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CHAPTER 20 A
Kacey lay wrapped in the hypothermia suit. Except for her face and left arm, she was completely covered. A warm towel covered her left arm. Her eyes were closed. The machines around her beeped and hummed softly. Natalia sat by the bed. She reached under the towel and held the cold, clenched hand. She stoked the back of Kacey's hand and she felt the hand relax in her's and slowly open.
Kate placed her hands on Natalia's shoulders in support. She could feel the tremors as Natalia softly cried. Natalia would not take her eyes off Kacey's face or let go of her hand to even wipe the tears that coursed down her cheeks. Periodically the automatic blood pressure cuff would inflate and give a read out of the still abnormally low blood pressure. The beeps that were Kacey's heart beat were very slow.
The Doctor checked the readouts from all the machines. "There has been no change in her heart rate or respirations. Both are extremely low, but functioning on their own. Her blood pressure while still very low has improved slightly. Her temperature has also risen one tenth of a degree."
"I know you said it had to raise slowly, but does it have to be that slow?" Patricia asked.
"Mom." Kate said and looked at Patricia. "Did you not listen to what the Doctor said earlier?"
"Of course I listened, Kate. I was only asking a question."
"If you two are going to argue, I suggest you use my office. I do not want my patient disturbed." Dr. McCloud stated. "This is neither the time or the place for an argument."
"You are right Doctor." Kate stated. "We can finish this discussion at a later date." Kate turned her back on Patricia.
Anya returned with the girls who went to Kate's and Natalia's sides.
"Mummy is Aunt Kacey sleeping?" Erica whispered.
Kate knelt down and took her daughter in her arms. "She is, so we can not do anything to wake her up, all right?" Erica nodded.
"Why is Aunt Kacey all wrapped up?" Erin asked as she stood by Natalia's side. Natalia put an arm around the child.
"She is very, very, cold, sweetheart. Do you remember how cold you were after you played in the snow?" Erin nodded. "Aunt Kacey was colder than you were so the Doctor is warming her up."
"Mama gave us hot cocoa. Would that help?"
Natalia smiled at the child. "Maybe after she wakes up."
"We may be able to do that before she wakes up." Dr. McCloud said.
"Once she is stable, with less chance of her going into shock, we can insert a feeding tube and give her warm beverages to help raise her temperature."
"When would be a safe point to do that?" Natalia asked.
"When her temp hits ninety six would be a safe point with little chance of sending her into shock. There is too much risk before that point."
"You had a good idea sweetie."
"I did Aunt Natty?" Natalia nodded. "Mummy did you hear that?" She said a little loudly.
"Shh. I did hear that."
"Natalia, I hope you are not planning on spending the night here?" Anya asked.
"That was my plan."
"I will not allow that Mrs. O'Malley." The Doctor stated. "You are in no condition to be sitting up all night next to the Colonel."
"We will make sure she gets sufficient rest, Doctor." Kate stated.
"There will be someone checking on her throughout the night. Any changes in the machines will also register at the medical stations. We will keep a close eye on her and make any adjustments as needed. If a family member wants to sit with her, that would be all right, but for no more than four hours per person. There is no room for negotiations on this."
"Aunt Natty, you can come home with us." Erica said. "Can't she mama?"
"She certainly can." Anya stated.
"And will." Kate added. Natalia looked at her. "That is an order." Natalia nodded in acceptance.
They all sat in the room watching, waiting. After an hour, Kate looked at Anya. "Why don't you take the girls and Natalia to our quarters. Make sure she eats and get some rest. She can come back later."
"Not yet, Kate. Please?"
Kate knelt at Natalia's side. "Now Natalia. I will stay with Kacey. After you have rested you can come back. Then I will go rest."
"All right, Kate. You will call if..."
"I promise. Go eat and rest. You have to think about those little ones." She touched Natalia's stomach.
"We were supposed to go tomorrow to find out." Natalia said and broke down in Kate's arms.
