
"It has been a long time coming."
Natalia watched Kacey land her shuttle from behind the air lock doors. She waited patiently for the atmosphere to be returned before the massive doors opened. Kacey opened the ramp as Natalia made her way through the Hanger. She smiled and nodded as the pilots greeted her. She entered the shuttle as Kacey was releasing her harness.
"Hi sweetheart. This is a very pleasant surprise. What brings you down here?"
"I thought I would see if you wanted to buy me a late lunch."
"That is the best offer I have had all day."
"It had better be the only offer you have had all day, Colonel." Natalia responded.
"I can assure you there is no one I would rather have lunch, breakfast or dinner with."
"Kacey did I just sound like a jealous shrew?"
"No you sounded like the woman who holds my heart in her very soft and loving hands. The only woman in my life. The one who wears my ring. The woman who is carrying my children." Kacey kissed her.
"You know Colonel, I think being out there brings out your romantic side. I like it."
"Good because that side of me is just for you. Now where would you like to have lunch?"
"The Mess Hall is fine."
"Are you sure?"
"I am. I heard they have that casserole I like today."
"Mess Hall it is."
Natalia slipped her hand into the bend of Kacey's arm as they made their way to the Mess Hall. They entered the half empty room and sat at their customary table. They programmed their choices. Within minutes, Patricia brought their meals to them. She also placed a glass of milk in front of both of them.
Kacey met her mother's eyes while she debated whether or not she would push the glass away and get a coffee from the replicator. Natalia placed a hand on her arm.
"Please don't do what you are thinking." She pleaded.
Kacey pulled her eyes from her mother's. "You can read my mind now Talia?"
"It does not take a mind reader to know what you were thinking."
"Thanks mom." Kacey stated.
"You are welcome dear. Enjoy your lunch." Patricia said and went to carress the dark head, but stopped herself. She left them.
"So what do you figure I was thinking about doing."
"You were about to try to assert your adult status."
"You were going to ditch the milk and get a coffee from the replicator."
"Damn. Was I that transparent?"
"Worse than that sweetheart. Your mother was expecting you to do just that. If you were alone would you have done it?"
"No, because I would have just replicated myself a sandwich in my office."
"Oh Kacey. It has been two months. Don't you think it is time to fully let go of that little piece of anger that is still remaining. "
"I am not sure if I can or if I even want to."
"Why for heaven's sake?"
"Like you said, I was asserting my adult status. Without that anger, I become that little kid again that she can bully. The kid who would defer to her without argument. The one who would never be on equal terms."
"Is that so important?"
"To me it is, Talia. How can I explain this? I know she loves me and there are times when she may even like me as a person. But respecting me as an adult has been lacking, if it was ever there at all."
"Honey, do you really believe that?"
"Yes I do. Can we table this discussion until tonight?"
"Of course. Will you be going back out today?"
"No my flight time is done for today. Unless there is some sort of emergency, then the four hour limit is set aside. It was very quiet out there today." Kacey stated. "When is your next doctor's appointment?"
"Monday morning. Will you be able to come with me?"
"There is nothing that will keep me away. How would you like to take a little stroll before we go back on duty?"
"I would like that very much."
Kacey collected their empty plates and brought them to the washing area.
"You did not drink your milk." Natalia joked.
"I am not going to either." Kacey said as she took the glasses and put them with the dirty dishes.
"Bad Colonel. No cookies for you. Or should I say no coffee?"
"I will get one later." Kacey took Natalia's hand as they walked out of the Mess Hall. Patricia watched them go.
Patricia knew it was wrong to eavesdrop on their conversation, but she needed to find out why she was unable to return to the relationship they once had.
Was Kacey right? She thought. Did she respect her volatile youngest child? Love, most definitely. Like, yes most of the time. But respect? Can I honestly say I respect her? Respect for her talents, her spirit, her achievements, her bravery and intelligence. As a person, can I say I respect her as a person? Have I ever told her that? I do not remember ever telling her I respect her as a person, as an adult.
CHAPTER 15 B
Kacey held Natalia as they relaxed after dinner. The girls had come for their nightly practice session and left. Now it was time for just the two of them. Kacey was stretched out on the couch with Natalia laying between her legs. The fair head rested on her chest. Kacey ran her hands up and down Natalia arms, as she hummed along with the music that played. Natalia ran her hands along the bare legs that rested on either side of her.
"That is me. What can I do for you beautiful?"
"Can we finish our conversation from lunch?"
"Of course we can. Remind me where we left off."
