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CHAPTER 21 A
Hot so very hot in here. There is a million pin pricks all over. Am I dead and in Hell. I can not be dead. I can not leave Natalia to raise our children by herself. Was it a dream? Did I hear Talia say we are having twins? So many dreams. What was real? Kate told mom to back off. No that isn't right.
" WILL SOMEONE TURN OFF THE GOD DAMN HEAT?"
Kacey opened her eyes to see the tear filled green eyes looking back at her.
"Talia?" She whispered.
"Oh sweetheart, I am so happy to see those beautiful baby blues."
"I am partial to light Irish green ones myself."
"I am not Irish."
"Of course you are. You are married to me. That makes you Irish by proxy." Natalia leaned over and kissed her.
"All right you two. Knock it off before you give me a toothache." Kate said. "It is about time you woke up little sister. You have been mumbling for the last twenty minutes."
"What did I say?"
"A lot of gibberish about pin pricks, Hell, children and Talia. Then you yelled, Will someone turn down the God Damn heat."
"Doctor McCloud will be in shortly to get you out of the suit."
"You have been in a hypothermia suit for the past three days."
"You were suffering from hypothermia when we got you out of your shuttle."
"Colonel, it is good to see you awake." The Doctor stated as she walked into the room. Feeling a bit warm?"
"Warm Hell Doc. It is frigging hot in here." Kacey said.
"Looks like you are getting back to normal. I was asked by Ensign Marley to say thank you. She won almost seven thousand credits in the pool on you."
"Glad I could help. Can you get me out of these mummy wraps?"
"Of course, Colonel. Mrs. O'Malley, Captain, would you wait outside for a few minutes?" She asked and pushed the button on the wall. A nurse entered shortly with clean pajamas.
"Certainly Doctor." Kate said as she escorted Natalia from the room. The door closed behind them. Kate touched her communicator. "Dad?"
"Kacey is awake and complaining about the heat." She could hear the laughter from the Bridge crew.
"Tis good to hear, lass. Will you be wanting me to tell your mother?"
"No I will do it."
"Good lass. Tell your sister, we will be needing a talk."
"Will do, dad." Kate looked at Natalia and pushed the private message button. "Mom."
"Kacey is awake."
"Thank you for calling me." Patricia said coolly and pushed the off button.
"She sounds angry." Natalia said.
"I am not sure what she is. One more call to make. Major Anderson."
"Please let your people know that Kacey is awake."
"That is great to hear Captain. Thank you for letting us know."
Kate pulled Natalia into a tight embrace. She felt the younger woman tremble as she cried. Kate comforted her.
"Shh. She is going to be fine. She was complaining. That is an excellent sign." Kate felt Natalia laugh.
"That is true. Kate what are we going to do? How can we stop her from taking chances with her life?"
"Do? We keep loving her and hope for the best. We can not wrap her in a protective suit or confine her. She has to be the person she is. We love her and hope that the luck of the Irish continues to go with her. It is like she told me, she has her good luck charms. They may not stop her from getting hurt, but at the end of the day, she is still alive. Dented but alive. I for one would rather have her alive, and hope you never runs out of those damn smoke sticks while we are out here."
"She will not run out. They are in the replicator inventory."
The door behind them opened. A nurse walked out carrying the suit. The Doctor remained in the room as she unhooked the machines. Kacey sat up in bed holding a glass of water in her still bandaged hands. She smiled as Kate and Natalia walked in. Kacey put the glass down and opened her arms to Natalia. She lay her head on Kacey's chest as the strong arms held her tightly while she cried. The Doctor left the room.
"Sweetheart, please don't cry. I am still here with you. Listen to my heart beat. It beats only for you. I have way too much to lose to ever take any chances on it stopping."
"Honey, You can no more stop being who you are then I could grab a star. I will not ask that of you."
"You do not have to ask. I will tell you that I will no longer fly off alone. I promise to have other flyers with me and not take chances."
"That is good to here, little sister."
"Kate, thank you for looking after Natalia for me."
"Always. We have to stick together towards a common goal."
"What is this common goal?"
"Getting us all home safely with all of our body parts intact among others."
"I think that is a goal we can both work towards. Right Talia?"