Kate held her as she cried. "Shh, try not to worry. Kacey is strong. You will not have to go to your appointment alone. I know I am not Kacey, but I would like to go with you."
"I would like that very much, Kate. Thank you." Natalia said as she wiped her eyes. She stood up and leaned over to kiss Kacey. "I will be back shortly, sweetheart. I love you very much." She whispered in Kacey's ear.
Anya picked both of the girls up to kiss Kacey. Kate hugged the girls before they left, Anya kissed Kate. Outside the door she put her arm around Natalia's shoulders and led her from Sick Bay.
"Liam you should go with them. I will sit with Kate. If that is all right?" Patricia asked.
"Sure if you want to." Kate said coolly. Liam nodded, kissed Patricia and left.
Dr. McCloud started to leave to give them privacy. She turned at the door. "Any yelling and one of you will have to leave." She said and partially closed the door.
They sat without talking for several minutes. Kate sat in Natalia's chair and reached under the towel to hold Kacey's hand, which was once again clenched. She felt her jump slightly. Even heavily sedated, Kacey knew that the person touching her was not Natalia. The only sound in the room was the soft hums and beeps.
CHAPTER 20 B
Neither woman spoke for several minutes. Kate continued to hold Kacey's cold hand, which was once again clenched tightly. Patricia sat across from her on the other side of the bed.
Patricia broke the tense silence. "Kate why are you so angry with me?" She asked.
"Why, mom? How can you ask that?"
"How can I not? You have snapped at me several times and I would like to know what it is I have done wrong?"
"Think, mom. Who were you mad at when you heard about the cloaking device?"
"Kacey for putting alien technology on her shuttle. Who should I have been angry with?"
"Me. I was the one who gave her permission. Without my approval, she would not have installed the device. You should have been angry with me, not her. But you found fault with her because she wanted to better protect herself and her people."
"Yes I was angry with her for taking foolish chances with her life."
"Your anger was misdirected. If you wanted to be angry with someone it should have been me. Perhaps Kacey is right."
"Right about what?"
"That I am the golden daughter. The one you seem to think can do no wrong."
"You were always the more sensible on and never caused me the worry Kacey has."
"That is total bull shit, mom. Just how has Kacey worried you? She was a straight A student all through school. She is a musician who spent hours each day perfecting her abilities. If she was not practicing or studying, she was with her horse. She never went on a single date until she met Natalia. Not once did she ever attend a wild party like I used to do."
"You never did that."
"I most certainly did. From the time I was sixteen, through my Academy graduation. It was not until I met Anya that the parties stopped. Kacey never once broke curfew or snuck out after you were asleep like I did. So just how did she cause you to worry."
"I find that very hard to believe, Kate. You were an excellent student also."
"Then ask Rhea or Bella Torino. Hell ask Anya, We met at one of those parties."
"I didn't know." Patricia stated. "When we had that meeting you both said that you were not hiding anything from us. Did you lie about that?"
"No because you did not ask about my transgressions, which would have take a lot longer to go through than those few times Kacey had." Kate admitted. "When I was injured, you jumped all over Kacey, yet today when you should have been angry with me you still blamed her. I guess the question she asked you then was answered today."
"What question was that?"
"She asked if the situation was reversed, would you blame me. Well the situation is reversed and you are still angry with her. She could not have prevented my injury, but I sure could have prevented hers. If the device was the cause of the problem." A knock on the door stopped their conversation. "Come in." Kate said.
The door opened to admit Major Anderson and Rhea Torino. He carried a computer" "Captain I believe we may have found the problem." He said. "We are still in the process of going through the Colonel's shuttle. I found a large scorch mark on the hull so I asked Commander Torino to check the video footage." He opened the computer to show Kate an image captured from the footage.
"What am I looking at Rhea?"
"That is a burst from that anomaly that hit Kacey's shuttle. We think that is what caused all her systems to shut down. The feed back gave her a jolt that froze her. She could not move. Major Anderson said the Doctor had to pry Kacey's hands from the yoke. It took a lot of studying to find this. You can not see it at regular speed or even in slow motion. It was only by watching it frame by frame that I was able to find the hit." She backed the image up and hit advance to see each frame. They were able to see the burst hit the shuttle.
