Year two of the continuing voyage of the Star Traveler Andromeda. The story started in Among The Stars continues in Beyond The Farthest Planet.
All the tests were completed. Andromeda had landed. A safety perimeter had been set up and the ramps opened. Kate made a ship wide announcement of all the rules for the safety of the residents of Andromeda.
A contest was held to name the new planet. The winner would be picked by the Tribunal and announced before they lifted off. Mapping the terrain was ongoing without any problems. Long range scanners were set up to scan and report any weather problems that might come their way. In this area of space Ion storms would be their biggest worry, but any sort of storms could hit.
Kacey walked onto the nearly empty Bridge. Only Anya and Rhea remained at their stations. She knew neither would leave as long as Kate was in her Ready Room. She rang the bell.
"Come in." Kate's voice reached her.
The door opened and Kacey entered to find Kate behind her desk. "Got a few minutes Kate?" Kacey asked.
"Of course. Pull up a seat." Kacey helped herself to the ever present coffee carafe, Kate kept on her desk, before she sat down. "Something on your mind?" Kate asked.
"I would like to request permission for Natalia and I to finish our honeymoon."
"You know, I think we have set some sort of record in not butting heads, Kate and I would like it to continue. It would be so easy to just say thank you and go ahead with my plans. You should hear the entire plan before you grant permission." Kacey told her.
Kate looked at her. "I may regret this. All right tell me your entire plan."
"I would like to take Natalia in my shuttle for a few days to that lake we found."
"Just the two of you?"
"Did you and Anya take anyone with you on your honeymoon?"
"Kacey? We were on Earth at the time. Totally different set of circumstances. If and this is a big if, I grant permission, there are a few conditions you must agree to."
Kacey sighed. "What are the conditions?"
"You take two Marine guards with you."
"You have got to be kidding, Kate." Kate looked pointedly at her. "Fine but they can not be any closer that two kilometers."
"One kilometer." Kate stated.
"One kilometer, Kate." Kacey agreed. "Next condition."
"You check in three times a day."
"You will have the video lock on you."
"Of course, but I would like to make a little change to that?"
"What is your proposal?"
"As long as we are outside the shuttle we will have the locks on us. But if we are inside the shuttle together with the ramp closed, the video stays focused on the outside. Neither of us wants to be the star in a porn movie."
Kate laughed. "Agreed. When do you want to leave?"
"Permission granted, Kacey. Have a good time." Kate told her.
"Thank you Kate."
You be careful out there Kacey. Mom would have both our heads if you or Natalia got hurt while away from Andromeda."
"I will bring phasic weapons with us."
CHAPTER 2 B
Kacey's shuttle lifted off, followed by a second shuttle. Within minutes she landed near the lake. In the distance she could see the other shuttle land. With the flat terrain there was nothing blocking the view of the shuttle. Before they lifted off Kacey ordered her guards, "No binoculars turned in their direction".
Kacey set the safety perimeter around the shuttle before they brought out any gear from the shuttle. She pulled her radio out and turned it on. "Shamrock to Andromeda."
"You are coming in loud and clear." Kate's voice came over the radio.
"We have arrived. The safety perimeter is set. We will check in around thirteen hundred hours."
"Enjoy little sister." Kacey laughed at the endearment and waved at Kate and Andromeda.
They set up the canopy. Together they gathered rocks that they placed in a circle. Then they gathered wood that they placed in and near the circle for a campfire later. Kacey set up the security lights. After their campsite was ready, they spent some time playing in the water until it started to cool down. They wrapped large towels around themselves and went into the shuttle to change out of their wet clothes. Kacey was thankful the video lock did not cover the bathroom.
Natalia brought out their dinner and set everything on the small table while Kacey started the camp fire. Once the fire was going, Kacey turned on the music disc as they ate their dinner by camp fire light.
"Is that you playing?"
"Yes. What can I say, I am a bit of an ego maniac when it comes to music."
"I love listening to you play. Did you bring your violin?"
"No, the humidity would warp the wood. When we return, I will play for you anytime you want."
"That is beautiful. What is it called?"
"It is a piece by a very under rated composer, Franz Lehar. It is called The Merry Widow."
"You listen to so many different styles of music, What is your favorite?"
"Depends on what I am doing at the time. Some music is better suited for different activities. I can not work out to Classical music. And I can not relax with Rock."
"What about," Natalia leaned over and whispered, "making love."
"You are sure that video will not record..."
"Kate agreed. When we are both inside with the ramp closed the video stays outside."
"Good because I brought," she whispered again.
"You did not?" Natalia smiled.
"The stars are so close. I feel like I could reach out a touch one. Is that what it looks like when you are flying?" Natalia asked as she changed the subject.
"It is. When I am in my shuttle, the stars are all around me. It is so peaceful and quiet and beautiful. Space is so much quieter than Earth. There are no sirens going off, horns blasting, or neighbors fighting." A sound reached them. "Can you hear that?"
"What is it?"
"If we were on Earth I would say that is the sound of horses. We might be near their water supply."
In the fading light, they watched a herd of about twenty horse like animals come to the lake. Smaller that Earth's horses, their bodies were covered with long silky hair. Their tails and ears were shorter. One brave animal came closer to their shuttle. Smaller than the rest, the animal looked like a colt. Kacey picked up an apple she gathered from the fruit trees on Andromeda. She cut the fruit in pieces and walked to the perimeter. She approached the animal slowly and silently, so they did not spook. She spoke softly to the young one as she held her hand out with the apple pieces. "Easy boy, come see what I have for you." She offered him the fruit.
Kate watched Kacey walk toward the animals on her computer. "No. No. No. Don't do it, Kacey" She said to the screen. Kate pushed the private button on her communicator. "Natalia." She spoke softly so the noise did not scare the animals and trample her foolish sister.
"Natalia tell that wacky sister of mine to get away from those animals."
"Kacey, Kate says to get away from the animals."
The smaller animal sniffed the fruit and picked it out of Kacey's hand. He was soon joined by a bigger animal that Kacey thought was his mother. She handed the larger animal a piece of the apple. She took it from her outstretched hand.
"They are all right. They have no fear of humans. Wild horses on Earth would never approach a human." She touched the young one and rubbed the area between his eyes as she held out more apple to him. "Their hair is so soft and silky. Come over and pet him Talia." The young one bumped her looking for more.
"Kate said to get away from them."
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