"Most certainly. Sweetheart, I have some news to tell you."
"Is that right? I think I may have heard you, but tell me again."
"Kate went with me for the ultrasound. I have pictures of our babies." Natalia showed her the pictures of their children.
"Looks like two blobs to me." She joked. "How do you know which are the babies?" Kacey turned the photos upside down. She laughed. "I see them. I was only joking. Kate brought out pictures of the demons every chance she got so I learned how to look for the babies. One is a girl. but the other is hiding."
"How did you know. You were heavily sedated."
"I heard you, Talia. I heard you. Your voice pushed through whatever they knocked me out with. I told you I would always hear your voice."
"That is amazing." Kate said.
"I expected to see everyone gathered here. Where is everyone?"
"Anya will bring the girls by after school" Kate told her. "Dad said he will be by later after his duty shift. I told him to turn the Bridge over the Rhea."
"What about mom? Is something wrong with her?"
"She is fine, Kacey. We had a," She cleared her throat, "a umm discussion of sorts when you were first brought here."
"Dare I ask over what. No wait let me guess, she was pissed because I was hurt. She found out about the cloaking device and jumped to conclusions."
"That is about it. I straightened her out. She was mad that you put alien technology on your shuttle instead of me, because I gave you permission. Even after we found out an electrical discharge from the anomaly hit your shuttle, she still blamed you."
"Wait. What electrical discharge?"
"What do you remember?"
"I was waiting for the Stingers to land, and I looked to see where that, what did you call it? An anomaly?" Kate nodded. "I looked to see where it was and I felt a jolt. I could not move or even look away and it got really cold. It took out my life support. Then I felt the tractor beam and another jolt took out all my other systems. The next thing I know I wake up here wrapped up like a mummy."
"Are you sure you felt two jolts?"
"It is a bit fuzzy, but yes two jolts. A small one that froze me in place and took out life support, the tractor beam latch on then another larger jolt. Why didn't the shields stop it?"
"I would only be guessing."
"Go for it Katie me darlin. Give a guess."
"I think the first jolt took out your shields as well as life support."
"The shields can handle a direct hit of one hundred fifty KPS."
"The one we saw hit was five hundred seventy five KPS. It was less than five hundred kilometers from you when it hit. We will have to look at the replay to find that first hit."
"Can you get me a computer?"
"How about you wait until tomorrow? You take it easy for today." Kate stated.
"All right, on one condition."
"You want a coffee, right?" Kacey nodded.
"Let me go check with the Doctor." Natalia said and left.
"Kate finish telling me about mom."
"I tore into her and said you were right."
"When I was injured you asked her if she would blame me if the situation was reversed. Well she still blamed you. I set her straight on exactly who was the golden child. She said I was the sensible one and that she worried about you. I told her that was bull shit. You never went to the wild parties like I did or broke curfew or snuck out after they were asleep. You were the one who never went out on a single date, got straight A's every year of school. Tell me did you ever just once break curfew?"
"Actually I did. It was my last year at the Academy. I was at the library studying and missed curfew. I ran back to the barracks. Dodging the M.P's. Mike lowered a rope from our window and I was able to climb up the side of the building just before room check. But I never broke mom and dad's curfews."
"That does not count here. I told her to back off and let you be the extremely capable adult that you are."
"You told her to lay off with the milk also."
"How did you know that."
"I am not really sure. I will always hear Natalia's voice, but lately I can hear yours also at times."
"Little sister, you really scare me at times." Kacey smiled and shrugged.
Natalia walked back into the room. "No coffee yet, but I brought you an iced tea with honey and lemon. I know you like that. And some chocolate pudding. You eat this, then rest before your visitors arrive."
Kacey took a bite of the pudding. "I will if you will. This is really good. Is it replicated?"
"Your mom sent it along with the iced tea." Kacey looked at Kate.
"Do not over think it. Just enjoy." Kate said.
"I most definitely will enjoy it for as long as it lasts." Kacey finished the pudding. Natalia took the empty dish away and kissed her.
"You taste like chocolate. Get some rest."
"You too. Kate please make sure she rests before everyone comes back."