That burst went right through her shields as if they were not even there. That thing was five hundred kilometers away when that burst hit. Any closer, who knows what sort of damage it would have done."
"How could that burst go through her shields? They can handle a direct hit of one hundred fifty KPS?"
"Captain, that jolt registered five hundred seventy five KPS. Almost four times what her shields can handle."
"Did the Doctor check for burns on her hands?" Rhea asked.
"I don't think so. They were more concerned with getting her warmed up. I will ask the Doctor when she returns." Kate said. "Thank you both for all your hard work."
"Captain, we are going to replace all the systems on the Colonel's shuttle. Do you want us to remove the cloaking device?"
"No leave it or replace it if needed."
Kate sighed. "What is it mom?"
"You are going to leave that technology on her shuttle?"
"Were you not listening? A random burst from the anomaly took out her systems, not the cloaking device. The device stays, Major." Kate ordered.
"Yes ma'am." He said. "Mrs. O'Malley, that device may have saved her life. If she had been visible, that burst could have hit at any time when she was further away. As it was she was preparing to land when her systems were knocked out. She would never have survived the frigid cold."
The Doctor returned to check on her patient. She noted the readouts of the machines and nodded her head.
"I have some good news. Colonel O'Malley's temp is now up to ninety two point six. Heart rate is up to forty four. Blood pressure is up to seventy eight over forty six and respirations are now five. She is slowing coming out of hibernation."
"Doctor we have just discovered that Kacey's shuttle was hit with an electrical burst. Did she have any burns on her hands?"
"Her hands were clenched after I pried them off the steering column. We did not take the time to check for burns. Those sort of injuries would not have killed her but the hypothermia could have. Let's have a look." She picked up Kacey's left hand. She felt her jump. "Damn I do not want to have to pry open her fingers." She undid the wrap on the right hand. While still closed it was not clenched at the left. She shown a light into the small opening. "I can definitely see a burn on the palm and fingers."
"Natalia didn't say anything when she held her hand." Kate said. "She was able to get her hand to relax and open."
"It would be safe to assume that there are burns on both hands." She pushed a button on the wall. "I need two basins and burn solution right away."
"Yes Doctor." The voice said. Within minutes a nurse appeared with the requested items. The Doctor took one of the basins and placed Kacey's hand in it then poured the solution over her hand until it was completely covered. She repeated the process with her other hand. "This will do until Mrs. O'Malley returns and I can get a better look."
Dr. McCloud left with Major Anderson and Rhea. The two women sat in the silence for several minutes. Kate placed a hand on Kacey's still cold arm. The staff kept replacing the warm towels on the uncovered arm. She felt the slight jump in the arm. Even heavily sedated, Kacey sensed it was not Natalia's touch.
"Kate can we finish our conversation?" Patricia asked.
"What more is there to say? You have always been harder on Kacey even though she had never given you one second of worry when she was younger. Why is that?"
"I don't know, Kate. Maybe it was that restless spirit that was so hard to contain. Or knowing that there would not be any additional children after her."
"So what really pisses you off? Is it the fact that she is an extremely capable adult, who will no longer defer to you?"
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Take that God Damn glass of milk you force on her every chance you get. You know she hates the stuff. Even as a child you forced her to drink it. You would not let her leave the table until it was gone. You would not let her do something she really wanted to do, until she drank it. Now even as an adult you are still using those tactics. You hold her coffee hostage until she bows to your will."
"What is wrong with wanting her to be healthy?"
"Nothing, but let her make the decisions. Do not shove it down her throat. In the last four years, she has not been sick once. Injured, yes but not sick. She has to be doing something right. It is time you let go and let her be an adult."
"Do you know what you are asking? You are a mother. You understand how hard it is to let go. No matter how old your children get they are still your little girls. Like you, I will always worry about you both. Nothing you can say will ever change that."