"Respect. You said you knew your mother loves you and may even like you at times, but you did not think she ever respected you."
"She may respect the fact that I am fairly intelligent, or my achievements, or that I am half way decent looking, even my restless energy. But I do not think she ever respected me as a person or an adult. When we had that argument after Kate was injured, she accused me of being disrespectful and told me that, that was not the way I was raised. Which is true. We were taught to respect our elders." Kacey said and stopped for several seconds. "There was only one time in my life that dad ever smacked my backside. I was nine or ten at the time and mom told me I could not do something I really wanted to do. I can not remember what it was now, but dad came home and heard me yelling at her as only a child that age can do. He whalloped me. Then he sat me down and told me how disappointed he was. I think that hurt more than the smack. Now that I am older, shouldn't respect work both ways?"
"It should, Kacey."
"At the Academy, I earned the respect of my classmates, and professors. As a Marine, I earned the respect of my Commanding Officers. Somehow I feel that I have never earned mom's respect."
"What can you do about that?"
"I haven't the slightest clue. I wish I did."
"Do you know what would earn my undying respect?"
Natalia sat up, turned around and kissed her. "Take me to bed, Colonel."
"That would be my extreme pleasure to grant your wish."
Natalia stood up and held out her hand, which Kacey readily took. They walked towards the bedroom. Kacey dimmed the living room lights on the way. Inside the bedroom Kacey took Natalia into her arms and kissed her. She undid the buttons on Natalia's pajama top and pushed it off her shoulders and let it fall to the floor. Kacey undid the tie holding up the lounging pants, which soon joined the top on the floor.
Kacey broke off the kiss so that she could pull the ragged shirt over her head. Natalia turned down the covers on their bed. Kacey picked Natalia up and gently placed her on the bed. Kacey knelt next to he and kissed her again. Her tongue passing slowly over the lips beneath hers. Lips that parted readily.
After several minutes, Kacey moved from Natalia's mouth, down her throat to the breasts that were heavier due to pregnancy. She lightly kissed each one before she gently took a hardening tip into her mouth. She sucked on the nipple. Natalia moaned with the sensations Kacey was invoking. Kacey moved to the other breast and loved it before she moved back up to capture Natalia's lips again, while her hands softly kneading the pliant flesh.
"That feels so good." Natalia murmured.
"You certainly do." Kacey agreed.
Kacey's hand moved down until she felt the slight swelling where their child continued to grow. Kacey kissed the slight bump. She spent a few minutes whispering to the child before she continued working her way downwards. Kacey loved the way Natalia responded to her slightest touch.
She settled between Talia's legs and concentrated on pleasing her wife. She slowly entered Natalia as she teased the hard nub with her tongue. She felt Natalia rise us to give her better access. Kacey smiled and applied pressure and flicked her tongue over Natalia's clit. Natalia moaned again. Kacey felt the pre climax flutters in the soft walls that surrounded her fingers, and increased the pace and pressure as Natalia climaxed. Kacey slowed the pace as she guided her through. Kacey felt the spasms slow and increased the pace to take her over again.
Kacey stopped and let Natalia relax before she moved. She stopped and once again kissed the baby that nestled safely inside Natalia before whe stretched out and took Natalia in her arms.
"Kacey, will you still love me when I am so big you can not get your arms around me?"
"Sweetheart, I will love you, no matter what. You are my heart. Feel this?" Kacey took Natalia's hand and placed it over her heart. "As long as my heart is beating, I will love you. If I can find a way, I will love you even after it stops beating. Don't ever doubt my love for you." Natalia sniffed. "Baby, what's wrong?"
"Don't mind me. I think the pregnancy hormones are kicking in. You are such a romantic and what you just said made me so happy the emotions just bubbled up."
Talia, after I collapsed and was unconscious, the only thing that kept me fighting to come back was you. I wanted to see you, love you. It would have been so easy to just give in and let the Megarrans take my mind, but that would have meant I would leave you and I promised you I would not do that. It was you who gave me the strength to fight to come back. While I was unconscious, I could hear every one talking to me. But it was your voice in my ear asking me to come back. I let your voice guide me back. You were then and still are my North Star, pointing me in the right direction."
Natalia sniffed again as her tears overflowed. Kacey held her as she cried. "That was an incredibly beautiful thing to say. When did you realize that?"
"Not too long ago."
"About fifteen minutes ago. When I was making love to you I realized that you and what we have are the reasons I fought so hard to come back.