"I will." Kate pushed the button to lower the head of the bed. Kacey closed her eyes, opened them, then closed them again. Within minutes her slow even breathing told them she was asleep. They both left the room.
CHAPTER 21 B
Liam sat by Kacey's side waiting for her to wake up. He smiled at the child like innocence that came over her face while she slept. He wanted to hold her hand, but he knew that she would wake if anyone but Natalia touched her. He thought of that wide eyed child who held his hand so trustingly as she took her first steps. Her confidence in him as he taught her to ride a two wheel bike or taught her to swim. Her laughter when he held her in the saddle in front of him. His eyes filled as he remembered how she looked directly at him as she delivered the Valedictory address at both her High School and Academy graduations. How her hand trembled in his as he walked her down the aisle. He sniffed and wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Is everything all right?"
"Aye. Just your old da being lost in memories. Pay no attention to me tears. How are ye feeling?"
"Pretty good. Do you know if Natalia was able to eat and get some rest?"
"She did. Katie took her back to their quarters to make sure."
"Good. Dad, I am sorry for worrying you and mom again."
"Ah, lass ye really need to stop doing that. This time was not of your doing." He smiled at her.
"Will mom be coming?"
"She will. She is fixing a meal tray for ye. Lass is there something you would like to be telling me about?"
"Not until we get the whole family together."
"That is not what I was meaning. I am talking about your smoke sticks. You said you gave those up years ago."
"Dad, I am an adult. I only use them when I fly. They are my good luck charm. Before you say something like I was still injured several times when I used them, I was still alive at the end of the mission. I will continue to use them. I gave up smoking them all the time, but never said I stopped completely."
"You are right lass. You are all grown up and past the age where I can tell you what to do. I would rather ye had a shamrock or a leprechaun"
Kacey laughed. "Those are extremely hard to find here."
"Lass you mother has been doing some heavy thinking these past few days. Would ye be doing me a favor and go easy on her when she visits?"
"I will dad. You know she is an extremely lucky woman."
"She has a husband who loves her deeply. Not two mention two beautiful intelligent and talented daughters."
It was Liam's turn to laugh.
Two days later Kacey was discharged from Sick Bay with order to relax and take it easy for the rest of the week. Natalia returned to her duties which left Kacey to her own devices during the day.
She spent the first two days lazing around their quarters. She played her violin and computer games. Kacey finished the piece she had been working on for months for their children. On the third day, the restless feelings returned. She showered and dressed in fatigues before she left their quarters. She strolled through the decks nodding to the crew members she came upon. She checked the time when her stomach reminded her that it was time for lunch. Kacey went to the Bridge to see if Natalia could break for lunch. She entered the lift.
"Bridge." She said. Within seconds she walked onto the Bridge. Natalia turned as she stepped off the lift and smile.
"I was just about to call you." She said.
Kate turned. "Took you three days before you became bored. There may be hope for you yet."
"Yeah well, I finished that new piece I have been working on and I can only play so many computer games. So I decided to walk the halls until I realized I was hungry. Thought I would come up here and see if I can scare up a lunch date. Know anyone who is interested?" She turned and winked at Natalia.
"As a matter of fact I was just thinking about lunch, myself." Kate stated.
"Uh sure, Kate."
Kate laughed. "Relax Kacey. I was only joking. I know I am not the one you were talking about."
"Why don't you and Anya go also, Katie? Tis quiet and I know you mother would like to see all of ye together."
Kacey looked at Natalia who nodded. "Sure why not. I just might get what I order today."
"Lass?" Liam warned and shook his finger at her.
"We had better go before you get yourself into trouble, little sister."
"Good idea, Kate."
Natalia and Anya left their posts and headed to the lift. Their replacements took their places to watch the consoles.
The four entered the lift. "Deck three." Kate said as the headed to the Mess Hall.
"Kate, I think dad might suspect something."
"Why do you think that?"
"Just a feeling. Well more than a feeling."
"Maybe he is just trying to bridge the gap between you two and Patricia." Anya stated.
"Will you be coming over tonight when the girl come to practice?"
"On one condition. They have their lesson then we talk. Your jumping back and forth gave me a headache the last time."
"Sure Kate." Kacey laughed. "Far be it for me to give you a headache. Grey hairs maybe but not a headache."