"You do not have to change, but back off a bit and start treating her fairly. I am not now or have I ever been your golden child. She was and is. All she has ever wanted from you is your respect for her as a person." Kate stated. "You should get some rest. I would like to be alone right now."
"All right Kate." Patricia stated. She leaned down and kissed Kacey's cheek, then the top of Kate's head. She walked to the door and stopped. "You are wrong you know. I have tremendous respect for both of you."
CHAPTER 20 C
Kate sat alone in the silence. She stared at the slowly changing numbers on the machines that surrounded the bed. Her hand was on the still cold arm, when she felt movement and heard the gasp of pain. She looked at Kacey's face and saw the furrows of pain. Kate pushed the button to call the Doctor.
"What can I do for you Captain?"
"I think Kacey is waking up."
"I will be right there."
Within a short time, the Doctor came in followed closely by Natalia. The Doctor injected the sedative into the I.V. port. Seconds later the pain furrows relaxed as Kacey gave into the sedative.
"What happened?" Natalia asked. "Why are her hands in those basins?"
Kate stood up to let Natalia sit down.
"She started to wake up. I warned you she would be in a lot of pain as the tissues and nerves warmed. Her temp is now ninety two point eight, Blood pressure, pulse and respirations are all slowly inching up towards normal levels. As for the basins, we discovered that an electrical charge hit her shuttle and took out all her systems. She has burns on both hands. I did not want to pry her fingers open to dress the burns. You were able to get her to open her hand earlier, would you try to do that again?"
"Of course, I will try."
Natalia picked up Kacey's hand from the basin. The Doctor handed her a towel to wipe the solution off. Natalia stroked the back of Kacey's hand and it slowly relaxed and opened Dr. McCloud touched Kacey's arm which caused her to jump and the hand to close again.
"Keep trying, Natalia." Kate said. "Talk to her."
Natalia nodded as she continued to lightly rub the hand. "Sweetheart listen to my voice. You have burns on your hand the Doctor needs to bandage. You need to relax and open your hands. I will be right here beside you. I will not let go of you. Please relax you hands."
They watch the hands slowly relax and open. Natalia turned it over so that the Doctor could examine the palm.
"I will be right back." She left and returned moments later with bandages and medicine.
"Sweetheart, the Doctor is going to bandage your hands. Relax and keep them open."
Dr. McCloud spread burn salve on Kacey's palm and fingers. She place a gauze pad on the palm and wrapped her hand with gauze. She threaded the gauze between Kacey's fingers and finished by wrapping her whole hand until only the finger tips were visible. She nodded when she had finished.
"That was good sweetheart. Now keep your right hand relaxed for me."
Dr. McCloud was able to take care of the right hand without any problems. "That is incredible. As heavily sedated as she is she still responded to your touch. With what we used to knock her out, we should have been able to do anything to her without any response."
"It is that hyper vigilant state the Marines go into where they are still aware of their surroundings."
"Incredible." Dr. McCloud said again. "Mrs. O'Malley were you able to rest?"
"I did Doctor. Anya made sure of that."
"We will not let her go without food or rest." Kate stated.
"I will leave that responsibility in your hands, Captain." The Doctor stated and left the room.
"What time is your appointment?"
"Oh eight hundred hours."
"I will be here a half hour before then. Try to get some rest while you are here."
"I will try, Kate."
"Don't be surprised if Anya comes down to keep you company. She loves you both, little sister."
Natalia's eyes filled with tears at Kate's term of endearment. She stood and put her arms around Kate. "Thank you big sister."
Kate kissed her cheek and left. Natalia returned to the chair by Kacey's side and held the strong hand in hers. She leaned back in the chair and rested her head. Natalia closed her eyes and fell asleep still holding Kacey's hand. Anya walked in and placed a blanket on the younger woman and let her sleep.
Natalia lay on the exam table a sheet covering her legs. Kate stood close by and held her hand as Doctor Amstell attached fetal monitors on both sides of the slightly rounded stomach and prepared to do the ultrasound.