CHAPTER 15 C
After kissing Natalia good bye at the Bridge, Kacey continued to her office. She whistled as she walked into the Hanger. The air lock doors were opened. There was still two hours before the next wave was scheduled to go out. She checked the readouts of the scheduled pilots on the computer board. She was scheduled for the next squad which gave her about ninety minutes to check her status reports. She rounded the corner surprised to see Kate waiting for her.
"Hey Kate. What brings you down to my kingdom or should I call it a queendom?"
"I need to talk to you."
"Sure, come on in. The coffee should be ready to go. I was going to call you later. I need a bit of advice." She poured them each a coffee.
"Is everything all right?"
"Yeah. Natalia had a bout of insecurity last night. She said it was the pregnancy hormones kicking in. Did Anya go through that?"
"Did she ever. We would be out walking or having dinner and I happened to smile at someone I knew she would be off. It got worse as her pregnancy progressed."
"What did you do?"
"Reassured her and loved her. I knew that the person who would sometimes act like a Banshee on crack was only acting that way because of the hormones."
Kacey laughed. "A Banshee on crack? Anya?"
Yes, my dear sweet, even tempered, Anya, could at times act like Jeckle and Hyde. It was a real roller coaster. No amount of research could ever prepare you for the raging hormones. I never knew what sort of person I was coming home to at the end of the day. It was either the hyper sexed woman who wanted to tear my clothes off the second Ii walked in the front door, or the witch that wanted to tear me a new asshole for something she thought I had done." Kacey laughed again at Kate's description of her pregnant wife. "Laugh it up. It was total hell at times. Mom told me what to do. I just gave you the same advice she gave me. A few extra yes dears thrown in did not hurt either."
"I will remember that." Kacey stated once she stopped laughing.
"Speaking of mom, I heard about you little act of defiance yesterday."
"Your act of defiance." At Kacey's look she continued. "In the Mess Hall."
"The Mess Hall? Natalia and I had lunch, we talked then left. Who did I defy?"
"What did you have to drink?"
"Nothing I... Wait are you here because I refused to drink that God Damn milk? Did mom go running to you complaining that I defied her wishes?"
"Mom did not say a word to me. Several other people warned me that there might be a blow up coming. Are you trying to instigate another argument?"
"No I was... I decided that I am no longer a child and will not be forced to eat or drink something I hate, just to please mom. I wanted her to realize that." Kacey stopped. "How can I explain this? The milk is a symbol of a time when I was a child and she could bully me into drinking it. I was showing her that I will no longer be bullied into doing something that I do not want to do."
"What will that get you?"
"Respect Kate. Her God damned respect and her acknowledgement that I am an adult. When we had that blow us, she accused me of being disrespectful. I was, but you know, I did not care. She has always demanded we respect her, but she is so very stingy when it comes to giving respect. That is probably, no wait that is why I can never fully forgive her for what she said to me right after you were hurt. I know that no matter what I say or do, no matter how many awards or medals I receive, the only thing I have ever wanted or needed is her respect. I came to the realization that I will probably never get that from mom. So I give up trying. I surrender. So are you going to tell me that I am an ungrateful bitch and a lousy daughter?"
"Nope. What I will say, for what it is worth, is that I have the greatest respect for you little sister. I always have and always will." Kate finished her coffee, stood up and walked to the door.
"Kate that means a lot to me."
"You earned my respect years ago. I think you have also earned mom's, but she just does not know how to tell you." Kate told her. "Be safe out there and report in periodically."
Kacey was nearing the mid way point in her flight. It was almost time for her to turn around and head back. She slowed the shuttle down and almost stopped.. She looked around at the stars that surrounded her. The peace that was usually present when she flew eluded her. Kacey clenched the smoke stick between her teeth as she poured herself another coffee. Still she could not find the peace. She listened to the ship to ship chatter from the Stingers..
She drifted for some time, when beeping from her sensors brought her out of her thoughts. She checked her readouts.
"Shamrock to Andromeda."
"Go ahead Shamrock."
"I am sending you the coordinates for propulsion signatures my sensors have just picked up."
"We have them. Kacey you are almost twenty thousand kilometers out."
"I know. Just snooping around a bit. It was extremely quiet out here until I ran across those signatures. There are several and only a couple hours old. I am going to follow them for a bit to see where they lead."
"Negative, Kacey. Return to Andromeda and we will follow them together. Do not follow them on your own." Kate ordered.
Kacey did not respond. "Shamrock respond and return to Andromeda." Still no response. "Shamrock, respond and return to Andromeda. "
"Roger Andromeda. Returning to base. Kacey sighed and turned her shuttle around, unable to find the peace .
To be continued...
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