The walked into the Mess Hall and sat at their favorite table. They programmed their choices. Withing minutes, Patricia and a server brought their choices to them.
"It is not often all of you are here together. What is the occasion?"
"No occasion, mom." Kate said. "It is very quiet so dad suggested we all go to lunch."
"Oh. How are you feeling, Kacey?"
"Well enough to be bored." Kacey answered.
"You won't rush it will you?"
"No I won't, mom."
"Good. Enjy your lunch." She said and placed a coffee in front of Kacey. She looked up at Patricia who smiled.
"Thanks, mom." Kacey said and watched her mother walk away.
"Don't over think it, just accept her attempts."
"Did you have anything to do with this Kate?"
"Me?" Kate asked innocently. Kacey looked at her. "I did."
"Do you have any idea what they are talking about, Anya?"
"Not a single clue, but I know they will tell us later. Correct Kate?"
"Certainly darling." Kate said. "What are your plans for this afternoon?"
"Oh I thought I would take the Captain's shuttle out for a spin, maybe see if we can have an impromptu drag race." Kacey said with a smile. "But if I do that I would probably end up in the Brig so I will just go visit with my troops and see how the repairs are going on my shuttle. I forgot to ask. Will I get to keep the cloaking device?"
"Yes. If you had been visible when that anomaly first appeared, you could have been hit with a discharge when you were further away. That would have cost you your life. In the few minutes it took for us to realize you were in trouble and tractor you in, the inside temperature in your shuttle was minus ten degrees."
"When you finish playing with your troops, would you come to my Ready room?"
"Of course. If there are problems, I can put off my visit until tomorrow."
"Does there have to be a problem to want to talk to you?" Go visit your troops first, then come see me."
"Okay. Did you ever find out what that thing was, Anya?"
"Yes. I did some digging in the information that came with the star charts the Gellarians gave us. They call it an electrical ellipse. According to the information it shows up once a year, then disappears."
"Too bad there wasn't a way to study it or even track its movements."
"You stay far away from that thing, Kacey. That is an order."
"I second that Kate." Natalia said.
"I have to also agree, Kacey." Anya stated.
"Then we have a consensus. I have no desire to tangle with that thing again."
"Kacey." Natalia stated and slapped her arm.
"I am not sure I like the idea of you spending so much time with those two. You are getting way to feisty." Kacey stated.
"I will give you feisty.. Colonel." Natalia shot back.
"Promise?" Kacey teased. "So Kate, how close are we to that mass the sensors picked up before the ellipse visited?"
"We will be there tomorrow at our present speed."
"Been taking it easy for a reason?"
"No. No reason."
"Will you want the Stingers to map the area?"
"Yes Major Anderson has been handling the assignments."
"Will you be going down to explore?"
"That all depends."
"On what?" Kacey asked.
"On several things. Is there a large enough area for Andromeda to land? Are there any wild animals? If the water and plants are safe? If we can get the Rovers to the surface?"
"You remember those four wheel vehicles that we have yet to use for exploring."
"I know what they are, Kate. Why have you decided to use them now?"
"I figured we could use them instead of walking this time."
"Are you including me in the 'WE"?"
"The Doctor gave you the okay to take part in the exploration as long as we use the Rovers.. Unless of course you don't want to go?"
"Really? Are you kidding? Of course I want to go, but, can I give you a definite answer after I talk to the troops and Natalia?"
"Kacey you do not need my permission." Natalia said.
"Maybe not, but this decision affects you also."
"Kacey you have my permission to go adventuring with Kate."
"So how do we get the Rovers off ship before we land?"
"There are a couple way we can do this. Andromeda will go into a low orbit and we can parachute them down."
"How low is a low orbit?"
"There is another way. We use harnesses to connect the Rovers to the bottom of the shuttles and fly them out. The maximum distance will be five kilometers. Any higher and the batteries would freeze."
"I would rather be five kilometers up than one."
"I will have the batteries charged up and the harnesses connected so we can fly them down to the surface."
"That sounds like a plan."
They carried their empty plates to the cleaning area and left the Mess Hall. Kacey headed to the Hanger. The others went back to the Bridge.
To be continued...
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