"This will be cold." Dr. Amstall warned as she squeezed a good amount of the conductive gel on Natalia's stomach.
Natalia jumped. "Yeow. You were not kidding were you?"
"That was the worst part of the examination." She stated as she picked up the wand, that she moved through the gel. "If you look at this monitor behind me, you will get your first glimpse of your baby."
Natalia and Kate both looked at the monitor as the Doctor moved the wand. She outlined the area. "This is your uterus. Now lets go looking around." She turned up the volume on the fetal heartbeat monitor. Sound came through the speakers and she explained. "What you are hearing are heart beats. Try to hear past the sounds of water. That little thump, thump, thump."
"I hear it" Natalia said with a smile. "Kate can you hear it?"
"I sure can."
"You are an old hand at this Captain." Dr. Amstall smiled. "Lets see what we can find." She moved the wand. "At four months we will be able to see quite a bit of the baby. Here is a head, an arm, body leg and foot. Picture." She ordered. They heard a click. The wand moved again. "Oh, here is another head, arm, leg and foot. Picture." She moved the wand again. "Would you like to know the sex?"
"Yes, I would."
The wand moved again. "This one is a girl, but the other is shy and I am unable to see the sex. Next time you come in we may be able to see more." The Doctor stated. "Twins, Natalia and everything looks good. Both heartbeats are very strong."
"You are sure it's twins?"
"Unless you are carrying a two headed alien, which I highly doubt you are carrying twins. I know for a fact the donor has only one head. I will have video images ready for you by the time you are dressed." She wiped the gel off Natalia's stomach and removed the small heartbeat monitors before she left the room.
"I will give you some privacy also." Kate stated, as she walked towards the door.
"Please stay, Kate."
"Of course. Is something on your mind?" Kate turned to face the door to give Natalia some privacy while she dressed.
"I need to ask a favor of you."
"You do not want me to say anything to any one yet."
"Would you mind? I know I am asking a lot."
"I will not tell anyone. Kacey should be told first. Don't forget, I went through this before with Anya. Your secret is safe with me."
"Thank you Kate. I hope Patricia will not be angry for keeping this a secret."
"I will handle mom."
"I noticed some friction between you both. Would you like to talk about it?"
"Yes, but not here." Kate stated. "Lets go visit Kacey, then you can have breakfast and lay down for a short time."
"I did sleep after I went back to sit with Kacey."
"Anya told me you were asleep when she arrived. That is not the same as stretching out."
"I just need to make my next appointment then we can leave."
Kate stood outside Kacey's room to give Natalia some time alone with her. The door was closed to keep her words private. Patricia walked into Sick Bay but was stopped from going into Kacey's room.
"What is going on Kate?" She asked.
"Natalia needs a few minutes alone with Kacey."
"How is your sister this morning?"
"A lot better. Her temp is up to ninety four as well as all her other vitals. Natalia needed to talk to Kacey."
"She had a doctors appointment this morning. What did she find out?"
"Sorry, that is not my news to tell."
Natalia held the bandaged hand in hers as she spoke to Kacey. "Sweetheart, I went for the ultrasound this morning. Kate went with me. I wish you were awake so that I could see your reaction. Honey, we are expecting twins. I have pictures to show you when you wake up. I do not want to tell anyone until then and we can tell them together. Kate promised not to say anything. One of the babies is a girl. The other was shy so we don't know the sex. Can you just see your dad with a grandson? I love you so very much. I can not wait until the doctor lets you wake up. Just three more points and you can wake up." Natalia paused. "Anya and I took your mother and got her a new dress for the party. Your dad's eyes are going to pop when he sees her dress. I think yours and Kate's will also. The girls are worried about their Aunt Kacey. They love you so much. I will have to leave shortly. Kate is making me go eat and rest, but I will be back. I love you Kacey." Natalia stood and kissed Kacey before she opened the door.
To be continued...
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